Category Archives: animalia

Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm

By Alice and Martin Provensen. Aladdin Books, 2001

Who lives at Maple HIll Farm? People live here. Two dogs and five horses live here. A pig lives here. Then there are — some geese, lots of chickens, a few cows, a few goats, several sheep, and four special cats…

I can’t imagine a better picture book for any animal-loving kid. On each page are illustrations of the dogs, horses, pigs, cats, chickens and goats who live (or used to live) on the author’s real Straatsburg, NY farm, followed by verbal snapshots of their unique personalities. For instance, the big rooster, aptly named Big Shot, doesn’t like children. Willow the cat “is very beautiful, but not very interesting.” And Whiney the sheep is always lost and never knows where the gate is. My kids can look at these gorgeous, simple drawings forever. We’ve decided we all want to live at Maple Hill Farm.

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The Bear With Sticky Paws

By Clara Vulliamy

Tiger Tales, 2007

There’s a girl named Lily and she’s being very grumpy, stamping her little feet and slamming the door. She says, “I DON’T WANT ALL THIS BREAKFAST!” and throws down her spoon.” “NO, I won’t wash my face. NO, I won’t brush my hair. NO, I won’t get dressed…” “NO! NO! NO!”

I could criticize many things about this odd little book, but the Lily in me says “NO!” The truth is, its luscious candy-colored illustrations and sparse,wackadoodle text tap into what all kids genuinely want: the love of their parent(s). Continue reading

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Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival

By Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery; Illustrated by Jean Cassels

Walker & Company, 2008

The city of New Orleans, on the mighty Mississippi, is a place many people and pets call home. Jamming with jazz and dressing up fancy for Mardi Gras, it  bustled with life day and night. But on April 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina bore down on the city and everyone who lived there, including a wisp of a cat and one puppy.

Much to the concern of my children, I’m a total sucker for (read: I cry a lot while reading) books about dogs and cats in peril. Two Bobbies fits the bill. Continue reading

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Billy Twitters and his Big Whale Problem

By Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Adam Rex

Disney/Hyperion Books, 2009

Mom says…”Billy Twitters, clean up your room, or we’re buying you a blue whale…” But I’m not worried. See, I know a thing or two about blue whales. I mean, they’re the biggest animals in the world, ever. It’s not like you can just have one delivered to your house overnight.

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Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express

buffbill

By Eleanor Coeer, Pictures by Dan Bolognese

Harper Collins, 1995

It was spring, 1860. Bill saw a sign in the post office at Fort Laramie. The sign said: WANTED. RIDERS FOR THE PONY EXPRESS. Young, skinny fellows under 18. Orphans welcome. $25 dollars a week. “That’s the kind of job I want!” said Bill.

I am awfully partial to books about the Wild West. There’s something so romantically desolate (desolately romantic?) about riding on the open range, eating out of a chuck wagon and sleeping under the stars which appeals to the Annie Oakley in me. (I can conveniently forget that back then, people used corn cobs instead of toilet paper.)   Continue reading

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Grandmother’s Pigeon

pigeon

By Louise Erdrich, Illustrated by Jim LeMarche

Hyperion Books for Children, 1996

As it turned out, Grandmother was a far more mysterious woman than any of us knew. It was common knowledge that she had trained kicking mules. We’d often heard how she had skied the Continental Divide. I was with her myself once when she turned back a vicious dog by planting herself firm in its path and staring into its eyes.

I have always been fond of books which start in media res. But let’s just cut to the chase, shall we? Erdrich rocks. Continue reading

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Leaf

leaf

Ideas, sound effects and pictures by Stephen Michael King

Roaring Book Press, 2008

No running text in this small book, just the occasional sound effect — the snip, snip of a mother’s eager scissors, the pitter, patter, splot of  a trickling shower. But the gorgeously simple drawings do a fine job of telling the story. Continue reading

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Dig Ivan Dig!

ivan

By Wendy Ann Gardner

Hyperion, 2002

Four o’clock on the fifth floor, life for Ivan was such a bore. He had space to roam and run, but nothing that he thought was fun. Though his loft was nice and big, all he wanted to do was…dig.

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Blueberries for Sal

blueberries

By Robert McCloskey

Viking, 1948

Little Sal picked three berries and dropped them in her little tin pail…kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! She picked three more berries and ate them. Then she picked more berries and dropped one in the pail — kuplunk! And the rest she ate. Then Little Sal ate all four blueberries out of her pail!

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The Paperboy

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Story and paintings by Dav Pilkey

Scholastic, 1996

The mornings of the paperboy are still dark and they are always cold even in the summer. And on these cold mornings the paperboy’s bed is still warm and it is always hard to get out — even for his dog…but they do.

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