Julia is new in town, courtesy of her giant tortoise-house. She likes the neighborhood perfectly fine but thinks it is a tad quiet. To make things more interesting, she hangs a sign outside her door reading "Julia's House for Lost Creatures."
Soon, all sorts of magical beings appear on her doorstep looking for shelter. It starts with a patchwork cat, then a bridgeless troll follows. Once word spreads about the house, gnomes, dragons and mermaids start lining up outside. Before Julia even knows it, her humble abode has been overrun with a bunch of fairytale freeloaders. What is a harried hostess to do?
Once Upon an Alphabet is as ambitious as picture books come. Author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers presents 26 short tales, each based on a different letter of the alphabet. An astronaut who is afraid of heights, a daredevil girl who laughs in the face of death, and a lightning-struck lumberjack are just a few of characters we meet.
"Hello, My Name Is Ruby," a small bird exclaims to anyone who will listen. She may be tiny, but Ruby makes up for her size in terms of sheer friendliness. Despite differences in size, color, and species, Ruby asks each of them if they would like to be her friends.
Louie is a picture-book character who notices the little details. A Perfectly Messed-Up Story begins to tell Louie's tale, but the book does not get very far before our hero discovers a startling fact that derails the entire story. There's a big, nasty jelly stain on the page!
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole is exactly what it sounds like. Two boys start digging a massive hole to see what they might find. Such an activity is a tried and true milestone for any child explorer, but few make it as deep as this pair does.
The Terrible Two is a devious satire of middle school life where no one is spared. Miles Murphy was the prankster king at his old school, then he had to move to boring, old Yawnee Valley, famous for its abundant cow population. Miles is not happy. He will have to establish his pranking cred all over again.
You Are a Lion! blends yoga instruction with gentle, easy-to-follow images of boys and girls performing several positions. Children may pretend to be any number of wild animals while also participating in a full lesson that combines moving and reading into one peaceful activity.
Battle Bunny is an exercise in sheer picture book anarchy. Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett have struck gold by inventing a sweet story called Birthday Bunny, reminiscent of the Little Golden Book series, then drastically adapting it for their own twisted purposes. We learn from a note on the title page that the book Birthday Bunny was a gift for a boy named Alexander, who has made some severe editorial changes with a lead pencil...starting with the cover.
The Watermelon Seed tackles a common childhood fear with humor and artistry. A young crocodile gushes about his love of watermelon, delightfully chomping and slurping away at a slice in hand. He's the happiest reptile ever, until he takes that final bite.
Donna Jo Napoli and Amy Bates’ Hands & Hearts is a sweet picture book for children who might be interested in learning a few ASL signs. It’s a beach day story of a mother and daughter having a wonderful time together. Off to the side of each page is an illustration of how to sign one of the words in the text.