Victoria author Troy Wilson must be the champion of clever titles. In Goldibooks and the Wee Bear (Running Press, 32 pages, $23, hardcover) he rewrites Goldilocks’ story with a young bear who is crazy to find books instead of porridge, and a little girl who is willing to share her library.
This is an entertaining offering with amusing and colourful illustrations by Hawaiian-born artist Edwardian Taylor. Beginning readers or preschoolers familiar with the original tale will chuckle as the wee bear tries out Papa’s books — too hard (cover), Mama’s books — too soft (cover), but finds Goldilocks’ books just right.
As wee bear’s parents appear on the scene, a suitable compromise is reached as the animals and people form a new book club in the forest.
Wilson has also written Little Red Reading Hood and the Misread Wolf.
● ● ●
When is a dragon not a dragon? That’s a riddle Amy Wu seeks to solve in Kat Zhang’s Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon (Simon and Schuster, 40 pages, $24, hardcover).
Amy’s teacher asks her pupils to make a dragon in art class, but Amy isn’t satisfied with hers. But when she asks her grandmother to tell her stories of the dragons in Chinese folklore she knows just what to do.
As Amy finds an old dragon costume and enlists two friends to help wear it, we witness a delightful celebration of intercultural harmony. A lively picture book with bright illustrations by Canadian artist Charlene Chua aimed at ages 4-8.
● ● ●
If you’re looking for a bargain in books for pre-schoolers consider Crocs in a Box by Vancouver author Robert Heidbreder and artist Rae Maté (Tradewind Books, $25, hardcover).
Three previously published favourites, Crocodiles Say, Crocodiles Play and Crocs at Work are bundled together in a neat little package here. Each book is only 15 centimetres by 11.5 centimetres, just right for small reader’s hands.
Heidbreder’s rhyming text for each of these books is clever and musical and, combined with Maté’s bright and humorous pictures, makes an appealing combination. Here’s a sample from Crocodiles Play: "Now for the funnest game of all / with skates and ice / and not one ball. / Crocs tape their tails / just like their sticks / and lace their skates / for on ice tricks." For ages 3-6.
● ● ●
Local writer Colleen Nelson found success with her last two mid-level books about a dog named Harvey. Now she has teamed up with her sister, Nancy Chappell-Pollack, in a sequel to her young adult novel Pulse Point, to produce Underland (Great Plains Publications, 208 pages, $15, paperback).
Underland continues the dystopian story of a people living under a sheltering dome to protect them from the harsh winds and dust of the outside world, as well as the primitive people ("prims") who live outside and threaten their security. It is told from the alternating viewpoints of Sari, age 18, who lives in the city and Ama, age 12, who lives in the dark underground tunnels beneath it.
Neither Sari or Ama is aware of the existence of the other until Joseph, a leader and elder, returns to the Underworld and with Ama’s help, helps lead the underworld dwellers to the outside.
The dystopian lifestyle — where the inhabitants have to dig for brine (which is used as an energy source by the city) in order to receive food, and are never see exposed to daylight — seems rather implausible, or at least fanciful. Ama is a resourceful, brave and admirable character, however, who refuses to leave her "old one," Mae, behind and after they reach the city, helps to save it from being flooded. For ages 12 and up.
Helen Norrie is a former teacher/librarian and lover of children’s literature.