It’s one thing to learn your ABCs. It’s quite another when Oliver Jeffers is in charge. His new picture book, Once Upon an Alphabet, contains 26 very short stories, beginning with “An Astronaut” and ending with “Zeppelin.” Preschoolers and beginning readers will delight in these vignettes featuring everything from a lumberjack who repeatedly gets struck by lightning to, of all things, a puzzled parsnip.
Rebecca Alexander started having vision problems when she was about 10 years old. Eventually, doctors realized she was suffering from Usher syndrome, a condition that would cause her to become both deaf and blind. Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found is a compelling account of her journey, starting with childhood and ending with her fairly recent acquisition of a cochlear implant.
Quite appropriately, The Memory of an Elephant is a large picture book, measuring 11 by 14 inches. It’s a big, unusual book in every way, featuring not only a story about an old, distinguished elephant named Marcel, but a compendium of assorted facts about everything from musical instruments and classic modern furniture to a variety of gourmet desserts.
The young dinosaur heroes of Gigantosaurus could hardly be cuter. They look like characters right out of an animated feature film―which is no surprise, as creator Jonny Duddle was a concept artist for the Hugh Grant film The Pirates! Band of Misfits. (He’s also the creator of books such as The Pirates Next Door.)
Nature writer Nick Jans first spotted the large tracks of a wolf while cross-country skiing near his home in Juneau, Alaska, in December 2003. Two days later, while relaxing in his hot tub, he caught a glimpse of the animal itself. Nick raced out to see him, and soon he and his wife, Sherrie, became infatuated with the beautiful black wolf.
According to author Jessica Lawson, Tom Sawyer was a tattletale and Becky Thatcher was the real rascal getting into all sorts of trouble in St. Petersburg, Missouri. That’s the inventive premise of this gem of a chapter book that stirs up all of the ingredients of the American classic to create a thoughtful, energetic new debut novel.
What happens when a group of middle school geniuses trains for months to win a special contest at a Disney World-style Florida theme park called Incredo Land? That’s the premise of Bringing Down the Mouse, a page-turning caper whose hero is sixth-grader Charlie Lewis, known as “Numbers,” the nerdy son of an MIT professor dad and a mom with two Ph.D.s.
It’s easy to understand why Don Wallace and his wife Mindy were captivated by a beautiful French island called Belle Île. Don, who grew up in California, and Mindy, who was from Hawaii, were living in a cramped, dark Manhattan apartment. Belle Île’s sunshine and surf spoke to their soul.
In our information-rich world, Mark Pett’s wordless picture book, The Girl and the Bicycle, is a refreshing change. This is Pett’s second such book, following The Boy and the Airplane. Somehow, by omitting words, the story seems more powerful; perhaps because instead of reading about events, we see and feel what’s happening.
Under the Egg starts out with a horrific bang: 13-year-old Theodora Tenpenny sees that her beloved grandfather Jack has just been struck by a cab. She’s just in time to hear his dying words, “Look under the egg,” with instructions to also look for a letter and a treasure.