More Great Children's Books

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Titles Not Selected for the Children’s Book Sense 76, But Still Worthy of Attention

This is strictly if you are interested in discovering a sleeper or two that might turn into a nice stock item or handsell. I just can’t bear to let these passionate recommendations go unrecognized in some fashion. Enjoy.

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Arranged in age sequence:

DOG’S COLORFUL DAY: A Messy Story About Colors and Counting, by Emma Dodd (Penguin, $14.99, 0525465286, March ’01) Baby - Preschool. "Dog starts out the day as a white dog with one black spot on his ear. During the day, he manages to collect spots of many colors, jam, ice cream, mud, you can imagine the rest. After his young companion decides he needs a bath, he’s back to one black spot and curling up to dream of bones in all the colors of spots he gathered. This is the best-designed early book for learning colors and counting that I’ve ever seen." --Helen Sinoradzki, Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, OR

BENNY & THE BINKY, by Barbro Lindgren, Olof Landstrom (Illus.) (R&S, $15, 9129654971; April ’02) Baby - Preschool. "Have you ever seen Benny's Had Enough? It's hilarious! Anything that Landstrom puts his hand to is absolute magic. With just the lightest touch, the arch of an angry little piggy's eyebrow, the whites of a shocked lamb's eyes, the tiny trickle of blood on a scraped knee, he expresses volumes. In this new book, Benny is presented with a new baby brother, and he is not thrilled. Oh, I just adore this illustrator!" --Tracy Wynne, Cover to Cover, San Francisco, CA

WIGGLE WAGGLE FUN, by Margaret Mayo (Knopf, $16.95, 0375815295; Feb. ’02) Baby – Preschool. "What a fun book! Grab a child or two and get ready to laugh, move, sing, and wiggle. This would be a great book for a rainy day and a treasure for any preschool and elementary teacher. I enjoyed the mix of loud and quiet poetry with several nice short stories." --Sharon Crosby, Hawley-Cooke Booksellers, Louisville, KY

FRIBBITY RIBBIT!, by Suzanne Johnson, Debbie Tilly (Illus.) (Knopf, $15.95, 0375811990; Aug. ’01) Ages 4-8. "This tongue-twisting, frog chasing, modern family adventure is a delight to read. Outbursts of laughter from the listening audience, adult and child, make you want to read it to everyone who hops your way." --Mary Kelly, The Secret Garden Bookshop, Seattle, WA

EL CUCUY: A Bogeyman Cuento in English and Spanish, by Joe Hayes, Honorio Robledo (Illus.) (Cinco Puntos Press, $15.95, 0938317547; May ’01) Ages 4-8. "El Cucuy is the Hispanic equivalent of the Bogey Man, who with his humped back and large, red left ear can hear everything bad children say or do. When two older daughters make life difficult for their conscientious younger sister and their widowed father, El Cucuy carries them away to his cave in the mountains. They are eventually rescued by a young goat herder and vow to be good from then on. This is presented in both English and Spanish with excellent art work, and is an excellent tool for teaching dual languages and an important part of Hispanic children’s culture." --Bob Spear, Book Barn, Leavenworth, KS

BIG AND NOISY SIMON, by Joseph Wallace, Kevin O'Malley (Illus.) (Hyperion, $15.99, 0786805153; Aug. ’01) Ages 4-8. "Simon is an overly exuberant youngster who goes to Africa with his family. There he loves seeing the big, noisy elephants, stomping and yelling. At night he sees them again, this time moving silently through the tall grasses. When Simon gets back home and goes to school he remembers how even elephants can sometimes be quiet and controlled. Kids in our store love this book! --Carol Greenman, The Village Bookstore, Pleasantville, NY

SHRINKING VIOLET, by Cari Best, Giselle Potter (Illus.) (Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar, $16, 0374368821; August ’01) Ages 4-8. "I love this story! Violette is allergic to attention but her teacher finds a way for her to shine in the school play. Even mean, smirking, bully Irwin gets his! All shy violets should read this -- and their teachers, too!" --Sue Carita, Toadstool Bookshop, Milford, NH

PENNY LEE AND HER TV, by Glenn McCoy (Hyperion, $15.99, 0786806613; April ’02) Ages 4-8. "Penny Lee has a serious addiction -- an addiction to TV. TV is Penny's best friend, and she watches it morning, noon, and night. But when her TV suddenly becomes "broken" Penny turns to man's best friend, her dog, Mr. Barkley, for help. And help he does, as he shows her the bright and colorful world outside on their walk to Joe's TV Repair. Together, Penny Lee and Mr. Barkley (and the TV), jump rope, play hide-and-seek, go swimming and go to the library on the way to the repair shop. But what happens when they get to Joe's and find it's closed? Will Penny Lee live through the night without her beloved TV? Find out in this hilarious new book that will have you rooting for Mr. Barkley all the way!" --Leslie Scully, A Likely Story Children's Bookstore, Alexandria, VA

ZAT CAT! A Haute Couture Tail, by Chesley McLaren (Scholastic, $16.95, 0439273161; March ’02) Ages 4-8. "A charming book that will appeal to young and old. Fantastic illustrations -- Monsieur Etoile is the Eloise of the feline community. I have had so much fun handselling this to customers." --Jenne Herbst, Quail Ridge Books and Music, Raleigh, NC

HERB THE VEGETARIAN DRAGON, by Jules Bass, Debbie Harter (Illus.) (Barefoot Press, $5.99 paper, 1841481270; Jan. ’01) Ages 4-8. "This is such a great kid's book; it’s funny, colorful, and original." --Georgine Balassone, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

MOUSE CLEANING, by Rose-Marie Provencher, Bernadette Pons (Illus.) (Holt, $15.95, 0805062408; June ’01) Ages 4-8. "One of the cutest and most playfully illustrated and engagingly written stories I've read this year! Children will have fun trying to spot this sneaky, squeaky mouse." --Kari Anderson, Kids Ink Children's Bookstores, Greenwood, IN

LITTLE MOUSE'S PAINTING, by Diane Wolkstein, Maryjane Begin (Illus.) (Seastar Books, $5.95, paper, 1587171252; March ’02) Ages 4-8. "Absolutely gorgeous illustrations by Begin compliment a wonderful story of friendship, showing us all there are different ways of seeing the same things. One to just gaze at!" --Nancy Tebeau, Not Just For Kids Bookstore, Wake Forest, NC

SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE DINOSAUR STOMP, by Carol Diggory Shields, Scott Nash (Illus.) (Candlewick Press, $5.99, paper, 0763606960; March ’02) Ages 4-8."‘Boomalack boomalacka! Whack! Whack! Whack!’ Get ready to rock 'n roll with the dinosaurs -- do the Triassic Twist, the Jurassic Jump, and party all night! Just a fun read that is finally available in paperback!" --Nancy Tebeau, Not Just for Kids Bookstore,Wake Forest, NC

THE RECESS QUEEN, by Alexis O'Neill, Laura Huliska-Beith (Illus.) (Scholastic, $15.95, 0439206375; Feb.’02) Ages 4-8. "This author and illustrator team tackle a problem that plagues playgrounds everywhere in a fun picture book that has a place in all school libraries. Mean Jean terrorizes all the kids that know her until a new girl shows up who knows nothing about Mean Jean and her atrocious behavior. Katie Sue knows just the cure for a playground bully." --Sarah Parker, Scott’s Bookstore, Mt. Vernon, WA

LUCKY BOY, by Susan Boase (Houghton Mifflin, $15, 0618131752; March 26, ’02) Ages 4-8. "‘He didn't start out Lucky,’ is the first line of a lovely book. Susan Boase knows dogs, and tells a heart warming tale that is all too familiar. Lucky Boy has the round, sturdy body of a mutt, the appeal of a forever friend, and he longs to be loved. Instead, his always-busy family confines him to a bit of yard alone to amuse himself and wonder. Boase's soft, full drawings remind me of Robert McCloskey's fully realized animals. They have a special shape and soul." --Jan Clymer, Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH

THE SHOE TREE OF CHAGRIN, by J. Patrick Lewis, Chris Sheban (Illus.) (Creative Editions, $17.95, 1568461739; Aug. ’01) Ages 4-8. "The tall tale of Susanna DeClare and the shoe tree of Chagrin is truly fine story-telling, heart-warming, engrossing, and beautifully illustrated -- I read it twice without getting up! While the story takes place in Ohio, the grandmotherly giantess with a heart of gold has a great deal of appeal. You could warm your hands by this one on a cold winter night, and dry out your snowy boots as well!" --Eric Robbins, Apple Valley Books, Winthrop, ME

OMA’S QUILT, by Paulette Bourgeois, Stephane Jorisch (Illus.) (Kids Can Press, $15.95, 1550747770; Oct. ’01) Ages 4-8. "This book brought me to tears, but in a good way! A young girl makes a quilt for her grandmother, newly moved into a retirement home and hating it, sewn with all the things ‘Oma’ saved -- kitchen curtains, baby blankets, Opa's shirts, a wedding dress -- to help ease her transition and make her feel more at home. It truly is, as Oma's says, a ‘quilt made of love.’ The vibrant illustrations of Stephane Jorisch add another layer to this beautifully told story." --Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

IF MY MOM WERE A PLATYPUS: Animal Babies and Their Mothers, by Dia L. Michels, Andrew Barthelmes (Illus.) (Platypus Media , $14.50, 1930775024; June ’01) "Was delighted with the well-written information given about animal babies and their mothers. The information is broken down into categories that reflect the questions children ask and the information is complete but not overwhelming. A truly remarkable nonfiction title appropriate for all ages." --Marge Grutzmacher, Passtimes Books, Sister Bay, WI

EVERY GIRL TELLS A STORY: A Celebration of Girls Speaking Their Minds, by Carolyn Jones (Simon & Schuster, $19.95, 0689848722; March ’02) Ages 9-12. "This book just took my breath away! The stories are amazing and the photographs capture the personalities of all these young women. Their words give us hope for the future." --Jenne Herbst, Quail Ridge Books and Music, Raleigh, NC

WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE, by Francesca Lia Block, Susan Cooper, Amy Ehrlich (Ed.) (Candlewick Press, $7.99, 0763610348; Feb. ’01) Ages 9-12. "A collection of short stories by prominent children's writers. Each story is based upon the author's own childhood and is followed by a short commentary. Young readers can see how authors craft stories from their own experiences while learning about their favorite author's lives." --Susan Dexter, Politics and Prose, Washington, DC

TRAVELLING MAN: The Journey of Ibn Battuta 1325-1354, by James Rumford (Houghton Mifflin, $16, 0618083669; Sept., ’01) Ages 9-12. "This is the amazing story of Ibn Battuta, a 14th century Moroccan man who traveled 75,000 miles through Egypt, Jerusalem, Mecca, and eventually on to China. After 29 years, he came home and told his story to a court scribe. I love this book for its marvelous sense of mystery and adventure, conveyed through vivid language and artwork done in colors of gold, red, and blue. Each page is a treasure, with details to be examined again and again."--Alison Carpenter, Eagle Harbor Books, WA

THE PERILOUS GARD, by Elizabeth Marie Pope, Richard Cuffari (Illus.) (Houghton Mifflin, $5.95 paper, 0618150730; Oct. ’01) Ages 9 –12. "One of my favorite books growing up has now been reissued. A 1974 Newbery Honor Book, it’s part historical fiction and part fairy tale. A tall, intelligent, and stubborn young woman is sent into exile to a remote castle. You get it all here: history, fairies, strong girls, and even a little love. This is a book that I read again and again." --Leslie Scully, A Likely Story Children's Bookstore, Alexandria, VA

THE SNOW TRAIN, by Joseph Cummins (Akashic Books, $14.95, 1888451238; Sept. ’01) Ages N/A. "Do you remember what it really feels like to be a child? Cummins does. This great story is told through little Robbie's perspective and tackles such subjects as sibling rivalry, imaginary playmates, family tragedy, first kiss, and, most of all, being different. What a wonderful first novel!" --Elena Kruglyak, Town Book Store of Westfield, Westfield, NJ

HOW MUCH DOES THE EARTH WEIGH?, by Marshall Brain (Hungry Minds, Inc., $12.99, 0764565192; Sept. ’01) Ages N/A. "A lot of question/answers and very informative, from the smallest ‘what if’ to big ones. All subjects are covered, from cotton candy to trains going as fast as bullets. Very interesting." --Jacqueline Kirkpatrick, Merritt Bookstore, Millbrook & Red Hook, NY

WE THE KIDS: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, by David Catrow (Penguin, $16.99, 0803725531; April ’02) Ages 9-12. "You've never seen the Preamble to the Constitution like this! David Catrow makes this important and essential document of American history accessible and fun (yes, fun!) for kids of all ages, and his unique illustrations work fantastically well in this book, just as they did in Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon. A glossary of terms and excellent forward by the author offer additional bonuses. History hasn't been this much fun since Schoolhouse Rocks!" --Kathleen Carey, The Little Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

ORWELL'S LUCK, by Richard Jennings (Houghton Mifflin, $15, 0618036288; Sept. 25,’00) Ages 9-12. "I love this story about a girl who adopts an injured rabbit who helps her find herself. Orwell is a special rabbit who may or may not have special powers. After Orwell's arrival, his young owner's horoscopes seem to be written just for her -- warning of future tests, predicting football scores, even giving out the winning lottery numbers. Is Orwell more than what he seems? This book came out a couple of years ago around the same time as many other great young adult books and thus was overlooked. Overlook it no more!" --Nikki Mutch, Uconn Coop, Storrs, CT

THE MOUSE OF AMHERST, by Elizabeth Spires, Claire A. Nivola (Illus.) (Sunburst, $4.95 paper, 0374454116; April ’01) Ages 9-12. "A spare, lovely, classic-in-the-making. Emmaline, a young mouse, moves into Emily Dickinson's attic. Curious about Dickinson's pastime, the tiny animal (I'm Nobody!) discovers the power and delight of writing poetry. A great gift book." --Judy Hijikata, Olsson's Books and Records, Arlington, VA

WHEN KAMBIA ELAINE FLEW IN FROM NEPTUNE, by Lori Aurelia Williams (Pocket, $10 paper, 0689845936; Sept. ’01) Young Adult. "This powerful novel tells the stories of Shayla and Kambia Elaine as they approach adolescence in their tough Houston neighborhood. Very mature subject matter, but great for that teen who's read it all. Read it, discuss it, enjoy it! Also look for the follow-up: Shayla's Double Brown Baby Blues." --Kim Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza Also a Listening Library Audio (0807261912)

DARK LORD OF DERKHOLM, by Diane Wynne Jones (HarperTrophy, $6.50 paper, 0064473368; April 10, ’01) and YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN (HarperTrophy, $6.95 paper, 006447335X; Aug.7, ’01) Young Adult. "These are smart, sophisticated, and witty fantasy books, and her Wizard’s University setting was penned pre-Potter. Don’t miss this author and these two of her recent books." --Judy Hamel, Children’s Corner Bookshop, Spokane, WA

STRAYDOG, by Kathe Koja (Farrar, $16, 0374372780; April ’02) Young Adult. "This book is like a punch in the stomach, an unflinching look at one girl's experience as a volunteer at an animal shelter and the feral dog she comes to love. The author makes us remember what it was like to be a teenager while at the same time giving us a view into the life of a stray dog. Sad and beautiful. Please don't refuse to read the book because of the somewhat difficult subject matter. This is an important book." --Dana Harper, Brystone Books, Wautauga, TX