Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

I think, therefore I am: a chick ponders her world in Ergo

Ergo, by Alexis Deacon/Illustrated by Viviane Schwarz, (July 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217803

Ages 3-6

There’s something for everyone in this philosophical primer for little ones. Ergo is a chick who wakes up, deciding to explore her world. She wiggles her toes, flaps her wings, gives a tentative peck with her beak, and decides that “I am the world and the world is me”… until she realizes that the world, her world, is far more complex than that.

I had to mention this to my 18-year-old, whose mind was blown by the fact that the author created a kid-friendly story of Plato’s Cave. And that’s exactly what Ergo is! Kids will love the story of a chick discovering its egg, and the existential freakout when she realizes that she isn’t as in control as she previously thought. Viviane Schwarz’s simple ink and watercolor illustrations translate the message, giving life and meaning to Alexis Deacon’s story, with an adorable wide-eyed chick who wants desperately to figure it all out.

Me? I’d give this one as a baby shower gift, too. Adorable, hilarious, perfect. Engage your littles with a post-storytime craft by letting them create thumbprint Ergos of their own.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Let’s get the school year off to a great start!

You want books for back to school? I got books for back to school!

 

My First Ready for School, by Roger Priddy, (May 2021, Priddy Books US), $9.99, ISBN: 9781684491384

Ages 3-5

Priddy Books does it again; I’ve loved their board books and early learning books for babies since my own now-fourth grader (fourth grade!) was born. This preschool activity book is the perfect Welcome to School gift for preschoolers, and a great add to preschool shelves and collections in your classrooms and libraries. It’s all about concepts, early learning, and fun: there are pull tabs and flaps on every single page, all getting the little ones ready to experience a school day. Learn what to put in your school bag, with pull-down flaps that reveal what goes in your pencil case, lunch box, gym bag, and backpack; use the pull tab to discover all the great activities taking place at school, like playtime and storytime; learn about mixing colors, school shapes, patterns, and more! The book is tough, strong enough to stand up to repeated use, with bulky board pages, strong tabs, and secure flaps. Colorful and friendly animal characters will greet little readers and help them sharpen their pattern and shape recognition, counting skills, and sight words. Get a few of these in your collections if possible; they’re a great investment.

 

 

Let’s Be Safe, by Alice Le Henand/Illustrated by Thierry Bedouet (Oct. 2021, Twirl Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9782408028497

Ages 0-3

I am a big fan of Twirl Books’s Pull and Play series. This outing, Let’s Be Safe, teaches readers about safety while doing everyday tasks. Familiar animal friends from previous books in the series are back, like Little Kangaroo, Little Cat, and Little Monkey, and their parents gently guide them through scenarios that could end up with tears – but don’t, thanks to some smart thinking and safe action. Little Crocodile wants to come down the stairs by himself – great! – and Dad lets him, as long as he holds onto the railing. Little Kangaroo wants to stand up to play in the tub, but Mom cautions against it, because slipping and falling really hurts. Isn’t it better to sit and play? Pull tabs illustrate the before-and-after, with the Little Gang modeling safe behaviors as parents lovingly explain and stand by to help. Parents will appreciate the modeling on what to say to newly independent toddlers and preschoolers, and kids will love pulling the tabs and seeing their animal friends be safe. Win-win for all.

 

The New Kid Has Fleas, by Ame Dyckman/Illustrated by Eda Kaban, (June 2021, Roaring Brook Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250245243

Ages 3-6

Award-winning author Ame Dyckman’s story about welcoming the new kid is a study in kindness and discovery. There’s a new kid at school, and she’s a little… different. Naturally, the rumors fly when the mean girl tries to spread rumors, but our narrator, who ends up paired with the New Kid for a science project, discovers that she and her family are pretty cool, after all! The New Kid – who we discover is named Kiki – is different, with a different family and a different home. She doesn’t wear shoes, she howls, she chases squirrels, and her family seem to be wolves! After spending a day working on a school project, though, our narrator – a young boy – embraces Kiki’s family, tussles with her brothers and sisters, and, in a laugh-out-loud moment, “goes with the flow” when it comes to using the restroom. Turns out, welcoming the new kid is a far more fun way to go than being mean! Digital illustrations capture the fun spirit of the story and show the growing friendship between Kiki and her new friend, and I loved the use of a wolf’s shadow to illustrate the Kiki is more than meets the eye. What a great way to teach kids to extend a friendly hand to new students. Another win from Ame Dyckman!

Visit Ame Dyckman’s author page for more information about her books.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Flaps, folds, snaps, and pulls: Board Books to Explore!

Over the last couple of days, I’ve gotten a LOT of book mail (thank you!). The Fall is going to be AMAZING for kids’ books, and the board books? *Chef’s kiss* There are so many fun tabs, snaps, and flaps to be found in these new books – just perfect for toddlers and rising preschoolers to engage those little minds and hands. Let’s take a look at some, shall we?

Snap! Chomp Your Jaws!, by Bob Barner, (Aug. 2021, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781452179421

Ages 0-3

This adorable board book is all about animals who snap their jaws: lions, gorillas, crocodiles, hippos and sharks all chomp with powerful jaws, and this sturdy board book lets kids pull on those jaws and watch them snap back! Each animal includes a fun fact or two (female lions do the hunting; crocodiles carry their babies in those powerful jaws), and the jaw pull reveals sharp teeth to marvel over. Cut paper illustrations add texture and depth to the illustrations, and bold black font makes for easy reading during a lapsit reading. A companion to Bob Barner’s Snap! Stick Out Your Tongue! (2020), this is a book to have on your low shelves so the littles can find it on their own.

Bob Barner is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. Visit his author website for coloring pages, songs and videos!

 

Where is Everyone?, by Tom Schamp, (Sept. 2021, Prestel Junior), $14.95, ISBN: 9783791374505

Ages 2-5

Originally published in Dutch in 2020, this board book is full of fun lift-the-flaps. Guided by two ducks, each page challenges readers to use their imaginations to see beyond the everyday, whether it’s discovering that a raccoon is behind a washer, or that a pelican is behind a sink. Questions prompt the imagination by asking the reader who they think will be revealed: perfect for lapsits and small readalouds! A final flap is the most fun reveal of all, bringing everyone together. The artwork is colorful and the flaps are sturdy, holding up to repeated use. The animals have friendly expressions, and the everyday housewares are easy to recognize. Ask your readers what else they see on each spread, whether it’s a color, shape, or additional details, from a tea bag to a couch pillow. Then ask them what could be behind items in your home, class, or library: maybe there’s a giraffe behind a floor lamp, or an – ouch! – porcupine by that footstool.

 

Hide and Seek Peekabook (Beginning Baby), by Nicola Slater, (Sept. 2021, Twirl Books), $10.99, ISBN: 9781797203690

Ages 0-3

Twirl Books has more Beginning Baby books this Fall! Hide-and-Seek Peekaboo is a fun lift-the-flap version of the game, where you and a group of animal friends play together as you look for them under tables, behind chairs and curtains, and under blankets. If you have other Beginning Baby books, you and your little ones may recognize the familiar faces; animal friends like Riley the Narwhal, Mia the Monkey, and Gabriel the Giraffe are the same group we saw in earlier books. Questions on each spread get readers wondering who’s hiding, and guide them to the flap location: “Who is behind the curtain?” Who is behind the pillow?” Pair with Shasha Lv’s board book, A Little Snail Book: Hide and Seek, for more concept fun.

 

This Book Can Do Anything, by Tristan Mory, (Sept. 2021, Twirl Books), $13.99, ISBN: 9782408028527

Ages 0-3

This book is perfect for readalouds! Shaped like a fun little rectangular being with round, blue glasses, it’s a book that can do anything – and just begs for you and your readers to join the fun. Every spread asks a question: Can the book wink? Can it blink? Put a finger in its nose? The book rises to the occasion, and now it’s up to you to see if your readers can do all the fun things Book can do. The book is expressive, friendly, and just goofy fun, with a fun pull-tab surprise at the end. High contrast black and white expressions join with colorful bright blue glasses and bright red-orange pants and freckles to grab readers’ attention. Add this to your interactive storytimes (anything by Herve Tullet will do) and add a Simon Says game to the fun!

Donuts!, by Lea Redmond/Illustrated by Flora Waycott, (Sept. 2021, Chronicle Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781797210827

Ages 0-3

Die-cut into the shape of a yummy donut, this sweet book is all about the ingredients! Each spread is a guessing game about a tasty ingredient, revealed on the next spread, just in time for the next mouth-watering question. Flora Waycott’s delicious illustrations will likely have little ones reaching for this book: and I’ve got board books with teeth marks to begin with, so I’ll probably be buying a couple of copies of this one. What goes into every donut, though? A die-cut heart reveals the not-so secret ingredient at the end. Absolutely adorable.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Two Stanley board books for back to school!

Who could start a school year without our friend Stanley, the hardest working hamster in kidlit? Stanley’s publisher, Peachtree Publishing, sent me these last year, but my library was closed, and I didn’t get them until June of this year – but the best thing about books is that they’re always ready to be read and enjoyed. So let’s visit Stanley together, shall we?

Stanley’s Toolbox, by William Bee, (March 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $6.99, ISBN: 9781682631874

Ages 2-5

Stanley’s going to help Little Woo build a treehouse! He shows up with his toolbox and the two friends get to work drilling holes, hammering roof tiles, sanding floors, and hanging signs. The board book captures the spirit of the Stanley picture books, taking readers through the process of building a tree house; a page in the board book shows all of the equipment in Stanley’s toolbox, so readers can follow which tool he uses as the book progresses. Get out your toy toolkits or hand out tool coloring pages for kids to make their own storytime toolboxes with Stanley!

 

Stanley’s Paint Box, by William Bee, (March 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $6.99, ISBN: 9781682631867

Ages 2-6

Stanley’s getting ready for a painting project with his friends! Sophie, Benjamin, and Little Woo are all ready, so Stanley gets his paints ready and the friends have a great time painting boxes and learning how to make even more colors by mixing the colors they have! As Stanley mixes up a new color, the bottom of the page changes color to showcase that color, teaching early color theory. It’s a fun way to spend the day, isn’t it? Great to read as part of an art storytime, encourage your readers to let their creative sides run wild. I love using the chunky sponge-tipped markers, like Do a Dot, for less mess and cleanup, but feel free to cover your tables in newspaper and let your fingerpainters go wild, too. If you’re like me and don’t have programming back in your library yet, consider a grab-and-go kit with some crayons or small painting sets and paper to go with a virtual storytime. Stanley is fun for everyone!

Posted in Toddler Reads

Board Books that celebrate Jewish life and community

Shabbat Shalom!, by Douglas Florian/Illustrated by Hannah Tolson, (July 2021, Candlewick Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9781536204490

Ages 0-3

An sweet, rhyming story about celebrating the Sabbath, Shabbat Shalom! shows a family heading home as the sun sets, and prepares to celebrate the Sabbath together. Wearing their best clothes and lighting the white candles, the family gathers to sing, pray, and eat dinner together. Details make this a delightful read for families, from the embroidered challah cover, with pomegranate detail and matzoh ball soup at the table, to the room the three children share, with toys strewn about the floor and art taped to the walls. A wonderful explanation about Shabbat as both family time and time for prayer.

 

We Go to Shul, by Douglas Florian/Illustrated by Hannah Tolson, (July 2021, Candlewick Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9781536204506

Ages 0-3

It’s Saturday, and this rhyming story follows a family as they head to synagogue, or shul. A family gets dressed and heads to shul, where the greet other families in their religious community, and their rabbit. Once assembled, the Torah is read, the congregation sings, and when services conclude, the family heads home to eat together. The story shows the celebration of community that attending shul brings, with families hugging and greeting one another, body language close and full of friendly affection. Boys wear kippahs and yarmulkes; some women wear head coverings and some men wear prayer shawls. A warm and inviting look into the Jewish faith.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Book Bundles: Go Fish!

I’m brainstorming book bundles for the back-to-school season, and working on reviewing new books. Why not marry my two worlds? Enjoy some fishy ideas with brand new books for the littlest learners!
Fish by Fish, by Giuliano Ferri, (Sept. 2021, mineditionUS), $11.99, ISBN: 9781662650550
Ages 0-3
Board book master Giuliano Ferri tells an hilarious story about hungry fish in his book, Fish by Fish. Using die-cuts to create interest and action, a fish spies a tiny clownfish swimming nearby, and decides it would make a perfect snack. But as it opens its mouth, a bigger fish shows up to claim the fish! Each spread includes the big fish up against an even bigger fish, until the biggest fish gets a big surprise! Progressively larger die cuts accommodate the bigger predators, and colorful adjectives expand readers’ vocabulary, using words like “gigantic”, “colossal”, and “enormous” to describe the growing fish. There’s a good anti-bullying message, and a strong message about standing together with your friends. The fish are bright, as are their underwater surroundings. Sparsely worded, big exclamations, and a funny twist ending make this a fun read-aloud or lap-read for your little ones.
Ten in a Hurry: An Interactive Colors and Counting Book for Toddlers, by Lo Cole, (Oct. 2021, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN: 9781728215952
Ages 0-3
An amusing die-cut counting board book has 10 fish, swimming in a hurry… why could they be in a such a rush ? It could be the big fish swimming up behind them, gobbling them up one by one! The final fish makes a stand against this hungry bully, with hilarious results. A funny rhyme on each page keeps the story moving; bright fish against a black background, and die-cute pages, show the hungry fish getting bigger and bigger and the colorful fish bounce around inside its belly, a colorful GULP follows each fish down the big guy’s gullet. A great read for colors and counting; the die cuts will keep little fingers busy and engaged. If you have the budget, order some squishy fish in bulk and hand them out to let readers play along.
Add a song and fingerplay sheet with some Under the Sea Songs – I’m including a link to one I made in Canva, here, if you’d like. If you are doing grab-and-go activities, consider a fish handprint craft, like this one from CraftyMorning. All you need to include is a square of colorful paper large enough to track a child’s handprint on, a craft stick, and some decorations (Googly eyes,, stick-on jewels, beads) or extra pieces of scrap paper to add fins and designs.
I am not wonderful at origami, as you can see from my library’s latest program (I’m the hopeless goofball), but this origami fish video gave me some hope. There are relatively few folds, kids can decorate and color the completed fish, and you can link to the video in your grab and go, or make your own craft video (just be kind, let them know that @Wei5432 on TikTok made this video).
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

New children’s book publisher: Red Comet Press!

I am so excited whenever a new indie publisher debuts on the scene! I just received wonderful book mail from Red Comet Press, a brand new children’s book publisher who will be sharing their books with everyone in just a few weeks! Here’s a sneak peek at what we can expect.

Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites, by Tullio Corda, (Sept. 2021, Red Comet Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781636550022

Ages 3-6

Concepts never made me laugh this hard. An orange cat and blue dog illustrate opposites in the most hilarious of ways as they go through a day of waking up, chasing one another, getting into trouble, and… being friends? Originally published in French in 2020, Taylor Barrett Gaines’s translation is spot on. Drowsy (and bored) Cat eyes sleepy Dog for Awake/Asleep; you just know what’s coming next. But the choice of Brave/Afraid is amusing and unexpected as Cat jumps on the startled Dog, whose eyes go wide, pupils as tiny pinpricks. My favorite spread? Upset and Unconcerned, which hilariously describe the action as Dog sports an overturned plant on his head as Cat blithely grooms. Fonts are in orange for Cat’s words; blue for Dog’s. A perfect combination of words and illustration, and a concept book that tells a cohesive story.

Find a free, downloadable activity cat on the publisher’s book detail page. A great beginning!

 

Before We Sleep, by Giorgio Volpe & Paolo Proietti, (Sept. 2021, Red Comet Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781636550046

Ages 4-8

Originally published in Italian in 2019, this book is a touching, beautifully illustrated story about friendship and the pain of separation. A red fox and gray dormouse are the best of friends, but as the Fall closes in and the seasons move toward Winter, Fox is sad, knowing Dormouse will be hibernating soon: “For Red, the smell of winter meant one thing: loneliness”. Fox tries to think of ways to keep Winter away so Dormouse can stay awake and with Fox, but who can hold off Nature? Agreeing to share one more story, the friends curl up together… and sleep. The storytelling is gentle, full of love and yearning; the muted colors in the artwork let Fox’s bright coat stand out beautifully against the encroaching gray of Winter. Dormouse’s tilted head and soft words show a kindness and love for a friend; body language that immediately sends a comforting signal to readers. A lovely story of friendship and the fear of separation and loss; a warm feeling of knowing that your friends will be there when you open your eyes. Think about this one for possible grief and loss resources, too.

Red Comet has a great activity kit available for download, with coloring sheets and discussion questions.

Before We Sleep has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Mister Fairy, by Morgane de Cadier/Illlustrated by Florian Page, (Sept. 2021, Red Comet Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781636550008

Ages 4-8

A forest full of animal-like fairies work their magic except for the taciturn Mister Fairy, whose spells never seem to match the other fairies. Depressed, Mister Fairy takes off to a dull, depressed city, where his seemingly backward spells are exactly what the citizens need: he adds much-needed splashes of color, tickling everyone with his wings and wand, and changing umbrellas into fluffy cotton candy. When he returns to the forest, he discovers that his friends have missed him there, too! A sweet story about embracing your talents, Mister Fairy was originally published in French in 2018 and is an empowering story about embracing your own gifts and uniqueness. Artwork reminds me a bit of Jon Klassen; the illustrations are colorful yet maintain a minimalist appeal. A fantastic back-to-school story about recognizing your own worth. Pair this one with Mister Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown.

Red Comet offers a free, downloadable activity kit for Mister Fairy. Enjoy!

 

That’s it for now – but I’ve got more to come! Welcome, Red Comet Press!

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

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Pug & Pig and Friends!

The wait is over!! After four years, Sue Lowell Gallion and Joyce Wan have reunited to give us a new installment in the Pug & Pig Chronicles. I give you…

Pug & Pig and Friends, by Sue Lowell Gallion/Illustrated by Joyce Wan,
(Aug. 2021, Beach Lane Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781534463004
Ages 3-7

Pug and Pig have worked out their differences in the first two books, so Pug & Pig and Friends begins with Pug and Pig playing in their yard with their friends, Squirrel, Robin, and Cat. Squirrel and Robin have loads of fun with the two siblings, but Cat is a different sort of friend… the “frenemy” likes to pounce on Pug when he least expects it, and it’s just not fun. When an unexpected rain shower begins, poor Cat is stuck in a tree and is too afraid to come down! Pug knows what to do to lure her down, though… Fun, friendship, and a bit of pranking are the heart of this adorable book with Joyce Wan’s too-cute artwork. Simple, short sentences describe the action and give us a gleeful group of friends. Cat is mischievous but not mean-spirited; Pug uses her penchant for pranks to help her – and get a fun bit of payback in the process.

I adore this series. It’s sweet, it’s adorable, it’s great for storytime for a broad range of kids. Happy Book Birthday, Pug & Pig and Friends!

As the daughter of a printer, Sue Lowell Gallion has a life-long love of type, paper, and the aroma of ink. She is the author of the Pug & Pig series and the picture book All Except Axle as well as a nonfiction board book, Our World: A First Book of Geography, and three books in the Tip and Tucker early reader series. Sue lives in Leawood, Kansas, with a black lab mix who provides her with daily inspiration. To learn more and download free activities for all of her books, visit suegallion.com.

Twitter:  @SueLGallion

Instagram: @suelowellgallion

 

Joyce Wan is the author and illustrator of several books for children, including Pug Meets PigPug & Pig Trick-or TreatSleepyheads,You Are My CupcakeWe Belong Together, and The Whale in My Swimming Pool. Joyce lives with her husband and daughter in New Jersey. Visit her at wanart.com.

TwitterFacebook, & Instagram: @joycewanbooks

Personalized and signed books are available at Rainy Day Books!

One lucky winner will get their own copy of Pug & Pig and Friends! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Keep the Dad Love going!

Hi all! I know I was quiet for a few days, and I apologize. I’ve been getting ready for two big graduations, and ended up letting myself get dehydrated, so last night was spent recovering on the couch and drinking a bunch of water. Note to self: Do NOT clean the garage without a few chilled bottles of water on hand; one lukewarm bottle over a few hours doesn’t do a whole lot.

But Father’s Day was yesterday! Did the Dads of all sorts have a great day? I hope you did! I have two adorable books to crow about, and a few more suggestions for dads and grandpas. Enjoy.

Cave Dada: Picky Eater, by Brandon Reese, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452179957

Ages 3-5

The follow-up to Brandon Reese’s Cave Dada (2020) is every bit as adorable and hilarious as the first. Dada and Baba are back, and Baba is hungry for an egg… but Dada isn’t sure he has an egg, which doesn’t sit too well with Baba. Poor Dada wasn’t in the mood to hunt and gather, but Baba is pretty focused on an egg.. and Dada may just discover a new way to make breakfast! From the bouncing baby wakeup to the refusal to eat anything in the pantry and fridge, parents and caregivers will laugh as they see themselves in this story. My favorite part? Right here:

This, friends, was my life story, three times in a row. When Baba doesn’t want spinach because it touched the onion? I felt that in my soul, especially because I have a 9-year-old who STILL gives me a hard time about what I lovingly refer to as “food cooties”. I love the adorable details in this book, like the cave painting door art, and Dada’s creaks and groans when he gets up. The artwork is just so much fun, with facial expressions that are perfectly spot on. Endpapers look like a warm cave interior. The story’s ending gives me hope that there will be a third installment in the Cave Dada series; I think we all need to see Cave Dada: Bathtime, don’t you?

 

 

You Be Daddy, by Karla Clark, (April 2021, Feiwel & Friends), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250225399

Ages 2-6

A tired daddy asks his son to take over daddy duties for a little while in this companion to last year’s You Be Mommy. Rhyming verse takes readers through all the things Daddy has done today, from breaking up a food fight, to household duties, to teaching the cat a trick. There’s sweet repetition interspersed with Dad’s day and with Daddy duties he’s handing off to his little one, like building a bedtime fort and lending him a night light and stuffed dinosaur. But when the day is done and it’s time for bed, Daddy is happy to take back Daddy duties and put his little guy to bed. Gentle storytelling and the repetitive phrase, “Daddy’s too tired to be Daddy tonight”, empowers children to take on the fun part of Daddying, while reassuring them that, at bedtime, Daddy’s going to be the one to tuck them in and snuggle them to sleep. The family is Asian, and subtle details like a door decoration, a koi painting, and family portraits infuse the setting with a personal and cultural feel.  The household is warm, welcoming, and will make readers feel right at home. Endpapers show he family cat snuggling and stretching around the house. An adorable celebration of dads.

 

Don’t forget to print out some fun activities from the mother of all Dada books, Jimmy Fallon’s Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada: you can match the baby animal to the sound it makes here and you can count baby ducks and “Dadas” here.

 

 

Papasaurus, by Stephan Lomp is about a fun game of hide and seek between Babysaurus and his father. As Babysaurus searches for his Papa, he asks other young dinos for their help, learning about their dads in the meantime. Available in both picture book and board book!

Channing Tatum’s The One and Only Sparkella (and Her Dad!) is the adorable story of a sparkly little girl and her father, who’s always ready to dress up and sparkle with her! Dad can don a feather boa and break out into dance moves whenever Sparkella needs a little extra glitter in her life. Written by actor/director/producer Channing Tatum for his daughter Everly, The One and Only Sparkella is an adorably fun and sweet book about being true to yourself, embracing what makes you unique, and the wisdom of Girl Dads.

Karen Hesse’s Night Shift shows a warm relationship between a father who works nights and his son, who accompanies him. The pair ride to school on the boy’s father’s motorcycle, and, as Dad works, the two share time together listening to the radio, sharing their meal, and reading together. Dad and son take care of each other in this story: Dad rouses his son and helps him get dressed to leave for work at 4 a.m., and the boy cleans out his father’s lunch box at the day’s end. A lovely story about making the most of any time you have together.

In The Bureau of Misplaced Dads, a boy has to recover his misplaced father at a municipal building where Dads of all shapes, sizes, and quirks, await their kids. Played for laughs, there are strongman dads, dads named Michael, clueless dads, and dancing dads all wait to be claimed, striking silly poses and wearing crazy costumes, all hoping to get their child’s attention.

A boy and his father work together to build a tree fort in Jessica Scott Kerrin’s The Better Tree Fort. After moving into a new home, a boy named Russell and his father decide that the giant maple tree in their yard is the perfect project to work on together. A story about quality versus quantity, Russell and his father share time together as they build the fort and plan their sleepover; a contrast to the luxury treehouse being built down the block.

Elizabeth Zunon’s Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family touches on how our parents’ parents can sometimes be a larger-than-life, almost mythical figure. A girl and her father bake a cake and reminisce about “Grandpa Cacao” – her father’s father – and his life working on a cacao farm on the African Ivory Coast. Grandpa Cacao appears as a pale image, illustrating his existence as part of the girl’s imagination as she fits him into the landscape. Inspired by the author’s own “Grandpa Cacao”, the story links generations and celebrates the joy of creating together and uniting families.

Around the Table That Grandad Built by Melanie Hauser HIll is an adorable, multicultural cumulative story along the lines of The House That Jack Built. A family assembles for a celebration at a table built by Granddad, but everyone has a part in this meal: cousins gather sunflowers; Mom’s sewn napkins go with the dishes and the glasses come from Mom and Dad’s wedding; flatware comes from Dad’s grandma, and the family cooks a huge meal together, with squash, tamales, samosas, and other tasty fare.

In Leonid Gore’s When I Grow Up, a little boy asks his father what he will be when he grows up, and looks at the world around him for ideas. A raindrop tells him he could be “like me” and become the fastest river; a green sprout, the tallest tree; a caterpillar, the most colorful butterfly in the meadow. As the boy paints the images he sees around him, he ultimately makes his own decision: he will be like his dad. Die-cut images transition spreads from one to the next, making this a great touch-and-feel book to explore.

A young crow learns that his own song is beautiful in Marit Menzin’s A Song for Papa Crow. Little Crow loves to sing, but the other birds complain about his caw. Papa Crow reassures him, telling him that always knows where to find him when he follows his song, but it’s The Amazing Mockingbird that convinces Little Crow that singing your own song is the best song of all.

Kathleen T. Pelly’s Happy Papas gives love to dads in both the animal and human world, taking readers through a Happy Papas kind of day: as the sun pops up; as the sun sails high; as the clouds and sun play peek-a-boo; as the shadows gather, and finally, as the moon blooms. Otter dads, meerkat dads, tiger dads, and all sorts of human dads celebrate the day-to-day joys of fatherhood as they play, protect, cook for, and cuddle their little ones.

Grandparents and grandkids enjoy some quality time in JoowonOh’s Our Favorite Day. Grandpa has a routine he keeps to, but Thursday is the best day of the week: it’s Grandpa’s day with his granddaughter! Grandpa chooses some crafting materials at a craft shop on his trip to town, gets two orders of dumplings to go, picks some flowers, and is ready to greet his granddaughter with a hug when she bounds out of the car! Together, the two enjoy their lunch, make a kite, and head out to fly it. Our Favorite Day is all about the mutual benefits of a multigenerational relationship.

Beth Raisner Glass’s Blue Ribbon Dad gives dad an actual prize: a Number 1 Dad ribbon! A young squirrel counts down the hours until dad gets home from work, crafting a project to have ready for him when he gets there. He thinks of everything he does with his father, and all the things his Dad does for him, and presents his father with a blue ribbon when he gets home.

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Grow Love, Share Love: Oscar’s Tower of Flowers

Oscar’s Tower of Flowers, by Lauren Tobia, (May 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217773

Ages 2-6

In this wordless book, a little boy named Oscar stays with his Nana when his mother goes away. He finds joy in planting with his grandmother, who takes him to the store to buy some seeds. Oscar’s green thumb proves to be pretty impressive, and Nana’s home quickly becomes covered in green! Oscar has an idea: share his love with others in Nana’s building! He loads up a red wagon with plants, and shares them with his grandmother’s neighbors throughout the building, spreading the joy he experienced while growing them all. When Mom returns, he happily sits on her lap, sharing some together time with Mom and Nana. Mixed media artwork beautifully tells this story, beginning with the endpapers: an apartment building bustles with people as Nana seems to wave to someone off in the distance; the back endpapers show a happier bunch of neighbors, with all of Oscar’s greenery decorating homes and the building’s roof, which appears to have added an apiary, too! The artwork is gentle, soft, loving.

As a mom of a certain age, I was relieved to see Nana looking so young! But don’t relegate yourself to the woman being Nana. There’s nowhere in the book that says so, and to be honest, until I read other reviews and the blurb text online, I thought the other woman was Mom’s partner. Flap copy says, “When someone Oscar loves has to go away on a trip, he tries to find ways to stay busy. With some grown-up help, a red wagon, and his favorite toy, Oscar plants all kinds of flowers and waits for them to grow”. You want Oscar to have two mommies? Oscar can have two mommies. The heart of the story is Oscar’s kind heart and his joy in cultivating plants to share. Keep a copy of this in your daycare/after school collections for littles who miss their parents when they go to work.

Oscar’s Tower of Flowers has a starred review from Kirkus. Visit Lauren Tobia’s website to see more of her work on Oscar’s Tower of Flowers and her work on one of my favorite chapter book series, Anna Hibiscus.