By Lee DeCora Francis
Tilbury House Publishers, 2012
32 pages, $16.95
ISBN 978-0-88448-330-4
Tilbury House once again produces a marvelous children’s book featuring a Maine Native American story that takes place on Indian Island near Bangor.

In KUNU’S BASKET, author Lee DeCora Francis and illustrator Susan Drucker of Bowdoinham combine their talents to tell a charming and beautifully illustrated tale of a young Indian boy who wants to learn to make traditional pack baskets like his father and grandfather make.

Kunu quickly discovers that basket-making is not easy, and he becomes impatient and frustrated when he cannot seem to make a proper basket.  Fortunately, his grandfather, Muhmum, is a wise, patient and careful teacher, showing Kunu the proper way to weave ash strips and create a solid, sturdy basket. The boy learns that not all good things come easy, and that patience, perseverance and attention to detail can produce spectacular results.

This simple story is full of warmth and life lessons, from the mutual respect and admiration shown between elders and children, to the detailed handiwork of skilled craftsmen and the importance of preserving Native American heritage.  Best for second through fourth grades.

By Edith Allard
Crummett Mountain Publishers, 2012
28 pages, $10

This self-published children’s book is both written and illustrated by Edith Allard of Somerville. She has had a career designing and illustrating books for several publishers, but now lives on a farm with 16 sheep.

LONELY LAWRENCE is a cute story told by Lawrence the lamb. Allard says it is a true story — “Everything that Lawrence talks about really happened to him.”  She illustrated the story using handmade oil paint, producing soft colors and textures.

As a newborn lamb, Lawrence is rejected by his mother who does not know what to do with him.  He has a hard time feeding on his mother’s milk, so the farmer ends up feeding Lawrence with a bottle.  Lawrence is sad and lonely, but a toy stuffed lamb friend provided by the farmer gives Lawrence some comfort.

Later, Lawrence is moved to a different farm where he meets some scary, strange animals (goats) that smell funny.  When Lawrence grows up a bit, he comes back to his own farm and discovers there’s nothing wrong with him — he’s a sheep just like all his wooly playmates.  And Lawrence is as happy as can be.  For ages 3-6.
By Dahlov Ipcar
Islandport Press, 2012
40 pages, $17.95
ISBN 978-1-934031-70-4
Dahlov Ipcar is one of Maine’s most endearing and well-known artists, still painting at age 94 on her small farm in Georgetown.  In addition to all her fabulous works of art, she has written and illustrated more than 30 books.

STRIPES AND SPOTS is the ninth of Ipcar’s children’s books to be republished by Islandport Press (this story was originally published in 1953). This is a delightful story of two jungle babies who meet, become unlikely friends and have wonderfully funny adventures together.

A baby tiger decides he is hungry, so he sneaks out of his family’s den to find something to eat.  A baby leopard does the same thing, and the two babies — one with stripes and one with spots — meet in the jungle. Both curious and friendly, they decide to hunt together for things to eat that either have stripes or spots.  Their search is hilarious, for they quickly discover that some striped plants and spotted insects do not taste very good at all.

Fortunately, their mothers come by, take the babies home for a meal and a well-deserved nap.  There is considerable text here, so this would be best suited for ages 5-7.

— Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.