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The Year of Dapper Frogs, Blue Moons, & Sailing Cows: 10 New Books for Preschoolers
By Shelley Butler and Deb Kratz

There are some imaginative and fun characters prancing across the pages: A cow who dreams of leaving the farm to sail the ocean seas, a group of red-suspender wearing frogs, a duck who conspires to order out for anchovy pizza, and a little wolf who ponders his place on this great earth.             

You know that a book has captivated and inspired a young mind when you see a child resolving a conflict with a line from the book, acting out the story in dramatic play, or dressing up like one of its characters. These are the kind of books we went looking for and found for you in this treasury of wonderful new offerings for young children. 

Whether poetry, non-fiction, or stories with a twist, each book includes rich language, expressive illustrations or photographs, and an imaginative presentation that will foster the love of reading and books. All are great to read aloud in a group or one-to-one, and fit well with typical classroom themes like the seasons, feelings, and self-reliance.            

Be cautioned: with room for only 10 titles, this treasury is just a fraction of the fantastic books. Look for more new titles out by such beloved children’s authors as Eric Carle, Bernard Waber, Laura Numeroff, Chris Raschka, Nancy Carlson, and more.

 Sailor Moo: Cow at Sea

By Lisa Wheeler

Illustrated by Ponder Goembel

Atheneum, July 2002, $16.95

ISBN: 0689842198 

A cow following her dream of becoming a sailor, meeting up with a ship of sailing cats only to be tossed overboard during a gale and picked up by a band of pirates led by a red angus who falls in love with her? That’s some imaginative storytelling! Moo is a true original and so is the book that details her story in rhyme and a series of “Yo-ho-ho and shiver-me-be’s.” The bright, expressive acrylic paintings present large, fun images. Great lessons about following even the most improbable, challenging dreams are to be found in this captivating, fun story.


The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders

By Jack Prelutsky

Illustrated by Petra Mathers

Greenwillow, February 2002, $16.95

ISBN: 0688167195 

Mr. Prelutsky has done it again – producing a wonderful collection of poems that beg you to read them aloud. Petra Mather’s watercolors are a perfect addition to these new poems about people and animals around the country. The collection takes readers on a fanciful journey of events they are unlikely to experience anywhere else, like the flock of penguins looking for snow on a Florida beach. Appropriate for older toddlers as well as preschoolers, the joy of language and life comes through on every page.


Oliver Finds His Way

By Phyllis Root

Illustrated by Christopher Denise

Candlewick Press, September 2002 $14.99

ISBN: 0763613835 

With Mama and Papa nearby, Oliver chases a leaf around, down and under until he is at the edge of the woods and becomes lost. Oliver discovers that crying doesn’t get him out of his predicament, so he decides to think instead. He comes up with an idea and just when all seems gloomy, he finds he can count on himself. A great story showing self-reliance in a young one. Charcoal and pastel illustrations make this an appropriate choice for older toddlers, too.


Giggle, Giggle, Quack

By Doreen Cronin

Illustrated by Betsy Lewin

Simon & Schuster Books, May 2002 $15.95

ISBN: 0689845065 

In this fantastic sequel to Cows That Type, Farmer Brown goes on vacation leaving his farm in capable hands. Conscientious brother Bob follows all of the written instructions, even when it means ordering out for anchovy pizza to feed to the hens. In between the following of instructions, mischievous “giggle, giggle, moos” and “giggle, giggle, oinks” are heard. Some preschoolers may need help with the subtle clues as to whose instructions Bob is really following, but once they get the inside joke, they will delight in the fun.


The Magic Hat

By Mem Fox

Illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Harcourt, April 2002, $16.00

ISBN: 0152010254

A magic hat blows into town one day and as it spins from one head to another, anticipation builds as each person hilariously changes into a different animal. The fruit vendor who juggles bananas turns into a baboon; a jolly mother carrying one child, with another pulling at her skirts, changes into a kangaroo. The poem “Oh, the magic hat, the magic hat! It moved like this, it moved like that!...” repeats, while the wonderfully detailed, energetic illustrations keep the story in constant motion. Toddlers will also enjoy the repeating rhyme and the hilarious series of events.


A Cool Drink of Water

By Barbara Kerley

National Geographic, April 2002 $16.95

ISBN: 07922672300 

“Somewhere, right now someone is drinking WATER...” So begins this exceptional book detailing different ways of drinking and carrying water around the world. Whether in brass pots atop the heads of women, sold in Evian machines in France, or sipped from a tin cup by an old man, water is necessary to all people on earth. The photographs are beautiful, large works of art, such as the picture of a boy scooping water in the shadow of the Taj Mahal. Each photo is credited and described at the end along with notes on water conservation. As engaging in text and photograph as any picture/story book.


Sometimes Bad Things Happen

By Ellen Jackson, Photographs by Shelley Rotner

Millbrook Press, August 2002, $7.95

ISBN: 0761328106 

This important new book with stunning photographs offers support for feelings, a context for bad events (“A few people do bad things”), and suggestions for what to do when bad things happen. Bad things are characterized as everything from canceling a game to witnessing adults fighting to scary events on TV. An appropriate read-aloud choice when a child or a whole classroom is dealing with worry and fear over an event.


Things That Sometimes Happen: Very Short Stories for Little Listeners

By Avi, Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Atheneum, October 2002, $16.95

ISBN 0689839146  

Nine fanciful tales from Avi’s first book have been re-packaged with bright, expressive illustrations into a large picture book of highly fun proportions. Told in a believable, matter of fact way, stories that stretch the imagination include a hippo driving a car, a cat who swaps tall tales with a boy, a very sad ice cream cone, and kids who dig to the other side of the earth. Just plain fun inside.


Little Wolf and the Moon

By Marjorie Dennis Murphy, Illustrated by Stacey Schuett

Marshall Cavendish, September 2002, $16.95

ISBN 0761451005 

Little Wolf, a rare spirit full of questions and feelings that young children often have, comes out of the forest every night to look at the moon and ponder some of life’s great mysteries, such as “How does the moon stay up in the sky?” Amazing watercolor illustrations give vivid images of the moon through various seasons and show us just why Little Wolf is so fascinated with it. Big lessons in self-reliance and self-confidence are subtle in this remarkable book.


The Moon Ring

By Randy DuBurke

Chronicle Books, September 2002, $15.95

ISBN: 0811834875 

From first time author/illustrator Randy DuBurke comes a fun story about a curious young girl, Maxine, and the adventures she takes on the night of the blue moon when a silver ring drops from the sky. When Maxine makes a wish, she is whisked away to far-off places. Original pen and ink illustrations, especially those of expressive Maxine, add to the magic of the story.


Shelley Butler and Deb Kratz are authors of the Parents’ Choice Award-winning book, The Field Guide to Parenting. For more information on their work, to contact the authors, or for more suggestions of great children’s books, please visit their website at www.fieldguidetoparenting.com