The Bear and the Piano

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The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield has so much to like about it, I’m going to ramble. In the beginning, the bear sees a piano in the forest. He fiddles with it and over time, his skill at playing piano grows (it’s not magical talent) until a crowd of bears is drawn to listen. He goes to the city and becomes famous, and though the city is everything he’d hoped it would be (and there’s a beautiful nighttime spread to show this loveliness and yearning together) he misses his friends from the forest. When he gets to the clearing where his piano used to be, it’s gone, and at first he thinks his friends were angry or forgot him, the ending is warm and perfect.

 

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Before Morning

9780547979175.jpgLuscious verse invokes a snow day while illustrations show a pilot going to work in the wee hours, the snow clogging her commute and the flights at the airport are all cancelled. She flags down a snowplow driver, who brings her home where her husband and child are waking up. The final pages show them enjoying the snow day together.

Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes is a treat to savour again and again.

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Real Cowboys

Real cowboys are quiet, gentle and safe. They listen and are patient. This beautiful picture medium-2.jpgbook by Kate Hoefler and Jonathan Bean shows cowboys who do the long slow work of herding cattle, and the skills they need for that, which aren’t all showmanship and galloping excitement. No, cowboys spend long hours in the saddle, taking care of the cattle, the earth, each other.

“Real cowboys are as many different colors as the earth. Real cowboys are girls, too.”

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How to Swallow a Pig

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How to Swallow a Pig: Step by Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page is an animal guide in a spot-on deadpan tone that gives tons of information while managing to be a page-turner. Unexpected animals, such as the western grebe and the reticulated python do amazing things in their daily lives, and now with this handy manual, we humans can too.

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ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky

ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky by Benedikt Gross and Joey Lee is a fascinating look at 9781101995815.jpegfound letters from an aerial view. Find one letter per page (though sometimes there are bonuses) and in the bottom right corner, the geographical coordinates and a dot on a US map mark the spots these letters are found. I suppose you could hop in your helicopter and search them out, however, this book is just as much fun on land, and it serves for a template to play your own ABC game on your next flight.

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A Bear’s Year

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The gentle rhyming text of A Bear’s Year takes us from slumbering winter to newborn spring, summer foraging and autumn’s den. I love a book that takes us through all of the seasons in a year, and this one’s beautiful illustrations do each season justice.

Written by Kathy Duval and illustrated by Gerry Turley.

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Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinocerous Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone…While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent!

There aren’t nearly enough books about rhinoceroses. Clara, a pet rhino in India, went with a Dutch sea captain on his travels around the world. Captain Van der Meer thought heclara_jacket could make money showing off Clara all across Europe, but Clara ate so much (gaining 20 pounds a day!) even the crowds who paid to see her didn’t help the captain make enough money. Still, he considered her his friend and refused to sell her, even to the king of France.

Emily Arnold McCully‘s author’s note explains the history and the parts she fictionalized in the picture book. Clara is a fascinating look at a historical rhino, and the relationship between man and beast.

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Cat Knit

Cat is perfectly happy with his friend, Yarn. But Girl wanted to play with yarn, too. “When Yarn returned, he wasn’t his usual bouncy self.” That’s because Yarn morphed into a

236b95a593bee5f5fba20730ae379b6a-w204@1x.jpgsweater. Cat does not like Yarn anymore and goes outside in the snow to pout.

This book may be very helpful if your little ones don’t want to wear those bulky, itchy winter clothes. Then again, Jacob Grant‘s Cat Knit might just be a fun, well-told story, which is best of all.

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Smile Cry

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This sweetly simple picture book goes through the types of smiles while the flip side of the book explores the times one might cry: “An ice-cream plopping down cry. A jump out of the shadows cry”. And the two sides meet in the center two page spread which is topsy-turvy and a illustrated in a circular way which makes turning the book around a delight.

Written by Tania McCartney and illustrated by Jess Racklyeft.

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I Am a Story

I Am a Story by Dan Yaccarino is a poetic history of storytelling, from the beginnings of oral tellings to picture tellings on walls, clay tablets and papyrus. Tapestries and theatre are i-am-a-story
lauded, as well as books and libraries and the many places people share books (including a pictoral reference to a Little Free Library). The book highlights the pleasures we get from stories and the not so pleasurable censorship, banning and burnings.

“I can go with you everywhere and will live forever. I am a story.”

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