Always Be Dancing

The Art of Movement for Every/body & Mindful Book Reviews By Eve

Mindful Book Reviews By Eve

Halloween KidLit Books from Candlewick Press

Twitchy Witchty Itch

by Priscilla Tey

Ages 4-8

Fun, fantastical lyrical tongue twisters matched with  exquisitely detailed illustrations. The linguistic gymnastic of reading this book aloud will have everyone zipping and zooming, dusting and brooming, kabooshing and kabooming! I love the unique menagerie of creatures that inhabit the pages, there are bugs and mice and lizards and an adorable little monkey. I love the vibrating illustrations, twitching and switching and glitching and flickering. I love the flow of onomatopoeia that has the overlying message of being yourself and to accept all others as you do yourself. Home is truly the most “bewitchingly” perfect place to be! 

Thank you to Candlewick press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

Rise of Zombert

by Kara LaReau

illustrated by Ryan Andrews

Ages 8-12

The book is 100% a page turner! It is full of intrigue and each character is so well rounded and full of depth. You just fall in love immediately with the possible zombie cat because he is so, um, very cat-like in a weird zombie-like fashion. I love how the two main characters have such a strong friendship that even when they face adversity, they are able to use communication to problem solve, compassion even when faced with bullies and they have strong self esteem, allowing them to be secure in who they are and to stand up for what they think is right. These kids are real, down to earth, curious, determined and sometimes they are even a little bit sneaky, but through it all they are dedicated animal lovers and all around good kids. I love the fiery intensity of this first episode of a fast paced, slightly spooky mystery series! I’m thrilled book number two is now available as this voracious reader needs another book! Yum ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaa!

Thank you to Candlewick press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

Return of ZomBert 

by Kara LaReau

illustrated by Ryan Andrews

Ages 8-12

Things just got a whole lot spookier. The suspense really amped up in the second edition of Zombert’s story.  It truly had me on the edge of my seat and I just could not stop reading, the suspense was literally killing me! Above all, the two heroes never give up. They are not afraid to stand up for themselves and are willing to let down their guard to at the same time, be open and caring individuals. They are willing to try new things, meet new people, find goodness even in a difficult situation while at the same time it is kind of like a modern day Harriet The Spy, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, with two kids, digging into find traces and clues to solve their mystery. I am waiting with white knuckles for episode number three to be dropped.

Thank you to Candlewick press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Cat With The Crooked Tail: A Dance-It-Out Creative Movement Story for Young Movers

Story by Once Upon A Dance; Illustrated by Olha Tkachenko; Dance Along with Ballerina Konora.

This book is both a teaching aide as well as a beautifully illustrated picture book. I love this creative take on storytelling. The dancer is lovely and just exudes kindness and grace, plus the accompanying illustrations are just endearing with a sense of realism and movement pouncing right off the page. The story is about good friends and learning to love who you are while at the same time never being afraid to try something new and to work hard to get results. Very cute addition to this wonderful series.

Thank you to the author for sending  me this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

May Picture Books & Board Books from Candlewick Press

ABC Cats: An Alpha-Cat Book

by Lesléa Newman

Illustrated by Isabella Kung

Ages 2-5

A they’re Adorable, B they’re so beautiful, C they are cute, cuddly and cat-tastic! Could these kitties be any cuter? I doubt it! With their wide doe-eyes and beautiful fluffy coats, you can practically hear them purring right through the pages! This is an adorable ABC book that uses unique adjectives and cat-chy rhymes to describe each adorable kitten. The kittens are perfectly placed in, on and under each letter and their charm just exudes off the pages. I love the chunky board book that is purr-fect for little hands. Especially great for the cat lovers, but the book surpasses that limitation and is truly a wonderful ABC book for all. This is a great gift when matched with the 123 Cats by the same author & illustrator. The creativity of both jumps right off the pages and into your lap with exciting new words matched with adorable fur babies. This book is paw-some and paw-sitively adorable!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

123 Cats: A Cat Counting Book

by Lesléa Newman

Illustrated by Isabella Kung

Ages 2-5

123… you got me! Love this adorable counting kitty book made just right for tiny hands. The delicate touch of Isabella King’s sweet, stretchy, fur-babies paired with the unique counting sequence of author Lesléa Newman will have the youngest child very quickly making this their favorite book and possibly one that they will read on their own very quickly I love the counting sequence and cat-chy that could, as children grow older, go in reverse as a subtraction sequence (hmmmm maybe an idea for the amazing author/illustrator team?). This is a great gift when matched with the ABC Cats by the same author & illustrator. The creativity of both jumps right off the pages and into your lap with exciting new words matched with adorable fur babies. This book is paw-some and paw-sitively adorable!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

Atticus Caticus

by Sarah Maizes

illustrated by Kara Kramer

Ages 3-7

Atticus Caticus is spectaculous! Such a joyful book where the rockin’ rollin’ rhyme-flow is peppered with onomatopoeia and is paired purrfectly with the adorable protagonist who romps, rolls and prowls through every page. The illustrations are fun and vibrant, and come alive with bright splashes of color and child-like scribbles. I just adore the facial expressions of Atticus who is truly an amazing Cat(icus)! Anyone who has ever watched a cat stretch, yawn and do the things that cat’s just do, will get it. Atticus is so likeable. This book is fun and full of new words and cat-chy phrases that will have everyone wanting to rush out and find their own Atticus! Atticus is the sweetest pussy-caticus sure to endear all hepcats!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

Out of the Blue: How Animals Evolved from Prehistoric Seas

by Elizabeth Shreeve

illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon

Ages 6-9

What a way to bring science to life! This book is presented with such care to bring forth how life began, filled with an impressive vocabulary that ties the authenticity of the facts to the awe inspiring illustrations. I love the organization of the book in timeline form. It helps to keep the facts in order and to follow the growth of life from the ocean to land and back again-Always changing. Always evolving. The variety of images and facts that are provided in these pages will attract not only the eyes of the young and curious but of the old and curious too. I couldn’t put it down. This is a book of survival and determination to thrive. It is a perfect gift for anyone who is curious and loves amazing illustrations of water creaties, bugs and land animals. This is a fabulous STEAM book. I highly recommend it.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Boy Who Knew Nothing

by James Thorp

illustrated by Angus MacKinnon

Ages 3-7

When I saw the cover of this book, I just had to have it. The pinks, the blues, the superbly surreal characters create such a gorgeous presentation! In some ways it brings to mind the illustrations of The Yellow Submarine. The colors and hues presented on each page harken a nostalgic feel while at the same time being utterly modern. The story of this child’s quest brought forth by curiosity and determination to discover answers is told through ingenious lilting rhymes and I really had no idea how the story was going to end.  The book teaches about courage to be oneself, to not be afraid to not know and be determined to find the answers you seek and about bravery, self-esteem and a good dose of creative imagination and problem solving techniques. I love this book. The illustrations alone will have me coming back to it over and over again. I love the message; I love the prose; I love the illustrations. 

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wild is the Wind

by Grahame Baker-Smith

Ages 4-8

This book is a perfect pairing of poetic prose and scientific facts about weather, seasons, migration all while following the journey of the Swifts, birds that are remnants of millenia gone by. The prose and the illustrations flow smoothly and each page draws forth a sense of the many different winds and how the mighty and the small experience them. This book will kindle imagination and is full of mystery-each 2-page spread-with hidden images within the swirling wind & clouds. The colors are gorgeous and I really loved this interpretation of wind. It leaves a lasting effect and right now, I am drawn to listen to the wind outside my house-the door is rattling, the chimes are trilling and a cool bite is rushing in through my open windows. Love this book. It is poetry and it is fact. Perfect pairing of the two!

Thank you to Candlewick press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

Nature Themed Picture Books for Earth Day and Beyond

Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer

by Aneta Frantiska Holasova

Ages 7-10

This fascinating book all about the ins and outs of bee keeping is packed into a very creative story about an adorable bear named Bruno. The whole book has the feeling of honey with its golden yellow hues. I love how carefully this book is laid out, season to season, step-by-step and it is so informative and interesting. The illustrations lend a charming folk art-style to this delightful book. I am looking forward to making the delicious special recipe for homemade honey-gingerbread cookies. This book is for the budding apicologist, the backyard beekeeper as well as anyone who just has apiarian interest. I highly recommend this book to bring an understanding of nature’s small wonders and how we can live in harmony with the important creatures that inhabit our world.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

Fungarium: Welcome to the Museum

by Gaya Ester; illustrated by Ronda Pattison

Big Picture Press

Ages 8-12

Fungarium is a fun-tastic frolic through the endless field of fungi! This amazingly detailed book will capture the imagination of budding fungi fans and may help to create the next generation of mushroom hunters! The text offers just enough in-depth precise information to be able to expand a young scientist’s mind, but the artwork is what really brings this book alive. The illustrations are fascinating, with some fungi looking like sea creatures while others look like eyeballs. This book is superbly brought together and belongs on every STEAM shelf. It must be included in art book sections too as the drawings are worthy of hanging in a museum and offer hours of exploration. This irresistible, oversized introduction to fungi is a beautiful coffee table book that children and adults will enjoy exploring. I cannot wait to share this with my mushroom loving friends! Some are to eat and some are definitely not, but the plethora of well laid out information along with the gorgeous illustrations offer an immersive exquisitely illustrated trip to the fungal kingdom. 

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

Masters of Disguise: Camouflaging Creatures & Magnificent Mimics

by Marc Martin

Ages 4-8

This book is gorgeous! The colors, the facts, the hidden animals…The first 2-page spread draws you into the world of an animal that has adapted to its surroundings and uses camouflage as a way of blending in with the scenery, to hide not just from the human eye but from other animals whether predator or prey. The second 2-page spread brings that animal into its natural habitat and create a wonderful ad quite tricky i-Spy with a simple game of hide and seek, where the reader must find each camouflaged creature hidden throughout the picture. It is magical and fun and wonderfully educational. It will open the eyes of budding naturalist, conservationists and Eco-warriors creating love and understanding for these magical creatures and places. This is a welcome science book for the young that will grow with the child with its eye-opening facts and magnificent illustrations. I know I will be drawn back to this book time and time again!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover)

by Helen Yoon

Ages 3-7

You think you know the story, but you don’t! Little children will hoot with laughter at the wolf hiding in plain sight in his silly sheep-skin costume, spotting his very noticeable face amongst all the fluffy woolly real sheep. In the wolf’s mind he would like to eat the sheep, but through interaction with the sheep, he learns about being a team member (even if the team looks totally different than you), how to be kind (and to be accepted for who you are) and how to be able to learn and grow from interactions with others (especially those who do not look like you!) This is a very sweet book with a delightful, heart-warming twist ending. I love how the simple text is enhanced by the illustrations, using images and expressions to fill in the story. Very sweet!Thank you to Candlewick Press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thank you to candlewick Press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

Zonia’s Rain Forest

by Juana Martinez-Neal

Ages 4-8

Author/illustrator interview

Zonia, an Asháninka girl, lives a peaceful life in the Amazon rainforest in touch with the nature that surrounds her, so much so that she can hear/feel/sense its cry for help. The book is a mix of the sweetness of a child’s pure heart and the resounding “wake-up” message that we, just like Zonia, must pay attention to what nature tells us. We must nurture the growth of green and wildlife just like we need to feed and take care of ourselves. The paperbag-like background color of each page (the paper is actually made from banana bark…so cool!) is the perfect backdrop for the lush greens of the forest and its flora, the electric blue of a butterfly that flits through each two-page spread and the sunny yellow of Zonia’s dress as they each just jump off the page and draw you back into the security of this magical place. I really enjoyed the last few pages of the book which are dedicated to a translation of the story in Asháninka, information on the Asháninka community, and resources on the Amazon rainforest and its wildlife. This book will grow with your child and will help to peak their interest in the vast world around them and the many ways that they can be of service to the planet, especially when armed with knowledge.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

Reading is an Adventure! New Picture Books from Candlewick

Ella’s Night Lights by Lucy Fleming

Ages 3-7

A charming story of an adorable doe-eyed woodland creatures, bugs, crawlers and one very special pixie named Ella, who is a gatherer and sharer of light always making things clearer and brighter. The book has an ultra cozy feel and is a perfect read aloud before bedtime, offering up a reminder that we are all important and that each one of us carries a special light within us. It is so important to kindle our own inner flame so that we can be more kind, more giving and able to share our light even more. The animal friends all come together in support and show what true friendship is all about. The story has strong messages of friendship, positivity and support and the need for self-awareness. 

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

My Red Hat by Rachel Stubbs

Ages 3-7

This bountiful, beautiful, brilliant red hat is a veritable melting pot of creativity that dances between practical possibilities and wild, fantastical ones seen through the eyes of a young child and their grandparent. The hat is part history, as it contains the stories from days gone by as well as of the current moment, now that it will be the child’s, ready to be brimming with all the new stories that will fill it. I love the sweet, intergenerational friendship that allows the grandparent the opportunity to share a stylish, representation of who he is as a way to create connection between the past and the present, basically telling the grandchild to dream as big as possible, because all the while, they will be protected by the love of their grandparent. With very simple lines, the illustrations convey a huge amount of expression and depth. Very nice!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

No Buddy Like A Book by poet Allan Wolf

Illustrated by Brianne Farley

Ages 4-8

This book will spark the love of linguistics in the very young! With an easy flowing cadence peppered with fun and creative  words and rhymes this book heralds the necessity of books in learning, knowledge and above all creativity. Books unlock our imaginations so that we can fully embody what we are reading, making it our own, therefore embedding it into our knowledge and our ability to dream big. This is a beautifully illustrated STEAM book: science technology engineering, art and math objects delightfully portrayed on every page. The cast of characters is adorable and diverse, each one with a sense of individuality and uniqueness. This book celebrates the importance of imagination and creativity in mental and emotional growth. Very great affirming book for the very young. Perfect too read aloud to increase interest in a budding reader. 

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

Over the Shop by Jonarno Lawson

Illustrated by Qin Leng

Ages 3-7

I love this wordless picture book! The storyline is easy to follow and the illustrations totally enliven the story. As the story progresses, I just love how much light and color creeps in. Through simple color, postural and expression changes, the story, which starts out somber and washed out with muted hues becomes bright, lively and fresh. Where there were once scowls and frowns, there are now smiles and colorful flowers abloom. Everywhere there are glimmers of hope and vision, showing that putting effort and dedication into life will grow something very beautiful in its place. In this story, the effort and dedication ends up growing a family and community. What could be more beautiful than that?!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Best Place In The World by Petr Horáček

The age old tale of thinking that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence when in reality, there is no place like home. All of the animal’s are full of expression and life and I love the visual textures of their fur, feathers and wings, and the crayon scratch style coloring is truly endearing. This includes the tree bark, the flower petals and the water in the sea. A really lovely book through both words and art. The bunny brings to heart, the rabbits from the ever popular Guess How Much I Love You? Books-just so cute and snuggly! I love that the bunny has to see for itself what is most important to it . It feels safe to venture out and explore and is allowed to come to its own conclusion., eventually choosing the love of (extended) family above all.  

This is a book about animal deviesoty and how families can include many different “species”. Sweet all around! 

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own. 

The Boy Who Loved Everyone by Jane Porter

Illustrated by Maisie Paradise Shearring

Ages 3-7

This book about a small, sensitive child who feels rejected when his expectations are not met, just exudes warmth and wisdom and is a great introduction into putting love into a broader perspective. Love can mean so many things and can be expressed in so many ways: verbally, physically and symbolically. Dimitri, the little boy, is not able to see the love that surrounds him, but with gentle, loving guidance, his eyes are opened to see and feel the many expressions of love that surround him. The adorable illustrations follow the story perfectly and you can just sense the characters warmth and inner wisdom in their tiny gestures, sweet facial gestures and especially when they jumble all together, supporting and loving each other, at the end of the book. This is a story that shows the benefit of self acceptance and confidence and shows how secure attachment helps kids thrive!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Purple Puffy Coat by Maribeth Boelts

Illustrated by Danial Duncan

Ages 3-7

Sometimes our love for friend’s gets mixed in with our feelings for ourselves and through these blurred lines, we navigate close friendships and how to show our love and caring and how to recognize where the line between ourselves and our friends lie. With all heart and good wishes, Beetle showers his best friend, Stick Bug, with a bright and loud expression of his love and friendship but he does not realize that this loud statement is too much for his quiet, more introverted friend. But their friendship is rock solid and with free moments to catch his breath and look inside, Beetle does the right thing and in the end, the two create an even stronger bond of friendship, one that rises out of selflessness. It’s a beautiful tale of friendship and accepting, and even encouraging, the differences in ourselves and others, with a little bit of buggy humor thrown in. And it’s ok that Beetle is too big and bold at first, because the two friends figure out the perfect solution for each of their personalities. 

Thank you to Candlewick Press for this title. All opinions expressed are my own.

Eli’s New Clothes by Kerri Mullen

The charming, bright and inviting characters just jump right off the beautifully presented hardcover cover and invite you into their story. They are so life-like and you can just feel their warmth beckoning you in. Above all, this is an authentic way to invite a total acceptance of everyone for who they are as you should accept it in yourself. This book encourages acceptance, self-expression and kindness and begs us all to embrace our uniqueness and that in everyone else. The large print makes the book that much more accessible and the story is well developed and offers a clear path to how to be a good, loving kind person. It offers this through a fun approach by blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, with the dolls talking on the brunt of the work and the child’s imagination, taking on the rest. 

This is a lovely story, it compels you to read each page and I can just feel the heartfeltness behind it and I know many, many people will relate to this. I highly recommend this book to create a more beautiful world filled with love  and one that embraces each of us for our own uniqueness. 

The author sent me this book. All opinions expressed are my own. 

#authorsofinstagram #bookstagram #kidlit #weneeddiversebooks #indieauthors #selfpublished #childrensbooks #kidsbooks #kidsbookstagram #diversebooks #lgbtq #transkids #transgender #transisbeautiful

Please check out the author Kerri Mullen on Instagram and Facebook:@KerriMullen.Author.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021

In conjunction with the Multicultural Children’s Book Day event 2021, I was gifted Let’s Celebrate Navratri! (Nine Nights of Dancing & Fun) (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 5) Written by Ajanta Chakraborti & Vivek Kumar; Editor: Janelle Diller

This book is very inviting and the presentation is very global in its approach. The cover is bright and the illustrations are both adorable and offer authentic cultural representation which leads to wanting to open the book to find out more. For the young reader, this book is geared for them to understand the scope of the beautiful cultural diversity of India. Plus, the characters are kind, respectful and eager to learn, so they are very good role models. The book is simple yet full of pertinent information. It shares the stories behind this celebration plus how it is celebrated today through many different parts of India. I loved learning all the names and how to pronounce them, of foods, clothings pieces, family members and sharing this eye-opening piece about another culture and how it draws parallels to other celebrations of light throughout the world. So many different ways to celebrate the dispelling of darkness by light and dance all over this wonderful world. I was impressed by how much information was shared and just loved the endearing illustrations that just brought the celebration to life. It is fun that the book (plus it’s series) has a YouTube channel named Cultural Groove connected to it and I liked hearing this story being read by Miss Ajanta herself! With this story, this book helps to create a connection to and respect for the beauty of the diverse stories that populate our world. 

I was gifted a copy of this book by the author. All opinions expressed are my own. 

#readyourworld #MayaNeelBooks #RaiseMulticulturalKids #CultureGrooveBooks

In conjunction with the Multicultural Children’s Book Day event 2021, I was gifted My Sister, Alicia May Written by Nancy Tupper Ling; Illustrated by Shennen Bersani (Pleasant St. Press)

When I received this book to review for Multicultural Book Day 2020, I immediately wrote to the author to tell her what a sweet and wonderful book she had written. It just made me feel good and happy to read this story. It is so real, down-to-earth and full of kindness and just shows how a strong sense of being can open you up to a positive focus on life.This is the honest account through the eyes of one child whose older sister has Down Syndrome and she does a beautiful job of sharing her experiences with her and how she comes to a greater sense of self through their connection. We need more books like this, in every library, school and home just to show the pure beauty of the diversity of each life, each family-yet through all our uniqueness it too binds us together when we share our experiences and create a much broader and open sense of normal. The illustrations lovingly portray for us the life for these sisters-you can see their similarities in their faces and gestures. Life is life and it is not always easy but if you can be grateful and appreciative of your life you can spread this joy to others as well as being satisfied and at peace in your skin. I highly recommend this beautiful heartfelt story. 

I was gifted a copy of this book by the author. All opinions expressed are my own. 

#downsyndrome #downsyndromeawareness #readyourworld

New Picture Books from Candlewick Press for 2020

Miss Mingo and the 100th Day of School by Jamie Harper

This brightly colored STEM picture book will keep kids counting along with Miss Mingo, the graceful flamengo star of the book, and her lovely menagerie of students. I really appreciated the scientific facts that accompany each student’s 100 and the added mathematic concepts in the  text is a win-win. So much to contemplate and to keep young minds engaged. The book also exemplifies compassion, friendship, diversity, exercise, mindfulness, stress reduction, and emotional control. Both readers and educators will be inspired by this joyful and creative way to celebrate this 100 Day mile-stone! Ages 4-8

Mr. Brown’s Bad Day by Lou Peacock; Illustrated by Alison Friend

Mr. Brown’s fun and friendly tiger face jumps right out at you and invites you into a chase to retrieve a briefcase that holds something very near and dear to him (be sure to pay attention to the few little jokes on the front cover.) What is in that case? This silly series of events offers just the right amount of tension and release to keep mind’s engaged and bellies laughing. Love diverse wildlife that makes up the cast of cute and animated characters. There’s a good dose of silly and light hearted fun and I appreciate the message that even grown-ups might have something to snuggle and feel comforted by. This is a lovely, simple way to take care of the self by paying attention to one’s own emotional well being. I would add this also to the category of good self image. It is a wonderful thing to stay in touch with one’s winner child. Ages 2-5

Thank you to Candlewick Press for these titles. All opinions expressed are my won.

Everyday Mindfulness: 108 Simple Practices To Empower Yourself And Transform Your Life by Melissa Steginus

This book was a pleasant surprise! I was not sure what to expect but when I received it I was thrilled at the straightforward approach and the accessibility of the exercises. The practices are geared to pull you out of any rut, misdirection or distraction that you are experiencing and offer simple ways for you to reexamine your trajectory. 

This book needed to be followed and I realized that I knew a number of people who might also benefit from this journey. It inspired me to start a Facebook group so they could join in, follow the exercises within a supportive environment and notice how mindfulness can be slipped into the day, into the things we already do. The directions are easy to follow and allow you the freedom to join in as much or as little as you want. It is your journey while at the same time a group journey. I am loving the experience. In case you’d like to join in, search on Facebook for: 108 Days of Everyday Mindfulness.

I love the accessibility of this book. It is simple, practical and engaging. It opens the door to deepening mindful attention and intention as mindfulness is the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgement, in the service of self-understanding and inner wisdom. This book offers 108 ways to support this journey. I highly recommend it. 

Thank you to TCK Publishing for sharing this book with me. All opinions expressed are my own.

Here is the link to the book:

Everyday Mindfulness – Melissa Steginus

Here is our website link:

And here is the author’s website:

#mindfulness #mindfulactivities #everydaymindfulness #empoerment #transformation #simple #mindfulpractice


Holiday Favorites & Gift Books From Candlewick Press

My Favorite Color: I Can Only Pick One? by Aaron Becker

I learned early on that when asking children what their favorite color is, it can be as fleeting as the seasons. Today it’s yellow and sunny, then blue and free, then green like the sea, then pink and sparkly, then purple and dreamy, then red and fiery…that is the beauty of color…it is in the eye of the beholder. What you see as green, I may see as blue; colors create a deep sense of connection  and individuality. This book is absolutely gorgeous and uses a very unique presentation for color exploration. Using colorful grids of small squares with varied translucent inserts and painted squares, the colors shift and transition through each speed. I am fascinated by the way color and light are played with in this creatively-designed board book. The text is simple, but the color play and discussion possibilities with this board book are endless. This is a must-add to your gift list! (Ages 4-8)

2. See the Cat Three Stories About a Dog by David LaRochelle; illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

This book is a hoot! Poor puppy cannot seem to get the narrator to realize it’s a dog, not a cat and the funny faces, hilarious expressions and all-over silliness will keep the beginning reader laughing out loud. The stories each have the right amount of build up to keep the reader turning page after page and with the final story ending with a sense of positivity, this trio of stories is sure to leave the reader with a smile. I love the large comical dog and his unpredictable stories. This is a great addition to the beginning readers library and will surely be under the tree for my granddaughter! 

3. Anatomicum Welcome to the Museum Curated by Jennifer Z. Paxton & illustrated by Katy Wiedemann

Stop what you are doing right now and get this book. I mean it! I cannot put it down! This is hands down one of the best STEAM books I have seen; I only wish it had been made 15 years ago so I could buy it for my son when he was young. But no bother….he loves it now (he’s 19!). This is a pictural trip through the human body from the outside to deep inside. It shows how a human works and has just the right amount of detail to be thorough but not overwhelming. The illustrations are gorgeously detailed and offer a peek into the wonderful world right inside our own beings. Every time I open to a new page, I am drawn into a whole new system and I can freely explore the human body in a way I have never been able to do so before! Love it! (Ages 8-12 and beyond)

4. The Language of the Universe A Visual Exploration of Mathematics by Colin Stuart; Illustrated by Ximo Abadia

I cannot get enough of this giant sized picture book dedicated to the exploration of mathematics. So often we just see math as numbers and it often scares people if they cannot grasp its concepts, but this book creates a whole new paradigm for math. By using illustrations, it breaks down math facts into appealing math nuggets and shows how math is part of the world around us. There is math in everything and if you can see this, math then becomes less frightening and so much more enjoyable. One way I taught my son about math in everyday life was by looking out the window while we were driving somewhere, choosing an item such as a flag or a wreath and then counting, sorting and guesstimating distances the whole car trip. It kept him engaged and showed him how math is all around and can be applied to everything. You do not need to be a mathematician to love math…even a knitter uses math! This is a great book to introduce math as a topic everyone can love. The 1950’s color palette of the illustrations is truly lovely! (Ages 8-12 and beyond)

5. One of a Kind A Story About Sorting and Classifying by Neil Packer

This is a book I would have definitely bought for my son when he was young. Through carefully collected pictures, this book categorizes everything from family trees, musical instruments, transportation and even how to make categories of categories. This book is the organizer and list makers dream. The illustrations have a fun, vintage feel and the simple narrative highlights the groups. THis book is perfect for the budding scientist, interior decorator or personal organizer. So much fun! (Ages 7-10)

6. Lost in the Imagination A Journey Through Nine Worlds in Nine Nights by Hiawyn Oram; illustrated by David Wyatt

One of the first graphic adventure puzzle video games I ever played was Myst. The object of the game was to solve puzzles and travel to four worlds. This book has the feel of this adventure. I love the notebook style of information taking and the illustrative details of the 9 worlds will offer hours of free creative exploration into the fantastical worlds. This book is mystical and magical and is an open ended invitation to dream big (or small if you happen to be in Lilliput, the miniature world). This is the perfect gift for anyone who is willing to look beyond the physical world and instead dig deep into their imagination. Dream worlds come to life in this book which will inspire creativity leading to hours of imaginative play. A picture book aimed at the older child (and what adult isn’t an “older child” in disguise?) is a magical offering to help keep their inner child alive. (Ages 8-12 and beyond)

Jasmine Green Rescues: A Kitten Called Holly by Helen Peters; illustrated by Ellie Snowdon (ages 7-9)

This was a very well written children’s chapter book that has a real-life feel. The family is relatable and the kids are a wonderful representation of people who are caring, kind and wholesome but do at times make the wrong choices. The family dynamics are good and problems are able to be solved with careful thought. I appreciate the main element of kindness to animals and how good friends can do more together than just play video games. This is a bit like All Creatures Great and Small for the young generation. A great primer for a child who might be interested in a career in animal care but above all, I felt the flow of anticipation and resolution kept the story very interesting. I see it is part of the Jasmine Rescue Series and I can see this being a great gift for an avid lover of animals. The accompanying sweet pencil drawings by Ellie Snowden add the perfect element to the story and present the characters in a very pleasing light. The addition of a holiday element adds a nice festive backdrop to this story. 

Peppa Pig and the Day of Giving Thanks by Candlewick Entertainment (ages 2-5)Peppa and her diverse cast of characters are back just in time for Thanksgiving, yet this book will fit in perfectly anytime of the year. Gratitude is something to practice everyday and by taking a moment to slow down to appreciate the little things in life, especially when a rainy day ends with a rainbow  although in this case, it ends with a giant mud-hole, is positively the essence of being thankful. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder! Additionally, the book jacket reverses to reveal a ready-to-color poster. This book is bright and cheery and will warm the hearts of Peppa fans all over the world. I recommend this book as a fun way to remember to stop and smell the roses and as a life lesson in learning that disappointment can change to happiness in just a blink of an eye.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for these books. All opinions expressed are my own.

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