Boot & Shoe
By Marla Frazee
Published 2012 by Simon & Schuster Children's Books
Boot and Shoe were born in the same litter. They eat out of the same dish and they do the same things every day. But Boot naps on the back porch while Shoe stakes out the front porch. This suits them fine, until a crazy squirrel comes along and stirs things up. I love the simplicity of the story and the illustrations here; it works perfectly and makes this book very appealing for young ones. This is a very sweet story about friends. My only complaint, if you will, is that the dogs look more like cats.
The Ant & the Grasshopper
By Rebecca and Ed Emberley
Published 2012 by Roaring Brook Press
Once again, the Emberleys are adapting traditional fables in their inimitable style. In this case, however, they are taking their adaptation even further. Once you start reading this book, you may realize that it doesn't have much in common with the traditional tale besides its name. In this version of the tale, the ant hears the sweet and sassy music played by the grasshopper and his friends and forgets her work to find the source. The illustrations are incredibly vibrant and feel imbued with the music. I love the bright colors and style, but it's not my favorite story.
The Three Ninja Pigs
By Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat
Published 2012 by Putnam Juvenile
Okay, it's pretty clear that I probably wouldn't have picked up this book if it hadn't been illustrated by Dan Santat. I just completely love his style - it's fun and evocative and really interesting. But, I might have given this a shot even with a different illustrator - I'm a fan of retellings and this one definitely takes the story in a different direction. The three pigs don't understand why the wolves won't just leave everybody alone, but they're not going to take it. So, each pig signs up for a different kind of martial arts that they plan on using the next time a wolf tries to bully someone. This is a fun new version of "The Three Little Pigs" that I think kids will enjoy.
Princess in Training
By Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Joe Berger
Published 2012 by Harcourt Children's Books
Who says princesses don't skateboard or karate chop? Well, Princess Viola's parents for one. So they send her to Camp Princess, where she will learn true princess things, like the royal wave and waltzing. When a dragon shows up at Camp Princess, though, Viola can't resist showing off her special skill set. This would be a fun book for a little princess who also likes more rough and tumble activities (which I think is a good percentage of little princesses). The illustrations are perfect for depicting Viola's sweet and spunky sides. It's a pretty basic story but definitely has kid appeal.