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A Pond Full of Ink is a children’s book of poetry that was originally written in Dutch in 1978 and then translated into English by David Colmer and paired with illustrations by Sieb Posthuma in 2011. The poems and the illustrations are stunning works of art as they stand alone and create a true masterpiece when paired together. While some of the flow and lilt of words feels off beat in translation, overall the poems in English are very catchy, witty, and comically absurd. This book would be beloved by anyone who enjoys the work of Shel Silverstein.  

Emmeline is a giantess who lives alone at the edge of the woods in isolation; she does not want to either scare people or suffer from their outcries because of her exceptional height. When she was young, her mother had erroneously told her that she would never be able to make friends as a giantess and that no man would love her because she would tower over him. One day, a woodsman started to build a cabin beside Emmeline’s house; he would wave at her through the window every day. When he went to invite her to a local carnival, she was sleeping; although he could see that she was a giantess, he was not afraid of her. The next day he called up through her window to invite her to come to the carnival. 

That’s Not Normal! is written by a Spanish author and illustrated by a French artist. While the storyline is familiar, whereby differences are made fun of and finally come around to save the day, Pavón and Du Fäy’s take on the story is creative and catchy; through the use of recurrent phrases and illustrations for each scene presented in bold colors, they draw the reader in.

In the third book of the graphic novel series, Hotel Strange, the residents of Hotel Strange are making blackberry jam when Kiki goes out to pick more berries and discovers an abandoned crown and scepter. As soon as he picks these up and places the crown on his head, a village of Mushrooms swarms Kiki, proclaiming and praising him as their King.

The Sisters: Selfie Awareness is a playful book depicting two sisters during their summer break from school. The older sister, Wendy, has long brown hair and is mostly interested in her friends and dating while the younger sister, Maureen, has blonde hair, plays hard, and loves getting into mischief. Every few pages, there is a different episode and scenario from the two sisters’ lives; they may, in turns, be doting and kind to one another or create elaborate plans to aggravate one another.

In The Smurf King, Papa Smurf leaves the village in search of an herb for an experiment that he is conducting. He has hardly left the village when the Smurfs begin to argue about who should be in charge during Papa Smurf’s absence. They cast a vote, but everyone votes for themselves and so they hold another election. This time, one Smurf makes his rounds convincing all the others to vote for him, through bribes and false promises that appeal to each individual Smurf. He wins almost every single vote during the election the next day, but he does not keep his promises and forces everyone to call him “King Smurf” and do his bidding or suffer punishment and imprisonment. War breaks out among the Smurfs, when a rebellion rises and they all choose different sides. Read The Smurf King to find out what happens and if the Smurf village can be reunited!  

Where is the Cake Now? is a companion book to Where is the Cake? Both books are about animals looking for a cake, and the whole story is told through pictures. In Where is the Cake Now?, the entire village of animals pack up and prepare for a picnic trip; everyone is bringing something special to the picnic, but the cake is the centerpiece. What nobody notices is that the cake topples out when the bear, carrying it to the picnic spot, trips over the lizard’s long tail.  When they finally arrive at their destination and go for the much anticipated cake-reveal, everyone is shocked and horrified to find the cake missing! The following pages take the reader through a hilarious whodunit mystery as all the animals try to figure out who stole the cake. 

Where Have You Gone, Davy? is a story of family and forgiveness. The story begins with Mother Rabbit discovering a broken bowl in the kitchen and trying to discover which little rabbit did it. Dan, Donny, and Daisy – all claim their innocence, which leaves Davy as the only possible guilty party. When Davy returns home in a jolly mood, Mother Rabbit scolds him for being careless and sends him out of her sight. Mad for being unfairly accused, Davy packs his bag and runs away, planning not to return until he is full-grown.

In this charming father-daughter story, Catherine retells of her childhood growing up in Paris with her Papa. Her mother was from America and had gone back to live in New York City as a professional ballerina while Catherine and her Papa remained in Paris for business. They lived there together for three years, during which the story takes place. The book is filled with an artistic storytelling about a young girl who loves to dance and adores her father. Originally published in French in 1988, Catherine Certitude won the Nobel Prize in Literature award. With its lightly sketched watercolor illustrations, this slow-paced tale muses about the past and is nostalgic for the childhood of growing up in Paris. 

Pizza Boy is living in Lisbon and struggling to get to work on time to deliver pizza for a harsh-tempered boss, when his scooter is stolen by an unidentifiable creature. When the police brush off his report and laugh at his description of the thief, he turns to an occult investigator for help. Dog Mendonca and his assistant Pazuul, who is a demon trapped in a little girl’s body, decide to help Pizza Boy find his scooter because it means that one of the city monsters broke their code.

In this classic tale, Hansel and Gretal are the son and daughter of a baker who have come upon hard times and do not have enough food to feed the whole family. The mother devises a survival plan for herself and her husband, which entails taking the children so deep into the woods that they will be lost and never find their way home again. The baker does not like the idea but gives into his wife’s persistence. Hansel and Gretal, lying awake of hunger, hear what the mother is plotting, and Hansel comes up with a clever strategy. He collects white rocks and drops them along the way through the woods, and when the moonlight comes out, the rocks shine and light the way home. The baker and his wife try again, taking the kids deeper into the woods this time. Hansel uses his one piece of bread to leave crumbs to mark the path, but the birds eat them up, and the children get lost. Hungry and lost in the woods, they fall into the witch’s trap, lured by the witch’s house made out of cake. The evil witch plans to fatten the kids and eat them up! Read “Hansel and Gretal” to discover the clever schemes that the brother and sister use to get out of the pickle! 

A Thousand Things about Holland is a companion book to Charlotte Dematons wordless picture book called Holland which was published in 2012. Holland is a book portraying various scenes throughout Holland during every season. There are paintings of traditions and customs in Holland that are quite unique, such as the famous Carnival in Breda in February; festivities on the coast with traditional costumes; and paintings of celebrations during holidays throughout the country. Each picture is a fascinating work of art using specific colors to convey the mood and feel of each setting. While the book does not tell a story in the traditional sense, it gives the viewer an opportunity to experience and appreciate the beauty, customs, and history of Holland through each painting.

From the author of the beloved Bambi, Felix Salten, comes the story of Fifteen Rabbits; written in 1929, it depicts the life of a small rabbit as he grows up in the forest. This anthropomorphized tale of woodland creatures is a heart-wrenching and grim portrayal of what these animals are subjected to in the forest: hunted by foxes and hawks, starving, caught in traps, and shot by human hunters. The main rabbit is aptly named Hops, and the story starts as they are just small bunnies in the springtime eating and playing together. Hops and his best friend Plana quickly learn that there is much danger in a rabbit’s life; even though they are harmless, they constantly need to be alert for predators around them. All animals share a language, and there is dialogue between the rabbits, squirrels, birds and the elk who share the forest and also look out for their own survival. 

Liesbet Slegers, a prolific Belgian author and graphic designer, has written many children’s books, which have been translated from Dutch into English. She studied graphics and illustrations at Saint Lucas Institute in Antwerp, and she writes and illustrates all of her books. Her illustrations are identifiable by their bold and bright colors, typically featuring toddlers in various situations. While the drawings are simple, their bright playful colors make it easy for young children to follow along with the story without being overwhelmed. Slegers often uses her books to help toddlers understand some of their first experiences and acknowledges that those situations can be both exciting and scary. Astronauts and What They Do is a part of her Professional Series which also includes books about other careers, such as dentists, teachers, archeologists, and chefs.

Arnica Esterl has reimagined a popular German tale in her rendition of Dragon Feathers. Beth, the innkeeper’s daughter has fallen in love with the woodcutter’s son against her father’s wishes. The innkeeper does not want his only daughter to marry a boy that has no wealth. The innkeeper is portrayed as cruel and greedy, but he does present the woodcutter’s son with a proposition to marry his daughter. The woodcutter’s son must pluck three feathers from the most feared creature of the land, the dragon of the dark woods. On his quest, the woodcutter’s son meets a man whose daughter is ill, people who wait for golden fruit from an apple tree, and a ferryman who desperately wants to retire. All three people need something from the dragon but are far too afraid to approach him. The woodcutter’s son graciously volunteers to ask their questions to the dragon.

A Pond Full of Ink
The Giantess
That's Not Normal!
Hotel Strange 3
The Sisters 4
The Smurf King
Where is the Cake Now?
Where Have You Gone, Davy
Catherine Certitude
The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonca and Pizza Boy
Hansel and Gretal
A Thousand Things About Holland
Fifteen Rabbits
Astronauts and What They Do
Dragon Feathers
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