In my daughter’s bedroom is a book we bought from The Children’s Book Fair, held annually at the Brooklyn Museum. The special thing about What Animals Really Like, aside from being a fun book to read aloud, is that it’s signed by the author, Fiona Robinson, and addressed to my girl. She doesn’t remember getting the autograph, but it still makes her smile each time we open the book and see her special note. You can get children’s books signed at many a bookstore, of course, but the Children’s Book Fair is unique in that there are just so many authors and illustrators in one place, waiting to talk with your children and sign their favorite books.
Tomorrow’s installment brings together nearly 40 local authors and illustrators like Brian Floca and Oliver Jeffers, whose books are notable not just because they’re Brooklynites, but because their work is beautiful. Below are a few of the titles currently in bedtime story rotation at Meredith Craig de Pietro’s house, and mine, that you can add to your collection at the fair. And if you’ve got an Ivy & Bean fan in your house, be sure to carve in time for a reading from Sophie Blackall at 3:30.
Locomotive by Brian Floca (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books)
This Caldecott Medal book is a riveting ride through the history of the American transcontinental railway. This story takes place in 1869, and focuses on one family’s trip from Omaha, Nebraska heading all the way to Sacramento, California in search of a new life. Warm watercolor illustrations showcase the changing landscapes of America’s “rugged country” with fields “as empty as an ocean.” A slender book packed with accurate information and research explains in detail the mechanics of the engines, the job descriptions of the men who work the rails, as well as the logistics of using the steam engine’s toilet. Bright font and entertaining onomatopoeia help to engage young train lovers and their American history loving parents.—Meredith Craig de Pietro
Rocket Writes A Story by Tad Hills (Schwartz & Wade)
Rocket the dog loves words and loves to read (see: How Rocket Learned To Read), and now he wants to learn to write. With the help of his friend, the little yellow bird, he decides to write a story. His quest for inspiration leads him to a mysterious tree, where he eventually befriends a shy owl, and it becomes his muse. The book encourages young writers to blossom by teaching about character and plot, but also friendship, with super sweet illustrations. Rocket learns that writing takes time and patience, but with hard work it can be very rewarding. Young authors-in-training will have no problem relating.—M.C.
The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)
Ages 4 and up
Henry really loves books…eating books that is! His appetite for books was insatiable, and he found he was getting smarter from all the books he was consuming, but eventually everything started to get jumbled in his head and he started to feel really sick. Finally, Henry discovers that he can read the books instead and “he might still become the smartest person on Earth.” This imaginative book is full of fun ideas, wonderful, collage-style illustrations, and humorous diagrams that will delight bookworms. The quirky story is complete with hidden details throughout and an actual bite taken out of the back of the book.—M. C.
Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Ages 3 – 6
Red Knit Cap Girl is very fun to say out loud, something you will do throughout the first title in Naoko Stoop’s series of adventures featuring this red-hatted child. She is searching for a way to get close enough to the moon to talk to her, a pursuit that leads Red Knit Cap Girl through the woods to enlist the help of her friends, hedgehog, white bunny, squirrel and bear, as they work together to blow out all the lights, and create an atmosphere dark and quiet enough to see the moon. This is a sweet tale for preschoolers, who seem just as excited as Red Knit Cap Girl to see the moon come out, and the illustrations are striking. Stoop paints scenes on top of plywood, and the grain runs beneath her illustrations like another element of her nature-driven stories.—Nicole Davis