Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Paperback Delights

So many great hardcovers have just crossed over to paperback that I thought it would be fun to share some of the best. At about half the price of hardcovers, paperbacks are a bargain and they're also easier to hold up in bed!

Moon Over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool, Delacorte, $7.99, ages 9 and up, 368 pages. Twelve-year-old Abilene uncovers secrets about her father and the small town of Manifest, Kansas, after finding a hidden cigar box of mementos, in the 2011 Newbery Medal winner.

Turtle in Paradise, Jennifer L. Holm, Random House, $6.99, ages 8 and up, 208 pages. While staying with her rag-tag cousins in Key West, 11-year-old Turtle comes out of her shell and looks at the world in new and unexpected ways, in this 2011 Newbery Honor winner.

The Storm in the Barn, by Matt Phelan, Candlewick, $14.99, ages 10 and up, 208 pages. Eleven-year-old Jack saves his family farm from ruin when he confronts the Storm King and makes him let go of the rain, in this wonderful graphic novel set in the Dust Bowl era of 1930s.

The Crowfield Curse, by Pat Walsh, The Chicken House, ages 11-13, 352 pages. A 14-year-old servant boy discovers a terrible curse that could ruin his abbey and doom a stricken man to an eternity of torment, in this atmospheric debut. Now out in hardback, the sequel The Crowfield Demon.

Little Panda, by Renata Liwska, Sandpiper, $5.99, ages 4 and up, 32 pages. A grandfather panda tells his grandson a story of a little panda who caused a stalking tiger to fly off a tree, in this charming debut by the illustrator of the best-selling The Quiet Book.

Zora and Me, by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon, Candlewick, $6.99, ages 10 and up, 192 pages. Zora's wild tales take on a life of their own, and jeopardize the peace and security of her racially divided town, in this wry, fictionalized account of novelist Zora Neale Hurston's life from fourth grade to sixth.

The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Angela Barrett, Candlewick, $6.99, ages 9-12, 128 pages. A feisty young fairy loses her wings and tries to coax other creatures to carry her on their backs, in this delightful tale by a Newbery Medal winner.

More great paperbooks to read:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Break Into Blossom. Give Free Books!

Volunteer to pass out books to children and adults who rarely open a book or never read!

On April 23, 50,000 "givers" are needed to hand out free paperback novels for World Book Night -- and you could be one!

"Extending your hand to give someone a book, a story, is a gesture of hope and joy," said celebrated author Kate DiCamillo.

DiCamillo's Newbery Honor-winning Because of Winn-Dixie is among 30 books selected for donation.

"It is a chance for all of us, givers and receivers, to break into blossom," she said.

Launched last year in the United Kingdom, World Book Night is a charitable project to spread the joy of reading.

This year 1 million paperbacks will be donated nationwide, including seven children's novels.

Also on the list are Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls, Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, Leif Enger's Peace Like a River and Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The 20 Best Picture Books of 2011

1. If I Never Forever Endeavor, by Holly Meade, Candlewick, $15.99, ages 4-8, 32 pages. A baby bird must decide whether to take a chance and try to fly, in this beautiful poem about daring to put yourself out there and risk failure. "If in all of forever, / I never endeavor / to fly, I won't know if I can." Meade writes, as a yellow fledgling timidly looks out from his nest. Then, turning the page, "I won't know if I can't. / I won't know / if or whether / a flight I / might fly, / should I choose / to not ever give it a try." Meade's words settle in your mind and without even thinking, you find yourself reciting the verses silently in your head, and feeling emboldened to get out there and try something new.

2. Migrant, by Maxine Trottier, pictures by Isabelle Arsenault, Groundwood, $18.95, ages 4-7, 40 pages. A Mennonite girl from Mexico dreams of living in one place, as her family migrates north to work as seasonal farm laborers. While they harvest tomatoes in Canada, the girl, Anna, compares what she sees, hears and feels to the way other living things exist. In migrant housing, she's a jack rabbit in an abandoned burrow. When she hears languages she doesn't understand, it's as if "a thousand crickets are all singing a different song." Later as her family prepares to return to Mexico, Anna is a tree, sinking roots into the ground as geese fly south without her. This is a wondrous book about yearning for a place to call your own -- that inspires understanding and casts stereotypes to the wind.

3. Fox and Hen Together and Rooster's Revenge, by Beatrice Rodriguez, Enchanted Lion, ages 4-8, 32 pages. These two followups to last year's The Chicken Thief were equally brilliant, so they appear here together. Both are wordless, yet you barely notice because the humor is so cleverly played out. In the first followup, Hen goes off to fish for dinner and finds herself in an all-out battle to hold onto the fish she's caught. Back home, Fox is left guarding their egg, but aren't foxes notorious for raiding chicken coops? In the second book, Rooster, Bear and Rabbit run aground by a cave, where Rooster finds a big, glowing egg. As you may know, Rooster was jilted by Hen for Fox in the first book, and in book 3, he's still pretty soured by it. Could this be just the thing to mend his wild heart?

4. I Want My Hat Back!, by Jon Klassen, Candlewick, $15.99, ages 4-8, 40 pages. Bear may be gullible, but no one messes with his hat, in this comic gem about two silly and devious animals. When Bear goes in search of his missing hat, he happens upon a rabbit with a hat just like his: it's red and pointy, and sits on the head like a party hat. But Rabbit is indignant and denies that he knows anything about it. And Bear? Well, he's so credulous that he doesn't give the similarities between the hats another thought. It isn't until later, after he continues to ask around about his hat, that Bear meets a deer who jogs his memory (and knocks a bit of sense into him). Now Bear has his hat back, but Rabbit has gone missing, and Bear is acting overly defensive about where he might be. Humor plays out with marvelous subtlety, as two silly animals try to be sly, but are hopelessly transparent.

5. The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood in China, by Ed Young, Little, Brown and Company, $17.99, ages 4 and up, 48 pages. As a child in Shanghai in the 1930s, illustrator Ed Young insulates himself from war in a house where exploration and the imagination run free, in this stunning autobiographical book. Young, the Caldecott-winning illustrator of Lon Po Po, uses collages, photographs, silhouettes and drawings to wondrous effect: they  capture both the austerity and uncertainty of the times and his feelings of joy and security. On one spread, his art has a haunting quality, and you get the sensation that you're flipping through a very old and fading scrapbook. On another, you see silhouettes of children leaping about the page as if they hadn't a care. Young created a world of wonder and security from the ordinary things around him. A rocking chair became a horse, and an empty pool a place to ride scooters. He made origami houses for silkworms, drew pictures in his textbooks, and roller-skated on the roof of his house. During air raids, he and his family, and the strangers who took refuge with them, huddled in the hallway, the safest part of the house, and told stories that transported them away from the dangers outside. There in the house that his father Baba built, Young knew nothing bad could ever get to him.

6. The Scar, by Charlotte Moundlic, illustrated by Olivier Tallec, Candlewick, $14.99, ages 5 and up, 32 pages. A little boy desperately tries to hold onto traces of his mother just days after her death, in a picture book that tugs at the heart, then makes it glow. Her death leaves him angry and hollow, and he worries he'll forget her. He refuses to open windows in his house for fear her smell will escape. Then he falls and scrapes his knee, and hears words his mother used to say to comfort him. "It's just a scratch, my little man," she'd say. "You're too strong for anything to hurt you." The boy doesn't want the scar to heal because he's afraid her voice will go away. But then his grandma puts her hand on his heart, and tells him his mother is there and will never go away. The words ease his longing just enough to buoy his spirit. He races around the room so he can feel his mom beating hard in his chest, and soon, before he even notices, the scrape has turned into a scar. This is a beautiful book that expresses grief just as it is: raw and inescapable. Then it adds beautiful metaphors and a trickle of humor to show readers that even the worst hurt can heal.

7. Wake Up, Sloth!, paper engineering by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud, text by Sophie Strady, Roaring Brook, $16.99, ages 4-8, 16 pages. A sloth dozes in a tree as his rainforest home is devoured by iron clawed machines. Will the sloth stir in time to get away? At first, the forest rises serenely, as birds trill back and forth. Then a menacing blade pops up, and animals and people begin to flee. In a few destructive runs, the forest is no more, and the last machine rolls over to the only tree that remains, where the sloth sleeps. "Wake up, sloth!" Strady calls out. "Run away! Run." Did she stir the sloth in time? Did he run? As readers turn the page, only broken branches remain; the land looks lifeless and sterile But wait, who is that? A lone man walks into the eerie quiet at the end of a pull tab with a bag of seeds. Could it be, all is not lost? As readers pull the tab, seedlings spring from the soil, and there in the back, that brilliant, sleepy sloth climbs a branch once again. Incredibly moving, the story rolls like a coaster to a terrible low then brings us racing back up, exhilarated with hope.

8. The Man on the Moon (The Guardians of Childhood), by William Joyce, Atheneum, $17.99, ages 4-8, 56 pages. A boy on the run from a nightmare king hides out on the moon and vows to guard Earth's children from bad dreams, in this magical new series by a treasured author-illustrator. The boy, MiM, has lost his parents and his devoted friend Nightlight in a battle with Pitch, the king, but he's not alone. Lunar robots, mice, worms and moths scoop him up and care for him as he grows. Life with them is sweet and for a time, being watched over is enough. Then one day, MiM peers through a telescope and sees children on Earth and feels the draw of friendship. But the children are far away and the years pass. Soon, MiM is a grown man. As balloons float up from Earth, MiM holds them to his ear, and hears the children's hopes and dreams. Yearning to answer them, he finds five guardians to watch over the children and summons lunar moths to transform his moon into a nightlight to chase away their nightmares.

9. Blowin' in the Wind, by Bob Dylan, illustrated by Jon J. Muth, with CD of Dylan's original recording, Sterling, ages 5-8, 28 pages. A paper airplane blown by the wind becomes a breathtaking metaphor for the role we all play in making a better world, in this stunning visual accompaniment to Dylan's celebrated protest song. Four children of differing skin color are taken by skiff across expanses of water and shown scenes that make them at turns reflective, sad, uncomfortable, and ultimately, ready to face up to a difficult truth: That unjust things occur in the world and it is up to each of them to do something about them. On their journey, a paper plane glides overhead and guides their way to understanding. To read my full review, click here.

10. Ladder to the Moon, Maya Soetoro-Ng, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, Candlewick, $16.99, ages 4-8, 32 pages. One night a golden ladder unrolls from the moon to Suhaila's window sill and her late grandmother climbs down the rungs to show her how to make the world a little more kind, in this breathtaking book about the connectedness of one life to the next. Grandma Annie leads Suhaila up to the moon, where they drink moon dew from silver teacups, and guide children caught in natural disasters and a woman dying of old age skyward. Here on the moon, their spirits are at rest, and they join together in stories and songs of hope. But many prayers below on Earth still remain unanswered. Can all of those who've found their way to the moon now embolden those on Earth to heal their hurt and hardship? From Soetoro-Ng, sister of President Obama, comes a spellbinding folktale that reminds us that loved ones lost are never far from our hearts.

11. The Great Bear, by Libby Gleeson & Armin Greder, Candlewick, $16.99, ages 5-10, 32 pages. Day after day a circus bear is poked and prodded to dance on cue as trumpets, drums and cymbals build anticipation in a crowded square. Then one night, the bear refuses to move. All of the pent-up sadness and anger, all of nights of taunting, overflow and he lets out a roar that sends handlers and villagers scattering for cover. Seeing a flagpole a few paces away, the bear lumbers over, climbs it paw over paw, then at the top, reaches his arms skyward and launches into a mythical place where no one can reach him. Gleeson and Greder tell a triumphant story of a mistreated animal who takes back his dignity and gets free.

12. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, by Jerry Pinkney, Little, Brown and Company, $16.99, ages 4 and up, 40 pages. A mischievous chipmunk sets sail in a robin's nest across the night sky, only to tumble off his boat to Earth and find comfort on the downy back of a swan, in this magical interpretation of the beloved lullaby, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Pinkney reimagines this tender song as an atmospheric story about a young animal working through his anxiety of going to sleep. As the chipmunk embarks on his journey to slumber, which he unavoidably must travel alone, he is watched over by nature and finds reassurance in its wild embrace.

13. Bee & Bird, written and illustrated by Craig Frazier, Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, ages 2-6, 40 pages. A bee and bird travel on an epic journey from tree and truck to boat and beehive, in this wordless book of exploration. Saturated colors and inventive perspectives give this simple premise the feeling of high adventure. View the book trailer below!

14. This Baby, by Kate Banks, pictures by Gabi Swiatkowska, Frances Foster Books, $16.99, ages 3-6, 40 pages. A girl flutters about her mother asking questions about her unborn sibling, in this lyrical picture book that bubbles with the excitement of a new life. The girl wants answers that Mama can't yet give: Will the baby like stars, peek-a-boo, me? Mama listens patiently, knitting row after row of baby clothes. Even though she knows the answers will come in time, she doesn't quiet her daughter, but lets her say everything she needs to say. Swiatkowska's paintings beautifully capture the girl's anticipation and restlessness, while Banks' poem swirls around the page with a wonderful cadence. "This baby, a tiny bud of life nestled in a womb, kept and coveted like a tightly held secret," the poem reads, as the girl rests her head on Mama's tummy. "Will this baby like red boots? Knit, Mama, knit / row after row. / The rain is tapping. / Soon. / We'll know."

15. The Conductor, by Laetitia Devernay, Chronicle, 2011, $18.95, ages 5-8, 72 pages. A maestro stands on the top of a tree and conducts the leaves into a melody of flying birds, in this wordless masterpiece by an award-winning French artist. When the conductor lifts his wand, clusters of leaves flap like wings and sail off trees, leaving cookie-cutter shapes of themselves behind. Devernay creates music from silence with lyrical illustrations. Read a full review here.

16. Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade, by Melissa Sweet, Houghton Mifflin, $16.99, ages 4 and up, 40 pages. A man with a knack for making things move turns the concept of marionettes upside down and creates one of the greatest parades on Earth. Combining photos of homemade toys, buttons and more with whimsical paintings, Sweet delivers a picture-perfect tribute to Tony Sarg, the puppeteer behind Macy's balloons. Read a full review here.

17. Grandpa Green, by Lane Smith, Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, ages 5 and up, 32 pages. As Grandpa Green's memory fades, his grandson clomps happily through a garden where bushes are clipped into fantastical shapes, from giant carrots to exploding canons -- each preserving the most meaningful moments of his great-grandfather's life. Read a full review here.

18. Goodnight iPad, by Ann Droyd (David Milgrim), Blue Rider Press, $14.95, all ages, 30 pages. A grandmother solves her family's late-night obsession with gadgets by hurling all of their devices out the window, in this hysterical parody of Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon, the best twist yet of this beloved classic. Read a full review here.

19. Squish Rabbit, by Katherine Battersby, Viking, 2011, $12.99, ages 2 and up, 40 pages. A little bunny struggles to be noticed in a world much bigger than him, in this adorable debut. Squish is tired of being overlooked and stepped on, and he longs for someone to play with. So he sews himself a friend and tries to befriend cherries on a tree. But none of these things can play back. Then, just as he loses hope, a friend bounds into his life and accepts him just as he is. Read a full review here.

20. The Little Red Pen, by Susan Stevens Crummel, illustrated by Janet Stevens, Harcourt, $16.99, ages 6-12, 56 pages. An arsenal of desk supplies rescue a correction pen from the dreaded "Pit of No Return," just in time to correct a pile of papers and save the world, in this delightful spin on Little Red Hen. Read a full review here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The 12 Best Read-Alouds of 2011

1. Samantha on a Roll, by Linda Ashman, pictures by Christine Davenier, Margaret Ferguson, $16.99, ages 4-8, 40 pages. When Mama isn't looking, a little girl slips into her new roller skates and joyfully sails out the door. But as she crests a hill, she's going too fast to stop and careens through everything in her path.

2. Wolf Won't Bite, by Emily Gravett, Simon & Schuster, $16.99, ages 2-6, 32 pages. Three circus pigs prod a big wolf to perform silly acts and each time they foolishy sing out, "Wolf won't bite!" But are they sure they want to put their heads between Wolf's mighty jaws?

3. The Pied-Piper of Hamelin, retold by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark, Candlewick, $16.99, ages 5 and up, 64 pages. When the mayor of Hamelin refuses to pay a magical flute player for ridding his town of rats, the pied-piper uses his magic to hide the town's children until the mayor agrees to clean up Hamelin.

4. Scritch-Scratch A Perfect Match, by Kimberly Marcus, illustrated by Mike Lester, G. P. Putnam Sons, $16.99, ages 4-8, 32 pages. A flea chomps into the backside of a big, scruffy stray and causes him to lurch into the air and into the heart of an old man in this rollicking adventure.

5. E-Mergency, by Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer, illustrated by Lichtenfeld, Chronicle, $16.99, ages 4-8, 40 pages. A fall down the stairs puts letter "E" out of commission, but who will be able to replace her? O is well-rounded, albeit a bit busy, but the problem is everyone's having trouble understanding the words he's filling in on. It's time to get "E" out of bed, but first the ABCs are going to have to give the narrator a good talking to. A hilarious romp inspired by the short video Alphabet House by Ezra Fields-Meyer, a teenage animator diagnosed with high-functioning Autism.

6. The Really Awful Musicians, by John Manders, Clarion, $16.99, ages 4-8, 32 pages. After a king gets fed up with the discordant sounds of his royal band and bans music in his kingdom, a wise horse gives a brave little piper and a wagon-load of really awful musicians a lesson in playing harmoniously.

7. King Hugo's Huge Ego, by Chris Van Dusen, Candlewick, $16.99, ages 3-6, 40 pages. A boastful king is zapped with a curse that makes his head swell, but it isn't until his ears are curled back on themselves that he realizes how arrogant he's been.
8. Stuck, by Oliver Jeffers, Philomel, $16.99, ages 3-7, 32 pages. When Floyd's kite gets stuck in a tree, he tosses everything including the kitchen sink into the tree to try to knock it down. But his kite won't budge and now all those things, his shoe, a duck, the milkman, even a firetruck, are stuck there too. Could a saw be just the thing he needs?
9. The Princess and the Pig, by Jonathon Emmett, illustrated by Poly Bernatene, Walker & Company, $16.99, ages 4-8, 32 pages. A baby princess falls off a balcony and lands in a farmer's stall, causing a piglet there to bounce into the air and into the baby's cradle. The result is an uproarious mix-up that everyone in the story assumes was the work of fairies, because that's the sort of thing that happens in storybooks: a fairy casts a spell, turns a pig into a princess, or vice versa. But there are no fairies in this book and when pigs grow up and marry princes, kisses don't always fix things.

10. Zoozical, by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown, Alfred A. Knopf, $17.99, ages 4-8, 40 pages. A very small hippo and a young kangaroo rouse their animal friends at the zoo from their winter doldrums with a song-and-dance extravaganza, in this playful rhyme.

11. The Little Red Pen, by Susan Stevens Crummel, illustrated by Janet Stevens, Harcourt, $16.99, ages 6-12, 56 pages. An arsenal of desk supplies rescue a correction pen from the dreaded "Pit of No Return," just in time to correct a pile of papers and save the world, in this delightful spin on Little Red Hen. (Also on my list of the 20 Best Picture Books of 2011.)

12. Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea, by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Stacy Innerst, Harcourt, $16.99, ages 4-8, 32 pages.  When miners rushed to California to find gold, they ran so fast they lost their pants. All that corduroy and wool disintegrated right where they ran. That left the miners with nothing but skivvies to chase away the cold, so they strapped on barrels and waddled about, sluicing as best they could. Now those barrels were tough, but they just wouldn't bend, and soon the miners weebled and wobbled and fell over. Lucky thing, a fellow named Levi Strauss arrived out west as the miners were rolling down the hill. Since Strauss was too late to get in on the gold, he decided to earn his fortune making pants. Seeing how sturdy miners' tents were, he stripped them down and stitched them into the toughest pants around: known forever more as Levi denim jeans.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

10 Favorites for Little Readers from 2011

1. Cloudette, written and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, Christy Ottaviano Books, $16.99, ages 3 and up, 40 pages. A little cloud wishes she could do big, important cloud things, like pour rain to make a water fall off a cliff. So she floats off in search of greatness, only to discover that she doesn't have to be a giant cloud to make a difference.

2. Hugs from Pearl, by Paul Schmid, Harper, 2011, $14.99, ages 3-7, 40 pages. Pearl the porcupine loves to hug, but her classmates get poked when she draws them in. So Pearl tries to soften her quills, only to find they're as prickly as ever. Could there be a way around these spiny hairs?
3. Mine!, by Shutta Crum, pictures by Patrice Barton, Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99, ages 1 and up, 32 pages. A toddler's emotions bubble over when her baby sister grabs her stuffed bunny and throws it across the room into the puppy bowl. But then the puppy pounces on it and shakes it wildly in his mouth, and even the toddler can't help but giggle. Soon the two little girls are piling all of big sister's toys into the dog bowl to see what happens, in this joyful book about learning to share.

4. Caveman: A B.C. Story, by Janee Trasler, Sterling, $14.95, ages 3-5, 32 pages. A shaggy caveman runs hurry-scurry across the page chasing things, being chased and freeing an ice-bound pet, in this hilarious spin on the ABCs. Single words for each letter of the alphabet guide this marvelously clever tale.

5. Fortune Cookies, by Albert Bitterman, art by Chris Raschka, Beach Lane Books, $14.99, ages 2-5, 28 pages. A box arrives with a week's supply of fortune cookies for a little girl, and each day a saying helps her see life from the sunny side, in this disarmingly sweet pull-tab book.

6. I Spy With My Little Eye, by Edward Gibbs, Templar, $14.99, ages 2-5, 32 pages. Creatures from whales to frogs peer with one eye through a porthole and give simple clues to who they are, in this charming book of cutouts.

7. Ten Little Caterpillars, by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Lois Ehlert, Beach Lane Books, $17.99, ages 2-6, 40 pages. Caterpillars nibble plants as they ready for metamorphosis, in this enchanting nature book that gently shows the perils of life too.

8. Splish-Splash, by Nicola Smee, Boxer Books, $16.95, ages 2-5, 32 pages. Mr. Horse and his farmyard friends tumble out of a rowboat into the deep blue sea, but have so much fun riding back to shore on horse's back, they want to do it all over again.
9. Love Waves, by Rosemary Wells, Candlewick, $15.99, ages 3-7, 32 pages. Ribbons of love drift across the sky from Mommy and Daddy to Little Bunny in this sweet, reassuring tale for any child who has to spend time away from a parent.

10. Your Moon, My Moon: A Grandmother's Words to a Faraway Child, by Patrician MacLachlan, illustrated by Bryan Collier, Simon & Schuster, ages 4-8, $16.99. As a grandmother flies half-way across the world to see her grandchild, she thinks of all the ways they're connected, including how they share the same moon.

Best Friendship Books of 2011

1. Noodle and Lou, by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Arthur Howard, Beach Lane Books,    $15.99, ages 2-6, 32 pages. Noodle the worm wakes up with a rain-cloudy heart and leans on his pal Lou, a blue jay, for cheering up.

2. Three By the Sea, by Mini Grey, Random House, $17.99, ages 4-8, 32 pages. A fox tricks friends Dog, Cat and Mouse into turning against each other. But will they see through his game and realize they were happy just the way things were?

3. Neville, by Norman Juster, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Schwartz & Wade, $17.99, ages 4 and up, 32 pages. A lonely boy in a new neighborhood calls out for his best friend Neville and is joined by other kids who help him to find what he misses.
4. A House in the Woods, by Inga Moore, Candlewick, $16.99, ages 3 and up, 48 pages. Two pigs return home to find their clumsy friends Moose and Bear have crushed their hut and den. But no worries, the four friends will ask the beavers to build them a house they can all live in together.
5. Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships, by Catherine Thimmesh, Houghton Mifflin, $16.99, ages 4-8, 32 pages. Unlikely animal friends find affection in this charming book of photographs and poems. In one spread, a macaque rests his head on the back of a pigeon, and in another a miniature pig nuzzles a camel.

6. Owly and Wormy: Friends All Aflutter, by Andy Runton, Atheneum, $15.99, ages 3-7, 40 pages. A little owl longs to play with butterflies, but then he meets two plump green bugs that make him forget that having friends with fancy wings was every important to him.

7. Hopper and Wilson, by Maria van Lieshout, Philomel, $16.99, ages 3-7, 40 pages. A blue elephant and yellow mouse set sail in a paper hat to see what's at the end of the world, only to discover that the best place of all is right where they started.

8. Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever, by Julianne Moore, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, Bloomsbury, $16.99, ages 4 and up, 40 pages. Freckleface did everything with Windy Pants Patrick until one day kids said they were too different to be friends. But does it really matter that you're different, if you're alike in ways that really count?

9. The Sniffles for Bear, by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, Candlewick, $16.99, ages 3-7, 32 pages. When Bear catches a cold, he doesn't take kindly to Mouse's cheerful efforts to make him good as new. He wants to wallow in his misery. But then Mouse starts sniffling too. Could caring for Mouse be just the cure Bear needs?

10. Making a Friend, by Allison McGhee, illustrations by Marc Rosenthal, Atheneum, $16.99, ages 3-7, 40 pages. A boy wonders where his snowman goes when the weather warms. He sees him in the rain of spring, but where is he in summer? In fall, he's in the fog of a hollow and the frost on a window pane. No matter what shape he takes, their friendship endures.