Monday, February 12, 2007


NEVER TOO LITTLE TO LOVE by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Jan Fearnley (Candlewick)
Tiny Too-Little has to really stretch if he wants a smooch from his long-necked love interest, but where there's a will, there's a way! A series of cut-paper pages display his attempts to pile different items on top of each other, but even when that fails, love conquers all and effectively makes the point of the title. A charming cumulative tale mixes gentle watercolors with enough novelty to stabilize the saccharine. Pre-school teachers, this title screams for a felt-board interpretation of the great object pile-up (such as the one sported by our model below on a Show-a-Tale apron from BookProps)! (3 and up)

Also of interest:

Sweet! Ten Ways to Use Books and Reading to say "I Love You" on Valentine's Day

1. Read aloud a book into a casette player, or a computer recordingdevice. Give the book and finished cassette/CD to a young loved one. Great for working parents! Kids can also make recordings as gifts for distant relatives.

2. Pack a special Valentine's Day brown-bag lunch and include a love letter to your child to read while s/he eats!

3. Make a Valentine for a favorite author or illustrator. Help your child address an envelope to the publisher (usually listed on thecopyright page of a book), and send it off.

4. Make pink fortune cookies by adding a few drops of red food coloring. Write your own fortunes together and read them aloud as you open the cookies. Recipe at .

5. Share something personal and special by reading aloud, like a childhood diary or PG-rated love letters you and your spouse exchanged.

6. Have a family read-aloud with CUPID AND PSYCHE, as told by M. Charlotte Craft and stunningly illustrated by K.Y. Craft. Need more titles for your literary love-in? For a big bouquet of lovely books that manages to avoid too much mush, check out Unlovable Love Stories.

7. Let your child tuck you in and read you a bedtime story.

8. Find your favorite childhood book and inscribe it to your child.

9. Pack a new book inside the bottom of a heart-shaped box of chocolates.

10. Take your child on a date to the library.

Remember, ten thousand pieces of research support the Department of Education's findings that read-aloud is the best thing you can do to support lifelong literacy, that it contributes to background knowledge for all subject areas, and that read-aloud should continue through the grade levels. Love learning? Read-aloud is romantic!

On a personal note: You're invited to a publication party!
A children's literature shmoozapalooza for grown-ups is
being hosted by the lovelies at Writer's Workspace on the north side of Chicago this Friday (2/16) at 6:30 p.m. in honor of my novel VIVE LA PARIS. Why don't you come by?

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


THE LEMON SISTERS by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss (Putnam)

In Chicago right now, we are in a deep freeze with windchills of 15 below, but hey, we're not complaining! We have our books to keep us warm!

In the spirit of "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade," (what a lovely, summery thought!) we have this delightful intergenerational story of an elderly woman whose memories of childhood come flooding back while watching through her window at three sisters ("Red Hat, Blue Hat and Yellow Hat") making snow angels. Little does our nostalgic onlooker know, brrrr-thday surprises are being planned in her honor, both by her new young friends and by her more wizened contemporaries, complete with snow thrones and lemon ice (a simple rebus recipe is on the endpapers). Full of busy action and thoughtful detail, brightly colored patterns in subtle multimedia collage give each picture an unusual texture, expressive depth and cheerfulness; it's a stand-out style deserving of closer inspection, and offers a pleasure that weathers repeated readings. This story is an example of a satisfying picture book that achieves what it sets out to do, perfectly capturing both the cold and the warmth of a fun, freezing day. You'll want sisters and friends like the ones in this book! (5 and up)

Also of interest:
THE BIGGEST, BEST SNOWMAN by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand (Scholastic) Big Mama, Big Sarah and Big Nell are less than supportive when it comes to including little Nell, but she shows them all when she and her animal friends are able to pull together a snowman that requires a double-page spread. Little children will be fortified by the "you can do it!" message, and the spirit of cooperation grows and grows with the rolling of every snowball. (4 and up)

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.


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