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There’s a Dodo on the Wedding Cake!

There’s a Dodo on the Wedding Cake, by Wade Bradford/Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536208849

Ages 4-8

Mr. Snore is back in this comical follow-up to 2018’s There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor. He’s back at The Sharemore Hotel, this time to play violin at a wedding taking place at the venue, when he notices a dodo bird sampling the wedding cake! He shoos the dodo off, and appoints himself guardian of the cake, taking on all manner of characters who venture too close: but who’s a guest, and who’s a pest? This is, as Kirkus calls it, “a riotous, rib-tickling comedy of errors” that kids are going to laugh out loud reading or listening to as a readaloud. This begs for a flannel adaptation where you can nominate readers to come up and place a new animal on or near the cake, and make sure to get a nice big pink *splat* for the finale. Acrylic and ink illustrations have a pleasing, vintage feel to them, giving some old-school glamour to the hijinks. More Mr. Snore, please!

Author Wade Bradford has free, downloadable resources, including some great plays for kids, on his author website. Kevin Hawkes is an award-winning illustrator. Visit his website for more of his artwork and information about his books.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

More Holiday Book Joy!

More great holiday books to crow about! Let’s take a look!

The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol, by Arthur A. Levine/Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9780763697419

Ages 5-8

“Nate Gadol is a great big spirit with eyes as shiny as golden coins and a smile that is lantern bright.” He has the gift of making things last as long as they are needed, whether it’s a tiny bit of oil that needs to stretch for the eight nights of Hanukkah, or a little bit of chocolate that will be enough to give a a family like the Glasers a sweet holiday treat. He sees the Glasers and their neighbors, the O’Malleys, helping one another out all the time, sharing what little they have with one another, so when Nate spots Santa Claus having sleigh trouble on Christmas Eve, he’s happy to figure out how to stretch some holiday magic – and share a special evening with old friends and new. Author Arthur A. Levine was inspired to write this hybrid holiday tale that creates a “supplementary mythology” that has less to do with religion than with the spirit of the holiday season.An author’s note from Mr. Levine explains his inspiration, and the story is a sweet pairing of two holidays. Acyrlic artwork is rich, with lots of texture, and gold foil accents bring a magical element to life. A cheerful holiday story to have available for your readers.

Publisher Candlewick has a free, downloadable activity kit available on their website.


Christmas is Joy, by Emma Dodd, (Sept. 2020, Templar Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536215458

Ages 2-5

The latest in her Love You series, Emma Dodd creates another affectionate story that’s perfect for lapsits and cuddle time. Rhyming verse presents tender holiday musings: “Christmas is joy / that’s overflowing / It’s sparkling eyes / and faces glowing”. Two reindeer take in the wonder of the snow season together and in a group. Digital illustrations are gently colorful, with silver foil effects added for snowy winter magic. Emma Dodd’s books always create a quiet sense of joy when I read them; I hope they do for you, too. A nice choice for your holiday bookshelves.


The Worst Christmas Ever, by Kathleen Long Bostrom/Illustrated by Guy Porfirio, (Sept. 2020, Flyaway Books), $17, ISBN: 978-1947888098

Ages 5-8

Matthew is not happy when his family decides to pack up and move to California. He misses his friends, his school, and now, with Christmas coming, he misses snow! Palm trees instead of evergreen? No way! Pink Christmas trees for sale? NOPE. When Matthew’s dog, Jasper, runs away, Matthew is heartbroken and convinced that this will be the worst Christmas ever. His sister, Lucy, is sympathetic, but she is much more excited about the move than Matthew is, and he feels more alone than ever. It will take a special kind of magic during the Christmas Eve church service to save the holiday for Matthew. A story of feeling uprooted and finding the strength to believe, The Worst Christmas Ever is a holiday story with the message of the season at its heart. Illustrations are realistic and expressive, and the relationship between Matthew and Jasper comes across through the artwork. A nice story about believing in miracles for the kids this holiday.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

There’s a dinosaur on the 13th Floor!

There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor, by Wade Bradford/Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, (Oct. 2018, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-8665-9

Ages 4-7

Poor Mr. Snore! The poor musician is exhausted when he checks into the Sharemore Hotel, but when the bellhop shows him to his room, there’s a mouse sleeping on his pillow! Mr. Snore complains to the front desk, and is given a room on the second floor – but there’s a literal hog hogging the blankets! So begins a journey through the hotel, where Mr. Snore encounters fish, spiders, giraffes, and more, until he reaches an empty room on the 13th floor – and proceeds to fall asleep. But wait! The dinosaur on the 13th floor calls the front desk, complaining that someone is sleeping on his pillow!

This is an adorable, light story for storytime or one-on-one reading. Endpapers bring readers into the story with illustrations of a city scene: a cab driving away from a concert hall, and the Strathmore Hotel, its lobby light on, like a beacon, in the night. Mr. Snore walks into the hotel wearing a tuxedo and holding a violin case, letting readers use context clues to figure out that he’s a musician. It’s a nice added touch. The arylic and ink artwork has a nice retro feel; the bellhop looks like someone out of a Busby Berkeley movie, and the hotel has jungle-meets-art deco touches to it that really creates an atmosphere for readers. Mr. Snore is played for laughs; he’s got a small stature and a giant nose; a pair of glasses perched precariously on the end.

I have way too much fun with this story, which has entered regular bedtime reading rotation at my house. Let kids try out different snores for the mouse (squeak), pig, (snore), fish (blub blub), and other animals. This could be a fun flannel story, letting kids add different animals to a big bed. Put the song “Ten in the Bed” into your storytime for a fun, crowded bed song. This one’s a fun add to your picture book and storytime collections.

Author Wade Bradford has free, downloadable resources, including plays for kids, on his author website. Kevin Hawkes is an award-winning illustrator. Visit his website for more of his artwork and information about his books.