Posted in picture books, Uncategorized

Tyrone O’Saurus dreams of dancing!

Tyrone O’Saurus Dreams, by James Howe/Illustrated by Randy Cecil, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536210873

Ages 4-8

The companion to James Howe and Randy Cecil’s 2013 Brontorina is here! Tyrone is a T-Rex with big dreams. Dreams of becoming a dancer. But everyone else in his family has dreams for Tyrone, too: a dentist? A lawyer? A professional football player in the Dinosaur Football League? None of these are even close to what Tyrone wants to do with his life, but he doesn’t want to let anyone down, so he tries his hand… er, his small, arms… at football. As much as his brother tries to encourage him, it’s just not working. Luckily for Tyrone,a chance encounter with a dancing dinosaur gives him the courage to admit that his heart (and those tiny arms) are just not in football. His brother is right there with support: a dancer he wants to be, so a dancer he will be! He brings Tyrone to Madame Lucille’s Outdoor Dance Academy for Girls and Boys and Dinosaurs and Cows, where he sees Brontorina – the dino he met earlier – and is welcomed into the dance academy with open arms. James Howe and Randy Cecil inspire readers to defy expectations and chase their dreams. A scene in the gym where Brontorina tells Tyrone that she’s working out to be a better dancer reminds readers that not everything is as easy as it may seem on the outside, and reinforces that hard work and a love of what you do help one succeed. The adorable contrast between the giant dinos and the tiny humans will tickle readers’ funny bones, and dappled artwork gives texture to the pages. It’s been a wonderful return to Madame Lucille’s… I wonder if she’ll be accepting any more students?

Downloadable Teacher Tips at publisher Candlewick’s website give teachers talking points and activity ideas. Author James Howe’s website has a wealth of information for parents, caregivers, and educators, as does illustrator Randy Cecil’s website.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Hello, Rain! is all-weather reading

Hello, Rain!, by Kyo Maclear/Illustrated by Chris Turnham, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452138190

Ages 3-6

A child delights in the before, during, and after of a rain shower in this cheery, colorful story. Kyo Maclear uses all sorts of literary devices to make this a joy to read to little ones, embracing rhyme, alliteration, and onomatopoeia to weave a poetic love letter to a rainy day. Our main character and her canine companion dance, splash, and revel in the rain, Chris Turnham’s providing wonderful visual accompaniment as the raindrops glisten off leaves, splash out at us, and allow us to follow the girl and her cheery, colorful umbrella through the story. Once inside, the two companions shake off the droplets and discover the fun ways to spend time indoors; from board games to blanket forts.  When all is said and done, it’s time to greet the sun. Endpapers lead readers in with a a blue, spotty beginning and an emerging yellow. Delightful. Add to your rainy day collections with favorites like Who Likes Rain? by Wong Herbert Yee, Sam Usher’s Storm, and one of my all-time favorites, Mushroom in the Rain by Mira Ginsburg.

Visit author Kyo Maclear’s website for more information about her kids’ books, and illustrator Chris Turnham’s website for a glimpse at more of his artwork

Hello, Rain! has starred reviews from Booklist and Kirkus

Posted in picture books

Pizza vs. World: A Pizza With Everything On It

A Pizza with Everything on It, by Kyle Scheele/Illustrated by Andy J. Pizza, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $17.9,9, ISBN: 9781797202815

Ages 4-8

“When your dad owns a pizza shop, you can have whatever kind of pizza you want”: so begins this light-hearted story about a boy, his father, and their quest to make a pizza with everything on it. The story starts off with the usual pizza toppings: four cheese, pepperoni, peppers, even mushrooms, but quickly spirals out of control as they add progressively bigger, wilder things, from a blender and rolling pin to a particle accelerator. The ensuing pizza vortex threatens to destroy the universe: can the boy and his father save the day? A fun afternoon spent with a boy and his dad, and a witty, playful story that readers will love. Mixed media illustrations are colorful, with plenty of pizza-red and yellows, and endpapers show the before- and after-effects of universal pizza domination. I’d add this one to my Pizza Storytime and add flannels: ALL the flannels, as I invite my Kiddos to come up and add whatever they would add to their own pizza with everything on it. You can even create a Food Destroys World storytime with books like Dragons Love Tacos and Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel and Llama Destroys the World and Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse. A great family storytime choice.

A Pizza with Everything on It has a starred review from Booklist.

Posted in Realistic Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Live, Love, Theatre: Kate in Waiting

Kate in Waiting, by Becky Albertalli, (April 2021, Balzer + Bray), $18.99, ISBN: 9780062643834

Ages 14+

The best-selling, award-winning author of Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Leah and the Offbeat is back with her latest YA novel! Kate Garfield and her best friend, Anderson Walker, are high school juniors who have communal crushes. It’s their thing. But when their latest shared crush from drama camp ends up as a student at their high school, things get a little uncomfortable. Matt is sweet, funny, and is a theatre fan, just like they are. He’s cast in the school production of Once Upon a Mattress as Kate’s love interest; he’s in the same drama class as Anderson, while Kate is left out. Kate and Anderson realize that this is not a usual passing crush, and have to figure out how to navigate these new waters while still maintaining their bestie status. There’s great character development here, and discussions between Kate and Anderson touch on some sensitive points like being gay, out, and Black in the U.S. South; splitting a life between homes when one’s parents are divorced, and images versus reality when it comes to “bro culture” (or, as they’re often referred to in Kate in Waiting, “f-boys”). The dialogue is wonderful, realistic, and smart; friendships withstand ebbs and flows of daily teen life. It’s just an all-around great YA novel that should be a big book this summer. Theatre kids will love the process of seeing a production come together, and teens will love the smart, funny writing that breaks your heart and puts it back together again.

Kate in Waiting has starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and made the Indie Next Great Reads list.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board Books to celebrate Spring, Dinosaurs, and Art!

How much do I love board books? SO MUCH. And they just keep coming and coming! I’ve got a stack of adorable board books that celebrate Spring, and a few that were originally published as picture books but that have made a great transition to board books.

Hello Garden!, by Katherine Pryor/Illustrated by Rose Soini, (May 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361098

Ages 0-3

Two kids wake up and enjoy a day in their garden! They crunch on green beans and snap peas, help tend to the garden, and enjoy the local wildlife. Rhyming verse tells a story that celebrates each of the senses, and accompanied by colorful artwork. Kids will want to get their hands and toes in the dirt and revel in being in nature after reading this cheery, upbeat story. A great addition to a Spring or Garden storytime – pair with the National Geographic board book, In My Garden, from the Look & Learn series, and Kadir Nelson’s gorgeous book, If You Plant a Seed. If you’re looking for a Spring activity with your Kiddos, Nat Geo Kids has you covered with an article on planting a garden; Kids Gardening has Garden Lesson Plans for kids and a free newsletter. Short on space? Try a garden sensory bin! There are great ideas at Mess for Less and Fireflies and Mud Pies.

 

Little Bug on the Move, Stéphanie Babin/Illustrated by Olivia Cosneau, (March 2021, Twirl Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9782408024642

Ages 0-3

A little bug goes exploring in this interactive book that kids can slide, spin, and play with. The bug crawls uphill, inches along the trees, spins on a flower, and hides on a mushroom, all heading toward a pop-up surprise at the end. The question-and-answer format format of the text encourages kids to think as they manipulate the activities on the pages, and provides an opportunity for an older sibling, parent, or caregiver to read along. Bright and colorful artwork and sturdy activities and pages make this another book kids will reach many, many times. Invite readers to identify different bugs, shapes, and colors as you go! Pair with the board book of The Very Hungry Caterpillar for an adorably buggy storytime.

 

Mamasaurus, by Stephan Lomp, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797205328

Ages 3-5

I’ve written about my love for Mamasaurus before. It’s the sweetest little story of a baby dinosaur who finds himself separated from his Mama and has to ask other dinosaurs if they’ve seen her; all of whom describe their own Mamas when trying to get an idea of what Mamasaurus looks like. The book makes a great transition from picture book to board book, making it even easier to read during a lapsit and cuddle storytime.

 

Papasaurus, by Stephan Lomp, (May 2021, Chronicle Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797205335

Ages 3-5

The companion book to Mamasaurus, Papasaurus makes the seamless transition from picture book to board book in time for Father’s Day, with a May release date. Here, Babysaurus and his dad are playing a game of hide and seek. As he searches for his Papa, he encounters other Kid-osaurs and asks for their help. As with Mamasaurus, the little dinos all frame their questions using their own parents as reference. Papasaurus and Babysaurus are sweetly reunited, reassuring readers that “misplaced” parents will always be found. The artwork is charming, with bright colors and sweetly expressive dinosaurs with large eyes and smiley faces. Perfect for cuddle time and Dino storytime.

 

Mix It Up!, by Hervé Tullet, (May 2021, Chronicle Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9781797207605

Ages 2-5

Another great transition from picture book to board book, Hervé Tullet’s Mix It Up! brings creativity and interactivity to this wonderful board book that keeps kids pressing, touching, and shaking their books as they work with color. The narration walks readers through the book, directing readers through cause-and-effect spreads that will invoke delight as readers discover that the page they’ve touched leads to a riot of color on the next spread, or mixing colors by tilting the book leads to an entirely new color emerging! Hervé Tullet writes like he’s in a one-on-one with each reader, gently leading them with sentences like, “take a little bit of the read… and rub it on the blue”; “Do you want to go on? OK!” I’ve read all of Tullet’s books in my storytimes, and they never fail to elicit joyful participation as I weave through the seated kids, everyone waiting their turn to take part. Art storytime, Color storytime, everything works with an Hervé Tullet story. Having this in board book format invites little learners to sit and play on their own or with another reader. They’re just wonderful books. The original release of Mix It Up! was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a Buzzfeed Best Book of the Year, a PBS Parents Best Picture Book, an ACL Distinguished Book, and selected as a Best Book of the Year by Chicago Public Library. Get out the fingerpaints and let your Littles create their own masterpieces!

Posted in Fantasy, picture books

An adventure with Grandmother… We Became Jaguars

We Became Jaguars, by Dave Eggers/llustrated by Woodrow White, (March 2021, Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781452183930

Ages 5-8

Bestselling author Dave Eggers creates a story about a boy, his grandmother, and the wild world. A young boy’s grandmother comes to visit him, with her long, white hair and her spotted black and yellow coat. When his parents leave the two alone, Grandmother suggests the two become jaguars and explore the night! The two roam the night, having adventures, until the boy decides it’s time to head home. Was it all in good fun? Eggers’s dreamlike storytelling has a childlike feel, as he blends the fantastic – “She laughed like great thunder and I laughed like lesser thunder and we jaguared on” – with the adorably kidlike – “I didn’t want to eat raw rabbit so I said I was allergic” – to create a story that will transport readers to rainforests and the Himalayan mountains. Woodrow White’s mixed media illustration opens up an incredible, exotic world. A gatefold panel begins with the boy and his grandmother transforming into jaguars, and opens to place them, fully “jaguared”, in a wild, nighttime world. The grandmother’s jaguar face looks self-assured; the boy’s, tentative, like he’s never quite sure about this whole experience. When the two drink from a lake, their blurred reflections reveal their human faces. Endpapers show the light and dark of their journey, with vines striping the pages, and bursts of color at the edges. A stunning and playful story.

We Became Jaguars has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and School Library Journal.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Poojo’s Got Wheels! Look at him go!

Poojo’s Got Wheels, by Charrow, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536210361

Ages 4-8

Poojo is an adorable dog born without back legs, but don’t you feel sorry for him: he’s got wheels! Little Poojo has a big smile and a super-cool wheelchair that lets him zip around, being a good friend to everyone and everything. When he gets a flat at a costume parade, he’s momentarily flummoxed, but Poojo? He’s got it all handled, and he’s got support from all his friends. This adorable can-do story about a pup and his wheelchair is just a feel-good, wonderful story about ability and spirit. Brief text lets emerging readers build their confidence, and lets the illustrations transport the reader into the story to play with Poojo and his friends. Digital and gouache artwork creates colorful illustrations with cute dogs and green spaces for them to frolic within. Poojo has a big smile, a bright red wheelchair, and very cool pockets that fit all his stuff. Green-washed endpapers sport a shower of bones, most likely snacks for Poojo to enjoy after his parade. Don’t miss this one; it’s an upbeat read that your littles will love.

Poojo’s Got Wheels has a starred review from Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Line and Scribble make beautiful art together

Line and Scribble, by Debora Vogrig/Illustrated by Pia Valentinis, (May 2021, Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781797201870

Ages 3-5

This friendship story stars Line and Scribble, two friends who see things differently, but come together to create beautiful artwork. Where Line sees things in a straightforward way, like a train track, Scribble wanders, like a path of butterflies. Line creates a stick-straight hairdo, while Scribble curls and twirls; Line offers a breadstick, and Scribble wants cotton candy. Each interprets life differently, but together, the two can create a whirling, swirling, storm with lightning and whirlwinds, tornadoes and hurricanes! A fun, creative story about embracing differences and finding common ground, the verse is almost like a poem, each observation quietly sitting on the page and finding voice through black and red line crayon and fountain pen illustrations, which come alive against the ivory background of the paper. There’s joy to be found here. A wonderful choice for an art storytime. Consider displaying with books like When Pencil Met the Markers and Perfect by Max Amato.

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle School, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Dan Unmasked: Everyone has a story

Dan Unmasked, by Chris Negron, (June 2021, HarperCollins), $7.99, ISBN: 9780062943071

Ages 8-12

Nate and Dan are best friends. They share a love of baseball and a love of comic books, especially Captain Nexus by comics legend George Sanderson. They’re always talking, always together, until an accident at baseball practice leaves Nate in a coma. Dan feels crushing guilt that he caused the accident and desperately comes up with an idea that HAS to work: convinced that Nate is trapped, like Captain Nexus in his latest storyline, he’s going to create a comic that will show Nate the way out. He joins forces with Nate’s brother, Ollie, and Courtney, a friend from school to plot out a storyline that has to work. Right?

Dan Unmasked is as much a story of grief, loss, and recovery as it is about friendship, comics, and baseball. Chris Negron weaves all the parts of a middle schooler’s life together in his story, including parental relationships and relationships with school friends and teammates. He gives a reclusive comic book artist real life as a fully realized character with as rich a backstory as the main characters. Baseball fans will love the game narration; comics fans will love the comic book references he liberally sprinkles throughout. John David Anderson fans will easily jump into this story; it’s got that wonderful mix of the extraordinary and the everyday. Get this on your Summer Reading shelves.

The hardcover release (July 2020) of Dan Unmasked was an Independent Booksellers’ Debut Pick of the Season.  Author Chris Negron has a Dan Unmasked Curriculum Guide available for download at his author website.

Posted in lift-the-flap, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Happy Belated Easter!

Hi all!

I’ve lapsed a little in my posts, and I apologize. I’ve had some health wackiness going on that’s left me a little run down, but I’m fine, honest. Today, I’m starting off with two Easter books – yes, Easter was yesterday (tonight, actually, as I write this), but there’s still Greek Easter in May! So add this adorable book to your basket – and crack your eggs and make a wish.

Dragon’s Easter Egg Hunt, by Priddy Books US, (Dec. 2020, Priddy Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781684491278

Ages 1-3

It’s an Easter Egg Hunt, and your kiddos are invited! Dragon has seven magical eggs to hide for Easter: can you help him out? Die-cut eggs are easy to pop out, and lift the flaps throughout the book instruct kids where to hide different eggs, and reveal fun fairies, unicorns, and other fun reveals. Colorful and playful, the book lets keep play with color and encourages hand-eye coordination and matching skills practice – different eggs go to different spreads – while letting them explore again and again. The flaps, eggs, and pages are sturdy and will hold up nicely. If you’re keeping a copy for your library, plan to make some backup eggs! Adorable and fun for all the littles!