Tuesday, May 11, 2010


My GardenMY GARDEN by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow, 2010)
What if you had a garden in which the flowers could change color and pattern with the variety of a turning kaleidoscope, just by thinking about it?  What if the rabbits were made of chocolate?  What if you planted a seashell, and seashells grew...or jellybeans, or buttons, or umbrellas?  What if the strawberries glowed like lanterns?  In the tradition of Ruth Krauss' THE CARROT SEED and the lesser-known LOLLIPOP TREE by Cherney Berg, in this little girl's garden, the seeds of imagination are what germinates the fastest. Henkes' colorful watercolors are so vibrant they seem nearly still wet on the page, as if we were sitting beside the illustrator as he dipped his brush...the perfect spirit for a story of gardening alongside a friendly grown-up.  Share it, plant the idea of "what if" and watch...how does your garden of possibility grow?  (4 and up)  And for more picture book flower power, click here!

Also of interest:
More spring-y stories of what-if.
Hey, Rabbit!HEY, RABBIT! by Sergio Ruzzier (Roaring Brook, 2010)  A little rabbit pushes around a mysterious suitcase to the foot of each of his friends, inspiring the queries, "is there anything for me in your suitcase?"  What is inside for the dog, the toucan, the kitty, crab, mouse, bear?  Each suspense-filled turn of the page reveals a double-paged spread of each creature's secret wish.  When all is said and done, what is left for the rabbit?  This book was made for storytime, and for a lift-the-flap craft project in which children can draw their heart's desires inside the unassuming lining of a construction paper suitcase.  If I may add a small editorial comment: Oh, my GOSH. Sergio Ruzzier, how do you do it?  Anyone who works directly with children needs ALL of his books, I'm afraid, including his recent thing of beauty, the masterwork AMANDINA, in which a little dog gives his best performance to an empty theater, only to discover his art has an audience after all.  Ruzzier melds the lively 70's-influenced style of Harriet Pincus with the gentler hand of Uri Shulevitz, not to say that Ruzzier is anything less than a true original: he adds his own oddly moving flavor to every book, a flavor that is not afraid of an unselfconscious smile on the characters he draws, and is sure to induce the same in readers.  (4 and up)

Mathilda and the Orange BalloonMATHILDA AND THE ORANGE BALLOON by Randall de Seve, illustrated by Jen Corace (Balzer + Bray, 2010)  "Mathilda's world was small.  Here's what was in it:  Green grass.  Green barn.  Gray skies.  Gray stones.  Gray sheep, gray sheep, gray sheep."  Who can blame Mathilda for aspiring to become a bright orange balloon?  It doesn't seem realistic, at least to her more conservative dyed-in-the-wool cohorts, but a little perseverance convinces the flock that there might be more possibilities for the shape of a life than previously imagined. Corace's succinct, sweet style against a crisp white background that we have enjoyed in Amy Krouse Rosenthal's LITTLE PEA returns to good effect here, and matched to the text, the message is clear: If you can dream it, you can do it...so you might as well let your imagination soar high!  (4 and up)

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