Wednesday, June 03, 2009


JOE AND SPARKY GET NEW WHEELS by Jamie Michalak, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz (Candlewick)

"I won!" Joe shouted. I won the the big prize! There it is at the end of the road."
"Giraffes do not win big prizes."
"Some do," said Joe.

"Safety first!" suggests slowpoke turtle Sparky, and a word to the wise is sufficient; one would do well to look both ways while Giraffe Joe is on the loose in his misbegotten yellow convertible. When the giraffe sports a Carmen Miranda-like chapeau a lady has left on the seat, the duo manages to flummox the zoo gatekeeper and off they go on several errands ("What do we do here?" Sparky said. "Find big sales! Shop till you drop!" said the voice. "That sounds dangerous," Sparky whispered). Whether gathering a surfboard, basketball, earmuffs, sports socks, candy and a "sale"sign at the "Tall Mall," ordering bugs at the Tasty Burger drive-thru, taking a bath in the car wash or tsk-tsking the poor driving skills of those in a rollercoaster car, every mile of this wild trip goes over the limit with energy and good humor. The illustrator (of FROGGY GETS DRESSED fame) utilizes a palette throughout the book that appears rendered from a juicy fruit bowl, well-matched to Joe's millinery. Though very different in temperment, these two friends find common ground in the affection they feel for each other, and readily join the ranks of Arnold Lobel's FROG AND TOAD. Read-aloud ready and separated into short, easy-to-decode episodes, emergent readers will surely look forward to more adventures down the road. (5 and up)

Also of interest:
Other new dynamic duos in which opposites attract.
POODLE AND HOUND by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Mitch Vane (Charlesbridge) If man's best friend is his dog, imagine the faithfulness of one dog to another! In the same vein as James Howe's popular HOUNDSLEY AND CATINA series, we have a free spirit colliding with a more straightforward personality. Especially charming is the third story in the collection, "The Garden," in which a little collaboration allows for room for both practical vegetables and pretty flowers. Loose lines and watercolors underscore this book's relaxed, chummy feel. (5 and up)

HURRY UP AND SLOW DOWN by Layn Marlow (Holiday House)
When Tortoise sleeps late in the morning, he is roused by "Hurry up and wake up!" from a fast, furry friend. When Tortoise takes his time over lunch and chews "each leaf at least eleventy times," he hears "hurry up and eat up!" When he plays a game and put things away just so, it's "hurry up and clean up." But what about when Tortoise reads a storybook?

The second page...and the third are over in a flash. The fourth flies by in the wink of an eye, and Tortoise goes on to the fifth. He is just about to turn the page again when Hare cries..."Hurry up and slow down! We need to take our time, Tortoise. We need to look at the pictures!"

Fans of Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram's bestselling GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU will appreciate the beautifully balanced text and warm earth-tones of the illustrations, and this book deserves equal success, being a snuggly homage to the enthusiasm...and pacing...of the youngest picture book lover. Read with or without Tortoise's requisite chamomile tea, and be prepared to slow down and share more than once. (3 and up)

Shop with Esme
Okay, I know we're all broke, but some of the stuff at Fred Flare has sent me digging into the sofa cushions for spare change. Can't we all give peace a chance, or at least a piece of cake a chance using their provocative cake mold? And doesn't every cupcake-loving diva need to sport a sprinkle ring as a secret sign to alert other frosting-lovers in the sisterhood? You can wear it to a tea party where you serve beverages from pudding mugs and cookies from the handy-dandy melamine plates (think of the thousands of dollars you'll save on paper doilies; why, you can practically put your child through college)! They even have packing tape sporting the same patchwork pattern as David McKee's beloved ELMER. And if all this empties your pocket, don't worry, at least you'll still be left with a cute and clever toast wallet until you bring home some more bread.
Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.
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Susan Bearman said...

That is the best duct tape ever! I keep threatening my noisy 12 year old with duct tape, and I don't think he would even mind sporting this fashion-forward version over his never-closed mouth.

Unknown said...

I really liked the "Sorry We're Sorry" Purse at Fred Flare. Thanks for sharing this - I didn't know about Fred Flare. I already see a few things I can't live without. Sue Bartle

Esme Raji Codell said...

I can't live without Sue Bartle! See you in July.


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