Saturday, May 28, 2011

Treasure Me: Books for Baby

from Sweet Moon Baby
You can't go wrong giving Dr. Seuss books at baby showers, but will you be the only one giving them?

I'm sorry to say, but maybe it's true. A repeat gift can happen to you!

Seussian stuff has become so popular, it's hard to imagine a shower without it -- and we certainly wouldn't want to.

After all, what new parent wouldn't want a library of Seuss for Thing 1, Thing 2 or Thing 3?

But even when a gift is that wonderful, it's never fun seeing your idea unwrapped more than once.

So what could possibly be as sweet as a bundle of Oh, Baby, Go BabyOne Fish Two Fish and Cat and the Hat?

Or for that matter, Dorothy Kunhardt's Pat the Bunny?

1. Especially for Mom and Dad

These are books that Mom and Dad will love as much as baby.

A Daisy is A Daisy is a Daisy (Except when it's a girl's name) by Linda Wolfsgruber (A Groundwood Book, $16.95, 2011) Delicate flowers transform into girls in this charming book of flower names by an award-winning Austrian artist. Some names you may recognize, like Chloe (a very young sprout), while others may be refreshingly new, such as Girassol (sunflower), Kielo (lily of the valley) and Mirte (myrtle).
Sure to make eyes misty, Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman, about a parent's undying adoration and support (Feiwel & Friends, $16.99, 2010), and Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman, a magical blessing for girls (HarperCollins, Reprint Edition 2011, $17.99). Gaiman asks ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never-you-mind to shelter and guide an infant girl as she grows.
Humpty Who? A Crash Course in 80 Nursery Rhymes, by Jennifer Griffin (Workman Publishing, $11.95, 2007), plus a sing-along CD with 35 songs. Nobody needs to know that you don't know what a tuffet is. With a little cramming, new parents can lullaby with the best of them. Included are fun tips on emoting and "the miracle of the yoga om."
Who says it better than Pooh? Here are three delights: Positively Pooh: Timeless Wisdom from Pooh, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six Deluxe Edition, collections of poetry by A.A. Milne with decorations by Ernest H. Shepard (Dutton, $19.99 each, 2008). Magical poems about the wonder of being a child, including a favorite Halfway Down: "Halfway down the stairs / Is a stair / Where I sit / There isn't any / Other stair / Quite like / It. / I'm not at the bottom, / I'm not at the top; / So this is the stair / Where / I always / Stop."
Perfect for adoptive parents: Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale by Karen Henry Clark, illustrated by Patrice Barton (Knopf Delacorte, $17.99) A baby from China is carried around the world by a turtle, peacock, monkey, panda and goldfish to her new parents in this darling book.

2. That's My Name!

Match a baby's first name with classic characters and their stories.

For a baby named Nicholas, the Nicholas series, by Rene Goscinny, illustrated by Jean-Jacques Sempe (Phaidon, $9.95 pbk - $19.95 hbk, 2005-2008) Reprints of five classic French novels about the hilarious escapades of a school boy and his friends.

If her name is Mary, The Secret Garden, written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated by Inga Moore (Candlewick, $14.99 pbk or $22.99 hbk, 2001). A secret garden springs to life under the tender care of Mary Lennox, her spoiled invalid cousin Colin and Dickon, a Yorkshire boy.

Just right for an Alice, Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland books, illustrated by a variety of artists, including Helen OxenburyRobert Sabuda and Rodney Matthews. The enchanting tale of a girl who falls down a rabbit hole into a world of irresistible nonsense. Also, consider giving Kevin Henkes new short story Junonia about another Alice, who on the verge of age 10 discovers that life isn't always exactly what she expected and that she likes herself just as she is, mole and all.

Or select books by favorite authors who share a baby's first name.

For a boy named Leo, Leo Lionni's four Caldecott Honor-winning classics, Inch by Inch, FrederickAlexander and the Wind-Up Mouse and Swimmy (Random House, $17.99, hdbk or $6.99 pbk, 1960s). Sumptuous collages illustrate fables of friendship and self-acceptance.

If she's named Holly, a bundle of Toot and Puddle books by Holly Hobbie: among my favorites, Toot & Puddle (the first book), You are My Sunshine, Let it Snow! and Top of the World. (Little, Brown, $6.99 pbk and $15.95 hbk, 2002-2011)

For a baby named Julia, Julia Donaldson's rhyming delights: including Room on a Broom, The Gruffalo and The Snail and the Whale, all illustrated by Axel Sheffler. (Arthur A. Levine and Puffin, $6.99 pbk -$16.99 hdbk, 2001-2011)

3. Confections

Put together a collection that's just right for baby's hands. Here are a few board books to mix and match.

Wiggle! Like an Octopus and Swing! Like a Monkey by Harriet Ziefert & SImms Taback (Blue Apple Books, $8.99 each, 2011) Rhythmic text, vibrant pictures and lenticular artwork on the cover get children waddling, wiggling, swaying and swooping.

What Do You See? and Look Who's There! by Martine Perrin (Albert Whitman & Company, $8.99 each, 2011) Children discover hidden creatures in graphic environments and through visual cut-out puzzles.
Dwell Studio's Goodnight Owl: A Lift-the-Flap Bedtime Book and Good Morning Toucan: A Lift-the-Flap Good Day Book (Blue Apple Books, $8.99 each, 2011). Gorgeous muted colors and crisp sweet graphics makes these stand out.
My Animals and My Circus, written and illustrated by Xavier Deneux -- (Bloomsbury, $9.99-$11.35, 2009-10) Happy little books of discovery with peep-through holes and bold, clever plays of color, both translated from French.
Imagebooks Finger Puppet series: my favorites include, Little Dino, Little Lion, Little Giraffe, Little Penguin, and Little Polar Bear  (Chronicle, $8.95). Also available in two Finger Puppet Party Pack collections (each $115 for 12).
Gossie & Friends series by  Olivier Dunrea (Houghton Mifflin, $6.95-$9.79, 2003-11) -- Gossie, Gossie & Gertie, Ollie, PeedieBooBoo, Gossie Plays Hide and Seek and more. Charming, ink-and-watercolor books about a little goose and her gosling friends.

4. Classic Tales

Bundle up favorite books from your childhood:
Select from the New York Review Books' Children's Collection. Among the titles, The Backwards Day, written by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Marc Simont; Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow and illustrated by Erik Blegvad, and  D'Aulaires' Book of Animals by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire. Classics out of print return for a new generation. (New York Review Books, $14.95-$16.95, 2007-2010)
Wrap up a trio of Paul and Ann Rand's celebrated Little 1, Sparkle and Spin: A Book About Words and I Know a Lot of Things, recently back in print. (Chronicle, $15.95-$16.99, 2006). Exuberant stories that make learning numbers and simple addition fun by one of the most influential graphic designers of the 20th Century.
A group of fairy tales: select from such classics as Rapunzel redone by Sarah Gibb (Albert Whitman, $16.99, 2011) and The Three LIttle Pigs, remade by Joanna C. and Paul Galdone. Or choose humorous redos such as Mini Grey's Ginger Bear (Knopf Books, $15.99, 2007) or the imaginative and poetic Instructions, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess, about walking into a fairy tale landscape. (HarperCollins, $14.99, 2010)
A Bear Called Paddington, The original story of the bear from Darkest Peru: 50th Anniversary Edition, written by Michael Bond and illustrated by Peggy Fortnum (Houghton Mifflin, $20, 2008). A gorgeous edition of the 1958 classic about a little bear found in London's Paddington Station wearing the sign "Please look after this bear." Pair with a stuffed toy of Paddington for a treasured gift.
The Big Book of Little: A Classic Illustrated Edition, compiled by Cooper Edens (Chronicle, $19.95, 2006). Antique illustrations of children, angels, toys and more accompany beloved children's stories, from Tom Thumb to The Little Engine That Could.

5. Books to Grow On

Select books about the lessons and joys of childhood:

It's Great to Be You: Cloudette written and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Christy Ottaviano Books, $16.99, 2011) A little cloud discovers that she doesn't have to be big to make a difference. And, Bugs in a Blanket created by Beatrice Alemagna about being happy with how you look. Bugs embroidered onto fabric learn to accept each other just as they are. (Phaidon, $12.95, 2009)
Friendship: Bee and Bird, written and illustrated by Craig Frazier (Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, 2011). A mesmerizing wordless tale of a bee and bird's epic journey. Bold, happy graphics are set against a clear, sunny sky. A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Roaring Brook Press, 2010, $16.99) -- An elderly zoo keeper is nursed back from a cold by the animals he cares for in this year's Caldecott winner.
Pretend: Give The Loud Book with The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwaska (Houghton Mifflin, $12.99, 2010-11). Both celebrate kids being kids with adorable furry friends. Or a pair of Suzy Lee's wordless gems, Wave and Shadow, about a girl's joyful play. In the first she plays chase with an ocean wave, and in the second she imagines shadows are creatures. (Chronicle, $15.99, 2008-10)
Caring: A selection by Patrick McDonnell: The Gift of Nothing, Hug Time, and Just Like Heaven: A Mutts Childrens Book. (Little Brown, $14.99, 2005-2007) Mutts creator McDonnell inspires readers to cherish nature, put friends above things and appreciate what is here and now. These are sure to make moms' and dads' hearts go pitter-patter too.
Being Little: Amy Krouse Rosenthal Collection: Pair My Baby Book: A Keepsake Journal (Potter Style, $16.99), with A Little Books Boxed Set Featuring Little Pea, Little Hoot, Little Oink (Chronicle, $19.99, 2009) -- three adorable board books about bedtime, dinner and cleaning up.

6. Sleepytime Treats

Wrap up a selection of books to read with a blanket. Here are a few favorites.

Buglette the Messy Sleeper written and illustrated by Bethanie Deeney Murguia (Tricycle Press, $15.99, 2011) An endearing story about being different, dreaming big and learning to be brave (for all sleepy bugs, messy or not).

Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems, collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Candlewick, $21.99) A delightful anthology that captures the moods of bedtime in 60 poems while enchanting readers with whimsical paintings. Among the poets, Marilyn Singer, Sylvia Plath and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle, $16.99, 2011) After a day of rough-and-tough play, Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump truck, Bulldozer and Excavator relax their wheels and get tucked in tight in this adorable tale.

The Little Moon Princess, written and illustrated by YJ Lee (Harper, $16.99, 2010) A sparrow helps a little princess get over her fear of the dark by spreading her jewels through the sky in this beautiful tale by talented newcomer Lee.

28 Good Night Stories, written and compiled by Brigitte Weninger, illustrations by Eve Tharlet, translated by Kathryn Bishop. (Penguin, $19.99, 2008) A little angel befriends a bear and together they tell magical stories to help her become a guardian angel. Perfect for a child who asks, "Just one more story?"

7. Brain Food

Give a selection of learning books for now and later.

Inspire their imagination: Herve Tullet's charming book of discovery Press Here (Chronicle, $14.99, 2011) and his lift-the-flap books: The Game of Let's Go, The Game of Mix-Up Art, The Game of Patterns, The Game of Light, The Game of Finger Worms and The Game of Mix and Match (Phaidon Press, $8.95 each, 2011)

Spur their curiousity: Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? By Susan A. Shea, paintings by Tom Slaughter (Blue Apple, $16.99) with questions that ask, What kinds of things can grow? and National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why by Amy Shields (Random House, $14.95, 2011), filled with answers for all those questions kids ask as soon as they start to talk.

Nurture a love of animals: Steve Jenkins and Robin Page's adorable trio about the surprising things animals do, Time to EatTime for a Bath, and Time to Sleep (Houghton Mifflin, 2011, $12.99 each) Other ideas, Lois Ehlert's Lots of Spots (Simon & Schuster, 2010, $17.99). Cheerful cut-outs of animals draw the eye in, even from across the room.

Begin a collection of poetry: Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes written and created by Salley Mavor (Houghton Mifflin, $14.95, 2010) and one of my very favorite books, Here's a Little Poem by Jane Yolen and Fusek Peters, illustrated by Polly Dunbar. (Candlewick, $21.99, 2007)

Teach the basics in a hip, new way: Go! Go! BoBo series by Basher: Colors and Shapes (Kingfisher, $6.99 each, 2011). Accompany this with Basher: ABC Kids (Kingfisher, $17.99, 2011). From the acclaimed Basher Science series come chunky board books and a book of ABCs that builds up first words.

8. What about Me?

Here are a few books to get siblings excited about the baby and show them they're special too.

Pecan Pie Baby, written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Penguin, $16.99, 2011). Gia's new sibling hasn't been born yet, but it seems like it's the only thing everyone talks about. In this beautiful, reassuring story, a little girl learns that she'll always be as special to momma as she is right now.

There's Going to Be a Baby, written by John Burningham, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Candlewick, $16.99, 2010) A little boy's head swirls with all that his baby sibling will want to do and see as he walks with his mom on errands and to their special places -- the garden, seaside and park -- in this tender tale.

Let's Draw and Doodle Together! Drawing Games for Kids and their Grown-Ups, by Elise Gravel (Blue Apple Books, $12.99, 2011) Show young siblings that Mom and Dad are there for them as much as before with this fun doodle book. Symbols direct kids and parents to drawing prompts, from decorating an enchanted forest to filling in colors of a rainbow.

Mama, What's In There? by Diane Muldrow, illustrated by Rick Peterson (Golden Books, $7.99, 2008) Just right for little ones wondering about their mamas' big tummies. Lift a flap to reveal a baby bear, elephant, dolphin, monkey, puppy and human curled up inside. A rotating wheel makes the baby dolphin move in the womb and a pull-out helps a human infant suck its thumb.
Where's Waldo? The Spectacular Poster Book, created by Martin Handford (Candlewick, $20, 2010) On delivery day, it's hard to wait for news of Mom and the baby, but these posters will keep siblings happily occupied. Seven scenes from classic Where's Waldo? books, plus a special poster of Waldo and his friends and jumbo press-outs of Waldo and Woof.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Animals No One Wants to Lose

from Disneynature African Cats
Get close to endangered animals where they live in three fascinating new books about surviving in a changing world.

Each account is stunning and is sure to fuel readers' compassion for the creatures profiled: three species of manatee, two African cats and whales.

Climate change, loss of habitat, hunting and poaching threaten all of these creatures, and in the case of manatees and whales, collisions with boats are also causing numbers to fall.

All three books, written for kids 8 and up but visually appealing to all ages, tie in beautifully with Endangered Species Day this Friday, an effort begun in 2006 to galvanize young and old to help protect disappearing species and wild places.