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Friends, Families and Fun: New Books for Younger Readers

Bananas in My Ears by Michael Rosen; illustrated by Quentin Blake
This wacky book from Britain’s Children’s Laureate is full of silly jokes, funny stories and nonsense poems. There’s lots of zany ‘what if’ speculations – what if a piece of toast turned into a ghost, what if my bed grew wings, what if they made children-sized submarines – and several conversations between Anna and her younger brother, Nat, that parents of young siblings will smile with recognition at. The icing on the cake is the wonderful spiky illustrations from Quentin Blake (now Sir Quentin Blake), instantly recognizable from his work on Roald Dahl’s books. (Kindergarten to Grade 3)

Charley’s First Night by Amy Hest; illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Helen one of my favorite children’s illustrators. Her charming and slightly nostalgic paintings are perfect for this simple but touching tale of a boy and his new puppy, Charley. The boy’s parents are firm: Charley is to sleep in the kitchen but Charley and the boy are not so keen on that idea. The story reaches a sweet resolution that makes for a perfect snuggling at bedtime book. (Kindergarten to Grade 2)

Hey Presto! written and illustrated by Nadia Shireen
Presto the cat and Monty the dog are best friends. Monty is an extrovert showman and Presto is a brilliant, but self- effacing, magician. When the carnival comes to town, they decide to show off their skills, but Monty can’t share the limelight and their relationship is threatened. This familiar friendship issue is neatly played out and resolved – a gentle lesson for preschoolers and up. (Preschool – Kindergarten)

Ostrich and Lark by Marilyn Nelson; illustrated by San artists of the Kuru Art Project of Botswana
The main attraction of this tale of finding your own voice is the glorious artwork from the artists of the Kuru Art Project. The vibrantly colorful, naive paintings have enormous kid appeal and exude the heat and life of the Kalahari desert where the San live – how about trying one as a craft project? (Preschool – Grade 3)

Who’s in My Family? All About Our Families by Robie H. Harris; illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
“Wherever you live, wherever you go, there are all kinds of families.” Join Nellie and Gus on their visit to the zoo, where they come across families that are made up in many different ways. Breezy and easy to read, this is a great child-focused introduction to our multicultural and diverse world. (Preschool – Grade 2)

– Hayley

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