Not-very-oldies and still-very-goodies...recommendations from 1999 to 2005!
All recommendations are teacher-tested, kid-approved.
Click on images or links in red for further reviews and information,
and please visit The PlanetEsme Plan for the most current children's book reviews.


The Happy Rain
by Jack Sendak, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

published by Harper

The big splash this reissue season is one of the best children's books ever written and a Must-Read by the Time You're 13, authored by the late brother of one of our country's most beloved and celebrated illustrators, who was equally masterful in his own rite and deserves more recognition. If you lived in the village of Troeken, a smile would be your umbrella! In this magical place, the rain never stops; the villagers are only too happy to hold school outdoors in the downpour, and people picnic in the plip-plip-plop. Imagine their chagrin when the rain stops! It is surely the end of the world! When a philosopher, a scientist, a wizened old man and even the mayor can't come up with a workable solution, it is left to a brave and big-hearted brother and sister to consult the clouds themselves. Bar-raising beautiful vocabulary a la William Steig and illustrations from old-school Sendak make every page of this book a tour de force. This book takes ridiculousness quite seriously, and the solutions that the grown-ups come up with will leave children laughing out loud. Of course, children are the wisest ones of all (as usual). (7 and up)

Manuelo the Playing Mantis
by Don Freeman
published by Knopf

The author of Corduroy and many other classics has a rediscovered addition to the canon in this story of a gentle mantis who wants nothing more than to be a musician. He cleverly constructs flutes from cattails and horns from trumpet flowers, but just can't seem to find his forté. When a spidery patron of the arts helps him to create a makeshift cello, he finds a not only a noteworthy voice but a friend with which to share his artful life. Freeman's beautiful line stands paramount, and all the music of a quiet summer evening comes to life on these pages. (5 and up)

The Happy Lion
by Louise Fatio, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
published by Knopf

Mon Dieu! The lion has escaped! The king of the jungle is most confounded to discover that all the people who were so pleased to see him in his little Paris zoo are hardly half as pleased to see him roaming the streets. Luckily, his friend Francois the zookeeper's son will take him home again. How nice to say "bonjour" to the well-mannered Happy Lion on his 50th anniversary. (5 and up)

Outside My Window
by Liesel Moak Skorpen, illustrated by Mercer Mayer
published by HarperCollins

Nobody believes the little boy when he says there is a bear peeking into his window, so there's nothing left for him to do but help the little lost fellow himself. Making him at home with old Halloween candy and dressing him up to disguise him as one of the family, it quickly becomes clear that the best place with bear is back with his mommy…just where his heroic human friend delivers him. Dark scratchboard scenes, early work by the bestselling illustrator of the Little Critter series, seem almost furry. Children will cease to fear the scritchy-scritch noises at the window if they can only imagine they are brought on by such a sweet and vulnerable bruin as the one in this story. (4 and up)

by Ezra Jack Keats
published by Viking

Keats was ahead of his time (again) in this strange and touching story of a misunderstood boy who seems lost in his own world (autistic?), only to be brought out of his shell by a puppet in a show given by some neighborhood kids. The grace with which these children pass the puppet on to its biggest fan is most moving, and this book with its few words speaks to the best traits of children. (5 and up)

Potatoes, Potatoes
by Anita Lobel
published by Greenwillow

A woman and her two sons live cozily within the walls around their home that protects them and their potato field from the war. But when each boy in turn peers over the wall and sees the shining swords and handsome uniforms of the soldiers, they are seduced to leave their confines and enlist on opposing sides. When war doesn't turn out to be what the boys expected and the troops are starving, the brothers lead their regiments back home where they know there is something to eat, not knowing that they will soon have to confront each other. The battle that ensues might leave a mother's heart in the crossfire. This 1967 reissue is has a happy but provocative ending, and deals with the serious issue of conflict in a way that is still accessible to young audiences. Lobel's country-charm artwork is as homey as an embrace and just as full of humanity. Consider sharing the WWI folksong "I Didn't Raise My Son to Be a Soldier" as an appropriate accompaniment; baked potatoes and a reading of Barbara Emberley'sDrummer Hoff will also do very nicely! (5 and up)

The Little Bookroom
by Eleanor Farjeon, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone
published by New York Review of Books Children's Collection

A wrong has been righted, and this book which I can uneqivocally name as one of the best children's books ever written is finally back in print. Originally published in 1955, this book won Farjeon the first Hans Christian Andersen Award and the Carnegie Medal; some of you may know Farejon unwittingly as the woman who wrote the words to the song "Morning has Broken" made popular when sung by Cat Stevens . It is a collection of twenty seven classic stories that is included in the selective "Must Reads by the Time You're 13" list, and deserves a place in the canon of classics alongside the likes of "Little Red Riding Hood," Winnie the Pooh and the works of Margaret Wise Brown. The publisher smartly maintained the perfect sketchy illustrations of genius Ardizzone and the classic font of the original. Some of the stories have fairy tale qualities, like "The King's Daughter Who Cried for the Moon" and "The Little Dressmaker," while others deal in the magic of more everyday things, like "The Lovebirds," in which a poor girl selling shoelaces is given a strange fortune that lasts her whole life long, and I still remember reading aloud "The Connemara Donkey" from this book to a fourth grade boy who found it so evocative of the donkey he had left in Mexico that he cried tears that ran all the way down his chin, and the other boys joined in for his loss. A book like this defines why it is worth learning to read, and why some stories are worth reading aloud. Bring a box of kleenex and a full heart upon any approach to this astounding work. (All ages) Look for more upcoming titles from the New York Review of Books Children's Collection, including Esther Averill's charming Jenny and the Cat Club , Dino Buzzati's The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily and Reiner Zimnik's industrial parable, The Crane. Every single one of these internationally celebrated titles is handsomely bound and deserves a place on the shelf and in the imagination of any child or child-at-heart.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm: 100th Anniversary Edition
by Kate Douglas Wiggin,
illustrated by Barbara McClintock
published by Houghton Mifflin

Fans of Lucy Maud Momtgomery's Anne of Green Gables and Dorothy Canfield Fisher'sUnderstood Betsy and Eleanor Porter's Pollyanna will enjoy this fiesty heroine, sent to two stiff old spinster aunts who were expecting Rebecca's more dependable sister. Filled with plenty of good foot-in-the-mouth dialogue, Rebecca manages to spread her old-fashioned charm to her classmates and country cousins like a bouquet of black-eyed susans, and is just as much of a perennial favorite. Barbara McClintock's colorful, etchy plates are the perfect touch, sweet scenes appearing throughout the eloquent prose. Rebecca celebrates her 100th anniversary, even Mark Twain and Jack London enjoyed it! Give it to your favorite goody-two-shoes. (9 and up)

Discover Your Sense series
by Vicki Cobb, illustrated by Cynthia Lewis
published by Millbrook

Many classroom teachers know how hard it is to find good books about the five senses, but science aficionadao Vicki Cobb fills the bill with Perk Up Your Ears: Discover Your Sense of Hearing, Your Tongue Can Tell: Discover Your Sense of Taste,,, Open Your Eyes: Discover Your Sense of Sight, Follow Your Nose: Discover Your Sense of Smell and Feeling Your Way: Discover Your Sense of Touch. The wacked-out cartoon and collage mix of illustration add a definite artistic sensibility to the mix of information and experimentation (ooo, love those optical illusions in Open Your Eyes!) and make this a painless introduction to our own biology. Newly reissued in affordable paperback format that makes it reasonable to acquire the whole wild set, which is sure to receive a lot of wear. Science never looked (smelled, tasted, sounded, felt) so snazzy! (7 and up)

The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm
translated by Lore Segal and Randall Jarrell, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
published by Farrar Straus Giroux

Simply the best collection of Grimm's fairy tales I have come across, this book celebrates their stories in all their gorey glory. Here you'll find standards like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "The Fisherman and his Wife," but not for the faint of heart are sleepers that will leave you sleepless like "Brother and Sister," "The Story of One Who Set Out to Study Fear," and "Hans my Hedgehog," (yes, that's the one I explained in How to Get Your Child to Love Reading that is most likely to induce goosebumps). These aren't Papa Disney's fairytales, boys and girls! Twenty-seven stories in all, impeccably translated by poets and graced by the black-and-white dream-like depictions from the master Sendak. Do read together, if only for moral support. A must for any fairy-tale or scary-tale collector. (9 and up)

Who Needs Donuts?
by Mark Alan Stamaty
published by Knopf

Who needs drugs with an illustrator like Stamaty? This book is an incredible head trip, with enough stuff on every page to make the Where's Waldo series look sparse. Zany black and white illustrations follow a boy through cityscapes as he becomes an apprentice doughnut collector. Wait until the master turns the light switch on to reveal the room full of doughnuts, children will groan in shock from now till Tuesday! Originally published in 1973, the freaky-deaky illustrations show R. Crumb's underground cartoon influence, and the microscopic detail makes this best for individual rather than large group reading; give it to a child or your favorite Gen-X'er and come back in an hour or so. Probably inspired the phrase "far out." (6 and up)

Curious George and Friends : Favorite Stories by Margret and H.A. Rey
by Margret and H.A. Rey
published by Houghton Mifflin

The whole family will go simply bananas over this collection, a party that starts with the classic Curious George then moves to introduce your children to the rest of the Rey's cast of characters, such as Elizabite the carniverous plant, Pretzel the hot-dog dog, Katy No-Pocket, Whiteblack the Penguin and Spotty Rabbit! Eight stories in all, each ebullient with the mischief and surprise that marked all of the Curious George stories. Any friend of yours is a friend of ours, dear George! A must for all of his fans. (4 and up)

Tenggren's Golden Tales from the Arabian Nights
retold by Margaret K. Soifer, Irwin Shapiro,
illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren
published by Golden Books

Here are the stories told by brave Scheherazade in order to save her head, kept alive by the king's desire to find out what happens next. Though I am personally fond of Geraldine McCaughrean's translation found in One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, there is no denying that Tenggren's illustrations are unmatched in any edition of these romantic and heroic stories. Swedish artist celebrated for The Saggy Baggy Elephant and The Poky Little Puppy as well as the concept art for Disney's Snow White and Pinocchio, the artwork in this book is equally splendid and accomplished. A palette from the bins of a spice shop capture the exoticism of stories that feature the likes of Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba, but the smooth and thoughtful line also conveys a respect for subject and the stories' roots throughout Asia. The abridged tales are just right for younger adventure-seekers. Say "Open Sesame!" and await the treasures of this 1957 classic to spill out into your home and classroom like a bounty of forbidden gold. Opulent stuff. (7 and up)

Small Plays for Special Days
by Sue Alexander, illustrated by Tom Huffman
published by Clarion

Hey, let's put on a show! It's easy to do with this jaunty collection of scripts for holidays, including clear lists of characters and things you will need. Each script requires two players, making this perfect not only for classrooms but for play dates, puppet shows, family holiday get-togethers and back-and-forth read-aloud with your emergent reader. The skits are pleasant and always pack a punch-line; especially enjoyable is the Halloween bit in which a little girl out-spooks a spirit, and a lively reparteé between a lion and a lamb for the first day of spring. This 1977 reissue gives plenty of reasons to celebrate, and is sure to inspire some original playwriting as well. (7 and up)

The Wicked Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House
by Mary Chase, illustrated by Peter Sis
published by Knopf

Maureen Swanson is, ummm, how shall we put this nicely? Socially challenged? The kind of kids with lots of check marks up the right side of the report card? Maybe we should stick to the author's language: "a hard slapper, a shouter, a loud laugher, a liar, a trickster, and a stayafterschooler." The trouble she causes grows big enough that she has to hide out in the old Messerman place. Sure it's supposed to be haunted, but Maureen isn't daunted, au contraire, she has often imagined what it would be like to be a wealthy Messerman herself. But fancy pedigree is not all it's cracked up to be as Maureen discovers when the portraits come to life, giving naughty Maureen a run for her money. Predictable in places, but don't complain; the wicked wicked humor from this 1968 novel foreshadows not only the plot, but the dark delights like those of Lemony Snicket and Joan Aiken that children so enjoy today. And who doesn't like a good haunted house story? (9 and up)

Moominvalley in November
by Tove Jansson
published by Farrar Straus Giroux

Winter's onset is so gloomy, and it's not easy to get along all cooped up together. Too bad the Moomins aren't even home, but many friends of the family like Snufkin, Toft and Fillyjonk found in the story's prequel Finn Family Moomintroll, have reconvened here. I remember even as a child thinking, wow, what a lot of characters! Nowadays Jansson's work might serve as a nice departure from the likes of Pokemon. This Finnish import series has its followers, and will appeal to those of gentle and imaginative tastes. (4 and up)

The People in Pineapple Place
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
published by Candlewick Press

Moving is not fun for anyone, but is especially hard on shy August Brown, who is happily surprised to befriend seven children on his block, and is even more surprised to discover that they are invisible to everyone but him, and accompany him in spirit, quite literally, through adventures on the streets of Washington D.C. What wonderful response this book has gotten as a read-aloud, teachers comparing it to classics like Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Peppermints in the Parlor. Look to this 1982 reissue for a believable portal into the unexpected in the midst of our modern, sometimes workaday world. (8 and up)

The Dulcimer Boy
by Tor Seidler, illustrated by Brian Selznick
published by HarperCollins

Life looks bleak for the baby brothers William and Jules, left on the doorstep of the less-than-philanthropic Carbuncles, who consign the boys to a life of misery. The silver-stringed dulcimer that was also left is locked away, but once in the hands of William may prove the key to their release from servitude. A turn of the century period piece with lots of tension and plotting, and protagonists that you will root for with every note. (9 and up)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
by Ian Fleming, illustrated by Ian Cunliffe
published by Random House

Fasten your family's seat belts and prepare for a wild road trip! From the creator of James Bond comes the childhood chef d'oerve of inventor Caratacus Pott, a magical roadster that can fly, float and has power steering like you wouldn't believe. Very different than the popular movie (with a screenplay by Roald Dahl, no wonder it was so fantastic), this book comes fully equipped with many different characters and all sorts of crimes in progress that need to be thwarted by our fine four-fendered friend. Watch the movie, and then compare the two! I know judging a book by its cover is frowned upon, but the glitter lettering is sure to be alluring to a new generation and the campy throwback line illustrations inside are a scream. A sparky story in large print will entice reluctant readers to get behind the wheel of this baby. (8 and up)

A Deluxe Book of Flower Fairies
by Cicely Mary Barker
published by Warne

Golly, what a gorgeous book! Every bibliophile's wish is granted by this keepsake, featuring a padded cover sprinkled with holograph star overlay, and silver gilding on the edges that is shinier than any star. Inside is a woodland and garden full of fairy fascination, featuring hundreds of pages of the highly recognizable and adored fairies penned by Barker in the 1930's and 40's. Beautiful poems are decorated with paintings capturing the fairies in all their flowery ways, and this book also offers a marvelous opportunity to explore botanical legend and lore. The material in this volume was originally published in four separate books, celebrating fairies from each season, and as a complete volume will serve as an absolutely enchanting field guide. An child would be flying high to receive this extraordinary gift, especially when accompanied by dress-up wings. Wand optional. (6 and up)

Storybook Treasury of Dick and Jane and Friends
by Grosset and Dunlap Publishers

Remember when mom was home all day in case you needed something sewn on a machine, and daddy wore a necktie even to row a boat? No need to be nostalgic for yesteryear! No no no! Oh no! Look! Look! See! See! Dick and Jane are back. Dick and Jane are fun! Dick and Jane are monosyllabic, but they still offer new readers the chance to feel successful at sight vocabulary, and offer up a bit of history; children should know what life was like before Dr. Seuss. The bright yellow volume is handsome, plus, you've just gotta give dad his propers for driving that old blue Studebaker! This book is good for work and play. You will like it. Come and see. Come and look. Look and see. Oy vey. (6 and up)

What Did You Put in Your Pocket?
by Breatice Schenk de Regniers
, illustrated by Michael Gerjniec
published by HarperCollins

Each day of the week the question is asked "what did you put in your pocket/your pockety pockety pocket?" and the answers I won't give away, but I warn you, they are preposterous! There is no way to read this book without children joining in the refrain, and screaming with laughter, and many calls for encores! Oooh, this book is so juicy juicy juicy, theposter paints just drip off the page, and you know you have to make a big bright bulletin board to match so that children can illustrate for themselves what they would put in their pockets. Fans of Jane Cabrera's vibrantCat's Colors, the silliness of Julian Scheer'sRain Makes Applesauce and Eric Carle's sing-songing Today is Monday will want to reach into their pockets and add this sunny reissue to their permanent collection. (4 and up)

The Tiger Who Came to Tea
by Judith Kerr
published byHarperCollins

What's black and orange and hungry all over? It's the tiger at the door, politely inviting himself to tea, but his insatiable appetite leads him to raid the refrigerator, the cupboard, and gobble all the food that was cooking for daddy's dinner on the stovetop. Mommy and daughter are very hospitable hostesses, but after the feline bids his fond farewell, what are they to do for supper? The illustration of the family strolling out to a restaurant in the twilight is very dear, and the last page that suggests the tiger never came back is a reassuring end to the excitement. Originally published in 1968, this book has sold over three million copies worldwide, making it one of the most popular children's books ever written. (4 and up)

The Greentail Mouse
by Leo Lionni
published by Knopf

Playing on the "country mouse/town mouse" motif, a cosmopolitan critter passes through a meadow and passes on his knowledge of Mardi Gras to a group of field mice, who cannot resist making their own ferocious masks. The poor mice soon become overwhelmed by their game of pretend, and can't seem to remember what gentle, sweet creatures they had once been, until they receive a reminder. Though ultimately reassuring that the good underneath is what is really real, this is still one of Lionni's darker works, and this reprint seems hauntingly timely at a time when grown-ups are behaving so ferociously. (5 and up)

Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat
by Morrell Gipson
published by Purple House Press

Look out! When Mr. Bear gets in a bad mood, he gives a little bit of fair warning and then SMASH! He lands his rump on some unfortunate creature's habitat. When a few of his victims find a reprieve in an old rubber tire, both Mr. Bear and the residents are in for a surprise when the big bully tries his old trick. It's like my husband always tells me: "just because you're in a bad mood, you can't take it out on everybody else." This fiftieth anniversary edition maintained the original vintage illustrations, delivering to a new generation a tale of outstanding naughtiness and what cartoonist Gary Larson called "the greatest little story in the world." (4 and up)

Emmett's Pig
by Mary Stolz,
illustrated by Garth Williams
published by HarperCollins

Emmett collects all things porcine: stuffed pigs, pictures of pigs, paper pigs, piggy banks, books about pigs, and sometimes pigs even routed around in his dreams. Unfortunately, being a city boy, Emmett has never seen a real pig, but concocts a very clever idea for keeping one in his room. Though his parents can't agree to his plan, they do manage to make his wish come true with a trip to the country for a birthday surprise. First published in 1959, this book is fresh as clean straw, thanks to Garth Williams' (Charlotte's Web) cheerful illustrations being given a fresh coat of watercolor paint by Rosemary Wells. The story itself was both ahead of it's time and timeless, portaying a gentle, loving little boy and his success at finding a friend that is perfect for him. (4 and up)

Ellen's Lion
by Crockett Johnson
published by Knopf

Twelve short stories, one more charming than the next, invite the reader to join in the imaginative play of a little girl and her sensible stuffed animal. Much of the book is droll banter, as Ellen discovers that her lion can talk ("You talked!" she cried. "You said something!" "It wasn't anything important," said the lion. "And watch where you're jumping.") It is clear that his voice secretly comes through her, as we discover her frustration that she and her lion can't seem to talk at the same time. There is nothing the least bit fearful about this book, as Ellen is at no risk of being devoured by her playmate, since he is already "stuffed." Johnson achieves the same merry combination of insight and appreciation of child's play here as he did in Harold and the Purple Crayon. First printed in 1959, this is a witty rediscovered treasure that will leave little ones roaring with laughter. (4 and up)

Mike Mulligan and More: A Virginia Lee Burton Treasury
by Virginia Lee Burton
published by Houghton Mifflin

Beep-beep, honk-honk, make way! Four of Burton's busiest and most beloved stories are compiled here, bringing Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Little House, Katy and the Big Snow and Maybelle the Cable Car together for a nostalgic reading retrospective into the children's book innovator's best works from 1939-1952. Here are all her anthropomorphized vehicles and structures in full form, persevering in the face of adversity, cheerfully cooperating with their more human counterparts as they industrialize themselves to smithereens. (5 and up) Even over half a century later, there's been no one like Virginia Lee Burton, and her life and creative contributions are celebrated in Virginia Lee Burton: A Life in Art by Barbara Elleman (published by Houghton Mifflin). This stocky coffee table book provides a real retro treasury of her artwork and truly amazing textile design, as well as a window into her more private side: living in an artist's cooperative, dancing to relax, and looking shockingly elegant. Just as her children's books now carry kids off to a simpler but snazzier place and time, let her adult biography do the same for you.

The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose
illustrated by Arnold Lobel
published by Knopf

Originally published as The Random House Book of Mother Goose in 1986, fans of the Caldecott artist's classic work (such as the Frog and Toad series) will be delighted by this reissue, featuring jolly and colorful sketches to accompany over 300 nursery rhymes. A childhood's worth of laptime is contained in these bindings! (birth and up)

The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators
edited by Anita Silvey

I was always envious of my brother's ability to look up information about his favorite athletes in all sorts of books, and finally there is an accesible "who's who" for children's bookworms! Originally published as Children's Books and Their Creators, this new, affordable edition means every parent and teacher can now have this amazing resource at their fingertips. While being marketed as a guide to the best books for children, it is really an encyclopedia of background information of nearly all the great authors and illustrators in children's literature, both modern and classic, arranged by name. So the next time you are about to share a great book with a child, you can look up the person who made it and offer up some background knowledge, as well as find out what other books that person has helped to create so you can run out and find those as well. The "Voices of the Creators" sections, in which the artists speak for themselves, is an especially juicy touch. An invaluable volume for anyone who works with children or children's books, and a great gift for teachers. (Adults)

The Dream Stealer
by Gregory Maguire,
illustrated by Diana Bryan

The Blood Prince stalks the forests of Russia, frightening gentlefolk out of traveling to their vacation homes, which means empty supper bowls for the unfortunate villagers of Miersk who sell food to train passengers. Is the bloodthirsty wolf a legend, or does he really exist, preying on both bodies and souls? A young boy and girl take it upon themselves to seek out the answer from the fearsome witch Baba Yaga, and hopefully save their modest town. Many different Russian folktales are woven together to make an enchanting tapestry of both horror and beauty, and one of the most memorable reads of a childhood. The writing is astounding, making The Dream Stealer a read-aloud dream come true. Take, for instance, the description of Baba Yaga, the iron-toothed witch who "doesn't know the difference between taking prisoners and entertaining guests," who lives in a house surrounded by talking skulls: "Her shawls and skirts were filled with burns and burrs, and repaired with awkward stitching--one big tear in her blouse had been woven together with a tail of a rat." Some of the pen-strokes are simply lyrical, as in the description of the train tracks : "rails stretched out like four endless moonbeams nailed down to the earth." Each character is carefully crafted from the inside out, developed with a past and present that will leave every reader hoping desperately for their futures. Fairy tale, mystery, scary story, this book has it all, and we all should have it! (9 and up) For background before beginning this adventure, check out Baba Yaga and Vasilisa The Brave by Marianna Mayer, Baba Yaga and the Wise Doll by Hiawyn Oram and versions of The Firebird retold by either Gennday Spirin, Ruth Sanderson or Jane Yolen .

Things That Sometimes Happen:
Very Short Stories for Little Listeners

by Avi, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

There has not been such a cunning collection of short stories for children since e.e. cummings' Fairy Tales. Reality is readily suspended as we play along in these imaginative adventures in which children do things like dig all the way to China, a hippopotamus decides to buy a new car and books can't decide how to end themselves. I hazard to imagine that Margaret Wise Brown would have liked this book very much. Originally published in 1970, this is Avi's first foray, and it is easy to see why he ultimately became a literary legend. With brand new illustrations by a Caldecott-winner, Priceman's airy, swirling watercolors seem to sigh, "ahhh, this is how us art supplies like to be used!" Reading this book aloud is something that should sometimes happen, and laughter will definitely happen as well. (5 and up)

Teen Angst? Naaah: A Quasi-Autobiography
by Ned Vizzini

He's back in mass-market paperback, teenage everyman Ned Vizzini transcribing his high-school life like a pubescent David Sedaris. Teens can get some perspective by tuning in to his trials, both painfully real and painfully funny, complete with Magic card tournaments, SAT preparations, first girlfriends and family trips. Written when he was nineteen, Vizzini's breezy and honest voice has a penchant for laughing at himself, and inviting you to join in. Liking this book is something you and your teen can actually have in common, so don't let your child leave grade school without it. (12 and up)

Portly McSwine
by James Marshall

Portly is preparing a fete for National Snout Day, but the preparations have gotten his tail in a twist. The devil is in the details, as he simply can't stop worrying about all the things that might go wrong (ever been there?). As always, Marshall is a master of tenderly depicting human frailty (albiet in the form of a pig), and you can plan on a happy ending…no need to worry! I only wish the author was still around to enjoy the party. (5 and up)

Clifford the Big Red Dog: 40th Anniversary Edition
by Norman Bridwell

Everyone loves Clifford, and has been throwing him a bone for generations! The publisher celebrates one of their pet characters with this wonderful full-sized edition of the original story that is perfect for sharing with a read-aloud crowd, plus, the cover has funky red flocking that is just right for giving old Clifford a well-deserved pat. Bow wow! (4 and up)

The Magic Shop Book Series
by Bruce Coville

What would you choose from Mr. Elive's magic shop? Perhaps a ring that would make you indomitable to bullies? (Choose The Monster's Ring.) A skull that can make an honest person out of you? ( ChooseThe Skull of Truth.) A toad that can make you breathtakingly beautiful? (ChooseJennifer Murdley's Toad.) Or a weird marbled egg that will give you a chance to raise a dragon from a hatchling a la Harry Potter (Choose Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher.) In time for the holidays as well as the series' twentieth anniversary comes the release of four handsome hardcovers that will tickle the fantasy fancy of fans of Lynne Reid Banks' Indian in the Cupboard and Bill Brittain's The Wish Giver. These stories have not stayed in print for so long for nothing; Coville has a finger on the pulse of what children like, and quickens that pulse with suspense and humor. (9 and up)

Mouse of My Heart: A Treasury of Sense and Nonsense
by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Loretta Krupinski

This book is as lovely to open as a jewelry box and just as full of gems. If your child is a fan of Goodnight Moon or The Runaway Bunny, you will surely want to give your child more of Brown's preschool genius. The book, containing both stories and poems, is separated thoughtfully into categories like "Adventure," "Big and Little," "Bravery," "Bedtime," "Belonging," "Nature" and all the things that make up a small child's world. the categories make this book handy for teachers, but will be equally shelf-worn in your family's library. It is full of wonderful little laptime hums, like "The Hollow Tree" and jounces, like "Whoopsie Daisy!" Detailed artwork features lots of nature, just right for pointing and naming. The biographical information that prefaces the book makes it indeed something for everyone. A generous collection that makes a generous gift. (Birth and up)

Most Beloved Sister
by Astrid Lindgren, illustrated by Hans Arnold

Written by the late genius Astrid Lindgren (of Pippi Longstocking fame), this story follows a lonely ittle girl into a garden of fanstasy, in which she meets her imaginary twin sister, Lalla-Lee. There they play, romping on horses Goldfoot and Silverfoot, avoiding the terrible Frights and into the loving arms of the Kind Ones. The parting of the girls is a mournful one; a recurrent theme of loss permeates Lindgren's work, such as in The Brother's Lionheart. While not particularly "PC," the story is emotionally honest, in a voice that will resonate with children through the years. Originally published in 1949 with illustrations done in 1973, Gen-X'ers in particular will enjoy their vivid, trippy quality.

The Clown Said No
by Mischa Damjan, illustrated by Christa Unzer

Petronius the clown is fed-up with the ringmaster's rants! Bravely, he sets off to follow his heart, taking some talented animals with him. Together, with a little life experience and hard work, the motley crew makes their dream come true, opening the Circus for Children and Poets. Originally published over forty years ago, this unconventional story is freshly illustrated and just as jolly as ever. (6 and up)

Abiyoyo Returns
by Pete Seeger and Paul Du Bois Jacobs, illustrated by Michael Hays

He's baaaaccckkk...the Golem-like people-eating giant Abiyoyo has risen again, this time to help build a dam. Good food and good music finally appease the monster when his appetite flairs and the magic wand doesn't work anymore. Written thirty years after the classic Abiyoyo (which was just reissued with a CD with two outstanding musical readings by Seeger, one of them live), Abiyoyo Returns still tells a merry tale of community, and also touches on the thought-provoking themes of power and the environment. Be sure to read the timely note from the author on the back cover, and see if you recognize the little boy and father in Abiyoyo as the father and grandfather in Abiyoyo Returns ! To everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn the page! (5 and up)

Nursery Tales
by Paul Galdone

During his career, Galdone illustrated and retold nearly every nursery tale you can imagine, and his bright, expressive, uncluttered pictures are perfect for laptime or for holding up in front of a crowd. I remember in my early twenties sacrificing almost an entire paycheck to own all of his titles at once, greedy thing! But not having to choose between them was worth hearing the angry complaints of my landlord. Since then, I have worn his books to smithereens, and so I was delighted to discover the newly compiled Nursery Classics, containing "The Three Little Pigs," "The Three Bears," "The Little Red Hen" and his rip-rousing "Cat Goes Fiddle-I-Fee." When you are looking for a classic title for a little booklover, look to Galdone firs. For read-aloud, he is unrivaled, and this book also makes a shower or holiday gift that will be appreciated for years to come. (3 and up)

Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
by Ursula Moray Wiliams

One of the greatest adventures of all time. The Little Wooden Horse is devoted to the Uncle Peder, but when the toymaker is overcome by poverty and then illness, the Little Wooden Horse sets out to seek his fortune on both of their behalf. His journey takes him into coal mines, on circus high wires, across ocean waves brimming with hostile sea horses, into the gentle hands of royal princesses and into the clutches of pirates. The villains on his journey are memorable and terrible; the manic Farmer Max rivals Robert Mitchum's performance in Night of the Hunter, and the quarrelsome nursery children match Sid from Toy Story blow for blow. In the end, the twists of fate endured by the dear Little Wooden Horse are exponentially more compelling than anything you could find on screen. The book endures as a moving testament to unflinching devotion that Pinocchio himself could take a lesson from. Every chapter ends with a cliffhanger; I remember in particular sharing this book with some low-achieving fourth garde boys, and all I had to do was take the book out to have all legs stumbling to be seated and all eyes at rapt attention. And why not? It is a wonderful, wonderful story, and thank you to Kingfisher publishers for reprinting it. I have used it as a read-aloud for hundreds of children, and hope you will read it aloud to hundreds more. (All ages)

The Wing on a Flea: A Book About Shapes by Ed Emberley
Artists have told me that the hardest thing about learning to draw is learning to see, to look at things with more than a passing glance and learn what your eyes arereally taking in. This clever book helps even the very youngest children not only to learn shapes, but to be more observant of the world around them. This resissue, with vibrant new illustrations and packaging is a perfect compliment to Ed Emberley's other drawing many of us as children became confident about drawing thanks to his books?...including one of my favorites recently reissued in hardcover, the funky Fingerprint Drawing Book. I broke out the stamp pads, and we had hours of fun! (4 and up and up!)

Little House in the Big Woods: Special Read-Aloud Edition
by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Garth Williams

The classic first story of the Little House pioneer saga has been reissued in generous large-print format that is perfect for classroom read-aloud. It is also great for reading to children at bedtime; the size makes it easy for you to move your finger along as you read and help children with their exposure to print. (8 and up) Be sure to take advantage of the chance to expand upon history by following up with Lois Erdrich's The Birchbark House, which tells a parallel story of an Ojibwa family. (9 and up) Both books offer stunning period detail and timeless characters. Venison and journey cake, anyone? (6 and up and up and up)

The Read-Aloud Handbook, 5th Edition
by Jim Trelease

Now, you KNOW that this is the greatest book about reading ever written! Anyone who has ever wondered how to get children to learn to read or to love to read must get their hands on this book! It articulates all the reasons and rewards of daily read-aloud, and the long-awaited latest edition has just been released, with an even more user-friendly format and new provocative sections about the impact of Oprah, Harry Potter and the internet. There is the treasured "Giant Treasury of Great Read-Aloud Books" with new, recent additions. As necessary to new parents as Mother Goose, as fundamental to teachers as the dictionary, this book has the power to change the educational landscape of our country, and better yet, empowers us to do so. (Adult)

Arthur's Nose : 25th Anniversary Limited Edition by Marc Brown
The best and the first of the wildly popular Arthur series is celebrating its 25th birthday! This special limited edition book includes a letter from the author, lots of great photographs, the layout and original manuscript for the text, and a very funny pictoral timeline of Arthur's the Aardvark's nose from 1976 to 2000...he's had more work done than Michael Jackson! (Sorry, Michael!) Besides a very funny story about liking the way you look, this edition offers a chance to learn about how books are made and change over time, and lots of inside facts that will help children enjoy the entire series even more. I must confess I am not the biggest Arthur fan, but goodness knows the children adore him and his snarky friends. For my money, the mammal that deserve a real "double A" is Bernard Waber's An Anteater Named Arthur, which was originally published in in 1967. Read them both to the ants in your kitchen, maybe that will scare them off. (5 and up)

The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
Happy sixtieth birthday to one of the sweetest family stories of all time, written by the author of a favorite, The Hundred Dresses! If your children enjoy Sidney Taylor's All of a Kind Family or Beverly Cleary's Ramona series, they will have a place in their heart for the escapades of Sylvie, Joey, Janey and Rufus, enjoying old fashioned mischief and adventure, from dancing with a dog in front of the whole town to solving the mystery of a ghost in the attic. And if you like this first volume, there are more: The Middle Moffat (a Newbery honor winner), The Moffat Museum and Rufus M. (another Newbery honor winner) ! Though the covers are all new and fresh, the insides have kept the wonderful inky, sketchy spirit of the early 20th century. A cozy read-aloud or read-alone for 8 and up!

The "Tim" Series by Edward Ardizzone
What can I say that will get you to read this series of books? I loved them so much, I gave my son the middle name "Edward" after this author/illustrator! I could just as well have named him "Excitement;" Ardizzone delivers adventure on the high seas, complete with twists of fate, captains both good and evil, and plenty of close-call rescues. Tim and Charlotte, always so resourceful and courageous and kind, and their comically impulsive friend Ginger...who could wish for a better group of friends to travel with? From five years old to the fifth grade, I have never met a kid who didn't like these stories! So let your children stowaway this summer with some of the best children's books of the last century.

The Mouse and His Child
by Russell Hoban, illustrated by David Small

The haunting fantasy that tracks two wandering tin-toys in their quest for the ability to wind themselves has just been reissued with new illustrations by Caldecott-winner David Small. I have been a jealous fan of Russell Hoban's ever since I was five years old and crossed out his name and replaced it with my own in my copy of A Bargain for Frances, but this book was a bit of a shock. Russell Hoban does to language what calligraphy does to penmanship, what egg whites do to soufflées, what music does to sound. The craftsmanship verges on the creepy, creating descriptions and mood that give his work a kind of three-dimensional quality, an intensity that frankly, may be upsetting to some audiences. While undeniably excellent in many respects, this is a book adults should read before sharing with children. In the same way that St. Exupery's The Little Prince is best received at a certain point in life, such is the case with The Mouse and His Child. Themes of wisdom and redemption are deep, sweeping, and dark. Critically acclaimed as one of the greatest works of children's literature of the twentieth century, read it yourself first and decide if you feel it is right for your child. (8 and up)

Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the World
by Marget and H.A. Rey

Yes, it's the creators of Curious George, and this time the hero is a the Chief Storyteller on station W-O-N-S, the radio station for all of Penguinland. When he ran out of stories, he did what any good journalist would do; he traveled the world in search of more! Join Whiteblack as a traverses desert and sea, then break out the old tape recorder and produce your own "radio show" with the family! After all, as this entertaining book goes to show, adventure is where you make it. (4 and up)

Rocking Horse Land
and Other Classic Tales of Dolls and Toys

compiled by Naomi Lewis,
illustrated by Angela Barrett

The tales in this anthology were originally collected in a book titled The Silent Playmate: A Collection of Doll Stories. I remember taking The Silent Playmate out of the library and renewing it until the librarian wouldn't let me renew it any more...I couldn't buy it, it was out of print. So imagine my shock and delight to find stories like the deliciously creepy "Rag Bag,"in which a wicked and persistent fairy child kidnaps a favorite doll; the inventive "Town in the Library" written by the mannered master E. Nesbit or "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" written by genius Hans Christian Andersen. The collection, suitable for boys as well as girls, has a classic, old-fashioned feel. Angela Barrett's dark and delicate illustrations invoke the feeling of searching a grandmother's attic on a rainy day, and finding wonderful treasures from days gone by. If you want a smile sewn on your face, read-aloud these stories that will breathe new life into old toys, and into your child's imagination. (7 and up)

The British are Coming!
Or rather, they're back! Take, for instance, Black Jack by Leon Garfield. One reviewer wrote, "If James Bond were a twelve-year-old boy living in eighteenth century England, his life of surprise and danger and self-discovery might have been recorded by Leon Garfield." Indeed, the seven-foot Black Jack seems to rise from the dead and takes on an unwitting boy as his companion through madhouses, circuses and the underbelly of the dirty city. Garfield is fearless, taking children on the romantic adventures they only dream of experiencing, like a Dickens for the reluctant reader. I mean, just look at the cover! Don't you want to read it already! (10 and up)

And speaking of adventure, it's worth noting that Joan Aiken's The Stolen Lake and The Cuckoo Tree have been reissued in yummy creamy dreamy paperbacks with Edward Gorey's deliciously dark illustrations gracing the cover...I'm sorry to talk about her books like food, but Aiken's books will make a fine main course for Harry Potter fans who want a little change in their menu. The action is breakneck (as you may remember from Aiken's Wolves of Willoughby Chase, which earned a coveted poition on this site's "Must Reads by the Time You're 13" list)...better have a brown paper bag handy to catch your breath. The heroine, Dido Twite, is such a resourceful female protagonist and comes through any trauma like a trooper, with her accent intact. (11 and up)

Taking Care of Carruthers
by James Marshall

It is always bittersweet to talk about a reissue by James Marshall, the comic genius behind George and Martha, and illustrator of the beloved Miss Nelson is Missing, Miss Nelson is Missing...we are the ones missing this unique artist, whose life was cut short too soon. On a happier note, our favorite grouchy bear Carruthers is back...back in bed, that is, just in time for the cold season. Friends Eugene and Emily are at his side, trying to cheer him up...and what doesn't work on Carruthers sure works on the reader! Tuck this book away for a read-aloud on your child's next sniffly day-home-from-school, or teachers, send it home as sick-day homework (a la Viola Swamp). (7 and up)

Eugene and Emily make another appearance in the newly reissued series of small hardcover books, Four Little Troubles: Snake, Eugene, Someone is Talking about Hortense, and Sing Out, Irene. Each little vignette plays on some minor childhood catastrophe that realistically...and reassuringly...gets resolved. Collect 'em all. (4 and up)

Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep by Eleanor Farjeon,
illustrated by Charlotte Voake

Oooohhh! Ooooohhh! Oooohhh! Are you in for a treat! I hazard to say Eleanor Farjeon was one of the greatest children's authors of all time (do you know the hymn "Morning Has Broken?" She wrote that!), one of her stories made one of my boy students cry, it was so lovely! She has not been reissued with any other illustrator since the master Edward Ardizzone (my son Russell's middle name is Edward, by the way, after Edward Ardizzone, though sometimes my husband will insist it's after Edward Gorey). Charlotte Voake came along to foot the bill, and here we are, with a big, gorgeous edition of the story of the little girl who can do the High Skip, the Slow Skip, The Skip Double-Double, the Long Skip, the Strong Skip and the Skip Against Trouble. Born to skip, even when she's an old, old woman, heroine Elsie manages to save the skipping ground from the greedy new Lord so children and fairies can skip there forever more. Thank you, Candlewick Press, for reissuing this treasure that was first published in 1937! Break out the ropes and skip along, but whatever you do, don't skip this book! (6 and up)

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald,
illustrated by Mercer Mayer

Why didn't anyone give me this book when I was a kid? I'm glad they didn't, in a way, because I have not had such an enjoyable read since I first discovered Mark Twain! The "great brain" is John's con-artist older brother Tom, who finagles his way through chapter after chapter, conspiring to retire cruel schoolteachers, saving children lost in caves, offering a Greek immigrant boy a crash course in naturalization and teaching a peg-legged friend how to win a running race...and always turning a dime in the end. The story takes place in Utah at the turn of the century, but the seamlessness of the anecdotes and the vivacity of the dialogue make this book timeless and deserving of it's classic status. John Fitzgerald is the real great brain! Thank you to Dial publishing for making it available in a really terrific hardcover edition for only about seven dollars, which made me wonder if maybe it was another hoax by the Great Brain...but no, it's true, so you can be like me and stockpile them to give away. This first of a series is the book to give a child that never knew they could like books, this book is a lightswitch that opens a roomful of reading. (8 and up and up and up.)

The Mariah Delaney Lending Library Disaster and Mariah Delaney's Author-of-the-Month Club by Sheila Greenwald
Mariah Delaney is a little bit of a booklover and a whole lot of business woman! Whether lending out valuable books from her parent's collection in the hopes of collecting overdue fines, or inviting real live authors to her apartment for a celebrity show-and-tell, the conundrums are always creative. Mariah Delaney is an exciting character that takes a contagious amount of initiative, even though her best laid plans often go hilariously awry. In the spirit of Contance Greene and Beverly Cleary, these reissues are perfect picks for mother-daughter book clubs. Anyone who has had an idea that has spun a bit out of control will delight in the return of these well-written books. (8 and up)

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Elizabeth Ann has grown up under the frenetic care of a neurotic aunt who has instilled in the pale and fragile girl a fear of dogs, coughs and exertion. When the aunt is no longer able to care for her, Elizabeth Ann is sent to live with "those horrid Putney cousins!" in the Vermont countryside. Then, it is page after page of great ordinary-days-turned-adventure stories, as chores and friends and outdoor life turn Elizabeth Ann into a healthy...and happy...Betsy. Fischer does a great job of drawing her readers into the thoughts and feelings of her little heroine, making for a very droll and memorable read. Written originally in 1917 by Fischer to promote the Montessori method of teaching and learning, Understood Betsy still holds up as a testament to the potentials of all children. The new pencil illustrations by Kimberly Bulcken Root have a country charm well suited to this book. (8 and up)

What Do You Do With a Shoe? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

What do you do with a book like this? Read it twice, like my primary classes insist! A colorful reissue of a 1955 book, we follow two exuberant children through their ridiculous explorations of shoes, hats, cups, chairs and brooms. The dedication page of this book says it all: "for fun." (4 and up)

Also of interest:
Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees by Johnny Gruelle, illustrations adapted by Keers Moerbeek (Fanciful interactive pop-up featuring our favorite dolly as she finds her way around some angry pirates with the help of good friends.) (5 and up)
Swing Around the Sun by Barbara Juster Esbensen, illustrated by Cheng-Khee Chee, Janice Lee Porter, Mary Grandpré and Stephen Gammell (Originally published in 1965, four artists newly illustrate a year's worth of seasonal poems. ) (5 and up)
That's What Friends Are For by Florence Parry Heide and Sylvia Worth Van Clief, illustrated by Holly Meade (When Theodore the Elephant hurts his leg, friends gather around to do what friends do best: give advice. But is that what friends really are for? This book gives a hand to helping hands everywhere, and the crisp, bold illustrations by the Caldecott honor winning artist refeshes this 1968 favorite like a jungle watering hole.) (4 and up)
My Grandmother's Stories: A Collection of Jewish Folk Tales by Adele Geras, illustrated by Anita Lobel (Treasures in a Russian grandmother's apartment inspire ten stories of the past, and a link to the present. Originally published in 1990 with lush new illustrations by Caldecott medal winner Anita Lobel, ohhh, it's like butter. ) (7 and up)
The Moon in My Room by Uri Shulevitz (Originally published in 1963, sparse lines and splashes of color make the tour of this little boy's room gentle as moonlight. An early piece from a picture book legend. ) (4 and up)

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