Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Welcoming Winter: Winter Lullaby

Winter Lullaby, by Dianne White/Illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki, (Dec. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536209198

Ages 3-8

I’ve been on a bedtime story kick lately; I must be missing the days I put my own littles (not-so little now) to bed with a story or 3… or 4. This latest lullaby centers on Small Bear, who doesn’t understand – despite the snow falling to the ground! – why he has to get ready to sleep the winter away. After all, he’s seeing other friends running around, like Mouse, Skunk, and Hare; why can’t he stay up? Mama patiently explains each time that each of the animals is preparing for their own winter nap, whether they are gathering food or finding a warm, comfortable spot to bed down. She soothes Small Bear’s frustration by promising that they’ll wake up to a beautiful, green spring, and they’ll spend brighter, warmer days at play. But for now, it’s time to dream. Kids and caregivers alike will recognize Small Bear’s resistance to bedtime, and pointing out the injustice of having to go to sleep while other kids get to stay up. Rhyming couplets add a soothing cadence to a readaloud, and the digital artwork has gorgeous texture, using cool and warm winter colors to bring the story to life. Different sized fonts alert readers to the change between Mama Bear and Small Bear’s dialogue. Mama and Small Bear are playfully affectionate. Illustrations and verse teach readers about various animal homes as we see skunks bed down underground, hares sleeping in a hollowed out tree, and badgers snuggling in their dens. Pair with the humorous Hush Up and Hibernate! by Sandra Markle (2018) for a hibernation storytime or lesson. Author Dianne White has an activity kit for Winter Lullaby available on her website.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Redlocks and the Three Bears flips fairy tales for fun

Redlocks and the Three Bears, by Claudia Rueda, (Nov. 2021, Chronicle Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452170312

Ages 3-5

Claudia Rueda’s newest story is a sweet, humorous take on Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Bears, and that old trope of the Big Bad Wolf. Mama Bear is just about to get the porridge on the table when a knock sounds at the Bear Family’s door: it’s Little Red Riding Hood, and there’s a bear after her! Baby Bear convinces his parents to give Red some shelter; porridge is eaten, chairs get broken, a bed is too soft… but is the Big Bad Wolf really that bad? Redlocks takes a compassionate look at the maligned image of the Big Bad Wolf, who always finds himself in trouble throughout fairy tales, and offers readers some food for thought on how bad reputations can hurt.

The story offers a fun take on the Goldilocks story, with Little Red Riding Hood taking on some of Goldie’s actions in the story; narrated by Baby Bear, we get an empathetic storyteller who just wants to make others feel better. Colored pencil illustrations are soft and use warm colors with expressive characters and gentle movement moving the action forward. Mama’s porridge recipe is part of the back endpapers, and looks like it was written by Baby Bear himself.

A fun cameo from The Three Little Pigs and a twist ending will have readers chuckling, and the easy-to-read, unfussy storytelling is great for a readaloud. Grab your flannels for Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Bears, and The Three Little Pigs for this one!

Visit Claudia Rueda’s author website for more of her illustration work and information about her workshops.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Author Terry Pierce talks Eat Up, Bear!

Eat Up, Bear! is an adorable, rhyming board book that addresses a big topic: respecting the local wildlife – and keeping yourself safe! – when enjoying the outdoors! Whether you’re having a picnic or birthday party in a park, going on a hike, or enjoying a camping trip, it’s important to remember that local wildlife, especially bears, LOVE to eat and will eat your food – not healthy for them! – unless you keep that food safely packed up and properly disposed of!

Eat Up, Bear!, by Terry Pierce/Illustrated by Nadja Sarell,
(Apr. 2021, Yosemite Conservancy),
$8.99, ISBN: 9781-951179-01-4
Ages 3-6

Author Terry Pierce was kind enough to answer a few questions I had. Enjoy!

MomReadIt: Hi there and thank you so much for writing Eat Up, Bear! I love that you’ve written a fun and informative book about keeping both bears and people safe. What inspired you to write Eat Up, Bear for a young audience?

Terry Pierce: Thank you for inviting me to talk about Eat Up, Bear!, Rosemary. It’s a small book that packs a powerful message. My inspiration for this story came from my love of black bears. I’ve hiked and backpacked my whole life and have had many amazing bear encounters in the wild. I’ve seen bears in trees, in ponds, even bears in my camp! One time, I almost ran right into a fledgling bear at a blind spot on a trail. That was exciting! All these encounters led me to have an enormous respect for them, knowing these are gentle creatures who really just want to eat and be left alone.

And therein lies the focus of Eat Up, Bear! Black bears LOVE to eat! Their natural food sources are things like berries, grubs, nuts, grass, and occasionally fish. But they’re also opportunistic eaters, meaning if humans leave food out a bear will eat it. And this is bad for both bears and humans. Obviously, bears should eat natural good-for-their-health foods, not chips and hoagies! Beyond concerns for the bear’s health, when a bear becomes dependent on human food, it can behave more aggressively in its efforts, becoming a “problem bear.” Bears have been known to break into cars if they see food inside, or rummage through a campground looking for unattended ice chests or food left out on picnic tables. This can be a huge problem for bears and people! Sadly, if a bear gets too aggressive, it is put down, so proper food storage can help prevent the death of a bear.

So, when I saw Yosemite Conservancy’s call out for board books, I immediately thought about writing a book about using proper food storage to help keep bears safe and healthy (people too!). Our goal for the book is to entertain and educate little campers everywhere and show how families can do their part to help keep bears wild through respectful coexistence.

MomReadIt: You mention a variety of ways people can enjoy nature, yet keep wildlife – especially bears! – safe from people food (which keeps people safe, too): latching boxes, packing their food well, locking up their coolers, and disposing of trash. Are there any other things to be aware of, when planning a day or camping trip, to keep everyone and every bear safe and sound?

Terry Pierce: Planning is the key word. Plan your trip ahead of time, including learning about wildlife you might encounter during your visit. You can visit the National Park Service website for specifics about the location. For backpackers, an essential item is a “bear canister” for storing your food. In the old days, hikers would hang their food in storage sacks from a tree branch at night, but now they’re required to use a bear canister (a heavy-duty plastic container with a locking lid that’s bearproof).

It’s also smart to make sure you leave no food (or evidence of food) in your car while you’re out enjoying nature. Bears will look in cars and can smell food even if it’s out of sight so roll up your windows. I once saw where a bear had ripped off a car door just to get three peanuts accidentally left on the dashboard! As Eat Up, Bear! says, “Bears are hungry. Clever, too! Take care or bears will eat your food!” The book is a good way for families to learn together the various ways to store food properly and keep everyone safe.

Last, in established campgrounds, such as those in Yosemite National Park, campsites have food lockers to store food when not in use. These lockers are bearproof and right in your campsite, making in convenient for campers to use. Keeping your food inaccessible to bears will keep them safe. For more information about bears and food storage, here’s a NPS link: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/bears.htm.

MomReadIt: Keeping the area safe for people and bears also means keeping the area safe and clean for everyone to enjoy. Over the last year in particular, people have turned to the great outdoors for a safe space. Do you have any suggestions for people that may be new to hiking, camping, and picnicking that will respect nature?

Terry Pierce: Yes, this is true! The pandemic has caused people to take to the great outdoors to enjoy life in a naturally social distanced way. And it’s wonderful to see so many families heading to the outdoors, exposing their little ones to nature early in life. But sometimes, when folks aren’t familiar with wildlife and the outdoors, mistakes can happen.

As I mentioned above, check out the area you plan to visit ahead of time, so you’ll be prepared. Also, check the weather conditions as they can make or break an outing (especially if you’re not prepared with proper attire).

The other thing I recommend is to be respectful of the outdoors while enjoying it. Immerse yourself in nature—listen to the birds, watch for animals, pack out all your trash, absorb the beauty and carry it with you. Turn off your music and phones and take in the sounds of the forest. Slow down as you drive so you have ample time to brake for wild animals. Resist the urge to take selfies with wild animals in the background. People have been injured doing so! Remember, wild animals are exactly that—WILD. So be respectful of them and their home while you visit.

And last, if you have little ones, prepare them in advance by reading books with them. Eat Up, Bear! is terrific book for the smallest of campers and hikers, not only for its message but Nadja’s Sarell’s gorgeous illustrations show what a camping experience might be like. Yosemite Conservancy has an online store with many wonderful children’s books: https://shop.yosemite.org/collections/youth.

Thanks so much to Terry Pierce! Visit Keep Bears Wild for more tips on staying safe – and keeping bears safe – when enjoying the great outdoors this spring and summer.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

What makes somewhere the Best Place in the World?

The Best Place in the World, by Petr Horácek, (Feb. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212853

Ages 3-6

Hare lives in a beautiful meadow, surrounded by his friends, but he wonders if it is the best place in the world. All of his friends say it is, but he’s not convinced. Owl suggests that Hare set out and see the world for himself; Hare discovers green fields, rivers and waterfalls, and a setting sun that looks like a pot of honey. Individually, they may be the best place in the world for some, but something is missing. Hare heads back home, realizing that the best place in the world is the place where your friends are. A gentle story about what makes a place a home, Petr Horácek uses mixed media illustrations to create textured, colorful spreads. Warm yellows, dusky reds, verdant greens, all come together to tell a warm, wonderful story about friendship and togetherness while the meditative text encourages readers to think deeply about what means the most to them in their homes, their communities, their families. A lovely storytime that encourages kids to think and share.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Jory John is sure that Something’s Wrong… but what could it be?

Jory John has a new picture book coming out and it is laugh-out-loud hilarious and so sweet. Something’s Wrong – the story of “A Bear, A Hare, and Some Underwear”, is read-aloud, sight gag GOLD. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this trailer.

I’ve got Something Wrong mini-celebrations going on all week – watch this space and join the fun!

Posted in Uncategorized

Another post about Bears…

(It’s a joke, based on one of the book’s titles. Keep reading.)

Who loves bears? We love bears! Teddy bears, polar bears, brown bears brown bears, bears are children’s book gold. I’ve got three books about bears to crow about today, so let’s start with the inspiration for this post’s title.

Another book about bears., by Laura & Philip Bunting, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-084-3

Ages 3-7

I love a story that breaks the fourth wall! Have you ever thought about how many books there are about bears? Did you ever consider that every time a bear stars in a story, that bear may have been in the middle of something “really good – like sleeping, or snoozing, or napping”? Well, the bears have had it and are going on strike! This hilarious book is all about one bear’s fight for justice. The omniscient narrator tries their best to nudge the bear into compliance in a silly series of moments like dressing it up in a tutu or suggesting the bear kiss a frog, but Bear stands firm, even calling up other animals to serve as a proper stand in. Kids will laugh out loud at the deadpan humor, and the ultimate solution that works for everyone is priceless. Originally published in Australia in 2018, Another book about bears is storytime hilarity just waiting to be revealed.

Visit Philip Bunting’s webpage for free, fun downloadables for kids, too!

 

A Polar Bear in the Snow, by Mac Barnett/Illustrated by Shawn Harris, (Oct. 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536203967

Ages 3-6

Gorgeous cut paper and ink artwork presents a polar bear’s meandering through a brilliant white world and a deep blue sea. A polar bear wakes up in the snow and begins walking… but where is he going? What does he want? Award-winning author and illustrator Mac Barnett builds curiosity and excitement as readers follow the bear past seals, through a storm, and as he rebuffs a human in a very polar bearlike fashion, to end up at his destination. Shawn Harris’s illustrations give such texture and motion, layering shades of white upon white and blue upon blue, giving us a feeling of purpose and joy. Simple sentences and facts about polar bears (he clearly eats seals, but he’s not hungry right now; his coat protects him from the snowstorm; he likes to swim) are a wonderful introduction to young readers about the natural science of bears and the Arctic. A final question leaves much open to discussion. There’s so much presented in this book, so beautifully, and respects its youngest readers in its presentation. Teacher Tips are downloadable from Candlewick’s website.

A Polar Bear in the Snow has starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly.

 

Can Bears Ski?, by Raymond Antrobus/Illustrated by Polly Dunbar, (Nov. 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212662

Ages 3-7

Little Bear can feel the world around him – all its rumbles and shakes, trembles and wobbles – but hearing his world is a little more difficult. He doesn’t hear things clearly, and thinks he hears everyone asking him, “Do bears ski?” Dad takes him to an audiologist one day, and is fitted for hearing aids that make his world way too LOUD. He resists them at first, hiding them around the house, but with his dad’s love and support, he understands that it’s just something new to get used to – and he also learns that everyone has been asking him not whether or not bears can ski, but “Can you hear me?” A touching story about self-discovery, Can Bears Ski? is essential for bookshelves and can start many conversations with children. Author Raymond Antrobus is a Ted Hughes award-winning deaf poet and teacher who wrote Can Bears Ski because “It’s the book I could see myself reaching for as a child, and I can’t wait to have it exist in the world.” Colorful ink and paint artwork made this a gentle, comforting story about a big topic. The CDC’s Kids Quest webpage has helpful facts for kids on hearing loss.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

What’s That Noise? Could it be a rumbly tumbly?

What’s that Noise?, by Naomi Howarth, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536213522

Ages 3-7

Magnus the Arctic seal wakes up to a strange, rumbling sound one morning. He sets off to figure out what it could be and encounters a group of friends along the way: an Arctic hare and fox, a ringed seal and snow owl, and a polar bear all puzzle over what the sound could be, but Walrus knows. It’s Magnus’s hungry tummy! After a tasty shrimp dinner, the friends all pile up to go to sleep, but another rumbling sound keeps them up. What could it be? What’s that Noise? is an engaging story and introduction to Arctic animals for younger kids; they get a chance to participate in the story during a readaloud if you invite them to figure out/tell the other animals what the rumbling could be, and at the end, let them chime in! It’s also a great chance for you to play with voices and sound effects. If you have flannels or animal puppets, take them out! Soft watercolors bring gentle color to the Arctic landscape, and endpapers show an Arctic sunrise and offer informative notes on the animals in the story.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Fair Shares teaches kids about equity

Fair Shares, by Pippa Goodhart/Illustrated by Anna Doherty, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $$12.99, ISBN: 9781684640485

Ages 3-7

Hare and Bear both want some of the tasty-looking pears in a tree, but can’t reach. Hare finds three chairs, but Bear says it’s unfair if Hare takes two chairs, to Bear’s one – but once they’re on the chairs, Bear is the only one that can reach! Luckily for Hare, Beetle steps in and explains that “giving everybody the same thing isn’t always fair”. Whew! Bear realizes that Hare really does need two chairs to reach the pears. Now, what does Beetle want to eat?

Originally published in the UK in 2019, Fair Shares is a beautifully smooth and straightforward explanation of equity, Fair Shares teaches readers of ALL ages that equal doesn’t always mean fair. Bear, who towers over Hare, only needs one chair to reach the pears. With just one chair, Hare is still struggling. Once Bear realizes this simple fact, he’s happy to let Hare get his share. The digital artwork is wonderfully textured, and Anna Doherty’s scanned ink and pencil textures give the story a lovely fall feel, with deep reds, greens, and yellows, and a fuzzy Hare and furry Bear. The ending will surprise and delight readers. Beautifully done, and an essential book to keep on hand.

Free Spirit Publishing has an article, with additional book suggestions, on teaching kids the difference between fair and equal. Teachers Pay Teachers has several free, downloadable classroom printable posters that explain and illustrate equity, including this one from the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, this equity classroom poster from Panda Circus, and this equity poster from Studying Education.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Halloween Books: Bears and Boos

Bears and Boos, by Shirley Parenteau/Illustrated by David Weber, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536208375

Ages 2-5

In the seventh Bears outing by Shirley Parenteau and David Weber, the bears are getting ready for Halloween and couldn’t be more excited! They rifle through a box of costumes, but as they get excited, manners give way to chaos, and little Floppy’s knocked right on her plushy behind! Floppy decides to let everyone else have their turn, but when the fuzz clears, there’s nothing left for Floppy but a crumpled sash. The other bears realize their mistake, and each takes a turn in giving part of their costume to Floppy, creating a wonderful costume. Now that they’re all ready for Halloween, they can all enjoy their holiday. As Shirley Parenteau writes, “When the bears all share, the bears all win. Let the Halloween celebration begin!”

A gently rhyming story that makes for a wonderful readaloud about sharing and kindness, kids and adults alike will recognize the chaos that can happen when emotions run high and even small tasks, like choosing a costume from a box, becomes a free-for-all. Having the teddies empathize with their friend and share their costumes with Floppy teaches a valuable lesson about kindness. The acrylic artwork is soft in color and depicts the teddies in their different colors, with cheerful costumes. Soft orange endpapers feature hanging ghost decorations for a fun Halloween feel. A fun Halloween addition to an adorable series.

Shirley Parenteau’s author website has downloadable resources for educators and caregivers, including writing prompts and drawing sheets.

Posted in Uncategorized

#HomesCool: New ABCs!

I love concept books that take the idea to the next level. These are two new abcedaries that make the ABCs a heck of a lot more exciting!

Eek! A Noisy Journey from A to Z, by Julie Larios and Julie Paschikis, (Sept. 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-169-0

Ages 2-5

ACHOO! A mouse picks a flower, sneezes, and the adventure begins! This book of ABCs tells a story from A to Z, all using sound effects to illustrate the letters of the alphabet. There’s a startled Eeek! when the mouse sees a cat, a Fwump when a growling dog playfully knocks the cat off its feet, and a Kabonk when a bicycle-riding raccoon strikes a tortoise’s hard shell. The mouse and its flower are at the heart of the story, witnessing sweet acts of kindness, fun, and excitement, with Mouse ultimately completing its mission and delivering the gift of a flower to a friend. India Ink and gouache artwork in bright colors and patterns stand out out against colorful backgrounds; the sound words are playful and the letters of he alphabet are bold, standing out against the backgrounds, letting readers easily identify them. Bright yellow backgrounds decorate the endpapers, with letters of the alphabet standing out, in orange, across the pages.

What a fun addition to ABC books and concept collections! Publisher Peachtree has an activity kit with coloring sheets and a storytime activities.

Eek! has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Not An Alphabet Book: The Case of the Missing Cake, by Eoin McLaughlin/lllustrated by Marc Boutavant, (Aug. 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212679

Ages 3-5

Oh no! As soon as you open the book, Bear is there waiting for you: there’s been a horrible crime and he needs your help! “The world’s most completely delicious, tongue-jinglingly chocolaty cake has been STOLEN” and we have to help find the thief! The ABCs lead readers through the clues and suspects they need to solve the mystery… but that bear looks like he’s hiding something, don’t you think? Readers will love this whodunit, and sharp-eyed observers will notice little details like a rather dark smudge across Bear’s face… and are those crumbs scattered across his table? The digital artwork makes for fun, expressive characters, and Bear is hilariously evasive as our unreliable narrator. The endpapers start off with Bear tracking crumbs, and end with… well ,the story’s conclusion. Absolute fun for storytime, this is an abcedary with a plot and a wicked sense of humor. Pair this with Audrey and Bruce Wood’s Alphabet Mystery for a whodunit storytime!

Not An Alphabet Book: The Case of the Missing Cake has a starred review from Kirkus.