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June 7, 2012 Edition

Willie and Uncle Bill

Written by Amy Schwartz
Illustrated by Amy Schwartz

Every kid needs an Uncle Bill (or Aunt Billie) in their life. Willie has three separate adventures with his uncle when his mother goes out for the day. In the first, Uncle Bill spends the afternoon with Willie, but leaves him alone just a little too long while making lunch – and Willie give himself a new hairstyle. The second adventure sees the two cooking Icky Stew together! When it’s done, no one wants any, not even Willie, until they take themselves and the stew for a walk to the beach. In the third adventure, Willie is ready for bed when Uncle Bill arrives, so they play quietly together inside – until Uncle Bill decides it simply too nice to stay inside. Together, they go for a subway ride to see a band called The Purple Tomatoes – and even get to make some music themselves, before hustling back home in time to greet Willie’s mom, just getting home. Energetic and playful, the pictures show just how much fun it can be when your favorite babysitter comes over.

Fox Tails

Written by Amy Lowry
Illustrated by Amy Lowry

Four of Aesop’s fables featuring the greedy, short-sighted, quick-thinking fox are woven together into one longer story, uninterrupted by the morals that are the traditional end of each fable (they are listed at the end of the book, along with a bit of information about their history). Softly-colored pencil illustrations show an exasperated crow tricked out of her cheese, an irritated goat who is left alone in a well, and the elegant white stork who plans the fox’s comeuppance. The fox himself is nattily attired in a gray button-up shirt and mostly has his nose in the air and his tail high until the end. (For another look at a retold fable, pick up The Really Groovy Story of the Tortoise and the Hare, by Kristyn Crow and illustrated by Christina Forshay.)

We Planted a Tree

Written by Diane Muldrow
Illustrated by Bob Staake

With a nod to the Kenyan Green Belt Movement (a program encompassing community empowerment, tree planting for sustainable watersheds, and climate change education), this lightly-rhymed story follows two families in different parts of the world who each plant a tree. One tree, in the West, brings its family delight in the form of dizzying pink blossoms, shade in the summer, fruit, and clean air. The other, in drier Africa, brings its family stable soil, moister ground, and a healthier garden. As the trees grow, so do the families, until at the end, mom, dad, and kids have become grandmother, grandfather, parents, and still more kids. The illustrations show trees and happy people around the world through simple, boldly-colored pictures and the text discusses both tree growth cycles and water cycles in very child-friendly language.

Wagons Ho!

Written by George Hallowell
Illustrated by Lynne Avril

Jenny and her family are moving from Missouri to Oregon – in 1846. Katie and her family are making the same trip, but in 2012. This book highlights the differences and similarites in transportation, roads, and life as the girls travel nearly 200 years apart. Both have annoying little brothers, but Jenny and Mr. Trouble walk most of the way to lighten the load for the oxen pulling their cart, while Katie and Mr. Annoying draw an imaginary line between their seats and have sore bottoms from sitting so long. Neither girl knows whether she’ll survive the trip – Jenny, because she knows they only have 5 months to get to Oregon before winter comes and the families run out of food, and Katie because she doesn’t think she can stand smelling her dog’s icky dog-breath for 5 days. The girls “meet” in the Rockies, and eventually arrive at their new homes unscathed. Detailed pictures detail the differences between the girls’ lives.

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