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Picture books for fall, gifts for young readers

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 3 2013 3:51 p.m. MST

"Fall Walk" is about Virginia Brimhall Snow.

Gibbs Smith

Picture books for fall include a variety of styles from Utah illustrators and national award-winning artists. Fractured tales, new stories (maybe to become classical tales), and themes such as bedtime stories and animals big and small are some of the favorites. Following is a selection of new books to enjoy now and for gift-giving during the upcoming holidays.

FALL WALK,” by Virginia Brimhall Snow, Gibbs Smith Publishers, $16.99 (all ages)

Children and their “grammy” twirl, scatter and explore 24 kinds of leaves as they take a fall walk. Utah author/illustrator Virginia Brimhall Snow includes simple couplets accompanied with black-and-white sketches of the trees with real-sized colored examples of the leaves from each tree. Ideas for leaf pressing and rubbing add interest. This is a special reference book for a home library.

THE SNATCHABOOK,” by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty, Source Books, $16.99 (ages 3 and up)

This husband-and-wife team has collaborated on a picture book that begins with a dilemma: books “disappeared from left and right,” with no bedtime stories remaining to be read. Something had been book-snatching.

The “Snatchabook” has scrumptious cartoon images that help tell the plot as a thief decides to finally change his ways. This is a book that demands to be read aloud.

GOOD NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT,” by Mem Fox, illustrations by Judy Horacek, Scholastic, $16.99 (ages 3-5)

When Bonnie and Ben’s baby sitter tells them a bedtime rhyme, they beg for another and another, to avoid lights out similar to Scheherazade’s endless stories. Judy Horacek’s images reveal the children in all kinds of settings including visiting a bakery shop for “pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake baker’s man.”

“WHERE IS BABY?” by Kathryn O. Galbraith, illustrations by John Butler, Peachtree, $16.95 (ages 2-6)

Babies love to hide in unusual places. “Baby bears vanish in the snow. Baby wolves dash into their dens.”

In a fold-out page, a mother finds her child wrapped in a blanket. Babies never need to worry, mamas know just where to find them.

Butler’s luminous acrylic and colored pencil illustrations add to the beauty, making “Where Is Baby?” a welcome gift for the newborn and for little ones interested in baby animals.

BLANKET & BEAR, A REMARKABLE PAIR,” by L.J.R. Kelly, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka, Penguin, $16.99 (ages 3-5)

L.J.R. Kelly, grandson of Roald Dahl, tells what happens to a child’s misplaced toys. When Blanket and Bear are lost they try to find their lost boy. But when they finally do he is “so grown-up! So tall!”

Since “they were no longer needed, their time now through,” Blanket and Bear retire to the “island of lost blankets and bears — free to do as they wish.”

Kelly’s nostalgic verses and Tanaka’s muted acrylic illustrations — reminiscent of “The Velveteen Rabbit” — will give solace to those holding on to tender toys and memories.

CHLOE THE CLUMSY FAIRY,” by Katie Watkins, illustrated by Lester Lee, Source Media Books, $16.99 (ages 4-8)

Of the seven fairies in Dragonfly Pond, Chloe is known as the “catastrophically clumsy” one. She bumps into things, gets dirty and drops her wand in the pond. When Chloe hears about a new girl who is having trouble making friends, she takes the challenge to help. They find the most unexpected friend in the whole school.

Katie Watkins, a California resident, received a master's degree from Brigham Young University as did illustrator Lester Lee, who now does his painting and sculpting in Clarkston, Utah.

Chloe is one of seven monelie fairy dolls that will be available in 2014.

MADELINE AND THE OLD HOUSE IN PARIS,” by John Bemelman Marciano, Viking, $17.99 (ages 3 and up)

Following the legacy of his grandfather, Ludwig Bemelman, John Marciano continues the popular stories of “twelve little girls in two straight lines” living in “an old house in Paris that was covered in vines.”

But a ghost also lives in the old house and when he loses his prized telescope, Madeline and Pepito, the boy next door, are determined to find it and return it to the rightful owner.

Young fans will enjoy this new adventure of their beloved Madeline.

FRIENDS,” Eric Carle, Penguin, $17.99 (ages 3-5)

More than half of “Friends” is Eric Carle’s signature hand-painted tissue paper abstract images representing water, mountains, meadows and the night sky. The colored spreads and compact storyline dedicated to his wife, Barbara, tell of friends who move away from each other and have a happy reunion.

“A BIG GUY TOOK MY BALL!” by Mo Willems, Hyperion, $8.99 (ages 3-6)

In the latest in the Elephant and Piggy series, Piggy is devastated when a big guy takes her ball. When Gerald Elephant promises its return, he finds out the guy is really big. Really BIG! Using Mo Willems' hallmark simple line sketches and subtle body and facial expressions, “A Big Guy Took My Ball!” is a pleasing lesson in conflict resolution.

MR. TIGER GOES WILD,” by Peter Brown, Little Brown & Co. $18 (ages 3-6)

The droll world is perfect for everyone except Mr. Tiger, who is bored, always being proper. He wants to go and be wild, and to the chagrin of his neighbors he does.

Fawn brown and charcoal gray geometric shapes are angled and precisely spaced except for Mr. Tiger’s apricot-colored body and green-dotted eyes, which attract the reader immediately to his aspirations. Peter Brown’s parable of self-acceptance has a timely theme to be enjoyed by many ages.

I’M THE SCARIEST THING IN THE JUNGLE,” by David G. Derrick Jr., Immedium, $15.95 (ages 4-8)

This is a wrangle of bravado between a tiger cub and a little crocodile each claiming to be the scariest thing in the jungle. When Mothers Tiger and Crocodile find them in the verbal contest, the youngsters both agree that “Our moms are the scariest things in the jungle.”

The rivalry between the two jungle juniors is a perfect text for the varied watercolor spreads. Young readers will want to play-act this one out.

David G. Derrick studied fine arts at the University of Utah and is now a professional animator.

WHEN LIONS ROAR,” by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Chris Raschka, Scholastic, $16.99. (ages 3-5)

Sometimes noises are scary, such as thunder booming, lions roaring and dogs barking. “When daddies yell! When mommies holler! The scary is near.”

As a little boy faces his fears, things become safe again.

“When Lions Roar” is a great story for parents and children to read together when scary things need to be addressed.

LION VS. RABBIT,” by Alex Latimer, Peachtree, $15.95 (ages 4-8)

All the jungle animals are being bullied by Lion. Try as they may, no one can get the best of the King of the Beasts. Finally Rabbit wins in a racing contest. Lion admits his defeat and “was never mean to anyone again.”

Alex Latimer unfolds the humorous plot with incongruous clues that readers will delight in as they recall Aesop’s “Rabbit and Hare.”

THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE SOMEWHAT BAD WOLF,” by Mark Teague, Scholastic, $16.99 (ages 6-9)

When the farmer and his wife pay the three pigs for their good work on the farm and leave for Florida, they spend their pay. The first pig builds a house of straw and buys potato chips (lots of them). The second pig builds a house of sticks with money left over for cases of sody-pop. The third pig delights in his brick house and sumptuous garden. When a very hungry wolf “smelled pig,” he goes after a meal. He did get his dinner, but not in the ways of the traditional folk tale.

Teague’s oil paintings with subtle nuances will become a favorite for rereading.

CINDERELEPHANT,” by Emma Dodd, Scholastic, $16.99 (ages 4-8)

Emma Dodd’s fresh twist on one of the best-known fairy tales includes both visual and verbal clues in digitally produced illustrations. Cinderelephant and Prince Trunky dominate the story with their enormous sizes, but the mean Warty Sisters and a kindly Fairy Godmouse add lots of fun.

Even the youngest listener will see the humor as Cinderelephant and Prince Trunky were “hugely happy every after.”

HIDING PHIL,” by Eric Barclay, Scholastic, $16.99 (ages 4-8)

When three children find an elephant at a bus stop and have fun playing games with him, they decide their parents will love their new friend, too. But hiding a hunky blue pachyderm is not so easy. Young readers will find humor at each of the escapades of Phil, whose endearing qualities overshadow his bulbous size.

DING DONG! GORILLA!" by Michelle Robinson, illustrations by Leonie Lord, Peachtree, $15.95 (ages 4-8)

The doorbell rings and it isn’t the pizza delivery, it’s a gorilla whose mischief includes coloring on the walls, playing dress-up and breaking a vase. “The gorilla ran away … you probably won’t believe that HE made all the mess,” the boy admits.

Youngsters will have their own ideas on who made all the mess.

THE KING OF LITTLE THINGS,” by Bill Lepp, illustrations by David T. Wenzel, Peachtree, $16.95 (ages 4-8)

The King of Little Things was content with his life of little things “coins, candles, combs, keys/ knots, nods, knobby knees.”

Not so with King Normous, who wanted to be king of all the world. When he thought he had conquered it all, he heard about the King of Little Things and went about defeating him, too. With loyalty and cooperation, all little things came to the defense of the King of Little Things.

The deeply resonated storyline — Lepp’s storytelling background shines through — accompanied by glorious intricate paintings will delight a wide audience.

Email: marilousorensen@ymail.com

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