Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

“Everyone makes mistakes”: How to Apologize

How to Apologize, by David LaRochelle/Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, (May 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209440

Ages 3-7

A gentle and straightforward book about accountability and responsibility, How to Apologize starts off with a reassuring statement: “Everyone makes mistakes”. It’s a strong statement that’s meant to relax readers: it’s okay, no one’s perfect! But the important thing is, once we make a mistake that hurts someone or makes them feel bad, the kind thing to do is apologize. With woodland animals as our guides, David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka lay out the differences between sincere apologies an insincere apologies; whether we like the person or not; apologizing is the right thing to do. And you can do it all sorts of ways! You can write a note, or you can say it in person. You can fix the mistake if it’s possible, but even if you can’t, apologizing will make you – and the person you hurt – feel better. And that’s the most important thing. Gouache artwork is subdued, letting readers readers take in the words and allowing the illustrations to show them how it’s done. Absolutely perfect for preschoolers who are still navigating social-emotional situations (and, let’s be honest, some adults, too).

Candlewick has a Teacher Tips card with some ideas for incorporating this book into the classroom, and coloring sheets that help emphasize some moments when an apology is helpful.

How to Apologize has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Atticus Caticus… what a fun story-cus!

Atticus Caticus, by Sarah Maizes/Illustrated by Kara Kramer, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536208405

Ages 3-7

A fun story that encourages readers to play with language, Atticus Caticus is the story of a young boy following his cat’s antics throughout the day, making up a fun rhyme as Atticus eats, naps, and gets up to all sorts of shenanigans, like scratching up mom’s chair and lying in wait to playfully attack our narrator’s toes. The repetitive “Atticus Caticus” phrase pairs with other fun rhymes, allowing readers to chime in and pantomime catlike movements like stretching, kneading, and scratching. Digital artwork is bright and cheery, with an expressive cartoon character cat and bold, black fonts that make for easy reading. There’s movement throughout the story as Atticus dashes from bed to food bowl, chairs to bathroom, to snuggling next to the boy at night, ready for another day of mischief tomorrow. A perfect read-aloud.

Atticus Caticus has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Best Friend in the Whole World brings friends together

Best Friend in the Whole World, by Sandra Salsbury, (March 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682632505

Ages 4-8

This gentle story is all about connection, friendship, and how your best friend may be waiting just around the corner to meet you. Roland is a rabbit who leads a quiet life of drawing, music, and drinking tea, but it’s a lonely life until he happens upon a pine cone in the woods one day! He names the pine cone Milton, and takes joy in doing all of the things he loves with his new friend: until signs in the forest show up, giving Roland the feeling that his best friend may be someone else’s lost best friend. Reuniting Milton – whose name is Popkin – with their best friend, Lucy, leaves Roland temporarily feeling the loss, but he discovers that there’s always room for new friends, as Lucy and Popkin invite him to join their group! Moving storytelling comes together with soft watercolor artwork to create a touching story.

Great for a storytime, you can also invite readers to make their own pine cone friends: get some craft pine cones, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes from craft bulk wholesalers and make them a grab-and-go craft that readers can come pick up, if you’re not doing in-person programming; hold a virtual storytime where you can walk them through the craft.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

How we learn: The Boy Who Knew Nothing

The Boy Who Knew Nothing, by James Thorp/Illustrated by Angus MacKinnon, (May 2021, Templar), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217131

Ages 3-7

The gorgeously illustrated rhyming story about a boy who seeks answers is all about how we learn: by asking. “On the day he was born, / before he could crawl, / the boy who knew nothing / knew nothing at all” starts readers off with a baby in a hot pink stroller, a blank slate waiting to fill up. He discovers a pink creature in a dress-up box one day, and asks his parents what it is; his father scoffs and says it’s a sleepy giraffe (it is not). Not terribly confident in his father’s response, the boy sets out on his own, traveling his island and asking others for their input. He returns to his home and his school, much wiser for his experiences, and teaches his classmates a valuable rule: “If there’s ever something / you don’t understand, / don’t be too frightened / to put up your hand”. It’s a valuable lesson for children who may be too shy to speak up, and for anyone – adults or children – whose instinct has ever been to chuckle and say, “Everyone knows…”.

Angus MacKinnon’s artwork is outstanding; it’s got a real Peter Max and Heinz Edelmann pop art/psychadelic feel, with bold, black outlines and bright pink and teal ink and digital illustration. Shifting perspectives as the book goes from landscape to portrait will keep readers’ attention. The reveal of the pink animal that starts our friend off on his journey is an incredible 2-page spread that just begs for a dramatic read-aloud. A read-aloud with a strong message, this should be part of your back-to-school storytimes every year.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Animal Board Books!

Everyone doing the Tails and Tales summer reading program will love these board books – heck, anyone who loves board books will!

Pigs at a Party, by Hans Wilhelm/Illustrated by Erica Salcedo, (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781797203751

Ages 0-3

It’s a party, and you’re invited! A magnetic bow opens to let readers in to this rhyming story of manners and parties as three piggies are invited to their friend, Bunny’s, birthday party! They’re so polite, greeting each of their friends, saying “please” and “thank you”, and playing nicely with the other guests. The third book starring Hans Wilhelm’s Piggies, kids will enjoy seeing this group spend more fun time together, modeling the best behavior. Digital illustrations are bright and cheery, and the magnetic bow closure adds a little bit of fine motor play.

 

Sophie’s Seashell Scramble, by Educational Insights/Illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti, (May 2021, Candlewick Entertainment), $11.99, ISBN: 9781536218480

Ages 0-3

Help Sophie the Otter find the matches to the seashells she’s collecting by lifting the flaps and identifying the patterns! Colorful, cartoon illustrations and bold fonts lead little explorers through the story, and descriptions of each shell help readers identify the lost treasure; Sophie holds the matching shell in each spread, helping new learners link the description to the appearance of an object. Kids can lift three flaps on each page that guide them to the right answer. Turn the wheel at the end, to help Otto the Octopus juggle all the shells together! Based on a board game, this would be a cute idea to pair with the board game for preschoolers as either a gift or, if your budget allows, a library purchase for game time and post-storytime activities. (Educational Insights has several lift-the-flap board books and companion games; something to keep your mind on when you get your annual budgets.)

123 Cats: A Counting Book, by Lesléa Newman/Illustrated by Isabella Kung, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9781536209952

Ages 0-3

Learn to count with this rhyming story about adorable kitties! Award-winning children’s author Lesléa Newman weaves an adorable story, counting cats from 1 to 12, where the cats interact with each other as the story progresses: “Cat Number One has nothing to do… / until she makes friends with Cat Number Two”; “Cat Number Two is a sweet as can be… / but not quite as sweet as Cat Number Three”. Colorful numbers are easy to read on each spread, and the cats multiply, letting readers count the felines as they increase. Absolutely adorable, this is a perfect counting story that begs for snuggly plush friends for readers to read along with.

 

ABC Cats: An Alpha-Cat Book, by Lesléa Newman/Illustrated by Isabella Kung, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9781536209952

Ages 0-3

Lesléa Newman and Isabella Kung bring the magic of cats to the alphabet with their Alpha-Cat story, ABC Cats. Precious cats sleep, play, and doze, curled around oversized letters of the alphabet as a gentle rhyme, with adjectives describing each cat, run across the bottom of the pages: “Adorable cat with eyes of gold / Baby cat just two weeks old”. Isabella Kung’s ink and digital illustrations are so playful and delightful that they’ll enchant readers of any age. These two cat books are a must add to your collections, especially where you have animal lovers.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places

Ever feel like you just need to break out of your rut? Try something new? Especially this last year and a half? Tabitha and Fritz are a cat and an elephant that know exactly what you mean in this hilarious new story, told entirely through e-mails between the two main characters.

Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places, by Katie Frawley/Illustrated by Laurie Stansfield,
(June 2021, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542008549

Ages 4-7

Tabitha is a pampered kitty who longs for the wilder side of life. Fritz is an elephant who dreams of celebrating his birthday with a fabulous voyage to a new place. The two meet via the website Lair-BNB, and agree to swap places. As the often hilarious exchanges reveal, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, as the two discover that while adventure can be fun, there really is no place like home. At first, Fritz loves splashing in the swimming pool with Tabitha’s human, Claudia; Tabitha loves that the great outdoors can be her personal litter box! But as the vacations stretch on, Fritz finds himself in trouble for taking dust baths on Claudia’s family lawn and mistaking a donut sculpture for a tasty snack; Tabitha is not a fan of the dust bath or the lovely waterfall that Fritz enjoys so much. The two quickly agree to return to their own lives, happier for the journey but glad to be home.

Who hasn’t gone away on vacation, only to be desperate to return to your comfy bed and familiar home by the time it’s time to go home? Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places is a sweet, funny story about wanderlust and comfort; about the anticipation of something new, and the desire to get back to what we know and love best, curiosity satisfied.

Kids will love the lively digital illustrations, colorful and with comically expressive characters. They’ll love the e-mail narrative between Tabitha and Fritz, allowing for a fun readaloud where you can switch up voices and put your own spin on their observations while showing off the pictures. The endpapers bookend the story, showing Fritz and Tabitha, both showing their need to get away from it all, on the front endpapers; snapshots from the two, surrounded by their friends (and maybe a guest or two), back home. It’s a great vacation story and a great way to give context to that feeling that adventures are great… but there’s no shame in wanting to go back home when you’re ready!

“A satisfying spin on the trading-places trope.” Kirkus Reviews

“Tabitha and Fritz are pretty much two of a kind, but debut author Frawley livens their epistolary exchanges with wordplay and knowing phrases…She gets a big assist from Stansfield (Poems Out Loud!), whose bright pastel settings, vivid expressions, and large cast of high-spirited supporting characters pull readers through the story.” Publishers Weekly

“A laugh-out-loud story that spells out why the grass is not always greener, with subtle language lessons built in for emerging readers.” School Library Journal

Katie Frawley grew up on a diet of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Madeline. She went on to earn a bachelor’s in English from the University of Florida and a master’s in literature from Florida Atlantic University. These days, Katie lives in South Florida with her husband, four children, and a handsome mutt named Nantucket. When she’s not reading or writing, Katie can be found building pillow forts, testing recipes with her teensy sous-chefs, or shooing iguanas from her garden. Learn more at www.katiefrawley.wordpress.com.
Twitter: @KatieFrawley1
Instagram: @katiefrawley1

Laurie Stansfield grew up in Oxford, England, but packed her bags and moved west to study illustration at the University of the West of England. She now works as a freelance illustrator. She is the illustrator of Poems Out Loud!, published by Penguin UK, and has more books forthcoming. Laurie lives with her husband in Bristol, United Kingdom. Learn more at www.lauriestansfield.co.uk.
Twitter: @Laurie_S_art
Instagram: @laurie.stansfield

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Oh no! Chickens on the Loose!

Chickens on the Loose, by Jane Kurtz/Illustrated by John Joseph, (May 2021, West Margin Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781513267241

Ages 4-8

A group of urban chickens take to the streets to cause madness and mayhem in this hilarious rhyming story. They wreak havoc at a thrift shop; stop at a yoga studio, descend upon food trucks, and listen to no one! The rhyming theme gets some breathing room from the repetitive phrase, “‘STOP!’ [from a human in the story] “But the chickens will not stop.” It’s the perfect opportunity to have your readers call out to these menacing chickens – or hand out some printable masks from SuperColoring, and have your own group of chickens cluck and bock-bock their way through the story. Informational back matter includes helpful facts on raising and keeping urban chickens, and the endpapers are grey-blue and white spreads of feathers and chicken tracks. Colorful, cartoony artwork adds to the fun of the story, with a frenetic group of chickens racing through an urban landscape and the town’s citizens in various states of dismay, surprise, even delight. Absolute fun, and I can’t wait to read this at my next storytime, most likely while wearing a chicken mask.

Get classroom resources, a peek inside the book, and a fun video at this page on Jane Kurtz’s website!

 

Jane Kurtz is an award-winning children’s book author, speaker, educator, and she is on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Children’s and YA Literature. She is a co-founder of the nonprofit Ethiopia Reads, an organization that brings books and literacy to the children in Ethiopia, where Jane grew up. She also heads the creative team of Ready Set Go Books, a project of Open Hearts Big Dreams to create fun, colorful, local language books for people in Ethiopia. She is the author of many books for children, including River Friendly River Wild, winner of the SCBWI Golden Kite award for picture book text, and What Do They Do With All That Poo?, a finalist to the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Excellence in Science Books list; it has also been named to several state reading lists, voted on by children. To learn more, visit her website: janekurtz.com.

Instagram: @writerjanie

Twitter: @janekurtz

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

Board Books everywhere!

It’s time for another board books rundown! I’ve got a pile that begs to be shared and enjoyed. Let’s see what’s cooking.

My Big Birthday Party, by Jeffrey Turner, (May 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361050

Ages 0-3

Schiffer’s board book program has just taken off. They’ve been putting out consistently great concept books, working with great authors and illustrators, for a few years now and I get excited whenever a box shows up for me. Author Jeffrey Turner has been putting out a series of board books to explain concepts, starring a fluffy white poodle. My Big Birthday Party explains opposites, framing the words in the context of Poodle’s birthday party. Lights are off, then turned on to reveal friends of all shapes and sizes, holding gifts; we see the group from the front and back; piles of gifts are closed, then opened; we see a page loaded with colorful balloons, illustrating “more”; when Poodle’s friend Porcupine enters the page, we see a burst balloon, and “less”. Colorful, bright digital artwork holds exciting reveals on each page, and a note about the science of magnets – a branch concerned with opposites! – closes out the book. It’s a great way to communicate the concept to newly budding STEM/STEAM learners. Schiffer Kids’s Resource Hub has free, downloadable coloring sheets, too!

 

Smile, Baby! (Beginning Baby), (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9781452170923

Ages 0-3

Chronicle has a new board book series debuting, and it is adorable. Beginning Baby addresses developmental milestones, teaches motor control and self-identification, and is loaded with friendly characters and bright colors. A series of questions about finding baby’s smile, nose, ears, eyes, cheeks, and mouth take readers through each page, with a die-cut revealing a mirror for baby to see themselves in at all times. Each question comes with an activity for baby and caregiver: blow a kiss, pat baby’s cheeks, find baby’s ears and nose. Perfect for lapsit reading, this is a great way to bond with baby: let baby see you reading in the mirror with them, and let them learn the parts of their face with colorful words paired with loving gestures as you tickle baby’s cheeks, blow kisses, give a brushing kiss on their eyes. What a fun way to snuggle and read together!

 

10 Hugs and Kisses (Beginning Baby), (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781452170947

Ages 0-3

Another Beginning Baby book! This one is all about cuddles and counting from 1 to 10. Sweetly affectionate animals count their hugs and kisses through each rhyming spread, making for a perfect lapsit where caregiver and little one can join in for hugging, smiles, and butterfly kisses. A big number on the left-hand page stands out against the background; the book invites readers to trace the numbers as they go through the story. Pairs nicely with Karen Katz’s Counting Kisses.

 

Welcome to Shape School!, (Beginning Baby), (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781452170947

Ages 0-3

It’s a day at Shape School! Our animal friends (Gabriel Gabriel Giraffe, Elijah Elephant, Riley Narwhal, Mia Monkey, Layla Llama, Paisley Octopus, and Mateo Red Panda) want you to help them navigate all the space challenges they encounter in school: count squares, touch the three points on a triangle, outline the ovals in a book nook, and press hearts in the garden, for starters. There are 9 tabs that let kids explore each shape, and something new to discover on each spread. Helping develop story-following and fine motor skills and helping reinforce understanding shapes, this is just an adorable book for littles to enjoy.

 

Who is Hiding in the Sea?, by Marc Clamens & Laurence Jammes, (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764361029

Ages 0-6

A board book and puzzle all in one sends kids underwater to explore. Four underwater spreads to discover, and eight punch-out puzzle pieces of underwater friends to set into their homes. Each animal fits into a die-cut piece hidden under flaps: who lives in the sea anemones? Where does the seahorse call home? Facts under each flap provide a little more information on the animal that fits in the space, and colorful artwork gets readers’ attention with cute, friendly underwater buddies. Great for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination for littles, learning about underwater life and habitats for bigger kids, this is a collection you’ll need a few copies for if you’re circulating the book (or put out when you put your toys out).

 

Who Is Hiding in the Forest? by Marc Clamens & Laurence Jammes, (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764361012

Ages 0-6

Another Who is Hiding? book by Marc Clamens and Laurence Jammes, this board book includes 8 puzzle pieces of forest friends. Kids can look for homes for a badger, squirrel, fox, wild piglet, fawn, bat, beaver, and owl, across four wintry forest spreads. Who hides in the tree, and who makes a lodge out of mud and banches? Where do these little animals go to stay warm? These are such sturdy pages, flaps, and puzzles pieces, assuring that they’ll hold up to multiple reads. Make sure to have a few copies on hand, especially if you’re putting them into circulation. Pair with animal coloring sheets, like these cute ones from Simple Everyday Mom, or animal toys and go over names for each animal.

 

Mommy, You’re Amazing, by Roger Priddy, (March 2021, Priddy Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781684491254

Ages 0-3

Part scrapbook, part board book, Mommy, You’re Amazing is a celebration of moments between mommy and child. Each spread has a rhyming passage about why Mommy is amazing: for discovering new things, dancing and singing together, or playing imagination games being just a few of the great things mommies do. Each spread has a space for a keepsake, whether it’s an envelope to hold little treasures, like those dandelions we all get, or slots to slide in photos, drawing spaces, or a spot to write a story. It’s a warm, loving keepsake that moms will adore (and a darned good baby shower gift).

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Rock From the Sky is here!

The Rock from the Sky, by Jon Klassen, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536215625

Ages 4-8

Any time Jon Klassen releases a new book is cause for celebration. The Rock from the Sky, his newest, is an hilarious study in dialogue, sight jokes, and a little touch of science fiction. A behatted trio of animals – a turtle, an armadillo, and a snake – touch on that creeping feeling that something’s just not right; feeling like a third wheel, and imagining the future, all with the deadpan humor that makes books like his Hat Trilogy such storytime gold. Klassen’s digital and watercolor artwork sets a sepia-toned stage that works perfectly with the dry humor to create a darkly hilarious story atmosphere. Candlewick has an activity kit, teacher’s guide, and author notes available for free download. You can’t miss with Jon Klassen; The Rock From the Sky is an instabuy for me.

The Rock From the Sky has six starred reviews from School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books, and The Horn Book.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

More Mother’s Day Wishes!

I’ve got more Mother’s Day books for the big day, but first, Everything Is Mama Activity Pages from Jimmy Fallon’s publisher, Macmillan! Enjoy three pages of activities and coloring with the kiddos!

What the Road Said, by Cleo Wade/Illustrated by Lucie de Moyencourt, (March 2021, Feiwel & Friends), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250269492

Ages 6-10

If loving advice for living a good life could be summed up in verse, What the Road Said is it. Poet, activist, and one of Marie Claire’s 50 Most Influential Women in America Cleo Wade reminds young and grown readers alike to pay attention to the journey, not the destination. Sometimes, you may think you’re on the wrong path: keep going; “sometimes we go the wrong way on the way to the right way”. You may not always move forward, and you may need help on the way or feel alone. Keep going, the poem urges. Lead with kindness and love, even when met with hate, and just keep going. Illustrator Lucie de Moyencourt’s watercolor and ink artwork begins with an urban landscape, with nature scenes painted on buildings; a child watches them as they walk, and the city streets give way to lush, green pastures, beaches, dark forests, mountains, even outer space, the child following paths up mountains and through the woods; standing triumphant on the top of the world, and meditating on the growth from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Together, Cleo Wade and Lucie de Moyencourt encourage readers to reach for the stars on their journey through life. These comforting, inspiring words and artwork are the perfect story to pass to your little ones and they’re the words we parents need sometimes, because, as Cleo Wade states in her author’s note, “Being a grownup is hard and the Road  reminds me to take it one day at a time”.

 

I Love You, Baby Burrito, by Angela Dominguez, (January 12, 2021, Roaring Brook Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250231093
Ages 2-5
This book is ADORABLE. A set of new parents greet their new baby – swaddled like a burrito – in this bilingual book of pure joy. Tender images of parents and baby pair with images of a new bird family in a nest outside the family’s window. The parents gaze, hold, and swaddle their little one, marveling at their new bundle, taking such care with every moment. Spanish words are in bright green, and English prose repeats the phrase, helping emphasize terms in both languages. A glossary at the end provides phonetic pronounciation. Mixed media illustrations are soft, gently colored, giving a real feeling of those quiet moments when baby and parents are still getting to know one another. I can’t wait to read this to my library families. An excellent Mother’s Day gift or baby shower gift, too; consider pairing with Hayley Barrett and Juana Martinez-Neal’s Babymoon.