Focus on Folktales: Jessica Souhami

London born author Jessica Souhami studied at the Central School of Art and Design. In 1980 she formed Mme Souhamiand Co, a travelling puppet company using colorful shadow puppets with a musical accompaniment and storyteller. By the early 1990s she stopped touring, but still wanted to tell stories, yet through books. Her first was The Leopard’s Drum.

She has adapted and illustrated numerous folktales for children, and her books are absolutely delightful! You might recognize some of the stories from attending preschool storytimes at the library.

Here are more of Souhami’s books that AADL owns that are worth taking a look at – the illustrations are wonderful, and with her cut-out illustration style with characters leaping across pages, you can absolutely visualize her work done in shadow puppet form.

Mrs. McCool and the Giant Cuhullin

Foxy!

The Little, Little House

Sausages

No dinner!: The Story of the Old Woman and the Pumpkin

Rama and the Demon King: An Ancient Tale from India

Her newest, Honk Honk! Hold Tight!, is coming out soon!

Animals in Disguise!

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a picture book where animals dress up in disguise! On that note, I have three books to recommend.

First up, take a look at the new David J. Plant book Hungry Roscoe. Poor Roscoe the raccoon only wants a tasty treat that isn’t rotten food out of the garbage. He hears about the wonderful food and the zoo and decides to try to sneak in, wearing a variety of homemade animal costumes. His less than convincing disguises get him nowhere and all seems lost until the tricky zoo monkeys hatch a plan. Hilarious, and with great drawings, this book is a winner!

Author Adam Rubin may be best known for the popular title Dragons Love Tacos, but my favorite of his titles is Secret Pizza Party, which features another sneaky raccoon. The raccoon in this book only wants to eat his favorite food, pizza, but he is not very good at getting it without encountering perilous circumstances. Raccoon comes up with a clever plan to crash a pizza party disguised as a regular pizza loving human, but things go awry when he goes a little too pizza crazy.

Finally, the beautifully illustrated Animal Masquerade is a simple story in which each animal dresses up like the preceding it. This book is great for younger readers, who will get a kick out of identifying both the original animal and what costume it’s wearing. Despite the repetition, adults shouldn’t dread reading this to their kids- there are plenty of sly jokes to amuse everyone.

Sparky!

I purchased the adorable picture book Sparky!, by Jenny Offill, for a friend last Christmas and I am so glad that the library now has it in our collection, too! Winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book text, this book is a true gem for readers of all ages, especially those who consider themselves animal lovers. A young girl wants a pet, but her mom keeps saying ‘no’ to every pet she suggests. Finally, her mother says that she can have any pet she wants… “as long as it doesn't need to be walked or bathed or fed." Of course, like the girl’s mom, most of us believe that description leaves few viable pet options. But, with the help of her school librarian, the girl finds a pet that fits the bill… a sluggish, yet strangely lovable sloth. Readers will grow to adore Sparky along with his owner as this too-cute book progresses.

Offill is the author of 17 Things I’m Not Allowed To Do Anymore, 11 Experiments That Failed and While You Were Napping, all for children, and the deeply moving Dept. of Speculation, for adults.

Americanine: A Haute Dog in New York

Enchanted Lion Books never ceases to enchant with its delighful picture books. Americanine is hilarious!

In Americanine a dog comes back from New York City with all sorts of stories to tell his doggy friends. They tell him he’s changed. He says “Yup, I’ve become total Americanine." Throughout the book the red, white and blue clad pup gives the scoop about how chic and hilarious New York is. He visits many familiar sites including the Statue of Liberty, Coney Island, Grand Central Station, Broadway, Central Park, The Guggenheim, and bridges, the subway, and even restaurants that give out doggy bags! It is one wild adventure for this dog and his friends are just pawing at him for more stories. With funny doggy banter and colorful illustrations, this one‘s a winner.

For more New York City themed picture books, check these out.

New Books on World War I and World War II

Want to learn more about World War I or World War II? Take a look at a few of our new books!

Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics and Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue tell the true stories of remarkable women in war times. With profiles of many different women, these books will keep the attention of readers as they learn about spying techniques, wartime resistance, and even primitive surgery methods!

The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War is a unique take on World War I. Featuring the work of multiple authors, the short stories in this book each stem from an object recovered from World War I, be it a helmet, a toy solider, or a compass. This is a great book for children and adults to enjoy together.

From the new series History's Greatest Rivals comes the book Adolf Hitler vs. Winston Churchill: Foes of World War II. Featuring great graphics and short intriguing text, this is a winner for kids who want a shorter book on World War II.

For even more youth books on World War I, check out these recommendations! For books on World War II, look here!

Crazy Creatures and Bizarre Beasties

Why settle for regular boring old animals when you can discover CRAZY and AMAZING facts about the biggest weirdos in the animal kingdom!? We have so many new books about strange creatures that are just trying to do their best in this wild world.

The Dictionary of Ordinary Extraordinary Animals takes the animals you thought you knew and teaches you knew and strange facts about all of them. The colorful pictures in this book pair with detailed descriptions to provide a solid introduction to over three hundred animals!

The Curious Critters series by David FitzSimmons is a fantastic group of books that boasts gorgeous close-up photographs of a whole host of animals. Each page is accompanied by a poem, song, or monologue written from the animal’s perspective. Although I like the text, it’s really the photography that sets these titles apart from other animal books.

If you just want to skip right to weird facts, take a look at When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses. This book is packed with facts about the tactics prey animals use to defend themselves. My favorite fact? The Horned Lizard shoots blood out of its eyes to scare off predators!

For even more books about crazy animals, check out these recommendations!

I Smell a Good Book Series

Looking for a fun and pretty way to explore the world around you? I See…, I Hear…, and I Smell… are books in the same picture book series by PatrickGeorge. With bold, colorful illustrations and simple text the books are a great way to get little ones thinking about the world around them by exploring through their senses. There are even some funny finds.

For more fun with senses, check out these other titles as well.

The Story of Lewis the Downtown Cat

Lewis the Downtown Cat is a picture book written by Beth Johnson and tells the story of Lewis – the “famous” cat that resided at Downtown Home & Garden in Ann Arbor and was a recognizable and familiar site at the store until he passed away at the end of 2014. It’s a cute little book and kids will get a kick out of seeing a glimpse into how Lewis spent his days at the store and surrounding areas – chasing chipmunks, sleeping, popping into Mark’s Carts and snooping around the Fleetwood Diner. The book rhymes and is written from the POV of Lewis!

For more of Lewis' story you can read about his death here, and read about Downtown Home & Garden’s new cat, Wallace, here!

Library Lists: Introducing Fine Art to Kids!

We know that kids love to create their own art, and children can recognize and be influenced by different artistic styles from a very young age. Learning about fine art can seem dry, but there are lots of great books geared towards younger ages that introduce famous artists and their work in fun and unique ways. Here are a few suggestions:

In the family-oriented An Eye For Art, children are introduced to over 50 famous artists and their work representing a huge range of styles and techniques. Related activities ranging from focused looking to creative writing and the child’s own artistic development accompany the information and images about each artist.

Learning Through Art, published by the Guggenheim Museum, offers art and art appreciation exercises based on well-known 20th century paintings and pieces from the Guggenheim.

Art Up Close: From Ancient to Modern is a beautiful book that emphasizes the finer points of various masterpieces by turning them into an “I Spy”-like game. In the same series, and just as well-done, are the Louvre Up Close and Masterpieces Up Close.

In Modern Art Adventures, kids are introduced to the fresh and unusual artistic styles of the past three centuries, then let loose to create their own art inspired by the techniques they’ve learned. Over 35 hands-on projects make sure that there’s something for everyone in this book.

Linnea in Monet’s Garden is an adorable introduction to Monet, his family, his garden at Giverny and his work. Readers will join a young girl as she visits the home and garden of Monet, and the illustrations include photographs from the painter’s life and of his work.

Ooh! Matisse is the most basic of introductions to fine art for the youngest readers. Portions of Matisse’s cut-out paper art are splashed brightly across the pages, and young readers will learn to recognize both the art and the words that describe it (“flower,” “square,” “figure,” etc.)

The Collins Big Book of Art opens with a useful timeline of the history of art: when different styles were developed and where, and what artists were doing around the world at different points in time. This collection is great for kids interested in artistic variety: from cave art to pop art, it has it all.

If you’re interested in other cool fine art books for children, check out the suggestions on this list.

Programming For Kids

Are you looking for a fun summer hobby? How about learning how to program and/or design your very own video games? AADL partners with Gamestart to host lots of great programming and gaming events, but we also have some awesome new books and tools to help you out!

For younger learners, check out Awesome Algorithms and Creative Coding, which will give you an intro to basic coding. If you think you’re ready for a longer and more in depth look at coding, take a look at Adventures in Raspberry Pi and Adventures in Python.

If video games are your thing, you’ll want to read Video Games: From Concept to Consumer and Video Game Programming for Kids.

Want more? Check out our complete list of programming books and tools for kids.

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