A Winter Holiday Picture Book Giveaway!

Something lovely for the winter and holiday season: a chance to win one of four beautiful perfect-for-winter and holiday books! Courtesy of the lovely folks at Raincoast Books, I have four seasonal reads to share with you, and one lucky Canadian reader will have the chance to win their top picture book or board book pick. The details for the Winter Holiday Picture Book Giveaway are at the bottom of the post, so please read on!

Let’s take a closer look at the books:

S is for Santa: A Christmas Alphabet (board book) by Greg Paprocki
Publication: September 12, 2017 by Gibbs Smith
From the creators of BabyLit, a Christmas board book for infants and toddlers, to evoke the wonder of Christmas. A collection of twenty-six illustrations featuring colorful Christmas-themed concepts sure to evoke a sense of wonderment for toddlers and nostalgia for parents, including Christmas carolers, kids playing in the snow, toys piled high under the tree, sparkling decorations and lights, flying reindeer, the gift of giving, more toys, and of course jolly ol’ St. Nick and his elves.

S is for Santa: A Christmas Alphabet is a bright and cheerful alphabet board book just right for the Christmas season. Illustrated by Greg Paprocki, the board book features vibrant full colour vintage-like Christmas-themed illustrations- a different scene for every letter of the alphabet. From A is for angel and B is for baking, to Y is for yummy and Z is for Zephyr, this stylish board book is perfect for those with infants and/or toddlers due to the short text. There is something so warm, happy and nostalgic about S is for Santa– it even took me back to my childhood when I would pore over my (now quite old!) Christmas-themed Little Golden Books. I have had a chance to read this one over multiple times (and a few times with my three year old who is obsessed with anything Christmas-related!) and there is something to appreciate and enjoy in every reading of it.

 

Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer, illus. Richard Jones
Publication: October 24, 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Snow is coming, and it’s time to get ready! The squirrel gathers nuts, the geese soar south, and the snowshoe hare puts on its new white coat. But what should the fox do? Each animal advises the fox that its own plan is best, but the fox thinks otherwise-yet it’s not until he meets a golden-eyed friend that he finds the perfect way to celebrate the snowfall. Stunning illustrations by the new talent Richard Jones are the perfect complement to the Newbery Honor winner Marion Dane Bauer’s lyrical and playful homage to the natural world.

Oh readers, this is a lovely, lovely picture book! With utterly gorgeous and mesmerizing illustrations by Richard Jones and lyrical text from Marion Dane Bauer, Winter Dance is a quiet gem of a picture book. With a glorious red fox as our guide, readers are taken on a journey to find out about what various animals do when the snow comes. Fox learns all about what bats and bears, and multiple other animals do- and all the various animals think the fox should follow their respective plans, but fox is not convinced! It is not until fox meets another similar red-furred friend that plans for the coming snow are decided. A beautiful read- in text and illustration- from start to finish.

 

Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter written and illus. Kenard Pak
Publication: September 5, 2017 by Henry Holt & Co.
As leaves fall from their trees, animals huddle against the cold, and frost creeps across windows, everyone knows—winter is on its way! Join a brother and sister as they explore nature and take a stroll through their twinkling town, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with everything from the setting sun to curious deer, they say goodbye to autumn and welcome the glorious first snow of winter.

Readers who have previously enjoyed Kenard Pak’s Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn will undoubtedly love to read and see what the talented author-illustrator brings with Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter. With numerous well-received and starred reviews to his name, Pak’s illustrative style has become more well-known and unmistakable as his own. Like Winter Dance above, Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter uses a quieter, more hushed kind of narrative that is just as evocative and bittersweet as something roaring for attention. The story follows an older sister and her younger brother as they say ‘Hello’ to animals and objects of the natural world and listen to the various replies. Pak’s illustrations are, as ever, just wonderful- dynamic yet restrained- and the story as a whole is perfect for readers on the lookout for a lulling, soft story.

 

Santa’s Magic Key by Eric James, illus. Simon Mendez
Publication: October 3, 2017 by Sourcebooks
Unlock the magic with this book and special keepsake key to start a new family tradition.

It’s an age-old question. How does Santa get into every house around the world… no matter what doors, locks, chimneys, or windows exist? Find the answer to this question in Santa’s Magic Key! In this unforgettable holiday story, a boy realizes on Christmas Eve that his new house does not have a chimney, and with the post office closed and Santa coming bythe end of the night, he has no way of telling Santa. But when the boy finds a mysterious key, he’ll soon discover just how this key will solve his problem. Add a new classic to your holiday collection with this magical tale that reveals how Santa can always spread gifts and joy on Christmas Eve by using his magical key. This beautiful book comes with Santa’s special key just for you to hang on your Christmas tree as an ornament or outside your door!

Santa’s Magic Key written by Eric James and illustrated by Simon Mendez is a seasonal parcel that contains a picture book as well as a keepsake item. In this case, the keepsake item is a special key for Santa that corresponds with the story of a young boy who discovers more magic of the season through a chance meeting with Santa and the giving of a golden key. The hope or idea of Santa’s Magic Key is to start a tradition of hanging the special keepsake key on your own tree or outside your door, as a way to welcome Santa into your home- no matter if you don’t have a chimney! For any families who have enjoyed Elf on the Shelf– and are perhaps looking for something lower maintenance or simpler- or families just looking for a kindhearted, sentimental Christmas read with a suggestion of new tradition, then Santa’s Magic Key might be one to try out!

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Giveaway Info:

The Winter Holiday Picture Book Giveaway is open to Canadian residents, ages 18 and up. The giveaway will run from December 12, 2017 to December 20, 2017. One winner will be randomly selected at the end of giveaway via Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond via Twitter or by emailing me at fabbookreviews[at]gmail[dot]com, confirming their name, their mailing address, and their one picture book prize pick. If the first drawn winner does not contact me within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Click here to enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter!

 

I received copies of the four titles from Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. Opinions and comments regarding the titles are my own. Prizes provided courtesy of Raincoast Books.

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Picture Books: More Halloween Ready Reads!

A few years ago, I put together a book list just in time for Halloween called, ‘Picture Book Picks: Halloween Ready Reads‘. Given the number of spooky seasonal reads I’ve had the chance to pore over since then, I thought it high time to do an update of sorts!

Here are some of my newer picks- a mix of Halloween reads, as well as goofy, monsterly, fun and spooky selections. (The picks from the original post are single spaced at the bottom of the post!)

Pug & Pig Trick or Treat by Sue Lowell Gallion, illus. Joyce Wan

I Am Bat by Morag Hood

Superbat by Matt Carr

Rapunzel by Bethan Woollvin

Monster Trucks by Joy Keller, illus. Misa Saburi

Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick-or-Treating by Laura Gehl, illus. Joyce Wan

Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School (Moonlight #1) by Simon Puttock, illus. Ali Pye

Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds, illus. Peter Brown

Jampires by Sarah McIntyre, illus. David O’Connell

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, illus. Zachariah OHora

Go to Sleep, Monster! by Kevin Cornell

Giant Pants by Mark Fearing

Wee Sister Strange by Holly Grant, illus. K.G. Campbell

Penguin and Pumpkin by Salina Yoon

What Is Chasing Duck? (The Giggle Gang #1) by Jan Thomas

The Baby That Roared by Simon Puttock

The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers

Room on the Broom by by Julia Donaldson, illus. Axel Scheffler

Fright Club by Ethan Long

The Monsterator by Keith Graves

I Will Not Eat You by Adam Lehrhaupt, illus. Scott Magoon

Quit Calling Me a Monster! by Jory John, illus. Bob Shea

I Want to Be In a Scary Story by Sean Taylor, illus. Jean Jullien

The Scariest Book Ever by Bob Shea

The Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey

Night Animals by Gianna Marino

I Don’t Like Koala by Sean Ferrell, illus. Charles Santoso

Rattlebone Rock by Sylvia L. Andrews, illus. Jennifer Plecas

Eek! Halloween by Sandra Boynton (board book)

Boo Who? by Ben Clanton

If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed by Denise Vega, illus. Zachariah OHora

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illus. Christian Robinson

Little Blue Truck’s Halloween (A Lift-the-Flap Book) by Alice Schertle, illus. Jill McElmurry

 

Titles from original post:
Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere
Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, illus. Peter Brown
The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot! by Scott Magoon
The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell
That Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
Crankenstein by Samantha Berger, illus. Dan Santat
Moonlight the Halloween Cat by Cynthia Rylant, illus. Melissa Sweet
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
The Doghouse by Jan Thomas
There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty
Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas
Buddy and the Bunnies in: Don’t Play With Your Food by Bob Shea
Robot Zombie Frankenstein! by Annette Simon
Ghost in the House by Ammi-Joan Pacquette, illus. Adam Record
Bear Feels Scared by Karma Wilson, illus. Jane Chapman
The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone, illus. Michael J. Stollin
The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illus. Jon Klassen
Ollie’s Halloween by Olivier Dunrea
Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace, illus. LeUyen Pham
Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams, illus. Megan Lloyd

Board Book Look at Cozy Classics: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Jack & Holman Wang

Cozy Classics: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Jack & Holman Wang
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: May 9, 2017 by Chronicle Books
Book Description:

Cuddle up with a classic! In twelve needle-felted scenes and twelve child-friendly words, each book in this ingenious series captures the essence of a literary masterpiece. Simple words, sturdy pages, and a beloved story make these books the perfect vehicle for early learning with an erudite twist. Budding bookworms will delight in this clever retelling of the classics made just for them!

In L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a storm transports Dorothy to the magical Land of Oz. Can she defeat the Wicked Witch and find her way home ? It’s a first words primer for your literary little one!

It is perhaps no secret that I quite adore the needle-felted Cozy Classics and Star Wars: Epic Yarns from Canadian authors Jack and Holman Wang! I have featured the brothers’ adorable, thoughtful and awe-inspiring work here a few times; now I have another wonderful new one to talk about!

In their take on L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Jack and Holman use twelve words- everything from ‘storm’ to ‘home’- to tell a version of this classic tale . As with other Cozy Classics titles, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz features, per page spread, one highlighted word with an incredibly detailed needle-felted scene on the facing page. As you can see from a few of the photos I took, the Wang brothers are nothing if not painstaking in their care and attention to detail- in both selection of the ten words and in how they bring specific (and some famous!) characters and scenes to life. As someone who has had the great honour to meet Holman in person and see some needle-felt characters up close, I can speak to their utter artistry.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz seems another very tricky title to pull off as a Cozy Classic, as we might often think not only the classic novel but also of the iconic Judy Garland film as a comparison! How can Cozy Classics faithfully represent Dorothy, Toto…the Emerald City? What about the Wicked Witch of the West? As a child who both strangely adored and was terrified of The Wizard of Oz film, I wondered how Jack and Holman would adapt this story- without making it too scary for wee ones! I give full kudos to Jack and Holman for including some of the scarier aspects of the story (we do see felts and scenes with the Wicked Witch of the West and a winged monkey!); but those images are tempered by brighter felts of Dorothy, Toto, the yellow brick road, and other major characters like Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion.

Overall, another fantastical creation from Jack and Holman Wang- I think any fans of Cozy Classics and L. Frank Baum’s work might want to get their hands on this one! I’ve had the utter joy of sharing my home library collection of Cozy Classics (and Epic Yarns!) with my daughter, and they are ones that she has slowly grown into. Initially, the experience was all about the simple child-friendly words and looking at the pictures, but now the meaning of the words and stories have grown as she herself has grown! She actually discovered The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on my shelf before I had even perused it, so we sat down to explore the book together. Now, she sits down with it and chatters away, telling her own short version of the story as she turns the pages- and it is one of the best things I have ever seen.

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Recently Read: Great Picture Books from Lucy Cousins, Mary Sullivan, Aaron Blabey & more!

Another spate of recently read wonderful picture books- with a board book tossed in for good measure! Everything from the new and terrifically vibrant, active read alouds, to cheeky and funny rhyming stories to the quietly gorgeous and interactive picture books. As ever ,I am in awe of the talent and innovation in picture books (and board books). I’ve starred the ones which I have used (and were a big hit!) at one of my storytimes.

Hooray for Birds! by Lucy Cousins*
Publication: March 28, 2017 by Candlewick Press

Treat by Mary Sullivan
Publication: March 1, 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey*
Publication: July 1, 2014 by Scholastic

Hello, Mr. Dodo! by Nicholas John Firth
Publication: January 31, 2017 by Arthur A. Levine Books

Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima*
Publication: February 14, 2017 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Tree: A Peek-Through Picture Book by Patricia Hegarty, illus. Britta Teckentrup
Publication: February 9, 2016 by Doubleday Books for Young Readers (this edition)

Chicken Story Time by Sandy Asher, illus. Mark Fearing*
Publication: December 13, 2016 by Dial Books

Charlotte and the Rock by Stephen W. Martin, illus. Samantha Cotterill
Publication: March 14, 2017 by Dial Books

Bunnybear by Andrea J. Loney, illus. Carmen Saldana*
Publication: January 31st 2017 by Albert Whitman Company

Tickle My Ears by Jörg Mühle (board book)*
Publication: September 2016 by Gecko Press (this edition)

Giveaway for Loryn Brantz’s Feminist Baby Board Book & Prize Pack!

Welcome to a special post featuring Loryn Brantz’s Feminist Baby board book and a fabulous giveaway, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion!

Read on to find out more about Feminist Baby, my thoughts on the board book, and how you can enter to win a prize pack! Thank you to Disney-Hyperion for sending me a copy and providing a prize pack  for review.

Board Book Details

Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz
Publication:  April 11, 2017, recommended for ages 0 – 2

Synopsis

LOUD AND PROUD FEMINIST!

Meet the irrepressible Feminist Baby in this refreshing, clever board book about a girl who’s not afraid to do her own thing, and wants to make as much noise as possible along the way!

Feminist Baby likes pink and blue.
Sometimes she’ll throw up on you!
Feminist Baby chooses what to wear
and if you don’t like it she doesn’t care! 

A bright, cheeky, and funny board book with a positive message for all babies, Loryn Brantz’s Feminist Baby is a board book winner. Blurbed by feminist writer and professor Roxane Gay, Feminist Baby broadly takes on feminism and wonderfully turns the concept into an affirmative board book that babies/kids and adults will like. In the last few years, there appears to be an increase in the number of concept board books (concepts beyond ABC and counting, etc.). For example, Ruth Spiro and Irene Chan have collaborated on a Baby Loves series featuring aerospace engineering, quarks, and more, giving STEM a place in early childhood literature. Other board books series such as Cozy Classics and BabyLit have taken on themes or concepts in classic literature and adjusted them to suit babies and toddlers. Loryn Brantz’s Feminist Baby now joins the oeuvre, and it is wonderful to see and read. While concepts- such as feminism- can be complex, and you might wonder, what can a baby get from this?…The answer is: an introduction to vocabulary! It’s all about learning and exploring, and having the pleasure and option to read something as encouraging and aware like Feminist Baby to a wee one is just fantastic.

About the Author

Loryn Brantz is a two-time Emmy Award-winning author, illustrator, and design professional. Her picture book Harvey the Child Mime was the recipient of the 2010 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for Best First Picture Book. Loryn lives in New York City, where she is on staff at BuzzFeed writing and illustrating about feminism and body image. Find her online at www.lorynbrantz.com or www.facebook.com/LorynBrantzBooks.

Official Site + Social Media

Visit the Official Site
Follow @DisneyHyperion on Twitter
Follow @DisneyBooks on Instagram
Follow @LorynBrantz on Twitter and Instagram
#FeministBaby

Giveaway Information:

One (1) winner receives:

  • copy of Feminist Baby
  • branded tote bag and pin

Giveaway open to Canadian AND US addresses. Prizing provided by Disney-Hyperion.

The giveaway will run from April 17th to April 24th, 2017 and is open to Canadian and US addresses. The winning entry will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter. All entries will be verified. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to me via email at fabbookreviews[at]gmail[dot]com OR DM’ing me via Twitter with their mailing address, or a new entry will be drawn.

To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link below and follow the instructions:

Enter to win the Feminist Baby Prize Pack!

 

A copy of this title and prize pack was sent courtesy of Disney-Hyperion for the purposes of this post and giveaway. Disney-Hyperion is also providing a prize pack for one winner from my site. Review opinions and comments are my own.

 

Board Book Look: Flora and the Chicks & Little Oink

Review: Flora and the Chicks: A Counting Book by Molly Idle
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: March 7, 2017 by Chronicle Books
Book Description:

Inspired by the main character of the Caldecott Honor book Flora and the Flamingo, this new series of board books is perfect for the very youngest Flora fans. When a nest of eggs begins to hatch, how will Flora ever keep up with so many chicks? Featuring fold-out pages and Molly Idle’s graceful artwork, this adorable counting book will delight young children as they master new words and concepts.

If you are on the lookout for an adorable board book and/or an adorable counting board book, then may I please present to you the absolutely gorgeous and sparkling Flora and the Chicks? I have talked a few times about my love of Molly Idle’s illustrations– as well as my love for the character of young dancer Flora- and it is so wonderful to see her artwork (and the character of Flora!) newly introduced in board book form.

From one to a big finish of ten, the balletic and delightful Flora takes us on a counting adventure with some of the most adorable (and madcap) hatching chicks. Idle’s previous Flora books were quite exceptional and unique in how lift the flaps were deployed in picture books; this board book also uses flaps to great effect. Flora and the Chicks makes use of left-side opening as well as right-side opening sturdy flaps on every other page: not only to emphasize Flora’s flowing and changing balletic positions and movements as she tends to the hatching chicks, but also to highlight the gentle shenanigans that the baby chicks get up to after hatching.

Overall, a delicious board book that I, quite simply, love to bits. A wonderful addition to the roster of early learning counting board books, and a special treat for readers who have enjoyed reading Flora’s many adventures and were hoping for more! Much of the joy in Flora and the Chicks is in Idle’s radiant, fluid and funny artwork. The author-illustrator manages that perfect line between art and humour, making her work something that really can be (and is!) appreciated by readers of all ages.

 

Review: Little Oink by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illus. Jen Corace
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: March 7, 2017 by Chronicle Books (originally published in 2009)
Book Description:

Little Oink is a neat little fellow. Clean, clean, clean, that’s all he wants to do. But Mama and Papa won’t have it! They say in order to be a proper pig he has to learn to make a proper mess. What’s a little pig to do? Now available as a board book, Little Oink shows Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace applying their traditionally wry humor to the issue of cleaning up, in a laugh-out-loud romp that is sure to make readers giggle with recognition.

The recent death of acclaimed and beloved author and filmmaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal was felt deeply in the children’s literature community and far beyond. I have to say that when I opened up my mail to discover the board book of Little Oink, I felt it in my heart. For years now, I have been a fan of the author’s work, always looking forward to reading and discovering what Krouse Rosenthal would next publish. I remember reading Little Pea, adoring it, then reading my way through Spoon, Chopsticks, Plant a Kiss, Exclamation Mark, and more, as they were published. Little Oink is one of the titles in Little Books series, illustrated by Jen Corace, and is an example of the truly lovely and lively voice rooted in all of Krouse Rosenthal’s books.

As we meet Little Oink, we get to learn a number of things about him, but perhaps the most important thing we learn is that Little Oink loves things to be neat. And because Little Oink likes neatness and tidying, he does not like the fact that he, because he is a pig, has to be messy! Little Oink is expected to ‘make a mess, mess, MESS’, but would much rather clean his room and wear freshly washed and spotless clothing. Little Oink’s parents, as we find out, do their best to encourage Little Oink to make MESS- even making sure that Little Oink messes up his room and puts on dirty clothes before going out to play. While most piggies and other animals might jump at the chance to freely make messes, Little Oink is less than thrilled. But, being a good little piggy, he messes up enough to please his parents and then goes off, happily, to play his favourite (tidy) game: house! Sure to engage readers with its ‘role reversal’ of a little pig who loves to be as neat as a pin, Little Oink is at once a tranquil, comfortable kind of read with just-right moments of visual levity and humour.

Little Oink is a sweet, quietly funny, and all-around engaging read. Jen Corace’s illustrations are so charming; clean, precise lines, bright colours, and beautifully imagined, personable pigs are perfect here for Krouse Rosenthal’s text. Any readers who are fans of the work of Peter H. Reynolds, Patrick McDonnell, Karma Wilson or Kevin Henkes, those who have previously enjoyed Little Pea, Little Hoot, or who have loved any of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s incredible roster of picture books might especially want to meet Little Oink.

I received copies of these titles courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own.

#PlayTestShare: Spring Break Fun and Giveaway!

Happy (almost) Spring Break!

I am delighted to be hosting a second year of a special Spring Break Fun giveaway, courtesy of the lovely and generous folks at Raincoast Books!

Open to Canadian residents, ages 18 and up, one lucky person will have the chance to win one of the amazing #PlayTestShare items below! I had the chance to play and test out the TouchThinkLearn Fly!
 book as well as the gorgeous Towering Tree Puzzle
, so you will see some photos and get my thoughts on those two items. Read on for even more information about all the #PlayTestShare items on offer and how to enter the giveaway!

TouchThinkLearn Fly!

A deceptively simple and joyful celebration of the natural cycle of life, this book adds the bonus of removable-and movable-characters and scenery to the bestselling TouchThinkLearn format, featuring the hallmark production technique of glued-on pieces dovetailing with die-cut openings. In this first narrative title in the series, the movable pieces invite and involve the reader in a meaningful and multisensory participation in the story.

My kingdom for interactive stories! I am a big fan of interactive board books and picture books. In my work as a children’s librarian and as a mom to a toddler, interactive books are a go-to resource. They engage, surprise, delight and let children (and adults!) have a different kind of fun with books. I already own a number of TouchThinkLearn board books- I just adore Xavier Deneux’s bold, clean and vibrant artwork- so I couldn’t wait to see and play with this movable book. Happily, I can say that this is another big winner! The addition of removable pieces- moving from one side of the board book and fitting to the facing page cut outs- just adds MORE to this life-cycle based story and promises that kids will be extra curious and tickled by the story (and experience). To me, these kinds of books are magical and captivating!

Towering Tree Puzzle

Join adorable critters as they navigate the seasons and make new friends in their towering tree. Imaginative play and puzzle logic intersect as each interlocking branch of this innovative puzzle tells a new story, providing hours of entertainment. Adventure is just a branch away!

With artwork by Teagan White (author-illustrator of the enchanting picture book Adventures with Barefoot Critters and others), the Towering Tree Puzzle is a a beautiful, worthy of a displaying on a wall kind of puzzle. Unique in design and structure, this puzzle will likely delight with how many ways there are to put it together! Unlike more traditional puzzles where pieces only fit exact spots, this tree puzzle allows for a little more freedom and little more creative play as you can fit shaped pieces in multiple spots! You can make up stories about Teagan White’s utterly charming animals, their habitat, or you can just have fun building, rebuilding, and rebuilding with the seventeen double-sided pieces (yes, double-sided!). Such a wonderful and unusual idea for a puzzle- love this one so much!

The rest of the terrific #PlayTestShare items:

The Ultimate Book of Cities

Where does the Express bus take you? How many swans are in the lake at the park? The Ultimate Book of Cities reveals the answers to these questions and much, much more in an oversized fact- and action-packed look at life in the big city! Featuring 59 flaps, pop-ups, pull tabs and movable parts, this all-you-need-to-know guide provides detailed information about what makes a city tick: from the different ways of getting around and what goes on in all the big buildings, to what traffic signs mean and who are all the people who keep the city in tip-top shape!

Birds of the World Nature Sticker Activity Book

Beautifully illustrated by Olivia Cosneau, Birds of the World introduces aspiring ornithologists to these and other fun facts through a range of coloring activities, removable stickers, and a short quiz. In the process, children learn about the rich variety of birds living in our world, including nightingales, swallows, hummingbirds, pelicans, penguins, parrots, toucans, and flamingos, among others.

Quicktionary

Introducing a new, fast-paced casual card game for word lovers and anyone who loves to think on their feet. Simple to learn, with nearly endless possibilities, this free-for-all game is a fun addition to any game night.

Crystal Menagerie Coloring Book

This fresh new coloring book renders foxes, birds, hedgehogs, and more with a prismatic look that makes them as cool to display as they are pleasing to color. With just the right level of detail, these unique designs can easily be completed in one sitting if so desired, but those who want a more involved coloring session can opt for a 3-dimensional look-and make these animals leap off the page.

Space Playing Cards
Launch into your favorite card games while immersing yourself in deep space! Each playing card features extraordinary NASA photography and two Pantone colors on beautifully designed card backs. Includes a complete 52-card playing deck, plus 2 jokers.

Mighty, Mighty Construction Site
From the team behind the beloved international bestseller comes a companion to Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. All of our favorite trucks are back on the construction site-this time with a focus on team-building, friendship, and working together to make a big task seem small! Down in the big construction site, the crew faces their biggest job yet, and will need the help of new construction friends to get it done. The millions of fans of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site are in for a mighty good time!

642 Things About Me: Young Writer’s and Artist’s Edition
A new offering in the wildly popular 642 series, this unique journal encourages young creators to dive deep into the subject they know best-themselves! Packed with quirky, thought-provoking, and imaginative drawing and writing prompts, 642 Things About Me: Young Writer’s & Artist’s Edition is a fun way for kids to document their lives, jump-start their creative talent, and produce a memorable keepsake-or the first draft of their bestselling memoir.

Old MacDonald Had a Truck Bingo

A classic family-friendly game gets revved up with a winning combination of construction vehicles and farm animals, featuring artwork from the picture book Old MacDonald Had a Truck . With six illustrated, double-sided game boards plus a set of colorful bingo calling cards and chips, this easy-to-learn game is sure to be a hit at any playdate or family game night.

Giveaway Info:

The contest is open to Canadian residents only, and entrants must be aged 18 and up. The contest will run from March 9, 2017 until March 16, 2017. One winner will be randomly selected at the end of giveaway via Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond by emailing me at fabbookreviews[at]gmail[dot]com, confirming their name, their mailing address, and their ONE (1) giveaway prize pick.

Enter by clicking on the following link to Rafflecopter and follow the instructions to enter:

Click here to enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter!

Giveaway is now closed!

Congratulations to AMY H.!

The winner has 48 hours to email me with their prize pick and Canadian mailing address, or another winner will be chosen.

Thank you so much to everyone who participated.

 

I received copies of TouchThinkLearn Fly! and Towering Tree Puzzle from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review and for the purposes of this giveaway. Thank you! Opinions and comments regarding the titles are my own. Prizes provided by Raincoast Books.

Recently Read: Great Picture Books

Another spate of tremendous picture books I’ve recently read! We had a burst of school visits to my library in the last month or so- classes from preschool to grade two- and in preparation for the visits, I had the great opportunity to read a bunch of new (or new-to-me!) picture books and board books:

 

1 Big Salad: A Delicious Counting Book by Juana Medina *
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell, illus. Rafael López *
Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre *
Panda Pants by Jacqueline Davies, illus. Sydney Hanson *
Look, Look Again by Agnese Baruzzi (board book) *
Go! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper *
Tiny Hamster Is a Giant Monster by Joel Jensen, Joseph Matsushima & Amy Matsushima *
Bunny’s Book Club by Annie Silvestro, illus. Tatjana Mai-Wyss
The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy, illus. Eugene Yelchin
1 2 3 Dream by Kim Krans
I Heart You by Meg Fleming, illus. Sarah Jane Wright
Flyaway by Lesley Barnes

*star indicates that the picture book was used as a read aloud (and was a hit!) at one of my storytimes

Best of 2016: Picture Books (Part 2) & the Best of the Rest

The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of…picture books!?!

Yes, picture books! This genre has been SO strong this year- whether the form of debuts, or published works from established authors and illustrators, I have been continuously surprised and delighted by my reading in this epic field. The titles on this list are ones that have either excelled as read alouds for my storytimes, ones that I have personally adored, or ones that I have feel have contributed something superb to the genre. Or perhaps all of the three factors combined!

You can check out Part 1 of my picks here.

In no particular order, here are my picks for Part 2:

 

You Belong Here by M.H. Clark, illus. Isabelle Arsenault
Everyone Is Yawning by Anita Bijsterbosch
This Is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter
I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
My Dad Used to Be So Cool by Keith Negley

 

Penguin Problems by Jory John, illus. Lane Smith
Pug Meets Pig by Sue Lowell Gallion, illus. Joyce Wan
I Will Not Eat You by Adam Lehrhaupt, illus. Scott Magoon
There’s A Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins
Cat Knit by Jacob Grant

 

The Moon Inside by Sandra V. Feder, illus. Aimée Sicuro
First Snow by Bomi Park
Who What Where? by Oliver Tallec
Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda
If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki VanSickle, illus. Cale Atkinson

 

This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne
Wild by Emily Hughes
Dylan the Villain by K.G. Campbell
Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
One Day, the End.: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illus. Fred Koehler

 

Lost. Found. by Marsha Diane Arnold, illus. Matthew Cordell
Quackers by Liz Wong
Secret Tree Fort by Brianne Farley
Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead
Have You Seen Elephant? by David Barrow

 

And last, but definitely not least, the best of the rest. This includes board books, children’s non-fiction and others:

 

We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp, illus. Julie Flett
Hamsters on the Go by Kass Reich
This Is Not a Book by Jean Jullien
We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers by Julie Flett

 

Gryphons Aren’t So Great by James Sturm, Alexis Frederick-Frost & Andrew Arnold
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A BabyLit Fairies Primer by Jennifer Adams, illus. Alison Oliver
Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess by Janet Hill
Out of the Woods by Rebecca Bond

 

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel
Sing a Season Song by Jane Yolen, illus. Lisel Jane Ashlock
Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles by Philippe Cousteau, Deborah Hopkinson, illus. Meilo So
The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien

 

Note: Some titles appearing on this list may have been published in previous years; titles on this list are ones that I read in 2016. Some titles appearing on this list may also have been provided by publishers in exchange for honest reviews; this has no bearing on making this list. These are my personal selections.

A Christmas Board Book Look: The Nutcracker by Jack & Holman Wang

 

nutcrackerCozy Classics: The Nutcracker by Jack & Holman Wang (original story by E.T.A. Hoffmann)
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: September 6, 2016 by Chronicle Books
Book Description:

Cuddle up with a classic! In twelve needle-felted scenes and twelve child-friendly words, each book in this ingenious series captures the essence of a literary masterpiece. Simple words, sturdy pages, and a beloved story make these books the perfect vehicle for early learning with an erudite twist. Budding bookworms will delight in this clever retelling of the classics made just for them!

In E. T. A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker , marvel at Maria’s favorite gift , cheer as she defeats the Mouse King, and journey to the magical Land of Sweets. It’s a festive first words primer for your literary little one!

Just in time for Christmas!

Growing up, one thing I liked to do every year around Christmas was to watch the TV movie The Nutcracker, starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland. I absolutely adored ballet (was an aspiring ballet dancer as well!) and, like a lot of folks, thought Baryshnikov was pure magic. So, I’d hunker down in front our fireplace with some hot chocolate and watch…And while I don’t participate in that tradition anymore, my love of that memory and how much I still enjoy The Nutcracker stands. Needless to say, when I first heard that Jack and Holman Wang would be adapting The Nutcracker as a Cozy Classics title, I was delighted!

The Cozy Classics version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker is, as I was hoping it would be, utterly charming, inviting and capturing that magical, otherworldly feel of the story. As with the previous Cozy Classic titles, there is one word per page with a facing page involving adapted scenes from The Nutcracker. Using simple but significant words to represent iconic moments from the story- such as ‘gift’, ‘sweets’, ‘mouse’, ‘dance’- the Wangs do a solid job telling the story as clearly as possible for little ones. As for the characters and scenes? From the Mouse King to Maria, to the dancing and land of sweets, the details here in the felt characters and scenery are something quite special. I had the very lucky chance to view, in-person, some of The Nutcracker character felts last year and they were incredibly beautiful- detailed and intricate. It is very cool to get to see them here in the pages of the completed book!

Any readers who have previously adored Cozy Classic titles or the awesome Star Wars Epic Yarns from Jack and Holman Wang might especially adore and appreciate this version of The Nutcracker. There is something dreamy, fun, and comforting about this title and the rest of the Cozy Classics board books; they really can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

P.S. Happy Holidays!!

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.