The first one is called "The Storybook Knight". It's by Helen Docherty and if there was ever a cuter knight, it's hard to picture. Leo is a prince who's parents really want him to be a knight. Leo would really prefer to read. The day comes when his parents hand him a sword and a shield and say "Get going" so Leo gets on his faithful horse Ned (who appears to always be hungry) and goes out to hunt the dragon. When Leo starts to find some of the dangerous creatures he's been reading about, he has a different plan for fighting them than maybe his parents had in mind. It has a great message about being true to yourself and the power of a good book. The pictures in this are completely adorable line drawings with water colors. I really loved this one.
This second one is not brand new, but it was new to me. It's being considered for the Sunshine State Young Reader Jr. award, which is a brand new award this year. In case you don't know, the Sunshine State Young reader award is given to books annually. The awards are voted on by kids and nominated by librarians and the biggest criteria is that they are fun to read. This one fits that bill. It's called "Three Bears in a Boat" by David Soman. You might remember him from a series of books about Ladybug Girl. This one is about three bears who are playing in the house and accidentally break Mom's favorite blue shell. They know this shell is special to their mom and that there aren't very many of them. They start trying to figure out what to do and decide they should take a boat ride and find themselves a new shell. They ask the advice of some of the older bears. The last old bear they ask says "If you look in the right place, I reckon you'll find it." Words of advice many could live by. Anyway, the story has some exciting moments, some kind of scary moments and a very satisfying ending. I really loved the art work in this one. It was pretty and soft, but parts were quite dramatic and a little scary. You could use this one to talk about taking responsibility or making good choices. I thought this one was terrific.
And here's a bit of an interview with the author.
This last one is a picture book AND a chapter book. It's called "The Somewhat True Adventures of Sammy Shine" by Henry Cole. We had the pleasure of hosting Henry at our school last week and found out the reason this is called "The Somewhat True Adventures" is because the character of Sammy is based on Henry's actual pet mouse, Sammy Shine. Henry also makes a cameo appearance in the book along with his big brother, Jimmy, who according to Henry, was his inspiration to become an illustrator. The story of Sammy is that of a mouse, who is sent on an adventure (not very willingly) in a model airplane. Jimmy decides that Sammy is exactly the right size to the pilot and so off he goes. When the plane crash lands in a woods, Sammy finds a whole bunch of new friends and they are all willing to help him try to find and fix his plane. It's a very fun story to read and I found myself comparing it to the Wizard of Oz ("There's no place like home!"). The pictures add a lot to the text and I think a lot of kids are going to enjoy this one a lot, especially if they've heard Henry tell the story of Sammy Shine.