Karen Van Valkenburg

Have you ever met a child who doesn't get into everything? A child who isn't mischievous and curious? Of course you haven't. Kids have a way of getting into anything and everything. In Robin's Room, Margaret Wise Brown, author of such classics as Good Night Moon and The Runaway Bunny, captures the essence of a young boy whose curiosity gets the best of his parents.

This laugh-out-loud picture book focuses on Robin, who leaves things all over the house, puts a sneaker full of sand in his mother's bed, paints the walls and plants flowers in the bathtub. His parents get fed up with his rambunctious behavior and present him with his own room. But he needs three carpenters to do some remodeling. After one week of locking himself in his room with the workmen, Robin has the most wonderful space in the house. There is a special closet for his jars of paint, a tree over his bed and a ledge planted with flowers in front of a giant window.

Best-selling author Margaret Wise Brown is known by many as the first lady of picture books. Robin's Room, published for the first time, is a manuscript that was left behind after her death in 1952. Along with the marvelous story, the unique paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher make this book particularly inviting. Once Robin is inside his room, the pictures twist to the side, then upside down so that the reader actually has to turn the book in order to keep up with him. In the bottom corner of each illustration is a picture of Robin pointing his finger in the direction in which the reader should turn the page. Robin's Room is perfect for teaching children ages 4-8 that using their imaginations and abilities is fantastic and fun. It also teaches adults that children need creative outlets. Although it's difficult to give kids rooms of their own in reality, it's important that they have space in which to be creative so that they're not painting the walls and growing plants in the tub!

Karen Van Valkenburg writes from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Have you ever met a child who doesn't get into everything? A child who isn't mischievous and curious? Of course you haven't. Kids have a way of getting into anything and everything. In Robin's Room, Margaret Wise Brown, author of such classics as Good Night Moon and The Runaway Bunny, captures the essence of a […]

Do you remember when you got your first library card? I can remember the day my mother presented me with mine. I was on top of the world! The thought of being able to go to the library and pick out any book (and be held accountable for it) was my first lesson in responsibility. Beverly Billingsly Borrows a Book, a new picture book from Alexander Stadler, perfectly captures the wonder of those early trips to the library, portraying the joy of discovery all beginning readers experience.

The story follows young Beverly an adorable little furry gray animal as she receives her first library card from the Piedmont Public Library and checks out her first book. Due date: April 7. But Beverly is transfixed by her book about dinosaurs and can't put it down. As the weeks go by, she realizes she has gone past the due date. Not sure about what happens to a patron who does not return books on time, she asks for the advice of friends. One tells her she'll have to pay thousands of dollars; another tells her that she'll get sent to jail. Because of these horrible tidings, Beverly decides not to go to the library at all. But after a nightmare concerning the librarian, she tells her mother about her crisis and returns the book (without going to jail), making a new friend as a result. Stadler's fantastic watercolor illustrations add humor to the storyline. The book is filled with priceless images: the bird-like librarian, Mrs. Del Rubio, with glasses perched atop her beak; Beverly's nightgown covered with the words “April 7,” the dreaded due date. Another unforgettable illustration is the picture of Beverly's friend Carlton Chlomsky eating a carrot. Readers will most definitely chuckle at the sight of him.

A textile designer from Pennsylvania, Stadler does a wonderful job of capturing the mindset of children. His book is a testament to the joys of reading, a reminder to youngsters that going to the library can be exciting and fun, not just educational! Karen Van Valkenburg is a book publicist in Michigan and an avid library-goer.

Do you remember when you got your first library card? I can remember the day my mother presented me with mine. I was on top of the world! The thought of being able to go to the library and pick out any book (and be held accountable for it) was my first lesson in responsibility. […]

Where's My Mommy?, a bright, bold new picture book from British author Jo Brown, tackles every kid's biggest fear: getting separated from mom. The story follows Little Crocodile, newly hatched, as he sets off through the jungle to search for his mother. He doesn't know who she is, but instead of being frightened, the resourceful critter makes friends with all the animals he encounters on his quest.

When he meets a monkey, he asks, "Are you my mommy?" But Little Crocodile can't swing from a tree and make monkey noises, so he moves on. He then encounters an elephant, but he can't do the things an elephant can, so he continues his pursuit. Finally, after becoming acquainted with other beasts in the wild, he meets Zebra, who offers to help him in his search, carrying him on his back all the way to the river where he saw a lot of splashing. Little Crocodile finds he can splash and dive in the water and even snap like all the other little crocodiles. Best of all he is reunited with his mother all after braving the unknown and making new friends.

Aside from adorable characters, Brown's illustrations are what really make this book appealing. With bachelor's and master's degrees in textiles, this first-time author is able to bring a special texture to her pictures. The lines and swirls that make up the elephant communicate the feel of his rough skin, while long strokes and buffed edges indicate the tiger's fur. Brown's use of color is sure to catch the eye of children ages 3 to 7.

Where's My Mommy? is the perfect book for any child who likes animals. It's also just right for adults looking for a vivid book to read to their kids. It sends the message to little ones that while we may all be different colors and have different habits we can still be friends and help each other out in times of need.

 

Karen Van Valkenburg is a book publicist in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Where's My Mommy?, a bright, bold new picture book from British author Jo Brown, tackles every kid's biggest fear: getting separated from mom. The story follows Little Crocodile, newly hatched, as he sets off through the jungle to search for his mother. He doesn't know who she is, but instead of being frightened, the resourceful […]

Anyone who has experience with youngsters knows they have a ton of energy and tiny attention spans. Getting them to sit down and read a book with you can be difficult when those busy bodies are on the go. That is what makes Song of the Circus by Lois Duncan so wonderful. My three-year-old stepson not only sat through the whole story; he made me read it to him over and over again! Duncan, the award-winning author of more than 40 books for teens, adults and children, takes readers on a colorful journey through the circus. From the man who gets shot out of a cannon to trapeze artists, animals and clowns, she introduces readers to a vivid gallery of performers. At the center of the story are Gisselda and Bop, two kids growing up under the big top. They have an unforgettable run-in with a snarling tiger that, through a crazy chain of events, ends when an elephant crashes into his cage: The Elephant crashed with an awful THUD (with bumps and bruises, though not much blood) But the cage was shattered, the Tiger OUT! He bared his teeth as he whirled about. The Tiger, hungry for small children, goes after Gisselda and Bop. Showing their bravery, the circus children tell the Tiger to STOP! , putting him in his place as the whole crowd cheers. Duncan's rhyming couplets wind and twirl through Cundiff's vibrantly colored illustrations. The characters capture the attention and imagination of young people and adults alike. One of the most impressive pages introduces Gisselda, along with the tattooed man. Reading the tattoos and admiring the detail make for marvelous fun.

With their whimsical circus characters and delightful animals, Cundiff's illustrations contribute to the book's overall appeal. Cundiff, who lives in a Kansas barn with two cats and two rabbits, includes her pets in the drawings a wonderful personal touch. If you're looking for the perfect picture book to entice your energetic children, look no further. Put Duncan's book to the test it's almost as good as a trip to the circus. Karen Van Valkenburg is a book publicist in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Anyone who has experience with youngsters knows they have a ton of energy and tiny attention spans. Getting them to sit down and read a book with you can be difficult when those busy bodies are on the go. That is what makes Song of the Circus by Lois Duncan so wonderful. My three-year-old stepson […]

There are hundreds even thousands of religions in the world today, and each has its own history. From Christianity and the birth of Christ, Islam and the revelations of Muhammad, to Buddhism and the teachings of the Buddha himself, it is critical that our children learn the importance and individuality of different faiths. The Prince Who Ran Away is the perfect tool for getting kids interested in other cultures and religions. The story of Gautama Buddha, the book narrates the events of his childhood and explains how his teachings became the basis of one of the world's five major religions.

Author of over 100 books, Anne Rockwell delights here with a captivating tale that is sure to keep the attention of children ages 7-10. Beginning with his prophetic birth in a forest of flowering trees in India, Rockwell recounts the life of Buddha, highlighting the dedication and kindness he came to possess as he matured. Over the course of this little biography, Buddha realizes his compassion for his people. He begs, fasts, meditates and preaches, all of which lead to his spiritual awakening.

The illustrations are what truly make this book outstanding. With the use of vibrant colors, illustrator Fahimeh Amiri draws readers right into the tale from the beginning. The exotic Indian setting is wonderfully rendered. Among the many images that stand out is one in which the Buddha is looked upon by Mara, the Evil One. The brilliant reds, blues, greens and yellows bring the illustration to life. The most amazing image, however, is a picture of Buddha meditating under a fig tree and being taunted by Mara's demons. Each demon is perfectly drawn to depict the Evil One's terror, but each is also charming enough to be pleasing to the young eye. Amiri, a native of Iran, has contributed remarkably authentic illustrations. His collaboration with veteran author Rockwell adds up to a first-rate story. The Prince Who Ran Away is the perfect addition to any family's library.

Karen Van Valkenburg is a book publicist in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

There are hundreds even thousands of religions in the world today, and each has its own history. From Christianity and the birth of Christ, Islam and the revelations of Muhammad, to Buddhism and the teachings of the Buddha himself, it is critical that our children learn the importance and individuality of different faiths. The Prince […]

Don't you love to hear and read empowerment stories, especially about strong, beautiful women? If your little god or goddess does, too, then The Lady of Ten Thousand Names is just right. This introduction into the legendary realm of the goddess is a wonderful way to encourage our daughters and sons to embody their personal power. From China to North America and from Japan to Africa, stories have been passed down for centuries, one generation to another. Many of these are tales of powerful and mysterious goddesses that teach important life lessons still applicable today. The Lady of Ten Thousand Names is a delightful smorgasbord of these stories, presenting a wide range of times and cultures that will capture the imagination of adults and children alike.

Author Burleigh Muten lucidly retells these traditional stories of bold women who risked it all to serve humanity with kindness, care and compassion. Egypt's Isis, the North American Lakota Sioux's White Buffalo Woman and Nigeria's Oshun are perfect models for female readers, given the current popularity of princesses in today's literature. But the stories in The Lady of Ten Thousand Names are timeless enough to give all young readers encouragement to reach for their dreams.

Beautiful watercolor illustrations by Helen Cann grace the pages and bring the situations and characters to life. As an added touch, she uses different borders that tie in with each different culture. The Chinese tale of Kuan Yin is filled with soft lotus blossoms. The Greek story of Persephone, Demeter and Hekate contains a border of bright pomegranates and daffodils. Most impressive are the stories of Ama-terasu from Japan, Freya from Scandinavia and Cerridwen from Wales, where Cann successfully uses the illustrations to pull the reader into the world of the goddesses.

The talented combination of Muten, the author of Grandmothers' Stories: Wise Woman Tales from Many Cultures, along with Cann whose work has been exhibited around the world, is a sure combination of mastery.

Karen Van Valkenburg is a book publicist by day and a goddess (at least in her own mind) by night.

Don't you love to hear and read empowerment stories, especially about strong, beautiful women? If your little god or goddess does, too, then The Lady of Ten Thousand Names is just right. This introduction into the legendary realm of the goddess is a wonderful way to encourage our daughters and sons to embody their personal […]

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