Joe Hill

A new book, Strange Weather, collects four novellas from Joe Hill - son of the legendary Stephen King.

We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands adapted and illustrated by Rafael López is a lively picture book based on the original hymn, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, which has now become a popular member of the folk music genre. The words joyfully invite children and animals from all over the world to sing, dance and clap together in celebration of the sun, the wind, nature and each other.

The illustrations are expansive, colorful and captivating in the details such as a picture of a boy carefully studying a snail that sits protected in the palm of his hand. The author-illustrator has used a variety of approaches from collage to photoshop to create the eye-popping pictures of children playing in the sun and singing in the rain. One of the most outstanding illustrations is a vertical two-page picture layout of a hot air balloon rising in the night sky full of smiling children from many cultures. Also, a monkey, a giraffe, a gorilla and a rhino are pleased to be aboard.

One scene after another is held together by a constant unrolling of a ball of multi-colored yarn which visually holds the unity of the pictures and the world together. This balances well with the rhythmic repetition of the song’s words and refrain which auditorily hold the story together.

We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands adapted and illustrated by  Rafael López and offered in both Spanish and English editions, is an energetic and multi-generational “read and sing” for  parents, grandparents and young children 3-5 years of age (Orchard Books/ Scholastic, 2018).

The Poison Squad

This weekend Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum will be in Harbor Springs as part of the Festival of the Book, which brings poets and writers to the region.

Cuddly Critters for little Geniuses written by Susan and James Patterson and illustrated by Hsinping Pan is a collection of creatures from around the world, not often discussed, that will delight the curiosity of young children. The creatures are organized into three categories: Flyers such as the Sugar Glider, Royal Flycatcher and the Potoo, Swimmers such as the Parrotfish, the Puffer Fish and the Blobfish and Crawlers such as the Blue Poison Dart Frog and the Tonkin Monkey.

Many of the animals featured in this book can do fantastic things. The Potoo, for instance, looking very much like a piece of wood, can hide right in front of your eyes as it sits quietly on the branch of a tree. The Sugar Glider can float long distances through the air without ever touching the ground due to the webbing between its arms and legs.  The Pangolin, a mammal with a coat of scales, has an appetite for twenty thousand ants per day!

The illustrations are energetic, colorful and fun. The Royal Flycatcher has a plume of feathers sprouting from the top of its head! The Scarlet Macaw flies across the page all blue, gold and orange. The double spread illustration of the Snowy Owl is beautiful and commanding. Under the book jacket the book cover itself reveals a joyful gathering of all the book’s critters. And the texture and weight of the paper inside is perfect for little hands that will want to turn the pages over and over again.

Cuddly Critters for Little Geniuses written by Susan and James Patterson and illustrated by Hsinping Pan is beautifully developed and designed for ages 3-6 (JIMMY Patterson Books/Little Brown and Company, 2018).

The Night Box written by Louise Greig and illustrated by Ashling Lindsay is a poetic telling of a gentle story about that time and that place where the end of Day and the beginning of Night meet.

Max enjoys Day but when Day gets weary it is time for Night to take over. Max assists with this transformation by closing the window drapes, hearing a song from his Mom and opening his Night Box. It just takes two clicks of his special key! “Up comes the lid… Whoosh! Day slips inside as Night sweeps out. Darkness tumbles into the air. It dances and whirls around the room. It goes under the bed, under the chair-everywhere!”

Max enjoys this ritual. He knows that Night is gentle and brave and kind. But, most importantly, he knows nothing is alone in the Night.

The cadence of this beautifully-written story is reassuring and the soft internal rhymes which are gently placed here and there prepare Max for sleep.

The illustrations are full of night details such as fauns and kittens and little boys going to sleep and owls and badgers and moles just coming out to play. Most spectacular is the artist’s rendering of a white-winged swan gracefully gliding home through the star-spangled night sky.

The Night Box written lyrically by Louise Greig and illustrated with charm and care by Ashling Lindsay is a comforting bedtime story for children 4-7 years of age (Clarion Books/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018).