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Panthers Play for Keeps by Clea Simon

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Panthers Play for Keeps by Clea Simon

Pru Marlowe is a pet consultant -- she works walking and training dogs, giving owners advice and helping out the local vet. But more than that, she's a pet psychic, and her animal clients can communicate with her, sometimes in words, sometimes in images and feelings. Pru's newest client is a guide dog-in-training, focused completely on protecting his walker until he finds something strange in the nature preserve. It's the body of a young woman, maulled by some large animal that isn't native to the area. Pru knows her animals, and something about the attack is off, but her strained relationship with the police detective in the small town makes it difficult for Pru to know as much about the investigation as she'd like. On top of that, the guide dog seems unusally stressed and his owner is acting strange everytime the incident comes up.

This isn't the first book in the Pru Marlowe mystery series, but it is the first one I've read. It was a quick, light-hearted mystery, and wasn't difficult to follow even without reading the previous books. The mystery drew me in and I plan on picking up more from this series.

Number of Pages: 
243

Always Remember by Cece Meng; ill. by Jago

Always Remember by Cece Meng; ill. by Jago

Picture books about death and grief are important resources for children and adults alike during difficult times. Always Remember is a particular favorite of mine, relating the story of Old Turtle's passing and all the ocean animals' lives on which he had an impact. The animals miss him, but they also celebrate all the ways in which he taught them, played with them, and helped them. While it is always difficult to lose someone, it is important to remember how their lives have influenced ours and will continue to live on in our hearts. The beautiful message of this book is complemented by the lush, fluid, and altogether gorgeous illustrations of sea life. I highly recommend this book!

Number of Pages: 
32

Lost. Found. by Marsha Diane Arnold, ill. by Matthew Cordell

Lost. Found. by Marsha Diane Arnold, ill. by Matthew Cordell

When a bear loses her bright red scarf on a walk, other animals in the snow find it. Each in turn finds its own use for the scarf and then also loses it. "Lost" and "found" are the only words in the book, but this gives the opportunity to discuss what each animal is doing when they find and lose the scarf. The story is told clearly and expressively through its illustrations, so more words aren't really needed.

Number of Pages: 
32

An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni

An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni

Jessica the frog finds a magnificent rock one day only to be informed by know-it-all Marilyn that it is, in fact, an egg...a chicken egg! And so when it hatches, Jessica becomes friends with the chicken, and they proceed to go on many adventures together. Eventually, the chicken finds its mother and parts ways with the frogs, but you wouldn't believe what the mother called her baby...an alligator! Can you believe that?

An Extraordinary Egg is a sweet, funny classic and a joy to read out loud. If you can manage to read it with a straight face and act like the alligator really is a chicken, children will go crazy every time you refer to "the chicken" throughout the story. Leo Lionni is one of my favortie children's book author/artists, and his distinctive paper collage style is alive and well here. Maybe you can try your own at home!

Number of Pages: 
32

At Night by Helga Bansch

At Night by Helga Bansch

At Night is a sweet, calm little book about where animals sleep. It's one that reverses halfway -- it reads a story going from both the front and back cover. The first story is "At Night," where each animal stays in its place. The alternate story is "But Sometimes At Night," where each animal rests in another's bed. I love this little picture book for its illustrations - they're soft, mixed media types, and seem to somehow fit the bedtime story theme.

Number of Pages: 
41

Cock-A-Doodle-Doo-Bop! by Michael Ian Black, ill. by Matt Myers

Cock-A-Doodle-Doo-Bop! by Michael Ian Black, ill. by Matt Myers

The rooster is sick of the same old "cock-a-doodle-doo," so he starts trying out some new tunes. His bee-bopping wakes up the whole farm, but no one's happy with this change from tradition. Rooster keeps trying, but even with all the animals awake, the sun just won't rise! Will it stay night until Rooster gives in or can all the farm animals find another way?

Most of the fun of this book is Rooster trying out his new songs -- he sings a few things, gives a trumpet solo, and tries a new mix of "Old MacDonald." The pictures have a beautiful purple tint while the animals wait for the sun to rise, and come into their full colors as it does -- somehow, this seems to capture a sunrise perfectly.

Number of Pages: 
40

The Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz

The Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz

The Hiccupotamus is about a hippo with the hiccups and all the trouble those hiccups create. It's a bit of a tongue-twister to read out loud, and many of the words are not really words, but molded ridiculously to fit the rhyme. It embraces this silliness, which makes it fun to read and listen to. The illustrations are bright, and the animals come in a full rainbow of colors.

Number of Pages: 
32

I'm Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton

I'm Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton

What do you want to do when you see a spider? Cuddle it? Pet it? Smash it to pieces? Spiders may look scary, and sometimes you may hear scary stories about them, but did you know that spiders are really neat animals? Even when spiders are venomous, so few can even bite humans and fewer will harm you. This is a fun book on a sometimes-scary topic. It's full of splotches and bugs (and burritos and Wanted signs...) and interesting facts that will make you consider trying to love spiders.

Number of Pages: 
40

It's a Tiger! by David LaRochelle; ill. by Jeremy Tankard

It's a Tiger! by David LaRochelle; ill. by Jeremy Tankard

Are those vines? Snakes? A sea captain? No! It's a Tiger! RUN! This is one of my most requested books when I do storytime with preschoolers. A tiger chases our protagonist from page to page, but in the end, we find out it didn't want to eat us after all...we just mistook that ROAR for a yawn. This picture book encourages audience participation--readers will be climbing, swimming, bumping, and shouting the whole way through.

Number of Pages: 
36

I am a Witch's Cat by Harriet Muncaster

I am a Witch's Cat by Harriet Muncaster

This book centers around a little girl who dresses as a cat. She is convinced that her mother must be a witch for a few reasons -- she has potions in the bathroom, can make all injuries better and can grow food! Her daughter, therefore, must have the important job of being a witch's cat.

This is a sweet little book. It's fun to look at how the daughter interprets her mother's life, but my favorite part is the illustrations. Muncaster builds scenes using paper, fabric, and small toys, then photographs these scenes as the book's illustrations. Drawings are still mixed in on the paper for the characters as well as some props, but the mixed media aspect gives a little more interest to the pages. It is about a witch and a witch's cat, but isn't solely a Halloween book.

Number of Pages: 
32