A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals
by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Sondra Eklund
“Once upon a time there was a hungry lion” the book begins, and then lists all the other adorable animals surrounding him. Oh wait, that’s not quite right. Let’s try listing those animals again. And again. And… where did everybody go? Surprise! Of course the lion didn’t eat them all! It’s a party! Um….they’re going to eat the cake, right? Well….maybe not….
There are quite a few “a hungry animal is going to eat you, no, wait, it’s just a party” books, but this one stands out with its triple-twist and giggle-worthy ending. Cummins’ bright, colorful illustrations feature an adorable assortment of animals – and a stoic lion with a glare that fits his naughty personality perfectly. Cummins has a perfect sense of timing as she plays out the joke and surprises readers on every page. A Hungry Lion will keep your storytime audience and classes laughing hysterically as they request multiple readings so they can catch every detail.
Filled with lyrical language and vivid verbs, this book reads like poetry. The story of Gus and Ida touches on death and friendship in a peaceful and hopeful way. The illustrations add depth and power to the well chosen words. The unmistakable bond between Ida and Gus creates an emotional resonance that stays with you long after you’ve read it. You’re reminded that those you’ve lost are right there with with you. Always.
“One day in the leaves
of the eucalyptus tree
hung a scare in the air
where no eye could see,
when along skipped a boy
with a whirly-twirly toy,
to the shade of the eucalyptus,
Are your toes tapping? There’s a definite rhythm going that makes this book a natural read-aloud. Children can of course see the snake peeking out of the eucalyptus tree, and that snake gobbles up that boy with the whirly-twirly toy. The boy keeps calm and immediately hatches a plan, convincing the snake to swallow more and more adorably illustrated creatures, until he is finally so full, he…er…burps them all out. Early literacy skills, a feeling of empowerment, fun illustrations, science and social studies extensions, and just plain fun make this a well-rounded addition to the list.
When one little boy and his tiny pet elephant try to participate in Pet Club Day, they are met with a sign that says: Strictly No Elephants. Despite their sadness, they push forward together and ultimately travel from the realization that they do not fit in that club, to a joyful accomplishment and a place where they can celebrate their differences with friends. This well-written and aptly-illustrated book conveys the sadness and sweet success often found in the process of finding true friends and subtly suggests the meaning of friendship.
The Night Gardener is a magical book. A small town is forever changed by the works of the Night Gardener, a mysterious man who creates new topiaries out of the local trees each night. One little boy, William, is impacted a bit more. One night after celebrating with the neighbors late into the night, William comes upon the Night Gardener and gets to help him create many creations in the local park. Though the trees only last until fall, the community is never the same again. And a small gift from the Night Gardener inspires William for a life time.
The text in this book is fairly minimal, with no more than a few sentences per two-page spread. The illustrations begin in muted tones with only the topiaries in color. But as the story progresses and the people in the neighborhood are impacted by the Night Gardener’s sculptures, they begin to appear in color as well. By the end of the book, the whole town is in full color, appearing as vibrant and alive as the people of the town. This book is perfect for kids ages 4-8.
There’s a Bear on My Chair
by Ross Collins
Nosy Crow Books
Publisher/ Author Submission
“There’s a bear on my chair!”
On my chair!
I declare! A bear on my chair!
A mouse arrives home and discovers an enormous polar bear is sitting on his chair. How far will the mouse go to remove that bear from his chair?
There’s a Bear on My Chair is a exuberant tale filled with surprising rhyme and unexpected plot twists and wild mouse mood swings. This is a book children will ask to hear over and over again, with side benefits: you will love reading it over and over, and it will soon be a book children will find they can read solo.
Dare to ensnare this rare and extraordinaire bear-chair affair, There’s a Bear on My Chair.
“The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .”
When you see a cat, what do you see? A child sees a cute calico cat and wants to pet the kitty. But a mouse sees a large black cat with yellow crazed eyes, large pointed teeth, and long sharp claws ready to pounce. It is all a matter of perspective in Brendan Wenzel’s debut. He gives children twelve animals’ vision of the cat. The beautiful images will have children thinking about size and perspective, giving them a new view of their world.