Saturday, December 8, 2012

New picture books by Jane Yolen feature friendly dragons

Review of Waking Dragons by Jane Yolen, Paintings by Derek Anderson, 2012, Simon and Schuster.

“Don’t forget to wake the dragons before school,” says a note from Mom.  A little boy, dressed as a knight, enters a room/cave with his dog.  They climb a ladder to a giant bed, and proceed to wake the dragons.  The dragons are both friendly and sleepy, gradually becoming lively; they appropriately tumble the boy and his dog as they rise from their slumber. 

Derek Anderson’s colorful paintings will appeal to youngsters and parents alike.  With humorous illustrations, the boy is shown brushing a dragon’s teeth, feeding them breakfast, and getting them dressed.  The dragons kiss their mom goodbye and fly, carrying the boy to “Knight School”, where he says goodbye and they fly away.  The paintings are accompanied by Jane Yolen’s short, rhyming lines that use active words to keep children engaged.

This is a clever and creative book from a master storyteller who never ceases to amaze us, well matched by beautiful paintings that will keep children absorbed and encourage them to use their imagination.  The intended reading audience is children 4 to 8.  I read this picture book with my six year old and we agreed it will make a nice gift for her three-year-old cousin. For more information visit Simon and Schuster.

For the 3 and under set, just in time for the Holiday season are Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? And How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?, new titles in Jane Yolen’s bestselling How Do Dinosaurs series illustrated by Mark Teague and published by Blue Sky Press/Scholastic.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pediatrician publishes board books for young children to encourage active exploration

Are you searching for the perfect board book to give to an infant or toddler? Beach, by Dr. John Hutton and illustrated by Andrea Kang, might fit the bill.  Winner of a Mom's Choice Gold Medal and Creative Child Book of the Year, Beach is the latest addition to the Baby Unplugged series published by Blue Manatee Press.  The purpose of the series is to encourage hands-on early learning and play through books.  The series titles to date include Ball, Beach, Blanket, Book, Box, Pets, and Yard.

Beach features Kang’s happy, brightly colored pictures that show children and animals playing, sharing, laughing, making music, and sleeping.  The objects they play with include sand, shells, balls, animals, snorkels, buckets, water, and a wagon.  They explore the sand and water.  They examine and observe shells, lobsters, fish, dolphins, and turtles. Scenic backgrounds include the boardwalk, sand, and water at the beach, with a happy sun in the sky.  The simple, rhyming text describes the dry and wet sand, shells of many shapes and sizes, salty ocean, swaying palm trees, and hatching turtles.

Beach and the other books in the Baby Unplugged series use happy images and simple, rhyming text to encourage children to explore the real world using all of their senses.  The concept is rooted in research on how children’s brains develop.  “It’s incredible that we have to remind people to reconnect with the real world . . . real-world experiences are critical during sensitive developmental stages.” says Hutton, who is opposed to the overuse of television and technological games for children.

On Dr. Hutton’s blog, Baby Unplugged (, he makes the points that the best gifts are those that follow the Photo Principle – they inspire the taking of photographs – and the Memory Principle – they build memories.  The giving of books with real pages that youngsters can handle and look at, and share with their loved ones, is a great tradition for Christmas, birthdays, and other gift giving occasions.

I read this book with my six-year-old.  We live on Long Island and love to frequent the ocean beaches here.  We enjoyed the book, and we agreed it will make the perfect gift for her baby cousin, who lives in the center of the continental United States and does not get to see the beach often.

For more information or to order visit the Blue Manatee Books website at