Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

It’s Spring, and Little Red Fox and Hazel Dormouse are awake! The Friendship Surprise

The Friendship Surprise, by Giorgio Volpe & Paolo Proietti, (March 2022, Red Comet Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781636550282

Ages 4-8

Little Red Fox and Hazel the Dormouse, the duo we fell in love with in August 2021’s Before We Sleep, is back in The Friendship Surprise! When we last left Little Red and Hazel, Hazel had just gone to hibernate for the winter, and Fox was going to wait for his best friend to wake up come the spring. In The Friendship Surprise, Little Red is all ready to welcome Hazel back – but he’s worried, because he’s made a new friend over the winter break. Will Hazel like Brock the Badger more than Little Red? Will one be jealous of the other? Little Fox is so worried that he tries to split his time between his two friends, but has a lovely surprise when they all come together to play: after all, Hazel says, “we can all three have fun together!” The Friendship Surprise gently confronts the fear or worry some children may have over adding a new friend to their friendship group, with Little Red running back and forth between Brock and Hazel. When each ultimately discovers where Little Red goes when he leaves abruptly, there’s no arguing or jealousy; just a lovely welcome to a new friend. The three animals play together across Spring forests and grass, showing kids that a duo can easily and happily become a trio, and that friendship is a gift that multiplies, not divides. The warm color palette shows lush green fields, pink poppies, and full trees. A perfect Spring storytime book, with a playful sense of hope, joy, and renewal to share. The Friendship Surprise was originally published in Italy in 2021.

Print out some Before We Sleep coloring sheets from Red Comet’s website to have handy for a post-storytime activity.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

New children’s book publisher: Red Comet Press!

I am so excited whenever a new indie publisher debuts on the scene! I just received wonderful book mail from Red Comet Press, a brand new children’s book publisher who will be sharing their books with everyone in just a few weeks! Here’s a sneak peek at what we can expect.

Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites, by Tullio Corda, (Sept. 2021, Red Comet Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781636550022

Ages 3-6

Concepts never made me laugh this hard. An orange cat and blue dog illustrate opposites in the most hilarious of ways as they go through a day of waking up, chasing one another, getting into trouble, and… being friends? Originally published in French in 2020, Taylor Barrett Gaines’s translation is spot on. Drowsy (and bored) Cat eyes sleepy Dog for Awake/Asleep; you just know what’s coming next. But the choice of Brave/Afraid is amusing and unexpected as Cat jumps on the startled Dog, whose eyes go wide, pupils as tiny pinpricks. My favorite spread? Upset and Unconcerned, which hilariously describe the action as Dog sports an overturned plant on his head as Cat blithely grooms. Fonts are in orange for Cat’s words; blue for Dog’s. A perfect combination of words and illustration, and a concept book that tells a cohesive story.

Find a free, downloadable activity cat on the publisher’s book detail page. A great beginning!

 

Before We Sleep, by Giorgio Volpe & Paolo Proietti, (Sept. 2021, Red Comet Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781636550046

Ages 4-8

Originally published in Italian in 2019, this book is a touching, beautifully illustrated story about friendship and the pain of separation. A red fox and gray dormouse are the best of friends, but as the Fall closes in and the seasons move toward Winter, Fox is sad, knowing Dormouse will be hibernating soon: “For Red, the smell of winter meant one thing: loneliness”. Fox tries to think of ways to keep Winter away so Dormouse can stay awake and with Fox, but who can hold off Nature? Agreeing to share one more story, the friends curl up together… and sleep. The storytelling is gentle, full of love and yearning; the muted colors in the artwork let Fox’s bright coat stand out beautifully against the encroaching gray of Winter. Dormouse’s tilted head and soft words show a kindness and love for a friend; body language that immediately sends a comforting signal to readers. A lovely story of friendship and the fear of separation and loss; a warm feeling of knowing that your friends will be there when you open your eyes. Think about this one for possible grief and loss resources, too.

Red Comet has a great activity kit available for download, with coloring sheets and discussion questions.

Before We Sleep has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Mister Fairy, by Morgane de Cadier/Illlustrated by Florian Page, (Sept. 2021, Red Comet Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781636550008

Ages 4-8

A forest full of animal-like fairies work their magic except for the taciturn Mister Fairy, whose spells never seem to match the other fairies. Depressed, Mister Fairy takes off to a dull, depressed city, where his seemingly backward spells are exactly what the citizens need: he adds much-needed splashes of color, tickling everyone with his wings and wand, and changing umbrellas into fluffy cotton candy. When he returns to the forest, he discovers that his friends have missed him there, too! A sweet story about embracing your talents, Mister Fairy was originally published in French in 2018 and is an empowering story about embracing your own gifts and uniqueness. Artwork reminds me a bit of Jon Klassen; the illustrations are colorful yet maintain a minimalist appeal. A fantastic back-to-school story about recognizing your own worth. Pair this one with Mister Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown.

Red Comet offers a free, downloadable activity kit for Mister Fairy. Enjoy!

 

That’s it for now – but I’ve got more to come! Welcome, Red Comet Press!