by Esmé Shapiro (Tundra Books, 2016 [out today!])

One of the best things about being in so many overlapping circles of the kids’ book community is that I often get a look at a book early. And this is one that has caused me to watch the calendar day after day after day after day to make sure I don’t miss telling the rest of the world when it’s ready. And people, it’s ready.

Meet Ooko.

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Oh, how his face changes from happy to hope. Hope mixed up with some sadness, that is. Look how he’s got a fierce grip on those things he loves–his stick, his leaf, his rock. But look at where his eyes land–on happy hedgehogs, two by two.

While that might be the look of despair, let’s not forget his fierce grip. Ooko goes friend-hunting.

There’s a hole, a tree, and a moose. But no friends.



A page prior, Ooko spotted this Debbie playing with a funny-looking fox. The kind of fox you might have at home. The kind that starts as a puppy.

But then again, Ooko is the kind of fox that looked for a friend under a moose, and Ooko is stumped.

But then again again, Ooko is resolute. Adamant. Single-minded. Debbie-minded.


Debbie-minded enough to stick cotton candy on her head. Easy-peasy.

And it’s dear and sweet and heartbreaking to watch Ooko try so hard. And then, thanks to some smeared or shattered glasses, Ooko turns into Ruthie. A funny-looking fox, fit for a Debbie.


(Side note: best leg hair in a picture book this year? Or ever? Not to mention that sock bun.)

It doesn’t take Ooko long to get completely over this Debbie’s games.


This picture–OOOF. Right? Prim and proper and blow-dried and dressed up and despite wanting to be loved, this was not the kind he was looking for. According to the hairy-legged-lady’s gallery wall, Ruthie was all of those things that a fox is not.

And isn’t that the best news?

Because maybe, maybe, when you hightail it from the house that fits you wrong, you run into someone on the outside. Someone who likes sticks. Someone who wants to play.

Oh my crickets, this book. Be a Debbie and track it down, will you?

For more Ooko fun, click here for an Ooko Storytime Kit.

And don’t miss the grunts and squeals of our hero in his very own book trailer.

For friends who took a while. For Debbies who turn out to not be.


Thank you to Tundra Books for the images in this post. Be sure to click to enlarge!

Zephyr Takes Flight

Fun news! Today’s post is brought to you by the lovely Emily Litman, of the blog Bing Bang Crash Boom! Emily is just as fun and zesty as that blog name, and when I first saw Ramona Quimby in her sidebar, I knew we would be friends. She finds (and shares!) the best books, and has impeccable taste.

So… to Emily!


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by Steve Light

{published 2012, by Candlewick Press}

Taking Flight. To begin, what a lovely concept.  I can think of quite a few moments this afternoon in which I wanted to read, Emily Takes Flight.  Emily Takes Flight to Paris. Emily Takes Flight to Anywhere But Here.  Steve Light gives us this moment of escape in his beautiful book, Zephyr Takes Flight.  He illustrates with pen and ink and colored pencils.  I love this! It empowers the layperson, who does not have an MFA in oil paints, to take what they have at home and create. We follow Zephyr on a imaginative journey that lands her in a magical land inhabited with flying pigs.

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The story has a lovely comic book feel with two or three large strips every now and then when the action moves too fast for one piece of imagery.  It is a sight for sore eyes, one of those books that you can quietly walk away from and leave your young reader flipping through long after.

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I first discovered Steve Light through his too-good-to-be true silver tea sets, errr… oversized boardbooks. Watercolors and Trains are quite lovely. I love the juxtaposition of the two. And now that I have made my high school English teacher proud, I will leave you with one more glorious thing.  Steve Light set himself apart as a true genius when he designed beautiful, hard carved play sets to accompany select fairy tales. I want these. All of them. My life as a story teller would be complete. How wholesome of him to do this for us. Check them out here!

breaker Thanks for hanging out here, Emily!

You can find Emily at her blog and on Twitter.