Picture Books


Children's NOTES

In the Spirit of Giving

Fred Rogers, the host of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, helps parents to teach children lessons of generosity and community with The Giving Box, illus. by Jennifer Herbert, designed to "create a tradition of giving with your children." A hand-size hardcover comes packaged with a small painted tin bank in which children can save coins to donate to the needy. The book contains fables from around the world that convey a tradition of giving (e.g., the Hebrew tale of "The Brothers," about two siblings who secretly help each other without the other's knowledge; Aesop's "The Lion and the Mouse"), as well as a letter to parents, a letter to children and instructions on how to use the box-not just at Christmastime but year round. (Running Press, $12.95 96p ages 7-up ISBN 0-7624-0825-1; Dec.)

More of What Fans Like

Novels receive sequels and series add new installments, as in Emma Chichester Clark's picture book Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo?, the follow-up to I Love You, Blue Kangaroo! Lily, the protagonist, keeps losing her stuffed toy, Blue Kangaroo, who in turn becomes increasingly anxious. The pictures reveal Blue Kangaroo's whereabouts, even before Lily realizes she's misplaced him; a particularly witty sequence shows Blue Kangaroo being passed among the animals at the zoo-he winds up in a real kangaroo's pocket. (Doubleday, $15.95 32p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-385-32797-8; Jan.)

Joy Cowley's high-voltage heroine gets a dog in Agapanthus Hum and Major Bark , illus. by Jennifer Plecas. As much fun as its predecessors, this chipper chapter book does an expert job of balancing the quirky with the everyday. (Philomel, $13.99 48p ages 5-8 ISBN 0-399-23322-9; Jan.) Angela Johnson returns to the characters and setting of Maniac Monkeys on Magnolia Street with When Mules Flew on Magnolia Street. Now that Charlie has settled into her new neighborhood, she is only too delighted to observe all the goings-on, including the arrival of two teenage girls and their father, a magician (the kind who saws people in half). (Knopf, $14.95 112p ages 8-10 ISBN 0-679-89077-7; Dec.)

The third in Charles R. Smith Jr.'s basketball trilogy (after Rimshots and Tall Tales), Short Takes: Fast-Break Basketball Poetry is, in the author's words, "about those little moments [in the game] that, for whatever reason, stand out in your mind and are significant." The jazzy but nervous graphic design pairs poems with lots of small-format photos and features high-contrast patterns, varying type in bold colors and nontraditional layouts. (Dutton, $17.99 32p ages 8-up ISBN 0-525-46454-9; Feb.) The Poetry for Young People series adds Lewis Carroll, edited by Edward Mendelson, illus. by Eric Copeland. All the favorites can be found, from "The Walrus and the Carpenter" to the classic "Jabberwocky," and annotations supply definitions for challenging vocabulary. Copeland, meanwhile, works against the indelible John Tenniel images with robustly colored art, the realistic grounding of which throws the absurd elements into droll relief. (Sterling, $14.95 48p ages 8-up ISBN 0-8069-5541-4; Jan.)

Westward Ho

Kids can take a vicarious dose of Horace Greeley's famous advice in the activity book Going West!: Journey on a Wagon Train to Settle a Frontier Town by Carol A. Johmann and Elizabeth J. Reith. Spurts of friendly, informative narrative relating different aspects of travel along the Oregon Trail link such projects as building a model prairie schooner out of a cardboard box, balsa wood and an old pillowcase; and constructing a miniature Fort Laramie out of Popsicle sticks. (Williamson/Kaleidoscope Kids, $10.95 paper 96p ages 6-13 ISBN 1-885593-38-4; Dec.)

Picture Book REPRINTS

WHY SO SAD, BROWN RABBIT? Sheridan Cain, illus. by Jo Kelly. Picture Puffin, $5.99 ISBN 0-14-056815-8 . Starring a bachelor bunny who longs for a family and inadvertently gets his wish, this is an "upbeat tale of a hare who makes a proud papa to a nontraditional family," wrote PW. Ages 2-6. (Feb.)

A PLACE CALLED FREEDOM Scott Russell Sanders, illus. by Thomas B. Allen. S & S/Aladdin, $5.99 ISBN 0-689-84001-2 . "In a lyrical intertwining of fact and fiction, the author spotlights a sliver of American history: the founding of an Indiana village by former slaves in the mid-19th century," said PW . Ages 5-8. (Jan.)

THE SEA KING'S DAUGHTER: A Russian Legend Aaron Shepard, illus. by Gennady Spirin. S & S/Aladdin, $6.99 ISBN 0-689-84259-7 . In a starred review, PW wrote, "Emotionally authentic prose and jewel-like illustrations make this retelling of a Russian folktale about a musician who longs for love an exquisite volume." Ages 6-9. (Feb.)