Pig-out on good books
OLIVIA Written and illustrated by Ian Falconer Simon & Schuster Unpaged, $16 Ages 3-7Skip to next paragraph
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IT'S RAINING PIGS & NOODLES: By Jack Prelutsky Illustrated by James Stevenson Greenwillow Books 160 pp., $17.95 Ages 5 and up
MADLENKA Written and illustrated by Peter Sis Farrar, Straus & Giroux Unpaged, $17 Ages 4-8
MOO in the morning By Barbara Maitland Illustrated by Andrew Kulman Farrar, Straus & Giroux Unpaged, $16 Ages 4-8
THE HIGH-RISE PRIVATE EYES By Cynthia Rylant Illustrated by G. Brian Karas Greenwillow Books 48 pp., $14.95 ea. Ages 6 and up
MESSENGER, MESSENGER By Robert Burleigh Illustrated by Barry Root Simon & Schuster Unpaged, $16 Ages 5-7
AUTHOR TALK Edited by Leonard S. Marcus Simon & Schuster 104 pp., $22 Ages 8-12
A DINOSAUR NAMED SUE: THE STORY OF THE COLOSSAL FOSSIL By Pat Relf Scholastic 64 pp., $15.95 Ages 7-10
Everyone knows the latest Harry Potter book was the big hit this summer, but is it the only read in town? Far from it! Here are several late-summer arrivals that booksellers will be using to conjure up sales this fall.
When kids feel silly, outrageous rhyming poems can be great companions. Poet Jack Prelutsky and illustrator James Stevenson have teamed up again to offer more camaraderie. It's Raining Pigs & Noodles is their fourth volume of funny, clever, and just plain goofy verse. More than 100 poems address topics high on every child's interest meter: pets, siblings, chores, and yucky food. Prelutsky is at his best with puns, and they are tucked in all over the place. Here's a sample from "Is Traffic Jam Delectable?": "I dive into a car pool,/ where I take an onion dip,/ then stand aboard the tape deck/ and sail my penmanship." Stevenson's squiggly, cartoony pen-and-ink illustrations are a welcome and whimsical addition to every page.
As in any anthology, there are a few poems that adults may wish had been edited out, some with gross descriptions of food and some with light bathroom humor, for instance. But this book is for kids - and most kids will love it.
It won't be here till October, but Olivia by Ian Falconer is already stirring talk in book circles. Not only is this one terrific picture book, but it's Falconer's first. In it, he captures the antics of a very self-assured, preschool piggy named Olivia. She is full of spunk, has very firm opinions, and is especially good at wearing people out. "She even wears herself out," proclaims the economical text. Illustrations are stunning, done in stark black and white with splashes of true red. Together, the words and pictures evoke smiles, giggles, and a rare but thrilling sense that this book may be absolutely perfect.
More than 21 million children live in urban settings. So it's comforting to note that a number of this season's good books feature urban landscapes. Here are three bound-to-be favorites:
Peter Sis, winner of two Caldecott Honors, has depicted his hometown of New York City in his newest creation: Madlenka. The story begins: "In the universe, on a planet, on a continent, in a country, in a city, on a block, in a house, in a window" is a little girl named Madlenka who has a wiggly tooth. Sis's juxtaposition of the grand and the minute is thought-provoking and is echoed throughout the tale. Madlenka is understandably excited by (presumably) her first loose tooth. Such good news must be announced to the people on her block. She tells her friends (most of them shop owners), who hail from different countries. Each person is introduced within the context of his or her culture. For example, when the French baker offers to celebrate with pastries and stories, little Madlenka and her tooth take a day-dreamy trip to Paris. In this way, Sis, who was born in Czechoslovakia, showcases many of the world's cultures residing side by side in New York. He incorporates simple and telling details - real and imaginary - into his rich and sophisticated art. Illustrations are intricate, providing plenty to see on every turn of the page. Several ingenious cut-outs provide literal peeks into this international city.
In an urban setting that looks remarkably like New York, Messenger, Messenger gets rolling. Robert Burleigh's rhyming text propels readers through the fast-paced day of bike messenger Calvin Curbhopper. The real appeal of this book is the colorful and energetic artwork of Barry Root.