Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Barbara Throws a Wobbler… watch out!

Barbara Throws a Wobbler, by Nadia Shireen, (April 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-225-0

Ages 3-6

Barbara is not having a good day. First, there was a sock problem. Then, there was a strange pea at lunchtime. Things just keep going wrong for Barbara, and even her friends calling out to her isn’t helping. Barbara is nearing that last straw, which leads to a big… giant… WOBBLER! Wobbler is British slang for “tantrum”, something you’ll easily pick up in context, and it takes on a life of its own in this adorably fun and relatable story. The Wobbler is giant, gelatinous, and red, sitting atop Barbara’s head and eventually engulfing her until she can get a handle on it. Once she talks to her Wobbler and takes a deep breath, the Wobbler becomes more manageable, until it finally shrinks away – but not without letting her know it’ll be back one day! Kids and grownups alike will recognize toddler and preschooler triggers, from the “strange pea” at lunch, to the “hundred bad moods wrapped up in one” feeling that Barbara feels, right before the Wobbler takes over. A Very Useful Guide to Bad Moods at the end offers other moods to recognize, along with symptoms: The Sulk, The Tizzy, and The Seethe are just a few on the path to the Wobbler. Never making fun of Barbara or the frustration that leads to a tantrum, Barbara Throws a Wobbler takes an sensitive approach to identifying what sets a Wobbler off, and how to shrink it back down once it appears.

Originally published in the UK in 2020, Barbara Throws a Wobbler has just arrived on U.S. shores and has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Read a book, hug the Earth, it’s Earth Day!

Some more books to love our Big Blue Dot by…

The House of Grass and Sky, Mary Lyn Ray/Illustrated by E. B. Goodale (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536200973

Ages 4-8

The touching story of a house that wants to be a home will appeal to little ones and their grownups alike. Once, the house “smelled of sunshine and new lumber”, and a family filled its days and nights with love and laughter. Families came and families went, but the house always waited, knowing a new family was on the way. Until there wasn’t. The house quietly waited, and bit by bit, nature claimed the area. Lonely, the house keeps its vigil… and is rewarded when a new family moves in, reclaiming the home, filling it with love, laughter, and family once again. It’s a gentle, moving story of memory, nature, and embracing renewal. The mixed media illustrations make the home as much a character of the story as the people in it. One spread shows the house standing alone, among shadows of memories: someone playing ball, a child with a wagon; someone on a tree swing. Mary Lyn Ray’s prose makes the house become real with sentences like, “The house learned about babies being born and babies growing up. It learned about bedtime stories and birthday parties.” Endpapers display an older wallpaper, giving a nice feel to the story. Just a beautiful, touching book that makes you want to find an old house and fill it with the love you have to give. Think about all the ways you can show your home love: plant some new plants, even if you live in an apartment. Repurpose old t-shirts and make them into throw pillows or quilts. There are so many things you can do!

Peppa Pig and the Earth Day Adventure, by Candlewick Press, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $12.99, ISBN’: 9781536218985
Ages 2-5
It’s a new Peppa PigI! Today is Earth Day, and Peppa and her family are off to the Botanical Gardens once they finish sorting the recycling and composting. They get into Roger, the electric car, and head off for a fun day of learning how bees and flowers work together, see a Venus flytrap eat a fly, and play in the children’s garden! The kids in my library system love Peppa Pig, and this book will circulate like wildfire. Visit Peppa Pig’s website for Peppa news and activities.
The Forest : A Poster Book to Understand Everything about the World, by Emmanuelle Grundmann/Illustrated by Gal Weizman (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764360992
Ages 5-8
It’s a poster book! It’s a giant fold-out book! It’s both! Unfold each page to read a new piece of information about the forest, and enjoy a seek and find that continues on each section. The book opens up into a giant poster that spans more than 2 feet! Great for a science club/Discovery Club program, kids will love watching you unfold page by page as you read about ants, frogs, badgers, and more forest friends.
The Sea: A Poster Book to Understand Everything about the World, by Véronique Sarano/Illustrated by Anine Bösenberg & Loris F. Alessandria (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764361005
Ages 5-8
The companion to The Forest, The Sea is another panoramic poster book. Seek and find fish and urchins and learn about underwater cliffs, and underwater life like plankton, krill, dolphins, and sperm whales. The poster unfolds into a giant underwater scene, seek and finds leading the way with a turn of the page. Great for science programs, and keep at least one copy in your Reference section while you put one in circ – it may get beaten up, despite the sturdy pages. The Panoramic series is a fun way to explore the world!
Posted in picture books

Zonia’s Rain Forest is perfect for Earth Day

It’s Earth Day! Give your Mother Planet a hug!

Zonia’s Rain Forest, by Juana Martinez-Neal, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536208450

Ages 4-8

Zonia is a little girl who lives in the rain forest with “those she loves”. She visits her animal friends, enjoying their company and learning from them; when she heads home, she discovers, in horror, a landscape destroyed: trees chopped down; the land brutalized. She runs to her mother, telling her the forest needs help, and her mother responds that she must answer. Sagely, the little girl acknowledges that we all must answer. There is so much beauty in this book, it’s almost indescribable: Juana Martinez-Neal uses mixed media on handmade banana bark paper to create a textured, stunning rainforest landscape. Zonia, a member of the Peruvian Amazonian Indigenous Asháninka, wears plant-based paint on her face on the cover; inside, her rosy cheeks and little smile give her a playful expression that invites readers to befriend her. Zonia’s mother nurses her baby brother as she sees Zonia off for the day’s adventures. The rainforest colors are vibrant, alive, on the page, and a bright blue butterfly is our guide – is us – following Zonia through her interactions. When she encounters the pillaged rainforest, her horror, her confusion, reaches out and touches readers. When she speaks her final line in the book: “We all must answer”, it’s more than a call to action. It’s an accounting. Powerful, beautiful, and necessary for collections. Endpapers are an orange-on-orange swarm of butterflies flying across the spreads. Back matter includes a word about the Asháninka people in both English and Asháninka, with a link to Juana Martinez-Neal’s webpage, which contains an Asháninka translation to Zonia’s Rain Forest. The book also includes facts about the Amazon, threats to the Amazon, selected sources, and the names of Zonia’s animal friends.

Juana Martinez-Neal is a Caldecott Honor winner. Her author webpage has a wealth of resources about Zonia, including a teacher guide and links to videos and podcasts.

Zonia’s Rain Forest has starred reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

Earth Day: Loving the Animals!

Earth Day is tomorrow, but I’ve got books and books to talk about! Let’s love the animals we share the planet with, shall we?

Masters of Disguise: Camouflaging Creatures & Magnificent Mimics, by Marc Martin, (March 2021, Candlewick Studio), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536214055

Ages 4-8

Animals love to play hide and seek in the wild: it keeps them safe! Masters of Disguise profiles twelve different animals, from Gaboon Vipers in Africa to the Great Horned Owl in North and South America, to the Panther Chameleon in Madagascar. Gorgeous watercolor, pencil, and digital collage artwork invites readers to look for animals in their habitats, and profiles on each animal spotlights their uniqueness: polar bear paws and colorless coats; African leopard rosettes on their lush coats, the mimic octopus’s list of impersonations. Fun facts and inviting artwork make this a wonderful invitation to learn more about the animals in their habitats; endpapers spotlight a world map with the animals noted across their locations.

Masters of Disguise has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Reptiles Everywhere, by Camilla de la Bedoyere/Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup, (April 2021, Big Picture Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536217070

Ages 6-9

Reptile fans, get ready! Britta Teckentrup – one of my favorite illustrators! – brings her talents to this great primer on reptiles. Zoologist Camilla de la Bedoyere writes a very readable, interactive book for animals fans, inviting readers to pick the dinosaurs out of a reptile lineup; view a reptile timeline; learn about reptiles in different habitats, and watch a group of baby leatherback turtles race for the ocean. Digital artwork is colorful, and fun facts make each page compulsively readable. Readers will be excited to look for more books on new favorite lizards, like the Komodo Dragon or the Gila Monster, when finishing this one.

Orangutan Hats and Other Tools Animals Use, by Richard Haynes/Illustrated by Stephanie Laberis, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536200935
Ages 7-10
Animals: they’re just like us, right? Yes! This light-hearted book is all about the tools animals use: floss like a macaque, apply sunscreen like an elephant, wield a shield like a hermit crab. Organized into six sections, readers can learn what animals do to stay clean, healthy, and safe; how they create tools to hunt and eat, how they seek comfort, and tools to help them have fun! Cartoon illustrations will make readers giggle as they see a capuchin monkey stick a piece of grass up its nose to clean it out, or watch a crow drop a rock on a cat that’s getting too close for comfort. A smart look at animal ingenuity that kids will return to. Endpapers show a forest landscape on a sunny day and a rainy day; back matter includes a glossary, bibliography, and index. Publisher Candlewick offers a Teacher Tip Card to prompt discussion.
Orangutan Hats and Other Tools Animals Use has a starred review from Kirkus.
And, coming soon…
The Elephants Come Home: A True Story of Seven Elephants, Two People, and One Extraordinary Friendship, by Kim Tomsic/Illustrated by Hadley Hooper, (May 2021, Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781452127835
Ages 3-5
While it’s not out until May, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this moving story about a man who took a group of frightened, hunted elephants into his home. Conservationist Lawrence Anthony, his wife, Françoise, and their dog, Max, accepted a group of elephant to live at their Thula Thula game preserve in Africa. The elephants were bullied and hunted, and were raging at rangers at their last location. For this group of 7 elephants, Thula Thula was their last chance: if they didn’t go to Thula Thula, they would have been shot. Lawrence accepted the elephants; he and Françoise understood their fear and their anger, and gently, slowly gained their trust. When Lawrence died in 2012, the elephants came from where they’d been living, about 12 hours away, and mourned Lawrence along with Françoise. They return every year. Told simply and with genuine feeling, this beautiful story will pull at your heartstrings; Hadley Hooper’s mixed media artwork has touching moments set against a background of reds and oranges. I can’t say enough about this wonderful book: add this to your storytimes, and talk about empathy, kindness, and being a guardian to our planet and the animals we share it with. Back matter includes an author’s note and list of works cited.
Posted in picture books

Two books about Trees for Earth Day

I’ve got two more books about trees for Earth Day today! Sit in the great outside with these books and take a nice, deep breath for Earth Day.

The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom, by Lita Judge, (March 2021, Roaring Brook Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781250237071

Ages 7-12

Verse comes together with nonfiction writing to tell the story of trees, and how they work together to create ecosystems that provide food and shelter to everything around them. Beautiful watercolor and pencil artwork provides visuals that will enchant readers with visions of ancient trees, baby animals, and wooded sanctuaries. Additional back matter includes more information about different types of trees and the dangers posed to our world’s forests.

Teachers Pay Teachers has a great Adopt a Tree lesson and journal, courtesy of Common Core Kelly; it would be a good activity to introduce to grade schoolers as a STEM/STEAM project.

The Wisdom of Trees has starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal.

 

Zee Grows a Tree, by Elizabeth Rusch/Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763697549

Ages 5-8

A baby is born and her mother and father, who run a Christmas tree farm, set aside a Douglas fir seedling that emerges that same day, to be “Zee’s Tree”. Little Zee and her tree grow up together: they both grow bigger and stronger with love and care; when Zee starts preschool, the tree also starts life outside, being planted outside the nursery; Zee makes friends at school, and the tree enjoys company from the local birds. When the tree contracts a heat-related illness, Zee is there to nurse it back to health. Filled with interesting facts about Douglas fir trees, Zee Grows a Tree is a lovely combination of fact and fiction that will draw readers in and maybe encourage them to care for a plant of their own. Mixed media illustrations show peaceful landscapes and two friends growing together. The relationship between Zee and her tree is sweetly depicted. Back matter includes an index and a list for further reading.

Zee Grows a Tree has a starred review from School Library Journal.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Earth Day Reading: Trillions of Trees!

Trillions of Trees: A Counting and Planting Book, by Kurt Cyrus, (March 2021, Henry Holt), $19.99, ISBN: 9781250229076

Ages 3-6

A young girl makes a call to the local plant pavilion to order a trillium flower, but a hilarious game of telephone leads to the family being put down for an order of a trillion trees! When the first thousand show up, the family bands together to figure out where to put all of them: the yard, the town, the park, everywhere one can imagine, the family’s planting trees of all kinds. When the day is done, the weary family heads home to discover a truck in the driveway… with their next shipment of trees. An environmentally sound counting story with a fun twist, this rhyming tale will have readers giggling and trying to figure out where to put tree upon tree upon tree! It’s a great readalong with books like Kadir Nelson’s If You Plant a Seed. Colorful illustrations show trees of all types, including a giant Sequoia and an apple orchard. Fun family moments show them being overwhelmed by the trees tumbling off the truck, and digging multiple holes across their town. A back page provides fun facts about trees. This list from Brightly includes more books about planting trees, to add to a Hug a Tree display for Earth Day.

Trillions of Trees is a companion to Kurt Cyrus’s 2016 book, Billions of Bricks and has a starred review from School Library Journal.

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Wolf learns a valuable lesson in Sheepish

Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover), by Helen Yoon, (Jan. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536207323

Ages 3-7

Wolf’s got plans: dress like a sheep, infiltrate the flock, eat all the sheep things. As he follows his own rules, though, he discovers something he didn’t expect – becoming a beloved part of the flock! As Wolf spends day in and day out with the sheep, alongside them, playing with them, doing aerobics with them, and reading stories to them, he realizes the sheep aren’t quite so temptingly tasty anymore. He can’t even imagine trying to make a meal out of one of his friends! Separating himself from temptation, he leaves the community only to learn that just maybe, he wasn’t as crafty as he thought he was and that good friends always show up for one another. Mixed media illustrations tell the real story, and readers will chuckle to see the wily wolf surrounded by sheep who clearly know what’s going on, and will enjoy seeing how each side develops a love for the other, as they spend time together. The lighting in these illustrations is just gorgeous; light from behind Wolf and the sheep on a line create orange-tinged shadows that telegraph Wolf’s long ears and fluffy tail; a dejected Wolf heads home as sunset and a single evening star light up the sky. The light sources are part of the story and bring a warmth to the pages that I just adored with every turn of the page. A sweetly funny, heartwarming book that kids will turn to again and again.

Sheepish has starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Stomp and count with One-Osaurus, ,Two-Osaurus!

One-osaurus, Two-osaurus, by Kim Norman/Illustrated by Pierre Collet-Derby, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536201796

Ages 3-7

You know when you discover a book that makes you want to jump up and start a storytime? One-osaurus, Two-osaurus falls firmly into that group. A group of dinosaurs are playing in a child’s room when they decide to start a counting game: “One-osaurus, two-osaurus, three-osaurus, four…” It’s a mash-up of hide-and-seek and counting, as the dinos hide behind large, bold numbers; they tuck tails and necks, waiting in anticipation for number 10, which sounds really, really big. What will it be? You have to read and find out! The addictively playful rhyme scheme will make you want to jump and dance as you read. Hand out number coloring sheets (Mr. Printables and First Palette have good ones) and invite your storytime Kiddos to hide behind them as you read along, and make sure to stomp and roar! Digital illustrations are lively, silly, colorful and incredibly fun, with cartoony, bright dinosaurs twisting themselves into hilarious shapes to pose by and hide behind numbers. Bold, black, oversized numbers make it easy to count along, even for the kiddos sitting in the back of the group! Display and read with other great dino books, including 1, 2, 3 Do the Dinosaur by Michelle Robinson & Rosalind Bearshaw, and some get up and dance stories, like Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson’s Spunky Little Monkey and Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance.

One-osaurus, Two-osaurus has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blue Floats Away explains the water cycle and global warming

Blue Floats Away, by Travis Jonker/Illustrated by Grant Snider, (March 2021, Abrams Books for Young Readers), $17.99, ISBN: 9781419744235

Ages 4-8

Blue is a little iceberg who floats along with his parents in the North Pole until one day, when he cracks and floats away, surprising the three of them! He’s carried along by the water, noticing new and beautiful things and meeting new friends, when he transforms again, and again! Blue’s gentle little adventure explains the water cycle to young learners in a way that will interest and delight them, as Blue transforms from an iceberg, to a cloud, to a snowflake, as he experiences new and exciting things on his journey. Back matter includes more information about the water cycle and a note about climate change and its affect on polar ice. Blue Floats Away is so  much more than a cute STEM story to read to your Kiddos, though: it’s about growing up, having new experiences, and always having an eye toward home. Blue and his parents have subtly illustrated, gentle faces that I had to read a second time to really discover; Blue’s expressions change throughout his story; at first content, then frightened, unsure, even excited, as his story moves along. Mixed media illustrations remind me of Lois Ehlert in the best of ways. Deep blues dominate the story, with bright colors popping out to keep interest. Spare text makes this a great readaloud choice that you can follow with a torn paper collage craft, inviting kids to create their own Blue story. KidZone has water cycle activity pages for coloring that you can have handy for a storytime or grab and go craft, as does Clever Learner.

Blue Floats Away has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

Posted in picture books

Blog Tour and Author Interview: Perdu, by Richard Jones

Back in February, I wrote about Richard Jones’s latest book, Perdu – his first as an author and illustrator! This book about a little dog who really needs a friend melted my heart, so I’m happy to talk about it again for the book’s blog tour. Peachtree Publishers was wonderful and secured me an interview with author Richard Jones, too!

Perdu, by Richard Jones, (Apr. 2021, Peachtree Publishing),
$17.99, ISBN: 9781682632482
Ages 4-8

Poor Perdu finds himself lost and all alone on a dark rainy night, with nothing of his own except for an old red scarf. Hefollows a tumbling leaf through the countryside to the city, from night to day,in hopes of finding a place of his own. But in the busy city, people rush and shoo Perdu away.Will he ever find a comforting place to rest his aching legs or fill his grumbling tummy?

Your most recent book, Perdu, is also your first as an author! Is this the first story you were moved to write?

Richard Jones: Perdu’s story is very dear to me, but it’s not quite the first! The publishing world is a roly-poly business and projects get moved forward and back all the time. There are one or two other tales that came before this one that are waiting patiently for their time! However, Perdu is the first story of mine to be published and I’ll always think of it fondly.

Perdu’s little red scarf becomes such an emotional part of his story. What inspired it?

Richard Jones: Perdu is a dog with a mysterious past and I wanted him to carry a little piece of it with him as he searches for a place to call home. His scarf is his only possession, so when he loses it after a mix up in a café, he feels entirely lost. When the little girl kindly ties it back on, she’s not only returning to him his possession but also giving him back his self-worth and confidence.

You use color to communicate so many things in your books. I loved that the red of Perdu’s scarf matches the little girl’s knit hat. Can you talk about how you decide what colors to use when you’re working?

Richard Jones: I have pages and pages of sketches for the little girl’s coat and hat, I think I counted over 25 variations! In the end, red seemed the perfect color to use as it contrasted well with his night-black coat and made her stand out in the crowded city streets. I try and have a new palette of colors for each book, picked from photos and paintings I’ve spotted during the early stages of a project. I sometimes wonder if I’m not just a little bit color blind!

Was writing and illustrating Perdu more challenging than illustrating other authors’ work?

Richard Jones: I love reading other people’s stories and imagining how I might illustrate them. It’s one of the best parts of the job! However, working on Perdu felt a little more organic than other projects, as the two strands—the pictures and the words—developed together. As the pages evolved over time, they suggested little changes or shifts in the story that required a re-write or two. That’s something I wouldn’t always expect of another author!

 

Thank you so much!

Visit other stops on the Richard Jones/Perdu blog tour!

Additional resources:

Website with book summary and author bio: https://peachtree-online.com/portfolio-items/perdu/

Author Q&A: https://peachtree-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/QA_JonesR.pdf

Activity Sheets: https://peachtree-online.com/pdfs/Activity_Event/PerduActivitySheets.pdf

Book excerpt: https://peachtree-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/PerduExcerpt.pdf

How to Draw Perdu video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeNUtKJtczA

Richard Jones background about the creation of Perdu: https://www.paintedmouse.com/perdu-blog