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Published: Sunday, 11/28/2010

Give the gift of good reading to your children

These reviews were written by four professors of children's literature: Barbara Britsch (BB), professor emerita of Lourdes College; Melissa Cain (MC) of the University of Findlay, Barbara St. John (BSJ), retired from Bowling Green State University, and Alexa Sandmann (AS) of Kent State University.

Preschool (Birth to age 4)

BEDTIME BUNNIES. Written and Illustrated by Wendy Watson. Clarion. $15.99.

As snow falls and twilight comes, five little bunnies are called home. First, dinner, then toothbrushing, baths, a story, and bed. As the snow piles up outside, "Goodnight, bunnies." Watson's charming illustrations are accompanied by just four words on each spread: "Climb, Bounce, Jump, Thump . . . Quiet, Shush, Hush, Shhh." All little ones are asleep. (BB)

LIBRARY MOUSE: A WORLD TO EXPLORE. By Daniel Kirk. Abrams Books for Young Readers. $16.95

One night, Sam the library mouse meets Sarah, another mouse, who is doing some exploring of her own. Sam -- the intrepid reader and writer, teaches Sarah -- the intrepid explorer, all about research. Together, they decide research is fun and that "readers and writers are explorers, too." Fabulous illustrations support a wonderful story. Here's to the adventures which reading and writing make possible! (ALS)

POSY. Written by Linda Newbery. Illustrated by Catherine Rayner. Atheneum. $16.99

Meet Posy -- explorer, adventurer, trouble maker, charmer, cuddler. With simple rhymes and soft brush strokes, the delightful world of a kitten is captured. Posy's agility and curiosity will elicit giggles from young readers. Nothing escapes this busy little kitten. She will steal your heart. (BSJ)

PIGS TO THE RESCUE. Written and illustrated by John Himmelman. Henry Holt. $16.99.

Farmer Greenstalk is having a bad week: each day brings a new disaster. On Monday, the tractor breaks down and he can't plow his fields. But his very helpful pigs come to the rescue with their shovels. Trouble is, they dig a bit too enthusiastically. So it goes with each day of the week. Young children should delight in Himmelman's action-packed illustrations of the pigs' increasingly silly solutions. (MAC)

Primary (Ages 5-8)

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE. Written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. Harper. $16.99.

Wilder's beloved classic is issued in a 75th anniversary full-color edition for new and faithful readers. This hardcover book tells the story of the family's long, difficult journey from Wisconsin to Kansas in 1870 in a covered wagon. We read of the tedious building of the "little" house, and of their life there. Added material expands the story: letters from Laura, descriptions of the musical, and more, including suggested Web sites. This would make a charming gift. (BB)

CLEMENTINE, FRIEND OF THE WEEK. Written by Sara Pennypacker. Illustrated by Marla Frazee. Hyperion Books for Children. $14.99

In this newest Clementine tale, the energetic third-grader becomes "Friend of the Week" in her class. After a glimpse of her older friend Margaret's "Friend of the Week" booklet, Clementine fears that her classmates won't have many good things to write about her for inclusion in the book. So, she does her best to build relationships with them -- but some are more successful than others. Then her cat becomes lost, and the friendships seem a lost cause, too. Charming black and white illustrations add greatly to this endearing story. (ALS)

POP-UP: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN POP-UP BOOK. Paper engineering by Ruth Wickings. Illustrated by Frances Castle. Candlewick. $19.99

This is a fascinating how-to book. Directions for folding, cutting, and creating the other devices used in pop-up objects are included. Press-out pieces allow you to create a fire-breathing dragon, a fairy-tale castle, a Frankenstein monster, and a jungle scene. Then create your own pop-up creature or scene. (BSJ)

12 Days of Christmas. Illustrated by Rachel Isadora. G. P. Putnam's Sons. $16.99.

Isadora presents a joyful new spin on the classic carol by setting it in Africa. Having lived there for 10 years, she incorporates designs and traditions from a number of different countries into her collage art. Each spread has a white background, against which the brightly colored characters leap, dance, milk, pipe, and drum. The collages incorporate painted papers and scans of traditional fabrics. Rebus pictures represent the repeated refrains of the carol. (MAC)

Next week: Books for older kids, families

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