Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Isabel and the Invisible World: Great for STEM Storytime!

Isabel and the Invisible World, by Alan Lightman/Illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki, (Apr. 2023, MIT Kids Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536223330

Ages 4-6

Isabel only wants one thing for her sixth birthday: something that will let her see “invisible things” that are invisible. Her scientist mother knows the perfect gift for Isabel: a prism, so Isabel can see the colors that make up light. This readable introduction to the science of light is a joy to read; Isabel is a curious young girl with a love of science, and the story conveys that sense of excitement and wonder to readers. The narrative builds the excitement leading up to Isabel’s birthday; Isabel’s mother explains how the prism works in an accessible, interesting way. Digital illustrations are warm and utilize the direction of light throughout the story; triangles show up throughout the spreads, and the rainbow spectrum shows up throughout the book. Isabel and her brother, Julian, are biracial: Mom is blonde and light-skinned; Dad is brown-skinned; Isabel is brown-haired, Julian is blonde; both are light brown-skinned. Back matter includes an explanation of light energy. A fun, readable choice for a STEM storytime or any time!

Hand out prism coloring pages for a post-storytime extension activity. There’s a good one from Science Workshop on TeachersPayTeachers. Try this prism experiment from Rosie Research either during a STEM program or hand out instructions for families to try at home: it’s easy!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Look to the animals: How Can We Be Kind?

How Can We Be Kind?, by Janet Halfmann/Illustrated by Darla Okada, (July 2022, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9780711268791

Ages 3-5

In my Great TBR Read-Down, I found a perfect addition to my Summer Reading collection: if you’re in a library system that’s part of the Collaborative Library Summer Reading Program, we’re doing All Together Now, featuring books on kindness. How Can We Be Kind? looks to the animal kingdom for ways we can be kind to one another: “We can make everyone feel welcome, like capybaras do. And we can share with one another, like jackdaws do”. Spread after spread shows different animals caring for one another, from capybaras relaxing and providing ducklings and monkeys with a sunny place to sit, to zebras defending one another from a group of hyenas. Soft, cartoony digital illustrations and bold fonts make this a soothing, easy readaloud, and a diverse group of humans bookend the story with thought-provoking question: “How can we be kind?” and “How will you be kind?” Back matter provides more information on the featured animals from the story. If you haven’t had the chance to add this story to your SEL, kindness, and storytime collections, consider adding a copy.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads


Two friends deliver a stirring message to all in this story of community and friendship, unconditional acceptance and support.


We Are One, by Jackie Azúa Kramer/Illustrated by Raissa Figueroa & Niña Mata,
(May 2023, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542016940

Ages 4-7


Two girls – one, living with her mom in the city; the other, living with her fathers and brother by the beach – delight in preparing for a lantern festival in a story that celebrates friendship and kindness. One girl’s dog runs away during the festival, uniting the two new friends, and they spend the remaining time together, joining their families in a new friendship. A diverse and inclusive group of individuals bring Azúa Kramer’s words to life as people play, enjoy a day at the beach, and celebrate together. Figueroa and Mata’s digital artwork create soft and colorful characters and settings; her deep purple skies provide a rich backdrop for the street lights and festival lights, and her expressive faces have fun, individual touches, like a child wearing a shark hat as they enjoy a popsicle, or a dad wearing a hot dog costume on the boardwalk. The morning fun of a day at the beach and the park build up to a celebratory atmosphere at the festival, giving readers a sense of excitement that comes with meeting a new friend at a party. Azúa Kramer’s spare, easy-to-read verse helps readers visualize community: “If you’re a seashell, / I’m a wave. / Together we play. / If you’re harmony, / I’m a chorus. / Together we sing”. Rich endpapers feature a variety of lanterns across a purple field of night. A wonderful choice for storytimes and bedtimes.


Jackie Azúa Kramer is the author of many books, including The Boy and the Gorilla, illustrated by Cindy Derby; I Wish You Knew, illustrated by Magdalena Mora; and The Green Umbrella, illustrated by Maral Sassouni. Her books have been named a Best of the Best Book by the Chicago Public Library and to Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the Year list. Jackie lives with her family in New York. Visit her at

Niña Mata has illustrated many children’s books, including New York Times bestsellers She’s Got This by Laurie Hernandez and I Promise by LeBron James, and the Ty’s Travels series by Kelly Starling Lyons, for which she became a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award honoree. Niña lives in New Jersey with her family. Find her online at

Raissa Figueroa is the illustrator of a number of children’s books, including We Wait for the Sun by Katie McCabe and Dovey Roundtree, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book; as well as the Oona series, written by Kelly DiPucchio; and Princess Unlimited by Jacob Sager Weinstein. She lives in California. You can visit her at

One lucky winner will receive a copy of We Are One, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. and Canada). Enter the Rafflecopter contest here!


Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Turkey’s Sandtastic Beach Day!

Turkey and friends are back in their latest romp, and there are more silly costumes and hilarious moments to love!

Turkey’s Sandtastic Beach Day, by Wendi Silvano/Illustrated by Lee Harper,
(May 2023, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781662508356

Ages 4-7

It’s summertime, and Farmer Jake and friends head to the boardwalk for the Summer Children’s Festival! Turkey wants to enjoy the beach so badly, but Farmer Jake needs him at the boardwalk’s petting zoo. What’s a beach-loving turkey to do? Get a disguise, naturally! Loaded with farm and beach puns and sight gags, Turkey’s Sandtastic Beach Day is a perfect readaloud to welcome Summer Reading. Endpapers are part of the story here: front endpapers show Farmer Jake loading everyone (including a scuba-outfitted Turkey) onto the petting zoo wagon, and back endpapers conclude the story. Harper’s watercolor and pencil illustrations are colorful and filled with cartoony animals and people, with Turkey taking center stage (as it should be).

The best thing about a new Turkey book? The chance to bring out more of those Turkey disguises! There are free templates and costumes all over TeachersPayTeachers. Add some beachy ideas to give your turkeys shark fins, crab pincers, and whatever else you can think of.


“Beachgoers will appreciate this funny, punny day by the shore.” Kirkus Reviews

Wendi Silvano was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has lived in Oregon, Colorado, and Peru. The author of the Turkey Trouble series, she has a BA in early childhood education and taught preschool and elementary school for eleven years. She is the mother of five children and the owner of an assortment of odd pets that are not nearly as clever as Turkey. She now writes from her home in Colorado, where she enjoys hiking, reading, and playing the piano. Visit her online at

Lee Harper is the author-illustrator of the books CoyoteThe Emperor’s Cool Clothes, and Snow! Snow! Snow! In addition to the Turkey Trouble series, Lee is also the illustrator of Looking for the Easy Life by Walter Dean Myers and the Woolbur series, written by Leslie Helakoski. Lee has four children, a German shepherd, two barn cats, two pigs, eleven chickens, and four sheep . . . but still no turkeys. Yet. He lives with his wife in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Visit him online at

To celebrate this seventh installment in the Turkey Trouble series, Two Lions is offering a copy of Turkey’s Sandtastic Beach Day to one lucky winner (U.S. and Canada). Click here to enter the Rafflecopter contest!

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

The Secret Life of Bugs: A kid-friendly close-up

The Secret Life of Bugs and Other Little Critters, by Emanuelle Figueras/Illustrated by Alexander Vidal, (Apr 2023, Twirl Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9782408042547

Ages 4-7

If it’s Spring and Summer, my bug books are going out like crazy. In every library community I’ve worked, kids are fascinated by bugs of all sorts. The Secret Life of Bugs and Other Critters is a unique new look at the hidden worlds that bugs inhabit, with laser-cut pages revealing the inner workings of a bee hive; a look at a spider’s web; leaves providing shelter for stick bugs, and more. Every spread has a laser cut page, adding dimension to the colorful pages. Factual text is interesting and short sentences are great for emerging readers. The laser cuts are delicate, so consider keeping a copy in your STEM reference; pages like the honeycomb and spider web may tear quickly. Originally published in French in 2019, the translation reads smoothly. The artwork shows movement and creates interest: butterflies fly from leaf to leaf in search of nectar while a spider waits in her web; bees actively gather nectar and pollen and protect their hive, and ants create their underground cities. There is something here for everyone.


Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads, Uncategorized

Big books for little ones: board books and more!

You know I love a board book bonanza, but I’ve got other interactive books to crow about, too! Let’s go right to it!

Ultimate Spotlight: Caring for Earth, by Sandra Laboucarie & Sarah Reynard/Illustrated by Julie Mercier, (March 2023, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9791036353239

Ages 4-6

Twirl’s Ultimate Spotlight series is such fun for pre-readers and emerging readers. Loaded with interactive devices like lift-the-flaps, pull tabs, and spinners, each book is like a little adventure. Caring for Earth, the newest book in the series, is a fun and informative look into conservation and preservation. Spreads on respecting nature, creating gardens, eco-friendly living inform grown-ups and children about the many easy ways we can take action to keep our Earth green: create and support a seed library; compost food waste; switch from liquid soap to bar soap, and take a healthy walk when you can! Spreads on gardening show readers the different layers helpful in creating a layered ecosystem. Translated from the original French, the verbiage runs smoothly and is easy to read to younger learners. Flaps and pulls are sturdy and hold up to use (but I always suggest keeping an extra in your reference collection if you want to hold one for storytime and STEM programming). A good addition to a very fun series.


Hello Hummingbirds: Read and play in the tree!, by Hannah Rogge/Illustrated by Emily Dove, (May 2023, Chronicle Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781797210094

Ages 2-4

This adorable book comes with two hummingbirds, attached to ribbons, that readers can use to swoop and play with the hummingbird narrator. A friendly hummingbird greets readers and takes them through a day in the life: swooping and flying, enjoying flower nectar, sheltering and building a nest. Quick, fun facts thread through the narrative, while the colorful artwork and playful fonts engage readers. The book stands up and pages open to become a tree. The pages are sturdy and the ribbons seem to hold up to extra tugging, making this a good storytime/playtime choice.

Let’s Go to Color Camp!: Beginning Baby, by Nicola Slater, (June 2023, Twirl Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781797218724

Ages 0-3

The Beginning Baby friends return on a trip to Color Camp – and they need help identifying colors! Tabbed flaps with colors help children turn to a favorite color, or they can page through the story where they’re invited to identify colors in the camp surroundings as the Beginning Baby friends paint, eat lunch, go swimming, and enjoy a day at camp. The retro art and expressive, friendly animals are eye-catching, and the sturdy pages will hold up to multiple readings. Great for a read-aloud and quiet skill-building, this is a fun addition to a fun series.


Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

I Want to Be Big! – but what happens if you get TOO big?

I Want to Be Big, by Tiffany Golden/Illustrated by Sawyer Cloud, (Apr. 2023, Page Street Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9781645676300

Ages 4-8

A brown-skinned young boy wants to be big: “Bigger than Big Brother. Bigger than Big Sister. Bigger than Mom. Bigger than Dad”. Being big comes with perks, after all: being able to reach the cookie jar; swimming with sharks and being best friends with Bigfoot, all sorts of cool things. His wish is magically granted, and he’s delighted! He’s bigger than everyone! Unsatisfied, he wants to be even bigger, and that’s where things go a little haywire. The boy is simply TOO big. Too big for his favorite pants. Too big to go down the slide. Too big to play with his siblings and cuddle with his parents. Will he be able to reverse his wish and be small again? And will he be happy if he does? A gently funny “be careful what you wish for” story, I Want to Be Big is the refrain many a parent, caregiver, or educator has heard, making this an amusing and relatable story that reminds kids the best parts about being small. Colorful digital artwork plays with size, showing the boy’s giant shoe making an appearance at a family barbecue and a close-up of the boy with a tiny, tiny pair of pants on his nose. The story touches on realistic problem-solving, and how size isn’t always an issue if you can figure out how to use your environment as a workaround (no workarounds for being friends with Bigfoot, sadly). A fun readaloud choice for collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Bondi and Poppy Help Heal the Planet: Make Earth Day Every Day!

Bondi and Poppy Help Heal the Planet, by Judith A. Proffer/Illustrated by Yoko Matsuoka, (Apr. 2023, Juju Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781088113431 

Ages 3-6

This sweet rhyming story stars two friends: Bondi, an Australian koala and Poppy, a California bear, who come together to raise awareness about the havoc wreaked by wildfires on their homes and how climate change plays a part in it. The two friends meet in Hawaii – the middle ground between their homes – where they spend time together and think of ways to help keep their homes – our home, Earth – safe. Kids will love the friendly-faced animals, colorful art, and playful rhyme. By outlining ways that everyone can pitch in and take responsibility for helping the environment – creating a family plan,; reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost; use less water and paper,  and rely less on gasoline and more on our own  bodies to get around – Proffer involves the whole family and empowers everyone from adults to kids. Initially published in time for Earth Day, Bondi and Poppy share a message worth repeating as Poppy’s part of the world heads into summer, when we rely on our air conditioners and prefer less walking over air-conditioned vehicles. A cute additional purchase for collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

When You Joined Our Family explores adoption

When You Joined Our Family, by Harriet Evans/Illustrated by Nia Tudor, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684644759

Ages 3-6

Adoption can bring up a lot of feelings and questions. When You Joined Our Family, written from an adoptive parent’s point of view, connects with them. A warm hug of a story, this could be any number of voices contributing to the narrative; a collection of adoptive parents talking about their experiences: “When you joined our family, I knew you were just who I’d waited and wished for”; “We spent time together, and you learned that I will always keep you safe”; “…I vowed to celebrate the ways you are unique… and the ways we are alike”. Positive, loving observations pair with multicultural, inclusive families of different ages, physical abilities, and households. Colorful digital illustrations are warm and inviting, showing families enjoying their time together. A very good choice for collections. Display with books like Jamie Lee Curtis’s Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, Carrie A. Kitze’s I Don’t Have Your Eyes, and Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell’s And Tango Makes Three. Adoption & Beyond has a list of adoption books for children at their website.


Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

You Rule!: The best things is life are measurable in words!

You Rule!, by Rilla Alexander, (Apr 2023, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781797211794

Ages 3-5

Sure, you can measure quantitatively – length, width, height – but measuring things with your heart is just as important and can be incredibly descriptive. You Rule! follows a child and their dog through the day as they help a caterpillar become a butterfly. They dash through spreads filled with common kids’ questions; imaginative, effusive responses help expand emotional vocabulary: How ready are you? Responses go from “not at all” to “fired up” and “rarin” to go”; How happy are you? calls forth responses like “exhilarated”, “pretty much ok”, “pleased as punch”, and “walking on air”. Bright, bold rubber stap and digital collage illustrations create eye-catching spreads and the positive affirmations for questions and responses make this a feel-good book to read again and again. Put this one in your collections and consider posting some of the words and phrases around your children’s area to keep these uplifting ideas in front of kids.