The Song of Francis
by Tomie dePaola
Through sparse words and brilliant illustrations, popular author/illustrator dePaola (best known for The Legend of the Texas Bluebonnet) tells a simple tale of how birds of every color came to hear Francis sing of love. His singing also attracts the sun, the moon, and angels, all of whom join in the song. Catholic churches honor St. Francis of Assisi by hosting “blessing of the animals” ceremonies on or around October 4. Regardless of one’s religious preference, many people appreciate this remembrance of St. Francis’ love of animals and, like the birds, the sun, the moon, and the angels, choose to join the joyful celebration. Although there is not much of a story line, preschool children will enjoy identifying the colors as one by one each bird comes and goes and the lyrical lines of text. The art, created using Avery labels and markers, is easily replicated by budding artists and demonstrates the beauty that can be created with simple supplies.
Duck & Goose Find a Pumpkin
by Tad Hills
This simple board book will delight toddlers as two friends, Duck and Goose, search everywhere for a pumpkin. The illustrations in fall colors are adorable and offer simple, but not simplistic, pictures with just a few words of text on each page. The coated boards and small size mean that even sticky little hands can hold the book, an important skill needed for early literacy. The friends look in a leaf pile, in the apple tree, and several other locations before deciding that it might be best to look for a pumpkin in a pumpkin patch. Perfect for fall reading or as a non-candy treat for Halloween!
A Practical Guide to Vampires
by Lisa Trumbauer
Just in time for Halloween, this guide will help tweens and young teens investigate an ever-growing segment of the fantasy world. Purported to be written by an international vampire hunter, the book follows the familiar format of other titles in the “Practical Guide” series and provides readers with all of the knowledge and advice currently available. Illustrations, lists, and fact boxes enhance the material, from basics, including how to recognize a vampire, vampire anatomy, and allergens, to advanced information such as how to recognize a vampire’s lair, vampiric language, and hobbies. Given the popularity of books like Eternal by Austinite Cynthia Leitch Smith and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, young readers will suck up the information in this guide faster than Dracula can say Trebuie sa mananc (“I must feed,” for those of you not fluent in vampiric language!).
The Runaway Mummy
by Michael Rex
When a little mummy gets in trouble, he decides to run away. In this imaginary romp, his mother says ““If you run away, I will get you! For you are my rotten little mummy!” As the little mummy is transformed into various other creatures, including a big bat, his mother becomes the very thing necessary to keep up with her child. While the parody aspects of this book will mean more to adults and older children who are familiar with Margaret Wise Brown’s classic picture book, The Runaway Bunny, it also stands very well on its own as a tale of independence and love.
by P. J. Petersen
Action and danger in video games don’t prepare you for real-life adventure, 12-year-old Ryan discovers after he joins his brother on a kayaking trip down the Boulder River. Although the river is a bit high when they set out, Tanner assures him that it is nothing to worry about. When Tanner is injured and knocked unconscious while trying to take the kayak through a chute, Ryan is left alone. Facing the cold water, the wilderness, isolation, and the responsibility for saving both his own life and his brother’s, Ryan must find a way to win the ultimate challenge. Readers ages 10 through 14 who enjoyed Hatchet by Gary Paulsen or Downriver by Will Hobbs will find this thrill-a-minute adventure equally compelling, especially because the first person narration puts us right in the action.
—Jeanette Larson, Books Editor, teaches children’s literature for the School of Library & Information Studies at Texas Woman’s University
by Jan Brett
This month, Penguin will release the 20th Anniversary Edition of this excellent story book. In The Mitten, a little boy asks his Grandma for mittens “as white as snow”. She knits them for him and tells him that she will check to make sure he has both mittens when he returns from his daily adventure. The boy goes outside and climbs a tree and drops one of his mittens. This is where the fun begins as a mole comes along and wiggles into the mitten. Lots of other animals come snuggle into the mitten, like a hedgehog and a bear! Jan Brett tells the story with really excellent drawings that took her more than a year to work on. How does she make really awesome pictures? I hope I can draw that well someday!
—Ike Porter, age 6 (with help from his mom)
Raising the Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation
By Elizabeth Beckwith
OMG. This has to be one of the funniest books I’ve read in…well….ever. To say comedian Elizabeth Beckwith is hilarious would be an understatement. Filled with hysterical anecdotes about her life, her husband, and her thoughts on how not to raise your daughter to be a “ho”, this book also doles out such parenting gems as how to teach your children to spot unsavory people (although her wording is a bit more colorful) and how to scare the bejeezus out of your kids (in a positive way). There are also juicy tidbits on the beauties of mind control, and trips down memory lane (her description of Engaged Encounter is priceless). Without a doubt, this book delivers solid entertainment to weary parents. It is not, however, for those with sensitive sensibilities, as her language (and the subject matter) can get a bit raw. Having said that, this would be a fun read for a mothers’ group book club — Beckwith even includes “discussion questions” at the end of each chapter that are nearly as funny as the chapters themselves!
—Kim Pleticha, Editor