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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Noted children’s author-illustrators to visit Changing Hands in Tempe

Molly Idle in her Tempe studio. Photo by Rick D’Elia.

Picture book lovers of all ages will be grateful for the upcoming post-Thanksgiving trifecta offered at the Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. There’s not a turkey in sight for the three late November-early December events, just in time for pre-Christmas gift-getting — but what a treat!

This scrumptious three-course feast consists of appearances by some of the best picture book author-illustrators working in the business today, each introducing a charming new book.

• At 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25 (as part of the Small Business Saturday celebration) Tempe author-illustrator and Caldecott Honor Book winner Molly Idle will host a free storytime event for kids and their parents, along with a very special, very large, dinosaur guest. Molly will be reading from her delightful new book, “Santa Rex.”

“Santa Rex” is the newest, just-published addition to her series of very colorful and funny books about Cordelia and her little brother and their attempts to civilize an endearing, but rambunctious T-Rex and his equally clueless saurian buddies.

In this volume, Cordelia has graciously invited the beasties to spend the Christmas holidays. Under her (attempted) supervision, her guests help decorate the house, bake cookies, hang stockings, trim the tree and generally wreak their special brand of unintended havoc.

RELATED: Molly Idle’s busy, idyllic life

• At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29, millennial Northern-Irish author-artist and recent New York transplant Oliver Jeffers will appear at a ticketed, reserved-seating event ($19.99 for one book and admission for two) to read and sign his new picture book, “Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth.” 

In the children’s book world, Jeffers is a rock star. He describes what he does, modestly, as making art and telling stories. He exhibits his figurative paintings and 3-D installations in galleries around the world. His solo books and collaborations, 25 so far, are beloved by other picture book makers, as well as children and their parents, and have sold millions of copies worldwide. His work is goofy, quirky and childlike. It often toys with the ridiculous. (This is not a criticism!) It is also, often, marvelous and thought provoking.

“Here We Are” was created, possibly during sleepless nights, in the first two months of his son Harland’s life, as a guidebook for brand-new Earthlings. It has all the qualities of Jeffers’ previous work, plus the tenderness and full-heartedness of a parent’s hopes and dreams for his newborn.

It is a lovely book. It begins with a Jeffers-sonian view of our solar system and its place in space, then travels to and around Earth in order to explain how our planet, and its abundant life, operates. After that, it offers tips for a happy human life which are simple, funny and deeply satisfying.  

• At 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, legendary, prolific author-illustrator Jan Brett, known for her stunning, detailed drawings and her trademark, richly illustrated page borders, will visit to share her newest picture book, “The Mermaid,” a gorgeously re-imagined undersea version of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” This also is a ticketed, reserved-seating event ($18.99 for one book and admission for an adult and two children). Brett has been publishing since 1978, and has created many beautiful and beloved books, including “The Mitten,” and “The Hat.”

Young Kiniro is “The Mermaid” who, dressed in her ocean finery — a tiara and breastplate necklace — invades the coral-and-shell cottage belonging to an octopus family, along with her friend Puffy the Pufferfish. The octopuses’ breakfasts, chairs and beds are fair game for the little mermaid’s curiosity. When the residents return and find her asleep in Baby’s bed, Puffy uses his particular talent to allow Kiniro to escape a 24-handed spanking. She leaves a gift for Baby in return for the octopuses accidental hospitality.

Even though tickets will be sold at the door (if still available), it’s a good idea to reserve your spots for the ticketed events,. Then you and your kids can relax and enjoy a terrific selection of truly special, sugar-free Thanksgiving desserts. Enjoy!

If you go: Changing Hands Tempe, 6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe. 480-730-0205 or changinghands.com

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Debra Citron

Debra Citron, of Phoenix, is a writer and lifelong supporter of children's literature and literacy.

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