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Adventurous Tales Full of Life and Love

Lee Littlewood on

The best children's book has just the right balance of adventure, humor and love. These new stories have all those and more.

"The Antlered Ship" by Dashka Slater; illustrated by Eric Fan and Terry Fan; Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster; 42 pages; $17.99.

With an abundance of creative award-winning talent behind this enchanting myth, "The Antlered Ship" is a magical journey aboard an amazing ship with a close community of animals. Marco the fox wants questions answered and joins a seaward journey with pigeons and deer to find truths. Though he hoped for other fox friends to share his curiosity, he learns to find adventure and intrigue with the stalwart crew. After a rocky start, the animals learn to work together. With curiosity as a bond, they eventually battle a pirate ship full of other animals and land on a beautiful island -- still with no foxes. But that's not the end, as the adventurous crew realizes their ship and group just might be the magic island they long for.

Told in timeless, thoughtful prose with beautiful, intricate illustrations, "The Antlered Ship" is a heartwarming lesson in friendship, wisdom and looking forward.

"Red & Lulu" by Matt Tavares; Candlewick Press; 40 pages; $17.99.

Red and Lulu are best bird friends who live in a majestic evergreen tree. They love wintertime, when their tree lights up and people sing "O Christmas Tree." One day, Red flies back to the tree and notices it's loaded onto a truck, but he can still hear the sweet sound of Lulu's song. Cardinal Red chases behind the truck, frantically chirping so Lulu can hear him. He follows the truck over bridges and rivers and into New York City, at which point he's tired and hungry and overwhelmed. Red happily hears his favorite "O Christmas Tree," follows the song and finds their tree, now the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, with Lulu safely inside.

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"Red & Lulu" is a lovely ode to the power of love through change that also pays tribute to the beauty of New York during the holidays. Matt Tavares' flowing, magical pictures make his tale a holiday gem. Best of all, the birds move on to live in the tree when it's replanted in a park.

"Three Little Monkeys" by Quentin Blake; illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark; HarperCollins; 34 pages; $18.99.

Hilarious and heartfelt, the prolific Quentin Blake's action-packed story of monkey business is perfect for reading aloud. The vintage-looking story involves Hilda Snibbs and her three little monkeys, Tim, Sam and Lulu. Each day when she's away, the monkeys wreak havoc and chaos; Hilda then heads back to the store to purchase what they've ruined; and then they ruin more. Soon they've made such a mess and she's so stressed that she utters, "Oh, for a peaceful life without these wicked little monkeys!"

She gets her wish, for the monkeys seem to disappear. And when she looks for them, sad and distraught, they happily appear in a closet.

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