Twelve Terrible Things by Marty Kelley begins with a warning: “If you turn the page you’re going to see some terrible things. Some really terrible things. This book is full of them. Didn’t you read the title?” Well, he’s right. What follows are some of the most awful things a kid could think of, including monsters under the bed, trips to the dentist, scary clowns, dead goldfish, and a lunch lady demanding “What do you mean you don’t like gravy? Everybody likes gravy.” This book will remind parents of what it was like being a kid, when one of worst things you could think of was getting your cheeks squeezed by your grandma, and it can lead to fun discussions with your child about other truly terrible things!
This book brings tears to my eyes every time I read it (I’m a very emotional librarian). Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope is an inspiring biography of our country’s 44th president by Coretta Scott King Award winning author Nikki Grimes and illustrator Bryan Collier. A young boy named David asks his mother who that man on TV is andwhy people are shouting his name. She tells him the story of a boy with inter-racial parents who grew up in Hawaii. He pursued higher education, and longed to change the world. That boy was Barack Obama and he grew up to be our president asking, “Can we make America better? Can we work together, as one?” Yes. We can.
Noted by The New York Times to be one of the best illustrated children’s books of 2008, A River of Words by Jen Bryant, is a wonderful juvenile biography of William Carlos Williams, American poet, 1883-1963, best known for works like “The Red Wheelbarrow” and “This is Just to Say.” Willie Williams grew up in Rutherford, NJ. In school, English was his favorite subject. He loved to read and write poetry, and was inspired by simple things found in everyday life. But Willie knew that poets did not earn much money, and he needed to support his family, so he went to medical school and became a doctor. Although he spent his days healing the sick, he always found time for poetry. An inspiring story, with touching collage illustrations by Melissa Sweet.
The Lump of Coal is a charming Christmas story from the author and illustrator (respectively) of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket and Brett Helquist, which presupposes “miracles can happen, even to those who are small, flammable, and dressed all in black.” In the story a lump of coal who “for the sake of argument” can walk and talk, and who, “like many people who dress in black” wants to be an artist. He could make beautiful black lines on a canvas, or a piece a chicken, if only someone would give him the chance! Maybe his dreams will come true when an drugstore employee dressed as Santa Claus puts the lump of coal in his disobedient stepson’s stocking.
Martina the Beautiful Cockroach is a Cuban folktale, retold here by Carmen Agra Deedy, with lovely illustrations by Michael Austin. When Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha, most eligible of bachelorette pests, begins searching for a husband, her grandmother teaches her “the coffee test.” When a suitor comes to call, Martina spills the hot beverage all over their shoes. How they react will give her insight into how quick to anger they might be in marriage. Martina doesn’t hesitate to pour coffee all over the arrogant rooster, the hygenically challenged pig, and the sneaky lizard, but what happens when she falls for meek mouse gardener Perez? Perhaps he has a surprise in store for her…
Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett is a clever book set up as a small rodent’s journal of all the things she’s afraid of (which is almost everything). “I’m alarmed by loud noises!” Little Mouse writes. Gravett elaborates that this is called Ligyrophobia. Owls make Little Mouse twitch. According to the author she might have Ornithophobia (fear of birds) or Phagophobia (fear of being eaten). The book also features flaps and other interactive features, like Little Mouse’s hand-drawn map of the “Isle of Fright” complete with directions: take the first right. No! Left. No! Right. I think… If you’re at the forest, TURN AROUND! GO BACK! RUN! This is too much for me. Please ask someone else for directions. Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears is a very cute book. Skittish children will probably relate!