The Princess and the Pony
By Kate Beaton, Arthur A. Levine Books, 40 pages, $19.99
To call something cute is pretty much an insult in our culture right now. Often presented as a compliment, calling something or someone cute usually dismisses them as powerless and weak. The wonderful new book by Kate Beaton turns this idea on its head. With amazing, action-packed illustrations, Beaton tells the story of a warrior who wants a warhorse for her birthday but ends up getting a big-eyed, pudgy pony instead. Frida loved it and was maybe even a little empowered, when she realized that the pony's cuteness could overpower the other warriors. Phoenix asked … can cuteness save the world? All three of us absolutely adored this book!
By Daniel Miyares, Simon & Schuster, 48 pages, $19.99
It's easy to forget that kids take play as seriously as we take work. So when kids have a hard day at play, it's just as tragic as when we have a bad day at work. Maybe even more so. This tender truth is beautifully, amazingly and wordlessly captured by Float. Daniel Miyares's illustrations somehow manage to feel both lush and minimal. The story is as deeply felt as it is simply presented. Although a word of warning: This is not a bedtime book. Miyares's celebration of play is so powerful it didn't lull Phoenix and Frida to sleep, but lured them to the front yard where they threw paper airplanes in their pyjamas for what seemed like hours.
Written by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Dusan Petricic, Tundra, 40 pages, $19.99
Family can make you invisible. That's what happens to Bill in this delightfully absurd book. He's at the dining-room table and all he wants is the potatoes. This simple request goes unanswered so many times that Bill literally becomes unseen. This is a fable for our multitasking times, where simply the number of things that beep for our attention is astronomical. It's especially good to remember how susceptible kids are to being rendered invisible by their parents. As I wrote these very words, several minutes passed before I realized that the sound I was trying to ignore was Frida crying as Phoenix wrestled her to the ground. I had InvisiBilled them!