A Perfect Day for Digging by Cari Best
Ages 3-7. Nell and her dog Rusty are excited for spring! They get right to work digging in the dirt, having a great time until Nell’s neighbor, Norman, protests with a loud “Ewww!” Norman thinks dirt is, well…dirty. But Norman quickly changes his tune when he sees the amazing treasures Nell and Rusty are able to find: a marble, a toy dinosaur Nell lost last summer, among others. Soon, Norman joins right in, happily digging alongside Nell and Rusty. The joys of being outside and being close to the Earth are front and center in Best’s buoyant tale.
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The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
Ages 3-8. A young girl is dismayed when the neighbors’ gardens, blooming with bright flowers, are prettier than the garden of Chinese vegetables she and her mother have planted. The tangled mass of purple vines and fuzzy leaves, will be even better than flowers, her mother tells her. The girl patiently waits through the spring, summer and fall—until harvest time when the ugly vines and leaves are heavy with delicious (if still a little ugly) vegetables the girl, her family and the whole neighborhood can enjoy. Lin weaves in the themes of cultural awareness, patience and looking beyond being ‘pretty’ to understand that sometimes the ugliest things have the most value.
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Farfallina & Marcel by Holly Keller
Ages 3-7. Farfallina is a spritely caterpillar, whose best friend just happens to be Marcel, a gosling. The two enjoy the spring weather until one day, Farfallina tells Marcel she must climb up in a tree and rest for a while. The patient gosling settles into the grass below to wait for his friend. But unbeknownst to Marcel: Farfallina is undergoing an amazing transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. When Farfallina emerges from her cocoon, now with gloriously colorful wings, Marcel does not recognize his old friend and neither does she. As the two begin to form a new friendship, they suddenly realize that they were the same two friends all along. Keller covers the bonds of friendship and the wonder of evolution in nature in an accessible, fun way for her readers.
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Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen by Cari Best
Ages 4-8. Sally Jean and her bicycle, Flash, are inseparable! Together they pop wheelies, fly at fantastic speeds…Sally Jean even masters pedaling backward with Flash. But the bond between a girl and her bike is threatened when Sally Jean takes a growth spurt. Suddenly, she’s too big to ride Flash. Despairing that she’s outgrowing her friend, Sally Jean comes up with an idea: she’ll gather parts of other bikes to make a new one! And even better, she realizes that Flash’s days of hurtling over sidewalks don’t have to be over. Sally Jean gives Flash to a young friend, who is eager to learn how to ride. Best touches on growing up, problem solving and the finding resilience in friendship and playing it forward.
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