Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and it is a perfect time to discover new books about love, kindness, friendship, and things that warm the heart! Courtesy of friends at Penguin Random House Canada (and imprints Tundra Books and Viking Books for Young Readers), I have two lovely picture books on the review docket today that would make terrific picks for Valentine’s Day reading: Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Skinnamarink, with Randi Hampton, illustrated by Qin Leng, and Crocodiles Need Kisses Too by Rebecca Colby, illustrated by Penelope Dullaghan. Happy reading!
How many of us growing up in Canada (or maybe even across the world!) learned the version of Skinnamarink made popular and beloved by Sharon, Lois & Bram? How many of us could (or still can!) recite it, or sing it, or perform it by heart? I am guessing that many of us could! It is a song I still love to this day- and one that I’ve shared with my own kids, who in turn adore the song. Recently adapted to picture book format, Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Skinnamarink is just as sweet, lively, and fun on the page, with endearing and adorable illustrations by Canadian creator extraordinaire Qin Leng. A preface offers reader a short overview of the song, its reach, its aim of love and inclusion, as well as a note that a song introduction and ‘additional verses’ have been included in the picture books edition. So with “Here’s a little ditty that we all know and sing. We share it with our families and let our voices ring…”, Skinnamarink begins! In a world full of families and friends (including well as Sharon, Lois and Bram!), and people and animals, Skinnamarink takes readers through the lines of the song, with Qin Leng’s spirited and adorably fun illustrations depicting various activities and main movements of the song. There are indeed some additional short rhyming verses to Skinnamarink here- ones that will likely prove fun and simple to add to your singing of the song! With a lovely build to an ending and a “Boop-boop-ee-do”, Skinnamarink is a joyful experience. A picture book that truly begs for sharing and reading/performing aloud, Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Skinnamarink is a happy, genuine, sweet hug of a book (and one that might back bring memories to many of us who grew up with it!).
When we think of cuddly, snuggly animals, we admittedly might not think of crocodiles, vultures, or spiders right away! But author Rebecca Colby and illustrator Penelope Dullaghan make unexpected animals the sweet stars in their picture book Crocodiles Need Kisses Too. In rhyming, jaunty text, readers are introduced to crocodiles with “toothy mouths stretched open wide”, and learn that “just like me and just like you, crocodiles need kisses too”. In a short parade of animals that follow- from porcupines with “sharpened quills raised up in lines”, to sharks and tigers, readers learn all the ways that “just like me and just like you”, animals, even with prickles, edges, and sharpness, need affection. In a nice turn towards the end of the story, the point of view shifts to young child in the midst of a “howling cry and yowling wail”, culminating a quiet moment of connection- and love- between the child and their grown-up. A very sweet and simple message is at the core of this story, though it never comes across as cloying or re-tread due to the fresh, bouncy rhymes, surprising animals, as well as the beautifully warm and inviting mixed media illustrations by Penelope Dullaghan (I don’t think I have ever seen such an adorable depiction of family of tarantulas!). A lovely read to add to your seasonal Valentine’s rotation (or anytime, really!), Crocodiles Need Kisses Too is wonderfully comfy reading that may prove to be a big hit with wee ones.
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Title have been published and are currently available.