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Picture Books: What To Get Your Kids- part 1

November 24, 2010

Picture books to get your kids, based on the roundups I’ve been writing for the Star-Ledger since 2008. I’ve had a few friends ask me for advice, and there are few things I like better than recommending good books.

If you can, buy these books from independent bookstores, like Books of Wonder here in NYC.

Stay tuned, I’m not done digging through past columns yet. And I’ve got another gift roundup coming out in a week or two for the Ledger!

One of this year’s best: Art and Max by David Wiesner. I think I actually didn’t do a writeup of this one for the Ledger. Which was dumb of me because the illustrations are gorgeous. So put that on your list.


Wendy Ulmer’s “A Isn’t For Fox: An Isn’t Alphabet” (Sleeping Bear Press, $16.95), illustrated by Laura Knorr, offers a whimsical poem, teaching the alphabet by describing what each letter isn’t for. Lively animals balance um brellas, wear striped socks, have pillow fights and cavort through pages of read-aloud fun for ages 4 and up.

Anna Dewdney has written and charmingly illustrated “No bunny’s Perfect” (Viking, 32 pp., $12.99), a sweet poem about good and bad bunny behavior, perfect for reading aloud to young children and preschoolers just learning to share their toys, show kindness to others and not spit out their carrots.

Written by Laura Bush and her daughter, Jenna, with bright, playful illustrations by Denise Brunkus, “Read All About It” (HarperCollins Children’s Books, $17.99) turns the First Lady’s commitment to literacy into a fun, imaginative romp, great for a young child’s story time. Tyrone thinks reading is boring, until the characters in his classroom’s books leap from the pages and come to life.

Each of the cats in Jessie Lynch Frees’ “Jackie Winquackey and Her 43 Cats Go to Hollywood” (Tisbit, 32 pp., $14.99), il lustrated by Jaroslav Gebr, seems to have its own mischie vous personality, vibrantly painted and ready to leap from the page. When Jackie takes all 43 cats to Hollywood to be in a movie, they create giddy chaos wherever they turn. Fun for 5 and up.

Lovers of fairy tales ages 4 and up will adore Kate Bernheimer’s lyrically written “The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum” (Schwartz & Wade, 40 pp., $16.99), dreamily illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli. This modern fairy tale will enchant children and their parents, although very young children may find the surreal illustrations a little spooky.


Set in Central Park, Peter Howe’s “Waggit’s Tale” (Harper Collins, 288 pp., $16.99) is a richly imagined story of a puppy, aban doned by his owner, who must learn to trust the misfit band of feral dogs who adopt him. The adventures of Waggit, who also learns bravery, independence and confidence, will delight readers 10 and up, and younger children are likely to enjoy it read aloud.

Marilyn Nelson’s “Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World” (Dial, 80 pages, $14.95, 2010) will interest older children, but its appeal spans all ages. Nelson uses poems to tell the story of an interracial, all-female swing band that played during World War II, and the book is lavishly illustrated by Caldecott Honor-winner Jerry Pinkney.

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