Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, picture books, Preschool Reads

Back to School Giveaway! Win Magic Candies OR Once Upon a Camel!

What better way to get ready for back to school than with a new book! I’ve got one copy of MAGIC CANDIES by Heena Baek and one copy of ONCE UPON A CAMEL by Kathi Appelt – a little something for everyone!

PLEASE NOTE, these are TWO separate raffles. There will be TWO winners; this is not a bundle raffle. You are more than welcome to enter both raffles, but there will be two different winners. Gotta share the book love!

SO! That said, if you want to enter the raffle for Heena Baek’s MAGIC CANDIES, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

 

If you love camels, and want to take a chance on Kathi Appelt’s ONCE UPON A CAMEL, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

 

Good luck to all!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Turkey Goes to School

Welcome back to school with a HUGE giveaway for a great new book! Read ahead to find out more!

It’s time to go back to school, and Turkey can’t wait! He and his friends at the farm are practicing their writing and math skills, getting ready to show off their big brains in the classroom, but the school bus brings with it the bad news: animals can’t go to school! Turkey just knows he has to show the students, teachers, and the principal that he and his friends belong in school, and he’s going to find a way to do it equipped with his brains and a closet full of costumes.

Turkey Goes to School, by Wendi Silvano/Illustrated by Lee Harper,
(Aug. 2021, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542023641
Ages 4-8

Wendi Silvano’s Turkey books are a staple in my library, with Turkey Trouble holding a firm favorite spot in my Thanksgiving storytimes. Wendi Silvano and Lee Harper have worked on four Turkey books, inviting us to share holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Halloween with them, and now it’s time to take Turkey to school! The story is adorably fun and silly, with Turkey trying his very best to score an invite to school, even inserting himself into an actual story to get there (while the teacher reads Turkey Trouble: I love a good cameo appearance!)

The story will appeal to kids who can’t wait to get back to school, and show kids who want summer to last forever that school can be a pretty fun place to be, whether or not they’re sharing classrooms with farm animals. The artwork is light-hearted, with expressive animals and people alike; exaggerated expressions and colorful spreads will keep readers interested in both farm life and classroom interactions. Positive messages about school and about rolling with changes make this a great way to start a school year. The school has a diverse group of students and little details throughout will keep kids’ attention. Ask them what they see that reminds them of their own classrooms!

Add Turkey Trouble to your holiday collections and Back to School storytime lists. I’d love to see teachers reading this to welcome their students back!

Wendi Silvano was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has lived in Oregon, Colorado, and Peru. The author of the Turkey Trouble series, she has a BA in early childhood education and taught preschool and elementary school for eleven years. She is the mother of five children and the owner of an assortment of odd pets that are not nearly as clever as Turkey. She now writes from her home in Colorado, where she enjoys hiking, reading, and playing the piano. Visit her online at wendisilvano.com.

Lee Harper is the author-illustrator of the books CoyoteThe Emperor’s Cool Clothes, and Snow! Snow! Snow! Lee is also the illustrator of the Turkey Trouble series, by Wendi Silvano, as well as the Woolbur series, written by Leslie Helakoski. Lee has four children, a German shepherd, a Great Pyrenees, two barn cats, eleven chickens…but no turkeys. Yet. He lives with his wife in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Visit him online at leeharperart.com.

“A cute twist on both the farm and school themes.” Kirkus Reviews

To celebrate this latest installment in the Turkey Trouble series, Two Lions is offering a set of all 5 books in the series: Turkey TroubleTurkey ClausTurkey Trick or Treat, Turkey’s Eggcellent Easter, and Turkey Goes to School to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses). Just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Books for Pet Lovers!

Ollie and Augustus, by Gabriel Evans, (May 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209679

Ages 3-5

Ollie and Augustus are the best of friends: Ollie is a slight young boy, and Augustus is his large dog. The two friends did most things together; as most best friends do, they even got on each other’s nerves – but quickly got over it. When Ollie is about to start school, he worries: who will be there to keep Augustus company? OIlie tries to find a friend to occupy Augustus’s time until Ollie gets home, but the playdates he sets up with local dogs just don’t work out. They don’t share Augustus’s interests and he certainly doesn’t share theirs. Ollie needn’t worry, though: Augustus is perfectly capable of keeping himself busy until Ollie gets home.

An adorable story of friendship and that comfortable, “just right” feeling, Ollie and Augustus also eases back-to-school worries by assuring kids that comfort and love will be waiting at home for them. Assure your kiddos that pets will be fine; teddy bears, dolls, and other comfort objects that they may transfer worry to will be okay, and waiting for them when they get home after an exciting new day at school. Watercolor, gouache, and pencil artwork with soft colors gives a gentle feel to the story, and the brief prose moves about the pages, narrating each picture, keeping the reader’s interest moving throughout the story. Endpapers are set up like a photo album, capturing moments in Ollie’s and Augustus’s life together from the early moments forward, giving a sense of investment and time in the relationship. A sweet back to school or pet storytime choice.

 

My Pet (Not Yours) (Lento & Fox #2), by Ben Sanders, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1684640850

Ages 3-6

The hilarious follow-up to My Book (Not Yours) is here! Lento the Sloth and Fox are back to delight readers with their latest romp. Lento has found a new pet! It’s a pink long-eared creature who really doesn’t look thrilled to be wearing the collar we assume Lento has adorned it with. But wait! Fox steps in and claims that Mr. Fluffington – Lento’s name for his new pet – should actually be HIS pet, because he is “an expert pet handler”. Fox dubs the new pet Frankensausage, which doesn’t seem to cheer it up any more than Lento did. The two go back and forth, hilariously trying to outdo the other and win Mr. Fluffington-Frankensausage’s affections. The pink friend’s disapproving face and posture remains constant throughout the shenanigans, making events even funnier. As the two frenemies take turns dressing their new pet up, tossing it about as they swear they’re playing with him, and bickering over who he’s better suited for, the pink guy can’t take it anymore. Sight gags, back and forth snarking, and bright, bold colors make this another home run for Lento and Fox, and another great addition to your storytimes. Put on different voices, grab a plush friend to stand in for Mr. Fluffington/Frankensausage, and have at it. Endpapers are there for more laughs as the stoic visage of Fluffington-sausage takes on different emotions, never-changing.

 

Pet That Dog! A Handbook for Making Four-Legged Friends, by Gideon Kidd & Rachel Braunigan, (Oct. 2020, Quirk Books), $14.99, ISBN:  978-1683692294

Ages 8-12

Eleven-year-old Gideon Kidd (now 12) loves dogs! He’s even got a website, IvePetThatDog, with pictures of Gideon and all the dogs he’s been petting since he was 8. Who better to write a book about befriending dogs, for kids? Pet That Dog! is part guide to caring for a pet dog, part guide to dogs, perfect for middle graders who love and may be getting a pupper of their own. Chapters include How to Pet That Dog, which shows kids the best way to approach a dog for pets (and how to walk away if the dog isn’t up for it); things to talk to dog people about in order to learn more about dogs, and fun personality quizzes and ideas for naming your dog. There’s even a Dog Tracker so kids can start journaling their own dog-petting adventures. Fun facts, colorful illustrations, and a conversational tone make this a great book for dog aficionados. Books, movies, and online sources provide more information for kids who want to learn more. My Kiddo has absconded with my copy of this book, and, while we haven’t been able to approach anyone to learn about their dogs lately, he’s definitely been putting it to use with our own pup.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Back to school stories to soothe everyone’s nerves

Two more back to school stories to make the days a little brighter. And we can all use that.

It’s Not a School Bus, It’s a Pirate Ship, by Mickey Rapkin/Illustrated by Teresa Martinez, (June 2020, imprint), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250229779

Ages 3-6

It’s the first day of school, and as the school bus rolls up to the bus stop, a young boy is nervous: who will he sit with? Who will talk to him? It looks really scary in there! But never fear! The school bus driver is there to let him in on a secret: it’s not a school bus… he’s boarded a PIRATE SHIP! The school bus transforms into a magical pirate ship, taking the kids on an adventure as they swashbuckle their way to school! This fun back to school story speaks to the fears some kids have, especially when boarding a school bus by themselves for the first time: as he walks in, the artwork shows a scary interior with childlike drawings of stick figure bullies, snakes, sharks, and ghosts! All it takes is an empathetic driver to put our main character at ease by encouraging him to think of the trip as a pirate adventure, and the artwork becomes a riot of imagination and color, with a school bus pirate ship sailing the high seas of the neighborhood, with street signs like “Yo Ho Ho” and cross streets called “Shiver” and “Me Timbers”. Dogs go past in rowboats; flying fish and dolphins play in the water, and the bus passengers all become fast friends, trading pirate jokes and singing pirate songs. By the time they drop anchor at school and head into their classroom, the kids are ready for their next adventure… announced on the last page. Childlike drawings of mermaids with backpacks, crabs waving hot dogs, and shark with sunglasses decorate the endpapers.

A companion to 2019’s It’s Not a Bed, It’s a Time Machine, this is a fun adventure that takes a little bit of the fear out of that school bus ride, and adds a spark of imagination to your day.

 

Mila Wants to Go to School, by Judith Koppens/Illustrated by Anoukh Nijs, (Sept. 2020, Clavis Publishing), $14.95, ISBN: 978-1605375694

Ages 3-6

Mila is a little girl who can’t wait to go to school! Why is Daddy taking SO LONG to get her there? This adorable story of a little girl who can’t wait to start school reaches out and touches the hearts of every parent who has the hardest time letting go, especially on that first day. While Mila is full of get-up-and-go, we see Daddy take a little extra time… he has to tie his shoe before he leaves; he makes sure to greet a neighbor on the way out; and look, there’s the playground! Maybe Mila wants to have some playtime on the swings before school? Mila wonders why Daddy is being so dilly-dally, but we parents know why: it’s right there, on Dad’s face, when they arrive at school and he goes from a small smile to an uncertain frown. He even asks Mila if she’s sure she doesn’t want to go back home with him. After Mila reassures her Daddy that she may make new friends, but he’ll always be her Daddy, she heads in to enjoy her first day at school and we know that Daddy will be waiting for that clock to let him know when to get her.

Mila and her dad are characters of color. The illustrations are warm and humorous; colors are bright but not overpowering, letting the story speak for itself and providing context with body language and facial expressions. For every parent who’s heart hurts letting go, Mila Wants to Go to School is for you. Mila Goes to School is the companion to Mila Has Two Beds, published earlier this year.

 

When We Stayed Home, by Tara Fass, LMFT & Judith A. Proffer/Illustrated by Yoko Matsuoka, (Sept. 2020, Huqua Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781-7353844-0-5

Ages 5-8

This is a different kind of back to school book, but it’s a different kind of back to school year. When We Stayed Home is a look at one boy’s experience with being home. Pictured on the cover wearing a spotted mask, he’s posing with his dog who’s wearing a dog-snout mask. In straightforward, uncomplicated text, he tells us about when he and his family stayed home “to help the helpers… when a scary virus traveled all over the world”. It’s a story kids and adults will be able to relate to, as he details all the things he’s done in quarantine: washing his hands (“All. The. Time.”), building forts, doing crazy things with his hair, and having screen time with family and friends. He thinks about everyone he misses, and admits that “even super-helpers are sad every now and then”, letting readers know that it’s okay to have mixed emotions in the middle of this global malestrom. He enjoys being a super-helper superhero, but sometimes, the mask gets annoying to wear; he misses his friends, his school, and going to the playground. An uplifting and honest story to everyone, especially those children who are attending school remotely so far this year, When We Stayed Home is a gentle book that stands as a witness to these challenging times, and will be an interesting book to look back on when this is in our past.

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Back to School stories: Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten!

Hi all! I’m getting caught up on the avalanche of books in my home, so bear with me if I’m a little behind on my Back to School posting. NYC public school kids are back to school today – GOOD LUCK, EVERYONE! – and I’ve been getting my kiddos ready to start their school years off right. (So. Many. Supplies.) Anyway, with that, let’s talk starting Kindergarten with Lisa Robinson and Eda Kaban!

Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten, by Lisa Robinson/Illustrated by Eda Kaban,
(Aug. 2019, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542092753
Ages 4-6

Yeeeargh! It’s the first day of Kindergarten, but Pirate Emma has decided that she’s not leaving her preschool Captain, Cap’n Chu, and her crew! Cap’n Chu brings her over to the Kindergarten classroom – a spaceship! – but Pirate Emma isn’t having it. She runs back to Cap’n Chu’s room and refuses to leave, even going so far as to start a mutiny, and threatening Cap’n Chu with walking the plank! Thankfully, the Cap’n is a good and understanding Cap’n, who’s likely been through this before. She consoles Emma and convinces her that, while it’s time to join her new crew, she can always visit the pirate waters of preschool. From there, Emma’s ready: she joins the Kindergarten class as Space Pirate Emma.

This is a story that gets it. The transition from Pre-K to Kindergarten can be tough for kids, and Emma embodies those feelings of fear and defiance. She bellows things like, “Pirates don’t go to Kindergarten!”; “Pirates don’t take naps!”, and “Pirates don’t follow rules!” as she pushes back against having to join her new class, and it takes the combination of the very patient Ms. Hayes, the Kindergarten teacher, and the very understanding Ms. Chu, to help Emma work through her worries and resistance, leading her to make the decision to join her new Kindergarten crew.

Having been one of those moms, reading Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten was a relief: authors and illustrators who get it! They’re speaking to my now-second grader, who used to wake up morning after morning with one ailment or other that would render him unable to go to Kindergarten (and he, too, had a VERY understanding teacher, thank goodness). They’re speaking to me, letting me know that this is okay. I’m not the first parent, nor will I be the last, who will have a pirate that defies Kindergarten, or first grade, or maybe things on a smaller level, like going to the bathroom in school, or eating school lunch. This is all part of growing up, and growing up can be scary and hard. Having books like this can make it easier on all of us: kids, parents, caregivers, and educators alike.

The digital illustrations are colorful and lend themselves to exciting classrooms, where teachers create atmospheres for their students: Cap’n Chu created a pirate setting for her Pre-K class; Ms. Hayes has a spaceship-themed classroom for her Kindergarteners. (Psst… these teachers exist, I know a bunch of them!) The illustrations are enticing, giving kids (and worried caregivers) a glimpse into how fun a classroom can be. There are also tons of craft project ideas here: pirate hats and paper swords, anyone? Space helmets and stars?

Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten is aces for me. I’ll be reading this to my son’s former Kindergarten teacher’s class, to let those kids know that pirates certainly DO go to Kindergarten, and it’s pretty darned cool.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Two new Pout-Pout Fish adventures!

Pout-Pout Fish: Back to School, by Wes Adams/Illustrated by Isidre Monés, (May 2019, Farrar Straus Giroux), $5.99, ISBN: 9780374310479

Ages 3-6

The Pout-Pout Fish is off to school! This time, he’s a substitute teacher, subbing for his favorite teacher, Miss Hewitt, who’s down with a cold. On the way to school, he meets a nervous new student and helps him feel comfortable with his new school and new classmates. When Pout-Pout – Mr. Fish here – feels a little overwhelmed in front of his first class, the little fish is there to return the favor, giving Mr. Fish the confidence to carry the class. TAt the end of the day, Pout-Pout gets a sweet drawing from his new student and a warm reception from his new students. What a way to start a school year!

Pout-Pout Fish: Back to School is a Pout-Pout Fish story by Wes Adams and illustrator Isidre Monés. I admit I miss the rhyme scheme and repetition that Deborah Diesen traditionally uses, but the emphasis on kindness present in Pout-Pout Fish stories is here. Isidre Monés uses calming blues for Pout-Pout and bright primary colors for the classroom, all of which will appeal to readers. And there are stickers at the end of the book, making this a great back-to-school gift for kids (and if you’re putting this on your library shelves, hold onto those stickers, or your books won’t last the day – hand them out to your kiddos as welcome back gifts).

 

The Pout-Pout Fish Cleans Up the Ocean, by Deborah Diesen/Illustrated by Dan Hanna, $17.99, ISBN: 9780374309343

Ages 3-6

Pout-Pout and friends are cleaning up the ocean! Mr. Fish and his friends love the ocean’s beauty, but when he looks around and sees a giant mess, he and his friends investigate and find out that THEY are the cause of the mess! That simply won’t do, so the group team up to clean up in this rhyming story by original writer and illustrator Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna.

Kids (and grownups) familiar with Pout-Pout stories will fall right into the rhyme and repetition of the story. There’s always a phrase or two that sets the plot moving; here, it’s “There’s a problem that needs solving/And we don’t know what to do/But we’re going to find some answers/Would you like to join us, too?” Old boxes of junk, food waste, plastic bags, all of it has to go, because it’s “a big… BIG.. MESS!” The friends come together to pitch in and clean up; even sorting their recyclables from their garbage. Once they’ve cleaned the ocean floor, they feel good about themselves, and extend the invitation to the reader to join them! An author and illustrator note encourages readers to clean up and protect the ocean, encouraging everyone to take action and learn more. It’s a great way to introduce conservation to kids.

The Pout-Pout website has lots of printable activities, and the website is way too much fun! (There are floating bubbles and fish!)