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December 27, 2012 Edition

Chicken Cheeks

Written by Michael Ian Black
Illustrated by Keven Hawkes

How many ways do you know to say “bottom?” You’re guaranteed to learn a new term or two as an enterprising bear convinces the other animals nearby to balance on top one another. Gnu upon turkey, rhino on flamingo, the stack grows taller and taller, but – to what end? This laugh-out-loud book of ridiculously balanced animals finally falls, but not before two uninvited guests reach their unexpected goal. (Keep your eyes out and you might spot them the first time through.)

Pirate vs. Pirate

Written by Mary Quattlebaum
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

When Bad Bart, the burliest pirate in the Atlantic, meets Mad Mo, the mightiest pirate in the Pacific, their crews know there’s about to be big trouble. Which one is best at pirating? Well, the one who can outswim sharks, throw the most cannonballs and eat the most hardtack! But when they find themselves tied after many days of competition, it’s time to bring out the treasure chests. Let the richest pirate win! Illustrated with energetic pictures and text that practically reads itself, this rollicking tale of the high seas will have even the lowliest landlubber giggling.

Mitchell’s License

Written by Hallie Durand
Illustrated by Tony Fucile

At the ripe old age of three years, nine months, and five days, Mitchell got his Remote-control Dad Driver’s license, and years of not wanting to go to bed fly out the window. He learns how to take good care of his new car, inspecting the tires and engine and making sure the windshield is clean, but he forgets to look both ways. Oops! Soon, he’s mastered the hairpin turn, lane changes, and emergency brakes. But one night he decides it needs gas – and his car talks back. Is this the end of the road for Mitchell?

Six Sheep Sip Thick Shakes

Written by Brian P. Cleary
Illustrated by Steve Mack

These amusingly-illustrated tongue twisters will encourage you to take some time for a friendly contest with friends and family. Whether you’re a beginner or an old hand at tricky sayings, you’ll find something here to trip you up. Warm up with thieves on Christmas Eve, move on to stray dogs in sleighs, and finish up with the titular sheep (who happen to be sick). There’s even a nice explanation of the two kinds of tongue twisters (with beginning or ending tricks) and hints for creating your own.

This Plus That

Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by Jen Corace

Rosenthal’s quirky way of squinting at life has made her one of my favorite picture book authors (see: Duck! Rabbit! and It’s Not Fair!). In her world, chores divided by everyone equals family and popcorn plus dark equals movies. Rosenthal adds, subtracts, divides, and multiplies concepts together to create new ideas, each accompanied by colorful illustrations of two girls and their families and friends. There’s no real plot – it’s the idea that takes center stage. And – watch out! Inspiration plus imagination equals outside-the-book-fun!

At This Very Moment

Written by Jim Arnosky

Serious kids who eschew stories with mice in dresses and cows playing drums will enjoy this pairing of their world plus the lives of real animals. In rhyming couplets, Arnosky describes what could be going on in other parts of the world: while you’re brushing your teeth, for example, a big-toothed shark is circling a reef. Devoid of humans, but full of animals, this is a beautifully-drawn, dreamy-but-real world where desert owls shelter from the heat in cactuses, and puffins slurp sand eels while the reader leads a parallel life. Be sure to read Arnosky’s notes on the last page for more facts about the animals he draws.

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