28 September 2007

It's Dahl at the top

According to an article in The Guardian, Roald Dahl is the most popular children's author among young adult readers. The list of the top ten is surprising for the abundance of classic authors over more recent favorites. Here is the list:

1. Roald Dahl
2. CS Lewis
3. JM Barrie
4. JK Rowling
5. Anthony Horowitz
6. Jacqueline Wilson
7. Dr Seuss
8. Philip Pullman
9. Francesca Simon
10. Enid Blyton

J.M. Barrie is more popular than J.K. Rowling? On the basis of Peter Pan? Did the poll participants pull these names out of their own experience, or was it multiple choice? Also, I thought the definition of "young adult" was a bit broad: 16-34! If you are going to include thirtysomethings under the YA umbrella, what counts as the new middle age?

Actually, I find the list a bit tame and parochial. Only one Yank in there! And it is not at all representative of current trends in children's literature.

Okay--here's a call for candidates. I will prepare my own list by next week, so unless it is to be based entirely on my own opinion, send in your nominees.

Cold Comfort--The Shivers in the Fridge

I recently had a manuscript returned to me with a--reasonably--kind rejection letter. It was a submission to a magazine, and while the editor liked certain aspects of my story, she felt that it was "a shade gruesome". Well, it was an adaptation of a fairy tale, and fairy tales can be gruesome, cruel, and twisted at times (must be because they're not just for kids!) I did not feel that my story fell within those parameters, but there was the slight matter of the giant chopping off the heroine's feet. Be that as it may there are some well-regarded picture books which would qualify as "a shade gruesome". I think of The Amazing Bone by William Steig. Or The Wretched Stone by Chris VanAllsburg. And Chocolatina by Eric Kraft (a teacher is quite prepared to eat a child simply because she is made of chocolate!) I think you can add to that list The Shivers in the Fridge by Fran Manushkin. The book tells the story of a family living in a refrigerator, and each day they endure a giant earthquake and a monstrous hand which removes a part of the landscape. One day, the hand removes father, too. The hand returns, replacing a jar of jelly, but no father. Day by day, members of the family are picked off, until only the little boy is left, cold and alone, telling himself stories in the dark for comfort.

Now, this is a picture book, so you can rest assured that all turns out fine. But the book lost me about half-way through, when the mother is whisked away after becoming trapped in a bowl of jello (she took a dip in it, and then it solidified around her.) The picture of two gnarled hands removing the bowl, with the mother stiff in place, and looking, frankly, terrified, was a bit much for me.

So what's my point? Well...has that editor, who rejected my manuscript, read this book? Because clearly there is a market for creeping out kids. Or at least their parent readers. And "Shivers" has been well received, too, with a stared review from Booklist and favorable words from School Library Journal. Both reviews comment on the potential to scare, but clearly it is not a detraction, because the scare is balanced by humor. I guess if you can laugh a thing off, you won't cry later when you actually stop and think about it.

Trust me--the giant cutting off the heroine's feet--it's funny!

27 September 2007

Lunch with an Author--Steve Jenkins

This afternoon I had the privilege and pleasure of attending a lunch given in honor of author/illustrator Steve Jenkins, who was in the Boston area promoting his latest book Living Color. The book is all about how animals use color for a variety of purposes: as a warning, as a friendly message, or as protection. I managed to swing an invite because I reviewed his previous book, Dogs and Cats for "School Library Journal" (self-promotion! Read it here!) I've been a fan of Jenkins since the release of Actual Size, (Houghton Mifflin, 2004,) and a trip to the library revealed a back catalog of other equally impressive books, all featuring his distinctive cut-paper collage illustrations. He talked about his research methods (his wife helps quite a bit) and how he selects the paper he uses. For Living Color, for instance, it was a case of looking through photos of animals and separating them by colors, making sure that there weren't too many of one type of animal over another. Evidently purple was a tough color to find, but I love what he eventually settled on (check out the long-wattled umbrella bird.)

Today's lunch was also a great opportunity for me to spend quality time with like-minded professionals who work towards getting fantastic books into the hands of children. Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin (if any of its reps are reading this!) for including me in a fine afternoon of good food and good company. And thanks to Steve Jenkins for signing my copy of his new book!

25 September 2007

I love my Dirty Wow Wow

One of my new colleagues showed me this charming little volume, which was written by her sister and brother-in-law. Dirty Wow Wow and Other Love Stories (Katz, Cheryl and Jeffrey) is a photographic tribute to those blankets, teddies, and soft friends that are our first loves. Each portrait of a misshapen, heavily mended, drool-stained cuddly toy is accompanied by a brief vignette, although the words are not necessary to express how precious these toys were to the boys and girls of their pasts. There are fifty in the book, and you can see more at the publisher's website. Here is mine, Fluffy Tail, a soft squirrel. Fluffy Tail was originally intended for some other child. But when she was returned in the post, my mother gave her to me. I can't remember being without Fluffy Tail, and for the longest time she still travelled with me, until it became apparent to me that she was too fragile to keep up such a lifestyle! She now sits on a shelf in my office. Not as cozy as the days when we used to share a bed, but close at hand all the same.

24 September 2007


Still going on about wordless picture books....

Sara Varon will follow-up the fantastic Chicken and Cat with (is this a working title?) Chicken and Cat 2. She will be in the Boston area in October (still tentative according to her website) for a book signing. Count me in!

Lost Treasures #2--Pig Pig and the Magic Photo Album

This entry is completely biased, because I am a HUGE fan of David McPhail. So of course I can't imagine how a book as imaginative as Pig Pig and the Magic Photo Album could possibly go out of print. But it has! It seems strange, since David McPhail is such an active and respected author. Which just goes to show that there are no guarantees in publishing. Pig Pig has his own series of books and was already a well-appreciated--if not beloved--character by the time this entry came along. (It has always proven a winner in story time.) The story is deceptively simple: Pig Pig is waiting to have his photo taken. While the photographer fiddles about with his camera, Pig Pig is idly flipping through a photo album, practicing saying, "Cheese!" He looks at a picture of a church, says "Cheese!" to himself, and Voila! Pig Pig is hanging by his suspender strap from the very church steeple in the picture! Pig Pig proceeds to "Cheese!" himself from picture to picture, in and out of trouble, until he finds himself back in his very own living room, covered in chocolate, but safe. Characters hopping in and out of pictures has been covered in James Mayhew's "Katie" series, and the outstanding The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau (Agee, Jon.) And the "Zoom" series (Banyai, Istvan) turns the process in on itself by revealing each page to be a smaller detail from the following page, to the extent that the reader has the feeling of jumping into the pictures by pulling back from them. (It's very clever.) As in Mole Music and Drawing Lessons from a Bear, McPhail studies the transforming nature of art--in Pig Pig's case, quite literally! Plus, Pig Pig's picture hopping gives McPhail the opportunity to draw a number of humorous scenarios which would otherwise be completely random and unrelated. Now doesn't that sound like just the sort of book that should be reissued?

23 September 2007

Book of the Week--Bow Wow Bugs a Bug

I have not intentionally chosen another picture book as Book of the Week. Nor, to be more specific, have I chosen another wordless picture book to be Book of the Week. That was just a fluke. Peter Collington's The Tooth Fairy was selected last week to commemorate the loss of my daughter's first tooth. It just so happens that ever since we snatched Bow Wow Bugs a Bug (Newgarden, Mark and Megan Montague Cash) from our local library's stacks, my daughter has insisted on "reading" it every night. I have tried wordless picture books on her before, with little success. I don't know if she feels ripped off because there are no words or what, but for whatever reason, the illustrations were never enough to spark her imagination. Not so with Bow Wow--and she's not even a dog person! Each night we have taken turns making up the story to go along with the--truly daft--illustrations. The story is simple enough--a terrier is perturbed by a speck of a bug and follows him around town. My favorite bit is when the terrier comes face to face with an identical terrier sniffing down an identical speck of a bug. The two dogs take part in a mirroring montage straight out of Duck Soup. It's a sly bit of cultural knowledge slipped into a children's book: funny for the kids, a wonderful tip-of-the-hat for Marx Brothers buffs. See? Not just for kids!

Bedtime Stories

This evening saw us enjoying:

There is a Bird on Your Head (Willems, Mo)
Ginger and Petunia (Polacco, Patricia)
Blue Ribbon Henry (Calhoun, Mary)

Where is Henry? He's "some cat"! He shows such compassion and ingenuity in the dealings with his human family (particularly the Kid, who loves him, and the Man, who loves him in spite of himself,) and I for one would love to read more about him. Five books just isn't enough! This may merit a Lost Treasures entry.......

22 September 2007

From Page to Stage--War Horse

I saw this in the Times On-line: Michael Morpurgo's 1982 War Horse has been transformed into a stage production, due to premier in London's West End in October 2007. This is not to be confused with Dick King-Smith's The Water Horse, due to hit the silver screen at the end of this year. Equine overload? Neigh!

20 September 2007

Note on a Tirade

An addendum to yesterday's entry about patron-enforced censorship: yesterday I checked the status of our copy of It's Perfectly Normal, in light of the recent brouhaha. The catalog indicated that it was available to borrow. However, when I went into the record I noticed that the book had not circulated since mid-2004. Hmmmmm.....suspect to say the least. And sure enough, when I went to the stacks, I could not find the book. I wonder how many librarians across America had a similar experience.

19 September 2007

Raising my Librarian Hackles

Just in time for Banned Book Week--this story has hit the airwaves. A woman in Maine has borrowed two copies of the sex education book, It's Perfectly Normal (Harris, Robbie) from two separate libraries, and she has refused to return them. The general stereotype of the spinster librarian with a bun, or at the very least, a well-placed finger in shushing position, gives absolutely no credit to the role of the librarian as the defender of intellectual freedom. Librarians are taught that every person has a right to read whatever they want. It's not our business to ask what they are reading or why. It's even considered bad form to comment on materials at checkout--"Do you like John Grisham? Me too!" So when I read stories like this one, about an individual who takes it upon herself to determine what is and isn't suitable for patron consumption.....well! I get my bun in a twist! Seriously, though, who does she think she is?

I am familiar with the book in question, although I have not read it myself (I guess she has one up on me there.) By now it is an old book, but I remember when it came out, and it caused controversy then, too. Sex ed books are easy targets for censors, and my guess is that the use of the word "normal" in the title upsets some readers because, hey, what's normal? My definition may not jibe with my neighbor's. Be that as it may, nobody has a right to tell me or anyone else what books I can or cannot read, and by removing a book my ability to choose is effectively removed, too.

Here's a story from my own experience. One day, a patron handed me a book and said, "I think you should see this." The book in her hand was The Biggest Bear, a picture book by Lynn Ward. A Caldecott winning picture book, written a long, long time ago (read "in the unenlightened past".) Someone, who clearly did not like or approve of the book, had written all over it, claiming that it glorified hunting, was violent, cruel to animals, and single-handedly responsible for the downfall of society. The book was removed--no doubt the scribbler's intent--but reordered (as a Caldecott winner, we're practically required to own it.) The thing is, the scribbler had every right to dislike that book. They even had the right to come up to me and voice that dislike. They even had the right to lodge a formal complaint (we have paperwork for that.) But there is an even simpler solution to that problem--if you don't like the book, DON'T READ THE BOOK! This is a large and vast world. And even in a place as bleeding-heart as the Boston area, there are people who probably like hunting. Or maybe they just like books about bears. Or maybe they just want to see what passed for award winning Children's literature nearly 70 years ago. All those different types of readers have the right to go into their library and look for The Biggest Bear if they want it. And pre-pubescent children who want to know about their changing bodies have a right to read It's Perfectly Normal. Heck, kids who just want to know what the other sex looks like with no clothes on has a right to look at the book. Grown-ups who want to know what's considered "normal" sex ed have the right to look at that book. Maybe they don't like what they see. Then they talk to their kids themselves, instead of leaving it up to a book. Or they say, "That book is from the hands of Satan himself! Don't read it!" At which point the child has the right to decide for him or herself if they want to take their parent's advice.

My daughter is only six, so she still pretty much does what I tell her to. If I tell her to put a book down, she generally does. That will change, and there will be things that she will want to keep secret from me. If she seeks out information from a source other than me, I would much prefer that she wanders the stacks of a library, perhaps soliciting some guidance from a non-judgemental librarian, rather than trawling the internet, with its abundant lack of organization, accountability, or expertise. However, if there are would-be do-gooders, weeding collections based on their own one-sided value system, with no regard for differing taste, opinion, or perspective, then she is robbed of the opportunity to make her own choices. And as a parent, I don't like to think that anyone is disadvantaging my daughter in anyway. So self-appointed censors--HANDS OFF! If you want to save the world, become a librarian and protect books, not destroy them.

Look who else is headed for the screen

I came across this news item while on-line trying to hunt down a Rainbow Magic Annual for my daughter. Hit Entertainment, license holders for the distribution of Thomas the Tank Engine, Pingu, and the Wiggles--just a few stars in a constellation of children's popular characters--plans to turn the popular Rainbow Magic series of books into a TV show. My daughter will be thrilled. Unlike My Friend Rabbit, I think the Rainbow Fairies (and the Weather Fairies, and the Jewel Fairies, and all the rest of them) are perfect for the jump to the small screen. The stories are slight, the characters stock, and the sugar coating heavy. Now, that may sound like a criticism, but it's not. The Rainbow Magic series is not reaching for any great literary heights, just for the hearts and minds of little girls. And the authors (there are four of them) have succeeded--spectacularly! The open ended format of an animated series will allow for plenty of pretty colors, fairy dust, and fairy fashion without having to worry too much about plot. Again--this is not a criticism! I firmly believe that there is a place for light, escapist fiction--even for the Easy Chapter set. Who wants capital 'L' Literature all the time? While I don't get much enjoyment out of reading the Rainbow Magic books to my daughter (and it pained me that she chose Evie the Mist Fairy over The Wizard of Oz when I asked what chapter book she wanted to read tonight) I know that she enjoys them, and that one day she will enjoy reading them to herself. And reading, after all, is the ultimate goal.

What took so long?! Encyclopedia Brown is back!

Penguin Books is set to publish the first Encyclopedia Brown mystery in 25 years. Phew! I hope it's worth the wait. I loved EB, his sidekick Sally, (who took care of minor details like Encyclopedia's security,) and even bad boy Bugs Meany who always had a great, old fashioned zinger such as "make like a drum and beat it" to toss out when he'd just been made to look the fool. The stories were wonderfully dispensable, and I never remembered the solution, so I could reread them over and over again. Which I did. I recommend Encyclopedia Brown books on almost a daily basis. The format is perfect for readers hanging on to The A to Z Mysteries (Roy, Ron) but who should really have moved on to more challenging books long ago. I can't wait!

17 September 2007

What I am (re)Reading Today--The Dark is Rising

I would like to note that I am not rereading The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, just The Dark is Rising. The book's title is the first victim of Hollywood tweaking. Hopefully it is the last. I have great distrust for film and TV adaptations of beloved books, and I've heard all sorts of rumors about this one (the most outlandish being that the film is set in the United States. Surely not!!!) But, in light of the fact that the film will probably be a big hit, and that there will be many requests for the book at work, I thought this was a good time to revisit it. I last read it in the late 90's, when I was first playing with the idea of writing for children and consequently rereading many of my old favorites. Also, you never know when you will watch a film adaptation of a book you never meant to watch. In March I found myself on a rainy afternoon settling in at a $1.00 theatre to watch Charlotte's Web, which I certainly had no intention of seeing when I first heard of its release. In fact, I made a point of reading it with my daughter, because the book is so precious to me, I wanted to endow it to her as best I could, and that meant making sure she read it before she ever saw it, which I assumed would eventually happen. And it did--at my own hands! So, should I find myself on a snowy afternoon in December at the local cineplex, settling into a viewing of "The Seeker" (and, since I do like Christopher Eccleston, it's not beyond the realm of possibility,) I want to be well prepared with the words of the original still fresh in my mind.

16 September 2007

Review: The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio

When I started this blog I stated that there won't be many reviews. And that's still the case--I prefer this to be a forum for the discussion of children's literature as a whole, not just what's new and exciting (or new and dull.) But since I indicated that there are some books I am eager to read, I thought it was fair to let readers know what I thought of them, once my baited breath was exhaled. And I will start with the final offering by Lloyd Alexander who died on 15 May of this year (there have been some colossal losses in the world of children's literature in 2007!) And assuming there are no further posthumous offerings, this is a fitting way for Alexander to cap his career. The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio involves, like so many of Alexander's books, a road trip. In this case the road is a literal one. The infamous Golden Road is a highway oft travelled by traders in search of wealth, fools in search of treasure, and villains in search of ill gotten gains. The story starts in Magenta and ends in Keshavar, fictional stands-ins for Italy and the Middle East, respectively. Carlo Chuchio ('chuchio' is Magentian for 'jackass') is a naive young man who is tossed out of his Uncle's house when he makes one clerical error too many, costing his Uncle untold profit. Before he leaves, he visits a bookseller, who gives him a book of fantastic tales, which sound suspiciously like 1001 Arabian Nights. Hidden in the binding of the book, Carlo finds a treasure map. Spurred by his conscience, he attempts to return the map to the bookseller. However, the bookseller, his stall, and any knowledge of him has vanished. Carlo is free to travel and seek out the treasure for himself.

This book is vintage Lloyd Alexander. Along the way, Carlo is joined by a noble rogue, a beautiful girl with a secret, and a wise wanderer, all characters we have seen in his other books. It is amazing that Alexander has managed to tell the same story so many different ways over the course of his career. But if you think that life is the ultimate journey, perhaps it is not surprising that it is a theme Alexander has needed over two dozen books to explore. And unlike earlier offerings, there is not the bittersweet ending (I think particularly of The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha and The Beggar Queen.) Alexander has dedicated this one to "young dreamers, and old ones," and they will not be disappointed. Funny dialogue, clever plot twists, and the allure of treasure come together in a thoroughly satisfying package. When the book is closed on Carlo and his band of dreamers, there is the feeling that we are closing the book on the dreams of Lloyd Alexander as well, who was generous enough to share them with us in the first place.

14 September 2007

Baited Breath--more books I'm waiting to read

Dodsworth in New York (Egan, Tim) An early reader chapter book follow up to The Pink Refrigerator (which, you may recall, I loved!)

Edward's Eyes (MacLachlan, Patricia)
Patricia MacLachlan, because of her stature in Children's Literature, should be read as a matter of course. This was tagged as a Children's Galley to Grab by Publishers Weekly.

Igraine the Brave (Funke, Cornelia) I loved The Thief Lord and have been looking for a worthy follow-up ever since (I was not a fan of either Inkheart or Inkspell, despite universal adulation by almost everyone else.)

The Name of this book is secret (Bosch, Pseudonymous) And not just the name of the book, it seems! With a nom-de-plume like that, this book is worth a look!

All in a Day's Work

Amusing anecdote from work: A little boy came up to me yesterday--he couldn't have been more than 6 or 7--and he wanted books about soldiers and war. I asked if he wanted stories about soldiers, books about a soldier's experiences, arms and uniforms--your basic reference interview. His grandmother chimed in and said, "It doesn't have to be age appropriate. It just needs pictures." Right then, Eyewitness Books, here we come. I found the Eyewitness books for World War I and World War II, determined that he wasn't interested in Colonial or Civil War soldiers, and sent him happily on his way. As they headed for the reading area, and I contemplated the eternal appeal of guns and trenches, I heard his little voice say, "I want to sit on the Elmo chair!" Now, I won't say that my faith in humanity was restored by that comment, but I loved the image of a cherubic youth reading about man's inhumanity to man while sitting in a red, fuzzy vibrating chair that laughs.

13 September 2007

My Friend Rabbit-- From Caldecott to Emmy?

Publisher's Weekly reports that Eric Rohmann's Caldecott wining picture book, My Friend Rabbit, will be turned into a TV series by Nelvana (well-known to viewers of Noggin, the cable network for pre-schoolers, who broadcasts many of their shows.) They have turned countless children's books into TV series, including Franklin and Little Bear (now known as "Maurice Sendak's Little Bear. No offence, Mo, but didn't Else Holmelund Minarik write the books?) And for the most part, they've done a good job. Little Bear, for instance, is wonderfully calm and low-key, just like the books. And from reading the article, I can see where Nelvana is going with this one. They are focusing on the relationship between Mouse and his friend Rabbit, a well-meaning, fly-by-the-seat-of-his pants kind of bunny, who is a great friend, but perhaps best in small doses. And that's why the book worked so well; it was a snapshot of a single incident, but the reader knows that there will be more like it, because that is simply life with Rabbit. Do we need to see similar hijinks's spread over a 26 episode TV series? Well, maybe if you're 2-7 years old, yes we do, because anything fun bears repeating (dare I say beating to death with repetition!) But as a reader and a librarian and a guru, I recommend just sticking to the book. It says all you need to know about the friendship between Mouse and Rabbit, and all you need to know about your own friends who may be Rabbits themselves.

11 September 2007

Remembering September 11, 2001

Six years on, and it is a different world. I think of the fear I felt and must still acknowledge, as so many uncertainties revealed that day have not gone away. This is a dangerous world for everyone, not just Americans. My daughter was only nine months old when it happened. Amazingly, she will grow up with the legacy of September 11th but have to be taught about it as well; it is a part of her life, but not her memory. It will be history and contemporary for her all at the same time.

It did not take long for authors and illustrators to tackle the topic of September 11th , as a new canon of "cope literature" needed constructing. Here are some outstanding titles, written only because September 11th happened, existing only because of that dreadful day.

The Man who walked between the towers (Gerstein, Mordeci)
There's a big beautiful world out there! (Carlson, Nancy)
Fireboat: the heroic adventures of the John J. Henry (Kalman, Maira)
September roses (Winter, Jeannette)
9/11: the book of help (Cart, Michael, ed.)

10 September 2007

Saying Good-bye to Madeline L'Engle

It was with a certain sense of inevitability that I read the news of the death of Madeline L'Engle on Friday afternoon. When Lloyd Alexander passed earlier this year, I felt as if I was witnessing the dissolution of a special triumvirate that kick started a love of fantasy literature when I was in Middle School. Well, to be honest, I think it was simply a love of Lloyd, Madeline, and Susan (that would be Cooper,) because I certainly don't consider myself a big fantasy reader now. They just mastered the genre so expertly. I have continued to read these authors, even when I was beyond their intended audience. Or, should I say, the publishers' intended audience. Great books are written for all ages.

I loved how L'Engle's characters never went away, but would often cross between books to appear in someone else's story, even if only briefly. I think of Cannon Tallis, and Adam and Zach. Did they belong to the Austins or the Murray/O'Keefe's? They managed to ingratiate themselves into both worlds, just as they ingratiated themselves into mine.

L'Engle is best known for the Science Fiction classic A Wrinkle in Time (a constant source of inspiration--it took her ten years to get it published! There is still hope for me!) but my favorite L'Engle novel is The Young Unicorns.

Here, a brief must-read L'Engle bibliography:

The Young Unicorns
A Ring of Endless Light
Troubling a Star
A Wrinkle in Time
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Many Waters
A House Like a Lotus

I will also put in a plug for Two-Part Invention: the Story of a Marriage, which is not a kids book, but a wonderfully personal glimpse into Madeline L'Engle's married life. She mastered fiction and she mastered non-fiction, and there was truth in everything she wrote.

Oh yes, and she was a librarian, too.

07 September 2007

What I am Reading Today--No Talking

I have always been impressed with Andrew Clements' ability to surround his too-precocious-for-their-own-good protagonists (Nick from Frindle comes to mind) with wise adults. This is especially impressive because so many of his books take place in public schools. And because (I hope I'm not too inclusive in saying this) the general public has been told that public school teachers are jaded and unmotivated, and that an enlightened teacher is the exception rather than the rule, the presence of adults who see teaching opportunities in almost every interaction they have with the kids, is refreshing and an excellent plot device. No Talking is a lot of fun so far, as the boys and girls of one fifth grade class try to outlast each other during a two day silence contest. The narrator's voice is strong here, which makes sense since the characters themselves seldom speak. This is not the first time Andrew Clements has explored the consequences of talking, as fans of Double Trouble in Walla Walla will well remember.

05 September 2007

Opening Horizons

Story time this evening saw us enjoying The Pink Refrigerator by Tim Egan, one of my favorite cerebral picture book authors. (Check out Serious Farm.) This wise story about the complacent Dodsworth who "loved to do nothing" until he discovers a magic pink refrigerator with other plans, put me in mind of a couple of other picture books where the small world of the central character is slowly opened wide enough so that real life magic can find its way in.

Hey Al! (Yorinks, Arthur) This 1987 Caldecott Medal winner is one of my all time favorite picture books. One over-worked custodian and his dog Eddie discover that the grass is neither greener, nor, necessarily, on the other side.

Mole Music (McPhail, David) Mole works all day and watches TV all night, until he decides to learn how to play the violin. Practice makes perfect, and changes the world, too.

The Magic Bed (Burningham, John) Georgie has outgrown his crib and is ready for a big boy bed. And he doesn't choose just any old bed as a replacement. Magic and imagination are interchangeable in this story about moving on.

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