Featured books will be available for the public today. To place them on hold, call the Walla Walla Public Library at 527-4550 or go to wallawallapubliclibrary.org.

 

Picture books

“Vroom!” by Barbara McClintock

In this high-octane adventure, the hero does just as she pleases and makes it back in time for bed. 

One evening, Annie fits her helmet over her mass of red curls with a big smile on her face, gets into her race car — a sleek, torpedo-shaped unit that sits low to the ground — and rockets right out of her open bedroom window, the car leaving a stream of exhaust over the backyard. “It was a fine evening for a drive,” the narrator continues, with delicious understatement, as Annie and her car blast across an impossibly expansive vista of plowed fields, and great mountains loom on the horizon. 

She hurtles on through magnificent stretches of geography — scaling peaks, sailing through red rock formations, zooming through forests and along city streets — before overtaking a surprised field of competitors on a racecourse and heading home. 

McClintock’s crisp, clean landscape spreads have the precision of architectural drawings, and her economically told story offers all the greatest charms of adventure: being on one’s own, seeing new places, and going really, really fast. It’s a richly gratifying fantasy. Ages 4-7

— Publishers Weekly

“The Bell Rang,” by James E. Ransom

A girl’s family life and plantation routines are interrupted when three enslaved boys run away.

Most days start the same way: The bell rings, Daddy collects wood, Mama prepares breakfast, they eat together.

The narrator’s brother, Ben, her parents, and the other slaves go to the fields while the girl stays with the young ones to play. On Wednesday, Ben surprises her with a handmade doll. On Thursday, Ben and his two friends are gone.

There are tears; the narrator’s parents are beaten, and other slaves look mad or sad. On Friday, the girl cannot eat or talk. On Saturday, there are horses and dogs; Ben’s friends have been caught, but there is no sign of Ben. “Out comes the whip. / All night we cry and pray for Ben.” On Sunday, Big Sam preaches near the creek, “of being free. / We sing. / We hope. / We pray / Ben made it. / Free like the birds. / Free like Moses. / No more bells.”

The final spread shows the girl looking out, with the single word “Monday …” and a bird flying away on the endpaper.

The richly textured paintings make masterful use of light and space to create the narrator’s world and interior life, from the glimmer of dawn as her father chops wood to her mother’s fatigue and her own knowing eyes. Ransom’s free-verse text is as accomplished as his glowing acrylics.

With spare text and gorgeous illustrations, this work represents a unique and engaging perspective on enslaved families. Ages 4-8

— Kirkus Reviews

“The Book Hog,” by Greg Pizzoli

The Japanese word tsundoku describes books that have piled up in a home without being read.

Pizzoli’s porcine protagonist certainly accumulates books — he’s a relentless buyer and forager — and he adores each volume (“He loved the way they smelled, and the way the pages felt in his hoofs. He especially liked the ones with pictures”). But reading procrastination is not his problem. Book Hog has a big secret: “He didn’t know how to read. He had never learned.” Then Book Hog discovers the library (“he smelled some books inside”) and a whole community of book lovers, including a kind librarian whose attentiveness and story times inspire him — “over time, and with practice” — to become a reader. Pizzoli once again employs a candy-colored palette and an ebullient cast — the pink-and-green look, and even some of the characters, are reminiscent of his “The Watermelon Seed.” 

And, as always in a Pizzoli book, there are wonderful details: readers will note that the markings on spines of the books go from fuzzy lines to actual titles when the Book Hog learns to read, and that in one spread, he raptly stands right by the librarian’s chair, clutching its arm as she reads aloud to the group. Who hasn’t seen — or been — that kid? Ages 3-5

— Publishers Weekly

“Crabcake: Turning the Tide Together,” by Andrea Tsurumi

Under the sea, the animals all have their part to play. The tangs swim in schools, the scallop flips in a loop-de-loop, and the crab … bakes cakes. 

Tsurumi gracefully switches between pseudo-nonfiction snapshots of undersea life and a ridiculous tale about a crab baking for its friends. The two threads come together toward the middle of the book, when a large amount of trash is dumped into their ocean.

Shocked and scared, the other fish turn to Crab, who feeds them and orchestrates a cleanup movement. This is not only a simple tale about the healing power of baking, but also about the importance of clean oceans — links in the back to NASA Climate Kids and other sites help reiterate that important point. 

As in her debut, “Accident!,” it’s Tsurumi’s illustrations that win the day. Her attention to detail and ability to create rich textures through shading and colors truly bring the animals to life. And the cartoon style makes the piece fun and lighthearted before shifting gears to show the animals fearfully looking at the blackened garbage that has infested their home. Ages 4-7

— School Library Journal

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