If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet, written and illustrated by Leslie McGuirk (Tricycle Press, $15.99, all ages, 48 pages, 2011). If rocks could sing? I think this proves they already do. Not only that, they play, swim and haunt about. An adorable thing to behold, McGuirk's clever book shows rocks shaped like every letter of the alphabet and some of the sweet things those words represent. On one page, two big-nosed rocks sit on a seesaw for U is for Up and on another, blobs of rock with hollow eyes and mouths fly against a black backdrop for G is Ghosts. Collected on a stretch of Florida coastline over more than 10 years, the rocks are so graphic you'd think McGuirk altered them in Photoshop, but you'll have to take her word for it: these are nature-made. Readers will be so smitten by the pictures in this book, they'll want to hunt for their own rock creatures and may even beg you to let them sleep with them at night.
This Plus That, Life's Little Equations, written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jen Corace (Harper, $16.99, ages 4-8, 40 pages, 2011) What happens when readers add two things together? Amazing compromises that delight and sometimes a few mistakes, but always something they can learn from. In this charming book by the creators Little Pea, Little Hoot and Little OInk, readers discover the possibilities of combining things and how, good or bad, equations make life what it is. Sometimes life is wondrous: when they add one somersault to another and get dizzy or add a smile to a hand wave and make a new friend. And sometimes it can be icky. When they make mistakes, like adding mumbling to toe staring and get the opposite of polite. But even then, there's always a way to make it better: handshake + "how are you" = polite. But sometimes sad stuff just happens: like when something strong takes something they love away: balloon + wind = lost. This clever, gentle book helps kids appreciate -- and accept -- the consequences of actions, and life's twists and turns.
Apple Pie ABC, written and illustrated by Alison Murray (Disney-Hyperion, $16.99, ages 2-6, 32 pages, 2011) Here's a book that feels as fresh and cozy as the apple pie it begins with. Debut writer-illustrator Murray takes readers on a walk from A to Z with the tale of a girl and her dog and the pie both want a piece of. While the girl sits in her big red chair eating a slice of pie as her legs dangle, her dog nudges his empty bowl toward her for E is for Eager. Lucky for him, F is for Crumb on the next page. The dog smiles at a glistening speck on the floor. Then he licks his chops, for G is for Get a Taste for It. But couldn't he have more that just a taste? Uh oh, there he goes. H is for Have to Get a Lick of It. But even he knows dogs shouldn't put their legs up on the table and on the next page, I is for In Trouble. But what if the dog J for Jumps Up for It? O for Ogles It? or P for Pines for It? This dog is Q for Quietly Determined, that's for sure. Will he outsmart his girl in R, S and T? Guess you'll have to look to find out. How does one sum up a book that turns an alphabet lesson into a sweet story? B for Brilliant.