Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Let’s Get Sleepy! plays seek and find up ’till bedtime

Let’s Get Sleepy!, by Tony Cliff, (Aug. 2020, Imprint), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250307842

Ages 3-6

A group of kittens are trying to track down a mouse they call wee Sleepy, the Prince of the Night. Where can he be? This adorable seek-and-find adventure does double duty as a rhyming bedtime story that will have your Kiddos joining the kittens in their search for Sleepy. Searching their neighborhood block, a weekend parade, the beach, Mount Snow, even a swamp, slug caves, and the moon, Sleepy always manages to stay ahead of the kittens – will Sleepy stay ahead of your Kiddos? Tony Cliff, the author-illustrator of the Delilah Dirk graphic novel series, is an Eisner, Shuster, and Harvey award nominee and brings his talent for creating fun, fast-paced cartooning to this children’s adventure. The crowd scenes have movement and a sense of delightful play, and the rhyming text has repetitive phrases like, “Is this where he’ll be? We’ll search and we’ll seek and we’ll ask friends that we meet”, and – naturally – “Let’s Get Sleepy!”, that encourage readers to chime in along with you as you’re reading. You ask them to guess if the cats will find him on the next spread, or where he could be hiding – and then seek him out. An amusing brainteaser for bedtime, Let’s Get Sleepy is a nice addition to smaller storytime groups (or virtual storytimes) and bedtime reading.

Publisher Macmillan has a free, downloadable activity kit with instructions on making a felt bed for Sleepy, a Make Your Bedtime checklist, and more!

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Every toddler and preschooler will love No! Said Rabbit

No! Said Rabbit, by Marjoke Henrichs, (March 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682632949

Ages 2-6

A young rabbit’s mother tries to get Rabbit to listen to her, but Rabbit wants to do things his way, when he wants to: “Time to get dressed,” said Mom. / “NO!” said Rabbit. / “But that is my faorite top and my pants with the big pockets…” Parents and caregivers will recognize the magnificent art of deflection here: Mom seems to have Rabbit’s favorite things within eyeshot whenever he’s ready to say no to her; he’ll see his juicy orange carrots on the table, then he’ll decide to eat breakfast; see his favorite boots, and decide to go outside. Toddlers and preschoolers will joyfully holler “NO!” along with Rabbit, making for a fun readaloud, and appreciate Rabbit’s struggle for independence alongside their own. Is there anything that can make Rabbit say yes, you wonder? Of course! Cuddles from Mommy always get a yes! But there’s one more “No” to be had, and it’s adorably sweet. Colorful mixed media artwork looks will appeal to kids; the A joyful, humorous look at a toddler’s growing independence, and a good choice for storytimes and bedtimes.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Magical, snuggly bedtime stories

Who doesn’t love a good bedtime story? And now, with virtual programming here for good, we can hold virtual pajama storytimes at any time! Here are a few adorable new bedtime stories to read to your littles, whether they’re curled up in your lap at home, or gathered around their devices for your storytime.

It’s So Quiet: A Not-Quite-Going-to-Bed Book, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, (Feb. 2021, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781452145440

Ages 3-7

As the sun goes down and the night drifts in, a little mouse isn’t able to fall asleep quite yet: it’s too quiet! Mom tells the little mouse to let the sounds of nature help them drift off to sleep: a croaking bullfrog, a snoring grandfather and his dog’s tail thumping against the porch; a coyote howling at the moon, all around the little mouse, there is sound – and maybe he would like it a little more quiet after all. Sherri Duskey Rinker creates wonderful bedtime stories that play with sound, rhyme, and repetition – Steam Train, Dream Train and Good Night, Good Night Construction Site are stalwart storytime favorites with my library kids – and It’s Too Quiet continues this fun tradition. Sound effects repeat and get their own exaggerated fonts, calling attention to them and making for flannel and finger puppet storytelling. Digital illustrations are cartoony and expressive, with bold lines. A great bedtime and storytime book that’s sure to pack in the laughs.

It’s So Quiet has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Ella’s Night Lights, by Lucy Fleming, (Nov. 2020, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212693

Ages 3-7

Ella is a little girl with moth wings and antenna, who sleeps in the nook of a tree by day. By night, she flies around, collecting light and bringing it to anyone that needs it, repeating a gentle rhyme: “Here’s some bright light. / Here’s a night light, / a little ray to calm your fright”. Ella wants so much to see the sunrise, but her delicate wings make that impossible, until her animal friends come together with a plan to celebrate her kindness. Ella’s Night Lights is a warm story of kindness and friendship, with soft digital illustrations and quietly colorful spreads bringing life to cold, snowy landscapes. The endpapers are soft yellow, with moths flitting across the pages. Ella’s evening rhyme is a lovely way to send dreamers off to sleep, especially for those who may appreciate a little extra light in the room.

 

Bedtime for Albie, by Sophie Ambrose, (Jan. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536211184

Ages 3-7

It’s time for bed in the savanna, but Albie, a young warthog, still wants to play! He runs off to ask his other animal buddies to play, but everyone’s going through their night time routines. That doesn’t stop Albie, who decides he’ll just play on his own… but it’s not really much fun playing all by himself, so Albie heads back to his mother, who has the best night time routine waiting for him. Kids will relate to this story about not being ready for bed just yet, and the different animals going through bedtime stories and baths is a good way to prompt conversation about our own bedtime routines: brushing teeth, washing up, stories, what else can you think of? The phrase, “skippety trot trit trot”, used when Albie dashes off, repeats often enough that you can invite readers to chime in. Watercolor and pencil illustrations are soft, with earthy colors and friendly animal faces. Endpapers show a grayed-out area of the savanna. A fun story on which to end the day.

 

While You’re Sleeping, by Mick Jackson/Illustrated by John Broadley, (Feb. 2021, Pavilion), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1843654650

Ages 4-8

While you’re tucking your little one into bed, there’s a whole world hustling and bustling outside. While You’re Sleeping is all about the folx who work while the rest of the world sleeps: people who clean public transportation and offices; delivery drivers; mail sorters, bakers, shopkeepers, and more, all work through the night to get the world ready for everyone else that next morning. Even the animal world doesn’t settle in for the night: foxes pass humans on the street as they forage for food, bats and owls hunt for prey. John Broadley’s illustrations remind me of Beth Krommes’s artwork; there’s so much detail to be discovered. Colors grow warmer as the night turns to dawn, with red-orange sunlight streaking through windows and down streets. Read with Karen Hesse’s Night Shift for a storytime about night time jobs.

While You’re Sleeping was originally published in the U.K. in 2020.

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 picture books, Preschool Reads

A monster slayer never sleeps! Poesy the Monster Slayer

Poesy the Monster Slayer, by Cory Doctorow/Illustrated by Matt Rockefeller, (July 2020, First Second), $18.99, ISBN: 9781626723627

Ages 4-6

Cory Doctorow always knows how to make me smile, whether he’s writing about gamer uprisings (Little Brother) or unionizing MMORPG gold farmers (In Real Life). His newest book, Poesy the Monster Slayer, is an illustrated picture book about a little girl who’s got to contend with her parents giving her a bedtime when she’s got far bigger things to worry about: monsters. Dad reads her trusty book on monsters to her every night, so Poesy is prepared and waiting when the slew of monsters arrive throughout the evening: werewolves, Great Old Ones, vampires, even Frankenstein’s monster all face off against Poesy’s skills, and she deftly navigates dispatching the monsters with carefully selected toys in her room while putting up with her parents’ constant interruptions as they tell her to go to bed.

Illustrated in comic book style, with panels and word bubbles, Poesy is a fun story about a smart little girl taking on bedtime and those irksome bedtime monsters. Shades of black, purple, and blue set a nighttime feel for the story, and the monsters are comically menacing, meeting their defeats at the hands of Poesy and her room full of carefully selected toys. Parents will love the relatability of trying to get one’s little one to stay in bed: I know I feel like I log more steps in the hours from 9-12pm than I do most of the day!

Absolute fun for storytime; keep this one handy for bedtime, too – just don’t blame me if your little ones add fighting Great Old Ones to their list of nighttime activities!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Books for Bedtime… or not.

Anyone else finding that bedtimes are taking on lives of their own? Here are a few books to let us know we’re not alone. Turn bedtime into funtime with these wacky families!

Friday Night Wrestlefest, by JF Fox/Illustrated by Micah Player, (Feb. 2020, Roaring Brook Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250212405

Ages 4-8

It’s Friday night. Pizza’s been eaten, school’s out for the weekend… it’s time for FRIDAY NIGHT WRESTLEFEST! One family’s Battle To the Bedtime is an inspiration to the rest of us as they adopt their fantastic ring personas – Dangerous Daddooo (“He’s mad. He’s bad. He’s DAD.”), Tag Team Twins, Peanut Brother and Jellyfish, and “special guest star”, Big Bald Baby – and turn their living room into an all-star arena! Will Mom come in for the big save, or will Big Bald Baby clear the ring?

The artwork is a riot of color and movement, with kids and parents sailing through the air, talking smack, and dramatically posing. The family that plays together, stays together, for sure: endpapers feature a lovely wall of family photos in the usual well-mannered poses up front; back endpapers have the family striking victorious poses, hugging one another while celebrating various Wrestlefest wins.

This is a non-stop fun family read for bedtime or anytime. And if you were to construct your own wrestling ring in your living room to take on your family, you’d definitely want to download this activity kit from the publisher, so you could outfit yourself with a cool mask, pick out a great wrestler name, and get that championship belt all shined up.

Everyone’s Awake, by Colin Meloy/Illustrated by Shawn Harris, (March 2020, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4521-7805-9

Ages 4-8

A foreboding house on a hill has a single light shining on a dark, dark, night… wait a minute, this is no scary story! Turn the page, and discover what’s going on in that house on that late, late night: everyone’s awake! This rhyming story stars a family that just can’t sleep, and the young narrator takes us through what everyone’s up to: Dad’s in the kitchen, Grandma’s crafting, Sister’s flossing and putting her hair in braids, but all of a sudden things take a turn for the anarchic when Mom starts tap-dancing to Prince and Dad rolls a motorcycle in the room. Even the ghost of Grandpa shows up for a late night visit!  The manic story lets readers cut loose and embrace the chaos of bedtime gone wild. The ink, charcoal, and pencil artwork has a soft, surreal feel to it, lending a dreamlike, half-awake half asleep feel to the story. There are amazing details to be found in each spread, like Prince’s album covers, and the spines on the family bookshelf. Blues, oranges, and yellows dominate the landscape, taking readers from a drowsy sleep to full-on, sleepless mania and back again.

Author Colin Meloy is the lead singer and songwriter of The Decemberists, and the author of several children’s books, including the New York Times bestselling Wildwood series. Illustrator Shawn Harris is an artist and musician and the illustrator of several award-winning children’s books including Her Right Foot and What Can a Citizen Do?

Will this family ever get to sleep? You don’t expect me to spoil the surprise, do you? Everyone’s Awake is an hilarious bedtime romp.

 

Posted in Family Storytimes, picture books, Preschool Reads, programs, Storytime, Toddler Reads, Toddler Storytime

Margaret Wise Brown storytime: The Diggers, Count to 10 with a Mouse, Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears

Last week, I decided to test drive three Margaret Wise Brown re-released books in my toddler storytime. Most of my kiddos and families know Ms. Brown as the “Goodnight Moon Lady”, or “The Runaway Bunny lady”, so I thought it would be fun to give them more choices when they’re looking for something to read. It went over pretty well. Before I get into that, though, I thought some background on these three books would be interesting – I know I found it fascinating.

In 1990, author Amy Gary discovered a trunk of unpublished manuscripts and songs in the attic of Margaret Wise Brown’s sister’s barn. These manuscripts provided the source material for many of the titles in a new line of classics by the beloved author. While I’d seen Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears pretty recently – Kohl’s had the book and a companion teddy bear as one of their Kohl’s Cares book/plush sets about a year or two ago, and my mom picked up a book and teddy for my little guy – The Diggers and Count to 10 With a Mouse are new to me.

The Diggers, by Margaret Wise Brown/Illustrated by Antoine Corbineau, (March 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684127429

Ages 3-7

Moles dig holes. So do dogs. Worms, rabbits, mice, and pirates all dig holes, too! Animals and people alike dig holes for different reasons, and The Diggers tells their stories. The kids loved the whole process of digging a hole for a subway system, and I favored the digger machine digging up “stones, and find dinosaur bones, and cavemen’s homes, and buried gnomes”. This is just an fun, rhyming story that has so much detail to enjoy: buried dinosaur bones and pottery; worm homes that curve to meet their owner’s bodies; a train running along the horizon as it goes down its track, a pirate’s trail of thievery. The kids really enjoyed this one, and so did I. Artist Antoine Corbineau (whose website features much of the artwork from The Diggers, and from where I sampled the interior art) makes bright, bold artwork with loads of things for kids to find. The black and grey-purple endpapers show a cityscape in progress, with pathways all dug out. This is an adorable choice for a construction or transportation storytime; two choices that always go over well with my storytime groups.

The verse is Margaret Wise Brown – you can’t go wrong. The repeated phrase, “Dig Dig Dig” allows kids to jump right in and interact with you during a reading, and there are so many chances to ask them questions: identify the animals, where do they live/what do they eat; what predictions can they make about what’s going to happen next?

Consider an author study with your school-age kids, to really expose them to Margaret Wise Brown’s body of work; The Diggers is such an active book compared to Runaway Bunny and Goodnight, Moon; it will give the kids so much to think about and discuss.

 

Count to 10 With a Mouse, by Margaret Wise Brown/Illustrated by Kirsten Richards, (March 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684127412

Ages 2-5

This book is a hit! I love a counting book that has a fun story to go along with it, and Count to 10 With a Mouse fits the bill perfectly! The endpapers are covered in mouse paw prints, and there are two holes, one of which has the cutest little mouse peeking out of it! This counting story has everything: rhyme, repetition, and concepts (counting). A little mouse lives in a hole, and teaches himself to count by looking at the things around him: one mouse, two holes, three fish; all things he discovers as he crawls through the holes to the next pages. The rhyme and repetition are sweet, and filled with discovery: Each page, each discovery, starts off with the repeated phrase, “And there, what does he see? And there, what does he see?” Each spread leads readers to the next with a tempting invitation: “Then the mouse ran through the book, the mouse ran through the book. He ran onto the next page to take a little look”. Kirsten Richards’ illustrations are soft, sweet, and fit perfectly with Margaret Wise Brown’s storytelling rhyme, creating a whole experience for readers. The end of the book suggests turning around and starting all over again – expect that at bedtime!

I loved Count to 10 With a Mouse, and this one is definitely going in my storytime collection. I’m tucking it into my Children’s Book Week book ideas.

 

Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears, by Margaret Wise Brown/Illustrated by Julie Clay, (Apr. 2019, Silver Dolphin), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684127603

Ages 2-6

What would a Margaret Wise Brown collection be without another cuddly bedtime story? Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears is perfect for bedtime cuddling. Pastel-colored endpapers look like a comfy quilt to snuggle down into, and the story – a big sleepy bear and a little sleep bear get ready for bed – teaches important lessons about modeling behavior. Everything big sleepy bear does, little sleepy bear does, from yawning, to stretching, to getting into bed and putting heads on the pillow. They each recite a sweet little rhyme (a variation of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep) and drift off to sleep. I’ve read this to my little guy when we’re both about to nod off, and it’s a wonderful way to ease into bedtime. The affection between big and little bear comes through as words and the soft art palette come together to send readers off to their own dreams.

The kids at storytime weren’t quite ready to go to bed when I finished this story, but it was a nice close to storytime. Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears is a new bedtime classic to add to your shelves.

 

The best news? Silver Dolphin is launching 15 more Margaret Wise Brown books this Spring and Summer, and will have two more in the fall!

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A loving Moon watches and wishes…

Moon Wishes, by Patricia Storms & Guy Storms/Illustrated by Milan Pavlovic, (March 2019, Groundwood Books), $17.95, ISBN: 9781773060767

Ages 4-7

A sweet bedtime story, a loving meditation from caregiver to child, Moon Wishes sees a gently illuminated moon overseeing nature, animals, and humans alike, and wishing all that’s good upon all it touches. The poetic text reads like a parent or caregiver’s loving murmur to a sleepy child, with phrases like, “If I were the moon, I would paint ripples of light on wet canvas and shimmer over dreams of snow…”, and “…if I were the moon, I would make myself big and bright and strong with love so that I could shine on you”. It’s soothing and gentle, comforting and and perfect to read to the little ones curled up in your lap or surrounding your storytime circle.

The watercolor illustrations give a dreamlike depth to the authors’ voices, presenting gently illuminated landscapes, a kind-faced moon lighting the way for animals and humans alike. The colors are soft and bright, landscapes moving from snowy icebergs through waters, forests, and towns. A lovely addition to picture book collections and bedtime storytime.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Bear parents: Just like us! Hush up and Hibernate

Hush Up and Hibernate, by Sandra Markle/Illustrated by Howard McWilliam, (Aug. 2018, Persnickety Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781943978366

Ages 3-7

Parents and caregivers will love this one as much as their kids. Mama Bear knows that winter’s coming, and it’s time to hibernate, but Baby Bear is just not ready to go to sleep yet, and can’t understand why he can’t stay up all winter. So he asks for something to eat. And then he has to have something to drink. And then the bed is too hard. And he hasn’t said goodbye to all the other animals in the forest! Mama Bear has finally had E-NOUGH, and tells him, in no uncertain terms, that it is time for hibernating. While Baby Bear finally beds down for the winter, he manages to have the hilarious, adorable, last word.

Sandra Markle is a nonfiction maven, and Hush Up and Hibernate shows that she’s got fiction chops, too. She creates a situation that every parent and child will recognize – that bedtime back-and-forth – and makes it sweet, funny, and absolutely relatable to nature, both wild and human. What parent hasn’t said, “Okay, I’m going, bye now…” to their child, who refuses to leave with them? (My mom did it to me, and I see parents saying it to their kids at the library. We wink at each other and smile.) What parent hasn’t heard “One more hug”, “I need a glass of water”, “I need to go to the bathroom”, and “I need to say goodnight to my 100 stuffed animals/everyone in the house/the moon and each planet”?

The artwork is bold and warm, with Mama and Baby Bear’s black fur standing out against the changing seasonal colors. Expressive, big eyes let readers know what’s on each bear’s mind, and Mama Bear’s expression at the end is utterly relatable. Absolute fun for bedtime and anytime. Add this one to your collections.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Mother Earth’s Lullaby sings us all to sleep

Mother Earth’s Lullaby: A Song for Endangered Animals, by Terry Pierce/Illustrated by Carol Heyer, (Oct. 2018, Tilbury House), $17.95, ISBN: 9780884485575

Ages 3-6

A gentle rhyme set to painted illustrations of animals parents (including humans), Mother Earth’s Lullaby leads readers through bedtime in nature. Beginning and ending with a human mother and her two children (and cat), reading a bedtime story on the couch, spreads show different animal parents with their babies: panda and cub cuddle in bamboo leaves; a condor lies over its chick; polar bear cubs cuddle on their mother in their den; owlets take refuge in a tree. But for the humans, each group of animals depicted is endangered.

The story doesn’t really focus on endangered animals, per se; it’s up to readers and educators/caregivers to explain that these animals are endangered. The story suggests that even endangered animals feel safe in their dens while they sleep, next to their parents, who care for them and keep them safe. The paintings are realistic and will appeal to readers, and the rhyme, while not always even, makes for sweet bedtime reading. Back matter includes descriptions of each featured animal, a word on endangered animals and how readers can help with recovery efforts. This one is a nice additional purchase for storytime books.