Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Value of a Kindness: The Smile Shop

The Smile Shop, by Satoshi Kitamura, (Apr. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682632550

Ages 4-8

A boy has saved his pocket money and explores his local market, enjoying a feast for the senses as he decides how to spend his money. But an accident causes him to lose most of his money, and the boy is distraught. When he spies a shop called the Smile Shop, his heart lifts: surely a smile can’t be terribly expensive, and that’s what he really needs right now! The story of a kindhearted shopkeeper and a little boy, The Smile Shop is a touching story of connection and empathy, and shows readers that there are some things no one can put a price on, like kindness. Satoshi Kitamura’s artwork, created with pen, ink, watercolor, and gouache, creates a softly colorful world where readers can explore with the boy in the story. Spare text allows the illustrations to tell the story through actions and facial expressions, with words filling in the details. A wonderful story that kids will return to again and again.

The Smile Shop has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Would you look good in the The Purple Puffy Coat?

The Purple Puffy Coat, by Maribeth Boelts/Illustrated by Daniel Duncan, (Nov. 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536204971

Ages 3-7

Beetle can’t wait to give his best friend, Stick Bug, his birthday present, so he gives it to him early: it’s a purple puffy coat! Beetle loves it – after all, purple is Beetle’s favorite color. Stick Bug isn’t really in love with it, but Beetle is his best friend, so he endures Beetle’s marching him all around town to show off the coat. But when Beetle takes the time to think about it, he realizes that maybe, just maybe, the purple puffy coat wasn’t what Stick Bug wanted. A sweetly humorous and poignant story about empathy and taking others into consideration, kids will see themselves and their friends in the story. Guide them into a discussion, using Candlewick’s downloadable Teacher Tips, about giving gifts and taking the other person into consideration before giving them a gift. Digital illustrations are colorful and cute, and the friendship between Beetle and Stick Bug will make readers think of Frog and Toad, or Bert and Ernie. A fun story to illustrate thoughtfulness that kids will like.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Lala’s Words illustrate the power of kindness

Lala’s Words, by Gracey Zhang, (April 2021, Scholastic Inc), $18.99, ISBN: 9781338648232

Ages 4-8

A little girl named Lala runs from her apartment to tend her own private little garden every day, much to her mother’s exasperation. Lala speaks lovingly, gently to the plants in her care, telling them she loves them, and how lovely they are; she brings them water to get through the hot days and nourish them.  Her mother, frustrated by Lala’s clothes being torn and dirty, or by her bouncing around and being a kid, cooped up in an apartment, snaps at her to “be still and quiet” and to “stop playing with dirt and weeds!”, but Lala knows her friends need her. When Mom orders her to stay home one day, Lala whispers to her friends, hoping her good thoughts and love will reach them… and they do. The power of words is strong in Lala’s Words, as we see Lala’s mother using angry words on one page, and on the opposite, Lala whispering loving, growing, words to her plants. Words can cut, and words can help us grow: in this case, literally, as we see Lala’s wishes come to fruition as her plants grow to seek her out and provide comfort. Lala’s mother, moved by her daughter’s accomplishments, finally gives Lala the loving encouragement she needs. Gracey Zhang uses spare color in this mostly black-and-white brush work: Lala’s yellow dress is a sign of life in the humdrum cityscape, as are the green of her plants. An enchanting book.

Read an interview with Gracey Zhang on Scholastic School Libraries Ambassador, John Schu, on his website, Watch. Connect. Read.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Gorgeous concept books for toddlers and preschoolers!

There are some some amazing concept books in the publishing pipeline that are going to make toddler storytimes even more fun. Grab some colorful scarves, egg shakers, and art supplies because you’re going to want to hold an art storytime with these books as your foundation.

Lili’s Seasons, by Lucie Albon, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361043

Ages 2-6

Lucie Albon’s “On the Fingertips” series illustrates concepts using finger-and hand-painted artwork that kids are going to love – and that they’ll be able to try on their own. Two mice, Lily and Henri, explore the seasons. Each seasons is set off with a spread of what you’ll discover on the pages – or outside! – for each season. In the fall, you’ll look for autumn leaves, pine cones, and squirrels; in the winter, there will be mittens, wool socks, hot chocolate, and snowflakes. Lili and Henri enjoy the gifts of every season, together, whether having hot chocolate at home in the winter or visiting the beach in the summer. Back matter teaches readers how to “draw with their fingertips”, and provides instruction on necessary supplies, and how to use the paint on your hands and fingers to create clouds and trees through the seasons. The book has a create space for exploration, but if you’re using this in your library, consider having a create space ready for your library kiddos, stocked with paper, art materials, and smocks or old t-shirts. If you’re like me, and still virtual, you can explore doing a virtual art program, and offering some supplies via grab-and-go promotion. Colorful, bright, and absolutely “you can do this!” kid-friendly, this is a fun new series that I’m looking forward to spending time with.

 

Lili’s Colors, by Lucie Albon, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361036

Ages 2-6

In the companion “On the Fingertips” book to Lili’s Seasons, Lili’s Colors brings Lili and Henri back to talk about color. The two friends enjoy red lollipops, cuddle yellow chicks, sail on blue water, and spend a colorful day together, wandering across brightly colored, finger-painted spreads. Colors are featured in a bigger, bolder font, in their own shades, and the text – dialogue between Henri and Lili – is brief and perfect for young listeners and readers. A finger paint workshop section goes over primary and secondary colors, color mixing, and how to paint your fingers and hands to create the artwork in the book and a self-portrait. A spread showing paintings by children encourages readers with a “you can do it!” attitude! Adorable and cheery, this is an adorable new series for burgeoning artists.

 

Colors de la Runway, by Clarence Ruth, (Feb. 2019, Schiffer Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9780764356834

Ages 2-6

How, oh how, did I miss this when it came out the first time? I owe Schiffer big thanks for sending me a copy of Colors de la Runway to rectify my not seeing this earlier. Colors de la Runway is a concept book on color by Clarence Ruth, fashion designer and creative director of Cotte D’Armes. Vibrant colors named in both English and French come off the page as model sketches show off fashions and accessories in 20 spreads: red/rouge dresses, light blue/bleu clair eyeshadow and the peek of a shirt under a jacket, brown/marron frames to a pair of dramatic glasses. Clarence Ruth’s book is inspiration for older readers who love fashion and art, and for littles who want to learn their colors with some pizzaz. Stunning, playful, and absolutely fun: get out a feather boa and giant sunglasses and have yourself a fashion storytime.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Magical, snuggly bedtime stories

Who doesn’t love a good bedtime story? And now, with virtual programming here for good, we can hold virtual pajama storytimes at any time! Here are a few adorable new bedtime stories to read to your littles, whether they’re curled up in your lap at home, or gathered around their devices for your storytime.

It’s So Quiet: A Not-Quite-Going-to-Bed Book, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, (Feb. 2021, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781452145440

Ages 3-7

As the sun goes down and the night drifts in, a little mouse isn’t able to fall asleep quite yet: it’s too quiet! Mom tells the little mouse to let the sounds of nature help them drift off to sleep: a croaking bullfrog, a snoring grandfather and his dog’s tail thumping against the porch; a coyote howling at the moon, all around the little mouse, there is sound – and maybe he would like it a little more quiet after all. Sherri Duskey Rinker creates wonderful bedtime stories that play with sound, rhyme, and repetition – Steam Train, Dream Train and Good Night, Good Night Construction Site are stalwart storytime favorites with my library kids – and It’s Too Quiet continues this fun tradition. Sound effects repeat and get their own exaggerated fonts, calling attention to them and making for flannel and finger puppet storytelling. Digital illustrations are cartoony and expressive, with bold lines. A great bedtime and storytime book that’s sure to pack in the laughs.

It’s So Quiet has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Ella’s Night Lights, by Lucy Fleming, (Nov. 2020, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212693

Ages 3-7

Ella is a little girl with moth wings and antenna, who sleeps in the nook of a tree by day. By night, she flies around, collecting light and bringing it to anyone that needs it, repeating a gentle rhyme: “Here’s some bright light. / Here’s a night light, / a little ray to calm your fright”. Ella wants so much to see the sunrise, but her delicate wings make that impossible, until her animal friends come together with a plan to celebrate her kindness. Ella’s Night Lights is a warm story of kindness and friendship, with soft digital illustrations and quietly colorful spreads bringing life to cold, snowy landscapes. The endpapers are soft yellow, with moths flitting across the pages. Ella’s evening rhyme is a lovely way to send dreamers off to sleep, especially for those who may appreciate a little extra light in the room.

 

Bedtime for Albie, by Sophie Ambrose, (Jan. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536211184

Ages 3-7

It’s time for bed in the savanna, but Albie, a young warthog, still wants to play! He runs off to ask his other animal buddies to play, but everyone’s going through their night time routines. That doesn’t stop Albie, who decides he’ll just play on his own… but it’s not really much fun playing all by himself, so Albie heads back to his mother, who has the best night time routine waiting for him. Kids will relate to this story about not being ready for bed just yet, and the different animals going through bedtime stories and baths is a good way to prompt conversation about our own bedtime routines: brushing teeth, washing up, stories, what else can you think of? The phrase, “skippety trot trit trot”, used when Albie dashes off, repeats often enough that you can invite readers to chime in. Watercolor and pencil illustrations are soft, with earthy colors and friendly animal faces. Endpapers show a grayed-out area of the savanna. A fun story on which to end the day.

 

While You’re Sleeping, by Mick Jackson/Illustrated by John Broadley, (Feb. 2021, Pavilion), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1843654650

Ages 4-8

While you’re tucking your little one into bed, there’s a whole world hustling and bustling outside. While You’re Sleeping is all about the folx who work while the rest of the world sleeps: people who clean public transportation and offices; delivery drivers; mail sorters, bakers, shopkeepers, and more, all work through the night to get the world ready for everyone else that next morning. Even the animal world doesn’t settle in for the night: foxes pass humans on the street as they forage for food, bats and owls hunt for prey. John Broadley’s illustrations remind me of Beth Krommes’s artwork; there’s so much detail to be discovered. Colors grow warmer as the night turns to dawn, with red-orange sunlight streaking through windows and down streets. Read with Karen Hesse’s Night Shift for a storytime about night time jobs.

While You’re Sleeping was originally published in the U.K. in 2020.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Do you live with a Wakey Bird?

Wakey Birds: Will They Ever Sleep?, by Maddie Frost, (Jan. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536215465

Ages 2-6

All the animals in the jungle are asleep… except for The Wakey Bird. Kids and grownups will recognize the Wakey Bird right away: “they can’t get comfortable, they’re easily spooked, they have lots of BIG thoughts”… they left out the part about wanting a glass of water and then having to go to the bathroom, but to each Wakey Bird their own. Soothing Shushers and Go-to-Sleep Leapers try to get the birds back to sleep, but the littlest Wakey Bird is still up and raring to go, and decides to wake the others up for company, including the Shrieking Monkey! What happens when Wakey wakes up… the Dreaded Jungle Beast? Adorably fun and so very relatable, this is a perfect bedtime story for your own Wakey Birds. Maddie Frost’s mixed media and digital collage artwork make for colorful animals set off against the midnight blues and blacks of the nighttime jungle. A new bedtime classic in the making. Fun grab-and-go idea: cut different shapes out of colorful construction paper, add some feathers and googly eyes, and let your Library Kiddos make their own Wakey Bird companion.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Do you know a Grumbletroll?

The Grumbletroll, by aprilkind & Barbara van den Speulhof/Illustrated by Stephan Pricken, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764361173

Ages 3-6

A cute little troll sets out to build himself a little cottage, but things don’t go the way he wants them to and gets very cranky. There’s a rumbling in his tummy that grows and grows as the angry feelings grow inside of him until they finally pour out: he’s a grumbletroll! His friends are tired of his tantrum, so they head off to play without him while he carries on. When the tantrum subsides, the troll apologizes to his friends: there are no grudges here! A story that captures the mood swings and frustrations of being a toddler and a preschooler The Grumbletroll speaks to kids respectfully about understanding big feelings and how they can take over, and how they can make people around them want to stay away. But the story also acknowledges that friends forgive and forget, and can pick up where they left off. Originally published in German in 2018, The Grumbletroll understands that childhood, and great big emotions, are universal. Colorful artwork and expressive faces and body language let kids communicate what the troll and his friends all feel. This fits in nicely with a feelings and emotions storytime: add Mo Willems’s famous Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Bob Raczka’s Niko Draws a Feeling, Laura Dockrill’s Angry Cookie, and M.H. Clark’s Tiger Days. This would be a good opportunity to use the Little Box of Emotions, if you have them, and let Kiddos identify and describe different feelings. If Grumbletroll feels like a storm when he’s angry, what do you feel like when you feel happy? Excited? Nervous? Adorable fun for a Pre-k storytime.

Educrafters on Teachers Pay Teachers has a cute Feelings Faces Craft that’s a free download, and you can have a ball with emoji crafts! Elizabeth Low on Teachers Pay Teachers has a downloadable emoji feelings charts, and Lisa Markle Sparkles, also on Teachers Pay Teachers, has emoji clipart.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Over the Shop and found families: a lovely combination

Over the Shop, by JonArno Lawson/Illustrated by Qin Leng, (Jan. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536201475

Ages 3-7

This story needs no words to communicate a gentle tale of how a building becomes a home. A little girl and her grandparent run a storefront grocery and need a tenant for the run-down apartment in the building. When a couple sees the potential in the apartment, the little girl pitches in to help; she’s excited to have new friends in her home! The good feelings spread, and the entire building starts taking on a new life as everyone starts working together to breathe new life into the building – even the next door neighbor is taken into the fold. A quiet story of queer pride and the families we make, the wordless ink and watercolor story is about acceptance, love, and warmth. Invite your Littles to tell you what they see going on in this story.

Over the Shop has starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. The Mombian blog has a wonderful review of Over the Shop, too.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board books introduce MLK Jr and Rosa Parks to young readers

The Story of Martin Luther King Jr., by Johnny Ray Moore,
(Jan. 2021, Worthy Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781546034421
Ages 0-3

Simple text and artwork bring this biography of Martin Luther King Jr. to life for the youngest learners while addressing issues of inequity and racism that laid the groundwork for his activism – and that some adults may recognize today. The story tells readers, in brief, easy-to-understand sentences and companion illustrations, how Dr. King grew up, became a minister, and was motivated by all he saw and endured to work toward equality and ending segregation in America.

The Story of Rosa Parks, by Patricia A. Pingry/Illustrated by Steven Walker,
(Jan. 2021, Worthy Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781546034438
Ages 0-3
The Story of Rosa Parks introduces young learners to the civil rights icon’s childhood, leading to the moment that she made her historic stand on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The book shines a light on how that act, and the events that followed were a defining moment in the civil rights moment. Display and booktalk with books like A is for Activist, Antiracist Baby, and books featured on both the Social Justice Books and Act for Social Justice websites.
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Not So Fast, Max! is all about patience and preparing for Rosh Hashanah

Not So Fast, Max: A Rosh Hashanah Visit with Grandma, by Annette Schottenfeld/Illustrated by Jennifer Kirkham, (March 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781735087511

Ages 4-8

Max and his sister Emily are so excited: their Savta (grandma) is visiting from Israel, in time for Rosh Hashanah! Max can’t wait to make caramel apples, but Savta has a fun day planned first. She takes Max and Emily apple picking, and while Emily enjoys every moment, Max is so impatient! He wants his caramel apples! Savta’s quiet patience wins out, though, and Max discovers how much fun a beautiful fall day with Savta can be. She juggles, she can play ball, and she tells stories about her safta when she was a little girl! At the end of the day, they head home and it’s time to make those apples. Looks like Max’s patience has paid off after all! A gentle Rosh Hashanah story about the new year, Not So Fast, Max teaches readers about the beauty of traditions and celebrates the bond between grandparent and grandchildren. Facts about Rosh Hashanah, a glossary of Hebrew words, and tasty recipes for Savta’s Apple Cake and Max’s Caramel Apples make up the back matter. Endpapers feature decorative fall leaves and crisp red apples, bringing to mind the Fall season and the sweetness of the holiday. A lovely story and a lovely addition to your collections.