Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Do you live with a Wakey Bird?

Wakey Birds: Will They Ever Sleep?, by Maddie Frost, (Jan. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536215465

Ages 2-6

All the animals in the jungle are asleep… except for The Wakey Bird. Kids and grownups will recognize the Wakey Bird right away: “they can’t get comfortable, they’re easily spooked, they have lots of BIG thoughts”… they left out the part about wanting a glass of water and then having to go to the bathroom, but to each Wakey Bird their own. Soothing Shushers and Go-to-Sleep Leapers try to get the birds back to sleep, but the littlest Wakey Bird is still up and raring to go, and decides to wake the others up for company, including the Shrieking Monkey! What happens when Wakey wakes up… the Dreaded Jungle Beast? Adorably fun and so very relatable, this is a perfect bedtime story for your own Wakey Birds. Maddie Frost’s mixed media and digital collage artwork make for colorful animals set off against the midnight blues and blacks of the nighttime jungle. A new bedtime classic in the making. Fun grab-and-go idea: cut different shapes out of colorful construction paper, add some feathers and googly eyes, and let your Library Kiddos make their own Wakey Bird companion.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board books introduce MLK Jr and Rosa Parks to young readers

The Story of Martin Luther King Jr., by Johnny Ray Moore,
(Jan. 2021, Worthy Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781546034421
Ages 0-3

Simple text and artwork bring this biography of Martin Luther King Jr. to life for the youngest learners while addressing issues of inequity and racism that laid the groundwork for his activism – and that some adults may recognize today. The story tells readers, in brief, easy-to-understand sentences and companion illustrations, how Dr. King grew up, became a minister, and was motivated by all he saw and endured to work toward equality and ending segregation in America.

The Story of Rosa Parks, by Patricia A. Pingry/Illustrated by Steven Walker,
(Jan. 2021, Worthy Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781546034438
Ages 0-3
The Story of Rosa Parks introduces young learners to the civil rights icon’s childhood, leading to the moment that she made her historic stand on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The book shines a light on how that act, and the events that followed were a defining moment in the civil rights moment. Display and booktalk with books like A is for Activist, Antiracist Baby, and books featured on both the Social Justice Books and Act for Social Justice websites.
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Shhh explores the background noise of our day

Shhh, by Fred Paronuzzi/Illustrated by Mariana Ruiz Johnson (Feb. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764361067

Ages 2-6

This mostly wordless book contains all the ambience noise that provides the soundtrack to our days: from the “brrrring brrrring” of an alarm clock, the “plop!” of a morning tea bag and the “pop!” of the toaster, through the “blah, blah, blah” and “rumble” of street sounds, a child and their family go through their day; at night, the child opens a book and, in the quiet, their imagination is unleashed. Splashed across a dark spread, the child’s imagination gives rise to mermaids, volcanoes, exotic foliage, and more. A tip of the hat to our everyday hustle and bustle and the unexpected moment when we open a book and are swept into a magical world of our own, Shhh is a story of everyday magic. The artwork is cheery, colorful, and moves across the spreads, giving a feeling of motion to go with the sounds. A fun book to invite toddlers and preschoolers to chime in with their own everyday stories and sounds.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Cover Reveal: YES & NO by Elisha Cooper

How adorable is this new cover for Elisha Cooper’s new book, Yes & No?

Yes & No, by Elisha Cooper, (April, 2021, Roaring Brook Press),
$18.99, ISBN: 9781250257338
Ages 2-6

Elisha Cooper is the critically acclaimed author/illustrator of many children’s books, including Caldecott Honor-winning BIG CAT, LITTLE CAT. This new story is a timeless tale of friendship, adjusting your perspective, and the joys (and trials) of siblinghood.

As a mother of three children, a dog, and a cat, I can tell you that sibling relationships cross species lines. Reading the sneak peek at Macmillan’s website, I realized it, and you will, too, with chuckles and grins. Visit the book’s page at Macmillan’s site for yourself – Elisha Cooper’s artwork is always a joy to see.

Posted in Toddler Reads

Blog Tour and Author Interview: The Lovely Haze of Baby Days!

The Lovely Haze of Baby Days, by Lindsay Kellar-Madsen/Illustrated by Mie Frey Damgaard, (Jan. 2021, Little Otter Press), $14.99, ISBN: 978-87-972507-0-9

Ages Birth-3

This lovely board book is a tribute to those heady, often hazy days that moms and caregivers often experience when babies enter their lives. Rhyming verse embraces both the wonderful and the challenging moments of parenthood, from the sheer awe (“I’ll forfeit sleep to watch you breathing”) to the wonderful forgetfulness our babies’ incredible cuteness instills in us (“Drooling, spit-up, purèed fruit, but oh my goodness, aren’t you cute?”). Lindsay Kellar-Madsen speaks from her heart to parents everywhere when she writes about the isolation; the time simultaneously crawling and flying by; unwanted advice from seemingly everyone one encounters, and the life-saving power of mom friends. Mie Frey Damgaard’s gentle artwork communicates the intensity of Ms. Kellar-Madsen’s emotions through gentle, loving illustrations of mothers and babies. A touching story of motherhood that lets moms know we’re not alone. The Lovely Haze of Baby Days was a successful Kickstarter and is available on the author’s website, along with free downloadable resources for new parents, including a nap scheduler.

Lindsay Keller-Madsen was kind enough to let me ask her a few questions about her new book: read on!

MomReadIt: Were you inspired by your own motherhood journey to write The Lovely Haze of Baby Days?

Lindsay Kellar-Madsen: I wrote the first draft of this book about 5 months postpartum after the birth of my twin girls. I was overwhelmed, and hearing stories of my friends who had struggled too. I found myself searching for a way to be honest about what life with babies really looks like, and to support the women I cared about.

As I spent time sitting on the floor reading with my little ones, I started wondering if there was a way through children’s literature to playfully depict our everyday life for little ones, while also sending an important message to mothers.Rhyme is such a fun and dynamic way to communicate, it’s also a great way to teach the rhythm of words and sentences to little ones. I had a lot of fun showcasing everyday moments of mothers with babies in a way that would support early language development!

As the words came together, I could feel that I wanted to savor what my life looked like right then – The mess, the intimate love, the exhaustion, all of it. It also felt so important to remind mothers reading The Lovely Haze of Baby Days that we aren’t alone in all of that.

MRI: There are such relatable moments throughout the book, but I really appreciate your honesty about the rough times and yet, finding a kernel of joy in most of them, as with your phrase, “The longest days, the shortest years’ ‘. Were you able to see those moments at the time, or did you need some distance and reflection to realize them?

LKM: As a first time mom, I don’t think I realized how fast the moments disappear, and how quickly babies grow. There are certainly sleep-deprived times remind myself to cherish these days, but overall I find myself clinging desperately to these sweet little humans who charge around my house!

All of that said, I do think it’s important to preserve some space for yourself. At least for me, I am a more enthusiastic and dedicated parent if I schedule in time for my own interests or just a bit of time to be ALONE each week, and don’t spend every minute in mom-mode.

MRI: Thanks for including mom friendships in your book! I loved that you “thanked goodness” for other mamas, too. Did you find friendships with other moms helped you through some of the rough times of those early baby days/weeks/months?

LKM: My friendships with other moms have been a saving grace. Life with a baby can feel so lonely and isolated, and having women you can connect with any morning (or night!)  is an enormous sense of support.

I am eternally grateful for the women in my life who have supported me in my transition to motherhood, and every day since. While this book has focused on the women who are in the trenches wandering through early motherhood alongside us, my gratitude also runs deeply for my own mom, and the women who have wandered through motherhood before.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Little Box of Emotions: Great for communication, great when kids struggle to find the words

Little Box of Emotions: Matching and Memory Cards, by Louison Nielman , illustrated by Marie Paruit, (July 2020, Schiffer Kids), $19.99, ISBN: 9780764358975

Ages 2+

Twenty-four cards with colorful and expressive animals and items make for a memory game and teaching tool. A 32-page guide book explains represented emotions and offers some game ideas, from matching colors to memory games. What I appreciated most is the opportunity to use these cards to teach children how to recognize emotions in themselves and others; to use these cards to define what they may not have had the words to describe before. I work in a community of English language learners; for me, having cards like this available to my kids is great: when we reopen, I would use these in storytimes to deep dive into emotions experienced by different characters; I’d leave the box by my desk, so anyone wanting to talk to me without having the words, regardless of language capability, can use these little cards to communicate feelings and thoughts. They’re a good choice to have available for toddlers, who are learning more and more words by the day, and experiencing very big emotions that may scare or frustrate them. It makes for a fun game for parents and children to play together, and the adorable animals are eye-catching and colorful. Consider making some crib notes for yourself, describing these emotions in different languages to help language learners get a firmer foot in their two worlds. For those of us with big infant populations, have some baby sign language books around to enhance language, and make yourself familiar with ASL signs for emotions.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Everyone has bad days!

Mr. Brown’s Bad Day, by Lou Peacock/Illustrated by Alison Friend, (Nov. 2020, Nosy Crow), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536214369

Ages 2-5

Mr. Brown is a tiger with a Very Important Job; as such, he has a Very Important Briefcase that he carries with him at all times. Mr. Brown’s briefcase goes on a big adventure during a lunch in the park one day, and our poor friend is forced to chase it all over town! What can possibly be so important in the Very Important Briefcase? No matter how big you get, or how Very Important you may be, some things are just non-negotiable. Mr. Brown is a friendly-faced lion, and the colorful mixed media illustrations show his madcap day; he starts off in a pin-striped suit, but ends up bedraggled, shirt sleeves rolled up, tie askew, jacket completely missing. The repeated “fortunately” and “unfortunately” phrases invite kids to predict whether something good or bad is about to happen. A fun adventure and a fun storytime; pair with stories like Peter Brown’s Mr. Tiger Goes Wild and Aliki’s That’s Good, That’s Bad! for similar tiger adventures.

Mr. Brown’s Bad Day has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

More Holiday Book Joy!

More great holiday books to crow about! Let’s take a look!

The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol, by Arthur A. Levine/Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9780763697419

Ages 5-8

“Nate Gadol is a great big spirit with eyes as shiny as golden coins and a smile that is lantern bright.” He has the gift of making things last as long as they are needed, whether it’s a tiny bit of oil that needs to stretch for the eight nights of Hanukkah, or a little bit of chocolate that will be enough to give a a family like the Glasers a sweet holiday treat. He sees the Glasers and their neighbors, the O’Malleys, helping one another out all the time, sharing what little they have with one another, so when Nate spots Santa Claus having sleigh trouble on Christmas Eve, he’s happy to figure out how to stretch some holiday magic – and share a special evening with old friends and new. Author Arthur A. Levine was inspired to write this hybrid holiday tale that creates a “supplementary mythology” that has less to do with religion than with the spirit of the holiday season.An author’s note from Mr. Levine explains his inspiration, and the story is a sweet pairing of two holidays. Acyrlic artwork is rich, with lots of texture, and gold foil accents bring a magical element to life. A cheerful holiday story to have available for your readers.

Publisher Candlewick has a free, downloadable activity kit available on their website.

 

Christmas is Joy, by Emma Dodd, (Sept. 2020, Templar Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536215458

Ages 2-5

The latest in her Love You series, Emma Dodd creates another affectionate story that’s perfect for lapsits and cuddle time. Rhyming verse presents tender holiday musings: “Christmas is joy / that’s overflowing / It’s sparkling eyes / and faces glowing”. Two reindeer take in the wonder of the snow season together and in a group. Digital illustrations are gently colorful, with silver foil effects added for snowy winter magic. Emma Dodd’s books always create a quiet sense of joy when I read them; I hope they do for you, too. A nice choice for your holiday bookshelves.

 

The Worst Christmas Ever, by Kathleen Long Bostrom/Illustrated by Guy Porfirio, (Sept. 2020, Flyaway Books), $17, ISBN: 978-1947888098

Ages 5-8

Matthew is not happy when his family decides to pack up and move to California. He misses his friends, his school, and now, with Christmas coming, he misses snow! Palm trees instead of evergreen? No way! Pink Christmas trees for sale? NOPE. When Matthew’s dog, Jasper, runs away, Matthew is heartbroken and convinced that this will be the worst Christmas ever. His sister, Lucy, is sympathetic, but she is much more excited about the move than Matthew is, and he feels more alone than ever. It will take a special kind of magic during the Christmas Eve church service to save the holiday for Matthew. A story of feeling uprooted and finding the strength to believe, The Worst Christmas Ever is a holiday story with the message of the season at its heart. Illustrations are realistic and expressive, and the relationship between Matthew and Jasper comes across through the artwork. A nice story about believing in miracles for the kids this holiday.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Gift ideas for Little Kiddos

They’re going to get tons of toys, why not be the cool gift-giver that gives books? Here are some recent faves:

My Favorite Color: I Can Only Pick One?, by Aaron Becker, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Studio), $15.99, ISBN: 9781536214741

Ages 0-3

Caldecott Honor-winner Aaron Becker’s board book follow up to 2019’s You Are Light is all about choosing one’s favorite color… wait, can you choose a favorite color? Is it yellow, like the sun? Or blue, like the sea? But then again… there’s green… or pink! Yikes, how can someone have just one favorite color when there’s beautiful colors in all of nature? Aaron Becker takes readers through colors in nature, with die-cuts and small, colorful squares laid out; some translucent and beautiful to look at in the light. It’s an art book and a lovely meditation on nature; at its simplest, it’s a relatable book for any kid who’s been asked a question for which there is no one clear answer. Read and display with Mary Murphy’s What I Like Most, and, of course, You Are Light.

My Favorite Color has starred reviews from Booklist and Kirkus. Publisher Candlewick has a free, downloadable teacher’s guide with helpful tips to start a conversation.
This is a Book of Shapes, by Kenneth Kraegel, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781536207019
Ages 0-3
A laugh-out-loud concept book of shapes with curveballs thrown in, This is a Book of Shapes starts off like most concept books: A circle on one page; a statement on the other: This is a circle. The pattern follows for a few pages, and then… “This is an emu pushing a pancake wagon down a hill”. Wait, what? Perfect for those “are you paying attention?” moments, the book alternates shape statements with surreal, wacky divergences that will delight kids and grownups alike. Read as deadpan as you can – you may need to practice a few times to get there, I keep giggling as soon as I turn the page to the emu – for extra loud laughs. You can’t NOT read this for storytime. Make sure to have copies of Candlewick’s activity page handy for afterward.
1, 2, 3 Do the Dinosaur, by Michelle Robinson & Rosalind Bearshaw, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-044-7
Ages 2-5
Follow a little boy named Tom as he teaches all the dinos a new dance: The Dinosaur! Tom is a little boy dressed in dinosaur PJs, surrounded by all sorts of colorful dinosaurs as he leads them – and you! – through chomps, roars, tail swishes, and stomps. But what happens when the big T-Rex shows up? Why, you let him join in the fun, of course! The rhyming text is interactive and is perfect for storytime stomping and swishing. Colorful, friendly dinosaurs will appeal to all dino lovers. No scary ones here.  Think of Ed Emberley’s If You’re a Monster and You Know It, Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance, Kelly Starling Lyons’s One More Dino on the Floor, or Laurie Berkner’s We Are the Dinosaurs. It’s a dino dance party and your readers are invited, so let them color in some dinosaurs and take them along!
Catch that Chicken!, by Atinuke/Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212686
Ages 2-5
The latest outing from Anna Hibiscus author Atinuke and illustrator B is for Baby illustrator Angela Brooksbank is all about ingenuity. Lami is a little girl who’s the best chicken catcher in her village, but when she chases a chicken up a baobab tree and has a fall, her ankle is sprained and she needs a new way to think about catching the fiesty birds. Her Nana encourages her to think differently: “It’s not quick feet that catches chickens – it’s quick thinking”, and with a little thought, Lami has an idea: make the chickens come to her! A simple, smart way to get kids to consider alternatives, Catch That Chicken! has short sentences with lots of repetition; alliterative action words that will be fun in a story time (“Lami leans! Lami lungues! Lami leaps!”), and the colorful mixed media artwork is done in warm colors. Characters have friendly, welcoming faces and body language, and there’s a lot of movement in the pictures. A fun story for storytime and for little ones’ bookshelves.
Arlo the Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep, by Catherine Rayner, (Oct. 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-222-2
Ages 2-6
Arlo is a lion who just can’t get comfortable and fall asleep. The grass is too prickly, his family wriggles too much, he just can’t make it work and he is EXHAUSTED. Luckily, Owl is nearby and teaches Arlo a sweet relaxation exercise that soothes him right to sleep. When Arlo finally has a refreshing night’s sleep, he’s so excited that he wakes Owl to tell her… and proceeds to help Owl soothe herself back to sleep. Together, the two friends teach the trick to Arlo’s family, and everyone is happily dozing in no time. Except for Owl, who’s nocturnal. Kate Greenway Medal winner Catherine Rayner creates a sensitive bedtime story that’s perfect for teaching kids to self-soothe using visualization and deep breathing. Mixed media artwork uses soft colors, with warm landscapes and a cuddly, sleepy lion; the meditative phrase repeats throughout the story, helping little ones listen to their reader lead them into a night of pleasant dreaming. Perfect for bedtime reading, read this one slowly and guide your littles through thoughts and breathing into naptime or bedtime.
Arlo the Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep has a starred review from Kirkus. Publisher Peachtree has an excerpt and Author Q&A available on their website.
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Two more Thanksgiving Books, just in time!

I’ve got two more Thanksgiving books for the Littles, just in time for the big day on Thursday!

See, Touch, Feel: Happy Thanksgiving, by Roger Priddy (Aug. 2020, Priddy Books U.S.), $7.95, ISBN: 9781684490738

Ages 0-3

Another adorable Roger Priddy book for the littlest of Littles! See, Touch, Feel Thanksgiving is a rhyming book of gratitude for food, nature, pets, and friends, with tactile pages for little explorers to touch and feel. They can run their fingers across the ridged corn husks and nubby corn, soft and smooth textures of handpainted trees, glittery rain, and a fuzzy dog. Colorful, with photos and childlike artwork sharing space, this is a book that will be a joy to sit down with, put your Kiddo in your lap, and let them know how thankful you are for them. Use the book as inspiration, if you have paints, and let them make their own hand-stamped crafts. A sensory feast for the hands and eyes!

 

If Animals Gave Thanks, by Ann Whitford Paul/Illustrated by David Walker, (Sept. 2020, Farrar Straus & Giroux), $9.99, ISBN: 9780374388737

Ages 3-6

The latest in the If Animals… series, this rhyming story welcomes readers with colorful fall leaves across endpapers. Inside, the author wonders what different animals would give thanks for, if they could: Rabbit would give thanks for being able to hop and for his thick fur; Crow, for the sky and the ability to fly; Turtle, for his hard shell. Meanwhile, the story returns to Bear, who’s gathering ingredients to make all sorts of delicious food for his friends at a harvest table! A kind story of gratitude and friendship, it’s a gently illustrated, softly colored story with colorful sound effects that invite readers to join in with multiple readings, whether it’s a chomp-chomp, chewy-chew, or a shuf-shuffle, or a pickety-pick. Great storytime pick.