NOW HIRING: WHITE HOUSE DOG, by Gina Bazer and Renanah Lehner, illustrated by Andrew Day, Walker, $16.99; ages 4-8.
The two little girls in the White House are tired of waiting to find out what kind of a dog they will get. They gather their supplies and make a poster to put outside on the lawn. It just happens to be on a day their parents are expecting very important guests for a dinner. Each time the door bell rings another dog arrives with a verse to explain why they should be hired. One very special puppy is sworn in as "top dog." Bazer is from Oak Park, Lehner is from Chicago and Day lives in Downers Grove.
SWIMMING SAL, by Carol Molski, illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma, Eerdmans, $17; ages 4-8.
The dogs at Hilltop Farm are winners, all except little Sal. The only thing she is good at is swimming. One day she crawls into her owner’s gym bag and goes to the pool for swim team practice. The coach tells Sal to get out of the pool. She even puts a sign on the fence saying: NO DOGS ALLOWED. But when one team member falls, Sal is allowed to swim in her place. Sal happens to be a Portuguese water dog.
THE CURIOUS GARDEN, by Peter Brown, Little, Brown, $16.99; ages 3-6.
One drizzly day, as Liam is out splashing through the puddles, he stumbles on old railroad tracks and finds wildflowers and plants in need of attention. With his care they spring to life and begin to spread. Because of Liam’s example, many people find places where they can have a garden, too.
I’M YOUR PEANUT BUTTER BIG BROTHER, by Selina Alko, Knopf, $16.99; ages 4-8.
Siblings look forward to the characteristics of a soon-to-be-born child. The first question usually is whether it’ll be a brother or a sister. The young boy in this story has an additional question. Because he is peanut butter color with a semisweet dark chocolate daddy and a strawberry cream milk mama, he wants to know what will the blend be for the new baby.
KNUCKLEHEADS, by Joan Holub, illustrations by Michael Slack, Chronicle, $15.99; ages 6-10.
The book contains shortened versions of four fairy tales. In Handsel & Gretel, the heads of the characters are hands. One day, they are sent out of class to play catch and just keep on going. In order to find their way back, they drop nail clippings to mark the path. They come across a house made of finger food, but before they can start munching, the witch appears. Readers should have background knowledge of fairy tales to fully appreciate the puns and humor of these stories.
GOONEY BIRD IS SO ABSURD, by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Middy Thomas, Houghton Mifflin, $15; ages 8-10.
In this fourth book of the series, the second grade class is learning about poetry. Gooney Bird, known for her unusual clothing combinations, explains that because she has two ponytails she has to wear the new pale green hat with ruffles and two holes, which she calls her brain-warming hat. The class roars with laughter when one of the students says the hat is really underpants. Several days later, Mrs. Pidgeon finds several members of the class wearing new brain-warming hats to help them in their poetry activities.
Judy Belanger is Chicago Parent’s children’s book reviewer and a retired elementary learning resource center teacher with four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6.