Category Archives: 3 years+

Rosie and the Rustlers

By Roy Gerrard. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989.

Where the mountains meet the prairie, where the men are wild and hairy/There’s a little ranch where Rosie Jones is boss. It’s a place that’s neat and cozy, and the boys employed by Rosie/Work extremely hard, to stop her getting cross.

The cadence of the words is enough to pull you in. But come on, don’t you already want to know what happens next? In a nutshell, Rosie’s men — including One-Leg Smith, Salad Sam, and Utah Jim who’s nice but dim — find themselves in pursuit of a gang of outlaws who tried to steal their steers. And so the “hazardous adventure” begins. Not to worry, it all ends well. The bandits (and their cabin) are lassoed, the townspeople applaud, and Rosie’s boys even get a reward from the sheriff. I would be remiss not to mention the enchanting, 80’s-era illustrations. The characters look like a sort of Wild West version of trolls, with overly round faces, wide eyes, and arms as short as a T-rex’s. But you just. Can’t. Look. Away.

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Mr. President Goes to School

Written by Rick Walton. Illustrated by Brad Sneed. Peachtree, 2010.

“Mr. President,” said Madam Secretary. “…It’s the Sticks and Stones issue again, sir. What should we do?”

Well, apparently the answer is don a disguise, get the heck out of the White House and hide out in elementary school, where even the nastiest problems can be solved with a snack and the hokey pokey. My kids cracked up at the stern-faced leaders of Bulrovia and Snortburg sitting criss-cross applesauce in the Oval Office. I loved the subtle reminder that grownups are at their best when we act like kids.

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Iggy Peck, Architect

By Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

Abrams Books, 2007

Young Iggy Peck is an architect and has been since he was two, when he built a great tower — in only an hour — with nothing but diapers and glue. “Good gracious, Ignacious!” his mother exclaimed. “That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” But her smile faded fast as a light wind blew past and she realized those diapers weren’t clean! Continue reading

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Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated

By Florence Parry Heide, Illustrated by Lane Smith

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009

Princess Hyacinth had a problem. Well, you’re saying, everyone has a problem. But this was an unusual problem. Oh, she didn’t look unusual, that wasn’t it. She had two eyes, with a nose between them and a mouth under that — you know, the usual things in the usual arrangement…So what was the problem?

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Mirette on the High Wire

mirette

By Emily Arnold McCully

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1992

One hundred years ago in Paris, when theaters and music halls drew traveling players from all over the world, the best place to stay was at the widow Gateau’s, a boardinghouse on English Street. Acrobats, jugglers, actors, and mimes from as far away as Moscow and New York reclined on the widow’s feather mattresses and devoured her kidney stews. Madame Gateau worked hard to make her guests comfortable, and so did her daughter, Mirette.

What was initially conceived as a biography of real-life daredevil Blondin is now a lovely tale of bravery and redemption. Continue reading

Jillian Jiggs

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Written and Illustrated by Phoebe Gilman

Scholastic, 1985

“Jillian, Jillian, Jillian Jiggs! It looks like your room has been lived in by pigs!”

“Later. I promise. As soon as I’m through, I’ll clean up my room. I promise. I do.”

Now, Jillian meant every word that she said. But later, the promise flew out of her head…

Forgive me, Jillian Jiggs. My scanner could not do your fine illustrations justice — probably because the copy I own (passed down from my mother, a teacher for nearly thirty years) is a Scholastic Big Book and nearly as tall as I am. Continue reading

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That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown

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Written by Cressida Cowell, Illustrated by Neal Layton

Hyperion Books for Children, 2006

Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Emily Brown and an old gray rabbit called Stanley. One day, Emily Brown and Stanley were launching themselves into outer space to look for alien life-forms when there was a rat-a-tat-tat! at the kitchen door. It was the Chief Footman to the Queen. He said, “The Queen has very kindly noticed your rabbit. She would like to have that Bunnywunny.”

Smart girl that Emily Brown is, she says no thank you. (And pointedly reminds the imposing Footman that her rabbit’s name is Stanley, not “Bunnywunny.”) Continue reading

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The Summer Snowman

summersnowman

by Gene Zion, Pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham

Harper & Row, 1955

On the last day of winter, when it snowed for the last time, Henry and his brother Pete made a little snowman…an especially small one. It was so much fun, they didn’t even hear their mother calling them for supper. That night when they went to bed, they tried to fall asleep but kept getting up and going to the window to look down at the little snowman standing in the cold, bright moonlight on their front lawn…Henry started to cry…”The moon will melt the snowman and in the morning he’ll be gone!”

Anxiety about a melting snowman can only mean one thing: Mom? Can you find me room in the freezer? But the narrative here goes a bit beyond that. Continue reading

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Bread and Jam for Frances

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By Russell Hoban, Pictures by Lillian Hoban

Harper & Row, 1964

It was breakfast time and everyone was at the table. Father was eating his egg. Mother was eating her egg. Gloria was sitting in a high chair and eating her egg too. Frances was eating bread and jam…She did not eat her egg. She sang a little song to it: I do not like the way you slide,/I do not like your soft inside,/I do not like you lots of ways,/And I could do for many days/Without eggs.

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