Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

CHILDREN'S BOOKS: Kids will love charming picture books

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Summer is a good time to read with little ones who are away from nursery school and day care and love to immerse themselves in picture books.

Flora and the Flamingo (Chronicle Books, $19 hardcover) by Arizona writer, animator and artist Molly Idle is a beautiful wordless picture book in which a little girl tries to copy the graceful poses of a haughty flamingo.

The flamingo notices Flora's attempts and helps her accomplish grace and fluency. It ends in a marvellous double-page splash in which Flora and the flamingo end up cannon-balling into the water.

Idle draws the story all in pinks a few touches of yellow, with a number of special overlays. Flora's attempts to pattern the flamingo's positions are charming. Would-be ballerinas will enjoy trying to attain the same poses.

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I Scream Ice Cream: A Book of Wordles (Chronicle, 32 pages, US$17 hardcover) by New Yorker Amy Krouse Rosenthal, with pictures by French artist Serge Bloch, is a funny, challenging word book.

Each page presents a "wordle," or words that sound the same but have a different meaning (i.e. Princess cape/Prince escape; a family affair/a family of hair), and the reader is challenged to solve the wordle before she turns the page.

Bloch's cartoon-style pictures fit the humorous examples. Particularly clever is the artist's self-portrait as a large toadstool: read "fungi," or "fun guy."

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For slightly older children (ages 4-8), Vancouver-based Tradewind Books has published a collectible edition of Aesop's Fables (32 pages, $17 hardcover), rewritten by British author Michael Rosen with illustrations by Montreal artist Talleen Hacikyan.

Each of the 13 fables is told in simple but highly readable prose with a full facing page in brilliant colours on a black background. The moral of each tale is pointed out below each fable, in case you've missed it.

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Just for fun, try Not Your Typical Dragon (Viking, 32 pages, $18 hardcover) by Vancouver author Dan Bar-el with illustrations by American artist Tim Bowers.

Crispin can't wait to turn seven. That's when he'll be able to breathe fire like the rest of his family. But when he tries to light the birthday candles, out comes whipped cream!

Toddlers will chuckle as Crispin breathes bandage at the doctor and soap bubbles at a wandering knight. But when he saves the family home, his special talent is recognized. Humorous, clever and colourful.

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Sleeping Bear Press, with eight previous books in the Discover Canada series, has added two more alphabet books: T is for Territories and F is for French (each 38 pages, $19 hardcover) by Montreal writer Elaine Arsenault.

Each letter has a few lines of rhyming verse (that don't scan well) and detailed sidebars.

Do you want to find the highest mountain in Canada? All the languages spoken in the Northwest Territories? The depth of the Arctic Ocean?

Or perhaps you'd like to make poutine, know where the first indoor organized hockey game was played, or where to find the Chemin du Roy or King's Highway?

With text in both English and French, Arsenault's book will supply this information and much more.

Helen Norrie is a Winnipeg author and former teacher of children's literature. Her column appears on the third weekend of the month.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 A1

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