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Beautiful Journeys and Funny Food Stories: New Books for Younger Readers

Puss JekyllPuss Jekyll Cat Hyde by Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Jill Barton
Cats are two-sided creatures. They are lazy and cuddly when they bathe in the sun, careful and delicate as they groom their tail. But they can seem to turn into entirely other creatures when they stalk a mouse or vole, or prowl and pounce for the kill. On alternating pages, this poetic text tells of the duality of this Jekyll and Hyde animal. One page shows the serene cat, sweetly grooming her paw: “Furry, purry puss. So tame, I think she is almost one of us.” Then on another page, the pencil art darkens ominously, and the cat’s green eyes gleam and we see her “ears pricked, eyes wide, piercing the dark so stark.” The language is sophisticated and gorgeous, yet matched with the beautiful drawings becomes quite accessible to the younger audience. This stunning picture book will particularly resonate with all cat owners and lovers. (Ages 6-10)

Journey_BeckerJourney by Aaron Becker
In this wordless picture book, a young, bored girl in a drab world finds a bright red crayon. She uses it to draw a doorway to another world, one that is bright and beautiful and full of her wildest dreams. She draws a red boat that takes her through rivers and lochs to a castle; she draws a hot air balloon to fly alongside zeppelins; she draws a magic carpet to escape from a birdcage high above the earth. This imaginative story takes inspiration from Harold and the Purple Crayon, and adds beautiful and richly detailed drawings. I am a huge fan of the storytelling possibilities of wordless picture books, and this one is among the very best. (Ages 4-8)

Lollipop-CaperThe Great Lollipop Caper by Dan Krall
This picture book has an unlikely protagonist, a caper: “a tiny pickled sourpuss who lives in a jar in your fridge and is never eaten by children.” Sure, adults appreciate his complex flavor, but Mr. Caper is jealous of cheery Mr. Lollipop, whom the children all love. So he devises a plan, a “caper” if you will, to get the children to love him. The art is filled with over-the-top images of Mr. Caper sneaking in to the lollipop factory in a Spy vs. Spy-style trench coat and then dumping caper flavoring into giant vats marked “Lollipop Batter.” Of course, the plan does not go quite as Mr. Caper expects, and Mr. Lollipop has some words of wisdom for his nemesis/new friend. Behind the zaniness there’s an understated moral about how taste buds change as children grow older. The back of the book might have read, “Don’t worry, parents, your kid won’t always be a picky eater!” But instead it shows our strong-smelling and punny friend saying, “meh…” Much funnier that way. (Ages 4-8)

greg-pizzoli-watermelon-seed-page-001The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli
Remember when you were a kid and you ate an apple seed? And you were convinced an apple tree would grow right out of your stomach? Pizzoli has captured that imagination run wild in this tale of a voracious crocodile who loves watermelon. He loves it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, until gulp, he swallows a seed. HE SWALLOWS A SEED! Crocodile thinks he can feel the seed growing as he envisions vines coming out of his ears and his skin turning pink. This funny and relatable tale goes well with the simple the two-color art, in yummy watermelon red and green. (Ages 3-6)

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