Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Legend of the Golden Snail

Written by: Graeme Base

First line: The Legend of the Golden Snail was Wilbur's favorite story.

Why you should read this book: From the inspired brush of perennial favorite Base comes a book that begins in a stunningly meta fashion: with a smaller inset book telling the eponymous legend and  containing and ever smaller book, written in what appears to be Latin and Hieroglyphics. Wilbur goes on a magical, fairy tale journey to achieve immortality as the captain of the Golden Snail. Along the way, he has to choose between faster pursuit of his goal, and the acts of kindness that slow heroes down but pay off in the long run.

Why you shouldn't read this book: All things will bow when you are the Grand Enchanter.

How to Draw a Dragon

Written by: Douglas Florian

First line: Drawing dragons isn't hard.

Why you should read this book: Fast paced heroic couplets guide the young reader in the ancient art of drawing dragons. It should be noted that the author advocates life drawing, and that the small artist is advised, first, to drag a dragon into the yard in order to begin. Notable for a wide variety of drawn dragons.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't understand why someone would want to draw a dragon.

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave

Written by: Laban Carrick Hill and Bryan Collier

First line: To us it is just dirt, the ground we walk on.

Why you should read this book: In inspired, poetic language, this is the true story of a slave in the American south who may very well have been the greatest potter of his era. It is also the story of making a clay pot, which may be of more interest to young readers, who may accidentally get a history lesson while reading. Despite his skill and artistry, Dave had no last name, and his legacy only survives because some of his pots, on which he write short poems and signed his name, still survive, and the book includes more historical data at the end of the story.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't like beautiful and useful handmade objects.

Oh So Tiny Bunny

Written by: David Kirk

First line: Oh So Tiny is a very small bunny--with very big dreams.

Why you should read this book: For those looking for some adorable nonsense, here's the story of an aptly, but limitingly, named rabbit who dreams that he is giant. Adorable at any size, Oh So Tiny imagines the amazing things he could do with greater mass. Then he realizes that he cannot imagine the solution to the problems the world's largest rabbit would have.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You worry you're already too big.

The Nian Monster

Written by: Andrea Wang and Alina Chau

First line: Three days before Chinese New Year, Shanghai was alive with color and sound.

Why you should read this book: I adored this story of a very modern Chinese girl outwitting a very ancient Chinese monster that threatens to devour her and her city. I don't know why monsters in picture books always want to eat little kids, because in my experience little kids are pretty unsanitary, but little Xingling sees the danger and uses her knowledge of her culture and customs to trick the monster and banish it for another year. The illustrations are pretty and the end of the book includes some extra information on Chinese culture.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You'd really like to eat a child.

Samantha on a Roll

Written by: Linda Ashman and Christin Davenier

First line: No, Samantha.

Why you should read this book: When a mother is too busy to teach her daughter how to roller skate, the little girl decides she's perfectly capable of skating solo. Her outdoor adventure involves hilarious mishaps and near misses. Of course, this rollicking, rhyming book ends up with all crises averted a child possibly a little wiser.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're sure you can skate all by yourself even though you're little and you don't know how.

Welcome, Precious

Written by: Nikki Grimes and Bryn Collier

First line: Welcome, Precious.

Why you should read this book: An award-winning author and an award-winning illustrator teamed up to create this quietly beautiful bedtime book about a family's love for its newest member. A little baby is welcomed to the world with all its myriad delights, and then put to bed in preparation for another day of beauty. Soft and gracious, a perfect read out loud book for little ones.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're already feeling pretty sleepy.

Real Cowboys

Written by: Kate Hoefler and Jonathan Bean

First line: Real cowboys are quiet in the morning, careful not to wake the people who live in little houses in the hollow, and up in the mountains, and at the edge of fields in the distance.

Why you should read this book: This is a high-interest story that had my room full of rowdy kindergarteners in rapt attention, quietly hanging on every word. Readers will learn about the real work that cowboys do, and the real strength and emotion it takes to do this work. They will also learn that cowboy stereotypes are just stories, and that real cowboys transcend race and gender.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're already out on the open range.

Green Cat

Written by: Dayal Kaur Khalsa

First line: Tom and Lynn shared a room.

Why you should read this book: A rhyming reimagining of an old folktale, this book present a pair of squabbling siblings who feel their bedroom is too small. A large, anthropomorphic green cat appears and solves the problem by filling their room with a variety of items until the kids feel really cramped, and then removes the objects until the room seems cavernous by comparison. In fact, now it's too big.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You have read this story in other, more traditional forms, and found it less delightful with every reading.

Yeti and the Bird

Written by: Nadia Shireen

First line: Deep in the forest there lived a yeti.

Why you should read this book: Due to his largeness, hairiness, and scariness, Yeti is a lonely cryptid, until the day that the bird gets lost in his forest. The bird never stops talking long enough to feel fear, so the other creatures see Yeti in a mutually friendly relationship and lose their fear of him. When the bird must move on to warmer climes, Yeti finds he is no longer along.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're searching for Bigfoot.

Spike, the Mixed-up Monster

Written by: Susan Hood and Melissa Sweet

First line: Spike was a monster.

Why you should read this book: Spike is, in fact, an axolotl, an endangered type of salamander, who may look monstrous up close, but is hardly visible from far away, being smaller than many creatures in his environment. In this book, Spike tries to be terrifying but succeeds only in delighting his neighbors with his cuteness. Then along comes a real monster, the dangerous gila monster: can Spike make himself scary enough to save his friends?

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're a very grouchy ladybug.

Hilda and the Black Hound

Written by: Flying Eye Books

First line: Did you hear that, Twig?

Why you should read this book: A perfect example of bringing traditional folklore into the modern era, this comic-style book ushers us into the world of Hilda, a little Norwegian girl whose mother attempts to channel her natural exuberance into scouting. While desperately trying to earn a merit badge, any merit badge, Hilda instead succeeds into involving herself in the plight of the the nisses, local house elves who are finding themselves homeless in the wake of some peculiar activity. Hilda excels at finding mischief, and at setting things right.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You once adopted a stray puppy, and your parents took it to the country.