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Three picture books with wonderfully expressive illustrations and heartwarming tales:

In If I Were Your Mother, written by Margaret Park Bridges and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, a little girl tells her all the great things she would do if she and her mother switched roles. It’s the kind of thing Emma would tell me about, and I love the ending. Actually, the end makes me cry, but I tend to be crazy emotional that way.

Hamlet in Will You Read to Me?, written and illustrated by Denys Cazet, loves to write poetry, but his fellow pigs see only a misfit. Just as he reaches despair upon being abandoned by his pond reflection twin, Eggs, Hamlet discovers an entire audience of appreciative listeners.

New dinner guests just keep showing up in Pigs Love Potatoes, written by Anika Denise and illustrated by Christopher Denise, and Mamma just keeps on adding potatoes. For any  The author’s story was inspired by the piggy drawings made by her Redwall-series illustrator husband, as well as the antics of their two daughters, and this husband-and-wife team’s book shines with family togetherness and neighborliness.

For older children:

Knowing I’m always on the lookout for books to listen to on CD, my mother recently recommended The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. I accidentally got the sequel, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey instead, but I enjoyed listening to it enough that I checked out the first book as well – which I also enjoyed. Both books center around four extraordinarily gifted children who have some extraordinary adventures. I’m not sure which genre the books fall into – but it’s a charming combination of fantasy, mystery, and adventure. Emma must have even picked up some portion of the story, because she ran around the house for a couple of days pretending to be an orphan (I don’t think she knows what “orphan” means beyond the fact that two of the four children are orphans).

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

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