Kids will love charm­ing pic­ture books

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Helen Norrie

SJust for fun, try Not Your Typ­i­cal Dragon (Vik­ing, 32 pages, $18 hard­cover) by Van­cou­ver author Dan Barel with il­lus­tra­tions by Amer­i­can artist Tim Bow­ers.

Crispin can’t wait to turn seven. That’s when he’ll be able to breathe fire like the rest of his fam­ily. But when he tries to light the birth­day can­dles, out comes whipped cream!

Tod­dlers will chuckle as Crispin breathes ban­dage at the doc­tor and soap bub­bles at a wan­der­ing knight. But when he saves the fam­ily home, his spe­cial tal­ent is rec­og­nized. Hu­mor­ous, clever and colour­ful. UM­MER is a good time to read with lit­tle ones who are away from nurs­ery school and day care and love to im­merse them­selves in pic­ture books.

Flora and the Flamingo (Chron­i­cle Books, $19 hard­cover) by Arizona writer, an­i­ma­tor and artist Molly Idle is a beau­ti­ful word­less pic­ture book in which a lit­tle girl tries to copy the grace­ful poses of a haughty flamingo.

The flamingo no­tices Flora’s at­tempts and helps her ac­com­plish grace and flu­ency. It ends in a mar­vel­lous dou­ble-page splash in which Flora and the flamingo end up can­non-balling into the wa­ter.

Idle draws the story all in pinks a few touches of yel­low, with a num­ber of spe­cial over­lays. Flora’s at­tempts to pat­tern the flamingo’s po­si­tions are charm­ing. Would-be bal­leri­nas will en­joy try­ing to at­tain the same poses. I Scream Ice Cream: A Book of Wor­dles (Chron­i­cle, 32 pages, US$17 hard­cover) by New Yorker Amy Krouse Rosen­thal, with pic­tures by French artist Serge Bloch, is a funny, chal­leng­ing word book.

Each page presents a “wor­dle,” or words that sound the same but have a dif­fer­ent mean­ing (i.e. Princess cape/ Prince es­cape; a fam­ily af­fair/a fam­ily of hair), and the reader is chal­lenged to solve the wor­dle be­fore she turns the page.

Bloch’s cartoon-style pic­tures fit the hu­mor­ous ex­am­ples. Par­tic­u­larly clever is the artist’s self-por­trait as a large toad­stool: read “fungi,” or “fun guy.” For slightly older chil­dren (ages 4-8), Van­cou­ver-based Tradewind Books has pub­lished a col­lectible edi­tion of Ae­sop’s Fa­bles ( 32 pages, $17 hard­cover), rewrit­ten by Bri­tish author Michael Rosen with il­lus­tra­tions by Mon­treal artist Talleen Hacikyan.

Each of the 13 fa­bles is told in sim­ple but highly read­able prose with a full fac­ing page in bril­liant colours on a black back­ground. The moral of each tale is pointed out be­low each fa­ble, in case you’ve missed it. Sleep­ing Bear Press, with eight pre­vi­ous books in the Dis­cover Canada se­ries, has added two more al­pha­bet books: T is for Ter­ri­to­ries and F is for French (each 38 pages, $19 hard­cover) by Mon­treal writer Elaine Arse­nault.

Each let­ter has a few lines of rhyming verse (that don’t scan well) and de­tailed side­bars.

Do you want to find the high­est moun­tain in Canada? All the lan­guages spo­ken in the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries? The depth of the Arc­tic Ocean?

Or per­haps you’d like to make pou­tine, know where the first in­door or­ga­nized hockey game was played, or where to find the Chemin du Roy or King’s High­way?

With text in both English and French, Arse­nault’s book will sup­ply this in­for­ma­tion and much more.

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