Here are some new picture books for spring.
"SOPHIE'S FISH," by A.E. Cannon, illustrated by Lee White, Viking, $15.99 (ages 3-5)
Jake is very worried about his promise to care for Sophie’s fish, exclaiming, “I don’t know anything about taking care of fish!” His imagination conjures up possible food (maybe strawberry worm cake) or activities to entertain (what kind of story to read to the fish).
But Jake’s imagination is not as big as the gag Utah author A.E. Cannon and Lee White play on the reader. This will certainly be a “read it again!” choice for the summer.
"WOODY GUTHRIE'S RIDING IN MY CAR," by Woody Guthrie, illustrated by Scott Menchin, Little/Brown, $17.99 (ages 5 and up)
When a family plans a New-York-City-to-San-Francisco trip in a vintage wood-paneled convertible, they are accompanied by Woody Guthrie’s music, “Riding in My Car.” Scott Menchin has cleverly included tabs, wheels and pull-outs in his impressionistic photo-collage art to show the author’s home of Okemah, Okla. Guthrie's song “This Land is My Land” becomes a big part of this wonderful journey.
It’s a slight that the lyrics are not included for both songs in the book, but they are available in a noted website to accompany the book.
Thunder can be fearsome to many young children. Brannon’s family reassures his fears with explanations like, “It’s a big cat purring,” or “Angels are bowling in the heaven.” But Brannon is not appeased. His brother suggests the best explanation: “Only dinosaurs stomping around. And you know about dinosaurs.” Fears mastered!
Marion Dane Bauer’s practical story is accompanied by Margaret Chodos-Irvine's clunky collages just right for capturing the feeling of dinosaur stomping.
"PENNY AND HER SONG," by Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow, $12.99 (ages 4-8)
Penny, a mouse with music ready to bust out, is eager to share her talents. But during dinner and when the baby is asleep — every time she tries to burst out a tune — she is told to be patient. Then patience pays off for Penny (in a whole page spread all by herself), and she gets to belt out her song to the applause of the family.
Kevin Henkes has a unique ability to turn the seemingly simple into a perfect storyline. This will appeal to all children who are bursting at the seams with new-found gifts that need sharing but have to wait their turn.
Moose is more than impatient of find his place in the alphabet book and pushes Duck and Elephant out of the way. As Kangaroo and Lollipop near their spot, Moose becomes exuberant until Zebra (bedecked with referee shirt over his stripes) takes things in hand.
Paul Zelinsky has humorously portrayed an almost-typical alphabet book with Moose on a rampage. This will be fun for children to make their own storyline.
Prince Han’s wife Eva may have passed the pea-under-the-mattress test, but she’s too sensitive and whiny. Prince Henrik is seeking a princess who is just the opposite: “She just had to like hockey and camping and have a nice smile.” Prince Henrik tests out all the would-be princesses with an old sleeping bag and a camping mattress piled over a package of frozen peas.
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