Thursday, June 10, 2010

New goodies: CuddleFest edition

Two recent additions to our picture books have such squeezable characters that they're just begging to be read in a blanket fort on a sleepy Sunday morning. Gather up all your blankies, pillows, and lovies, and get ready to invest in some serious snuggle time.

The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood is something I've been waiting impatiently for since last summer, when I got a sneak peek at NECBA's "Pub Crawl" of publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The text is deceptively simple and brilliantly subtle, naming different kinds of quiet beginning first thing in the morning and continuing through the day. There are a lot more than you might think! The young animals acting as surrogates for kids during good ("first one awake," "bedtime kiss") and not-so-great ("jelly-side down") moments of quiet have great expressiveness in face and gesture. The Quiet Book is charming at first glance, but only grows in warmth and wit the more time you spend with it being quiet.

Natalie Russell's Brown Rabbit in the City is another long-awaited new book. This companion to Moon Rabbit follows Brown Rabbit as he visits Little Rabbit in an NYC-esque metropolis. Being a country bunny, he's in for a shock (I remember feeling similarly when I first visited New York!), and Little Rabbit's not helping with her jam-packed agenda of things to do and see. I love Moon Rabbit, and I'm so glad that its sweet friendship story continues In the City.

A new shipment of Jellycat plush came in yesterday (huzzah!). We actually had just gotten more Jellycat recently, but they go so fast -- apparently customers love this brand as much as we do! There are quite a few new faces in the bunch; Teresa immediately glommed onto this giant, pillowy Truffle Dog:

Having similar plans myself, I thought it might come to fisticuffs until I saw the Chaucer Truffle Dog:

Luckily, we can still be friends, since each of us can have a Truffle Dog of our very own. Whew! Crisis averted!

One newbie from Jellycat is really an old friend. Please allow me to re-introduce you:
Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. And then he feels that perhaps there isn't. Anyhow, here he is at the bottom, and ready to be introduced to you. Winnie-the-Pooh.

When I first heard his name, I said, just as you are going to say, "But I thought he was a boy?"

"So did I," said Christopher Robin.

"Then you can't call him Winnie?"

"I don't."

"But you said--"

"He's Winnie-ther-Pooh. Don't you know what 'ther' means?"

"Ah, yes, now I do," I said quickly; and I hope you do too, because that is all the explanation you are going to get.
-- A.A. Milne, from Winnie-the-Pooh (1926)

Winnie-the-Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, and Milne's poetry are quintessential blanket-fort fare... and any serious Pooh read-aloud session requires a "silly old bear" to be present! This one from Jellycat will naturally need a little wearing in to be the ultimate companion -- may I recommend some bumping down the stairs on his head? -- but he's an awfully good start. For a great baby gift, pair him with Dutton's new full-color editions, which have watercolors accentuating Ernest Shepard's lovely illustrations.

The other George staffers know I'm hooked on the art of Susie Ghahremani, introduced to me by CG alumna, lover of all things adorable, and illustrator of squishable animals Jess Golden. Luckily for me, if not for my bank account, we recently received a bunch more items featuring Ghahremani illustrations!

The Land + Air + Water Triptych Journal Collection are tiny blank books, complementary in color and composition. On the "Land" journal, a trio of teddy-esque bears peek from behind evergreen trees. "Water" shows three octopuses -- octopi? octopods? actually, these guys only have four -pods, so make of that what you will! -- in their seaweed forest with a seahorse friend. My favorite of the triptych is "Air," on which three owls stargaze from their perches on bare tree branches. An "extremely interesting measurement table" gives collective animal nouns, which I'd rather have than metric conversions any day. (A group of owls is apparently a parliament, but I'm unfortunately still in doubt about the collective noun for octopus.)

What better way to let someone know you're thinking of them than with a short but sweet sentiment relayed by cavorting animals? The tri-fold Mini Notes set holds ten each of three card designs: "Thanks for..." (birdies carrying thank-you banners), "Hi There!" (a kitty opening a present with a puppy inside), and "Call Me!" (a kitty wrapped up in a phone cord). The cards measure about 3.5 inches by 2 inches, and come with coordinating teeny-tiny envelopes. The mini size makes these great to tuck into a friend's purse, pocket, locker, or lunch bag. Everybody I've given one to has actually squeed!

My Family, My Journey: A Baby Book for Adoptive Families is unlike any other baby journal I've seen -- it helps families record memories leading up to and after an adoption. Adoption-specific journaling prompts like "The Match!," "Our Journey to You," "Our Very First Meeting," and "What We Know About Your Birth Family" are tucked in with more standard baby journal fare ("All About Your Birthday," "All About Your Name," Our Hopes and Dreams for You"). There's also a pocket to store mementos and stickers to create a family tree. I wish this had been out there when a (now pre-teen) young friend of mine was adopted!

Let's Go Outside! Outdoor Activities and Projects to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature by Jennifer Ward features art by Susie Ghahremani alongside more than 50 great ideas for outdoor fun. Make sun prints, press flowers, make daisy chains, blow giant bubbles, start a cloud-watching journal, or make a field guide to your own backyard. I especially can't wait to try #19 ("Paper Makers") and #22 ("Playground for Poets"). This is a great pick for summer vacation.

For more over-the-top adorableness, check out connoisseur-of-cute Natasha's recent posts about all things tiny and the awesome new Animal Journal. Come to think of it, that Natasha's pretty cute herself. :)

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