Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Storytimes, Toddler

New Books at Storytime: The Song of Spring and New York Day & Night

I had storytime today, and decided to test drive two brand-new (coming in March) books that I received for review. They went RESOUNDINGLY well!

The Song of Spring, by Hendrik Jonas, (March 2019, Prestel Publishing), $12.95, ISBN: 9783791373799

Ages 3-6

We started off with The Song of Spring, since the weather here in New York has been… interesting. (It was 3 degrees last week; yesterday, 65. Today, 45.) In this adorable story, a little bird watches other birds call to one another with their songs of spring. One little bird can’t remember his song of spring, but he really, really wants to find a friend, so he takes a shot at it, opening his beak and shrieking… WOOF. A friendly dog answers, but the little bird is looking for a bird friend, so he tries again. And again. Various oinks, moos, meows, mehs, and hee-haws later, the little bird has quite a diverse group of friends, but still, no bird, until a hilariously unexpected fart sounds, and a pretty little female bird sitting nearby says she’s looking for a friend, too. The new friends happily celebrate their good fortune in finding one another.

The Song of Spring is adorable and unexpectedly funny, with a well-timed joke that got the kids in my storytime cracking up. I made a big deal of the sound, waving my hand by my backside, and the kids loved that such a giant sound would come from such a teeny, tiny bird. The book is wonderfully interactive, giving kids the chance to call out the different animals and make their different sounds, each of which gets a big, bold, fancy scripted black font for emphasis. The artwork looks like mixed media or collage – you can see book pages and notebook paper in the artwork – and adds some fun interest to the watercolor artwork. The animals pop off the stark white background, and the plain black story font lets the reader do the reading while the artwork and animal sounds take center stage.

The Song of Spring is going in my storytime collection, for sure. I even had a mom ask me for my copy when I was done with storytime! (So it’s also going in my order cart.) Pair this with Bark, George! by Julies Feiffer, and Sandra Boyton’s classic Moo, Baa, La La La! for an out of this world animal sound storytime!

 

New York Day & Night, by Aurélie Pollet/Illustrated by Vincent Bergier, (March 2019, Prestel Publishing), $16.95, ISBN: 9783791373782

Ages 3-7

This one got a great reception, too. A cat named Sandy and a squirrel named Frankie let readers see New York City through their eyes: the cat, by night; the squirrel, by day. Each sees very different things, aided by translucent blue plastic sheets that turn the Empire State Building into a rocket, the Guggenheim Museum into a spaceship, or a construction worker into a flying superhero.

New York Day & Night plays with perspective, and the idea that we see things differently in the light of day. Sandy, a nocturnal cat, sees the fantastic; Frankie, a diurnal squirrel, chastises Sandy, and sheds light – literally and figuratively – on what’s really happening. Or is it? Who’s to tell, in New York, right? The artwork is done in blues, oranges, and black and white, making for stark images that pop right off the page, boldly outlined and with easily recognizable New York icons.

My storytime group LOVED this one; I got cheers and gasps from parents and kids alike as I showed them a monster that turned out to be an elevated train (the community here lives near our own Queens elevated train) and King Kong beating his chest over the jungle that turns out to be Central Park. My favorite came in at the end – but I’ll let you get the book yourself to enjoy that one.

New York Day & Night is absolute fun, and a great way to extend a storytime by talking about colors, shapes, and city life. You can pair this with any books about a city: any of Kate McMullan’s truck books would pair well (I’m Big!, I Stink!); Julia Denos’ Windows; or Dave Eggers’ Her Left Foot are always good to go with.

I also read Have I Ever Told You, which I just wrote about a few days ago. It went over better with the parents than the babies; the artwork kept their attention for a little bit, but these were babies and toddlers; this one will be much better for a preschool and kindergarten storytime. I’ve read Hands Can to my babies and toddlers in the past, and it’s been a hit, so I’ll stick with that for the wee ones.

I also updated my songs for my Mother Goose Storytime (newborns to 18 months) and Toddler Storytime (18 mos-3 or 4 years) sessions. I try to change them up every season, so the families have time to get comfortable with the songs; I’ll insert one or two for different seasons or holidays, and I usually slot in a song in Mandarin and/or Spanish. (Mandarin for my community; Spanish, because I have a couple of Spanish-speaking families that I want to feel part of things, and because it’s fun to sing songs in different languages!)

And that was my storytime today!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler

Construction fun with Builders & Breakers

Builders & Breakers, by Steve Light, (Oct. 2018, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763698720

Ages 2-6

Dad’s off to work at the construction site, but – oh no! – he’s forgotten his lunch! Two siblings take the lunchbox and run to meet their father at work, setting the stage for this vibrant story about construction sites and all the activity they embody.

Sparsely worded, this is a great book for toddler storytimes, proving that board books aren’t the only choice when reading to little ones. Each scene is boldly outlined and inked, popping off the plain white page, to create a cityscape where cranes hoist, wheelbarrows carry, and children search.

Because this is a Steve Light book, the beauty is in the small details. The endpapers are blueprints for the building Dad must be working on; the story starts on the title page, where Dad kisses Mom goodbye as his lunchbox sits on the floor. Mom discovers the lunchbox on the verso page, and sends the kids after dad right under the dedication. There’s no wasted space here; there’s storytelling to be found everywhere.

City kids will recognize the omnipresent green wall and “post no bills” stenciling that runs across one spread. The kids search for their dad in the background on subsequent spreads, always giving the reader something to look for. Sound effects invite readers to rat-a-tat-tat-tat along with jackhammers and spark! spark! spark! with welders, and two spreads flip the book lengthwise to show readers a different perspective. A digger reveals treasures on the sides of the dig, including several fossilized dinosaurs, a bike, and a car. When the kids reunite with their father, it’s snack time! Steve Light talks about his architectural influences in an author’s note at the end.

Display and booktalk with Steve Light’s own Diggers Go!, Sherri Duskey Rinker’s Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, and its companions; Byron Barton’s Machines at Work is a nice companion for toddler storytimes about vehicles and construction, and I can’t get enough of Christy Hale’s Building Up. Get out your toy trucks and blocks for some play time after your construction storytime!

Educators and caregivers interested in a Steve Light author study can check out Steve Light’s author website, where he has a free downloadable author study guide available.

 

Posted in Storytime, Toddler

Toddler Storytime/Test Driving New Books

I had a picture book storytime planned for my second session today, but most of my attendees were toddlers, which required a little tweaking of the booklist (I’d used most of the same songs from the first storytime). Luckily, I’d left the house with two new ARCs that I picked up at ALA Midwinter, figuring I’d test them out if the crowd seemed up for it. I’m really glad I did – the books were PERFECT for storytime (one of the reasons I picked them up); the kids loved them and really got into the reading!

clap  monkey  plant-a-kiss

Clap, by Uncle Ian Aurora (Sept. 2016, Flowerpot Press), $16.99, ISBN: 978-148670945-8 is an interactive book that got my kiddos clapping, stomping, and counting. A boy narrates the book, telling readers that “this is the book where we all clap along, because sometimes a book has a beat like a song”. We clap and stomp, counting to 10; we clap to show different feelings and for different locations; we clap for our narrator, which brings the story to a fun close. The cartoony characters and bold marker-writing font, caught the kids’ attention, and the parents enjoyed playing along with their little ones. This is entering my permanent storytime rotation.

Spunky Monkey is the newest from Bill Martin Jr. and  Michael Sampson (Jan. 2017,Scholastic Press, $17.99, ISBN: 978-0545776431), and it’s illustrated by Brian Won – this is already a home run. Monkey is absolutely adorable – the digital illustrations look entirely hand-painted, and a note at the end of the book explains how Won achieves this. It’s bright, colorful, and loaded with movement – Monkey is on the move, and he’s taking us with him! Michael Sampson uses rhyme and repetition to get kids up and moving, and uses the doctor’s diagnosis for Monkey – he needs exercise! – to emphasize the importance of movement and exercise. He builds on the classic rhyme “Down Down Baby” to set the tone and beat for the book. Kids and parents alike responded so well to this book! We ding-donged, clap-clapped, stomp-stomped, and sis-boom-bah-ed the whole way through! This is another must-own for caregivers and educators; toddlers and preschoolers will love this and so will you.

I slowed things down by reading Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Plant a Kiss, with art by Peter H. Reynolds (Dec. 2011, HarperCollins, $14.99, ISBN: 978-0061986758). Everyone enjoyed the magical story about a girl who plants a kiss and shares the explosion of glittery love and happiness that follows.

Most of the songs stayed the same from my earlier Toddler Storytime, but I added Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, Days of the Week, and I’m Going to Take a Sweater, since it’s freezing out today!

Song: “I’m Going to Take a Sweater” (to the tune of “For He’s a Jolly Good) Fellow”
I’m going to take a sweater, a sweater, a sweater
I’m going to take a sweater when I go out today
When I go out today, when I go out today
I’m going to take a sweater when I go out today
I’m going to take a scarf, a scarf, a scarf,
I’m going to take a scarf when I go out today
When I go out today, when I go out today
I’m going to take a scarf when I go out today
I’m going to take my mittens, my mittens, my mittens
I’m going to take my mittens when I go out today
When I go out today, when I go out today
I’m going to take my mittens when I go out today
I’m going to take my hat, my hat, my hat,
I’m going to take my hat when I go out today
When I go out today, when I go out today,
I’m going to take my hat when I go out today!
Source: King County Library System

Song: “Days of the Week” (Addams Family tune)
Days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap), Days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap),
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap)
There’s Sunday and there’s Monday, there’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday,
There’s Thursday and there’s Friday, and then there’s Saturday.
Days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap), Days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap),
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap)

These storytimes are great for my own fitness level – I spent over an hour jumping, dancing, and playing!

Posted in Storytime, Toddler

Toddler Storytime: Hugs and Kisses

I had my first storytimes (two sessions, both attended by toddlers) at my new library today, and incorporated quite a few ideas from Storytime Underground’s Social Justice kit. The storytime here runs a little bit longer than my Corona storytimes, so I plumped up the outline with a lot of songs and fingerplays. Since I was a little nervous about storytime to a new crowd, I turned to Jbrary for guidance; sure enough, the ladies have a storytime planning sheet that helped me visualize everything I wanted to do.

I had a great crowd – 35 families, including some of my Corona families, who came to visit! Everyone seemed to enjoy the songs and fingerplays, and happily, the Chinese and Spanish that I incorporated into my stories and songs went over well. Here’s the storytime in full, with links as used.

besos  huggy  nice

Hello song (ASL)
Hello, my friends,
Hello, my friends, Hello, my friends,
It’s time to say hello.
Source: Jbrary

Song: We Clap and Sing Hello
We clap and sing hello, We clap and sing hello,
With our friends at storytime,
We clap and sing hello!
We wave and sing hello, We wave and sing hello,
With our friends at storytime,
We clap and sing hello!
We stomp and sing hello, We stomp and sing hello,
With our friends at storytime,
We stomp and sing hello!
Source: Jbrary

Action Rhyme: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes,
And eyes, and ears, and mouth, and nose,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes!

Song: “Yo te amo”
Yo te amo, yo te amo, all day song, I sing this little song to you,
Yo te amo, yo te amo, darling, I love you.

Wo ai ni, wo ai ni, all day song, I sing this little song to you,
Wo ai ni, wo ai ni, darling, I love you.

I love you, I love you, all day long, I sing this little song to you,
I love you, I love you, darling, I love you.
Source: Jbrary

Fingerplay/Song: Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!
Zoom, zoom, zoom
We’re going to the moon.
Zoom, zoom, zoom
We’re going to the moon.
If you want to take a trip
climb aboard my rocket ship.
Zoom, zoom, zoom
We’re going to the moon.
In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Blast off!
Source: Jbrary

Song: “The More We Get Together”
The more we get together, together, together,
The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.
Because my friends are your friends, and your friends are my friends,
The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.
Source: http://www.metrolyrics.com/more-we-get-together-lyrics-raffi.html

Song: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap)
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap)
If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. (clap clap)

If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet (stomp stomp)
If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet (stomp stomp)
If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it
If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet. (stomp stomp)

If you’re happy and you know it, shout “Hurray!” (hoo-ray!)
If you’re happy and you know it, shout “Hurray!” (hoo-ray!)
If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it
If you’re happy and you know it, shout “Hurray!” (hoo-ray!)

If you’re happy and you know it, do all three (clap-clap, stomp-stomp, hoo-ray!)
If you’re happy and you know it, do all three (clap-clap, stomp-stomp, hoo-ray!)
If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it
If you’re happy and you know it, do all three. (clap-clap, stomp-stomp, hoo-ray!)

Song: “Skinnamarink”
Skinnamarink-e-dink, e-dink, skinnamarink-e-doo, I love you,
Skinnamarink-e-dink, e-dink, skinnamarink-e-doo, I love you,
I love you in the morning, and in the afternoon,
I love you in the evening, and underneath the moon, oh!
Skinnamarink-e-dink, e-dink, skinnamarink-e-doo, I love you!
Source: Jbrary

Song: “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”
The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout,
Down came the rain and washed the spider out,
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

Song: We Clap Goodbye
We clap goodbye like this, We clap goodbye like this,
With our friends at storytime,
We clap goodbye like this!
We wave goodbye like this, we wave goodbye like this,
With our friends at storytime,
We wave goodbye like this!
We stomp goodbye like this, We stomp goodbye like this,
With our friends at storytime,
We stomp goodbye like this!

Goodbye song (ASL)
Goodbye, my friends,
Goodbye, my friends,
Goodbye, my friends,
It’s time to say goodbye.

After storytime, I passed out these great alphabet craft bracelets for the kids to color and wear. They went over very well!

Posted in Preschool, Storytime, Toddler

Storytimes for Social Justice in 2017

Happy New Year to all! I hope your holidays were amazing and that you said goodbye to 2016 in the best way possible. I had a stomach bug go through the entire household in a matter of days, so I rang in the new year taking baby sips of Gatorade, but it gave me some time to think, reflect, and plan for the new year.

This new year is heading into scary territory for many folks. As children’s librarians, we have a chance to help make those times a little less scary for parents and kids alike. We can point parents to resources they need to make sure they stay informed, aware, and can find help and information where they need it. We can help kids by introducing them to books, songs, and fingerplays that cheer them up, sure but also teach them about other kids that may experience similar circumstances, so they don’t feel alone, and we can engender empathy by exploring other families’ dilemmas through story. Storytime Underground has issued a challenge this year, and it’s one I’m excited to accept.

sjstorytime

I attended a great Storytime Manifesto program while I was at PLA last year. We talked about how storytime does make a difference in helping children become ready for kindergarten, we talked statistics about family literacy, phonological awareness, print motivation, oral communication and socialization between children, and development of fine motor skills by introducing and crafts during your storytime. I’ve kept a lot of that in mind as I’ve developed my storytimes, and now I’m taking things one step further by accepting this blog challenge. I’ll be continuing to read diverse titles by diverse authors, and I’ll be looking to my other librarians and bloggers for ideas to expand my mind and skills, so I can help families expand theirs. I’d love for you to join me as I start this journey. If you’re interested in your own Social Justice Storytime – anyone, teacher, educator, parent, aunt, uncle, next door neighbor who babysits their friends’ kids every now and then – Storytime Underground has a great starter kit with ideas that you can download for free. There are also fantastic lists you can discover through Pinterest to build on, including Picture Books About Immigration, Picture Books about Social Justice, Children’s Books about Refugees, and Books About Being Kind.

I’m off to start planning and working on my new flannels. Reviews to come, too! Let’s be kind to one another this year, we’re all a bit bruised from 2016.

Posted in Preschool, Storytime, Toddler

Storytime: The Ocean!

It’s been a while since I posted a storytime, but since I just posted a review for NatGeo’s Ocean Animals: Who’s Who in the Ocean Blue, I thought I’d post the storytime that accompanied it.

The Ocean!

Opening Song: Hello, My Friends!

Hello, my friends, hello!
Hello, my friends, hello!
Hello, my friends, hello, my friends,
Hello, my friends, hello!

Story: Crabby Crab, by Chris Raschka

Rhyme: Five Cranky Crabs
Five cranky crabs were digging on the shore.
One swam into a net and then there were four.
Four cranky crabs were floating in the sea.
One got tangled up in seaweed then there were three.
Three Cranky crabs were wondering what to do.
One dug a deep, deep hole. Then there were two.
Two cranky crabs were warming in the sun.
One got scooped up in a cup. Then there was one.
One cranky crab was smarter than his friends.
He hid between the jagged rocks.
That’s how the story ends.
(from Preschool Education)

Story: Whaley Whale, by Chris Raschka

Song: The Whales (sing to “I’m a Little Teapot”)
I’m a humpback whale
I’m very strong.
I leap about
And sing a song.
I like to eat my fill
In the Northern Sea.
But in the winter,
South I flee.

I am a beluga,
I’m all white.
From head to tail
I’m quite a sight.
You can hear me singing
Way up north,
Playing and swimming
Back and forth.

I’m a mighty orca
Black and white.
In the sea
I’m a beautiful sight.
I’m not very big,
But I am sleek.
I hunt for my food
Cause I have teeth.
(from Preschool Education)

Story: I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean, by Kevin Sherry

Song: Una sardina/Slippery Fish
Una sardina, una sardina,
Nadando en el agua,
Una sardina, una sardina,
Glú, glú, glú

OH, NO! Fue comida por …

Un pulpito, un pulpito,
Nadando en el agua,
Un pulpito, un pulpito,
Glú, glú, glú

OH, NO! Fue comido por …

Un atún, un atún,
Nadando en el agua,
Un atún, un atún,
Glú, glú, glú

OH, NO! Fue comido por …

Un tiburón, un tiburón,
Nadando en el agua,
Un tiburón, un tiburón,
Glú, glú, glú

OH, NO! Fue comido por …

Una ballena, una ballena,
Nadando en el agua,
Una ballena, una ballena,
Glú, glú, glú

¡PERDÓNA ME!

Closing Song: Goodbye, My Friends!

Goodbye, my friends, goodbye!
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye!
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye, my friends,
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye!

I used five cartoon cranky crab picture from Google Images for the Cranky Crab rhyme, and we counted down each time a crab disappeared in the song. I also used Google Images to get cartoon pictures of all the sea life in the Slippery Fish song, which my crowd loves, since I’m actually able to perform it halfway decently in Spanish. You can find lyrics in English and Spanish here.

 

Posted in Preschool, Storytime, Toddler

Yoga Storytime!

My library has been on a health kick. We ended January with a health festival that included zumba classes, salsa instruction, and more fresh food and fruit than you could possibly imagine. We were packed, had hundreds of people in and out all day, and really got the word out that staying healthy is a process – but a fun one. I decided to do my part, and had a yoga storytime this past Saturday, and I was delighted to have a good turnout and that the parents were really into it!

I have to give huge thanks to both Storytime Katie and the Yogibrarian, both of whom had yoga storytimes that I used to guide me as I put together my yoga storytime. Here’s how it went:

Hello song!
Hello, my friends, Hello!
Hello, my friends, Hello!
Hello, my friends, Hello, my friends,
Hello, my friends, Hello!

Song: This is Yoga (to the tune of Frere Jacques)
This is yoga, this is yoga,
Om, sweet Om, Om, sweet Om, (hands in Namaste – prayer – position)
Sitting and stretching, (sit criss cross applesauce)
Twist and turn (twist to one side),
Om, sweet, om, Om, sweet, om, (hands in Namaste – prayer – position)
Repeat, and stretch to the other side!

head to toe

 

Story: From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle
This was a great warm-up story for the kids. We stretched our necks like giraffes, beat our chests like gorillas, and waved our arms like monkeys. The kids had a great time, the parents had a great time, and we laughed and called out animals names the whole time, to keep the interactivity high.

 

 

 

 

you are a lionStory: You Are a Lion!, by Taeeun Yoo
This is such a fun book! The book uses actual animal-inspired yoga poses and invites readers to channel the animal to complete the pose. We stuck our tongues out like lions, flapped our thighs like butterflies, and slithered like snakes. I would definitely use this book again. The end of the book features all the poses, for anyone interested in doing an asana series. Encouraging the kids to make animal sounds while breathing into the poses was a hit, too.

 

 

 

 

We sang a few songs to keep in the spirit of the books and postures we just learned. I encouraged the kids to prowl like lions, to stretch their upper backs, and we had a nice, loud ROAR! at the end. The kids loved the suspense of not roaring the first two times we repeated the rhyme, too!

Song: “Lion Prowl” (by Debbie Clement: http://www.songsforteaching.com/debbieclement/lionprowl.htm)
Lion, lion prowls through the jungle.
Lion, lion stalks the jungle floor.
Lion, lion prowls throughout the jungle.
Lion, lion listen for that roar: (silence)
Lion, lion prowls through the jungle.
Lion, lion stalks the jungle floor.
Lion, lion prowls throughout the jungle.
Lion, lion listen for that roar: (silence)
Lion, lion prowls through the jungle.
Lion, lion stalks the jungle floor.
Lion, lion prowls throughout the jungle.
Lion, lion listen for that roar: Rrrrrrrrrroarrrrrr!

For “Flutter Flutter Butterfly”, we got back into our butterfly yoga poses and gently moved our thighs up and down to mimic the butterfly’s wings. Some kids wanted to flap their arms, too. We had the space, they enjoyed themselves, it was great. 

Song: “Flutter Flutter Butterfly” (Tune: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Flutter, flutter, butterfly,
Floating in the deep blue sky,
Floating by for all to see,
Floating by so merrily,
Flutter, flutter, butterfly,
Floating in the deep blue sky.

We sang our goodbye song (just like the hello song, but replace Hello with Goodbye!), and finished up to go color. The storytime was a success and I’m already looking at more yoga picture books for more yoga storytimes!

 

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, geek culture, Science Fiction, Toddler

Star Wars Epic Yarns: Train your youngest readers in the ways of The Force.

Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope (ISBN: 978-1-4521-3393-5), The Empire Strikes Back (ISBN: 978-1-4521-3499-4), Return of the Jedi (ISBN: 978-1-4521-3500-7), by Jack & Holman Wang (2015, Chronicle Books), $9.95

9781452133935_350Recommended for all ages

I love Star Wars, and am crazy about all the concept books coming out so I can get my toddler on board early. He’s already got Star Wars 123 and Star Wars ABC, and next on the list will be these three adorable board books that teach exciting new words and introduce all readers to the greatest trilogy in the galaxy.

Each book covers a movie in the original Star Wars trilogy, using words kids will be familiar with (“princess”, “boy”, “heroes”) with new words that can only enhance a youngling’s vocabulary (“Force”, “droids”, “lightsaber”). The books are sturdy and can are ready to be held by little hands over and over again.9781452135007_350

Let’s just talk about the amazing work that the Wangs have put into these books. Created with figures made of needle-felted yarn and set against movie-esque backdrops, these pictures are gorgeous. This is a tremendous level of artistry that leaves me shaking my head in wonder. Kids are going to love these child-friendly faces and words, and there are many, many cuddly storytimes ahead with these books in hand.

9781452134994_350

Look at the work that went into this series, courtesy of StarWars.com, and check out this behind-the-scenes video. And then, go get your copies!

 

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Toddler, Toddler Reads

Mini-Myths – A board book series that brings the myths to your toddlers!

play nice herculesMini Myths: Play Nice, Hercules! (2015, Abrams), by Joan Holub/Illus. by Leslie Patricelli, $6.99, ISBN: 1-4197-0954-2

Recommended for ages 0-3

This series works for me on so many levels, I don’t even know where to begin. This new board book series, written by Joan Holub – whose Goddess Girls chapter book series is a huge hit with the girls at my library – and illustrated by one of my favorites, Leslie Patricelli (Tubby, Yummy Yucky, and Toot, and other fabulous baby board books), is the perfect way to introduce the wonder of Greek myths to your toddler.

Hercules is a strong little boy. He doesn’t want to be nice – he wants to wham-bam monsters! To whomp-stomp bad guys! But when he ka-booms his baby sister’s castle, he learns that being strong also means using strength to help people, too.

This book is wonderfully subtle. Toddlers aren’t going to sit down and have a discourse on Greek mythological heroes, but they can get the big older brother acting like a strong man – or even a bully.  Parents will love the hints Ms. Patricelli includes in the story – Hercules wham-bams a Cyclopean monster, and stomps on Greek soldiers. The blocks of the castle depict the twelve labors of Hercules. A note from Ms. Holub at the end of the story gives more detail on the myth of Hercules, allowing even older siblings to join in the fun and learn about the story of the mythological strong man.

I adore this book. I bought it for my library, and I’m buying a copy for my own little guy. Abrams has a series of Mini Myths ready to hit shelves; Be Patient, Pandora is out right now, and books on Medusa and Midas are coming. Get this series – it’s BRILLIANT.

hercules_2