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February 10, 2011 Edition

June and August, by Vivian Walsh, illustrated by Adam McCauley


When two creatures meet one dark night and become friends, they never imagine that they’ll have trouble recognizing each other the next day. But in the light of the sun, June and August spend some time trying to find each other, and when they do, they’re surprised. “Are you all trunk or all tail?” asks August the elephant, of June the snake. But they quickly realize that they are pretty much the same, except for a bit in the middle – and of course, feet. Most importantly, they have a great time together being friends. Eye-catching, somewhat surreal pictures in an unconventional color palette invite readers to investigate this offbeat but charming story.

Machines go to Work, written and illustrated by William Low.


This book has a lot going for it: big machines making noise and pushing things around, a light thread of a story, beautiful pictures, and flaps to lift to reveal even more. Opening with a backhoe at work (whose mission is revealed when the flap is opened), and ending with a freight train, this is aimed squarely at the two-and-up crowd. My favorite part is near the end, when a double-flap arrangement allows readers to see the whole town from above and play spot-the-machine (everything is there!). Parents with inquisitive children will probably find the two-page spread with more information about each piece of machinery invaluable.

Goldilocks, written and illustrated by Ruth Sanderson


This delightful retelling of the traditional story has illustrations that glow on the page with a warm summery light. It starts out in the standard way: the three bears go out for a walk after serving out their breakfast to cool, and a little girl wanders in from picking blueberries, tasting and eating, sitting and breaking, and then falling asleep in the “just right” bed. And when Goldilocks wakes up, there are the three bears surrounding her – a frightening scene! But she’s instructed to remake the beds, shown how to help repair the broken chair, and then – just when she’s feeling comfortable with the bears – it’s breakfast time. Papa Bear, drooling a bit, notes that they have all the ingredients for a tasty breakfast, something even better than the blueberries that Goldilocks has to offer! Sanderson plays to the unknown with her images of the human-like bears in handsome clothing with their sharp teeth, but all ends well (even deliciously).

Pigs to the Rescue, written and illustrated by John Himmelman


Can’t find your socks? Did your bike break down? SHHH! Don’t let the pigs know! They’re always happy to lend a hand, but they aren’t very good at helping out. When Farmer Greenstalk’s tractor breaks down and he can’t plow the field, the pigs show up with shovels and trowels in trotters to dig up the field for him. When Mrs. Greenstalk’s watering hose springs a leak, the pigs are right there, dousing plants with abandon from water glasses, inflatable swimming pools, and buckets. And don’t even ask what happens when the rooster gets a sore throat and can’t wake the family up! Fantastic pictures bring the helpful, happy pigs and their somewhat bewildered and overwhelmed family to life. Yes, this is a companion to Chickens to the Rescue (and I sense another book on its way!).

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