Check out RKR’s latest picture book recommendations -- perfect bedtime stories for you and your kiddos to enjoy!
DINI DINOSAUR by Karen Beaumont, illustrations by Daniel Roode
Dini Dinosaur was playing outside in the sand and the mud and dumped a bucket over his head! Now he is filthy and in desperate need of a bath, but every time he gets in the tub he forgets to take an item of clothing off! This is a perfect book for reading aloud with fun rhymes that children will delight in finishing: “Silly Dini Dinosaur! Don’t you know? You have to take your pants off…back you go! As Dini works his way through shirts, pants, hats, shoes and more, the joyful rhymes continue. When Dini is finally all clean, after an inspection from mama dinosaur, of course, it’s time for jammies, stories, songs and a good night’s sleep.
Be prepared for giggles at Dini’s silliness, and requests to read this one again and again as children familiarize themselves with the lovely cadence and word play. Encourage young readers to repeat the rhymes that appear on every spread to give them a sense of mastery and you may find them “reading” this back you!
Daniel Roode’s illustrations, created digitally, are bright and cheerful, and Dini and Mama make a sweet pair. This will be a charming and comforting read for the younger picture book set. Recommended for ages 2 - 5.
THERE’S A BEAR ON MY CHAIR by Ross Collins
A small mouse is furious to find a large bear sitting on his chair in this hilarious picture book by Ross Collins, author of The Elephantom and graduate of the Glasgow School of Art. The poor mouse tries everything he can to remove the bear - pushing, giving him a mean glare, trying to distract him with free food, jumping out of a box to scare him and more - and yet the bear sits on. Only when the mouse gives up and disappears does the bear leave, curious to see where the subject of his antagonism has gone. The final spread finds that the mouse has taken up residence in the bear’s house - an ending sure to cause fits of laughter and a sequel.
Full of simple, fun rhymes, the book also offers up excellent opportunities for language expansion with more complex words such as lure, unaware, endangered and more. Children will find the mouse’s antics extremely amusing and adults will too. Overall it is a silly, lighthearted story and Collins’ illustrations match the tone perfectly.
THREE BEARS IN A BOAT by David Soman
Dash, Charlie and Theo are playing at home when they break their mother’s favorite blue seashell. Afraid to tell the truth (their mother is a bear, after all), they set off on an adventure to find a replacement. An old sailor tells them where they might find a new shell, but it evades them even when they are sure they are in the right place. As they tire of their journey they begin to fight amongst themselves, blaming each other for the accident, until a great storm forces them to work together to find calm seas and the way home. Only after landing their boat back on the shore of their home island and realizing that the right thing to do is to tell the truth to their mother do they find a replacement shell. Suddenly, the sailor’s words, “if you look in the right place, I reckon you’ll find it” become clear. Mama is angry with her cubs, yet loves them all the same, and cooks them a warm dinner, but sends them to bed with no dessert.
Dash, Charlie and Theo are brought beautifully to life with Soman’s watercolor illustrations and their voyage is filled with characters and places both whimsical and wise. The storm mimics their brewing anger well, and the power of honesty is an important lesson that doesn’t feel heavy handed. A longer picture book, this is recommended for readers aged 3 and up.
Interested in learning more about Ron Bates and his middle-grade novel, THE UNFLUSHABLES? Check out a Q&A with him below!
First off, congratulations on your hysterical new book, The Unflushables! How did you come up with the story line?
RON: Thanks! The Unflushables was so much fun to write, and I’m on pins and needles—okay, nails and spikes—now that it’s actually out there on bookshelves. I’m excited to have it in the hands of readers and I can’t wait to hear what they think! As for the storyline, it came to me while I was in one of my favorite thinking spots, which is the checkout line at the supermarket. You know how they have that row of magazines you can look through while you wait? Well, I noticed the covers were always filled with celebrities—movie stars, musicians, athletes, supermodels, people like that. It’s understandable, I guess, because those people are at the top of their professions. But why ONLY those people? Why not other people who are incredibly good at what they do? Why not, for example, a really, really, really great plumber? Shouldn’t they get the star treatment, too? So I created a world where plumbers were on magazine covers and T-shirts and posters, and kids idolized them and collected their trading cards. Then I added a bunch of sewer monsters because a toilet repair job becomes a lot more interesting if there’s a gigantic croctopus popping out of it.
Sully’s plumbing prowess and humor is emphasized throughout the book, and only gets better as the story progresses. Where do you see Sully in ten years?
RON: That’s a great question because the book does give us a glimpse of what Sully might become down the road. That glimpse is Max Bleeker, his mentor, who we can assume at an earlier point in his life was a gifted prodigy a lot like Sully. In Max’s case, he became bitter and jaded and a loner. Sully sees that, so he might be able to avoid Max’s fate. But who knows? Sully’s gift is also a curse—plumbing takes a terrible toll. So to be honest, I’m not exactly sure how Sully will turn out, but it’s an interesting idea to explore. All I know for sure is that he’ll be in the sewer. Once that place gets a hold on a plumber, it never lets them go.
I thought it was such a cool choice to make the Ironwater Corporation the central villain when there were many other options and directions you could have gone in. What made you decide to do so?
RON: Ironwater! Even the name sounds evil, doesn’t it? I ended up casting them as the villain to give Sully a shadowy, sinister adversary that would challenge not only his plumber-honed battle skills, but his wits. The sewer monsters are undeniably dangerous but they’re more of a deadly obstacle, not a nemesis. With Ironwater, you get that sense of corporate intrigue, and it deepens the mystery behind the bizarre happenings in Nitro City.
The plumbers as "superheroes" aspect of the story plays a huge role in the plot; did you look up to plumbers growing up? What inspired this concept?
RON: Wow, I would love to tell you I was in a plumber fan club as a kid, and that I still had the junior tool-belt and decoder ring, but that’s just not the case. To be 100 percent honest, plumbers weren’t my main inspiration for the story. What really fascinated me was the sewer. I kept seeing articles about alligators roaming sewer tunnels, or huge snakes crawling out of toilets, or someone discovering a secret community of underground sewer dwellers. It made the place seem magical—a forbidden world right under our feet! And when I thought about who would be the hero of this world, all I could picture was a rugged figure swinging through the pipes on a drain snake while clutching a monkey wrench and a plunger. So obviously, it had to be a plumber. Then when I started researching the history of plumbing—building the Roman aqueducts, battling the cholera epidemics of 1832 and 1849—I realized that role wasn’t even a stretch. They really are heroes.
What are some of your favorite books that have motivated you to write and got you excited about reading?
RON: There are so many, but a few are very special to me. The first stories I remember being obsessed with were the Encyclopedia Brown books. I loved the idea of collecting the clues then having the chance to solve a mystery alongside the world’s greatest junior detective. I still love that--trying to put myself in the sleuth’s shoes, putting that puzzle together in my head. I locked onto Roald Dahl’s books because they made me laugh. James and The Giant Peach, The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—he just had a way of creating the craziest, quirkiest characters and making them perfectly believable in a particular situation. I guess The Hobbit is the book that got me hooked me on quests. To me, there’s just something irresistible about giving a character an impossible goal and sending them on a journey where anything can happen. I have no doubt my fascination with the sewers was at least partly inspired by Bilbo’s time in the mines of Moria. So I owe a debt to a lot of writers, too many to list, but Sobol, and Dahl, and Tolkien are definitely at the top.
Click here to buy The Unflushables!
We are "fangirling" over these eight contemporary fiction heroines who face tough circumstances, but aren’t afraid to be themselves and fight for what they want.
Armed with two pistols and yearning for a fresh start, Pity is not your typical character. She leaves her family and compound behind and embarks to start a new life. She gets swept up in the glittering lights of Cessation and before you know it is involved in the theater program, where it isn’t all fun and games. Forced to use her shooting skills in some unorthodox manners, Pity is then faced with larger scale questions—like what price is too big to pay for her freedom?
Jane is born into a unique time—two days before the dead roam the battlefields of the Civil War. This turns out to be the least of her problems. After completing her schooling in both combat and etiquette, Jane arrives home to Kentucky and realizes she is intertwined in a conspiracy—one in which her life is at risk.
The Cruel Prince—Jude
Jude didn’t have an easy childhood. She was only seven years old when her parents were murdered and she along with her two sisters were stolen away to live in the High Court of Faerie. Once she arrives at Court, she learns she has to earn her place in an order to do so, she is going to have to defy Cardan, the handsome, wicked and young high king.
The Children of Blood and Bone—Zelie
Zelie is on a mission to bring back magic and overthrow the monarchy in this dazzling debut from Tomi Adeyemi. Faced with tons of obstacles and even more danger, Zelie is forced to face the hard truth in that she could be the greatest danger of all as she grapples to control her own powers and her feelings for the enemy.
Camellia is a belle. She is able to control the coveted aspect of beauty and bestow it among the citizens of Orleans. When Camellia and the rest of her Belle sisters arrive at court, she realizes that not everything is as it seems and she is faced with a tough choice. Save the Queen and the ways of Orleans or save her sisters, the Belles?
Everybody knows fairytales aren’t real—including the 17-year-old protagonist, Alice. When Alice’s grandmother, the revered author of dark fairy tales suddenly dies, the whole family is in for a surprise. To make matters worse Alice’s mom gets kidnapped by a creature from her grandmother’s book and it is up to Alice to save her. Since Alice has steered clear of her grandmother’s crazy fans, it is time for her to embrace them and enter The Hazelwood, her grandmother’s estate and the entrance into the magical world.
The Astonishing Color of After--Leigh
Leigh is convinced that her mother is a bird. After her mother commits suicide, Leigh is positive that her mother has returned to this world in the form of a bird and has messages for her. In order to find her mother, Leigh ventures to Taiwan to meet her mother’s parents (her grandparents) and along the way uncovers family secrets, magic, ghosts and so much more.
The Hate U Give--Starr
Starr moves between two worlds and two lives—her private high school world and her home world in her poor neighborhood. When one of Starr’s best friends gets shot by a police officer in front of her, her world turns upside down. Soon her best friend’s death turns into a national headline. People are protesting and Starr and her family are getting threatened to keep quiet but the only one who knows what truly happened that night is Starr herself.