There’s probably no historical figure I find more admirable than Abraham Lincoln. That explains why I love Abe’s Honest Words by Doreen Rappaport, featuring illustrations by the fabulous Kadir Nelson. This is a lovely juvenile biography of our sixteenth president, who had the unenviable job of leading our country through, and out, of the Civil War. Rappaport treats us to Lincoln’s life story–his upbringing after the death of his mother, his love for reading and writing, his election and presidency, to his tragic assasination–insterspliced with his own words. The book is a touching tribute to the man who wrote “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think, and feel.”
Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories is a collection of three great stories by Dr. Seuss, each with a lesson to teach us (as Seuss so often has). “Yertle the Turtle” is supposedly an allegory for Hitler-era fascism (and Horton Hears a Who is supposedly an allegory for Japanese internment camps. Who knew Seuss was so political). Yertle is the king of all he sees, which is a bunch of turtles in a pond. But he realizes if he commands all the turtles to stand in a stack with him on top, he could rule so much more! His plan seems to go swimmingly until Mack, the poor base turtle, does something very impolite… In “Gertrude McFuzz” (one of my childhood favorites) we meet a bird with a bit to learn about envy and vanity, and then there’s “The Big Brag” in which a rabbit, a bear, and a worm argue over who has the best senses. All classics!
Fartiste by wife and husband authors Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, and illustrator Boris Kulikov, relates the true and intriguing tale of French artist, Joseph Pujol, who, at the height of his popularity, performed at the Moulin Rouge, to audiences of royal stature, pulling in tens of thousands of francs a night. And what was his talent, you might ask? Well, at age eight Joe discovered he had the ability to pass gas on command with no smell! He grew up to be a baker, but to help support his wife and ten children he began farting on street corners, then filling concert halls, eventually becoming the toast of gay Paris, and the rest is history!
I thoroughly recommend The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson. It’s a really great book to read at bedtime. Some people underestimate the power of a good bedtime story. This book begins with a key. The key is to a house. In the house is a light. The light is next to the bed. On the bed is a book. In the book is a bird. Every page leads naturally into the next. It’s ordered, like the universe, which can be very reassuring for a child. The story takes us up in the sky, then down back to the house, into bed, where it’s time to sleep. The illustrations by Beth Krommes are superb. They are completely interwoven with the words of the story, portraying them beautifully in shades of black, white, and gold. It reminds me of nursery rhymes that lulled me to sleep when I was young. Check it out!
Boogie Knights, by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Mark Siegel, takes place in a castle on a very special night. When the clock strikes twelve, it’s time for the Madcap Monster Ball! Look who all is invited–the werewolves hustle, the zombies bustle, the mummies mamba, and the serpents samba, and all the while upstairs seven boogie knights (Sir Veillance, Sir Prize, Sir Loin, Sir Round, Sir Cumference, Sir Ender, and Sir Vivor) awaken one by one to the sounds of monsters mashing, bogeys bashing, witches waltzing, and wizards wiggling. The castle’s small prince witnesses it all from the shadows until he meets a ghost princess, and then they join in the fun! You can join too! Groove with goblins, jitterbug with jesters, turn your living room into a veritable discotheque with the help of Boogie Knights!
Rough Weather Ahead for Walter the Farting Dog is the third in a bestselling series by authors William Kotzwinkle, Glenn Murray, and Elizabeth Gundy, and illustrator Audrey Colman about the titular gassy canine. In this installment, Professor Kompressor claims to have a secret formula to stop Walter’s flatulence. Father and Mother think it’s working perfectly, but the farts are just building up inside, turning Walter into a blimp! One night he floats away from home! He floats to the edge of town, before he finds a way to get down, saving some frozen butterflies in the process. Finally his owners accept him for the wonder dog that he is!