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Kiddie Lit to Light the Holidays

Two books with local connections are treats to put under the tree for younger children.

Denise Blum’s Chesapeake Bay Crab Challenge is about Jay, a young boy who wakes up one morning to find his pet crab Clay missing from his aquarium. Where could Clay be? Will Jay find him?
    Blum takes readers on a hunt through Chesapeake Country’s Lusby, Oxford and Cambridge — to stores, restaurants and parks.
    Children will recognize some of the local landmarks; the story begs a field trip to the unfamiliar places. (I wanted to climb into my car and take off for Rock Hall and Chestertown.)
    Jay asks readers for help finding Clay, and Blum plants a clue in the pages. Told in rhyme, the story zips along, with bright illustrations and a handy map by Jess Hillard.
    Blum books set in Ocean City, Virginia Beach, Baltimore and Delaware promise more fun (and day trips). Blum and business partner Lisa Sanderson are founders of Mainstay Publishing, which promises books that “will captivate readers young and old.” Works for me.
    Gambrills resident Missy Hodges believes “childhood is a magical time … where the real world and the pretend world need to be explored.”
    In A Giraffe Past Bedtime, Corinne calls out to Daddy, busy on the computer, claiming that animals are peering in her bedroom window. Are there really giraffes and ostriches outside? Daddy isn’t convinced. Little kids look for excuses to stay up past their bedtimes. Maybe Corinne’s imagination is working overtime.
    Former Nickelodeon animator James Point du Jour (Hodges’ colleague in the comptroller’s office) illustrates Corinne’s encounters with the animals in dreamy purple while Daddy’s world is beige and grey.
    Reality and make-believe meet in the story’s colorful conclusion.
    Mommy didn’t appear in the book; maybe she was out, or maybe Daddy is a single father. But what shines through is the special bond between fathers and daughters. For this reviewer, the book recalled a special afternoon visiting animals with her dad a half century ago.