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Children's Book Reviews

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Two by two: A girl and her brother, a dog and his master, and a croc and a kangaroo star in this month’s selections.

Ages 6 months to 2 years
MY LUNCH BOX; MY TOOL BOX; MY TOY BOX; MY WORK BOX Venice Shone (Lodestar, $2.99 each) Familiar foods, toys, and tools are the focus of the sunlit pages in these four crisply illustrated board books with gimmicky handles. B

Ages 2 to 4
CROCODILE SNAPS! KANGAROO JUMPS! Daniel Lehan (Orchard, $13.95) Sizzling colors and minimal text provide maximum visual wit for croc-loving kids who like their fun loud and aggressive. Flip the book over and there’s a story about a kangaroo who won’t jump. B+

WHEN THIS BOX IS FULL Patricia Lillie; illustrated by Donald Crews (Greenwillow, $14) A little girl fills a beautiful wooden box with seasonal keepsakes—a snowman’s scarf in January, a robin’s feather in March. The illustrations offer a pleasing display of simple treasures. A-

Ages 4 to 8
THE SWEETEST FIG Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin, $17.95) Van Allsburg (The Polar Express) likes to toy with the dark side, but this time he may have gone too far. This fantasy about a sadistic dentist and his abused dog leaves the reader feeling sour. C

Ages 8 to 12
HERE’S TO YOU, RACHEL ROBINSON Judy Blume (Orchard, $14.95) Rachel, a self- disciplined seventh-grader, has an extended face-off with her tempestuous brother. Except for the self-consciously not-too-happy ending, Blume has family fireworks and growing pains down to a science. A-

THE GREAT MIGRATION: AN AMERICAN STORY Jacob Lawrence (HarperCollins, $22.50) The migration of millions of African-Americans from the South to the North is a story rich in drama, oppression, and courage. Lawrence tells the saga with 60 bold, startlingly honest paintings and his deeply felt reminiscences. A+

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