Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

A love letter to special moments: ALL THAT IS YOU

All That is You, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli/Illustrated Devon Holzwarth, (Aug. 2022, Henry Holt & Co), $18.99, ISBN: 9781627797023

Ages 2-6

The bestselling author of the Biscuit Easy Reader series has a gorgeous picture book that’s all about love and joy. All That You Are features diverse groups of people across generations sharing wonderful moments, from splashing in puddles to sharing meals; from sailing across magical seas to soaring through skies. Blending the everyday with the magical everyday, artist Devon Holzwarth uses vibrant colors and mixed media to bring Capuccilli’s verses to life. Verse reads like an ode to joy at the wonder of connection: “You’re my ‘Gather ’round the table’, / the ‘Make room for one more’, / the share in my together, / the warm hug at the door”; “You’re the wide in my world, / the home in my soon, / the star that found my dream, / the glow of my moon”.

An essential first purchase. This will become a storytime standard. Download an activity kit to share at storytime here.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour ANNI DREAMS OF BIRYANI

A little girl living in her neighborhood’s “Little India” loves her neighborhood cafe’s biryani, made by the curmudgeonly chef everyone calls “Uncle”. Anni’s family has biryani as a special treat on Fridays, but Anni wishes she could make delicious biryani like Uncle’s; then she could make it every day! Determined to learn how Uncle makes his biryani, Anni sits at Uncle’s cafe with a notepad and a bunch of questions, determined to learn his process and hopefully, his secret recipe.

Anni Dreams of Biryani, by Namita Moolani Mehra/Illustrated by Ghaaya Prabhat,
(Sept. 2022, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542030410

Ages 4-7

Author Namita Moolani Mehra and illustrator Chaaya Prabhat bring the sights and scents of a neighborhood to life with this delicious story of perseverance. Digital artwork and bright colors show a bustling, diverse neighborhood. Anni, her family and Uncle, are brown-skinned; neighbors wear outfits ranging from contemporary shorts and tees to saris to hijab and flowing tunics. The food takes the main stage, with mouth-watering descriptions like “Fluffy and fragrant. Spicy and succulent. Absolutely addictive”; colorful details in the artwork showcase robust cardamom pods, bright saffron threads, and verdant chiles. Anni is cheerfully determined to make her biryani like Uncle’s and surrounds herself with notes and storyboards, envisioning her way to the perfect dish. The story’s positive resolution will encourage readers to keep trying and envisioning success, whether it’s in the kitchen or elsewhere. Back matter includes a note on the biryani dish and a link to a version kids can make (with grown-up help, please!). An absolute feast for the senses!

Namita Moolani Mehra is a children’s book author, cookbook author, and a food and parenting writer. She wrote the children’s cookbooks The Magic Spicebox and Superfoods for SuperheroesAnni Dreams of Biryani is her first picture book. Namita also runs a social-impact business called Indian Spicebox that helps fund hot meals for underprivileged children in India. Namita was born in a remote village in Nigeria, grew up in the UK and India, studied in Chicago, and worked in New York for over a decade. She currently lives in Singapore with her husband and two children. Learn more at www.namitamehra.com, and follow her on Twitter @namstwit.

Instagram: @indianspicebox

Chaaya Prabhat is an illustrator based in Chennai, India. She holds an MA in graphic design from Savannah College of Art and Design. She has illustrated several picture books, including Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers, written by Rajani LaRocca. In addition to her books, Chaaya has created illustrations for numerous clients, such as Google, Facebook, Snapchat, the Obama Foundation, the Times of India, and more. Learn more at www.chaayaprabhat.com, and follow her on Instagram @chaaya23.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Small/Indie Spotlight!

It’s been a while since we had a Small Press/Indie author spotlight, so let’s dig in.

Just Like Magic, by Victor D.O. Santos/Illustrated by Iryana Kazakova, (Jan. 2022, Linguacious LLC), $13.99, ISBN: 9781649621184

Ages 4-7

Nico is a young platypus who gets bullied by the other animals in Animalandia, until he meets a Genie who offers to help him be brave, but as Nico finds his voice and learns to stand up for himself, we wonder: what is the genie’s real gift?

A gentle story about tapping into one’s inner strength for kids, with colorful cartoon art illustration.

 

Treasure Hunt (Grandma’s Closet #4), by Lois Wickstrom/Illustrated by Francie Mion, (March 2021, Look Under Rocks), $12.99, ISBN: 9781954519022

Ages 4-7

Carrie is back and she’s still discovering things in Grandma’s closet in the fourth installment of Lois Wickstrom’s Grandma’s Closet series. This time, Carrie finds a box of dowsing rods, which she uses to find something valuable. The rods tell her where to go, with the promise of finding helpful things, including a sewer line leak that could pose a big problem if it were discovered later on! The dowsing rods lead Carrie to the best find of all – but you’ll have to read it to find out for yourself. A fun story in a cute series, The Treasure is an additional purchase suggestion. Visit Lois Wickstrom’s website for more about her series.

 

You are You, by Cassidy Burke/Illustrated by David Gnass, (Aug. 2021, Mascot Books), $14.95, ISBN: 978-1-64543-231-9

Ages 4-7

Tackling a complex and scary issue, You Are You tackles childhood mental health and bullying. Pennelope the giraffe loves going to school and playing with her friends at recess until the morning where her “friends” make fun of her laugh. Their unkind words and actions hurt Pennelope, who goes home and stays in bed, turning their words over and over in her head. Her friend Phoenix reaches out, sending her an encouraging note that lets her know she isn’t alone. Pennelope returns to school, learning to tune out the mean kids and celebrate her support system. Back matter includes “Challenge Letters” to parents, friends, teachers, and the world at large, raising suicide awareness and encouraging readers to know that they are not alone. Colorful cartoon animals add a light to a potentially dark subject, and the story gets its point across in a way that younger readers will understand and appreciate.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The new workplace: HELP MOM WORK FROM HOME

Help Mom Work from Home!, by Diana Murray/Illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld (Oct. 2021, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), $17.99, ISBN: 9780316273657

Ages 4-7

With more parents working from home than ever before, Help Mom Work from Home! is a fun, rhyming readaloud that speaks to the work-life balance. A mom is working from home and her little one is right next to her, modeling everything from Mom’s hot beverage of choice to taking notes and important phone calls. Mom looks a little frazzled, though: it must be time for a break! Learning how to relax and take the chaos of home life as it comes, the story then leads into a look at making time for creative play and work – little one stacks cups as Mom packs boxes; they make deliveries together, they even straighten up their workplaces together. Endpapers show Mom’s packed schedule, with a childlike drawing of a solitary kid holding a red balloon scrawled across the calendar loaded with deadlines and meetings; back endpapers show a much happier schedule, filled with playdates, game nights, and library visits, and a drawing of Mom and child together, playing soccer. Is it an easy answer to the work/parent from home question? No, but it’s a helpful addition to the ever-increasing dialogue. A recognizable and relevant story with playful rhyme, Help Mom Work from Home! is a good addition to picture book collections. Visit Diana Murray’s author webpage for free printables including a word search and DIY desk nameplate.

Posted in Preschool Reads, picture books

Art is Everywhere!

Art is Everywhere: A Book About Andy Warhol, by Jeff Mack, (Nov. 2021, Henry Holt & Co.), $19.99, ISBN: 9781250777157

Ages 4-8

Pop artist Andy Warhol gives readers his unique view on art in this fun book that is part picture book biography, part introduction to pop art. Narrated by a cartoon Warhol, Art is Everywhere starts with Warhol’s beginnings, drawing shoes for a shoe company, through his Campbell Soup Cans, Brillo boxes, and Marilyn Monroe prints, and touces on his Factory days, surrounded by artists and the expansion of his art into movies, television, and magazines. Mack touches on Warhol’s interest in celebrities and explains his take on the “famous for 15 minutes” credo: “One day, we will all be stars of our own shows, and we will all like each other over and over again. Gee… won’t that be great?” Mack also looks at the big question – What makes art? – by touching on Warhol’s detractors. Brief sentences, interspersed with questions, invite readers to think about their ideas on art and media. Back matter includes a note on Warhol and Pop Art.

TeachersPayTeachers has some fun, free Pop Art/Warhol resources, like this Art with Mrs Smith Crayon Pop Art lesson; Artsy Blevs’s Pop Art handout; and Ms BooksmART’s Andy Warhol poster. If you’re updating your art storytimes like I want to, this is a fun choice.

Art is Everywhere! has a starred review from Publishers Weekly and was a Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Book of Distinction.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Back to School Readaloud: Read Island

Read Island, by Nicole Magistro/Illustrated by Alice Feagan (Oct. 2021, Read Island, LLC), $18.99, ISBN: 9781736523308

Ages 3-6

A magical celebration of books and stories, Read Island follows the adventures of a young girl and her animal friends who journey to “an island made of books” and spend time with all the literary animals who live there. The delightful rhyming story is filled with vibrant color and cheery rhyme; digital images use printed media, including maps and pages from classic children’s stories and songs, as part of the scenery: a sailboat’s sail; animals and trees in silhouette; the curve of the ocean. A raven has a book trapped to their back as they circle the water eaglets cheer from their nest, greeting their parent as they swoop in with a book in their talons; a grizzly emerges from a cave holding a mug and a book. Everyone gathers on the beach for a storytime, and the verse invites readers to sit and take part: “Can you join them? / Just be still. / Breathe in. / Breathe out. Listen well”. Perfect to greet new students for the beginning of a school year; perfect for a class visit storytime. Visit the Read Island website for activities including a coloring sheet and a word search.

Released last October, Read Island is a delightful choice for back-to-school storytime collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Good advice for daily living: Don’t Forget

Don’t Forget, by Jane Godwin/Illustrated by Anna Walker, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684644360

Ages 3-7

A diverse group of children move through the day together as the overall narrative gently reminds readers of important things, both practical and esoteric, to remember in order to live a happy, fulfilling life: “Don’t forget to make your bed, / and wear socks that fit your feet”; “Don’t forget to try new things, / to smell the flowers, / watch the ocean, / and listen to the music / of the trees”. The story is a reminder of the important things in life: taking time to play; to be mindful; to reflect. Soft watercolors add to this gently profound meditation on living a meaningful life. Soothing endpapers show a nature scene. Don’t Forget will soothe readers with its upbeat look at the day-to-day. A nice additional purchase for storytime collections.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A Penny’s Worth is just good cents (see what I did there?)

A Penny’s Worth, by Kimberly Wilson/Illustrated by Mark Hoffman, (April 2022, Page Street Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781645674689

Ages 4-8

A penny emerges hot off the minting press and ready to take on the world… until she sees other coins and bills getting all the attention, while she sits alone. Penny candy? It’s a dime these days. Arcade game? No way, that’s for quarters. Penny is determined to find her purpose, and when all hope seems lost, she finds it in this sweetly comical story about money and worth. Loaded with money puns, A Penny’s Worth is a great way to start a discussion about money, the rising cost of living, and finding your way when everyone around you says “no”. Mixed media artwork is lively and colorful; the currency all have large, expressive eyes and little limbs, making them eye-catching to young readers. Kids will feel for the poor penny as she’s rejected from a video game and sits sadly in the return slot and receives a lesson in inflation from a dime, who sports a graduate-like mortarboard and black robe, and cheer when she finds her purposes in a child’s smile. Endpapers bookend the story. Back matter includes information about pennies and a bibliography. A nice addition to collections and a fun storytime readaloud.

Pair with books like Rosemary Well’s Bunny Money and Nancy Shaw’s Sheep in a Shop for a money-themed storytime. Print out some Crayola printable money for a fun post-storytime activity.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Listen Up, Louella is all about being a good friend

Listen Up, Louella, by Ashley Belote, (June 2022, Feiwel & Friends), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250812797

Ages 4-7

Louella is so excited about camp, but she doesn’t always listen very well. She charges into the cabin and barges her way through camp activities, never listening to her friends or noticing that they may not have the great time she’s having. But when Louella thinks she’s been left out of a group party, she learns that it’s important to take time and listen to others, and to play together so that everyone has a great time. Playful digital illustrations are loaded with fun little details that will clue sharp-eyed readers in to the very important message Louella’s missing. Animal characters are cartoony, with exaggerated expressions and body language that help deliver the point of the story; Louella, an elephant, uses her size to overpower the smaller campers and take over the show, from painting, to toilet paper forts, canoeing, and a talent show. Word bubbles add character reactions to the overall narration, and Belote uses fun animal turns-of-phrase like “tug-of-roar” and “slam trunk”. Endpapers lead into and out of the story, with Louella dragging her loaded red wagon into camp, and pulling her friends on a ride after shenanigans are done. A fun summertime story for sure, and a good reminder to remember how to be a good friend, as kids are getting ready to head back to school. A good purchase for picture book collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Need a way to Find Your Happy?

Find Your Happy, by Emily Coxhead, (June 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684644490

Ages 3-6

A sloth offers ways to “find your happy” whenever he’s feeling sad, angry, or scared. He takes deep breaths, he thinks of positive things, like friends and family who love and support him, or imagines himself as a brave superhero, and encourages readers to remember that, while “somedays are incredible, other are just OK, and some feel really bad”, there’s always a way to find your happy. Bright colors and expressive animals make this an eye-catching story about emotions, feelings, and positivity. Written by Emily Coxhead, creator of The Happy News – a newsletter that’s all about good newsFind Your Happy is a cheerfully positive readaloud that will work well with storytimes and with social-emotional collections that focus on working through tough emotions. Find more of Emily Coxhead’s uplifting illustrations at her website.

Want to have a sloth storytime? Add books from the Lento & Fox series by Ben Sanders, Eric Carle’s classic, Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth, or Sloth at the Zoom by Helaine Becker and Orbie. There is a great list of books with sloth main characters at Bookroo. Don’t forget to print out some sloth coloring sheets for your storytime!