Picture books come in many forms: humorous, educational, beautiful or quirky. Here are a few that will brighten up summer days for youngest readers:
Beginning readers (ages 5-8) who like to face challenges will enjoy Peach Girl by Vancouver author Raymond Nakamura (Pajama Press, 32 pages, $20, hardcover). Based on a Japanese story, Nakamura's heroine, Momoko, is feisty and fearless.
When Momoko hops out of a giant peach, vowing to make the world a better place, she finds everyone is petrified of an ogre who is said to eat small children. Armed with a peach-pit helmet and shield, Momoko ignores their warnings. She enlists the help of a monkey, a dog and a pheasant and confronts the ogre, who turns out to be not so scary after all.
Young book lovers will find Nakamura's prose easy to read with plenty of humour. With a career of designing educational experiences for children in the Vancouver area, he has created an inspiring young protagonist, who proves that negotiation is often preferable to confrontation. This quick-witted, assertive girl will appeal to many.
The full-page illustrations by Burlington, Ont. artist Rebecca Bender are striking and expressive, reflecting her background as a graphic designer and art director. She is a former award-winner whose first two picture books, Giraffe and Bird and Don't Laugh at Giraffe, won high praise.
Anyone who has admired the paintings of West Coast artist Emily Carr will enjoy When Emily Carr Met Woo by former Vancouver (now Toronto) author Monica Kulling (Pajama Press, 32 pages, $20, hardcover).
Woo was the mischievous monkey Emily adopted along with several other pets at her home in Victoria. Kulling manages to tell Emily's story as well as that of her cherished animals in this attractive introduction for young children to this famous artist. Dean Williams, who makes his home in Duncan, B.C., has added large and colourful illustrations that make the book more appealing.
Have you ever wanted to drive a race car? Or fly an airplane? Those are just two of the ambitions explored in Going Places, a picture book by identical twins Peter and Paul Reynolds (Atheneum Books/Simon and Schuster, 40 pages, $18, hardcover).
When Maya gets a do-it-yourself kit at school to enter the "Going Places" contest, she's the only one who thinks outside the box. Does it have to be a go-cart? Why not an airplane? After she teams up with her neighbour, Raphael, she proves that innovation can take you to new heights.
Peter is an illustrator for the New York Times; his artwork is quirky but appropriate. With his brother, Paul, they operate a bookstore called Blue Bunny Books in Dedham, Mass.
A filmmaker trying to make a nature documentary on a moose encounters strange opposition in This is a Moose by New Jersey author Richard T. Morris (Little, Brown, 32 pages, $20, hardcover).
This book is for kids who love crazy comedy and silly situations. As the director tries to film a moose, his subject teams up with a giraffe who wants to be a doctor and a paddling grandmother to explore the moose's real ambition: to be an astronaut.
It takes several unsuccessful takes before the director realizes that filming a moose as an astronaut might be a terrific idea.
Pictures by Tom Lichtenheld are suitably unconventional. A glossary of filmmaking terms is also included. For ages 4-8.
Helen Norrie is a former teacher/librarian with a special fondness for children's literature.