Stranger in the Woods is subtitled “A Photographic Fantasy” and that’s exactly what it is. Created by wildlife photographers Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick, the book takes us into a snowy forest. “Take care!” the blue jay caws to the family of deer below, “Stranger in the woods!” All the animals are a-flutter seeking out this stranger. “I do see him!” chatters the squirrel. Who is it? The creatures all wonder. It’s an edible snowman! The animals enjoy the stranger, left for them by some thoughtful children. Besides a lovely story and beautiful pictures, the book also includes a “Recipe for a Snowman” so you too can leave a treat in the woods.
I really enjoy the “Sally goes to” series by artist Stephen Huneck. In Sally Goes to the Mountains, Sally, a black lab, and her owner are going camping. They pack up their van full of dog treats and head out. Sally is so anxious to make new friends in the mountains she falls asleep during the ride. She dreams of chasing rabbits, and climbing a tree to sing with a pretty bird! She imagines meeting an inquisitive owl (always asking “who? who?”) Maybe she’ll take a swim with the colorful fish, or find a stick (the beaver probably has one to spare). “A family of skunks is very nice,” Sally thinks, “except for one little stinker.” Soon she’s arrived, and it’s time for her mountain adventure to begin for real!
Pinduli is one of my favorites by fabulous author and illustrator Janell Cannon. It’s the story of an adorable little hyena named Pinduli. At least, her Mama thinks she’s adorable–everyone else makes fun of her big ears, her straggly fur, and her disorderly stripes. In effort to look more presentable, she pushes her ears flat, soaks down her fur, and rolls in the white dust. She certainly looks different. She looks like a ghost! So much so, she strikes fear into all the animals who objected to her appearance. She takes advantage of this and threatens to haunt them unless they become more tolerant (and leave food offerings). In the end Mama praises her: she’s not only a beautiful hyena, but a very smart one!
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is the story of a mischievous boy named Max, sent to bed without supper. But in his room, a forest grows and the walls give way to jungle and ocean. Max sails to a land of wild things (like himself). The monsters show Max how terrible they can be, but he tames them, and they name him their king. Max commands “let the wild rumpus start!” and he and the other wild things swing and dance and march, until Max remembers how hungry he is. He waves goodbye to his monster friends and sails back to his room, where dinner is there waiting (and still hot too)!
Old Bear is the latest book from celebrated author and illustrator Kevin Henkes. It’s the story of a bear who goes to sleep, to hibernate for the winter. It’s snowing outside his cave, but he’s dreaming of seasons past, the springs, summers, falls, and winters of his youth. He dreams of being a cub again, frolicking amongst the flowers, chasing butterflies in the light rain, and playing in the autumnal leaves by a river full of fish! He even dreams of the winter world covered in snow, staring up at beautiful northern lights. He sleeps and dreams a very long time, but to him its as if no time has passed at all. When hewakes up to look outside his cave he expects to see snow, but is happily suprised to walk out into a wonderful spring day!
Toni Buzzeo offers us The Library Doors, a playful media-centric reinterpretation of the popular children’s sing-along chant, “The Wheels on the Bus” with the help of illustrator Nadine Bernard Westcott. Join some elementary school students on a trip to their library. There’s a lot of fun things to do there, but you have to be quiet! You can go to story time, look up books in the catalog, browse the shelves for things you like, and of course read read read! There’s also computers to help you do your homework or find information you’re interested in. When you go to check your books out, be sure to wave goodbye to the librarian, and let her know you’ll be sure to come back “all through the year!” This is a fun book to recite with your child, or if you’re feeling up to it, sing! You know you know the tune…