Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Two Books to Read This Shabbat

Kalaniot Books has been putting out some great books representing Jewish culture. I’ve been reading them, enjoying them, and sharing them with my library kids. Here are two to take home to read this Shabbat.

The Candy Man Mystery, by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky/Illustrated by Christina Mattison Ebert, (Sept. 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1-7350875-2-8

Ages 4-8

Josh and Becky enjoy going to synagogue, and Mr. Sharansky – The Candy Man – makes it even more special, handing out candy after services every week! When Mr. Sharansky isn’t at Temple Shalom this week, Josh and Becky are worried and determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. When they find Mr. Sharansky, it’s a sweet reunion in every way. A touching story of faith and multigenerational friendship, The Candy Man Mystery is a great readaloud on empathy and sharing. Josh and Becky connect with members of their synagogue community, and we learn something about everyone they come into contact with, including a child learning a prayer in American Sign Language (ASL), so he can say them with his mother, who is deaf. The congregation is invested in one another, and the Rabbi is a warm figure who respects children and adults alike. Back matter includes a word on the Shema, a glossary, and how to use ASL to sign the Shema. A lovely addition to Jewish culture and empathy-focused collections.

Visit Kalaniot’s webpage to download a free educator’s guide for The Candy Man Mystery.

 

The Rabbi and the Painter, by Shoshana Weiss/Illustrated by Jennifer Kirkham, (Sept. 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 978-0-9988527-8-2

Ages 5-8

Based on the true story of the relationship between 16th-Century Venetian painter Tintoretto (also known as “Il Furioso”) and Rabbi Leon Modena (also known as Yahuda Araya), formed when the Rabbi was a boy who found a clay doll the painter used as a model. The Rabbi became fluent in both Italian and Hebrew, helping the Venetian government draft contracts in Hebrew as needed and eventually helping Tintoretto with one of his famous pieces, The Last Supper. The story explores the friendship between the two men while focusing on their individual talents, resulting in a story about how blending cultures can lead to great things. Back matter includes historical notes and further resources. Illustrations are engaging and focus on collaboration and creativity. A smart addition to historical picture books.

Download a free educator guide at Kalaniot’s website.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Discover Israel with this rhyming tour

My Israel and Me, by Alice Blumenthal McGinty/Illustrated by Rotem Teplow, (Sept. 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1-7350875-3-5

Ages 3-8

Told in verse through the eyes of the diverse groups of people living in and visiting Israel, My Israel is a celebration of both the ancient and modern-day country.  Verse shares space with factual information about areas like The Dead Sea, the modern city and Israel’s status as a “Start-Up Nation”, kibbutzes, Biblical history, and more. Alice Blumenthal McGinty celebrates Jewish and Muslim culture and family life, and Rotem Teplow’s colorful artwork takes readers on a journey across the small country with a big history. Endpapers show a plethora of objects to take readers on a visual journey, like camels, kites, olive leaves, and cats, all of whom are waiting to be discovered in the pages.

To extend a lesson on Israel, visit TeachersPayTeachers, where you can find a map of ancient Israel from Taylor Beck; an Israel Activities Pack from Marshal Jewish Learning Center, and more! Download a free educator kit from Kalaniot’s website.

Author Alice Blumenthal McGinty is an award-winning author. You can find educator guides on her website, along with more information on her books, and information about school visits. Visit illustrator Rotem Teplow’s website for more of her artwork.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A Snake, a Flood, a Hidden Baby: Bible Stories for Children

A Snake, a Flood, a Hidden Baby: Bible Stories for Children, by Meir Shalev/Illustrated by Emanuele Luzzati, Translation by Ilana Kurshan, (Sept. 2021, Kalaniot Books), $21.99, ISBN: 978-0-9988527-9-9

Ages 3-8

Originally published in Hebrew in 1994, this English translation of six Bible stories from the Hebrew Bible are delightfully translated into English for younger listeners and readers. Featuring the stories of The Tree of Knowledge, Noah’s Ark, The Tower of Babel, Abraham and Sarah, Joseph and His Brothers, and Moses in the River, the stories are told with a sense of humor and personality. Colorful illustrations bring the stories to life with vibrant spreads, one-page illustrations, and pop-ups throughout the text. Key phrases an quotes throughout each story are emphasized in size and colorful font, making this an accessible, wonderful book of stories to share.

Visit Kalaniot’s book detail page for A Snake, a Flood, a Hidden Baby to download a free educator’s guide.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A new age-old question: How Did Humans Go Extinct?

How Did Humans Go Extinct?, by Johnny Marciano/Illustrated by Paul Hoppe (Oct. 2021, Black Sheep), $16.95, ISBN: 9781617759277

Ages 3-7

Ten million years, the Earth looks a little different. It looks really futuristic, and the inhabitants? Well, they look a little amphibious. They’re Nøørfbløøks, and according to the science museum, the theory is that they’ve evolved from frogs. But our story revolves around young Plib, a Nøørfbløøk who loves humans, as is obvious from his favorite human stuffie, Frank, and his books and movies (Human Park, How Do Humans Say Good Night, Planet of the Humans). He wants to know how humans went extinct, but his mother is reticent to tell him: it’s really not a story for kids, after all. But when Plib presses, she relents and tells him some pretty uncomfortably plausible theories: pollution, war, and worst of all, they just stopped caring about one another. Plib is crushed at these heartbreaking theories, but Mom shushes his fears away by offering her own theory, which is more comforting. But it’s food for thought, isn’t it? Comic book style artwork has great little details on what archaeologists may find in about 10 million years, and the reasons for our extinction are food for thought and discussion. A smart call to action from a different point of view.

Johnny Marciano is a New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, and the grandson of Ludwig Bemelmans, author and illustrator of the Madeline books. Marciano has continued the series with Madeline and the Old House in Paris, Madeline at the White House, and Madeline and the Cats of Rome. Paul Hoppe is an award-winning illustrator whose artwork regularly appears in the New York Times. See more of Paul Hoppe’s illustration work at his website.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

’80s storytime: Good Times Roll

Good Times Roll, by Ric Ocasek/Illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr., (Oct. 2021, Akashic Books), $16.95, ISBN: 9781617758485

I’m a 70s and 80s kid, and Akashic’s LyricPop books give me such joy. This latest one is based on The Cars’s 1978 hit, “(Let the) Good Times Roll”. Rob Sayegh Jr. brings a playful spin to this song with two cats, a ball of yarn, and a lot of imagination. The two cats play together as they create waves, rainbows, and zooming planets and stars with the yarn, frolicking through lyrics like, “Let them leave you up in the air. / Let them brush your rock and roll hair. / Let the good times roll”. It’s playful, it’s bright, it’s just fun: just what your ’80s storytime needs.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Wordless wonder: Grand Isle

Grand Isle, by Kate Samworth, (Sept. 2021, Black Sheep), $18.95, ISBN: 9781617759765

Ages 3-8

In the great tradition of wordless adventure stories, Grand Isle takes readers on a big adventure, joining two sisters on a day at the beach for a day of fun. They discover a giant seed pod that just begs to be a canoe; sure enough, they climb aboard and journey to a mysterious island where everything is huge, from the plants to the bugs! When their seed pod canoe gets pulled back to sea, they discover they’re stranded: are they resourceful enough to get back home?

In the vein of books like Aaron Becker’s Journey trilogy, Grand Isle uses illustration to transport readers: the pages burst with color and scale; the characters go from typical size, as they build a sand castle together and roam the coastline, to smaller as they discover the seed pods and arrive at the hidden island. The shift is subtle, with no grand reveal; it’s never disruptive. When the girls arrive at the island, they are tiny and discover giant flora and fauna around them! The illustrations are lush and have beautiful movement to them. A rich story that invites readers to tell you what they see.

See more of Kate Samworth’s work at her website.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Life in the Extraordinary Pause

The Extraordinary Pause, by Sara Sadik/Illustrated by Karine Jaber, (Sept. 2021, Eifrig Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9781632333070

Ages 4-8

As we finish up Year 2 of… *sweeping gesture* all of this, it’s comforting to have a book remind you of things we’ve gained. The Extraordinary Pause is one of those books. Beginning with a recap of where we were before: our nonstop society, consumed by devices, had stopped noticing our surroundings; even each other. And at that point, the virus – depicted as a spiky orange monster – creeped in, and we all stayed home, where we discovered each other – and our surroundings – once again, on a more personal level. We cooked together, played together, learned together, and slowly, that “extraordinary pause” brought everything back. Sure, things are different now, but we’re figuring out how to live with things the way they are now. Illustrator Karine Jaber brings Sara Sadik’s quiet storytelling to life, touching on things kids will remember most from the pause that went for almost two years: empty classrooms, shuttered stores, isolated parks and playgrounds. Together, they also mention the things kids will remember with fondness, like learning at home, parents at their sides; sharing family time; and most important of all, those hugs we missed when reunited with family and friends. Karine Jensen uses color with great thought, giving weight to the things we “forgot” before the pause, like green spaces, as we rush around in our monochromatic lives. Home spaces and interactions are warmly colored. Back matter includes questions to think about with readers, inviting them to think and talk about how their lives changed during the pause. A QR code lets readers scan for more resources.

A good addition to social-emotional learning collections, and a strong testament to what we’ve come through.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Age-Old Question: What is Love?

What is Love?, by Mac Barnett/Illustrated by Carson Ellis, (Dec. 2021, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781452176406

Ages 3-6

A young boy asks his grandmother that question we all hear at some point: “What is love?” Grandmother can’t answer that, so the boy goes out into the world and asks everyone he comes into contact with, receiving hundreds of different answers: it’s a fish; it’s a horse; it’s the night; it’s a blade, it’s any number of things, but one thing we know for sure, there’s no one answer. The boy returns, years later, to his grandmother, and as he cuddles her, he realizes that he has his answer. A gentle story about the subjectivity of love and the journey to learn what defines it, only to discover that it’s in one’s heart all along, What is Love? is uncomplicated and profound all at once; it’s the easiest thing in the world to some, yet to explain or define it can confound others. Playful, colorful gouache artwork and the repetition of the question, “What is love?” and the oft-repeated response, “You do not understand”, makes for moments of introspection as readers consider what each of these things mean to others: the blade to a soldier; applause to an actor. Ask little ones what love feels like to them, and give them some paper and crayons.

Marc Barnett is an award-winning author, including two Caldecott Honor books. Find more about his books at his website, where you can sign up for his newsletter. Carson Ellis is an award-winning illustrator with a Caldecott Honor book to her credit. See more about of her illustration at her website.

What is Love? has starred reviews from BookPage and School Library Journal.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Environmentally savvy storytelling: Moles Present The Natural Tolls of Digging Holes

Moles Present The Natural Tolls of Digging Holes, by Springer Badger, (Nov. 2021, Page Street Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781645672876

Ages 4-8

Already updating your Earth Day collections? Take a look at this rhyming tale about the holes we dig, as a group of moles illustrate the different reasons we dig: some are for fun, like to create sandboxes; some are helpful, to use as bathrooms; some are to explore and discover, like archaeologists do. But some are to put stinky or poisonous things, and sometimes, we dig too deeply, which can cause other problems. A smart, humorous rhyme pairs with amusing artwork that lets us look at what’s going on underground, from zombie moles to a school of fish panicking as one of their own nips onto a fishing pole; signage like “Brutish Petroleum” and “Exxoff” are wink to adults who will recognize gas and oil companies. An environmental call to action that younger readers will love. Make sure to have copies of the activity kit available to hand out (print on the other side of scrap paper!)

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Welcoming the New Year with a blog tour: Playing with Lanterns

Hi, all! I hope you all had a happy and healthy holiday season and are ready for a hopeful New Year. I’ve been sick (not THAT one, just an awful cold) for the last few days, so my triumphant return to blogging has been waylaid a bit, but I’m back, medicated, and rested.

My first post of the New Year is also about a New Year: Lunar New Year! Playing with Lanterns is a new book from Amazon Crossing Kids, translated from Chinese, about a group of children and their special New Year lanterns.


Playing with Lanterns, by Wang Yage/Illustrated by Zhu Chengliang,
Translated by Helen Wang, (Jan. 2022, Amazon Crossing Kids),
$17.99, ISBN: 9781542029841
Ages 4-7

Zhao Di and her friends are so excited to celebrate Lunar New Year! They run, dance, and play together, waving their colorful lanterns each night until the last night – the 15th day of the New Year – when they smash their lanterns! But Zhao Di doesn’t want to smash her lantern just yet. That would mean the New Year celebrations are over, after all; or what if it’s not the right time yet? That would bring bad luck!

Originally published in China, Playing with Lanterns is such a wonderful winter story about childhood and tradition. Back matter includes an author’s note about the tradition of smashing lanterns, and the story reads at times like verse, at times like a folk tale, creating a wonderful atmosphere for readers and making this a great readaloud choice. Colorful artwork decorates the text and sets warm atmosphere in the middle of winter, with colorful lanterns, clothing, warm fires, and cheery homes. For a colorful lantern craft that can easily transition into a grab-and-go, visit First Palette.

 

“A colorful wintry tale ushers in Chinese New Year over two weeks…A charming illustration of childhood memories during the holiday season.” Kirkus Reviews

“Quiet, elegant passages stud the text…Tenderly detailed gouache paintings by Zhu render the children as small, patterned bundles frolicking against expanses of snow…A quiet celebration of a Northwestern Chinese tradition.” Publishers Weekly

Wang Yage was born in Shaanxi, a central and historical province of China, where the custom of playing with lanterns was once a popular Chinese New Year tradition. A doctor of classical Chinese literature, she teaches at the University of Tibet. Playing with Lanterns is her first picture book. First published in China, the book made the prestigious White Ravens international book list.

Zhu Chengliang is an award-winning Chinese illustrator. Born in Shanghai and raised in Suzhou, he studied at the Department of Fine Art, Nanjing University, and has worked as an author, illustrator, editor, and designer. He was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2016, which is the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of children’s books. His books have been named one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books by the New York Times and to the IBBY Honor List.

Helen Wang is a writer and translator from the UK. In 2017 she was given a Special Contributor of the Year honor as part of the Chen Bochui International Children’s Literature Awards for her work in bringing Chinese children’s literature to English-speaking audiences. Wang has translated novels, picture books, and graphic novels, including Cao Wenxuan’s Bronze and Sunflower, which won the Marsh Christian Award for Children’s Literature in Translation.

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Playing with Lanterns, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.