Monday, June 13, 2011

Star Bright Books Fall 2011 list!

The happy rumpus of a school playground is fading out, as its little patrons are jumping into summer vacation. For some toddlers, this summer will mark their first beach walking, for some preschoolers, it will be their first camping trip. But wait. Before we start off the summer, let’s peek at delicious stories and pictures that Star Bright Books offers this fall. Remember the end of the summer last year? We all wanted to go back to books and bury our faces into pages when exhausted (though happily) after summer excursions. Toddlers and Babies, Children and Parents, I am very pleased to introduce Star Bright Books Fall 2011 list!

Urban Animals’ author, architectural historian and photographer, Isabel Hill takes us to the buildings we carelessly pass by. Young readers (and grown-ups) learn that buildings have settings, characters and plot just like the storybooks they love. Buildings Stories tells stories of their past, people who lived and worked there, what was made inside, if we look at them a little more closely—was it a pencil factory or a sailor’s house or a milk house? As it is in Urban Animals, the photo illustrations in the book will enchant children and adult alike.

The fa├žade of buildings are not alone that tell “stories.” As My Face Book shows, the faces of babies absolute, remarkable, and adorable communicator of “stories.” Their faces totally lack elf-consciousness, being free to express their very emotions. Babies love looking at other faces, first, at their mothers! If you smile at them, they smile back at you. That’s how they communicate, right? Each spread page has an opposite expression, for example, silly and serious; frowning and smiling; laughing and crying; awake and sleepy. . . Looking at these adorable faces, we do feel responsible for making a better world for them, don’t we? Check out Crowing the Book Truck’s review.

After facial expression and babble stage, babies and toddlers begin to learn “words.” My First Words introduces words for every day things that surround babies and toddlers. From their bedroom to sunny summer back yards. They will explore everything by its name.

After learning their first “words,” they might realize the semiotic aspect of this world; they might have an enlightening experience as they find/learn new words they didn’t know before. When do children learn that English words are delightfully playful, like teeny weeny, itsy bitsy? Perhaps, from a lot of storybooks their parents read to them. Small Medium Large engages early readers to learn about all sizes of things and words for them through delightful illustrations. Ability to compare things and to relate one to another is an important development for children. Learning new words that sound awesome like “colossal” make curious kids want to learn more new words. Check out Fun with Little Mouse’s review.

If they learn enough words, they might try to learn even witch’s words and pass a spell on us. . . With Wish Williams’ magical colored illustrations, and Cheryl Christian’s rhyming words, in Witches, children embark on adventures as witches in real life—yes, Halloween.

Stories that generation after generation love, Lorna Balian’s A Garden for a Groundhog, and Lephechauns Never Lie will be out in paperback this fall, as will Lonek’s Journey, a boy’s courageous two-year journey in search of freedom during WWII.

Check out our website, and don’t miss what Star Bright Books offers even before the summer ends.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Book of the Day: Tim and the Iceberg

It's summertime in the city and it's HOT out! I don't know that I've ever been this appreciative of how intensely air conditioned the Star Bright Books offices are...after being stuck in the cramped, suffocating subway and trekking through the heat from station to office, I had to take a moment upon arrival to simply bask in the glory that is AC. But even so, I'm excited for the weekend - it's finally time to shed those winter duds for good and get some sun!

It's a hot summer day for Tim and his grandpa, too. In Tim and the Iceberg, young Tim listens to Grandpa tell tales of the North Pole, where "it's so cold that the land is made of ice." Tim thinks that sounds wonderful, and his sense of adventure is piqued when he hears about icebergs - "huge mountains of frozen water." Tim decides to make a journey in his sailboat to the North Pole to bring back one of these fantastic icebergs for his grandpa, and along the way he meets all sorts of people and animals. But the return journey to warmer waters does not bode all that well for his surprise for Grandpa...

Tim and the Iceberg is sure to be a hit with kids. Paul Coates' fun story comes to life with Ian P. Benfold Haywood's colorful, bright, and beautiful illustrations. Children will enjoy revisiting this book again and again, regardless of the season. They will love letting their imagination set sail with Tim as he embarks on his journey to the north - and maybe they'll be inspired to one day take a trip of their own!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

In the Dark Cave

Did I mention that my little friend has turned four in May? Unlike me, he is so excited about growing old, on his fourth birthday, exuberantly shouting, “I am going to be five!” (Well, he has to wait quite a bit of time to be five…). I wonder what he perceives of that ever-growing number. Stronger, bigger, freer? Or a better understanding of the world he lives in, including different species that reside on earth with him?

For the last year, his interest in animals has exploded. Of course he has always loved animals and animal stories—even more so, when animals do silly things. But it was more like immediate, unconscious fascination with other creatures rather than human. Now, on top of that, animal ecology, animal habitat, and animal behavior become a great interest for him. He frequently uses the word “species.” He is particularly excited at animals that camouflage, animals that migrate, animals that employ tools, and animals that hibernate. He enthusiastically explains to me the visual and behavioral differences between meat-eating dinosaurs and plant-eating ones. While walking home from school, we encounter earthworms, caterpillars, robins, sparrows, and squirrels. He observes, he analyzes, he makes associations from one species to another. Yes, he is so into “zoology,” as are many kids around his age.

No wonder why In the Dark Cave –a story of a cricket, a rat, and a bat that live happily in a dark cave—caught his attention. In the depths of the cave, it is always night. Wait, how do they see in a dark cave; how do they find food, a place to sleep, and avoid bumping into walls? How do they navigate without any light? There, the story begins.

The cricket has super long feelers, the bat sings and navigates through the echoes of his songs, and the rat is the master of smelling things. Each one has a unique way of navigating without light. But one day, Alexander the explorer, who has a lamp on his helmet, enters the cave, leading the dark cave’s dwellers into amusing encounters with “light.”

A venerate, yet unconventional philosopher, writer, and a cave explorer himself (he is co-author of The Longest Cave) Richard Watson wrote a delicious and informative story about cave dwellers, with jolly rhyming. Renowned cartoonist Dean Norman’s black and white illustrations are simple, yet full of humor. They effectively convey the darkness of the deep cave, and its curious residents.