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Snow Friends
Ill. by Will Hillenbrand

When boisterous pet dogs inadvertently play matchmaker for two children, a friendship is forged. Snow is falling. Oscar the dog is ready for Matt, the White boy he lives with, to take him on a walk. Matt promises to do so later, but Oscar runs off. At a pond thick with ice, he meets Daisy, another dog so excited to be outside that she runs from the brown-skinned girl who had been holding her leash. With the action often divided into panels to accelerate the book’s pace, the dogs run and play vigorously in the snow. When Matt—now out of the house, looking for Oscar—and the girl finally locate their pets, they become fast friends, like their two dogs. The story is a pet-centric one: The dogs take the focus, and they don’t have owners. Instead, Matt is referred to as “[Oscar’s] boy,” and Daisy yelps, “My girl!” as she licks the girl’s face. Dog lovers may get a kick out of the way in which the dialogue is written: The dogs’ barks are translated, if you will, into English: “Let’s ice-skate!” yelps Daisy, and “Let’s build an igloo!” barks Oscar (a task they accomplish with ease with neither tools nor thumbs). There is an infectious exuberance underlying the story, one communicated in the opening spread (“Snow! Snow! And more snow!”) with drifts of snow building around Oscar’s house as well as in the tireless, curious energy of the dogs. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.) A joyous, wintry read." –Kirkus Reviews 

Cuyler and Hillenbrand (Please Say Please!) are back with another charming tale, this one about friendship forged on a winter day. One morning, Oscar awakens to find a blanket of freshly fallen snow outside. It is just waiting for him to decorate it with his paw prints. He can’t contain his excitement or wait for his boy to join him, so before long, Oscar is off on a solo snowy adventure. After playing on his own for a bit, he meets another dog, Daisy, and they become fast friends. What happens next is nothing short of winter magic. The new friends roll in the snow, dash around trees, create an ice dog, ice skate, and build an igloo. When their owners finally track them down, the dogs and their humans settle in together for some cozy fun inside the snowy structure. Soft and bright illustrations by Hillenbrand accompany the sweet and simple text, working in tandem to bring this story to life. VERDICT A heart-warming tale about friendship, recommended for libraries and homes everywhere. –School Library Journal

Third-person narration centers the perspective of butterscotch-colored corgi Oscar in this energetic winter adventure. When Oscar’s boy, Matt, a pale child with dust-colored hair, postpones his walk, the canine walks himself, exploring the snowy landscape as a dog does—chasing a rabbit, nabbing another dog’s ball—before meeting a gray floppy-eared pup named Daisy at an iced-over pond. After building a snow dog, ice skating, and erecting an igloo, the hounds smell Oscar’s boy and Daisy’s girl (who has brown skin and dark hair) nearby, and they are all united: snow friends. Hillenbrand’s cheery multimedia illustrations—created with, among other media, pencils, chalk, pastel, ink, "watercolor (with a melted snowball),” and collage—feature softly colored comics-style panels that will enhance readers’ enjoyment of the dialogue-heavy text. A seasonal read for doggy devotees. –Publishers Weekly


Ill. by Will Terry

A championship baseball game pitting monsters against extraterrestrial beings—what’s not to like? In this sequel to Bonaparte Falls Apart (2017)—in which a boy skeleton whose bones have a tendency to fly off gets help from his dog and little monster friends—Bonaparte goes to bat for his team, again with the prospect of flying bones. The Weird Series is coming up, and the Little Monsters, a ragtag collection that includes a little vampire, a Frankenstein’s monster, a zombie, and a mummy, are up against the multi-eyed, cranium-bodied, and slobbery-mouthed Mighty Aliens. Terry’s crosshatched illustrations, surrounded by generous white space, highlight the action—flying bones, a fainting monster, a ball flying into orbit. The pictures are also kid friendly, featuring gross but not scary monsters and aliens. Besides the visual fun, the book is packed with Coach Roach’s advice to never give up, along with Bonaparte’s successful struggles to keep himself together (aided by his bone-fetching dog). Hilarious—and motivating—especially for sports-centric kids. –Booklist

Young Bonaparte is a skeleton whose difficulty keeping his bones from falling away at the most inopportune moments weighs on his mind. With a large round head and a red baseball cap on top, his loose collection of bones resembles a spiral light bulb. His baseball team, the Little Monsters, is scheduled to play the Mighty Aliens, and he is especially worried about the dreadful possibility that he will literally fall apart during the game. He practices hard, and his faithful dog, Mandible, fetches any bone that comes loose. But his worries are for naught; his bones stay pretty much intact, at least until the winning celebration, and Mandible has his back(bone) when he needs help. The players on the Mighty Aliens have names like Flame Thrower and Galactic Slimer that describe their special talents. Some of the Little Monsters’ names are clever puns, like hero Bonaparte and his teammates Franky Stein and Batula. Others are more descriptive of their natures, like Ghostie, Mummicula, and Zombie. The very tight tale is fast paced, focusing on the events of the game and with nods to overcoming obstacles, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Terry’s busy cartoons are spot-on, matching the text’s lightness and humor as well as providing visual clues for young readers who may not be familiar with baseball jargon. Lots of fun with a gentle message for little ones and their grown-ups. –Kirkus Reviews

In the sequel to Bonaparte Falls Apart, the eponymous young skeleton and his monstrous friends, including Franky Stein, Mummicula, and Zombie, return. The aptly named Little Monsters go up against the Mighty Aliens in a game of baseball. When it comes time for Bonaparte to go to bat, he’ll have to find his strength if he wants to carry his team to victory. –Publishers Weekly

The Little Ice Cream Truck
Ill. by Bob Kolar

Another book in Cuyler's "Little Truck" series, this story captures the duties of an ice cream truck as it delivers treats to the families around town. The anthropomorphized truck and its driver named Lou visits a diverse group of children in various locations around the community including the zoo, the park, the athletic fields, family celebrations, and the usual trip around the blocks of the neighborhood. Digital illustrations are bright and perfectly depict different places around a community. Readers will delight in hearing the different types of ice cream the truck carries (Vanilla in a cup, Berry Crunch, lemon ice, Cookie Munch) and will most likely relate it to their own personal ice cream preferences. Ice cream trucks are most synonymous with the melodious sounds that accompany their presence and this ice cream truck is shown going "Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling," which will inspire children to talk about the sounds they are used to hearing when their truck comes around. VERDICT Recommended for general purchase to any picture book collection. A jovial seasonal selection that can quickly be read one-on-one while eliciting memories and planning for sunny days to come. –School Library Journal

The Little Fire Truck
Ill. by Bob Kolar

In this delightful story, a fire truck takes readers on its work adventures. "I'm a little fire truck,/my driver's name is Jill./We zip all over town/ my siren's loud and shrill." Bright colorful digital illustrations, often in fire engine red, capture the right tone. The text clearly conveys the positive message that firefighters help people. Another strength of this title is the vocabulary. The text is easy to understand and may expose listeners to new words; the illustrations will give children clues on what those words mean. "Holding pikes and axes, they crawl along the floor." In the accompanying image, there are three firefighters in uniform crawling on the ground with those tools. The front and back endpapers have cute pictures showing tools of the trade. They include a pike pole, nozzle, and pumper truck to name a few. This is a popular subject among preschoolers and classes, and the simple catchy text and large illustrations make this a good storytime selection. VERDICT:  A welcome addition to preschools and libraries for vehicle fans, community helper units, Fire Prevention Week programs, and beyond. –School Library Journal

Filled with action, in and out of the fire station. . . Jubilant and absorbing, with a female firefighter at the forefront.

Bonaparte Falls Apart

Ill. by Will Terry

An elementary-age skeleton is afraid he won't be able to maintain structural integrity at school. Bonaparte, a friendly-looking skeleton with an oversized skull and red ball cap, has a problem: he just can't keep it together—literally. Even such an apparently low-impact activity as a visit to the doctor results in a lost limb when his reflexes are tested. Worse than the inconvenience is the fact that it is sometimes very hard to find those lost bits. Bonaparte asks his pals for help. Franky Stein tries to bolt and glue him together, but he's too stiff to walk. Blacky Widow spins a web around him, but then he's hopelessly tangled. Mummicula wraps him securely, but then Bonaparte can't see. But when his friends spy a dog running by with a bone in his mouth, they realize he can be trained to retrieve Bonaparte's fallen parts. Mandible proves to be both an invaluable help and a hit with all the kids. Terry's illustrations feature frankly adorable monsters, large heads and eyes combining with very small mouths to make them look as harmless and childlike as possible (though Blacky Widow's fangs are still rather prominent). He positions his characters in vignettes on white space; when more-complicated backgrounds are introduced, they are rendered in muted colors. Both an entertaining spin on back-to-school jitters and an unusual look at service dogs. –Kirkus Reivews

The duo behind Skeleton for Dinner returns with the story of Bonaparte, a young skeleton who “was falling to pieces, and this really shook him up.” With Bonaparte’s limbs detaching at inopportune moments, his friends devise plans to help him keep it together. But Franky Stein’s glue-and-screws approach renders Bonaparte immobile, Blacky Widow’s efforts get Bonaparte tangled up in her web, and Mummicula’s snug wrap leaves Bonaparte unable to see. The eventual solution: a puglike puppy, whose bone-retrieving skills are just what the cadaver ordered. Cuyler’s readaloud-friendly narration is loaded with bone puns and makes good use of repetition and rhyme (“So Mummicula wrapped and strapped and strapped and wrapped”), and Terry creates an impish monster cast in moody scenes textured with intricate cross-hatching. With pratfalls aplenty, it’s an amusing reminder that small accommodations and the support of friends can help any kid succeed. –Publishers Weekly

Whenever he engages in even the mildest of activities, Bonaparte, a skeleton boy sporting a red baseball cap, loses an appendage. Adding to his distress about living with missing parts, the boy worries that classmates will make fun of him when he starts school. His monster friends try to help. Franky Stein glues and screws him together, but then Bonaparte can’t move. Blacky Widow spins a web around him, but that just traps him in tangles. When Mummicula wraps him up, Bonaparte can’t see. Nothing works until his pals see a dog run by with a bone in his mouth, and hit on the idea of training him to retrieve Bonaparte’s bones. The dog, named Mandible by his new owner, turns out to be a fetching champ. Now whether it’s on the ball field or in science class, Bonaparte is a huge hit at school. Wordplay such as the monster and dog names and Bonaparte’s declaration that his companions are “bone-a-fide-friends” enliven the text. Terry’s illustrations, executed in a muted palette and filled with cross-hatching, appear on white ground. His monsters are kid-friendly renderings with large, googly eyes. Several pictures contain humorous touches as well: furniture covered in a web pattern, bushes that appear as grinning fishlike creatures, a pumpkin house, and teeth flying across the cafeteria. VERDICT A read-aloud choice that will resonate with youngsters experiencing their own fears of starting school. This tale would make a welcome addition to a fun Halloween storytime as well. –School Library Journal

In this Halloween-ready tale, the most ordinary motions cause little skeleton Bonaparte to shed body parts. The impact of a baseball severs his arm at the shoulder; pedaling a bicycle takes his leg off at the knee; his skull has been known to roll under the bed. Monster friends leave “no bone unturned” in their pursuit of a solution to their buddy’s dilemma, but unfortunately Frankenstein’s monster’s lab glue is so effective Bonaparte can’t move; Spider’s tight web pulls him to the ceiling; and when Mummy tries wrapping him up, Bonaparte can’t see. The problem is solved by adopting an amiable pooch, whose delight in games of fetch make him the perfect retriever for Bonaparte’s scattered parts. Snatching up Bonaparte’s airborne lower teeth (which flew off in the lunchroom) is “a jaw-dropping sensation.” Terry’s monster cast, with oversized Peanuts-styled heads, smiley faces, and comfortingly rounded contours, sends strong visual signals that this is all more silly than scary, making the title a great choice for little kids who want the fun but not the spookiness of the holiday.” –-Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Purim Chicken
Ill. by Puy Pinillos

Cuyler’s (Skeleton for Dinner) punny barnyard tale is well suited to the playfulness of Purim. Cluck the chicken is initially disappointed when she is passed over for the role of Queen Esther in the animals’ Purim play, and instead consigned to the audience. But Cluck’s efforts to develop an extra-loud cluck to shout at Haman during the play come in handy after the show’s star, Quack, is duck-napped by a fox. Pinillos’s (Look! Fish!) vibrant, painterly images amplify the off-kilter mood of the plot. Whether the dialogue elicits groans or giggles may depend on the family (“ ‘What bad moos,’ mooed Moo”), but it’s undeniably fun to read out loud. –Publishers Weekly

Cluck the chicken wants to play Queen Esther in the barnyard Purim play, but the role goes to Quack the duck. On the day before Purim, Quack is kidnapped by Fox. Cluck is “brave like Queen Esther,” rescues Quack, and gets the starring role in the show after all. . . . The illustrations are candy-bright, cheerful, and quirky. VERDICT A light and fluffy Purim tale for readers already familiar with the basics of the holiday. –School Library Journal

The Little School Bus
Ill. by Bob Kolar

Through a simple rhyming text, a little school bus details a typical day of work, beginning with driver Bob climbing on board with a cup of coffee at 5:00 a.m. and ending with a tune-up and scrub down at the maintenance garage. In between, it drives through town, "bouncing, turning, thumping,/always on the go," to pick up a variety of smiling children, including Kate, who uses a wheelchair. The text lends itself well to reading aloud, and the blocky digital illustrations are bright and clear. This book will be a big hit with vehicle-loving preschoolers and is also an excellent selection to use with groups preparing to start kindergarten. A must-have for general purchase, especially in collections in which Cuyler's The Little Dump Truck (Holt, 2009) is already a favorite. – School Library Journal

The team behind The Little Dump Truck present this relentlessly cheery offering and an anthropomorphized school bus. – Booklist

Rhyming verses stretch out the job of a school bus to 12 spreads. Driving down the road, picking up kids and dropping them off, visiting the mechanic, operating the wheelchair platform and going around a bend are a few of the things the yellow vehicle does in the job it so obviously loves, as evidenced by its smiling bumper, cheerful eyes and pink cheeks—all vehicle parts. Each verse starts with "I'm a little school bus," so readers (especially those reading aloud) will be hard-pressed not to try to force the rhymes into the tune for "I'm a Little Teapot." . . . Kolar's digital illustrations are cartoon-bright, the people are nicely diverse, and there's not a grumpy face to be found. . . .Cute . . . Will help to complete vehicler lovers' collections. – Kirkus Reviews

Such a friendly little school bus and it lives such a busy life! The little school bus trusts its friend, Bob the driver, and the two are careful to keep children safe and happy. Bob and his bus smile as they go about their work. Action verbs such as bouncing, clunking, and rumbling describe the fun of riding a school bus. The illustrations are cheerful, vivid, and reflect a contemporary America. Excited children of many racial backgrounds carry brown bag lunches, backpacks, purses, while others roll the wheels on their wheelchairs as the artist celebrates the diversity and inclusivity of this country. The little school bus is as well cared for as the children it carries. When the weather is too bad, Bob and the little school bus stay home; and when the little school bus needs a tune up, people take care of its needs in its own ‘yard.’ Preschool children will be eager to ride a little school bus after they are introduced to this picture book. – Children’s Literature

Tick-Tock Clock
Ill. by Robert Neubecker

At nine o’clock in the morning, a professional mom, portfolio in hand, drops off her look-alike twins with Grandma, who awaits them with open arms. Simple rhyming words and expressive cartoon illustrations show the trio engaged in activities in two-page spreads for each hour of the day. Pictures of the girls painting Grandma’s portrait are accompanied by “Tick tock. / Ten o’clock. / Tick tock. / Messy smocks.” Using mostly familiar words and concepts, the children play blocks, visit a dock, soak their socks, chase a flock, and walk a block. (The most unfamiliar term might come when Grandma cooks in a wok). Weighing in with a total of 30 words, this book in the I Can Read series (leveled My First) will enable emergent readers to experience success reading and to recognize things from their own lives. No clock pictured on the pages is a missed opportunity for young readers to equate number words and time. – Booklist

The daylong activities of twin girls and their grandmother are told through two- and three- word sentences all rhyming with "tock." "Tick Tock./Ten o'clock./Tick Tock./Messy smocks." Each hour sees the children playing with blocks, eating lunch on the dock, chasing a flock, and walking a block, until Mom comes to pick them up and Grandma and her cat can fall "Asleep like a rock!" This phonics reader uses word repetition, consistent vowel sound of the short "o," and a steady rhythm to create a successful reading experience for new readers, and Neubecker's energetic illustrations fill in the details. Children will also enjoy watching the antics of a busy cat throughout. Analog clocks appear on the endpapers but not in the text, making this story more about the reading experience and less about telling time. A solid addition that beginning readers will want to share with Grandma. – School Library Journal

Grandma spends a busy day with her twin granddaughters in a day filled with action, rhythm and rhyme. A tribute to the short "o," this book for very new readers is filled with the "–ock" sound, as in: o'clock, tick tock, knock, smock, block, dock, flock, walk, block, lock and wok. With four to six words per page, in two-word sentences, two girls, dressed in matching red outfits are welcomed by their bespectacled grandmother, who is up for anything. From finger painting to building with blocks to picnicking on the dock, tick tock, the day with Grandma is full of fun. Neubecker's sunny illustrations, in rich reds, yellows and greens, perfectly reflect the spare, very easy-to-read text. Each illustration is set on a white, unframed background and is set apart from the text, making it nicely legible. The repetition of words, particularly "Tick tock," helps beginning readers build confidence. It's strange that with all the references to the clock, there are no clocks in the illustrations, which is an opportunity lost. Children are interested in clocks and time and thus will note their absence; though the endpapers are festooned with them, set to varying times, this will not entirely compensate. Any new reader lucky enough to spend a day with Grandma will want to read this to her. – Kirkus Reviews

Skeleton for Dinner
Ill. by Will Terry

Bathed in a spooky graveyard glow, Big Witch and Little Witch brew a stew and prepare a list of the guests to invite for dinner. What follows is a kind of Halloween version of Chicken Little, as timid Skeleton misunderstands, believing he’s an ingredient, not a guest. He dashes off to warn two friends—Ghost, a wispy girl, and Ghoul, who resembles Quasimodo. It’s a familiar joke, but Terry’s illustrations give the cast of characters distinctive looks and personalities (they almost resemble rubbery toys). Despite the threat of death by cauldron, neither contributor lets things get too frightening as the story works its way to a happy ending for all. –Publishers Weekly

Mother and daughter witch want to have skeleton for dinner. Is he on the menu or intended to be a guest? Big Witch and Little Witch are proud of their yummy stew full of delightfully disgusting ingredients, such as "shark fins and snake skins, spider silk and centaur's milk, catfish whiskers and banshee blisters." Little Witch makes a list of the friends she wants to invite for dinner. She writes "Dinner" at the top, with Ghost, Ghoul and Skeleton below it and tacks it to a tree. When Skeleton reads it, he flies into a panic. Veteran Cuyler keeps the text flowing and sets a just-right pace for reading aloud. Poor Skeleton "rat-a-bat-tat[s] down the hill… / and jingle-jangle[s]" off to warn first Ghost and then Ghoul about what he fears the witches are planning. Terry chooses deep blue-greens and dark craggy trees to create the nightscape. Skeleton's cool white and Ghost's translucent wash of white make them glow on the page, whereas the warmer tones used for Ghoul and the bright green of Little Witch provide refreshing contrast. When Little Witch fails to find her friends to tell them about the dinner party, her despair sends Crow flying to the rescue. A poison-ivy bouquet, full bowls of stew and happy friends bring the story to a satisfying close. Make sure to tuck in to this delicious tale. –Kirkus Reviews

Skeleton misunderstands when he overhears Big Witch tell Little Witch, “We must have Skeleton for
dinner!” Convinced he’s on the menu, he runs away, and he warns Ghost and Ghoul that they, too, are in danger. How will Little Witch find them and invite them to enjoy dinner? Cuyler’s brief text is lively and filled with sound effects, while Terry’s dark, Halloween-themed art is balanced by bright colors and decidedly unspooky characters to reassure young readers and listeners. Youngsters will know that Big Witch and Little Witch just want to invite their friends over for dinner, and they will enjoy seeing Skeleton and the others getting scared because of a mistake. This book is made for reading aloud and will be a great addition to a library’s Halloween collection, but it’s also a fun title that children will enjoy at any time of the year. –Booklist

Big Witch and Little Witch decide to “brew a stew.” As the stew simmers, Big Witch—impressed by their tasty concoction—states that they simply “must have Skeleton for dinner.” Skeleton, passing by, misinterprets her statement and fears the worst. What follows is a comedy of errors in which the childlike skeleton attempts to save itself (and its other friends on the invitation list) from being eaten. The occasionally rhyming verse, along with some changes in text size and font, creates a natural rhythm for Halloween-themed read-alouds. –Horn Book

Guinea Pigs Add Up

Ill. by Tracey Campbell Pearson

Counting is part of the action-packed farce in this simple rhyming picture book about classroom pets. After a teacher announces that a new animal is coming, his young students imagine a giraffe, an elephant, and a snake. What they find, though, is a guinea pig, and the students enjoy petting and feeding him. Because he is lonely, they get him a playmate, who gives birth to three babies, and the numbers start growing: “Uh-oh—eight weeks later / five pets have fifteen more. / We count them—one to twenty; / help—guinea pigs galore!” The pen-and-ink, watercolor, and acrylic-gouache pictures show the classroom chaos, with the pets jumping off books and knocking off the teacher’s glasses. Finally, the creatures have to go, and affection-filled pictures show each kid cuddling a pet to take home. The arithmetic exercises—addition, subtraction, multiplication—are woven into the story, and there are surprises right up to the end, when the students fill the empty classroom cage with a rabbit, who turns out to be pregnant. – Booklist

A humorous look at one classroom's quest for the perfect pet. There is a lot of speculation when Mr. Gilbert announces that the class will soon have a new addition. The students love the guinea pig he surprises them with and incorporate him into their lessons, using tally marks to vote for a name, a chart to track the cavy chores and bombarding Mr. Gilbert with written requests for a companion for their lonely pet. But little did any of them know that their math lessons would soon become more complicated when the two guinea pigs become 20. The chaos that ensues leads the teacher to put them up for adoption and try a different pet instead...but should their new bunny's belly be growing like that? Cuyler's rhymes scan well, and their bouncy rhythms add to the humor of too many cavies. Pearson's line-and-color illustrations ably complement the tongue-in-cheek text. Her guinea pigs overflow the pages, adorably cute and curious, while the children's love for their cavies comes through loud and clear. This should be required reading for any teacher considering a class pet. – Kirkus Reviews

A cheerful classroom of primary-grade students is delighted when their teacher announces the imminent arrival of a class pet. Soon a guinea pig takes up residence, but the children sense its loneliness and beg for a guinea-pig playmate. She arrives, and two weeks later in the cage,/one pig gives birth to three. Very quickly there are 20 pets, and, as they threaten to overrun the classroom, Mr. Gilbert scrambles to find them homes with the children's families. The class wall charts illustrating the math involved in the furry family's growth now cover subtraction as the creatures are successfully farmed out. Mr. Gilbert's class-pet replacement a rabbit sweet as honey is happily welcomed, until he turns out to be an expectant she. A lively, rhyming text engagingly relates the story of these multiplying creatures, while the watercolor, pen-and-ink, and acrylic-gouache illustrations comically depict the mayhem resulting from overpopulation. Sweetly humorous touches abound in the illustrative details and extend the story line. This rhythmic tale of ever-popular pets will work well as a read-aloud or with newly independent readers. – School Library Journal

Can you guess the theme of this book from the title? One lonely class pet turns into 20 guinea pigs in a blink of an eye. This book is written in rhyme and will be a delightful read-aloud for any elementary classroom, with or without a class pet. Mr. Gilbert, the teacher, quickly gets overwhelmed with the prolific guinea pigs; he must find homes for all of them. But now the students are the lonely ones. When the new class pet, Mr. Whiskers, a bunny, gets a round belly, they find out he is a she! Lively, watercolor illustrations are full of classroom vigor and authentic depictions of classroom life. The child-like artwork skillfully captures the essence of both the students and the adorable guinea pigs. The engaging rhymes and the clever drawings are a perfect match. Recommended, Library Media Connection

I Repeat, Don’t Cheat!

Ill. by Arthur Howard

Loyalty is the theme in this lively picture book by the creators of Bullies Never Win (2009). Jessica is a worrywart, and her latest source of anxiety is her best friend, Lizzie, who copies Jessica’s spelling words and lies to the teacher. Should Jessica say something to Lizzie, to the teacher, or to Mom and Dad? If she tells, her friend will be mad. If she keeps quiet, she will feel dishonest and angry. The bold, cartoon-style scenarios in pen, ink, and watercolor are uncluttered and keep the focus on Jessica, at first fuming in the classroom until, finally, she explodes, and the teacher talks to her about what helping means. Of course, the friends make up, and Lizzie apologizes and draws her friend a picture labeled “Bes frens 4 ever.” The happy ending about forgiveness will spark as much discussion as the conflict will: neither is easy, and both words and pictures capture the complexity of the situation, to which there is no neat resolution. – Booklist

When her best friend copies from her paper during a spelling test, worrywart Jessica does not know where to turn. She doesn't want to betray Lizzie and lose her friendship by telling their teacher. Then at recess, Lizzie is dishonest in a game of tag. When Jessica writes a poem that Lizzie is praised for, she finds it difficult to hide her feelings. The situation comes to a head when Lizzie takes advantage of her once again and Jessica loses her temper. When their teacher intervenes, the truth comes out. Lizzie apologizes for her behavior and renews her friendship with Jessica. The situation that Jessica faces is a real one that children grapple with on a regular basis. The struggle to find a solution that is fair but does not hurt others is difficult, but the ability to be true to oneself is a hard lesson to learn. The examples in this book are excellent and will encourage discussion and problem solving for similar situations. The writing is a little stiff, and the text is purposeful, but it will reach a wide audience. Howard's engaging cartoon artwork and liberal use of white space help to lighten the message. His large-headed figures convey a plethora of expressions and attitudes with a minimum of line. –School Library Journal

This brightly illustrated picture book is a good choice for young readers struggling with issues of friendship and honesty. Jessica and Lizzie are best friends, but that does not prevent Lizzie from taking advantage of Jessica at school, especially when it comes to spelling tests. Jessica is a worrier, and she wonders what might happen if Lizzie keeps lying about spelling as well as other things, like telling Mr. Martin that the poem Jessica wrote is actually Lizzie’s. Jessica worries herself sick over Lizzie’s behavior, then really gets upset at school the next day when Lizzie continues to lie and then tries to blame Jessica for not sharing. The truth comes out, but Jessica and Lizzie both find out that friendship can survive anger and that honesty between friends really is the best policy. The illustrations are a vivid pen and ink with watercolor and add a great deal of visual support to the text. This is a book that deals with a tough childhood issue with sensitivity and clarify. – Children’s Literature

Princess Bess Gets Dressed

Ill. by Heather Maione

While most young girls dream of dressing up in all the opulent finery of a princess, little Bess knows all too well that scads of bows, ruffles, buttons, and lace can become a bit tiresome. From dining with the king and queen to ballet and art lessons to hobnobbing with nobility, the ginger-haired princess spends her overscheduled days changing from one fancy frock to the next as she attends to an endless parade of royal duties. Cuyler’s buoyant rhyming text relates the busy day’s activities and contains lots of fun, fashiony detail. Maione’s charming, candy-colored ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict Bess’ ornate ensembles and the lavish palace surroundings, and the antics of the princess’ canine companion add an additional level of gentle humor to the whimsical scenes. At day’s end, Bess retires to her bedroom, where she can finally change into the clothes she secretly loves best—plain, white underwear. – Booklist

Deftly crafted rhymes describe the saucy young princess and the “loads of clothes” that she must change during the day. What she prefers to wear remains her secret to the end. Her schedule is a busy one, beginning with morning muffins with the queen and proceeding to art and dancing lessons, luncheon, games, afternoon tea, and supper, climaxing with a fancy ball. And the princess has the perfectly appropriate apparel for each occasion. Young girls should relish every detail. The sketchy ink and watercolor drawings barely touch the surface of the white pages in this airy, fanciful tale of a princess’s daily activities. Humor dominates; the princess’s dog, unmentioned in the text, participates in all of the actions with gusto. Lots of glitter on the jacket should add appeal. – Children’s Literature

A stylish young princess, weary of dressing à la mode, yearns for her favorite outfit. In jaunty rhyming couplets, Cuyler describes Bess's extravagant array of trappings. From the moment she awakens until she retires for the evening, this fashionable young princess has an outfit for every conceivable occasion. Breakfast with the queen requires nothing less than velveteen while lunch with the prince finds Bess resplendent in chintz (pantaloons). The playful rhymes detailing fanciful costumes continue until Bess reveals her attire of choice. Maione's ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict a lavishly outfitted tot with a cascade of red curls. Her imaginative confections will satisfy even the most ardent of princess devotees. Comical details, such as the inclusion of Bess's mischievous pup in every vignette and the princess's recalcitrant expressions as she is bedecked and beribboned, keep the story from becoming cloying. A good choice for budding princesses both starry-eyed and sassy. – Kirkus Reviews

Bullies Never Win
Ill. by Arthur Howard

First-grader Jessica is a worrier, and her biggest worry is the class bully, Brenda, who makes fun of how she looks and what she does. All alone in the cafeteria, Jessica comes close to tears, and at home she cannot sleep. Then a classmate and her friends support Jessica and tell her to stand up to the bully, and Jessica talks it all over with her mom. What should she do? Tell the teacher? Mock the bully? Finally, she does stand up to Brenda, who slinks away. The book's title is an overstatement, and the solution may be a bit simple; if only handling bullies was always so easy. But the universal scenario will open up discussion and encourage kids to develop coping strategies. With simple dialogue and big, ink-and-watercolor cartoon-style illustrations, this book captures the drama and familiar feelings—sadness, loneliness, fear, and sometimes triumph—that come with facing up to bullies. – Booklist

In first grade, Jessica faced a lesson that had nothing to do with getting her homework done, or even getting it turned in on time. Jessica’s biggest problem was Brenda Bailey. Every day Jessica went to school, Brenda found ways to bully her: from the clothes Jessica wore, to the way she played kickball, even to the homework Jessica turned in. If that was not enough for Jessica, she also worried about other things. For example, Jessica worried if her socks matched, worried if she could find her barrettes, and even worried about her knobby knees. For a first grader, Jessica had too much to worry about. Her teacher, Mr. Martin, had advised his class to “just ignore” the bullies, but Jessica did not think she could do that. After telling her mom about the problem with Brenda, Jessica came up with a plan. The next day, when Brenda began her bulling ways, Jessica put her plan into action. Brenda was stunned, embarrassed, and finally quiet. Can you imagine what Jessica’s plan was? Could your child learn from Jessica? If your child has been bullied, or knows a child who is being bullied, the strategy Jessica used just might be helpful. This is a book that should be kept in all elementary classes and read out-loud regularly. Empowering children starts early, and Jessica’s story and her solution are about empowering children. The colorful illustrations are humorous and on target for the elementary grades. If given the opportunity, children in grades first through fourth will enjoy picking this book up and reading it by themselves. – Children’s Literature

Worrier Jessica's previous problems with finding 100 things, remembering fire-safety rules and reading aloud all seem trivial in the face of Brenda Bailey, the bully of the first grade (Hooray for Reading Day, 2008, etc.). The quintessential girl bully, "perfect" Brenda doesn't steal or fightùshe teases and belittles. Downtrodden Jessica changes everything about herself to try to get Brenda to stop. Ignoring her doesn't work, and the threat of telling the teacher only provokes the moniker of tattletale. In the end, Jessica comes up with a reply that she hopes will put an end to the abuse. While readers do not find out if Brenda has been defeated, it is plain that Jessica's actions have boosted her self-confidence. Howard's pen, ink and watercolor illustrations masterfully capture Brenda's "perfection," including the ugly face of jealousy and meanness that she so often exhibits. Body language speaks volumes as Brenda heaps on the abuse, Jessica seems almost to shrink. With messages on many different levels for both the bully and the bullied, this has a home on library shelves. – Kirkus Reviews

The Little Dump Truck
Ill. by Bob Kolar

The titular little dump truck cheerily gives the youngest listeners the lowdown on its duties. Hard Hat Pete drives the sturdy truck through the city streets, hauling rocks and dirt to a building site where a hole is being filled. Then he waits while an excavator scoops debris for him to haul away to the landfill. While the story does not get much more involved than that, Cuyler rounds it out with lots of details: "I'm a little dump truck / turning at the light, / slowing, braking, stopping / at the building site." With its repetitive beginning phrase and close-enough rhyming scheme, those who read this aloud may find themselves singing the verses to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot." Kolar's anthropomorphized vehicles will remind more than a few children of Bob the Builder, but his use of retro colors separates his trucks from their cartoon counterparts. Blocky, computer-generated art minimizes distracting details while highlighting the important identifying clues that will help preschoolers identify objects. Construction trucks for the youngest set. – Kirkus Reviews

Hard Hat Pete and his little dump truck spend the day hauling rocks, collecting debris, and unloading it at the landfill. Each spread has a lyrical, rhyming verse that begins, “I’m a little dump truck” and goes on to explain the day’s activities. “I’m a little dump truck/leaving through the gate,/riding down the highway/to another state.” The digital artwork will appeal to young children, who will look for the face depicted on each of the various trucks. The endpapers show all of the vehicles that play a part in the illustrations. The heavy-duty pages are perfect for curious youngsters. Preschoolers will love this book. – School Library Journal

Hit the road with this truck and his driver on an exhausting and fulfilling day of dumping. Kolar’s bold and blocky computer-assisted art on clean white pages shows myriad vehicles, such as excavators and bulldozers, and their owners sporting smiles and happily going about their business. Our four-wheeled hero and his partner, Hard Hat Pete, do their part at a construction site, dumping building material, loading debris, and carting it away to a landfill. Each of the 12 full-page spreads features a four-line stanza describing the action and begins with a satisfyingly repetitive first line: “I’m a little dump truck/hauling stones and rocks,/bumping, bouncing, thumping,/crossing city blocks.” And later, “I’m a little dump truck/watching workers build,/forklifts lifting beams,/big hole being filled.” Work sounds such as “RRR-RRR-RRR” and “rattle-rattle-rattle” add to the likelihood that this offering from the creator of Big Kicks (2008) will become a fast storytime favorite. – Booklist

That’s Good! That’s Bad on Santa’s Journey
Ill. by Michael Garland

Like the first three titles in this series, this holiday version features nonstop action as Santa goes from one comic mishap to another. Although the formula no longer feels fresh, kids will enjoy chanting “Oh, that’s good! No, that’s bad!” The real strength of this book is the expressive, humorous illustrations with their dynamic composition and perspective. They capture the excitement of Christmas and should carry well at storytime. – School Library Journal

Cuyler continues her That’s Good! That’s Bad! series with this Christmas-themed offering focusing on Santa’s travel tribulations and delivery difficulties. On each double-spread, one more step of the Christmas toy-delivery process takes place with a seemingly positive effect or, alternatively, Santa suffers some minor mishap such as getting stuck in a chimney. After each plot point, the repeated refrain of the title (or its reverse form) makes readers see the problems might turn out in a positive way and reasonable-seeming activities can backfire with alarming surprise twists. Garland’s digitally produced illustrations in deep, saturated colors are full of slapstick humor and antics from the bulgy-eyed Santa, complementing the bouncy text full of sound-effect words that beg to be read with melodramatic expression. A good way to get kids to see the silver lining. – Kirkus Reviews

We’re Going on a Lion Hunt
Ill. by Joe Mathieu

Teacher and students embark on an imaginary, exciting safari in this adaptation of the familiar bear-hunt chanting game.With safari hats on, the class members head out the door and into an exotic landscape, where they join in the refrain: “We’re going on a lion hunt./We’re going to catch a big one./We’re not afraid./Look what’s up ahead.” First they head through mud, then sticks (“snap, snap, snap”), and on until they reach a dark cave, where they feel a c-c-cold nose [and]s-s-sharp teeth... It’s a lion!” Time to run, backtracking from grass to mud to finally, safely, the classroom. The peppy text incorporates repetition, sound effects, and participation opportunities for lively readings. The bright, cartoonlike watercolor-and-pencil illustrations highlight the diverse animals, first shown as classroom pictures and then in their native habitats. The lion encounter is not too spooky but will still bring a fun, tingly thrill. An entertaining version of a ubiquitous imagination game for storytimes and animal-themes class units. – Booklist

This new adaptation of the familiar campfire story takes children from their classroom into an adventure in their imaginations. With safari hats on their heads, they fearlessly slog through the mud, snap their way through sticks, climb up trees, splish-splash through the river, swish through the grass and creep into a dark cave where they find... a LION! With their teacher in the lead, they quickly retrace their steps with the lion snapping at their heels until they are safe within the confines of their classroom once again. Joe Mathieu’s dynamic illustrations bring to life every emotion the children experience. He populates each spread with the animals and scenery of the African savanna, providing readers the opportunity to identify creatures with which they are familiar. With its wonderful onomatopoeia, this book will become an easy favorite with the read-aloud crowd, and story time leaders will use the repeated text along with hand motions to encourage audience participation. – Children’s Literature

A gentle adaptation of the familiar call-and-response game. Teacher shows a picture of a lion and passes out safari hats to her multiethnic students, who look to be in kindergarten. Magically, their classroom door opens onto an African terrain, and the hunt is on. They slog through mud, snap through sticks, climb trees, splash through a river and swish through the tall grass before reaching the dark cave, where all that can be seen is a pair of yellow eyes. After getting too close to the king of the jungle, back they go, triple-time. The soft colors in Mathieu's pencil illustrations are attractive, and he offers a variety of facial expressions and action poses on the exuberant children in every two-page spread. While nothing beats or can replace the classic Rosen-Oxenbury collaboration, We're Going on a Bear Hunt (1989), the classroom setting this outing offers makes it a terrific invitation for young listeners to take "Lion Hunt" out of the story circle for some happy dramatic play. – Kirkus Reviews

A lively teacher and her energetic students step out of the classroom and into the jungle for an adventure. A twist on the traditional "Going on a Bear Hunt" and similar to David Axtell's We're Going on a Lion Hunt (Holt, 2000), Cuyler's rollicking adaptation stands on it own. On their quest for a lion, the kids slog through mud, climb up trees, splish-splash through a river, and so on. Different species of animals watch as the children make their way to a cave inhabited by a furry, cold-nosed lion with sharp teeth. Printed in color, the action words are set apart from the black text, which is placed within the double-page illustrations. Mathieu's colored-pencil and watercolor artwork bounces off the spreads. He gives the characters individual facial expressions, which convey their changing moods. The illustrations in Axtell's Lion Hunt are more realistic and star two African girls. Both versions could be used in combination for compare and contrast lessons. – School Library Journal

Hooray for Reading Day!

Ill. by Arthur Howard

In this volume from the Jessica Worries series, Jessica tackles the difficult task of learning to read. Even more difficult is reading aloud in class, where other children sometimes laugh at her mistakes. But most difficult of all is the prospect of Reading Day, when each child will don a costume and read a short line aloud in front of her classmates and their families. Cuyler acknowledges Jessica’s insecurity and shows a practical solution while offering bits of humor along the way. Amusing cartoon-style ink drawings with colorful washes help create the right tone for this encouraging picture book. – Booklist

Worrier Jessica reappears in an anxiety-filled story about learning to read. As in Stop, Drop, and Roll (2001) and 100th Day Worries (2000, both S & S), the first grader is filled with dread because of an upcoming Reading Theater day at school. She elicits the help of her busy family members in practicing and is even more alarmed when she finds out that parental attendance and costume wearing are part of the event. This third title in the series does a serviceable job of portraying a young student struggling with the trials of being a beginning reader. The message of “practice makes perfect” and the encouragement of her teacher and family can serve to motivate children. Howard’s cartoon illustrations add to the humor and exaggerate Jessica’s expressions of angst, anguish, and ultimate achievement. – School Library Journal

Jessica worries about everything, especially reading aloud in her first-grade reading group. She makes everyone laugh when, while reading her lines of Hot Pot, Jessica says "The p-p-pot was snot." Worst of all, Friday is "Reading Theater" day, with costumes and an audience of parents. Her parents listen to her dismay, and Mom admits that she was the slowest reader in first grade till "one day everything clicked." Jessica decides her costume will be a blanket and practices-faultlessly-with her dog Wiggles, who gives her doggy kisses. On Friday, Jessica is amazed at how poorly some of her classmates read under pressure, so she pretends that she is reading to faithful Wiggles, and no one claps louder than Mom and Dad when she succeeds. Howard's watercolors show a great variety of expressions and humor in the details. This reassuring tale takes its cue from the growing popularity of the use of therapy dogs with slow readers, providing a model for low-pressure help in the home. Linus and Snoopy would give Jessica a high five. – Kirkus Reviews

Monster Mess

Ill. by S.D. Schindler

A cheerily skewed take on the familiar monster-under-the-bed schtick. While the family is nestled all snug in their beds, a clumsy monster creeps around the house. With a head like a frog (including a dangling tongue), an impossibly long tail that curls at the end like a cinnamon bun, funny fins and countless legs ending in red feet that resemble hands, the monster looks designed by a committee. “Shhh, shhh, along the floor I crawl./ Zzzz,zzzz, there’s someone down the hall.” The rhythmic, minimal verse charts his slow progress through the house to his boy pal’s bedroom, which he helpfully cleans, stuffing everything into the closet and spritzing air freshener about. An alarm wakens the boy, and it’s playtime with the monster! Schindler’s quirky and colorful watercolors play with perspective, abetted by a text that dances around the pages in different paths and sizes. Simple but sublime, best suited to the very young. – Kirkus Reviews

Ready to go to sleep, a multi-legged, long-tailed monster heads upstairs and into a bedroom only to hurt itself on toy blocks left on the floor. Grossed out by stinky socks and shoes, a juice-stained sheet, and general untidiness, the creature decides to “Clean, clean,/I’ll make the room so neat,” while the room’s young occupant snoozes in the bed. In the morning, the child awakens (“Ring,/ring,/it’s time to start the day”) and happily discovers his visitor (“Giggle,/giggle!/’A monster’s come to stay./Let’s play!’”)

The watercolor illustrations at times show only part of the creature as its head or other body parts extend off the page. Its numerous arms allow it to accomplish many tasks at once, an enviable feature. The font varies, emphasizing action words in larger boldface letters (“Stuff,/stuff…”) and the rest of the line is a smaller size (“the/clothes/into/the/drawers”). Rhyming, repetitive text and whimsical images whirl on the pages, making this a fun read-aloud. – School Library Journal

Computer graphics help create a great monster in this rhyming nightmare scenario of a creepy presence in the dark. Schindler’s glowing art shows the grotesque creature in intricate detail, complete with multiple popping eyes, tip-toeing feet, and sucking tentacle arms doing all kinds of tasks. Some children may have trouble making sense of the crowded pages, but they will still recognize the scary nightmare (Shhh, shhh, / along the floor I crawl / Zzzz zzzz / There’s someone down the hall) as the monster creeps around the house, stomps up the kitchen stairs, crawls into the boy’s room, and peeks under the bed. Listeners need not worry, however. The climax turns the fear into fun when the boy wakes up in the morning. Kids will want to go back to the beginning to hear and see the shivery stuff again. – Booklist

Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler

Ill. by Sachiko Yoshikawa

Most children will enjoy the story, and teachers will find the lesson aptly told. Recommended wherever values education is taught. – Booklist

Cuyler has coined a catchy refrain and opts for lingo that is casual and hip. But the comedy of classroom chaos is most entertainingly rendered by the illustrator, Sachiko Yoshikawa. . . . Yoshikawa’s everyday scenes of courtesy and responsibility look heavenly: fluffy white clouds frame the vignettes and float across fields of heart-strewn pink. The kids’ spherical faces resemble cartoon confections, and the cutout hearts, marking their achievements, look good enough to lick. – The New York Times Sunday Book Review

Teachers will find the lesson aptly told. – Booklist

Mrs. Ruler is frustrated with her kindergarten class. They have been acting out all week, so she reminds them “kindness is cooler” and charges each student to perform five acts of kindness. Most of the class catches on quickly; only David seems to have trouble internalizing Mrs. Ruler’s maxim that “a slice of nice makes a mile of smile.” Eventually, even David finds a way to be good, rescuing the class’s gerbils during a harrowing escape. The author of 100th Day Worries (2000) incorporates here the same enthusiasm, counting practice, and humor she used in the earlier title. Especially useful is an appended list of the 100 acts of kindness, which will get kids started and fuel their own ideas. Yoshikawa’s vibrant illustrations capture the boundless energies of five-year-olds on their best (and worst) behavior. Although sophisticated listeners may find Mrs. Ruler a bit preachy, most children will enjoy the story, and teachers will find the lesson aptly told. Recommended wherever values education is taught. – Booklist

When students in Mrs. Ruler’s class misbehave, she keeps five of them inside during recess and assigns their punishments. Each one must perform five acts of kindness and report them to the entire class during show-and-tell time throughout the week. The students respond enthusiastically and the twins recite their combined ten good deeds the following day. Soon, the whole class wants to be part of a project to complete 100 acts of kindness. Most of the acts mentioned in the text and shown in the pictures are common chores completed by the students around their homes and in the classroom. A list of “100 Acts of Kindness” divided into the categories of “Family Kindness,” “School Kindness,” and “Community Kindness” appears near the end of the book. The list contains many suggestions not mentioned in the story. The colorful cartoon-like illustrations depict a spirited group of multicultural students frolicking through the pages. – Children’s Literature

This story relates 100 acts of kindness as great examples of how to be kind to others. The author had kindergarten and first-grade students in Princeton Junior School to provide these acts of kindness examples. They could be used on any elementary grade level to emphasize kindness in the classroom and school. The story might be a little long to hold the kindergarteners’ attention, but the rhyming text will help. If we start with these acts, then our world would be a better place to live! Fiction, Highly Recommended. – The Lorgnette-Heart of Texas Reviews

That’s Good! That’s Bad! in Washington DC

Ill. by Michael Garland

Cuyler’s third ‘Good/Bad’ title involves a field trip to the nation’s capital. The young protagonist has trouble from the moment he boards the DC Duck bus, through his whirlwind tour of monuments and the zoo, to his final splash into the Tidal Basin... The sound effects and refrain allow plenty of opportunities for audience participation. – School Library Journal

The satisfying counterpoint fun of “That’s good! That’s bad!” from previous books continues in this story of a boy’s class trip to our nation’s capital. As they ride past the White House, our hero falls out of the DC Duck onto a motorcycle. Not bad, as he rides to the zoo. Not good, as the orangutans there toss him onto a dump truck. And so he goes from bad to good to bad again as he tours DC, past the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Arlington National Cemetery and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Jefferson Memorial in cherry blossom time, and finally back on the bus home. Garland creates a bunch of cartoon-like kids, all pop-eyed and smiling, with a special “little boy” whose misadventures keep us smiling. There is a slickness and roundness to the digitally created illustrations, but the double-page sweep of the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin is particularly appealing. A map traces the day’s adventures for those interested in the sightseeing. – Children’s Literature

Please Play Safe! Penguin's Guide to Playground Safety

Ill. by Will Hillenbrand

Penguin's second outing is all about playground safety, with a healthy dose of good manners and respect thrown in for good measure. From taking turns on equipment and sharing toys, to getting friends to play games and cleaning up when it's time to go home, Cuyler covers all the bases. Hillenbrand masterfully portrays facial expressions on his simple cartoon animals, making it clear to even the youngest of readers what the friends are feeling when the playground rules are broken. So expressive are his characters that the text does not spell out why the rule needs to be followed-youngsters can see the panic on Hippo's face when she is sliding down the slide and Bear starts to crawl up, for instance. Penguin's fans will be happy to learn that the author/illustrator team has kept the same format: A blatant wrongdoing is followed by the question, "Is that right?" A turn of the page, and likely a chorus from listeners, reveals, "No, that's wrong," while the text and illustrations demonstrate how to do things the right way. Required reading for parents and children alike. – Kirkus Reviews

PreSchool-Grade 2-This child-friendly guide is set up as a series of don'ts and dos. Each vignette shows the repercussions of doing something thoughtlessly-jumping off a seesaw too quickly, climbing up a slide, kicking sand-followed by the proper way to play. Children can participate in the story by replying to the question asked at the end of each don't-Is that right?-with the refrain, No, that's wrong, before Penguin explains the safe way to behave. The text is simple enough for beginners since the softly shaded, multimedia color illustrations provide excellent visual clues. The pictures are full of active animals under the watchful tutelage of whistle-wearing Penguin. A fun addition. – School Library Journal

This helpful book cleverly plays on young children's burgeoning sense of irony. Instead of dutifully listing the way kids should act on the playground, little ones get this: "When Elephant plays on the seesaw, he should jump off quickly so that his friend bumps to the ground. Is that right?" Kids will enjoy screaming "No!" at the top of their lungs. Then they can consider the advice offered on the next page: the elephant should "stay put until his friend climbs off." There are discussions about playing on the monkey bars (given by a chimp), sliding down a slide, jumping rope, and lots more. Hillenbrand's artwork features simply shaped, high-spirited animals outlined in black. All the fun they are having is contagious. Whether kids will remember these rules of the road (playground version) when they are on-site remains to be seen, but they will certainly like this activity-filled trip to the park.

Penguin and his friends travel together to the playground to play but, just like all little kids, in their excitement they sometimes forget how to behave. Penguin, with his whistle around his neck, notices when his friends are misbehaving and sets about to correct them. He wants to know if one should jump off a seesaw, climb up a slide, kick sand in someone's face, or swing across the monkey bars when they are in use. Of course the answer to these questions and others is a resounding no, but Penguin does not stop there. He gently reminds his friends about the proper way to use the playground equipment and the proper and polite way to play with playground friends. Subtitled Penguins Guide to Playground Safety , this picture book is an excellent introduction to playground etiquette for the littlest of playground participants. It is a must read book for playground visitors both big and small. – Children's Literature

Groundhog Stays Up Late

Ill. by Jean Cassels

Convinced that he's been missing out on wintertime fun, Groundhog refuses to hibernate, even though his forest mates – Squirrel, Bear, Badger, Rabbit, Rox – warn that he'll be lonely, hungry, and reneging on his unique responsibility. "How else will you wake up on February second and look at your shadow so we'll know when spring is coming?" reasons Badger. When their prediction proves right, Groundhog fools them into waking up and sharing their food hoards by convincing them that spring has come a month early. His friends get their revenge by painting a groundhog-shaped shadow on the ground. ("It looked a little strange and it was a funny color, but it had to be his") so that the rodent retreats to his den and misses spring altogether (the final page, however, finds him ready to revel on New Year's Eve). Cuyler's restrained, unadorned storytelling bubbles with comic winks, and its leisurely pace will encourage even antsy youngsters to snuggle into her cozy prose rhythms. Cassels's handsome gouache paintings seem inspired by the stylized design aesthetic of vintage murals; even though many of her pictures occupy a half page or less, they possess a commanding sense of scale and drama. As for Groundhog, he's a terrific foil for all this visual elegance – a Falstaffian figure sporting a jaunty red scarf and with a nose for fun. – Publishers Weekly

Groundhog prefers playing with his forest friends to preparing for winter, and despite warnings from Bear and Badger he doesn't bother to collect food or locate a shelter. He finds the first snow exhilarating, but building snow forts and throwing snowballs isn't much fun all by himself. Finally, desperate for food, he resorts to a fake declaration of spring, which brings out everyone for a party. A sudden snowstorm unmasks his trick, so the other animals plan a trick of their own–a painted shadow that fools Groundhog on February 2. Cassels' brightly colored gouache illustrations capture Groundhog 's exuberance and the details of his cozy forest home. Children who like to test limits will identify with Groundhog 's attempts to bend the rules to suit his purposes and be glad that despite the consequences of his actions, Groundhog 's spirit is never broken. Pull this out for Groundhog Day story hours. – Booklist

A fun-loving groundhog avoids getting ready for winter. When Squirrel, Badger, and Bear urge him to hibernate so that he may awake February 2 and look at his shadow, Groundhog declares that he does not need to hibernate to do that. As his friends curl up in their winter homes, Groundhog plays until he gets lonely, hungry, and cold. When he cannot arouse his friends from their dens, he gets the idea to trick them out by announcing an early spring. The animals appear and begin to share a meal and celebrate until snow begins to fall and a check of the calendar reveals that it is only January 2. When Groundhog awakes February 2, the other animals have prepared a trick to play on him. The illustrations are appealing and are framed in blocks with simple borders. The blocks vary in size, shape, and number on the pages but are formatted in an appropriate way for the young reader. The illustrations support the text with brilliant clarity and quiet additions. The color tone changes from fall to early spring. A two-page horizontal block of only trees showing the changing season is included on select pages that enriches the eye appeal of the book. With its humorous story and natural illustrations, this is a good read-aloud book for young children. – Children's Literature

In a twist on the classic tale of the Grasshopper and the Ants, Groundhog must find a way to get his hibernating friends to share their food stores with him after he has played away the fall and early winter. On Jan. 2nd, he climbs to the top of the hill where the sun is shining and the snow is melting, and proclaims that spring has come early. His friends all emerge and feast-until snowflakes start to swirl around them and Squirrel realizes what Groundhog has done. In retaliation, his friends decide to trick him. When he emerges from hibernation on Feb. 2nd, he sees his "shadow" and goes back to sleep, not realizing that spring has already arrived. Cassels's gouache paintings are remarkably detailed and lifelike-blades of grass, tree bark and the hairs on each animal's coat of fur all stand out with amazing clarity. At the same time, she has given the characters the anthropomorphic qualities that will help them appeal to the youngest readers-a brilliant balance that make the illustrations truly memorable. Great for a read-aloud in classrooms. – Kirkus Reviews

Who wants to spend all winter sleeping? Groundhog would rather spend his autumn days playing with the other woodland animals than preparing for winter. While his disapproving friends retreat to their warm and cozy burrows, he remains awake. Once the snow begins to fly, he plays in it alone, building snowmen and forts, but soon becomes hungry and cold. In early January during a brief thaw, the mischievous animal tricks the other forest inhabitants into believing that spring has arrived early and they celebrate with a wonderful feast. When his disgruntled companions discover the ruse, they resolve to get back at him, and, because of their trickery, he ends up sleeping through spring. The following winter, an unrepentant Groundhog stays up late once again. Crisp gouache paintings show the cuddly animals standing upright, and the energetic woodchuck proudly sports a red scarf and mittens. The colors and textures of the changing seasons are beautifully portrayed. – School Library Journal

The Bumpy Little Pumpkin

Ill. by Will Hillenbrand

Reminiscent of Charlie Brown's devotion to his scraggly Christmas tree, Little Nell's story is just as satisfying, stressing the worth of a child's handiwork and the value of creating. The colorful cartoons provide the perfect complement. This is a holiday story that can be used year round; it's an excellent choice for reading aloud, both in a group setting or one-one-one. – School Library Journal

Little Nell, who first appeared in The Biggest, Best Snowman (1998), is back in another story about an independent, young sibling. Nell is dwarfed by her sisters, BIG Lizzie and BIG Sarah, and by her mother, BIG Mama. At Halloween, Lizzie and Sarah choose huge, smooth pumpkins , while Nell selects the small, lumpy runt of the vine. Her sisters dismiss it as too " bumpy and little and ugly," and Nell withers under the criticism. Then her animal friends appear, and using antlers and beaks as tools, they help her carve a winning face on her pumpkin , earning Mama's praise and delight. Once again, Cuyler and Hillenbrand create a warm, empowering story about a youngest sister's struggles. Cuyler's infectious, repetitive text, with its recurrent use of BIG, is perfectly paced for participatory read-alouds, and Hillenbrand's cheery, whimsical mixed-media illustrations show Little Nell's perspective, moving from images of giant, looming figures to scenes with a more balanced scale at the story's triumphant end. A reassuring story about individuality, friendship, and finding beauty in the imperfect and unusual. – Booklist

This companion to The Biggest, Best Snowman is about a little girl named Little Nell who lives in a Big house with her sisters, Big Lizzie and Big Sarah, and her mother Big Mama. When pumpkin harvest arrives, everyone goes to the pumpkin patch to find a pumpkin to carve for Halloween. Big Lizzie and Big Sarah find big pumpkins for themselves while Little Nell finds a little pumpkin . But her sisters refuse to help her carve her pumpkin because they think it is little and ugly. While Little Nell is crying in the garden, her friends arrive to help her. Reindeer, Bear Cub, and Hare, as well as Cardinal, Crow, and Sparrow do their part to turn this little pumpkin into a beautiful jack-o'-lantern. When Little Nell brings her creation home, her mother tells her how beautiful it is. The illustrations in this book are large and colorful and will delight any child who cannot read. For those ready to read, the words are simple and easy to understand. – Children's Literature

In this holiday-themed retread of The Biggest, Best Snowman (1998), Little Nell once again "proves" (with plenty of help) that she's more capable than her two big sisters suppose. Here, she rejects the condescending offers of BIG Sarah and BIG Lizzie, enlisting instead a coterie of forest animals to carve something into the small, lumpy pumpkin she's chosen. Hillenbrand sets the woodsy tale in a burgeoning pumpkin patch, surrounds tuft-haired, dot-eyed Nell with smiling fauna and closes with a full-page scene of her embracing her candle-lit, misshapen jack-o'-lantern in the wake of BIG Mama's fulsome praise. Though even younger children may be left wondering how a reindeer's antler or the beaks of birds could produce such straight, knifelike cuts in Nell's pumpkin , the empowerment theme easily leaps such logic gaps-as the likes of Ruth Krauss's Carrot Seed or Pat Hutchins' Titch have demonstrated for generations of post-toddlers. – Kirkus Reviews

Little Nell, introduced in The Biggest, Best Snowman (Scholastic, 1998), returns with BIG Mama, BIG Sarah, and BIG Lizzie. It's Halloween, and the three siblings are looking for pumpkins to carve into jack-o'-lanterns. Little Nell's selection is deemed too small and ugly by her sisters. Not to be deterred, Little Nell enlists the help of Reindeer, Hare, and Bear Cub and creates a special jack-o'-lantern that can proudly take its place on the porch. As BIG Mama says, Jack-o'-lanterns come in all shapes and sizes!, a line that can be reassuringly applied to children as well. Reminiscent of Charlie Brown's devotion to his scraggly Christmas tree, Little Nell's story is just as satisfying, stressing the worth of a child's handiwork and the value of creating. The colorful cartoons provide the perfect complement. This is a holiday story that can be used year round; it's an excellent choice for reading aloud, both in a group setting or one-on-one. – School Library Journal

Please Say Please! Penguin’s Book of Manners

Ill. by Will Hillenbrand

This jovial guide to manners may not tame wild young beasts, but it will have preschoolers giggling to see bears throwing spoons, chimps grabbing, and giraffes burping at Penguin’s house. Cuyler introduces basic party etiquette in a question-and-answer format... By the conclusion, the newly enlightened menagerie is merrily on its way, with a thank-you and a come back soon. Hillenbrand’s simple, comical illustrations harness the messy chaos (and flying food) of childhood with bold black lines and plenty of good humor. – Booklist

A must for every children's library – and for the frustrated parents of young ones. – Kirkus Reviews

Big Friends

Ill. by Ezra Tucker

This delightful, larger-than-life story will leave readers smiling big. – School Library Journal

This is a predicatable tale with just enough (and brilliantly lush, acrylic-and-gouache illustrations) to keep readers reading and listening and everyone smiling. – Kirkus Reviews

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Ill. by Arthur Howard

Ever- and over-sensitive to the many perils that threaten a primary schooler, Jessica achieves a new level of panic when her teacher announces Fire Prevention Week and daily introduces a safety strategy that Jessica translates into imminent household doom... A list of "Sparky's Top 10 fire Safety Tips for Kids" is included on the jacket back. – Recommended, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Still, as they're falling down laughing, readers will pick up a few important safety tips, too. Stop, drop, and read. – Kirkus Reviews

Buy plenty of copies; this is sure to be in demand for fire-safety programs. – Booklist

Best used in units on fire safety. – School Library Journal

100th Day Worries

Ill. by Arthur Howard

A little math and a lot of reassurance are tucked into a new idea for celebrating the hundredth day of school. – Booklist

Cuyler has an unflashily effective style and an ear for easy dialogue that keeps this story smoothly rolling. Howard's art evinces the energetically scrawled lines of Betsy Lewin, and the different perspectives and compositions ensure that the simple visuals remain interesting. Warm, uncomplicated, and believable, this is a happy school story for young audiences. Recommended, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Cuyler artfully ladles on the anxiety and suspense as a chronic worrier confronts a school tradition and succeeds with the support of her family. – Kirkus Reviews

The Biggest, Best Snowman

Ill. by Will Hillenbrand

As crisp and delicately patterned as a snowflake, Cuyler's tale brims with rhyming words and recurring phrases with which children will gleefully chime in. Starred review, Publishers Weekly

This funny winter's tale from Cuyler features a girl who needs a boost of confidence to get past the teasing of her overwhelming, overbearing mother and sisters... Hillenbrand's comic exaggerations put both the characters and the landscape powerfully in place. – Kirkus Reviews

From Here to There

Ill. by Yu Cha Pak

Cuyler's plain text is laden with meaning for new readers. She allows them to draw their own conclusions, which they will. – Kirkus Reviews

This enlightening journey is both a meditation on humanity's small place in the universe and a celebration of each person's immutable individuality. – Publisher's Weekly

Selected for Texas Library Association's 2 X 2 Reading List

That's Good! That's Bad!

Ill. by David Catrow

IRA-CBC Choice

Cuyler's fanciful tale is energized by exclamations that beg to be read aloud. Catrow's witty cartoons paint the jungle in a humorous light and hilariously depict the boy's alternating terror and relief. And that's good! – Publisher's Weekly

This rollicking romp through the animal kingdom features vibrant, richly colored cartoon illustrations in a style that is reminiscent of Bill Peet's. It will keep children engaged from beginning to satisfying end. They'll beg for another reading. – School Library Journal

A surefire hit, the book amuses, delights, and frightens, all within the safe confines of the pages. – Booklist

Roadsigns: A Harey Race with a Tortoise

Ill. by Steve Haskamp

This adaptation of Aesop's familiar fable has very little conventional text; instead, readers peruse dozens of signs along the route of Tortoise's race with Hare... Readers will enjoy tracing the competitors' progress across the colorful pages. – The Horn Book

The signs are fun to read, and the bright acrylic-on-canvas illustrations are playful and appealing. Children can follow the whole route of the race on the endpapers... Roadsigns will provide reading practice, sign recognition, and good fun for both one-on-one sharing and individual reading. – School Library Journal

Younger readers will find both visual jokes and plenty of pictures... Open this engaging debut for the illustrator and there'll be "No Stopping. – Kirkus Reviews

The Battlefield Ghost

Pictures by Arthur Howard

This entertaining story may have readers seeking out their own local histories for possible ghost tales. – Kirkus Reviews

Interesting facts about the Revolutionary War are woven into the simple plot. – The Horn Book

Nominated for Young Hoosier Book Award (Indiana), Land of Enchantment Book Award (New Mexico), Nevada Award

Weird Wolf

Pictures by Dirk Zimmer

A winner. – Booklist

Destined for greatness in the opinions of werewolf-crazy eight-year-olds. – Recommended, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Skeleton Hiccups

Pictures by S.D. Schindler

Each phase of Cuyler's terse, rhythmic narrative is punctuated with a 'hic, hic, hic' that's sure to have kids giggling and joining in. Schindler augments the simple idea with funny expressions and details on each handsome, boldly designed page... A Halloween pleaser. – The Horn Book

Cuyler cleverly brings readers through the ups and downs of Skeleton's day, from shower to ball-playing ... the right audience will enjoy the fun. – Kirkus Reviews

In her bare bones text, Cuyler establishes a strong, infectious rhythm by sandwiching a 'hic hic hic' between each three-or four-word line. Schindler's art is reduced to bare essentials, too: Simply drawn figures, minimal detailing, monochromatic backgrounds. At last, a look in a mirror draws a scream from Skeleton that frightens the hiccups away – but not before they have given readers' funny bones a real workout. – Booklist

This is a peppy change of pace from the usual Halloween fare that could make for a bone-rattlingly good storytime. – Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, recommended

Winner of the Wisconsin Golden Archer Award, primary category. Nominated for Colorado Children’s Book Award.

That's Good! That's Bad! in the Grand Canyon

Pictures by David Catrow

The second offering from the team that pairs terror and relief in its wacky text and even wackier illustrations... Particularly fine for reading aloud. Fun! – Booklist

The story begs to be read aloud... A natural for storytime. – School Library Journal

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