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June 9, 2011 Edition

How to Clean a Hippopotamus, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Did you know that some animal species in the wild pair up to help each other? If you’re in the right place at the right time, you might see ravens lead a wolf to a dead animal that’s too tough for the ravens to eat (but the wolf leaves leftovers the raven can eat). Or you could spot an ant dragging a caterpillar off to its nest, where the ants will care for it as it becomes a chrysalis in exchange for drops of honeydew. These are called symbiotic relationships, and they go on all the time in the wild. Pick up this book and find out about symbiotic animal pairs, like crocodiles and plovers, warthogs and mongoose, and clownfish and sea anemones, all illustrated with Jenkins’ trademark paper collages.

Jam and Honey, by Melita Morales, illustrated by Laura J. Bryant

This delightful book tells the story of a girl’s quest for berries and a bee’s expedition to gather nectar and their equal wariness of each other. When the girl sets out with a bucket, she worries about seeing a bee, but reassures herself that bees want nectar, not little girls. The bee sets out from the hive to gather nectar, but is worried about running into a human and thinks: fly high! Of course, the two find each other, but after an initial panicky flutter, nicely shown by the girl’s body language and wide eyes, both calm down, stay out of each other’s way, and go home happily. This is a nice lesson in fear management, with worries acknowledged, plans made in case of possible encounters, and the satisfying ending that comes with plans followed through and fears conquered.

The Rooster Prince of Breslov

Written by Ann Redisch Stampler
Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

This Jewish folktale is well-loved for its gentle silliness and for what is says about becoming a good person. The prince of Breslov never has to ask for anything: in fact, whatever he wants, he gets too much of! And one day he gets tired of it all and turns himself into a rooster by refusing to wear clothes, eating only crumbs off the floor, and crowing cock-a-doodle doo. His parents are in despair – can anyone turn their rooster back into a boy? The doctor can’t. The magicians can’t. Finally an old man steps forward and offers to help – and you’ll never guess what he does! Colorfully illustrated in a playful style, this will entrance a wide range of readers.

Babyberry Pie

Written by Heather Vogel Frederick
Illustrated by Amy Schwartz

This bouncy book will have kids and parents joyfully re-enacting the text at bedtime. As the watchful moon dances high overhead, Baby’s nighttime routine goes from playtime to bath (with a short run to the kitchen for a little extra fun). Then, topped off with a little sugar (baby powder) on tummy, toes, and nose, Babyberry gets carried off to his crib, where the blanket piecrust is ready to be smoothed over and the little sweetiepie (now tired out) snuggles down to sleep (and so does the moon). Brightly-colored pictures show the round-headed baby giggling his way along, guided towards sweet dreams by his doting parents.

Dirtball Pete

Written by Eileen Brennan

Everyone agrees that Pete is a magnet for dirt, and his sister and her friend even think he stinks! But today is a very special day – Pete’s going to be in a school performance and his mom is determined to get him cleaned up and keep him that way. After Pete gets a good scrubbing, the ferret is caged, and the dog’s affections are parried, he’s looking good (and smelling fine). But when he gets to school, his speech is blown away by the wind and once he recovers it, Pete has become Dirtball Pete once again. Quirky illustrations show the contrast between the sharp-looking boy his mom wishes would make her proud and the grimy, garbagy, leafy kid who eventually does.

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