Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books

Excelsior! Stan Lee has a picture book biography!

With Great Power: The Marvelous Stan Lee (An Unauthorized Biography), by Annie Hunter Eriksen/Illustrated by Lee Gatlin, (Oct. 2021, Page Street Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9781645672852

Ages 4-8

Gone but never forgotten (or, if you’re like me, maybe you prefer to think he’s hanging out with The Watcher somewhere), Stan Lee changed the faces of comic books forever: from The Hulk and the Fantastic Four, to the X-Men and the Avengers, he collaborated with industry giants like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, to give us heroes that were super AND human. With Great Power is a wonderful tribute to our “generalissimo”, beginning with Stanley Lieber’s spare childhood in New York City, his job at Timely Comics, which, along with his love of books and fantasy led to him becoming an editor while still in his teens, and ultimately, his work creating superheroes that have since become household names: Spider-Man, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and so many more. The book even mentions “Stan’s Soapbox”, a column in Marvel comics where Stan would take on issues of the day like racism, sexism, and enjoying comics, no matter your age. (You can also buy the collected Soapboxes!) The comic book artwork is loaded with heroes that even casual fans will recognize; toned in sepia as we look back to Stan’s earlier years, things come to life when his career takes off. There’s a diverse crowd thronging as he walks a red carpet, a host of Marvel superheroes following him, and he’s surrounded by a diverse group of superhero fans, dressed as their favorites, at the story’s close. Back matter includes some more Stan facts and a bibliography, and endpapers are a collection of comic book exclamations, which you’ll also discover as you read the story. A fitting tribute for a man who gave his life to comic books. Make sure to check out the free activity guide. Display and booktalk with Boys of Steel by Marc Tyler Nobleman; the book profiles the lives of Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel.

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 Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board Books to celebrate Spring, Dinosaurs, and Art!

How much do I love board books? SO MUCH. And they just keep coming and coming! I’ve got a stack of adorable board books that celebrate Spring, and a few that were originally published as picture books but that have made a great transition to board books.

Hello Garden!, by Katherine Pryor/Illustrated by Rose Soini, (May 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361098

Ages 0-3

Two kids wake up and enjoy a day in their garden! They crunch on green beans and snap peas, help tend to the garden, and enjoy the local wildlife. Rhyming verse tells a story that celebrates each of the senses, and accompanied by colorful artwork. Kids will want to get their hands and toes in the dirt and revel in being in nature after reading this cheery, upbeat story. A great addition to a Spring or Garden storytime – pair with the National Geographic board book, In My Garden, from the Look & Learn series, and Kadir Nelson’s gorgeous book, If You Plant a Seed. If you’re looking for a Spring activity with your Kiddos, Nat Geo Kids has you covered with an article on planting a garden; Kids Gardening has Garden Lesson Plans for kids and a free newsletter. Short on space? Try a garden sensory bin! There are great ideas at Mess for Less and Fireflies and Mud Pies.

 

Little Bug on the Move, Stéphanie Babin/Illustrated by Olivia Cosneau, (March 2021, Twirl Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9782408024642

Ages 0-3

A little bug goes exploring in this interactive book that kids can slide, spin, and play with. The bug crawls uphill, inches along the trees, spins on a flower, and hides on a mushroom, all heading toward a pop-up surprise at the end. The question-and-answer format format of the text encourages kids to think as they manipulate the activities on the pages, and provides an opportunity for an older sibling, parent, or caregiver to read along. Bright and colorful artwork and sturdy activities and pages make this another book kids will reach many, many times. Invite readers to identify different bugs, shapes, and colors as you go! Pair with the board book of The Very Hungry Caterpillar for an adorably buggy storytime.

 

Mamasaurus, by Stephan Lomp, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797205328

Ages 3-5

I’ve written about my love for Mamasaurus before. It’s the sweetest little story of a baby dinosaur who finds himself separated from his Mama and has to ask other dinosaurs if they’ve seen her; all of whom describe their own Mamas when trying to get an idea of what Mamasaurus looks like. The book makes a great transition from picture book to board book, making it even easier to read during a lapsit and cuddle storytime.

 

Papasaurus, by Stephan Lomp, (May 2021, Chronicle Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797205335

Ages 3-5

The companion book to Mamasaurus, Papasaurus makes the seamless transition from picture book to board book in time for Father’s Day, with a May release date. Here, Babysaurus and his dad are playing a game of hide and seek. As he searches for his Papa, he encounters other Kid-osaurs and asks for their help. As with Mamasaurus, the little dinos all frame their questions using their own parents as reference. Papasaurus and Babysaurus are sweetly reunited, reassuring readers that “misplaced” parents will always be found. The artwork is charming, with bright colors and sweetly expressive dinosaurs with large eyes and smiley faces. Perfect for cuddle time and Dino storytime.

 

Mix It Up!, by Hervé Tullet, (May 2021, Chronicle Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9781797207605

Ages 2-5

Another great transition from picture book to board book, Hervé Tullet’s Mix It Up! brings creativity and interactivity to this wonderful board book that keeps kids pressing, touching, and shaking their books as they work with color. The narration walks readers through the book, directing readers through cause-and-effect spreads that will invoke delight as readers discover that the page they’ve touched leads to a riot of color on the next spread, or mixing colors by tilting the book leads to an entirely new color emerging! Hervé Tullet writes like he’s in a one-on-one with each reader, gently leading them with sentences like, “take a little bit of the read… and rub it on the blue”; “Do you want to go on? OK!” I’ve read all of Tullet’s books in my storytimes, and they never fail to elicit joyful participation as I weave through the seated kids, everyone waiting their turn to take part. Art storytime, Color storytime, everything works with an Hervé Tullet story. Having this in board book format invites little learners to sit and play on their own or with another reader. They’re just wonderful books. The original release of Mix It Up! was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a Buzzfeed Best Book of the Year, a PBS Parents Best Picture Book, an ACL Distinguished Book, and selected as a Best Book of the Year by Chicago Public Library. Get out the fingerpaints and let your Littles create their own masterpieces!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Line and Scribble make beautiful art together

Line and Scribble, by Debora Vogrig/Illustrated by Pia Valentinis, (May 2021, Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781797201870

Ages 3-5

This friendship story stars Line and Scribble, two friends who see things differently, but come together to create beautiful artwork. Where Line sees things in a straightforward way, like a train track, Scribble wanders, like a path of butterflies. Line creates a stick-straight hairdo, while Scribble curls and twirls; Line offers a breadstick, and Scribble wants cotton candy. Each interprets life differently, but together, the two can create a whirling, swirling, storm with lightning and whirlwinds, tornadoes and hurricanes! A fun, creative story about embracing differences and finding common ground, the verse is almost like a poem, each observation quietly sitting on the page and finding voice through black and red line crayon and fountain pen illustrations, which come alive against the ivory background of the paper. There’s joy to be found here. A wonderful choice for an art storytime. Consider displaying with books like When Pencil Met the Markers and Perfect by Max Amato.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Art Storytimes to Inspire your Little Artists

When you start off a day with a post about Frida Kahlo, you’re going to have art on your mind for the rest of the day. At least that’s how I’m wired. So I dove into my TBR and came up with a handful of art books to inspire your little ones.

Hide-and-Seek with Little Hippo, by Géraldine Elschner/Illustrated by Anja Klauss,
(Feb. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 9780764361111
Ages 0-6

This is a board book in one of Schiffer Kids’s new series, First Steps in Art. Inspired by a different work of art, each of these books weaves a little adventure, with concepts and an explanation of the piece that inspired the book. It’s such a great idea! Hide-and-Seek with Little Hippo is inspired by an ancient Egyptian figurine (pictured on the back cover); the story is a counting, color concept story about Little Hippo, who loves playing hide-amd-seek with his friend, Butterfly.  The story is colorful, bright, and so cheery and a brief explanation of Little Hippo’s origins at the end provides a nice little art history lesson for emerging readers. Pair the First Steps in Art books with Schiffer’s Lily series for an art storytime your little will love.

 

 

Antoinette the Tree Frog, by Géraldine Elschner, Illustrated by Xavière Devos,
(Feb. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 9780764361104
Ages 0-6

The next First Steps in Art book is all about impressionism: Antoinette the Tree Frog is inspired by Claude Monet’s beautiful water lilies. Little Antoinette is a tree frog, happily napping on a water lily as Mr. Claude paints nearby. A gust of winds blows his straw hat away, and a magpie tries to grab it, until Antoinette makes a fuss! When the magpie drops the hat, Antoinette discovers a comfortable new place to nap. A word about Claude Monet’s garden concludes the story. The artwork is soft, gentle, with Monet’s Impressionist influences apparent in the light color work and pastoral setting. Monet makes a cameo in this story, a painter sitting on a stool by the water, his watercolor canvas featuring his beloved water lilies. A very sweet story for young and emerging readers. I’m looking forward to seeing what other stories we’ll get from this series! Can you imagine a Halloween story from Edvard Munch? A story featuring Andy Warhol, or Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art?

 

A Purr-Fect Painting: Matisse’s Other Great Cat, by Joan Waites,
(May 2021, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764361128
Ages 5-8

Inspired by artist Henri Matisse’s cats and the illness that spurred his paper-cut art, A Purr-Fect Painting: Matisse’s Other Cat is an adorable story of La Puce, one of Mattise’s three cats. La Puce seems to be the most artistically-minded of Matisse’s cats; he’s the feline that sits with Matisse, watching him create art, while Minouche and Coussi sleep in the sunlight or get in trouble. When Matisse falls ill and is confined to his bed, La Puce thinks of ways to inspire his master to create art again. Henri may not be able to pick up his paintbrushes, but when La Puce makes a mess, Matisse sees potential in the brightly colored splashes of paint that go flying: and calls to his assistants to bring him painted sheets of paper and scissors! A colorful, kind-hearted story about love and art, A Purr-Fect Painting is an adorable readaloud for budding artists and cat lovers alike.

 

Need more inspiration? Here are more books inspired by art!

Posted in picture books

Women to Know: Frida Kahlo

The Two Fridas: Memories Written by Frida Kahlo, Illustrated by Gianluca Folì, (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9780764361166

Ages 5-8

When most people think of Frida Kahlo, they usually think of adult Frida, with flowers in her hair and thick eyebrows. Maybe they’ll think of her love for animals and her many pets. The Two Fridas, taken from the artist’s own diary, introduces readers to a younger Frida; a child who creates an imaginary friend and a fantasy world. The “other” Frida is a friend that will always listen to Frida’s “secret problems” and will always play and laugh with her. The Two Fridas is a peek into a child’s imaginary world; artwork in shades of grey, black and white has minimal, quiet color to emphasize Frida’s journey into her fantasy world. At the conclusion, we realize that this is Frida’s own recollection, as the art moves into an artist’s workroom, with the Frida people have come to know, seated and working on a self-portrait. The Two Fridas lets children know that it’s okay to have an imaginary place to go, an imaginary friend to spend time with, and to take that joy with you into adulthood. A biographical note on Kahlo talks about the artist’s relationship to her sisters, the ailments that kept Frida home, even bedridden, and the imaginary friend that meant so much to her that she dedicated a painting to her in 1939. Originally published in Spanish in 2019, The Two Fridas provides a new look at an iconic artist.

For more information about Frida Kahlo, visit The Frida Kahlo Foundation and The Blue House, the museum located in Frida’s former residence.  The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a page dedicated to her. Education.com has a free, downloadable biography worksheet on the artist, and Teachers Pay Teachers has many free activities for all ages, including Llamame Spanish’s Spanish-language biography worksheet, Art with Mrs E’s coloring sheet, Lindsey Carter’s Frida paper doll, and Fun for Spanish Teacher’s presentation.

Posted in picture books

No one can resist New York – even the Mona Lisa!

Mona Lisa in New York, by Yevgenia Nayberg, (March 2021, Prestel Junior), $14.95, ISBN: 9783791374451

Ages 5-8

The iconic Mona Lisa painting makes her way to New York for a museum exhibit, but there’s no way she’s staying inside the whole time! One night, she slips out to explore and meets Tag, a graffiti work from Brooklyn, who takes her on a whirlwind tour of New York: they listen to jazz in Harlem, eat pizza in the Bronx, dance salsa on the High Line, and go swimming at Brighton Beach. But all good things must come to an end, and as the two ride back to the museum on the subway, Mona Lisa knows that she’s got to go home… or does she? This love letter to New York City is a lesson in art appreciation – Tag and Mona Lisa are both art forms – and an introduction to New York, a city with so much to see that even the Mona Lisa wants to be a tourist! The mixed media artwork has the flavor of New York, with something always going on in the details, whether it’s the crush of people staring at their phones and taking no notice of the famous painting come to life on the street, pigeons sitting on Mona Lisa as she tries to figure her way around the city, or the train acrobat plying his trade on the subway. A great choice for an art-related or New York-related storytime. And while you’re at it, tell the kids about 5Pointz, the now-shuttered graffitii warehouse in Queens where artists used to be able to come and create public art. Give kids some art supplies like markers and paper, or buy spray bottles and tempera paints and let them create sprayable paint.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Gorgeous concept books for toddlers and preschoolers!

There are some some amazing concept books in the publishing pipeline that are going to make toddler storytimes even more fun. Grab some colorful scarves, egg shakers, and art supplies because you’re going to want to hold an art storytime with these books as your foundation.

Lili’s Seasons, by Lucie Albon, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361043

Ages 2-6

Lucie Albon’s “On the Fingertips” series illustrates concepts using finger-and hand-painted artwork that kids are going to love – and that they’ll be able to try on their own. Two mice, Lily and Henri, explore the seasons. Each seasons is set off with a spread of what you’ll discover on the pages – or outside! – for each season. In the fall, you’ll look for autumn leaves, pine cones, and squirrels; in the winter, there will be mittens, wool socks, hot chocolate, and snowflakes. Lili and Henri enjoy the gifts of every season, together, whether having hot chocolate at home in the winter or visiting the beach in the summer. Back matter teaches readers how to “draw with their fingertips”, and provides instruction on necessary supplies, and how to use the paint on your hands and fingers to create clouds and trees through the seasons. The book has a create space for exploration, but if you’re using this in your library, consider having a create space ready for your library kiddos, stocked with paper, art materials, and smocks or old t-shirts. If you’re like me, and still virtual, you can explore doing a virtual art program, and offering some supplies via grab-and-go promotion. Colorful, bright, and absolutely “you can do this!” kid-friendly, this is a fun new series that I’m looking forward to spending time with.

 

Lili’s Colors, by Lucie Albon, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361036

Ages 2-6

In the companion “On the Fingertips” book to Lili’s Seasons, Lili’s Colors brings Lili and Henri back to talk about color. The two friends enjoy red lollipops, cuddle yellow chicks, sail on blue water, and spend a colorful day together, wandering across brightly colored, finger-painted spreads. Colors are featured in a bigger, bolder font, in their own shades, and the text – dialogue between Henri and Lili – is brief and perfect for young listeners and readers. A finger paint workshop section goes over primary and secondary colors, color mixing, and how to paint your fingers and hands to create the artwork in the book and a self-portrait. A spread showing paintings by children encourages readers with a “you can do it!” attitude! Adorable and cheery, this is an adorable new series for burgeoning artists.

 

Colors de la Runway, by Clarence Ruth, (Feb. 2019, Schiffer Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9780764356834

Ages 2-6

How, oh how, did I miss this when it came out the first time? I owe Schiffer big thanks for sending me a copy of Colors de la Runway to rectify my not seeing this earlier. Colors de la Runway is a concept book on color by Clarence Ruth, fashion designer and creative director of Cotte D’Armes. Vibrant colors named in both English and French come off the page as model sketches show off fashions and accessories in 20 spreads: red/rouge dresses, light blue/bleu clair eyeshadow and the peek of a shirt under a jacket, brown/marron frames to a pair of dramatic glasses. Clarence Ruth’s book is inspiration for older readers who love fashion and art, and for littles who want to learn their colors with some pizzaz. Stunning, playful, and absolutely fun: get out a feather boa and giant sunglasses and have yourself a fashion storytime.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Meet Randy, the Badly-Drawn (BEAUTIFUL!) Horse!

Randy, the Badly-Drawn Horse, by T.L. McBeth, (Aug. 2020, Henry Holt), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250185907

Ages 3-7

Randy is a beautiful horse. He knows it, because his artist says so. He is a spectacular creature, with a mane that blows in the breeze, long elegant legs, a silky coat, and a smile that lights up the sky. Randy has never seen himself, but who cares? He just knows. After a quick snack, Randy sets out on an adventure that takes him through mountains and forests, but a surprise awaits him when he catches a glimpse of himself in a pool of water.

Randy is just an adorable book, with a look into a child’s imaginative play and a creation that takes on its own life. It’s a kid fantasy made real as Randy, illustrated to look like a child’s drawing, prances through construction paper mountains and popsicle stick and pom-pom forests. Randy’s juvenile creator and the artist’s mother speak in colorful word bubbles, with Randy’s hilariously adorable commentary in the text at the bottom of each page. Materials like paint and condiments have texture that will appeal to sensory readers and adds fun to the story, making it even more real. Endpapers feature an 8-step “How to Draw Horse” guide that readers will recognize from other stories, especially Dog Man.  The back endpapers have a little surprise that will leave readers giggling.

A fun, adorably written and drawn story of self-image and self-esteem, Randy the Badly Drawn Horse is perfect for storytime and anytime. Give your kiddos different media – construction paper, cardboard, popsicle sticks, yarn – and ask them to draw their own story with a character of their own design! Publisher Macmillan has a free, downloadable storytime kit with great activities, too!

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

After Squidnight… things get interesting!

After Squidnight, by Jonathan E. Fenske, (Aug. 2020, Penguin Workshop), $12.99, ISBN: 9781524793081

Ages 4-8

Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor-winning author and illustrator Jonathan Fenske creates a funny rhyming story about a group of squids indulging their inner artists. When the clock strikes midnight, a squad of squids is feeling like a change of scenery, so they head over to someone’s house – is it yours? – to exercise their creativity. They draw all over the kitchen and the halls, inking sharks in your bathroom and drawing all over the toys they find in the way. They even draw on YOU: good thing you’re a solid sleeper! But the sun comes up, and the squad goes back to the ocean, leaving you to answer for the mess. After all, are they really going to believe you if you tell them it was a Squid Squad? Maybe, just maybe, though, you’ll leave one little memento, one little bit of artwork, just to enjoy for yourself…

After Squidnight is a story in that great tradition of things that go on while we’re sleeping. It’s rhyming fun, with blue-washed artwork that kids will love, starring a group of squids that just want some harmless, if a bit mischievous, fun (at least their ink washes away easily enough!). Fun for bathtime, bedtime, or storytime. Print out some squid coloring sheets and let the kids color away – and add some to your flannel or laminated storytime repertoire, while you’re at it.