Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, picture books, Preschool Reads

Back to School Giveaway! Win Magic Candies OR Once Upon a Camel!

What better way to get ready for back to school than with a new book! I’ve got one copy of MAGIC CANDIES by Heena Baek and one copy of ONCE UPON A CAMEL by Kathi Appelt – a little something for everyone!

PLEASE NOTE, these are TWO separate raffles. There will be TWO winners; this is not a bundle raffle. You are more than welcome to enter both raffles, but there will be two different winners. Gotta share the book love!

SO! That said, if you want to enter the raffle for Heena Baek’s MAGIC CANDIES, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

 

If you love camels, and want to take a chance on Kathi Appelt’s ONCE UPON A CAMEL, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

 

Good luck to all!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Magic Candies by Heena Baek

I’m sorry I missed a day! We had intermittent Internet outages in my neighborhood, courtesy of Hurricane Ida, but that was the only problem we had. We’re safe and sound, and I hope you all are, too. But now… back to the books!

Today, I’ve got a blog tour for you, and it is a good one. I give you… MAGIC CANDIES!

Magic Candies, by Heena Baek/Translated by Sophie Bowman,
(Sept. 2021, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542029599
Ages 3-7

Originally published in South Korea, Magic Candies is the story of Tong Tong, a shy young boy who plays marbles by himself… until he eats magic candies he buys at a candy store. Suddenly, Tong Tong hears voices everywhere – his couch, his dog, his overbearing father’s unspoken affection, even his dead grandmother! Hearing these voices leads Tong Tong to a new understanding and a new confidence that allows him to seek out a new friend.

The illustration is just incredible. Molded figures, textured scenery, it all gives the reader a feeling of watching a play, being placed in the story rather than passively watching. Tong Tong’s expressions inspire wells of empathy, from the side-splitting hilarity of the sofa’s revelations, to experiencing the heart-swelling joy of seeing him hug his previously assumed distant father, to the bittersweet emotions as he communicates with his grandmother, who assures him that the hereafter is just fine. The book is just a wonderful journey, transporting the reader, along with Tong Tong, to a magical world within our own day-to-day lives.

Magic Candies has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

“Show-stopping spreads by Baek, similar to art by Red Nose Studio, feature molded, emotive figures in meticulously constructed scenery with miniature furniture, photographed under dramatic lighting—an effect startlingly close to animation. It’s a fully realized world that considers discerning meaning and making friends, while offering artwork that lingers in the memory.” Publishers Weekly (starred)
“The enhanced artwork establishes depth and perspective…depictions of facial expressions are skillful and endearing, and the interplay between text and illustrations will cause readers to linger and ponder. An enigmatic, quirky representation of an active imagination in search of understanding and companionship.” Kirkus Reviews
 
“Deeply touching, funny, and incredibly odd, this is the kind of picture book that gets you excited about picture books all over again…Magic Candies is so remarkable…a book that is both about giving voice to the voiceless and finding your own.” —Betsy Bird, School Library Journal
 
Heena Baek is an acclaimed picture book author and illustrator from South Korea. She won the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, a huge international award honoring the body of work of children’s book creators. She studied educational technology at Ewha Womans University and animation at the California Institute of the Arts. Utilizing her diverse animation production experience, Heena creates powerful and interesting picture books, often sculpting characters and building sets. She is the author and illustrator of a number of picture books, many of which have been translated and have received awards from South Korea and internationally. Follow her on Twitter @heenastory.
On Instagram: @baekheena
 
Sophie Bowman is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, studying Korean literature. She was awarded the ICF Literature Translation Fellowship at Ewha Womans University. In 2015, she won the Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Award grand prize for poetry with her translations of Jin Eun-young and co-translated Kim Bo-Young’s I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories. Follow her on Twitter @SophieOrbital.
 
Posted in picture books

The Caiman blog tour and giveaway celebration!

We all know and love our pets: dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles of all sorts… but have you ever heard of having a pet alligator (Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile notwithstanding)? The Caiman is a loving story of a gentle man who opened his heart and his home to an orphaned baby caiman – a river caiman – and received a lifetime of love in return.

The Caiman, by María Eugenia Manrique/Illustrated by Ramón Paris,
Translated by Amy Brill, (July 2021, Amazon Crossing Kids),
$17.99, ISBN: 9781542031585Ages 5-8

 

Set in San Fernando de Apure, a tiny riverside city in Venezuela, the story begins with an orphaned alligator, discovered by a little girl during a game of hide and seek. A jeweler and watchmaker named Faoro offers to take the little alligator – no bigger than the palm of his hand  home, and tells the city’s children they can come visit and play with her whenever they’d like. The alligator, who he names Night for her dark skin, is a star attraction as adults and children alike visit to get a look at the pet alligator, who sleeps in her human’s bed and plays with the children. When Faoro falls in love, he introduces Angela, his intended, to Night, who approves. Years pass in a home filled with love and laughter, but when Faoro falls ill and passes away, Night goes into hiding, grief-stricken, until Angela coaxes her out with song. It’s a beautiful story of the connections we find with nature, often in unexpected moments. Back matter includes photos of the author, who was one of the city children who played with and even rode on Night’s back; bios on the illustrator and José Faoro round out the story.

The artwork is a wonderful mix of black and white and colorful illustration, all contained in the same spreads. Ramón Paris has a vintage feel to his artwork, and infuses the natural world with vibrant color and his human subjects, black and white with colorful clothing, stand out against their backgrounds, making the point that we fit into the world around us, never quite blending in, but living and moving within it.

Amazon Crossing Kids has a gift for finding gems in children’s literature across the globe. Don’t miss this one. The Caiman has a starred review from Booklist.

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Caiman, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

New York Times Globetrotting Pick!

★“The striking illustrations…have a wild and whimsical feel about them, featuring lush foliage and expressive characters, including the eventually enormous caiman. It’s a memorable and unexpected demonstration of the universality of love, grief, and kindness.” —Booklist (starred review)

María Eugenia Manrique is one of the girls portrayed in this story. She rode the caiman when she visited her family in San Fernando de Apure. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. She studied fine art in Mexico City, specializing in xylography and engraving; Eastern painting at Nankín University, China; and sumi-e and calligraphy at the Nihon Shuji Kyoiku Zaidan Foundation in Japan. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. The Caiman is her first children’s book. For more information, visit her website: https://mariaeugeniamanrique.wordpress.com/.

Instagram: @mem.manrique

Ramón París was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and as a child lived in Barinas, a plains state like Apure, where he also heard the story of the caiman. He currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. Hismost recent book for children, Duermevela, was selected for the Bologna Book Fair Illustrators Exhibition. His books have been recognized with honors including Los Mejores del Banco del Libro and  the IBBY Honor List, among others, and they have been translated into numerous languages. Visit him at: ramon.paris.

Instagram: @ramon_paris_ilustrador

Amy Brill’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications including the Washington PostMediumReal Simple, Oprah.com, and One Story. Her first novel, The Movement of Stars, was published by Riverhead Books. A native New Yorker, Amy lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Agnes’s Place

Agnes’s Place, by Marit Larsen/Illustrated by Jenny Løvlie, Translated by Kari Dickson, (March 2021, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542026758

Ages 4-7

Agnes wakes up every day in her familiar home, with her familiar life, but no one said it was always exciting. When you don’t have anyone to play with, and you’re the “only child in a place full of adults who never have time” it can be quite sad. So when a new little girl moves into the building, Agnes is thrilled and sends her a message – it’s really just a drawing of the swings at the park, and the word, “Here!”, but it should get the message across, right? After a few days of waiting, Agnes is disappointed and a little frustrated – not only did the little girl never respond, but now she’s taking over things that Agnes used to do, like play with Amadeus the cat, feed the birds, and fetch Emilia’s newspaper from the mailbox! Will Agnes and the little girl, named Anna, ever meet and get to play together?

Originally published in Norwegian (2019), Agnes’s Place is about so many childhood emotions: the feelings of being sad and ignored by the adults, the excitement and anticipation of making a new friend, and the frustration of feeling rebuffed. But it’s also about how one person can change someone’s life by just showing up: and that’s what Anna does for Agnes. Who knows if Anna understood Agnes’s message? She didn’t sign it or mention where she lived! But when the two finally meet in the building stairwell, all frustration and sadness go out the window, and all it takes is one outstretched hand to bring two children’s lives to a better place. Digital media illustrations are bright and cheerful, showing the two girls living their separate lives in a wash of color, until they meet and enter a fantastic, happy new world where they enter together. A lovely story about the magic of new friends.

A love letter to new friendships and apartment living.” –Kirkus Reviews

Marit Larsen is a Norwegian songwriter and musician. Agnes’s Place, her debut picture book, was first published in Norway and will also be published in Denmark and Italy. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about the author at www.maritlarsen.com.

On Instagram: larsenmarit

Jenny Løvlie is a Norwegian illustrator. Her previous picture book, The Girls, written by Lauren Ace, was the winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. She currently lives in Cardiff, Wales. Learn more about the illustrator at www.lovlieillustration.com.

On Instagram: lovlieillustration

Kari Dickson is a literary translator from Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2020 she won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for best children’s translation for Brown, written by Håkon Øvreås and illustrated by Øyvind Torseter. She holds a BA in Scandinavian studies and an MA in translation.

Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.

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Posted in picture books

Blog Tour: Some Days

Some Days, by Marís Wernicke, Translated by Lawrence Schimel, (Nov. 2020, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-5420-2251-4

A moving meditation on loss and the need for a safe place, Some Days is a conversation between mother and child. The girl tells her mother about a place in their yard where it’s not cold, where nothing bad can ever happen. As she tells her mother about this place, she reminisces about a man, presumably her father; the two play together and he holds her on his shoulders. Her mother reassures her that the place is always there.
The acrylic illustrations are stunning here. Told in shades of gray, we feel the heaviness, the grief, the two share as they sit at the table. A scarlet sheet represents the daughter’s safe place; her mother’s dress and father’s coat are the same shade of scarlet, showing that they are her safe place. When her mother speaks of a safe place, her color is a murkier green and gold; an emerging grief. The quiet, spare text communicates a feeling of mourning and the promise of a way out, together.
Just a stunning meditation on loss; it doesn’t offer any answers, but understands. Some Days has a starred review from Kirkus.

María Wernicke is an award-winning Argentinian author and illustrator of children’s books. She is a 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee. Her illustrations have been part of multiple international exhibits, including at the Bratislava Biennial exhibition and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, among others. Learn more about the author at www.maria wernicke.blogspot.com.

On Instagram: @wernicke_maria

Lawrence Schimel is a bilingual author and translator, with more than one hundred books to his credit. His children’s books have won a Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been selected for lists of outstanding titles by the International Board on Books for Young People. His translated books include Wanda Gàg’s Millions of Cats and George Takei’s graphic novel They Called Us Enemy, among many others. He lives in Madrid, Spain.

★“A gentle model for living while missing a loved one.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This brief, wistful exchange between a mother and her child delivers its emotion between the lines, and Schimel’s translation handles the understatement deftly…Wernicke shows the two twirled up in another set of sheets, looking for the passageway together, in this portrait of a parent who hears and honors her child’s words.” —Publishers Weekly

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Some Days courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in Fiction, Historical Fiction, Intermediate, picture books

Blog Tour- Bear and Fred: A World War II Story

Inspired by the true story of a boy and his teddy bear, this story of survival during the Holocaust is achingly, lovingly translated into English for a new generation of readers.

Bear and Fred: A World War II Story, by Iri Argaman/Illustrated by Avi Ofer/Translated by Annette Appel,
(May 2020, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-542018210
Ages 7-10

Told by Bear, a stuffed toy bear belonging to a young boy named Fred, Bear and Fred tells the story of a young Dutch Jewish boy and his family when they go into hiding as the Netherlands fall under the Nazi shadow. Bear is the only toy Fred takes with him and provides comfort as Fred is shuttled first, to his grandfather, and then to a “nice lady” to stay with when his parents leave and go into hiding elsewhere. When the War ends, Fred and his family reunite, and Bear stays by Fred’s side, until Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, contacts Fred, having heard about his story, and asks to borrow Bear to teach children. In her author’s note, Iris Argaman describes how she discovered Fred Lessing’s story when she saw Bear at Yad Varshem and contacted him, asking to write his story. There’s a photo of the actual Bear.

Originally published in Hebrew in 2016, Bear and Fred tells the story of the Holocaust from a child forced into hiding, without his parents, with only his stuffed bear for company. Having Bear narrate Fred’s story adds a touching depth to the story; it’s the story of a best friend. Moments like having Bear’s paw dry Fred’s tears when he misses his family, or having Bear describe his own feelings of being scared in Fred’s backpack or, the fear of being left behind, provides relatable moments for kids to latch onto and create valuable moments for discussion. Annette Appel’s English translation reads beautifully, with all of the emotion intact. Avi Ofer’s digital illustrations rely on simple colors to tell the story: the characters are grey-blue, washed out figures, with bear’s yellow-brown coloring allowing him to stand out, designating him the narrator, and the family a memory.

A strong book to have in younger historical fiction collections.

 

Iris Argaman is the author of a number of books for children, including Bear and Fred, which was awarded the Yad Vashem Prize in Israel and the Giovanni Arpino Prize for Children’s Literature in Italy. She lives in Israel, where she is a lecturer on children’s literature, holds writing workshops, and writes activity books which promote museum education.

Avi Ofer is an illustrator and animation director born and raised in Israel and now based in Spain. His work has been exhibited in art shows and screened in festivals around the world.

Annette Appel is a translator of books for young readers and truly enjoys the challenge of making stories written in Hebrew accessible to English speakers.

“Translated from Hebrew, it reads seamlessly and beautifully presents a family caught up in war…Without in any manner diminishing the actual horrors of World War II or any current fighting, the author enables a child to grasp in some small manner the impact of conflict on a family. Moving and accessible.” —Kirkus Reviews

Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.

Posted in picture books, Uncategorized

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Along the Tapajós

Along the Tapajós, by Fernando Vilela/Translated by Daniel Hahn, (Oct. 2019, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542008686

Ages 5-8

Amazon Crossing Kids’ latest picture book in translation, Along the Tapajós, is the story of Cauā and Inaê, a brother and sister who live in Pará, a Brazilian state along the Tapajós River. The home in Pará are built on stilts, and there are no school buses: kids travel to school by boat! When the winter season arrives, everyone returns home to pack up their homes and relocate to higher ground to wait out the rains. But when the family arrives at their new location, the siblings realize that Titi, their pet tortoise, has been left behind! Tortoises can’t swim, so Titi faces either drowning in the flooding or starving to death, but Ma stands firm: they’re not going back until the summer season. Determined to rescue their pet, Cauā and Inaê slip away that evening and head back to their home to rescue Titi.

Inspired by one of author Fernando Vilela’s trips to the Amazon Rainforest Along the Tapajós introduces readers to a different culture and a different way of life: going to school by boat? Living in a house on stilts, and moving with the seasons? There is so much going on in Along the Tapajós! While introducing a different way of life to kids, the story links readers through the love of a pet, the fear of forgetting and losing something beloved, and the excitement of an adventure to rescue it.

The digital and woodcut artwork is stunning, with vibrant, bright colors to celebrate the biodiversity of the Amazon: the endpapers show multicolored birds sitting on webs of crossed branches, and opaque waters with a glimpse at the life underneath; yellows, blues, and black stripes all show through the obscured water view. The artwork throughout is stunning, with bold colors and black line work, and images of communities working together to move to a safe space.

Most of my library kids are from countries in Central and South America. I can’t wait to read this to them and see what they think. Maybe I’ll hand out tortoise coloring sheets for an after-story craft! Ooh… and maybe have them contribute to an anaconda that will stretch across some of my display space… okay, I’m off to plan a rainforest storytime (I’ll be using Pragmatic Mom’s suggestions to start me off, along with one of my all-time favorite storytime books, The Perfect Siesta.)

Originally published in 2015 in Brazilian Portuguese, Along the Tapajós is available on October 1 and has a starred review from Kirkus. It also made School Library Journal‘s list, “The Marvelous Translated Picture Books of 2019 (So Far)“.

Fernando Vilela is an award-winning author and illustrator from Brazil. Published in Brazil under the title Tapajós, this book was inspired by one of his trips to the Amazon rainforest. He has received many awards for his books, and he has exhibited his artwork at home and abroad, including at the MoMA in New York and the Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo. For his picture books, he has received five Jabuti awards (Brazil) and the New Horizons Honorable Mention of the Bologna Ragazzi International Award. He is also a plastics artist, and he teaches courses, lectures, and workshops on art and illustration. Learn more about him online at www.fernandovilela.com.br.

Daniel Hahn is an author, editor, and award-winning translator. His translation of The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007. His translation of A General Theory of Oblivion, also by José Eduardo Agualusa, won the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award. He recently served on the board of trustees of the Society of Authors. In 2017, Hahn helped establish the TA First Translation Prize, a new prize for debut literary translation. Learn more about him online at www.danielhahn.co.uk.

★“The vibrant colors in Vilela’s illustrations and the expressive faces of Cauã and Inaê bring lightheartedness to their dangerous journey and the cyclical living it prescribes. A riveting journey.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This is one of those engaging titles that offers a glimpse of a location new to most American readers. More translations like this one, please!” —Fuse #8 Production

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Along the Tapajós, courtesy of Amazon Crossing (U.S. addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in Uncategorized

Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Tiger Like Me!

A little boy and his tiger alter-ego bound through the day, doing all sorts of tiger things: waking up in his tiger den, eating breakfast ast his feeding spot, springing up at those lazy humans… it’s all in a tiger’s day, after all! At night, the restless tiger can’t find sleep in his sleeping place, so he heads to his parents’ den for cuddles, and thinks about how great it is to be a tiger as he drifts off to sleep.

A Tiger Like Me, by Michael Englel/Illustrated by Joëlle Tourlonias, Translated by Laura Watkinson,
(Sept. 2019, Amazon Crossing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542044561
Ages 4-7

This is another title from Amazon Crossing, the translation imprint from Amazon’s publishing group. Originally published in Germany, A Tiger Like Me is a book every kid (and grownup) can enjoy, because it’s a celebration of childhood imagination. The book flap genders the child as male, but the artwork and text don’t make any gender definitive. Narrated by the kid-Tiger, it’s a spot-on glimpse into a child’s imagination as they navigate the world in Tiger Mode. There’s repetition of the phrase, “Because I am a tiger, a tiger!” on each spread, as they go about their day; waking up, they are a “tiger, a wide-awake tiger!”; eating breakfast, “a greedy, gutsy tiger!”; getting caught in a laundry basket full of clothes, “a clumsy, klutzy tiger!”. Mom and Dad are there to provide some comic fun, particularly when the Tiger jumps at Dad, making him spill his coffee and grab for the Tiger, hunter-style. The day ends with a loving family cuddle, making this a great bedtime story for your own little tigers.

The digital artwork is playful, fun, and bright, with an almost hand-sketched look to some details. There are great little nuances throughout the story: look for the Tiger’s toy animal friends laying around the pages, and Dad drinks from a mug with a tiger’s face on it. Tiger eats Tiger Crunch cereal and envisions itself eating at a stone table with cave paintings on it. There’s so much to enjoy here; you won’t want to read it just once. Pages are full-bleed, with atmosphere switching from a family home to a jungle. The endpapers offer a lead-in and drift-out to the story, too: opening endpapers show us the Tiger waking up and ready to begin his day as a poetic introduction about a tiger stirring in his den introduces readers to the story. The closing endpapers show our Tiger, back in his den, as a poetic epilogue to the story takes readers out of the story. This one is an adorable add to bedtime story collections.

Michael Engler studied visual communication in Düsseldorf, Germany, and first worked as a scriptwriter and illustrator. He then spent several years as an art director at advertising agencies. He is currently a freelance author in Düsseldorf, writing children’s books and plays for the theater and radio. He has written more than fifteen children’s books. Learn more about him online at www.michaelengler.com.

 

Joëlle Tourlonias was born in Hanau, Germany, and studied visual communication with an emphasis on illustration and painting at the Bauhaus University Weimar. She is the illustrator of more than thirty children’s books. She continues to draw, paint, and live in Düsseldorf. Learn more about her online at www.joelletourlonias.blogspot.com.

 

Laura Watkinson is an award-winning translator of books for young readers and adults. She is a three-time winner of the Batchelder Award and also won the Vondel Prize for Dutch-English translation. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in Amsterdam. Learn more online at www.laurawatkinson.com.

 

 

 

“Child readers (and certainly adult caregivers) will identify with the book’s central message: Children can experience a wide swath of feelings, everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has complicated ways of interacting with the world. The final quiet pages offer a peaceful conclusion…Wildness is part and parcel of everyday childhood, embraced here with a roar.” —Kirkus Reviews

 

Want a shot at winning your own copy of A Tiger Like Me, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids? Check out this Rafflecopter giveaway (U.S. addresses only, please!)

Posted in picture books

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Spiky, by Ilaria Guarducci

Spiky, by Ilaria Guarducci/Translated by Laura Watkinson,
(June 2019, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542040433
Ages 4-8

If you haven’t checked out Ilaria Guarducci’s book, Spiky, now is the time. Originally published in Italian as Thorny, Spiky is one of the first titles published through Amazon’s imprint for kids’ books in translation, Amazon Crossing Kids. It’s the story of a bully who learns to become a little less… prickly, and open himself up to friendship, and it’s got some good entry points for a discussion.

Librarians! If anyone’s heading to ALA this year, Amazon is giving away copies of Spiky and the other Amazon Crossing Kids titles! Stop by Booth #1362 for a look at the giveaways and book signings!

Want a chance at winning your own copy of Spiky? Check out this Rafflecopter giveaway!

Ilaria Guarducci studied at Accademia Nemo, in Florence. She illustrated her first book, A Ride with Aliens, for Camelozampa in 2012. After that, she published with Fatatrac (Giunti Group) and several other Italian and foreign publishers. She has also written and illustrated Mr Moustache’s Amazing Machines, and Whatabore!, and her books are translated in eight languages.

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Can friendship can make Spiky less prickly?

Spiky, by Ilaria Guarducci/Translated by Laura Watkinson, (June 2019, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542040433

Ages 4-8

Spiky is one of the new books from Amazon’s new imprint, Amazon Crossing Kids, publishing children’s books in translation. Originally published in Italian, Spiky tells the story of a rather prickly fellow named Spiky. He’s brown and covered with spikes, and he’s a big bully. His spikes keep everyone around him at arm’s length, and he just revels in being mean; he pulls the wings off butterflies, he puts birds in glass jars, and he pokes holes in snail shells, all for the sake of being mean. But one day, his spikes start falling out. Before he knows it, Spiky is now a big, pink, spikeless marshmallow who isn’t scary at all. How the tables have turned! Bernardo, a kind bunny, befriends Spiky and shows him how nice it is to be surrounded by friends, especially when there are no spikes to stand between them. Eventually, Spiky’s spikes come back and he begins to re-embrace the Bad Side, but his heart just isn’t in it anymore. Bernardo still sees his friend under all those spikes, and that kind gesture is all Spiky needs to realize that feeling good is pretty darn awesome.

Spiky is a sweet story about a bully who changes his ways and the difference having one good friend can make. Spiky is raised to be mean – the story even notes that his father sends him to “the best school for badness in the whole country” – giving readers a heads-up, particularly us grown-ups, that children learn what they live. Raised and encouraged to be mean, Spiky’s badness runs unchecked until he finds himself in a vulnerable position. From here, Bernardo the bunny comes in and nudges the story into a sweet one of redemption and friendship, leading Spiky down a very different, upbeat path by showing him kindness.

A cute story for storytime, and offers some good moments for discussion with preschoolers to second graders. Ilaria Guarducci’s Facebook page also offers some adorable Spiky artwork that you can have your kiddos easily create: get some brown (and pink) construction paper, a box of toothpicks, some glue, and voila!

See more of Ilaria Guarducci’s artwork at her blog.