Friday, August 9, 2013

Top 10 Essential Picture Books for Kids and Grownups

As part of August's Picture Book 10 for 10 event launched by the folks at Enjoy and Embrace Learning, I'm offering up my Top 10 list. I thought about doing a rundown of the best books featuring smart dogs or adorable penguins or clever kids wearing tiaras. But what I think might be the most helpful is thus:

Top 10 Essential Picture Books

Based on hours of reading with a certain trio in my house, the selection process is highly scientific: it is measured on the hilarity factor, the visual umph, and how many times little voices chirped, "Again!"

What follows are the Top 10 picture books that are simply a joy to share. Whether reading in a classroom to a group or in a rocking chair to a special someone, these are titles that adults – and of course the wee ones – will enjoy again and again. There were many nights when Hubby and I raced to the kids' rooms to call dibs on the stories we wanted to hear, these stories. My only regret is that my kids are getting a little older, so we don't get to read them as often.

Keep these titles in mind when searching for the perfect gift – for the young or young at heart.

We all need to celebrate our creative sides:
I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow

Play it smart, especially when something wants to eat you up:
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

When things don't go as planned, roll with the punches:
An Undone Fairy Tale by Ian Lendler, illustrated by Whitney Martin

You can be cool and not even know it:
Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea

It's nice to have folks around:
Memoirs Of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers

Sometimes we're cranky:
Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel

Princesses can be very sly:
Falling For Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox, illustrated by Lydia Monks

Even pirates need to be tucked in at night:
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon

Wait for it. . .
The Monster at the End of this Book by Sesame Street

There are surprises even in our routines:
10 Minutes till Bedtime by Peggy Rathmann

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bridget Zinn's Exciting Fantasy 'Poison' Fulfills a Dream

While Bridget Zinn's fast-paced fantasy Poison (Hyperion/Disney, 2013) should technically be shelved as a young adult book, it makes a fine read for the mature middle-grade set. It tells the story of Kyra, a Master Potioner who has seen a vision that the kingdom is about to be destroyed. The only way to prevent it is to kill the ruler who will ascend to the throne. But there's a hitch in Kyra's plans, since the soon-to-reign princess is Kyra's best friend – or rather, her former best friend.

Armed with her bag of potions and an adorable little pig with tracking skills for a sidekick, Kyra ventures across the kingdom in search of the princess. Amid some fun plot twists and a good dose of humor, she meets a handsome traveler along the way. But the adventure tale of brave and resourceful Kyra takes precedence over the love story. It's a delightful read.

Bridget was working as a librarian in 2007 when she began writing Poison. According to her website, she loved books that featured "strong young women with aspirations." And she set out to tell a story "with pockets of warmth and happiness and hoped that her readers' copies would show the watermarks of many bath time reads."

Bridget passed away in 2011, while Poison was still in production.

With its recent publication, Bridget accomplished what she set out to do – creating the joyful yet thrilling book that she wanted to read. It has met with good reviews: even the tough-to-please Kirkus pronounced it "a refreshing antidote to a genre overflowing with grit and gloom."

Publisher's Weekly, in a review by her literary agent Michael Stearns, called it ". . . a romping, fairy-tale quest with more than one twist up its sleeve. The story is vivid, headlong, and occasionally tongue in cheek, and the narrative’s dark moments never get too scary because everything else is so much fun."

Pick up a copy of Bridget's book and see for yourself.