Here's a gathering of great new kids' books, including a new paperback fiction series for schoolagers.
BABIES AND TODDLERS:Publishers are constantly coming up with new ways to allow the youngest readers to play with their books. Price Stern Sloan's latest effort involves "sliding pages" that allow children to expand the book's size and fun quotient.
The Price Stern Sloan board book series has eight books, which cost $9.95 each and focus on simple actitivies. In "Who Drives This?," for example, author-artist Charles Reasoner asks readers the question, "Who zooms around the race track?" To discover the answer, young readers grasp a page and slide apart its two halves. Inside they'll find a race car driver, waving his black-and-white checked flag.
Kids will love this brightly colored "sliding surprise book" series - and even learn a thing or two. In addition to "Drives," the books in the series are: "Who Pretends?" "Who's Hatching?" "Who's There?" "Who's Peeking?" Who's In The Sea?" "Whose House Is This?" and "Whose Mommy Is This?"
Two favorite kids' stories are now available in "big book" size for schools, daycare and library use. Both books are published by Mulberry Books, and cost $18.95 each:
- Author Robert Kalan uses a playful frog and repetitive rhyme to illustrate the rather cutthroat nature of the natural world in "Jump, Frog, Jump." The story unfolds bit by bit, and kids will love chiming in as the details are repeated. They'll probably be jumping up themselves at each refrain of "Jump, frog, jump!" The illustrations by artist Byron Barton are rather primitive and a bit scary, but they lend a thrill to the story for pre-schoolers. (Ages 3-6)
- In "Johnny Appleseed," author-artist Steven Kellogg offers a masterful retelling of the story of a favorite American hero. Kellogg weaves the true facts of the life of a man called John Chapman with the legends surrounding Johnny Appleseed, the mythical character Chapman became to many Americans. Kids will enjoy learning how Chapman planted apple trees in numerous states, and they'll be entertained with the tale tales about Johnny Appleseed's ability to withstand a snake bite or keep a wolf as a pet. (Ages 5-8)
Bank Street College in New York City is known for creating well-written children's literature. One of Bank Street's latest literary ventures is a series called "West Side Kids," published by Hyperion Books.
At $3.95 each, the books feature boys and girls of various ages and ethnic backgrounds against a realistic urban background. Schoolagers will readily identify with the engaging characters and the challenges they face.
The first two books in the series, which is aimed at 8- to 10-year-olds, are "The Big Idea" and "Don't Call Me Slob-O":
- In "The Big Idea," author Ellen Schecter tells the story of Luz, who dreams of creating a garden from an empty lot that is a neighborhood eyesore. Luz makes her dream come true, but it isn't easy.
- In "Don't Call Me Slob-O," author Doris Orgel details the blossoming friendship between a boy dubbed "Shrimp" because of his diminutive size and a new student whose Yugoslavian name, Slobodan, also makes him the butt of jokes.