March 2011

Don & Audrey Wood's Children's Books

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry & the Big Hungry Bear
A little mouse has a treasure- a perfectly exquisite strawberry. The narrator warns him of the nearby strawberry-eating bear, and the little mouse determines to protect his treasure. What will he do? Is the narrator as innocent as he seems, or is he merely after the strawberry himself? Children laugh with delight at the mouse's antics, empathize with the narrator's desire to enjoy the strawberry, and shiver at the thought of a hungry bear getting that luscious fruit all to himself. Quite possibly the cutest illustrations I've seen in a children's book. You just want to pick up the mouse and snuggle him! I'm amazed at the depth of expression Don Wood manages to convey in individual pictures! Audrey Wood perfectly captures a child's delight in simple things, as well as their fear of having a possession taken. In the end, sharing and enjoying instead of hoarding win the day. One of my top-10 favorites to read aloud!

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Don & Audrey Wood

Don & Audrey Wood are a husband & wife author-illustrator team. I list them together because they really complete each other. Audrey Wood's text proves she "gets" children, and Don Wood's warm, inviting, whimsical illustrations perfectly complement them. I think their books are some of the least-recognized gems for children published right now. I love some of the main-stream ones (Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, Margaret Wise Brown, etc.), but think that these are simply outstanding.

The Napping House
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry & the Big Hungry Bear
Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear!
King Bidgood's in the Bathtub
Piggies (or, as we read it in our house, Cerditos)


Septimus is trying to take his place as the youngest son of the Heap family, and the Apprentice to the intimidating Extra-Ordinary Wizard, Marcia (who is still wearing her purple python pointy shoes). Jenna is learning what it means to be the Princess. The Heap family has greatly changed; Silas & Sarah now live in the Castle along with Jenna, and are trying very hard to learn to manage the huge empty building, left bare and sad after 10 years occupation by the Custodian Army. Nicko is a Apprenticed to a boat-builder and lives by the Harbor. Sam, Jo-jo, Edd & Erik have decided to stay on in the Forest at "Camp Heap." Septimus lives in the Wizard Tower under Marcia's supervision. That leaves Simon... unfortunately he returns just as the book begins, bent on getting back at the twerpy younger brother who took (was offered) the Apprenticeship he'd long desired. He kidnaps Jenna, despite having grown up with her as his beloved little sister; to him she is now the one responsible for ruining his life and the cozy family life he once had. When none of the grown-ups believe that he would do such a thing, Septimus & Nicko set off to find her.

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