The Pet Dragon by Christoph Niemann is an adorable tale of a little girl and her mythical animal companion, that also teaches basic concepts about the written Chinese language. Niemann was inspired by a trip to Asia, and a his first lesson about Chinese characters. The most memorable characters for him were the ones that most appeared to be symbolic icons for the ideas they represented. Through the illustrations in this book, Niemann demonstrates how the Chinese characters for words such as “tree” “dog” and “mountain” are all understandably indicative of what they mean. It’s also a really cute story, told like a folktale about a young woman who recieves a dragon, loses him, and then must find him again.
I love wombats. What else can I say? If your child loves wombats too, Wombat Walkabout by Carol Diggory Shields, and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, is simply required reading. Six wombats go for a stroll through the outback. A handful get distracted by interesting Australian things like a wattle tree, a billabong, and a kookabura (all of which are defined in a handy intro). When only two are left, they discover they’ve been trailed by a hungry dingo, and must save their friends from his evil clutches. They capture him with the tried and true cover-a-hole-with-sticks trick, which may seem old hat to you, but fabulously innovative to your youngster!
Australia is a fantastic place filled with many creatures unfamiliar to us: Kangaroos, Koalas, and an adorable burrowing marsupial called a Wombat–the subject of Jackie French’s Diary of a Wombat, illustrated by Bruce Whatley. It’s told in true diary form, the wombat treating us to her day to day routine consisting mostly of eating, sleeping, and scratching. But one day she discovers she has new neighbors–humans! And these humans have delicious carrots, for which she will do most anything for! This is a very cute book you’re sure to enjoy.
City I Love is a love letter to the city. Which city? All of them! Eighteen poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins are skillfully illustrated by Marcellus Hall to take you on a whirlwind international journey. Hopkins and Hall praise the skyscrapers of New York, the traffic sounds of Paris, and the neon lights of Tokyo. The heat of Rio and Cairo, and the brisk temperatures of Moscow and Toronto. Landmarks like the The Golden Gate Bridge of San Fransisco and the Millennium Wheel of London. Subways, and taxis, even gondolas (oh my)! I hope you enjoy this urban romance as much as I did. It’s a great conversation starter–a fabulous lead in to discussion with your child about how people live differently in different parts of the world. One can never be to young to develop an appreciation and tolerance for foreign culture.
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!
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…