Bobbie’s Books of the Month

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Bobbie Combs and Laurina Cashin

For the busy parent who needs a restful moment:
“Nature Portals,” a 52-card deck and eBook for inspiration through the peace and beauty of nature, created by Bruce & Carol Malnor, Dawn Publishing, $15.95, for parents.
Since 1979, Dawn Publications has been publishing books that connect people (both kids and adults) to nature. This spring they are introducing something a little different — an inspirational card deck (with accompanying ebook content available online) to encourage daily mental meanderings into the natural world. The authors, husband-and-wife educators and authors, have provided 52 lovely photographs, each with thought-provoking text. For example, a photograph of a waterfall is paired up with “relax into the flow” and a butterfly photograph with “celebrate transformation.” When there’s no time to get outside, these might be just what the modern parent needs: a hit of peace, beauty and inspiration.

For the quiet, imaginative child with a quirky sense of humor:
“Never Underestimate a Hermit Crab,” written and illustrated by Daniel Sean Kaye, Zenescope, $9.99 paperback, ages 3-6.
This is how one imagines this odd-but-simple picture book came about: A child was sitting on the floor, watching the family’s new brought-home-from-the-beach-vacation hermit crab and daydreaming, and then suddenly asked for a pencil and paper. Except for the author’s chronological age, that’s about right. Daniel Sean Kaye, local Philadelphia area author, comic-strip artist and former editor of Parents Express, has created a whimsical, just-silly-enough story that imagines what might be going on in that hermit crab’s mind: dancing, reading comic books, completing home improvement projects and more. His drawings are simple black-and-white line drawings that engage the reader and invoke true curiosity about these strange fellows. In the back, there’s a page about “Caring for your hermit crab pet” for those who want to try it at home.

For that brainy, nerdy, high-strung fourth-grader:
“Max Archer, Kid Detective: The Case of the Recurring Stomachaches,” by Howard J. Bennett and illustrated by Spike Gerrell, Magination Press, $9.95 paperback, ages 7-11.
A kids’ self-help book masquerading as a mystery story, this weird-but-entertaining book is published by the American Psychological Association — but don’t let that stop you from letting your kid read it. Max Archer is a kid detective whose specialty is helping kids with problems, and Emily Banks has one. She gets stomachaches, and Max, using questions, charts and homework assignments, helps her find out why. It’s stress! Once they’ve identified it, Max helps Emily with some stress busters: deep breathing, visualization and recognizing the mind-body connection. It all sounds so serious – but the book is a lot of fun, with kids-will-love-it info about poop and the digestive system as well as jokes, activities and puzzles.

Bobbie Combs and her partner Laurina Cashin are the cofounders of We Love Children’s Books, a consulting agency for the children’s book industry. Collectively they have 40 years varied experience in the industry. Visit their website at www.welovechildrensbooks.com.

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Mike Berman