March 15, 2017 Booklist 47 www.booklistonline.com
“sea waves” meets “see waves,” as Old Glory
whips in the wind. Each of Nelson’s superb,
often photo-realistic images capture the spirit
and diversity of the United States, weaving
together its people and symbols. Though ostensibly a picture book for younger children,
this has the ability to reach a much broader
audience, and spark discussion of hopes and
fears. It’s hard to imagine a book better suited
to this time. —Ilene Cooper
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Nelson is
one of the preeminent kidlit illustrators working today, and promotion will help this book,
in particular, find its many readers.
The Blue Songbird.
By Vern Kousky. Illus. by the author.
Apr. 2017. 40p. Running Press, $16.99 (9780762460663).
This poor, little blue songbird is different.
Every day she tries to sing with her mellifluous yellow sisters, but she can never live up
to their song. Her mother (also blue) assures
her that she has a special song—she just needs
to go find it. So the little songbird leaves the
nest in search of her song. The soft, delicate
illustrations make her long journey less scary;
even big, potentially intimidating cities look
somewhat cozy. Along the way, the songbird
meets many new birds and asks if they know
where she can find a song that only she can
sing. No one can help until she meets the
scary-seeming crow, who, it turns out, isn’t
scary at all and holds the answer: by sending
her back home, the little bird discovers that
the journey itself has provided her with a
special song. Kousky’s gentle and uncluttered
illustrations may not hold the attention of
extremely energetic readers but complement
the story well. A sweet tale about a little bird
that affirms the old adage: there’s no place like
home. —Stephanie Seales
The Camping Trip: The Adventures of
Findus and Pettson.
By Sven Nordqvist. Illus. by the author.
Tr. by Tara Chace.
Apr. 2017. 32p. North-South, $17.95 (9780735842779).
As old man Pettson explains the uses of a
tent to Findus, the cat becomes wildly en-
thusiastic about sleeping out by the lake that
night. But when the squawking chickens in-
sist on following the pair on their hike, the
duo turns around, heads for home, and pitch-
es the tent in the yard instead. After a restless
night, Pettson discovers a neighbor snooping
around. Embarrassed that he’s pitched a tent
outside his house just to please his cat, he
spins an improbable yarn. Later, he explains
to Findus that he was obliging his gossipy
neighbor by giving him “a good story to tell.”
Published in Sweden in 1992, this amusing
picture book indeed offers a good story to
tell, with a text sufficiently well-crafted and
detailed enough to engage children who may
be reading on their own but still enjoy hear-
ing books read aloud. The colorful, detailed
ink-and-wash illustrations are full of energy
and wit. A “Backyard Camping Checklist”
concludes the latest book in the Adventures of
Pettson and Findus series. —Carolyn Phelan
Dragons Rule, Princesses Drool!
By Courtney Pippin-Mathur. Illus. by the
May 2017. 40p. Simon & Schuster/Little Simon, $16.99
(9781481461382); e-book, $16.99 (9781481461399).
There is a scourge upon the land, in the
opinion of one fierce (read: small and plump)
dragon. A pair of flouncy princesses have
invaded his kingdom and are committing deplorable deeds. The girls have planted flowers
everywhere, and his fellow dragons have abandoned their ferocious ways to frolic in tutus,
becoming shamelessly (and shamefully) cute.
Enough is enough, so the squat red dragon
sets off to find a hero to take care of the problem. But when the old knight deploys “ye
olde dragon net” in the grove where the beasts
are gathered, the little dragon is left with
no choice but to ask the princesses for help.
Happily, they are more than up for the task
and show everyone that being cute and being
fierce aren’t mutually exclusive. This silly fairy-tale adventure is a delight from start to finish,
and its empowering conclusion is a welcome
bonus. Pippin-Mathur’s candy-colored watercolor illustrations are gleeful with whimsical
touches and guaranteed to elicit laughter from
young readers. —Julia Smith
Go Sleep in Your Own Bed.
By Candace Fleming. Illus. by Lori
May 2017. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99
It’s bedtime on the farm, but when Pig
toddles to his sty and plops down to go to
sleep—Moooo! Cow is inside! Cow then
tromps to her stall to sleep, only to find Hen
there! Hen straggles to her coop, only to find
Horse there, and so on. Is no one sleeping
in their own bed? There is a lot of delightful
language at play here—Horse goes “
cloppety-plod,” Dog moves “sniffety-drag,” Hen spouts
expletives like, “Oh, fluff and feathers!”—in
an otherwise wonderfully simple story. The
turn-the-page clues that further the story
line are well laid out in both the text and the
pictures, and the ending is a sweet, full-circle
surprise. Nichols’ illustrations are done in
muted, bedtime tones of shadowy blues and
greens, and Fleming’s incorporation of the
repeated refrains of “Who do you think he
found?” and the title line to “Go sleep in your
own bed!” lend themselves perfectly well to a
read-aloud experience, whether alone with a
caretaker and child or with a larger group at a
family storytime. —Becca Worthington
A Horse Named Steve.
By Kelly Collier. Illus. by the author.
Apr. 2017. 32p. Kids Can, $16.95 (9781771387361).
Steve the horse very much wants to be ex-
ceptional. Some horses, he knows, get to wear
ribbons (Steve doesn’t have a ribbon). But
when he stumbles across a gold horn one day,
he knows he’s found something exceptional at
last! He straps the horn between his ears and
prances off to show his friends, not noticing as
it slowly slips off his head and down around
his neck. In the background, all of Steve’s as-
sorted animal friends begin to strap objects
to their own heads, but Bob the raccoon,
growing increasingly annoyed with Steve’s
bragging, plays dumb: “I don’t see a beauti-
ful gold horn on your head. You are NOT
EXCEPTIONAL!” Cue the theatrics as Steve
tears the place apart looking for the thing
that makes him special. The two-colored il-
lustrations are as tongue-in-cheek as the text,
which sports numerous dry asides. Steve,
with his puffed chest and spindly legs, is pure
caricature, and this tale of hubris and self-
expression will have both parents and children
rolling with laughter. —Maggie Reagan
By David Ezra Stein. Illus. by the author.
Apr. 2017. 32p. Candlewick, $15.99 (9780763682033).
An energetic ice cube, Ice Boy, is reluctant
to end up “chosen” like other cubes in his
home, the freezer. Some cubes end up in
drinks, others in cold compresses, but Ice
Boy is far more adventurous. Even though
he’s been warned to stay in the freezer and
out of the sun, he defies both warnings, mak-
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