Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Brita Teckentrup has a new board book series!

You know I love Brita Teckentrup’s books, right? She’s got a new board book series out through Orca, and I was squealing nonstop. These animal stories are all adorable, tell brief stories, making them great books for toddler readers who are ready to listen to stories beyond basic concepts. The books are part of Orca’s All Natural series, published on recycled paper and using eco-friendly inks, so it’s doing a good deed to have these available!


Little Owl, by Brita Teckentrup, (Sept. 2020, Orca Book Publishers), $10.95, ISBN: 9781459826922

Ages 0-3

It’s nighttime, and Little Owl is excited to be flying with Mom and Dad tonight! The family swoops through the skies, seeing beetles, hedgehogs, and a bat together, before Little Owl is just too tired to keep going. The family snuggles down for a good day’s sleep, ready to take to the skies again the next night. The prose is simple, with sight words aplenty and brief sentences. The artwork is just lovely, with expressive large-eyed owls and smiling forest animals. Colors are deep, and the night sky shifts from a sunset, to night, to the barest light as morning approaches, really giving readers a sense of time. This story is lovely for a lapsit, with tons of snuggle-worthy moments; use with flannels for extra fun. There are some great owl storytimes available online, including this one from North Mankato Taylor Library and this one from Literary Hoots.



Little Squirrel, by Brita Teckentrup, (Sept. 2020, Orca Book Publishers), $10.95, ISBN: 9781459826915

Ages 0-3

Little Squirrel lives high up in an old oak tree and loves running and playing with his friends, the birds and the fox! But the nice weather won’t last forever, so Little Squirrel has to collect acorns and nuts to eat before the winter sets in. Once the cold weather arrives, Little Squirrel is safe and sound in the tree with his family, and they wait for the nice weather to return. Adorable art gives us expressive, friendly animal faces that enjoy play, and the message about being responsible and helpful is there, but subtle for toddlers. The seasons change during the course of the story as blue skies give way to cloudy, snowy skies and white snowflakes fall as the snow piles up. A nice store of acorns lets readers know that Little Squirrel will be just fine this winter, and our parting picture is of a happy Squirrel family together in their tree. There’s some factual information here, placed in the story’s context: squirrels living in the tree, saving food for the winter, and cracking open nuts with their teeth. Perfect for little readers Storytime Secrets has a great squirrel storytime available, and Jen in the Library has the cutest squirrel flannel up. The Canton Public Library has good squirrel book suggestions, too!





Little Duck, by Brita Teckentrup, (Jan. 2021, Orca Book Publishers), $10.95, ISBN: 9781459826946

Ages 0-3

Little Duck is happily swimming in the pond with her siblings and Mama. She dives, says hello to dragonflies, frogs, fish, and tadpoles, and plays hide and seek with her siblings until everyone starts getting tired. Time for a nap! They curl up to Mama and fall asleep. A sweet story that will work with flannels and begs to be read alongside the song Five Little Ducks, this is another snuggy lapsit story that babies, toddlers, and caregivers will love to read together. Add some sound effects, encourage games like peek-a-book when Duck looks for her siblings or waving when Duck encounters new friends to greet. Canton Public Library has good readalike suggestions, and there are excellent storytime ideas from North Mankato Taylor Library, Abby the Librarian, Sunflower Storytime, and Storytime Katie. Little Duck will be out in January 2021.



Little Fox, by Brita Teckentrup, (Jan. 2021, Orca Book Publishers). $10.95, ISBN: 9781459826939

Ages 0-3

Little Fox is the most interactive of the All Natural series so far. Little Fox emerges from his den, sleepy but shaking it off in time to spend his evening playing with friends and observing his surroundings. He sees a woodpecker, some deer, and a few other animals, and plays hide and seek with his friend until the birds start singing. Daytime is coming, and it’s time for Little Fox to find Mama and go back to sleep until late in the day again. The book brings up some observational questions for toddlers to discover, like finding Mama and wondering what the woodpecker is looking for. Kids can point or begin verbalizing, and parents can also point out animals, colors, and shapes as they go along. The day moves into evening, back into morning, giving readers a feel for the passage of time. Sunflower Storytime has a very cute fox storytime available, as does Jen in the Library. Pasadena Library has a cute fox storytime with some flannels.


Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Books from Quarantine: Spring Picture Books

So we’re inside for a large amount of every day, but it’s still Spring outside. I’ve been looking at some beautiful picture books that celebrate the season, and thought I’d bring a little Spring to you.

The Nest That Wren Built, by Randi Sonenshine/Illustrated by Anne Hunter, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536201536

Ages 3-7

An ode to nature in the form of that most famous of cumulative poems, The House That Jack Built. Two wrens build a nest and a family that comes to life as the story progresses. Flowing with imagery and details about Carolina wrens, author Randi Sonenshine and illustrate Anne Hunter create a lovely story that gives readers new surprises to behold on every spread: This is the snakeskin warding off harm, / a scaly and thin reptilian charm, / draped on the nest that Wren built”; “This is the tuft of rabbity fur, / plucked from a sharp, persnickety burr, / to warm the nest that Wren built”. Gentle ink and pencil illustrations in natural browns and greens are just breathtaking which each spread’s reveal. A glossary and page with facts about wrens add additional learning.

An excellent choice for storytimes and for STEM/Science classes for preschoolers and kindergartners. Great inspiration for bird-related crafts and activities, like these DIY bird binoculars or this fun sensory activity. The Audobon Society has a page dedicated to the Carolina Wren, and you can read Laura Donnelly’s poem dedicated to Carolina Wrens here.

The Nest That Wren Built has a starred review from Kirkus.
Seeds, by Carme Lemniscates, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536208443
Ages 3-7
A narrative on the literal and metaphorical power of seeds. “They embark on amazing adventures”, author Carme Lemniscates begins, with illustrations of seed journeys via dandelion puffs and sunflower seeds; underground to sustain ant colonies, and bursting to life as flowers and food. Seeds bring life to the most unlikely places, as we all know; anyone who’s seen leaves sprout from cracks in concrete can attest to that. We are part of the seed’s life cycle as the sowers and caretakers of seeds, reminding readers that we have a big responsibility to our planet. The narrative takes on a solemn note when Lemniscates notes that “we can plant many different kinds of seeds. A smile is a powerful seed… But there are also seeds that bring anger and misunderstanding. When those seeds grow, they pull us apart. Seeds can only bring what they carry.” Pretty powerful words that need repeating. Often.
Carme Lemniscates’ mixed media illustrations bring a crisp life to the illustrations, with browns and greens from nature sharing the space with brightly colored flowers and characters. A wonderful story about friendship and nature, and how we are bound to nature. Great for preschoolers and kindergarteners.

The Seedling That Didn’t Want to Grow, by Brita Tecktentrup, (March 2020, Prestel), $14.95, ISBN: 978-3-7913-7429-1

I never hide my love for Brita Teckentrup, and The Seedling That Didn’t Want to Grow is another hit for me. A seedling takes its time growing in a forest while all the other seeds sprout up around it. Forest friends Ladybird (I love that word) and Ant wait patiently, and when the seedling begins sprouting, Ant and Ladybird follow it along its path, with other forest creatures joining them along their way. The seedling sprouts into a bush full of blossoms, giving home to forest animals who live in her leaves, filling her with “love and life”, but Fall eventually comes, and the animals tearfully say goodbye. But Spring will come again, and with it, a new batch of seedlings, left by their friend.
An aching, unfussy story of friendship set within the nature cycle, The Seedling That Didn’t Want To Grow is filled with catch-your-breath moments: each friend guarding and guiding the seedling as it grows; the change in perspective to showcase the seedling at full growth, housing butterflies, bees, moths, and more; Little Mouse’s farewell… just gorgeous moments, made even more touching by the deep colors of nature and the collage-like feel of the artwork. This is definitely a book on my storytime shelf.
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Buggy Books!

It’s summer, and there are bugs. Why not talk about a couple of great bug books that have hit shelves recently?

Firefly Home, by Jane Clarke/Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup, (June 2019, Nosy Crow), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-5362-0587-9

Ages 3-6

This book is ADORABLE. It’s also perfect for a storytime readaloud, as it’s very interactive. Little Florence Firefly is lost, and there are so many bright lights around her will she ever get home? That’s up to you and your readers, because this sweet little story is loaded with reader prompts to help Florence: flapping hands to show Florence how to fly fast, turning pages, making wishes are just a few of the ways readers can help Florence get back to her home. The text is made up of short sentences, with questions on each page, inviting readers to get involved. This is just too much fun to read out loud! Brita Teckentrup’s artwork is always a pleasure to enjoy; here, her digital artwork creates a sweet little firefly with a bright yellow light, with deep nighttime blues and muted colorful flowers and leaves throughout. House, train, and streetlights are bright and bold, matching our little firefly’s light.

This one is a must-buy, must-read. Let your kids make a firefly craft with this template, and use yellow tissue paper for the tail!


Moth: An Evolution Story, by Isabel Thomas/Illustrated by Daniel Egnéus, (June 2019, Bloomsbury Children’s Books), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1-5476-0020-5

Ages 5-8

This stunning book tells the story of the peppered moth and its evolution, and humanity’s intervention in the process. Originally, peppered moths emerged as light with dark speckling; dark moths were easier to spot against trees and were easy prey. But as humans created factories and machines, spewing pollution into the air, the branches moths sought out became blackened with soot, putting light peppered moths at the mercy of birds, bats, and other predators. But wait! We’ve gotten better! We’ve cleaned up our world, and the trees and surroundings have gotten cleaner again! The moths adapted once again, passing their speckled wings onto new generations. Moth is a powerful story of change and hope for the future, seen through the evolution of a single species directly affected by us.

This is one of the most visually stunning books I’ve read this year. Mixed media illustrations create gorgeous texture, and the moths seem to emerge from the pages in an almost dreamlike fashion. The factories and towers look menacing, silhouetted against grey and black skies; as humanity works to heal the earth, hopeful blue skies break through the gloom. The art and text together create a dramatic, emotionally powerful experience. Originally released in the UK last year, Moth has just hit U.S. shelves and is perfect to supplement a unit on evolution, environmentalism, and conservation.