Posted in Family Storytimes, picture books, Preschool Reads, programs, Storytime, Toddler Reads, Toddler Storytime

Margaret Wise Brown storytime: The Diggers, Count to 10 with a Mouse, Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears

Last week, I decided to test drive three Margaret Wise Brown re-released books in my toddler storytime. Most of my kiddos and families know Ms. Brown as the “Goodnight Moon Lady”, or “The Runaway Bunny lady”, so I thought it would be fun to give them more choices when they’re looking for something to read. It went over pretty well. Before I get into that, though, I thought some background on these three books would be interesting – I know I found it fascinating.

In 1990, author Amy Gary discovered a trunk of unpublished manuscripts and songs in the attic of Margaret Wise Brown’s sister’s barn. These manuscripts provided the source material for many of the titles in a new line of classics by the beloved author. While I’d seen Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears pretty recently – Kohl’s had the book and a companion teddy bear as one of their Kohl’s Cares book/plush sets about a year or two ago, and my mom picked up a book and teddy for my little guy – The Diggers and Count to 10 With a Mouse are new to me.

The Diggers, by Margaret Wise Brown/Illustrated by Antoine Corbineau, (March 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684127429

Ages 3-7

Moles dig holes. So do dogs. Worms, rabbits, mice, and pirates all dig holes, too! Animals and people alike dig holes for different reasons, and The Diggers tells their stories. The kids loved the whole process of digging a hole for a subway system, and I favored the digger machine digging up “stones, and find dinosaur bones, and cavemen’s homes, and buried gnomes”. This is just an fun, rhyming story that has so much detail to enjoy: buried dinosaur bones and pottery; worm homes that curve to meet their owner’s bodies; a train running along the horizon as it goes down its track, a pirate’s trail of thievery. The kids really enjoyed this one, and so did I. Artist Antoine Corbineau (whose website features much of the artwork from The Diggers, and from where I sampled the interior art) makes bright, bold artwork with loads of things for kids to find. The black and grey-purple endpapers show a cityscape in progress, with pathways all dug out. This is an adorable choice for a construction or transportation storytime; two choices that always go over well with my storytime groups.

The verse is Margaret Wise Brown – you can’t go wrong. The repeated phrase, “Dig Dig Dig” allows kids to jump right in and interact with you during a reading, and there are so many chances to ask them questions: identify the animals, where do they live/what do they eat; what predictions can they make about what’s going to happen next?

Consider an author study with your school-age kids, to really expose them to Margaret Wise Brown’s body of work; The Diggers is such an active book compared to Runaway Bunny and Goodnight, Moon; it will give the kids so much to think about and discuss.

 

Count to 10 With a Mouse, by Margaret Wise Brown/Illustrated by Kirsten Richards, (March 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684127412

Ages 2-5

This book is a hit! I love a counting book that has a fun story to go along with it, and Count to 10 With a Mouse fits the bill perfectly! The endpapers are covered in mouse paw prints, and there are two holes, one of which has the cutest little mouse peeking out of it! This counting story has everything: rhyme, repetition, and concepts (counting). A little mouse lives in a hole, and teaches himself to count by looking at the things around him: one mouse, two holes, three fish; all things he discovers as he crawls through the holes to the next pages. The rhyme and repetition are sweet, and filled with discovery: Each page, each discovery, starts off with the repeated phrase, “And there, what does he see? And there, what does he see?” Each spread leads readers to the next with a tempting invitation: “Then the mouse ran through the book, the mouse ran through the book. He ran onto the next page to take a little look”. Kirsten Richards’ illustrations are soft, sweet, and fit perfectly with Margaret Wise Brown’s storytelling rhyme, creating a whole experience for readers. The end of the book suggests turning around and starting all over again – expect that at bedtime!

I loved Count to 10 With a Mouse, and this one is definitely going in my storytime collection. I’m tucking it into my Children’s Book Week book ideas.

 

Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears, by Margaret Wise Brown/Illustrated by Julie Clay, (Apr. 2019, Silver Dolphin), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684127603

Ages 2-6

What would a Margaret Wise Brown collection be without another cuddly bedtime story? Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears is perfect for bedtime cuddling. Pastel-colored endpapers look like a comfy quilt to snuggle down into, and the story – a big sleepy bear and a little sleep bear get ready for bed – teaches important lessons about modeling behavior. Everything big sleepy bear does, little sleepy bear does, from yawning, to stretching, to getting into bed and putting heads on the pillow. They each recite a sweet little rhyme (a variation of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep) and drift off to sleep. I’ve read this to my little guy when we’re both about to nod off, and it’s a wonderful way to ease into bedtime. The affection between big and little bear comes through as words and the soft art palette come together to send readers off to their own dreams.

The kids at storytime weren’t quite ready to go to bed when I finished this story, but it was a nice close to storytime. Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears is a new bedtime classic to add to your shelves.

 

The best news? Silver Dolphin is launching 15 more Margaret Wise Brown books this Spring and Summer, and will have two more in the fall!

 

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads, Toddler Storytime

Birds, Birds, Birds: Hello, I’m Here! A new bird greets the world, and Carme Lemniscrates’s Birds

Hello, I’m Here!, by Helen Frost/Photographs by Rick Lieder, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763698584

Ages 2-5

With rhyming text accompanying beautiful wildlife photos, Hello, I’m Here! is the story of an adorable sandhill crane chick hatching and exploring its new world. The hatchling and its sibling splash around in the water and enjoy some bugs and snails under the watchful guidance of their Mama and Papa, always nearby. The photographs are beautiful, allowing readers to enjoy the fuzzy, long-legged chicks and the stunning adult birds’ coloring. The photos have incredible texture; the birds’ feathers look like they’d ruffle under one’s hand, and the chicks look so fuzzy, you’ll want to run your finger across their heads. The photos of the birds in flight are stunning. The text is sweet and has a comforting cadence; the sentences are short and put readers in the chick’s place as it discovers the world around it. An author note about sandhill cranes has some great additional information for readers: did you know that parents and chicks communicate while the chicks are still in their eggs? That went over really well when I told the parents! I love being able to add little facts like that in a storytime. The endpapers have beautiful photos of a baby sandhill crane and its parent, and of four cranes flying across the sky at sunset. Absolutely breathtaking.

I tried Hello, I’m Here! out in a recent storytime, and the kids and parents alike loved it. The parents gestured to the pages quite often, impressed with the photos, and the little ones loved hearing about the little bird taking its first steps, flapping around with its sibling, and watching other cranes fly overhead. This is a great choice for a nature/discovery/science storytime, a spring storytime, and just a plain, good storytime for the little ones. I would also read Alex Latimer’s Am I Yours? as a companion to this one: it’s got dinosaurs, but the whole story of a baby dino in its egg talking to prospective parents is just too cute to pass up.

Hello, I’m Here! has a starred review from Kirkus. This is the fifth book that Helen Frost and Rick Lieder have collaborated on; all of which have received starred reviews from Kirkus.

 

 

Birds, by Carme Lemniscates, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536201789

Ages 2-5

Next up, I read Birds, by Carme Lemniscates. It’s a nonfiction book of a different sort, with bright, bold mixed media illustrations of various birds and two children enjoying their company. The text reads like a poetic ode to birds, starting first with descriptive sentences: “Some birds are really big/Others are tiny/Some like to show off, while others would rather watch”, moving into more illustrative musings: “A bird’s song is like the loving words of a friend/A happy song that greets us every morning/And our hearts sing, too, because birds are like good news coming”. Eagles, owls, peacocks, and hummingbirds all find a home here, as do parrots, toucans, and Canadian geese. It’s a celebration of birds, of spring, and of nature. The endpapers feature bright and bold feathers, some that you’ll recognize right away, like the peacock’s; some, you may have to guess at (is that black and white spotted one a woodpecker or a guinea fowl?). Let the kids color some feathers of their own as an after-storytime craft.

Birds went over nicely in storytime. The kids loved the bright colors and enjoyed calling out birds they recognized. We made some bird sounds (honking for the Canadian geese went over well, as did the parrot caws) and spread our arms to soar and flap like the birds do. It’s a nice addition to picture books where nature and birds are popular.