Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Creation through a child’s eyes and hands: My Hands Make the World

My Hands Make the World, by Amalia Hoffman, (May 2022, PJ Library/Harold Grinspoon Foundation), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-7365573-2-7

Ages 2-6

My Hands Make the World tells the Biblical Creation story through a child’s eyes and hands, using fingerpaint and handprints. Narrated by a child artist, My Hands Make the World begins at the beginning: “In the Beginning… My left hand dabbed. My right hand doodled”. Each spread takes readers to another day in the first week, with the child’s left and right hands creating, forming, and telling a story; from dark and light, sky and clouds, living creatures, all the way to the day of rest, colorful, cheery handprints and fingerpainted trees, animals, clouds, and skies make this a sweet retelling that invests kids – and opens the door to creative expressions where children can tell their own stories using their own hands, some paint, and some paper.

Need some creative assistance? Art for Kids has a tree template that you can use, and encourage kids to start by adding their own leaves; encourage them to add on and create fingerpaint birds, flowers, and a sun.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Get the Ear Worm and shimmy!

Ear Worm!, by Jo Knowles/Illustrated by Galia Bernstein, (Jan. 2022, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536207835

Ages 2-6

A little worm has a song stuck in his head! Where did it come from? He asks an owl, a chipmunk, a rabbit, and a fox, but they’ve all got their own songs! As they dance and sing their way across the story, Little Worm hopes to find out who put that ear worm in his head!

Ear Worm is storytime GOLD. It’s got rhyme, fun animals, dancing, and an adorable conclusion. Digital illustrations are bold, expressive, and let the animals take center stage as they pop off a bright white page, with fun, oversized fonts inviting readers to jump up and dance to their own ear worms. Think of Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance and Rebecca Emberley’s If You’re a Monster and You Know It when you’re putting your storytime together, and get up there and show the littles how it’s done! Publisher Candlewick has free teacher tips to get the maximum fun out of this story.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Sometimes Cake finds reasons to celebrate

Sometimes Cake, by Edwina Wyatt/Illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie, (Jan. 2022, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217810

Ages 2-5

A little girl named Audrey happens upon a Lion holding a balloon and asks if it’s his birthday. It isn’t, but they discover a mutual love of celebrating, so they sing songs, have cake, and give a few cheers. When Audrey finds Lion again, he seems a bit down, and claims it isn’t a day for celebrating; it’s just “an ordinary day”. To cheer him up, Audrey throws a party to celebrate ordinary days, and the two friends play, dance, and enjoy one another’s company. Sometimes Cake is about celebrating something; anything, for the pure joy of it. Pencil and ink watercolors provide a gentle, colorful look into a sweet story about joy and about lifting up friends when they could use a hand. Read this with your storytime group and invite them to make their own party hats and dance.

Sometimes Cake was originally published in Australia in 2020. Author Edwina Wyatt’s webpage offers a free downloadable storytime kit for all of her books.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Visiting neighbors, Moonlight Prances, and board books for all!

Be My Neighbor?, by Suzy Ultman, (Feb. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $15.99, ISBN: 9781452177120

Ages 2-4

Hello hello hello! A family of cats has moved into the neighborhood, but they’re still settling in, and want to bake a batch of cookies to greet their neighbors. They need a few things in order to get things underway, though: maybe you can help? Seek and find meets lift the flap in this entertaining book with a playful and chic sense of style. The cats head to each house on their block – each spread in our book – to ask for a different ingredient, letting readers play and explore the different flaps to find the ingredients. Ingredients all collected, the family heads home to bake and deliver the yummy cookies! The repetitive, introductory phrase, “Hello, hello, we are new. May we borrow *INGREDIENT* from you?” eases readers into a comfortable routine, and each animal’s home is filled with delightful little details. The cats have hanging balls of yarn as an art piece, while a panda soaks in a tub, a “nap time” tea bag submerged in the water. The horse family has a coffee table book of Horse Tales and a pony puppet theatre, and the koalas are a STEM-loving family with a lab and a Jane Goodall fan club banner (that reveals a Katherine Johnson fan club banner on the flip side). They’re so much fun, so personal with little details, that kids will turn to this one again and again. Flaps are sturdy but small, so the littlest toddlers may need someone to ease those flaps open at first. Absolute fun.

 

Moonlight Prance, by Serena Gingole Allen/Illustrated by Teagan White, (Apr. 2022, Chronicle Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781452174068

Ages 0-3

An enticing rhyming, interactive board book inspired by the author’s late night with her infant son, Moonlight Prance is a celebration of nocturnal animals that is an adorable bedtime story. Sturdy sliding panels and pull tabs let readers play with foxes and fireflies, hedgehogs and porcupines, and other adorable animals illustrated by artist and naturalist Teagan White. Pair with its companion book, Sunrise Dance, also by Serena Gingole Allen and Teagan White, publishing in April 2022, for an animal storytime that takes readers through a whole day with cheerful, playful animal friends.

Bundle and display with books like Sleepyheads, by Sandra J. Howatt and Joyce Wan; Sandra Boynton’s The Going to Bed Book, and Isabelle Simler’s Sweet Dreamers. Want to stick with the nocturnal animals theme? Mrs. Jones Creation Station has a nice list of books for you.

 

 

Sunrise Dance, by Serena Gingole Allen/Illustrated by Teagan White, (Apr. 2022, Chronicle Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781452174051

Ages 0-3

When the Moonlight Prance is over, the daytime animals wake up for a Sunrise Dance! The companion book to Moonlight Prance is every bit as interactive and playful, with daytime dwellers like shimmying salmon, dancing dragonflies, and marmots who mambo. Sliding panels, pull tabs, and movable discs let playful little explorers in on the fun as they move a group of dancing ducklings back and forth on the book’s cover, help dragonflies dance across the pond, and more. The rhyme is playful, introducing groups of animals at play, and the illustrations show the sunlight growing in strength across the spreads; starting with a pinkish sky as the sun first awakens through to a warm light that brings out the gentle color in all the animals and their surroundings. A young boy appears at the end, inviting readers to talk about what they plan to do on this bright day. Great to partner with Moonlight Prance or read alone, Sunrise Dance is a fun way to engage little learners and teach them about diurnal animals, versus the nocturnal friends they meet in books like Moonlight Dance.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Love is Everything: Father Goose does it again!

Love is Everything, by Charles Ghigna, (Nov. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764362231

Ages 3-7

Charles Ghigna’s ode to love is just what cuddle time, lapsit, and Valentine’s Day storytimes need. The poem reaffirms beliefs in everyday magic, like mornings and nights; mountains and trees, music, the seasons, and, most importantly, love. Artwork shows a little bear and bigger bear sharing time together, enjoying each other’s company, and sharing warmth and joy in the every day. Charles Ghigna begins each new line in his poetic tale with the affirmation, “I believe…” creating a sense of optimism and positivity that readers really need these days; comforting images and reassuring words come together to give young children a soothing storytime. Softly colored images of cute bears frolicking throughout nature, with uplifting verse, make this a lovely bedtime, laptime, or anytime read.

Visit Charles Ghigna’s author webpage for resources. The Poetry Foundation’s Charles Ghigna page has a biography and links to some more of his poetry.

 

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

New books for your animal fans

Animals, animals, animals, kids love books with animals. Here’s a roundup that will brighten and delight…en.

P is for Puffin: The ABCs of Uncommon Animals, by Timothy Young, (Nov. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 9780764362477

Ages 0-6

Timothy Young hits shelves with an abcedary board book that puts “uncommon animals” – E is not for Elephant here! – front and center. Each letter features an animal or two, with a sentence or two of informational text and a phonetic pronounciation guide for each animal’s name. Some letters feature two animals: P is for both Puffin and Pangolin; Q is for Quokka and Quoll. There are loads of fun facts to be discovered, like the mara, who is not a deer, but rather a large rodent that looks like a cross between a deer and a rabbit, or the shekru, which looks like a multicolored squirrel and is about twice the size of the squirrels we’re more familiar with. Acorn illustrations on each page give readers an idea of each animal’s size. The author is donating 100% of his royalties to the Wildlife Conservation Network to protect the endangered species that inspired this book! Wildlife Conservation Network protects endangered wildlife by supporting conservationists around the world to help animals and people coexist and thrive.

I’ve been a Timothy Young fan since my youngest first read and loved The Angry Little Puffin back in 2014, and I’m happy he’s still writing books and introducing readers to new animals. P is for Puffin is great to introduce new animals to the earliest learners – it’s a sturdy board book with attractive illustrations – and the book will grow with readers as they discover more detailed text.

Visit Timothy Young’s author page where you can find drawing lessons, downloadable coloring pages, and information about virtual author visits.

 

Yay for Big Brothers!, by Janet Halfmann/Illustrated by Shennen Bersani, (Nov. 2021, Arbordale Publishing), $10.95, ISBN: 9781643518220

Ages 4-8

Big brothers are the best, aren’t they? In the animal world, big brothers are pretty great, too: Yay for Big Brothers is all about animal big brothers, and how they help their families by doing all sorts of things, like helping feed them at meal time; helping carry little siblings around; playing, and helping keep them safe and out of trouble. Thought-provoking questions invite readers to chime in with how they help out with their families and their littlest members, be it a younger sibling, cousin, or family friend. Photorealistic artwork  shows a variety of animal families and Janet Halfmann puts the narration in each animal’s paws, letting each big brother contribute how he helps care for his little siblings. A fun way to talk about animal jobs and animal families that younger learners will enjoy. View a preview PDF at Arbordale’s website; find the back matter Creative Minds supplement here, and visit Janet Halfmann’s author website to find a free printable activity.

 

 

The Pangolin Revelation, by Lori Schildwachter/Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein, (Nov. 2021, Arbordale Publishing), $10.95, ISBN: 9781643519791

Ages 4-9

I love all the pangolin love in books lately! The Pangolin Revelation is a fun story about school projects and how the pangolin is the ultimate animal mashup. Loran is a student with an assignment: write a report about your favorite animal, or create an imaginary animal. Loran sets out to create an imaginary animal with scales like a dragon or a fish, to protect it from predators; a long, sticky tongue, like an anteater, to help him eat; the ability to climb trees, like a squirrel, but with a prehensile tail, like a monkey. After listing all the parts to his imaginary creature, Loran realizes that this mega-mashup is a real animal: it’s a pangolin! Framed within a school project plotline, The Pangolin Revelation unfolds as a research project with a surprise ending, keeping readers entertained as they imagine their own mashup animals. (Psst… all you need is construction paper and crayons, pencils, or markers to recreate this as a program). Earth-colored illustration and photorealistic animal artwork. A fun meeting of nonfiction and fiction.

 

Wild Animal ABC, by PJ Rankin Hults, (Nov. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764361197

Ages 5-8

A rhyming ABCecdary that’s got a whimsical spirit and plenty of fun, Wild Animal ABC, like P is for Puffin, is all about teaching kids the alphabet using letters, but each of these animals has a very distinctive personality and hat to go with it: “Chester the Chipmunk / Is a curious guy. / He loves to explore / And always asks, ‘Why?'” “Vinny the Vulture / Likes his dictionary. / He won his class spelling bee / With his vast vocabulary”. Watercolor paintings of each animal, in decorative frames, add a quirky, playful feel to the story. The glossary at the end includes facts about each animal mentioned, and a thought-provoking question to get kids talking. A Who Am I? game lets kids think about different hats and the purposes they serve, from a wizard’s hat to a birthday hat. The endpapers show all different accessories that kids can go back and look for throughout the book, and you can ask littles to spot animals or habitats on the cover.

 

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Going Outside board books introduce concepts in nature

Going Outside: Look, by Amy Huntington, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 9781684642465

Ages 0-3

This new concept board book series invites readers to mindfully explore their world, concentrating on their senses.  In Look, a toddler and her parent help rehabilitate an urban space, creating a community garden where there was once litter and neglect: “Bags of paper, bottles, cans, / Bits of plastic, shards of glass. / Friends and neighbors, pitching in. / Look, what can you see?” Spreads show the community working together to clean up the area, boxing up garbage and tending to the land, planting and watering the earth, creating a welcoming garden. The artwork moves from a darker, almost gloomy cityscape to a warm, green space that local wildlife returns to, with gentle repetition to encourage readers to point out what they see on each spread. Ask your littles what they see and how it differs from the previous spread: are there more plants? Less junk and litter? Notice how the cityscape fades further into the background as the garden – the focus of the story – grows and flourishes. The toddler and her parent are brown-skinned; the community is diverse.

Download a coloring page for Look from publisher Kane Miller and have them ready to hand out.

 

 

Going Outside: Listen, by Amy Huntington, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 9781684642472

Ages 0-3

The companion book to Look, Listen follows a toddler and his parent as they go on a nature walk on a rainy day. The focus here in on the sounds around the two: “Winds whisper. Winds whoosh. / Rain pitters, patters, pours, / Through the leaves. / Listen, what can you hear?” The fonts play with language, stretching and bending to elicit sounds from readers. The repetitive question, “What can you hear?” invites readers to think about what the characters must be hearing, based on the verse, or even what they themselves hear in their environments. This is a great book to read twice in a seating if you can manage it: ask your readers to close their eyes and listen to a reading first, asking them, to form a picture in their minds of walking through a woodsy area on a rainy day. Animals add to the soundscape on each spread, as deer sniff, moles scratch, birds tweet, and frogs croak. The parent and child are people of color. Watercolor illustrations create a peaceful landscape and foster a love for nature.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Amy Huntington has planned for our other touch, taste, and smell! Download a coloring page for Listen at Kane Miller’s webpage.

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board books make great stocking stuffers!

They’re portable, they’re sturdy, they fit in a stocking as easily as they do a purse or a toddler’s hands: board books are great gifts!

The Sun Shines on the Sea, by Michael Slack, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $9.99, ISBN: 9781536215694

Ages 3-5

The gentlest way to introduce the concept of the food chain to preschoolers, The Sun Shines on the Sea is a lift-the-flap board book that lets the flaps do the talking. While the sun shines on the sea, phytoplankton grow, and hungry krill snack on the phytoplankton as they soak up the sun, and that’s where the flaps take over: the story makes reference to a predator moving, swirling, and gliding past, and flaps reveal what’s in their bellies: “A shoal of fish swirls around the krill”, and a flap reveals a krill in a fish’s tummy. The story is factual, easy to understand, and begins and ends with the sun shining on the sea. The digital artwork is colorful, the sea life are kid-friendly, and the flaps are sturdy.

If you’re using this in an underwater story time, this is a great time to sing “Slippery Fish” and use some flannels. I really like this recycled cardboard aquarium craft, and you can easily make it a grab and go. Don’t have a cheese box? Trim some cardboard from cereal boxes, glue into a circle, and back it with construction paper.

 

Where’s Brian’s Bottom? A Veeeerrrry Long Fold-Out Book, by Rob Jones, (Oct. 2021, Pavilion), $9.95, ISBN: 9781843654667

Ages 0-3

Weiner dog fans will love this hilarious fold-out book. Brian is a dachshund who can’t find his bottom! Readers can help him as they unfold the book to search through five rooms, meeting a variety of Brian’s acquaintances to help with the search. The concertina book folds out into over 6 feet of Brian, and takes readers through different rooms of the house, his body streeeeetching along the way. Kids can identify different rooms, animals, and sounds, and repetitive questions invites readers to chime in. The endpaper at the front of the book features a wall of framed photos – Brian, naturally, takes up two frames – with animals that readers will meet during the course of the story. Each side that folds out tells a different story: one takes place during the day, one at night, with different events that you can invite readers to tell you about. The bold, cartoon artwork is eye-catching, and readers will love discovering something new with every turn of the flap. Absolute fun.

Where is Brian’s Bottom? is the first in a board book concertina series from Pavilion; I’ll be keeping an eye out for more.

 

 

 

Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth, by Emily Haynes & Sanjay Patel, (Aug. 2021, Chronicle Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9781797212524

Ages 3-5

I was so excited to see a board book release for one of my favorite picture books, Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth! The story of how Hindu god Ganesha and the poet Vyasa create the great epic, The Mahabharata, translates beautifully to board book. The illustrations are colorful, vibrant, and eye-catching; the storytelling pace works in this format, and the author’s note at the end explains the story behind the story: how Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth isn’t a literal retelling of the classic legend, but more of a kid-friendly reimagining that kids can relate to, like breaking a tooth on a jawbreaker sweet and learning to channel a meltdown into something more productive.

Publisher Chronicle has a Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth activity kit, with a coloring sheet and fill-in-the-blank epic poem.

 

 

Dog’s First Baby, by Natalie Nelson, (Oct. 2021, Quirk Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781683692799

Ages 2-5

Told from a dog’s point of view, Dog’s First Baby is a board book with a fun spin on things as a family dog discovers someone new joining the household: a baby. Dog isn’t sure whether or not to be thrilled with this latest development, as baby’s front paws pull his ears and hurt; with time, though Dog sees that maybe the two aren’t so different after all: they both howl; they both like to play tug-of-war; they both enjoy a good stretch, and baby sure likes to share food, and, as Dog says, “I admire this”. A great book for new parents who may be getting ready or are in the early stages of introducing a new baby and a dog, Dog’s First Baby embraces the chaos of those early months: Baby dropping food all over the floor (which Dog happily cleans up); Baby and Dog howling and wailing together; Baby attempting to ride Dog; Baby and Dog making messes together. The book also captures those moments that are worth every mess: Baby asleep on Dog’s flank; the two sitting in a chair together, and Dog’s quiet presence whenever Baby is near, whether they’re walking together or sleeping in the same room. Deep, rich colors and textured lighter colors make this a beautiful book to look through.

Quirk and Natalie Nelson have a companion book, Cat’s First Baby, coming in March 2022. I can’t wait! In the meantime, this is a perfect storytime book and gift book. There’s a free, downloadable activity kit available, too.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Vroom, Vroom! Books about trucks for Christmas!

Construction Site: Merry and Bright (A Christmas Lift-the-Flap Book), by Sherri Duskey Rinker and AG Ford, (Nov. 2021, Chronicle Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781797204291

Ages 0-3

The Construction Site gang are getting ready for Christmas in this rhyming lift-the-flap ode to Christmas. It’s Christmas Eve in the big construction yard, and with all the day’s work done, there’s only one more thing for the truck friends to do: decorate for Christmas! Each truck has a special job, and sturdy flaps let little learners help with some of the heavy lifting: help Excavator put a star on the tree, and give Dump Truck an assist with unloading presents. When all the work is done, there’s only one thing left to do: go to sleep and wait for Christmas morning. You know the artwork, you know the rhyme scheme; Sherri Duskey Rinker and AG Ford know what their readers love, and deliver once again. Construction Site: Merry and Bright captures the fun and expectation of getting ready for Christmas, and their message about teamwork shines through. It’s a great holiday read-aloud and a Christmas Eve storytime.

 

20 Big Trucks in the Middle of Christmas, by Mark Lee/Illustrated by Kurt Cyrus, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536212532

Ages 3-7

20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street (2013) team Mark Lee and Kurt Cyrus join forces for a rhyming story about the 20 big trucks preparing for Christmas. Starting with a donut truck arriving in a snowy town, the story builds as other trucks arrive for a Christmas celebration: snowplows clear the area so another truck can bring in a giant tree; a truck arrives with a band and a dancing snowman; a flatbed carries Santa’s sleigh. Trucks arrive, all bringing something new for the celebration, and a minor crisis calls for some quick thinking to save the day! A fun counting book, 20 Big Trucks in the Middle of Christmas also features great rhyming for a fun read-aloud and a story about teamwork and how to work with a backup situation. Kids will enjoy the photorealistic trucks and people, letting them put themselves into the story.

Have donut coloring sheets ready for a post-storytime activity along with Christmas tree coloring sheets and truck coloring sheets.

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

Guess the birdie! Who is Singing?

Who is Singing?, by Janet Halfmann/Illustrated by Chrissy Chabot, (July 2021, Pen It! Publications), $20.99, ISBN: 978-1954868373

Ages 2-6

Take a walk and listen on any given day, and you’ll hear a cacophony of birds: tweets, chirps, screeches, and coos abound; even city kids can hear a dove coo, a pigeon scold, and a blue jay (like the one who likes to argue with the squirrels, right outside my window). Who is Singing? is author Janet Halfmann’s tribute to some colorful, musical birds, all identifiable by their songs. Using each bird’s defining song, repetitive verse, and a noticeable characteristic for each bird, Janet Halfmann introduces readers to the gentle art of bird-watching and bird-listening, giving readers 11 fairly familiar birds to start out with. You’ll recognize pigeons, “begging for treats along a city sidewalk”; “bully loud and bold” blue jays screaming; cheery chick-a-dees, “dressed up for dinner in a black cap and bib”, and more. Ms. Halfmann encourages the birds to “take a bow”, making for a fun readaloud where you can invite your littles to take a bow – or let a bird puppet or flannel take their own bows when you announce them, too.

Chrissy Chabot’s illustrations are bright and lovely, photorealistic birds that will help readers more easily spot and identify them the next time they’re out and about. A lovely little story to read out loud, and works well with a lapsit. Print out some coloring pages and let the kiddos envision their own colorful birds and make some music of their own!