Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board and Concept Books to keep an eye out for!

I’ve been busily scaling Mount TBR, and wanted to share some up-and-coming books, too! Here are some concept and early childhood books to into your ordering carts now – let’s spend down our book budgets!

One More Try, by Naomi Jones/Illustrated by James Jones, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684644568

Ages 3-7

While playing one day, Circle sees the squares and hexagons building a tower and really wants to build one, too. Triangle and Rhombus want to play, too, but the group can’t seem to balance as easily as the other shapes do. They work out, they study, but they keep falling down, until Circle gets some inspiration from above and changes his perspective. Naomi Jones creates a sweet story about teamwork and perspective; James Jones creates colorful shapes with cheerful expressions and spindly black arms and legs. The shapes cheer each other on and support one another, delivering a positive message about playing together and helping one another. A cute addition to concept collections and a fun storytime choice.

One More Try lends itself to a fun flannel storytime – cut shapes out of flannel and let your circle time add to the story as you read. There are oodles of shape coloring pages available for free for a post-storytime activity: visit GetColoringPages and MomJunction for some fun choices.

 

My Big Book of Nature Sounds, by Lucie Brunelliere, (Feb. 2023, Twirl Books), $21.99, ISBN: 9782408042165

Ages 0-3

An adorable way to introduce interactivity into your storytimes, My Big Book of Nature Sounds includes over 100 sounds organized into areas like backyards, gardens, forests, beaches and oceans, the mountains, the desert, and the rainforest. Each button maps to an area of the book, noted by a colorful icon at the top left hand of each page. At the press of a button, little ones will delight to hear 6 types of birds; backyard activities, like digging holes or watering plants; a grownup inflating a child’s water wings, and a calming rainforest waterfall. Colorful illustrations show animals and humans enjoying and respecting nature, and illustrations are clearly labeled. Perfect for lapsit exploration or to enhance a nature storytime.

 

Who’s the Most…? A Guess Who Book, by Claudia Bielinsky, (Feb. 2023, Twirl Books), $10.99, ISBN: 9791036353093

Ages 0-3

This adorable seek-and-find book challenges readers to pick animals out of a group based on characteristics: who’s the strongest? The cleanest? The most loving? Readers will look for the featured animal based on clues provided in the text: “Which mouse is all ready, with a shirt, pants, and shoes on? It’s Mikey-he’s the most ready!” The guessing game leads up to a delightful reveal, making this a wonderful readaloud for small lapsits and one-on-one reading and cuddle time. Colorful, kid-friendly cartoon animals are attention-grabbers, and naming the animals assures readers will return to this one as they look forwarding to naming their new friends again and again. A good addition to board book collections.

 

Little Chicks, by Taro Gomi, (Feb. 2023, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797218748

Ages 0-3

Three little chicks head off for an adventure in this sweet story by Taro Gomi. After running through a field, escaping a bigger, grumpier bird, and taking a bus ride, the chicks are ready to head back home; the story speaks directly to a toddler’s growing sense of independence, cloaked in the desire to explore within the bounds of safety. Gomi’s colorful artwork is always a delight for the eyes, and some readers may notice that the bus in the story looks similar to another board book favorite character: Elmer the Elephant! Short sentences make for a great move into independent reading for preschoolers. An essential pick for board book collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Survival and Triumph: Finding Fire

Finding Fire, by Logan S. Kline, (Sept. 2022, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536213027

Ages 4-8

This almost completely wordless picture book is set in a prehistoric society where rain has just put out the family fire. A young boy volunteers for the quest, thus beginning a tale of survival, friendship, and triumph as he braves a hostile landscape to find the precious fire his family needs to survive. Striking mixed-media illustrations carry the story forward: the family, in a bleak cave, standing over the extinguished fire; the red-haired boy, standing in the sunlight, his hair a beacon as he ventures forth, sleeping in trees to escape predators, fording rivers and saving a life. The artwork is stunning, each spread coming to life under the reader’s eye. A gorgeous story that begs to be shared, and an essential purchase. Keep an eye on this one during awards time.

Finding Fire has a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Best Kind of Mooncake is one you share

The Best Kind of Mooncake, by Pearl Au-Yeung, (Oct. 2022, Page Street Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9781645675563

Ages 4-8

A young girl sits by her family’s booth in a busy Hong Kong market, waiting patiently for her end-of-the-day treat: a mooncake with a double-yolk center. The best kind! A stranger comes charging into the marketplace, exhausted and hungry after leaving his village, sleeping in trees, and stowing away on a ship to cross the border. At first, no one pays attention to him until the girl’s mother gives him the very mooncake the girl was promised, which he hungrily gobbles up. At that point, he becomes visible: people begin speaking with him and offering him kindnesses. The girl’s mother explains that seeing someone receive a kindness often reminds others of when they received kindness. A warm story of compassion and gratitude, AuYeung’s story is inspired by true events, explained in an author’s note, alongside pictures of the author’s family. Digital illustrations have an animated feel to them, with movement, big expressions, and texture. The Best Kind of Mooncake is a story of kindness and compassion, with a poignant observation about seeing what stands in front of us even when we are tempted to look away. Endpapers show the bustling street market referenced in the story. An excellent story for Lunar New Year readalouds and for the winter holiday season – the emphasis is not on the mooncake (usually eaten during the Mid-Autumn Harvest Festival); rather, on empathy and kindness.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Picture Book Historical Nonfiction: A Bear Far from Home

A Bear Far From Home, by Susan Fletcher/Illustrated by Rebecca Green, (Sept. 2022, Anne Schwartz Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9780593181898

Ages 4-8

Inspired by the bear in King Henry III’s royal menagerie, A Bear Far from Home is a heart-aching story that imagines the life of the white bear given to Henry by King Haakon IV of Norway in the thirteenth century. Using letters and official documents, Fletcher creates the story of a young bear born in Norway, her capture by trappers and voyage to England, and her life as the only one of her kind in a new world. Told in verse, the story is sensitive to the young bear’s plight; beginning with the bear’s origin in Norway and how it was a “place that fit her perfectly”, the story shifts to her capture and voyage to England, asking readers to think about how the bear would feel enduring these scary experiences alone. When the King orders his men to let her fish in the river, the story takes on a bittersweet tone as the bear revels in the magic of the familiar as she dives into the water. Illustrator Rebecca Green creates medieval-inspired artwork to tell her story. Gouache and colored pencil illustrations recall tapestries and illuminated manuscripts, with the pages edged in gold frames; deep colors and bold outlines recall stained glass artwork. Notes from the author and illustrator provide deeper context to the story and setting, and a bibliography provides information for more reading. An excellent addition to storytime collections and a great choice for school-age storytime and prompting discussions on empathy.

A Bear Far from Home has a starred review from Booklist.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Cozy Storytelling: Books Aren’t for Eating

Books Aren’t for Eating, by Carlie Sorosiak/Illustrated by Manu Montoya, (Sept. 2022, Walker Books US), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536214963

Ages 4-7

Bookstore owner Leonard the goat loves losing himself in books and delights in choosing the just-right books for his customers, but the day another goat walks in and starts eating his books, he is beside himself! His wife lovingly reminds Leonard that he used to eat books, too, prompting Leonard to find a read that will show the other goat that Books Aren’t For Eating. This cozy story is all about the love of books and finding that one story that :excited me, challenged me, and made me feel less alone”. Sorosiak combines humor and the transformative power of books; Montoya brings the words to life with soft gouache illustration, showing readers how we can be carried away on the wings of a story; she creates warm, cozy settings with delightful details, like Leonard’s green Fair Isle sweater with goat detail, the cozy bookshop exterior and warm interior, and the cute white mice that show up throughout the story. I love reading this to my class visits to show them not only how to love books, but how to respect them. A definite add to collections.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Season’s Reading! Christmas Books for littles!

All the Things Santa Claus Will Never Do, by Ronan Badel/Illustrated by Noé Carlain, (Nov. 2021, Schiffer Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764362170

Ages 4-7

I have been holding onto this book for a full year! I received it while I was out sick last year (thanks, COVID), but had so much fun reading it that I wanted to make sure I gave it some love. All the Things Santa Claus Will Never Do is a giggle-worthy read-aloud that tells readers all the things Santa won’t do, like running late delivering toys because he’s stopping at every Christmas Tree to sing “O Christmas Tree”, or unwrapping presents and playing with them. All of these silly little things that Santa would never, ever do lead up to the one biggie – Santa won’t ever forget where his favorite readers live, naturally! Amusing cartoon artwork illustrates each scenario and will have readers laughing along as they come up with their own things that Santa would never do. Endpapers show Santa and one of his reindeer playing a game of tag, chasing one another back and forth. A fun additional Christmas book add to holiday collections.

All the Things Santa Claus Would Never Do is the holiday companion to Badel and Carlain’s All the Things a Teacher Would Never Say.

 

 

The Twelve Cats of Christmas, by Feather Flores/Illustrated by Carrie Liao, (Oct. 2022, Chronicle Books), $15.99, ISBN: 9781452184616

Ages 3-8

This feline-friendly take on the famous Christmas carol is all about cats, and the lovable chaos they bring with them. On the first day of Christmas, there’s a kitten under the tree. From there, it’s all cats: batting bows; laying on the gifts, watching the winter weather, and – naturally – climbing the tree. The cats become more mischievous as the verse progresses, and mixed media artwork plays out the action in hilarious detail. Front endpapers are a wrapping paper design with cats being adorable, swinging on lights and hiding in boxes; back endpapers are torn, with wide-eyed cats, upended boxes, and melting snowflakes. Back matter introduces readers to each of the featured cats by name, likes and dislikes, and favorite Christmas activities. Definitely meant to be read and enjoyed aloud, The Twelve Cats of Christmas is a fun holiday read that works well where there are animal fans.

There are adorable Christmas cat coloring pages all over the Internet! Print out some fun ones and let your littles make their own Twelve Cats of Christmas.

 

 

Crinkle Bells, by Jay Fleck, (Oct. 2022, Chronicle Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9781452181677

Ages 0-3

Set to the tune of Jingle Bells, this touch-and-feel board book lets little fingers make crinkly sounds with special material on each spread. Two jingle bells are too excited to sleep as Christmas gets nearer, but they’re keeping everyone awake! Will they finally be able to fall asleep – and give the ornaments, candles, and candy canes a break – before Christmas morning? Adorable, brightly colored artwork set off against deep green and blue backgrounds and tactile activities on each spread make this a great book for little hands to explore and celebrate. Sing the book as part of a lapsit and get your egg shakers or jingle bells out: this book is too much fun NOT to read aloud.

 

 

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board Books and Pop-Ups Bonanza!

It’s time for the latest board book bonanza! These books are great for collections and for stocking stuffers: let’s take a look.

The Pop-Up Guide: Animals, by Maud Poulain/Illustrated by Peggy Nille, (Sept. 2022, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9791036345166

Ages 3-5

Twirl’s Pop-Up Guides are so much fun for toddlers and preschoolers. The fourth in this series is all about animals and their environments, with spotlights on nine areas: the African Savanna, the forest, the Far North, the rain forest, the backyard, the ocean, the desert, the river and the mountains. A brief factual paragraph gives kids introductory information to each area, and each spread folds out into a 3-D landscape. Animals are clearly labeled, as are environmental objects like pine cones, ice floes, and water lilies. The Pop-Up Guide are great ways to introduce new vocabulary and new ideas, with colorful illustration and sturdy pages that hold up to multiple reads. If you’re putting these into circulation, keep a reference copy on hand for storytimes. Great for a STEM storytime!

Pop-Up Topics: Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures, by Arnaud Roi, (Oct. 2022, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9782408037512

Ages 3-5

Twirl has another pop-up series for young learners now! Pop-Up Topics has slightly more informational text and a more refined topic range for growing minds, while keeping the same exciting and eye-catching 3-D pop-ups that exploring fingers enjoy. Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric features includes 10 pop-up spreads on dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures with a short, informational paragraph on each, and at-a-glance statistics like region, size and weight, and time period. Fan favorites like Tyrannosaurus Rex Stegosaurus are here alongside the lesser-known Sarcosuchus, a prehistoric relative to the modern-day crocodile, and flying reptile Quetzalcoatlus. If your budget permits, pick up a back-up copy or two, or keep this in storytime reference; while sturdy, the flaps may not hold up to the beating that dino books take (at least, in my library!).

 

Happy Little Pets: I Take Care of My Puppy, Illustrated by Michael Slack, (Jan. 2023, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781797205267

Ages 1-4

Happy Little Pets is an adorable new board book series from Chronicle! Combining pet care with learning, the books are a sweet introduction to having a pet. I Take Care of My Puppy has 15 interactive elements that let kids fill the puppy’s bowl, brush their fur, and trace their finger through a walk around the block. Moving parts, bold fonts, and a cheery, expressive puppy will appeal to readers. The final spread invites readers to take care of their own puppy for a week, with sliding panels to check off every day after they feed, walk, play, and take their puppy out for a potty run. It’s a great way to introduce responsibility into a conversation, and for preschoolers who may not have a pet, a chance to try a puppy on for size – accompany with a stuffed animal for a test run! Sliding panels can be a little fiddly with new books, but the pages are sturdy and will hold up.

 

Happy Little Pets: I Take Care of My Kitten, Illustrated by Michael Stack, (Jan. 2023, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781797205274

Ages 1-4

I Take Care of My Kitten is the companion to I Take Care of My Puppy, with an adorable black and white kitten that readers can name, feed, brush, and pet. There are 15 interactive elements for toddlers and preschoolers to explore, and they can spend a week caring for their own kitten (Can be a toy! Get creative!) and marking off their progress at the end of the book. Kids can learn about the responsibility involved in having a kitten, including cleaning the litter box and helping them find a scratching post to sharpen their claws. Kid-friendly artwork and sturdy panels engage readers from the get-go.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Time well spent is The Best Gift for Bear

The Best Gift for Bear, by Jennifer A. Bell, (Sept. 2022, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542029223

Ages 4-7

Hedgehog has been baking all morning, making just-right cookies for her friends and neighbors: snowflakes for the mice, trees, for the squirrels, special rabbits for all of her bunny friends. But what to make for Bear, her very best friend? Hedgehog decides on the perfect idea, but there’s a bit of an upset on the way to deliver Bear’s gift. It’s okay, though: Bear and Hedgehog enjoy a warm beverage together and discover that time well spent is the best gift of all. An adorable holiday story with a delightful message about the true meaning of giving with warm gouache and pencil illustrations and adorable animals and gingerbread cookies. Front endpapers feature recipes for cookies and icing; back endpapers show some of Hedgehog’s cookie work, and cookies representing Bear and Hedgehog together. And endearing readaloud that deserves a spot in seasonal storytimes.

Want some fun gingerbread post-storytime activities? Panda Speech on TeachersPayTeachers has a very cute dress up activity, and Education.com has several gingerbread coloring sheets.

 

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★“This genuinely heartfelt, quietly moving friendship story emphasizes that ‘a day with a friend is the best gift of all.’” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

“A sweet, appealing picture book for the season.” ―Booklist

 

A 2022 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee


Jennifer A. Bell is the illustrator of more than forty children’s books, including the Sophie Mouse series. She studied fine art at the Columbus College of Art & Design, and her work can also be found on greeting cards and in magazines. This is the first picture book she’s written and illustrated. She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Learn more about her at www.jenniferabell.com.

Instagram: @jbellstudio

Twitter: @JenniferABell_

Facebook: Jennifer A. Bell Illustration

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Reading for the Season: Bright Winter Night

Bright Winter Night, by Alli Brydon/Illustrated by Ashling Lindsay, (Dec. 2022, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542022248

Ages 4-7

Folks, I’m finally back. The flu tore through our home, but we hung in there and are all finally on the mend. I’ll be playing catch-up for quite a bit, so I think everyone for their patience. I fell behind on two blog tours while I was sick, so let me start with these first.

Bright Winter Night is a story in verse, perfect for bedtime reading. A group of woodland creatures come together on a winter evening, using materials around them to create something… wonderful. A quietly joyful celebration of nature, friendship, and creativity, the story builds expectation as this seemingly unlikely group of animals – mice and wolves working together? Rabbits, bears, and birds? Stags and squirrels? – come together with one goal in mind: to enjoy one of nature’s most breathtaking sights. There’s a quiet urgency as the animals work – “They sense there is a task to do / as night descends, replacing blue” – and a spirit of teamwork and conviviality, as everyone contributes to the project and enjoys the moments they spend together. Mixed media artwork in deep blues give a cozy feeling to the chilly winter landscape. Sure to be a readaloud kids will want to hear again and again; keep this one handy for storytimes and winter craft times.

 

 

“Destined to be a favorite bedtime read-aloud.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Awash in shades of purple, blue, and pink, [Ashling] Lindsay’s watercolor and digital artwork project the magic evoked by Brydon’s smooth rhymes, illuminating a magnetic portrait of woodland camaraderie.” ―Publishers Weekly

 

Author Alli Brydon is inspired by natural wonders and what they can teach us, and she strives to bring that magic to the books she writes for children. Recent picture books include Lobstah Gahden, illustrated by EG Keller, and Love Around the World, illustrated by Wazza Pink. She also writes nonfiction about creatures, from insects to lemurs to humans. Alli holds an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in New York and lives in England with her family. Learn more at www.allibrydon.com.

Instagram: allibrydon

Twitter: Alli Brydon

 

Ashling Lindsay is an artist and writer from Belfast, Ireland. Her picture books are published in more than ten languages and have received various awards and accolades, including a nomination for the Kate Greenaway Medal; being shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the Klaus Flugge Prize, and the Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year; and being longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards. In 2020 she was awarded the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Honour Award for Illustration with her book The Tide, written by Clare Helen Welsh. Learn more at www.ashlinglindsay.co.uk.

Instagram: ashling.lindsay

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Melody tells a beautiful, layered story

The Melody, by Oded Burla/Illustrated by Assaf Benharroch/Translated by Ilana Kurshan, (March 2022, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781735087559

Ages 4-8

First published in Hebrew in 1996, this lovely layered tale spins dual stories: a melody seeking an audience, and the story of the Torah. A melody comes into existence and seeks someone to listen to them. Offering to share its song with the mountains and trees, stones, the river, and animals to listen, Melody is turned down time and again: the trees have their own song they share among themselves; the rocks cannot sing; the animals, all set in their own ways. But Melody discovers a mother and child in a garden together and enters the mother’s heart. The mother begins singing a lullaby to the child, and the song is Melody. An inspirational story about love, the story is also an ancient Jewish fable about God offering the Torah to the peoples of the ancient world. When the Jewish people were the only ones to accept the Torah, the song became theirs; like the mother and child, the song is passed to each generation. Digital artwork comes alive with rich color and texture, and a fluid narrative assures that readers will return to this book often. A lovely addition to collections, particularly where Jewish culture and themes are of interest.