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"Every night, Ludwig dreamed of zooming past cheese moons and sausage planets. He always woke up hungry in the morning." And so we meet Ludwig, a dog who lives in books but dreams of exploring beyond the page. I'm willing to bet his is a story quite unlike any you've ever seen!
There's a lot going on in this picture book, written by Henning Löhlein and published by Kane Miller. For one thing, it's 3D - and comes with its own space goggles, stored in an envelope attached to the inside cover. Put on the space goggles, and the book really does come alive... deep shadows, crinkled paper, feathers falling from the air... and, of course, cheese moons and sausage planets! The multidimensional illustrations are even more meaningful when you realize they create contrast between Ludwig's world, which is made of paper, and his imagination, which is anything but.
The basic story here is that Ludwig wants to be an explorer. He reads books on how to fly, about birds, about rockets. He tries all sorts of ways to fly, but they all fail. Just when he contemplates giving up, BANG! a (3D) rocket crashes into Ludwig's world. Out steps a penguin, an explorer! The penguin is upset because his rocket engine is damaged, and he doesn't know how to fix it. Fortunately, Ludwig has read all about engines, so he can fix it. In gratitude, the penguin explorer invites Ludwig to explore with him, so off he goes!
Buy Ludwig the Space Dog here! ($12.99, hardcover)
"Who's going to get ready for bed first tonight?"
"Micah!" (says Josh)
If you have kids, I'm sure you've seen this kind of exchange many times over. That classic volunteer-anybody-but-me tactic. Well, Take Ted Instead, a Kane Miller book written by Cassandra Webb and illustrated by Amanda Francey, addresses this sometimes frustrating tactic in a sweet, funny way that reminds you why, ultimately, you do still love your kids. ;)
The premise of this story is quite simple: it's bedtime, and a little boy is resisting, despite his mother's repeated statement, "it's time for bed, sleepyhead." Each time his mom says this line, the boy gives an excuse - "No, no, take Red instead." "No no, take Seb instead." "No, no, take Zed instead." And each time the boy's mom says her line, she finds this little boy somewhere new - inside a cupboard, under the dining room table, behind the curtains.
Eventually, the little boy tells his mom to take Ted, his giant teddy bear, instead. And here, the rhythm of the story breaks: "But Ted will be lonely, in a bed all on his own," says mom. This makes the little boy ponder until he finally dashes after his mom and Ted.
This book is pretty great not only because it pokes fun at the daily struggles of getting a kid to bed, but because it works on so many levels... there's potential for engaging reader's theater as you mix up the intonations of both mom and kid repeating the same lines, there's clever non-verbal humor as you see the little boy (or just his hands or feet) poking out from his various hiding places, and there is strong reading development built in with the repetition of lines and rhyming words for everything the little boy suggests his mom "take instead". You'll love it, your kids will love it... and you might just get them to bed!
It's that book that pokes fun at the toddler quirks that seem so hard in the moment but are just one more reason you love that kid.
Buy Take Ted Instead here! (hardcover, $11.99)
"That was a sweet book!" This was Josh's (age 4) reaction after I read Cuddle Bear to him for the first time. And that pretty much sums it up... if a toddler boy recognizes a book is sweet, you know it's true! It's a simple story but one with an important message - and illustrations so snuggly that you want to hug the book itself when you're finished reading it.
The premise of Cuddle Bear, by Clair Freedman and Gavin Scott (published by Kane Miller) is this little bear who wants to give hugs to anyone feeling down. He reaches out to lonely animals, angry animals, happy animals - everyone deserves a hug! "The world needs hugs," Cuddle Bear explains, "to make each day feel bright. So stretch both arms and wrap them round your friends to hug them tight!"
One aspect of this book that I love is that it isn't only lonely or sad animals that get hugs. The lion looks angry and has never smiled because the other animals have been too afraid of his wildness - but not Cuddle Bear! And then... "Now Lion's happy as can be. One hug was all it took!" But even happy animals deserve hugs! Take Little Rabbit, for example - he's in a happy mood, and he wants a hug, too! The message here, of course, is that hugs are good in all weather for any occasion.
And, if you want to hug Cuddle Bear but don't want to bend your book, you can buy a plush version of him! He's equal parts squishy and lovable. :)
Hi there! I'm Christine - Usborne Books & More independent consultant, kids' book fan, English teacher, mom of two boys.