Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring into summer with picture book sequels!

 While nothing can dim my continued hatred of sequels for young adults and middle grade, picture book sequels are another matter. First, unless you're really churning them out, they're not as thick on the ground as the aforementioned evilness. Secondly, small children (and ok, not so small children) love the continuity of a favorite character in a new adventure. I have three fun sequels from Kids Can Press to look at today.

First, Kitten's Summer by Eugenie Fernandes. I first encountered Fernandes' work last fall in Kitten's Autumn and fell in love with her gorgeous mixture of clay, collage and vibrant acrylic paint. Kitten's last adventure is as delightful as the others. Simple rhymes, "Robin shelters,/Squirrel scrambles./Chipmunk skitters,/Raccoon ambles" accompany the the illustrations which are full of wildlife and plants to name, as well as the fun of finding the kitten in each picture. These are favorites with my colleague who does baby and toddler storytimes, but I've also used them to great effect in preschool storytime, having the children identify and name various things in the pictures. I'm planning to use this series as one of my collage examples for our upcoming messy art club as well.

While my first loyalties will always be to Chester the magnificent, Scaredy Squirrel is a very fun character and quite popular at my library. In his latest adventure, Scaredy is getting ready for his birthday! As usual, he's planned a small party - just himself. After all, if he comes down from his tree and has a big party, who knows what could happen? Confetti and ponies at the very least! Then Scaredy realizes he really should invite his friend, Buddy. He prepares carefully for all possible disasters, but nothing could have prepared him for the surprise of a surprise party! Is his birthday ruined? Or can Scaredy Squirrel adjust and enjoy the party? While there's nothing particularly new about this latest adventure, Watt's Scaredy Squirrel formula is a popular once and still fresh and attractive to kids. Add this to your favorite birthday books!

We first met the sweet pig and rabbit pair in Genevieve Cote's Me and You. Now they're back, but their friendship isn't all roses anymore. A little argument grows, their wagon breaks, and suddenly they're not friends. Just to show they're not friends, they find all the things they can do alone; cooking, painting, doing magic, playing music. But they realize all these things are better when they're together and with a little compromise and cooperation their wagon - and their friendship - is mended. Cote's soft pastels illustrations have a gentle charm and this is a lovely look at friendship that young children will understand.

Verdict: Scaredy Squirrel is a must, of course, for any library. I recommend 2 copies if you can wing it. I highly recommend the Fernandes' Kitten books - if you have the money, go for the whole series. If you don't, make sure you get at least one! Cote's Without You is a sweet story of friendship for very young children. Take a quick look at your collection and if, like me, you can't find anything particularly good on friendship for the toddler and preschool crowd, go ahead and add this one in. It stands alone, so the first story isn't a must.

Kitten's Summer by Eugenie Fernandes
ISBN: 9781554533428; Published February 2011 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates.

Scaredy Squirrel has a birthday party by Melanie Watt
ISBN: 9781554534685; Published February 2011 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates. Purchased for my library.

Without You by Genevieve Cote
ISBN 9781554536207; Published February 2011 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates.

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