The 25th and Final Elephant & Piggie Book

Released this week, The Thank You Book marks the 25th and final book in children’s book author Mo Willems’ beloved Elephant & Piggie series.

The series follows the two best friends in many silly scenarios. In the books Gerald worries so that Piggie doesn’t have to. These popular books are written comic book style with dialog between the two characters to tell the story. The books are funny, silly, and sweet – just what you want in a children’s book.

With so many great books, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but lately I’ve really been loving on I am Invited to a Party!, Elephants Cannot Dance!, and the beautiful Waiting is Not Easy!.

This does not mean that Mo is done writing, and hey, maybe we’ll spot Piggie in a future Pigeon book?

Thank you, Mo!

2016 "Write On!" 3rd-5th Grade Short Story Contest Winners!

Congratulations to the 2016 “Write On!” 3rd-5th Grade Short Story Contest Winners!

After an astounding 104 entries, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place stories were chosen from each grade, and the 2016 winners were announced at the Awards Celebration held on April 17th!

Come back soon to read this year’s short story submissions on the contest website!

Happy 100th Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary turns 100 years old today! Her books have been adored by many for decades and she has left quite a mark on children’s literature. Her first book was published in 1950, and her first book about the Quimbys, Beezus and Ramona, was published in 1955.

Popular books include Henry and Ribsy, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Ramona the Pest, and Dear Mr. Henshaw, which won Cleary a Newbery Medal in 1984. I remember devouring these books as a child, and they definitely boosted my interest in reading.

What are you or your child’s favorites?

Matisse’s Garden

This gorgeous picture book features reproductions of artworks by French artist Henri Matisse. Matisse’s Garden tells how he began cutting paper shapes and how his process evolved into large scale works of art that are so recognizable today. It beautifully captures the essence of the color, pattern, and shapes in his work. It’s a beautiful book for art admirers of all ages. I also recommend Henri’s Scissors, and if you want more perhaps you’ll enjoy these other books on Matisse.

Witty New Picture Books!

Readers of all ages will enjoy the brand new book A Hungry Lion, Or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals, by Lucy Cummins. The book opens with a depiction of a hungry lion surrounded by various other animals, including but not limited to a penguin, a little calico kitten, a bunny with floppy ears and a bunny with non-floppy ears, a koala, a pig, and a slightly bigger pig. As readers turn the pages, more and more animals disappear until only the hungry lion and the turtle remain. Who’s stealing all the animals?! Or could the answer to their departure be a little closer to home…? This absolutely charming book allows young problem solvers to begin to guess what’s going on, then delights all with a lovely twist at the end.

In Skunk on a String, by Thao Lam, readers are introduced to skunk who has been tied to the string of a bright pink balloon. This wordless picture book shows the skunk passing through various city scenes, including a bustling parade, a construction site, and a traffic jam, and then ultimately landing on top of a Ferris wheel. Try as he might, Skunk cannot seem to find anyone to untie him… but when he’s finally able to free himself from the balloon he finds that he misses life in the air and devises a unique plan to be able to fly again. The art in this book is created through paper collage in whimsical colors and patterns, capturing urban life in the exact right way. Readers will delight in the new vantage point offered by Skunk while he is on his balloon voyage!

Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep!

It’s FestiFools weekend in Ann Arbor and today is the BIG robot costume making workshop for tomorrow’s spectacle on Main St.! So of course some of us have robots on the mind around here. You may have heard some wonderful robot stories told at storytimes the past few weeks. Here is a darling new bedtime book that’s a new favorite robot picture book.

In Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep a little boy is trying to get his robots to go to sleep, but they come up with every excuse as to why they can’t. (Sounds a bit like putting kids to bed!) “Three little robots, time for bed, Time to dim your infrared.” The rhyming text, adorable pictures, and ROBOTS will have kids wanting to read this over and over at bedtime. If you're still feelin' the bots the next morning, here is a handy list of even more robot books.

Mother Bruce

Mother Bruce is a fantastic new addition to our picture book collection. This story introduces us to Bruce, a grumpy black bear who doesn't like much of anything. The one thing Bruce does like are delicious fresh eggs! Bruce decides to cook the eggs into a fancy recipe he finds on the internet. He collects ingredients from his surroundings, and prepares the eggs for hard-boiling. But when he goes to fetch more wood after the stove fizzles, he returns to a great surprise-- the eggs he was going to eat have hatched into goslings! The goslings immediately become attached to Bruce and perceive him as their mother. Bruce tries everything he possibly can to get rid of the goslings, but they always come waddling back. Bruce realizes he is stuck with these children, and raises them himself from annoying baby goslings to stubborn teenagers-- all the way to boring adult geese. He thinks he will finally be rid of them when the geese fly south for the winter, but the geese haven't learned migration from poor Mother Bruce. Bruce must think quickly in order to get his geese down south for the winter. A clever surprise at the end twists the story in a fun and humorous way.

This book features a plot that makes it very similar to Wolf's Chicken Stew and Fox and Fluff, where a usually predatory animal learns to care for a more gentle creature. However, Mother Bruce extends the story and shows us how the family grows with the passage of time. This book has a great sense of humor that both children and adults will love, and is certainly something to check out!

Spring Forward with New Spring Books!

Nature’s Day: Discover the World of Wonder On Your Doorstep is a beautiful children's book with oversize pages illustrating painted birds, flowers, animals, insects, and more throughout the seasons. What happens during various seasons to our surroundings? What do the garden, the pond, the backyard, and the woods look like in summer vs. winter? This lovely books offers images and words for things to keep an eye out for as you explore the world around you.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons is another great new book on the seasons, this time explored through poetry! The sweet little poems from dates throughout the year are accompanied by darling illustrations.

Both of these children’s nonfiction books are great to get you thinking about SPRING!

A bear finds a piano in the woods....

The Bear and the Piano, by first-time author David Litchfield, is an adorable look at the life of a celebrity musician. When a bear finds a strange object in the woods, he isn’t sure what it is—though readers will of course, notice right away that it is a piano. He touches it experimentally, and is shocked at the sound that comes out! Over time, he teaches himself to play, and becomes a world-famous musician. Litchfield uses this charming story to explore the life of an actual musician. The necessity of “days and weeks and months and years” of practice, the wonder of fame coupled with the loneliness of leaving home, and the exhaustion of traveling and performing. The bear is worried that his friends back in the forest may have forgotten him but when he returns in his rumpled tuxedo, he finds that they have been eagerly following his career, rooting for him the whole way! And of course, it is always friends who are the best audience of all.

Publisher’s Weekly gave The Bear and the Piano a starred review, calling it a “tenderly moving story about embracing one’s potential while remembering one’s roots.” Put it on hold today!

Samira and the Skeletons

Samira and the Skeletons, is a lovely and strange picture book written and illustrated by Camilla Kuhn. This Norwegian import was my first introduction to Kuhn, and I only hope that we will see more of her work published in the United States. Kuhn's artwork is perfectly matched to the text in this curious story of a girl who learns about the skeletal system with disastrous results.

Everything in Samira’s life seems to be going well until one fateful day in science class when her teacher explains that everyone has a skeleton inside them. Samira is horrified, particularly when her teacher points out that her teeth are a visible part of her skeleton. She no longer wants to be around her friends, because all she can see are their animated skeletons. Samira’s mother comes up with a clever solution to Samira’s declaration that she no longer wants a skeleton, and until the end of the book (which I won’t spoil) it looks as though everyone around Samira has gone back to normal.

The illustrations in Samira and the Skeletons are amazing. They are not quite like anything I’ve seen before, and lend a spooky quality to the book without being scary or gruesome. This book is a winner for both adults and children.

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