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Three New Book Titles Provide Giggles And Learning For Children Of All Ages

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Michael Spooneybarger
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CREO University of West Florida

Children’s Book Week is being observed this week, May 2 – 8, 2016. 

Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. It was established by Boy Scouts of America and is now administered by Every Child A Reader, with the Children's Book Council as the anchor sponsor. 

For the occasion, here are a few recommended books, covering different age groups.

Different worlds: In “Legs” by Sarah Dodd, Miki the baby meerkat emerges from his burrow, and the 

world seems as if it is made of nothing but legs. The illustrations provide an authentic vantage point of a small animal. At first, Miki sticks close to Mama, but then he slips past their zookeeper, and the legs on display change from thick, wrinkly elephant legs, and thin, pink flamingo legs to a crowd of human legs on a busy street. Even the buildings look like concrete or brick legs reaching toward the sky. The zookeeper rescues a frightened Miki and returns him to his mother. At this point in the sweet story, the focus of all the illustrations moves from legs to faces. The book is the ideal length for a read-aloud session, but younger audiences will also enjoy merely turning through the pages to identify creatures by legs and then faces. Trafalgar Square published “Legs,” and it costs $16.99. It’s aimed at audiences ages 3 to 5. 

Topsy-turvy tale:  Talk about a wacky situation and wonderful wordplay to match. “Chimpanzees for Tea” by Jo Empson delivers.

One day Vincent’s mother asks him to take a break from his soap-box derby car tinkering to run to the store. She gives him this list. “A bunch of carrots, a box of rice, some tasty cheese, a big, firm pear and a can of peas.”

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Credit Michael Spooneybarger / CREO University of West Florida
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CREO University of West Florida
Recommended reading for Children's Book Week: "Chimpanzees for TEA!: by Jo Empson.

After issuing the order, she reminds Vincent to “hurry home in time for tea.” An enthusiastic Vincent jumps into his toy car and races toward the store, and the wind whisks away the written list. Never mind, Vincent repeats the items in his head over and over to jog his memory.

A problem occurs immediately, as any player of the Telephone game will know. At first, he remembers the carrots, the rice, the cheese and the pear, but the “can of peas” becomes “a trapeze.” Next, he mistakenly recalls the big, firm pear as “big, furry bear.” And the story unfolds as the edibles for which he will shop become more and more unlikely.

The momentum of the text and the vivacity of the illustrations will sweep readers along. Is it too silly to think of eating a circus mechanism with a side of mice? Sure. Is it funny? Absolutely. Also, guess who is coming for tea. (That’s another misstep on Vincent’s part, but you’ll have to read the book to get the complete picture. ) Philomel published “Chimpanzees for Tea”, and it’s for ages 4 to 8.

Fascinating facts: The “Super Bug Encyclopedia” contains a look at 100 of the most amazing insects on the planet. The web-page style layout features everything from ants to worms. 

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Credit Michael Spooneybarger / CREO University of West Florida
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CREO University of West Florida
Recommended reading for Children's Book Week: "Super Bug Encyclopedia" from DK & the Smithsonian Institute.

With up-close photography and a bit of CGI artwork, nuances fairly leap from the page. Check out the subtle colors on a moth’s wing or the hairs on a tarantula’s leg. 

And then there is the “Jeopardy!” fodder that makes this compendium a real page turner. Find out which insect can snap a pencil in half, which can fly up to 70 miles per hour and which can pull more than 1,000 times its own body weight. This installment of the Encyclopedia series follows “Super Nature” and “Super Human,” both of which were crowd-pleasers. The books are the product of collaboration between DK Publishing and the Smithsonian Institution. “Super Bug” is a hardback with 200 pages and thousands of images. It’s for ages 10 and older.

More information about Children's Book Week is available online.