Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

B is for… Beautiful Baby Book!

B is for Baby, by Atinuke/Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536201666

Ages 0-5

An adorable baby gives her grandfather and older brother a surprise visit in this adorable book of words, all featuring the letter B. Baby climbs into a basket full of bananas for a little nibble, but big brother puts the basket on his bicycle and goes on a bumpy trip to their Baba’s. Brother rides across the African landscape, where readers can see baobab trees, birds and butterflies, bougainvillea flowers, and buses and bridges, until they reach Baba’s home. When Baby pops out of the basket, it’s a happy surprise! Baba brings his grandchildren inside for some biscuits and cuddling, and Brother rides home and returns Baby to Mama’s arms.

I love Atinuke’s Anna Hisbicus books and her wonderful stories about African daily life. B is for Baby is another glimpse at family life, this time, aimed at younger children and early readers. Angela Brooksbank, who worked with Atinuke on Baby Goes To Market, introducing readers to a West African market. The mixed media artwork is sweet, loaded with hugs and cuddles, and lovely nature landscapes. What a fun way to introduce new readers to the letter B!

B is for Baby has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

February Picture Books: little elephants, fabulous females, and being your own self!

The Smallest Elephant in the World, by Alvin Tresselt/Illustrated by Milton Glaser, (Feb. 2019, Enchanted Lion), $16.95, ISBN: 9781592702619

Ages 4-8

Originally published in 1959, The Smallest Elephant in the World is back in hardcover! A small elephant, no bigger than a housecat, leaves the jungle to get away from the bullies who make fun of him. He ends up in the care of a boy named Arnold, whose mother does NOT want an elephant for a house pet. Arnold tries some creative fudging to convince his mother otherwise, but Mom’s not fooled that easily. Where will the Smallest Elephant find a home?

This adorable story about friendship and finding one’s own place in the world is as relevant and sweet today as it was when it was released 60 years ago. Milton Glaser’s vintage illustration is bold, with bright oranges and greens standing out against the black and white page backgrounds. The elephant’s face is expressive; sweet and friendly, and he’s adorably tiny when shown in scale.

The Smallest Elephant in the World brings a nice touch of our childhoods back to our children’s collections. Gen X kids like me will fondly remember the art and silly-sweet storytelling, and pass that love onto a new generation. Let your kiddos draw their own tiny elephants, and give them things to measure against: a book, a shelf, a ruler, or your foot!

 

A is for Awesome! 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World, by Eva Chen/Illustrated by Derek Desierto, (Feb. 2019, Feiwel & Friends), $9.99, ISBN: 9781250215994

Ages 2-5

An Instagram star and creator of Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes spotlights outstanding women in this abcedary. Juno Valentine is our guide, introducing readers to some of her favorite “sheroes”. There are standard favorites here: Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, and Malala are all here, side by side with feminist figures like megastar Beyonce, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dorothy Hodgkin, fashion icon Iris Apfel, and author Ursula K. LeGuin. There’s a mirror here for “X, Y, Z: the Extraordinary You, and the Zillions of brilliant, brave adventures you will have”, which makes for big fun during storytime. Collage artwork is bright and textured, with differing fabrics and hairstyles. The addition of Roman goddess Venus feels a little off, but every other featured female is flesh and blood real, and the grouping has a nice diversity. Each woman has a one-line description; some have quotes attributed to them.

I love a good board book, and this one makes my cut. Add this in time for National Women’s in March, and plan your storytimes now.

Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon, by JonArno Lawson/Illustrated by Nahid Kazemi, (Feb. 2019, Enchanted Lion), $17.95, ISBN: 9781592702626

Ages 4-8

A long-legged white bird doesn’t feel like he fits in with his flock, but feels a connection when making eye contact with a little girl. The bird ponders his existence and explores the human world, not noticing until the snow falls that his flock has migrated without him. He catches up with his flock and they sit together on a rooftop, “alone and together, over the rooftops, and under the moon”.

I’ll be honest, I had to read this one a few times to really get it. It’s very open to interpretation, and while the gist of the story is about a bird who isn’t sure about his relationship to himself and within his community, I’ve seen other picture books handle this in a more linear fashion. and I’m not sure that little ones will get it. Some of the text gets lost in the mixed media collage artwork, which could impede a readaloud. The collage artwork tells the story in surreal, dreamlike fashion, which may be the best way to get the message of this story across: the bird feels alone, connects with humans, explores, and ultimately, finds peace within himself and within his community. It’s a beautiful message to communicate to younger children who are starting to socialize in groups and may feel out of place; it’s also a strong message to older children, who can break down the introspective message here. I’d love to see this as a school-wide readalong in elementary schools that still have them, so kids from K-5 can each take a turn at deciphering its meaning to them as individuals.

It’s an interesting book that may take a few reads to unpack, but worth it for the discussions that can follow.

 

What If? What Makes You Different Makes You Amazing!, by Sandra Magsamen, (Feb. 2019, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $10.99, ISBN: 9781492637103

Ages 0-4

“What if your hair was big and orange and really bright? What if one eye was green and the other eye was blue as night?” The rhyming text takes readers through all sorts of ways we can stand out from the crowd, with adorable illustrations – a purple lamb, a swaying monkey – and extols the virtues of individuality. The text assures readers that being different is special, and good for you: it can give your spirit a lift; it would be dull if everyone were the same. Sandra Magsamen embraces uniqueness, and makes sure her readers do, too, pointing out how being different can help in certain situations. After all, someone quiet can be a big help when putting a bandage on an injured crocodile. Pair this with Todd Parr’s books, especially It’s Okay to Be Different and Be Who You Are, for a feel-good readaloud. The artwork is colorful, never overpowering, with upbeat, yet calming colors and bold outlines.  What If? is a cute picture book for collections where Todd Parr does well.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Not Yet, Zebra! is a study in the alphabet and patience

Not Yet, Zebra!, by Lou Kuenzler/Illustrated by Julia Woolf, (June 2018, Faber & Faber), $16.95, ISBN: 978-0-571-34288-4

Recommended for readers 3-5

Little Annie wants to paint the alphabet, so her animal friends line up in alphabetical order. Except for Zebra, whose impatience results in adorable hijinks. This sweet rhyming alphabet story wanders through animal ABCs: aardvarks and bears, elephants and flamingos, gorillas and hamsters; Zebra pops up throughout the story, trying to pass for an earlier letter in the alphabet by donning animal disguises. When Annie finally gets to Z, poor Zebra is fast asleep! Well… tomorrow is another day, right, Zebra?

This is an adorable abecedary for preschoolers and kindergarteners, who will relate to the impatience of having to wait one’s turn. Zebra gives the saddest eyes, the nudgiest nudges, and the most creative disguises, all in an attempt to wheedle his way to the front of the line, but Annie catches our wily friend every time. This one’s fun to read aloud, and would make a great companion to my other favorite impatient friend, The Pigeon.

The endpapers feature our Zebra friend, contorting himself into all the letters in the alphabet, and the artwork is colorful and cartoony, nicely set against the subdued background pages. I’m always up for a good concept book for my collection; something that gets the ideas covered, but with a little fun; something that brings some personality to the narrative. Not Yet, Zebra brings the giggles, for sure.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Oscar the Grouch gets messy! And a giveaway!

Oscar the Grouch is tired of ABC books full of nice, cute things! He wants a messy alphabet, and he wants your little readers to help him! Put Me in the Story’s newest Sesame Street book, The Messy Alphabet Book, is filled with messy rhyming fun from A to Z: “A is for applesauce, dripped down a wall/B is for birthday cake, wrecked by a ball/C is for cookies, all covered in goo/D is for doughnuts, all frosted with glue”. Cookie Monster, Elmo, Ernie, Abby Cadabby (who tries to sneak some nice stuff in), and even Slimy the Worm join in the fun, but the best part of the story is your little one; add his or her picture and name to the story to make your little reader join Oscar and friends. You’ll see drawings attributed to your child hanging on the walls in the story, and the Sesame Street gang will engage your reader with questions and an invitation to make a mess or his or her own!

The Put Me in the Story books are made so well, with sturdy pages and adorable artwork. I’ve been part of several Put Me in the Story book tours, and I’m always thrilled with the care and style put into their books. They make great gifts that last, and a good ABC book is always a welcome addition to toddler and preschooler bookshelves.

You’ve got a chance to win your own Sesame Street personalized book bundle, including personalized copies of The Messy Alphabet Book, Sesame Street: Just One You!, Sesame Street: I Love You Just Like This!, Sesame Street: Let’s Make a Friend, and an Elmo plush toy! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win:

Sesame Street: Messy Alphabet Book ($34.99 hardcover personalized book, $19.99 paperback personalized book)
Oscar the Grouch and his Sesame Street friends teach your child their ABCs by splashing and crashing their way through the alphabet together!

Sesame Street: Just One You! ($34.99 hardcover personalized book, $19.99 paperback personalized book)
All your favorite Sesame Street friends have gathered together to celebrate YOU!

Show your little star how special they truly are—with the help of Elmo, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, and more!

There’s nobody else in the whole world just like you—someone who can do all the things that you do! Your friends over on Sesame Street are here to tell you just how unique you and your gifts are.

The perfect storybook to shine the spotlight on your one-of-a-kind cutie! Personalize this book with a special child’s name on the front cover and throughout the story. You can also include a photo and special message on a dedication page.

Sesame Street: I Love You Just Like This! ($34.99 hardcover personalized book, $19.99 paperback personalized book)
Show your little one the many ways you love them with the help of your friends over on Sesame Street!

There are lots of ways to say “I love you,” but it’s how you share and show it that matter most! The sweetest book to share every day of the year, I Love You Just Like This! brings parent and child close and cozy together in a special storytime experience to spread some love. Often, always, and time and time again, this personalized book will show your little one how much you love them… just like this! Personalize the story with your child’s name, photo, and a special message with lots of love on the dedication page!

Sesame Street: Let’s Make a Friend ($34.99 hardcover personalized book, $19.99 paperback personalized book)
Welcome to “Let’s Make a Friend!,” hosted by everyone’s favorite game show host, Guy Smiley. Today’s contestant on the show is Elmo! Elmo answers questions about friendship from a team of panelists, and involves your child in his thoughts on different friendship scenarios. When the third judge, Cookie Monster, rushes off stage in search of cookies, your child steps in as the surrprise guest judge! This book will get your little one thinking about what it takes to be a good friend. Watch your kiddo’s face light up when they realize that Elmo’s winning prize is a hug from them!

Here’s your chance! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway today! Ends September 22!

Terms & Conditions:

No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Open to legal residents of USA who are 18 years or older. Giveaway begins September 11, 2017 at 12:01am and ends September 22, 2017 at 11:59pm (“Promotion Period”). Enter the Giveaway during the Promotion Period online by submitting the entry form. The entry form can be found on the following website at http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/54ca7af7566/ . Winner will be selected by Random.org and be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. ONE (1) winner will receive ONE (1) Sesame Street Personalized Book Bundle and Plush (approximate retail value or “ARV”: $155). By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to Put Me In The Story. Put Me In The Story does not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of this giveaway. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are in no way associated with this giveaway.

GOOD LUCK!

Posted in Non-Fiction, Uncategorized

The Alphabet of Bugs is perfect for young nature buffs!

alphabet of bugsThe Alphabet of Bugs: An ABC Book, by Valerie Gates/Photography by Ann Cutting (June 2015, Sky Pony Press), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-63220-407-3

Recommended for ages 3+

Ready to go beyond ladybugs and butterflies? Then this is the book for you. Award-winning photographer Ann Cutting presents 26 different bugs in beautiful detail, with alphabetical alliteration by Emmy Award-winning art director Valerie Gates. From the Ailanthus Webworm Moth to the Zebra Longwing Butterfly, there are beautiful, detailed pictures with fun sentences that will kids will love to look at and giggle over again and again.

I’ve already ordered copies of this book for my libraries. The photos are amazing – so crisp and clear, with unbelievable detail. Each page has something exciting to see – a colorful page with a huge letter of the alphabet and a fun, alliterative sentence on the left side, and a full-page photo of an insect, against a colorful background to set off the picture, on the right. And what kids aren’t interested in bugs? The sentences make learning fun, and the book introduces kids to a world of insects they likely haven’t heard of before, expanding their world. There’s also a “Did You Know?” glossary with additional facts at the end of the book.

The Alphabet of Bugs hits stores on June 2. Visit Valerie Gates’ website to purchase a companion poster!