Sometimes a quiet, imaginative book is what’s best before bedtime, and Emily Winfield Martin’s Dream Animals answers that need. Gentle pictures show small children making their way to their dream destinations on the backs of robins, a tiger, a fox, and even a narwhale. Where do the dreamers go? One to an elfin hollow, some high in the sky, another beneath the Seven Seas and one as far away as the moon and the stars themselves.
"Pssst!" is what a young girl at the zoo hears as she walks by each animal enclosure. They all want her to bring them increasingly outrageous and seemingly random items.
Sure, the gorilla's swing is broken, so a new tire does not seem that out of the question. And maybe bicycle helmets would be a good investment for a slipping sloth. But the turkeys don't want to eat the corn they ask for— they want to turn it into ethanol. Our young heroine is going to have a hard time meeting all of these demands.
Beep and Bah is the story of a robot and a goat on an adventure for the ages. A sock is missing its match, and it's up to this pair of unlikely friends to get it back. Daring Beep is game to search the entire world for the sock's "sole" mate while the more cautionary Bah follows behind.
Theodora is an Odd Duck, but she doesn't realize it yet. She does all the normal chores that ducks do: swimming; buying mango salsa; and checking out library books. She knows what she wants in life, preferring to stay home in the winter with a nice cup of tea while all of the other ducks fly south.
A birthday gift from the North Wind. A pie so feathery-light it carries people away. A cat on a mat that grants wishes to a poor girl and her grandmother. Elves in the shelves, mermaids in the bathtub and a tiger that’s faster than the wind. Joan Aiken’s A Necklace of Raindrops and Other Stories is a magical book that is probably one of the best read-alouds out there for kindergarten and early elementary grades.
In That is Not a Good Idea! Mo Willems takes the art of silent films and applies it to picture books. A dapper fox has spied a beautiful goose walking the city streets. Each image is devoid of text, we only see what they are saying on black pages in between the action.
"Excuse me. Would you care to go for a stroll?" inquires the fox as he tips his hat. Suddenly, the film is interrupted. "That is NOT a good idea!" exclaims a baby goose.
If there is one universal truth in life, it's that everyone loves pizza, even raccoons. One raccoon in particular is obsessed with pizza. All he wants is a Secret Pizza Party.
He stands outside the pizza parlor, eyes locked on the gooey, cheesy slices. Nothing can break him away from that desire, except for the owner, who chases him with a broom. A secret pizza party would be oh-so-much better.
Dreamer, Inspired by a True Story, is one of those uplifting horse films that is good for the whole family. It features a stellar cast. Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) is the dad who barely makes a living training other people’s--rich people’s--horses. Kris Kristofferson plays his father, a gruff man who lost almost all the family’s land along with their money and their stock during his hard times as a racehorse owner. Father and son are shy with each other, bitter, and stubborn. The lightness comes from young Cale Crane (Dakota Fanning) who, without being cloyingly sweet, wants to follow in her family’s footsteps, much against her father’s wishes.
The Tales of Olga da Polga, by Michael Bond—creator of the Paddington Bear books, features a feisty, queenly, and imaginative guinea pig who leaves the dull life of an English pet shop to go live with her own “Sawdust People” in “a house with legs” in their garden. For another guinea pig, it would be just a sensible, comfortable life change, but Olga is not just another guinea pig.
Sixth-grade graduation is not just about the punch and cookies in Janet Anderson’s Going Through the Gate. In an incredibly small town with a one-room schoolhouse, only a handful of students graduate every June. They know their lives will change completely—but not for the reasons you’d think. Sure, they’ll be taking the bus to the big city middle school and join a grade with hundreds of kids in it instead of just five. There’s more to it than that though. The graduation itself can be dangerous.