Four new titles from Penguin Press will stimulate the imagination of 3-to-5 year olds and lead to calls for frequent rereadings.
King Jack and The Dragon, by Peter Bently, illustrator Helen Oxenbury, $17.99, is a fantasy story about discovering dragons and beasts. Zak, Jack and Caspar trasnform household items into a fort. (Young readers will want to do the same.using chairs, blankets and other home furnishings) From their safe fort they ward off dragons and other evil beasts, taking time out to eat special treats. (Be prepared for requests for food.) All days end, and Zak’s mother takes him home and Caspar, the youngest fighter, goes to bed. Alone in their fort, Jack becomes frightened. (Now is the time to make scarey noises sounding like lurking beasts.) Dad announces it’s time for Jack to go to bed too. Now all the dragons and beasts go away, waiting for a new day and new fights with the boys.
Road Work Ahead, by Anastasia Such, illustrator Jannie Ho, is a sure winner for children who live in cities. A normal visit to grandma’s house is disrupted by major road work. Workmen jackhammer holes in the roads and sidewalks. Other workmen pave sidewalks or surface streets. Still others repair streetlights. Everywhere there is noise. Cement mixers, big trucks, cherry picker trucks and other vehicles needed to do all this work are depicted in colorful primary hues.
Pirates & Princesses, by Jill and Saadie Kargman, illustrator Christine Davenier, $16.99, is a book about dividing boys and girls at an early age on the playground. Ivy and Fletch are best friends who have always played together. When they get to kindergarten they are separated. Ivy must be on the Princess Team and Fletch must be a Pirate. They miss each other and playing isn’t as much fun as it once was. Then one day Fletch rescues Ivy from a pirate captain. They realize they don’t want to continue playing separately anymore. In a quiet way this book explains why emphasizing gender differences isn’t always the best choice for friends.
Froggy Builds a Tree House, by Jonathan London, illustrator Frank Remkiewica, $16.99, is another book about early separation of the sexes. Froggy decides to build a tree house with his friends and his father. The boys will play cardx, tell jokes and order pizza from their tree house sanctuary. He tells his friend Frogilina she can’t come to the pizza party or the tree house and he post a Boys Only sign to make his message clear. Frogilina stands by to soothe him when he drops boards, bangs his fingers and can’t seem to finish his project. Finally, he orders the special pizza with flies. As he climbs up he drops the box. Frogilina comes to his rescue once again. Does he invite her to join them?