Children’s books usually have a dual mission — to engage young readers, but inform them as well.
Three new picture books fulfill that mission with gusto and fun for their youthful consumers.
The first two books come from the mother-daughter team of Corinne Demas and Artemis Roehrig.
“Does a Fiddler Crab Fiddle?” poses the sort of questions very young children might indeed ask about fiddler crabs, beginning with the title query and then moving on to whimsical wondering, such as whether they ride skateboards, eat pizza or listen to the radio.
Not surprisingly to adults, the answer to all of these questions is “no.”
Demas and Roehrig augment that simple word with information about activities in which the crabs do engage. The book disguises science in a story and does a delightful job of it.
Roehrig is a scientist so she and her mother know whereof they write. The book is charmingly illustrated by John Sanford. His crabs are big and full of personality, like the text.
“Are Pirates Polite?” is structured slightly differently. Its rhyming text begins with actual stereotypical activities of pirates, including fighting, plundering, and taking care of unruly parrots.
Those activities are tamed down by the pirates’ basic good manners, however. For example, the authors tell us, “Pirates think you’re weird if you’ve washed your face or hair, but they always show respect and never point or stare.”
The book’s overall moral is that pirates — and perhaps even small children! — should be allowed to have fun and get a little carried away from time to time. They should never let their fun overcome consideration for others, however.
This book’s illustrations, by David Catrow, embody the message of the book. Catrow’s pirates and parrots explode off the page, but somehow they always look approachable and even (although one would never want to hurt the pirates’ feelings by telling them this) rather sweet.
“Noodles & Albie’s Birthday Surprise” shares a special occasion in the lives of the two title friends, first introduced by author Eric Bennett in “Noodles & Albie” in 2014. Noodles is a penguin; Albie, his colorful fish friend.
Noodles just happens to have been born on Christmas Eve. He is an Antarctic penguin so his birthday is an eternally sunny day. Albie gives Noodles a special gift for his birthday — a compass — and together the two have fun at Polar Kingdom, the “world’s greatest undersea amusement park.”
They almost lose the compass while enjoying the rides at the park. They retrieve it just in time to lend it to a stranded traveler named Kris Kringle whose GPS has somehow sent him to the South Pole.
Of course, the book has a happy ending. Milanka Reardon’s colorful illustrations present Noodles, Albie, their world and Santa charmingly.
Bennett adds to the educational component of the book with a question-and-answer section in the back that provides information about the South Pole and of course about Kris Kringle. All in all, the latest “Noodles and Albie” installment will surprise young readers very nicely indeed.
Corinne Demas and Artemis Roehrig will sign copies of their new books on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield. “Noodles & Albie’s Birthday Surprise” will be in print on Nov. 30. In the meantime, readers may pre-order the book from the local bookstores or from penguingiftshop.com
Tinky Weisblat is the author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook” and “Pulling Taffy.” Visit her website at: www.TinkyCooks.com
“Does a Fiddler Crab Fiddle?” and “Are Pirates Polite?” by Corinne Demas and Artemis Roehrig (Persnickety Press, 32 pages, $15.95, and Orchard Books, 40 pages, $16.99, respectively). “Noodles & Albie’s Birthday Surprise” by Eric Bennett (Penguin Gift Shop, 34 pages, $17.95)