Posted in gaming, Intermediate, Middle Grade, programs

Tabletop Tuesdays with Tem-Purr-A

I started up my Tabletop Tuesdays a couple of weeks ago for the first time since the Before Times, and I was so happy with the response, I thought I’d start writing about our gaming group.

I have mostly younger kids in my library community – we don’t have a zoned high school near us, and we’re not open for Saturday or Sunday service, so my high school kids are likely hanging out in neighborhoods where their schools are. This informs my gaming choices, to be sure; the lion’s share of my kids are 0-12, with the 5-8 year-old range being the biggest attendees for our programs. So in addition to the usual suspects: Uno, Monopoly and Monopoly Jr., Candyland, and Connect 4, I introduced Tem-Purr-A, a card game that’s similar to Uno, but with more indigestion.

Tempurra, IelloGames (2011)
Ages 8+ (6+ with modifications)
Play time: 15-20 minutes
Number of players: 3-10

The Plot: It’s an eating contest! All the players are cats, passing dishes back and forth among each other, but every card you pick brings you closer to indigestion. If you get three indigestion counters, it’s all over; go get some Alka-Seltzer and relax.

The art is adorable: various cats, brandishing gloriously overflowing dishes. Separate the Indigestion cards from the other cards, shuffle, deal 5 to each player. Put one of the Indigestion cards in the remaining pile.

Images courtesy of Iello Games

Gameplay happens over several rounds. The first player chooses a dish card from their hand and puts it face-up on the table. The next player can either:

  1. Serve a Dish: play a card with the same value (if a card has a value of 6, the player must play a card from their hand with a value of 6)
  2. Eat a Mouthful: Draw the same number of cards as the value of the played card (if you don’t have a 6 card, draw 6 cards). At this point, if you haven’t drawn an Indigestion card, discard the stack you’ve been playing on, and start a new stack by playing a card from your hand.
  3. If you DO draw an Indigestion card, the round is over: the person who got the Indigestion card gets an Indigestion counter; they add the cards they’ve drawn to their hand, and the deck is reshuffled, adding an additional Indigestion card to the mix. The stakes get higher with every Indigestion card revealed, because you’re adding MORE to the deck!
  4. Play an Action Card: Rather than Serve a Dish or Eat a Mouthful, players can play an action card if they have one in their hand. Action cards let you reverse the action, throwing the game back into the previous player’s lap; pass over yourself and have the next player take an action, OR add one dish to the total of dishes to be eaten. If you have a card with a value of 3 showing, and you play a +1 card, the next player must play a card with a face value of 3 OR draw four cards.
  5. Skip a Dish: If you don’t have a card with a face value of the card in play, but have multiple cards of another value, you can play those and Skip the Dish offered. If that 3-card is face up, and you don’t have a 3, but you have a pair of 6 cards, throw them down! Then, clear the stack and start a new pile with the second 6-card facing up, and the next player must either match with a 6-card of their own, draw 6 cards, play an action card, or skip.

Gameplay ends when someone draws their third Indigestion card.

The kids really enjoyed this game, with some modifications. I made it even simpler for my younger kids by keeping it closer to Uno rules: match the cats by number or play an action. If you can’t match, take the number of cards on the displayed card. If you play a +1, the same rules apply as the game rules. I keep the rounds short, and hope to introduce skipping dishes in the next week or two, once the kids are comfortable with game play and pace.

All in All: Super fun for kids 8+, modified for ages 7-8 made it fun for my library kids. This is one of our favorite games at home, and I have my library kids actively looking for this one on game days now.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade

What does the first cat in space eat? Pizza, of course!

The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza, by Mac Barnett/Illustrated by Shawn Harris, (May 2022, Katherine Tegen Books), $15.99, ISBN: 9780063084087

Ages 7-12

Two award-winning kidlit powerhouses come together for a laugh-out-loud tale about a cat, a toenail-clipping robot, and a group of hungry rats posed to devour the moon. Rats from another galaxy are eating the moon! What is the Earth to do? Dispatch a cybernetically enhanced cat – First Cat – to take care of business. Accompanied by a stowaway robot who believes he’s destined for greater things than clipping toenails, and a ship’s computer who’s furious at being upstaged from a larger part in the story, First Cat lands on the moon, and the adventure begins: frozen wastelands, living forests, churning waters (Sea of Tranqulity? HA!) and dangers at every turn. There are repeating gags that get funnier with every utterance, and readers will giggle themselves silly as First Cat tries, time and again, to have a mouth-watering slice of pizza. Artwork is boldly outlined and colorful, hilariously communicating the madcap storytelling.

Did you know First Cat is Instagram famous? Kids can watch First Cat’s live adventures on Instagram or the First Cat webpage, where they can also sign up for the newsletter! The graphic novel includes sheet music and links to songs from the series. The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza is perfect for summer reading your readers will love.

The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza has a starred review from Publishers Weekly and is on the May/June 2022 Indie Next Kids List.

Posted in Uncategorized

Books for Pet Lovers

It’s another roundup! This time, I’ve got books for pet lovers: large, small, stinky, all here!

 

Not That Pet!, by Smriti Prasadam-Halls/Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw, (Feb. 2022, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217766

Ages 2-5

Mabel is so excited: her family is letting her choose the family pet! Her first choice is a bit unorthodox – it’s an elephant – but hey, the elephant keeps the plants watered and pulls weeds, right? When the elephant seems to be a bit too big, the family asks her to make another choice. And another. And another. Mabel’s penchant for choosing unusual pets is upending her family in the most hilarious of ways: ants crawl into her dad’s pants, a snake gets a little too huggy, and skunk… well, you can guess what the skunk does. Can Mabel find a pet that’s going to fit in with her whole family? The hijinks are hilarious and Rosalind Beardshaw’s colorful, cartoony illustrations bring this family to big, colorful life as they try to acclimate to each new pet. The multi-generational, biracial family – Mabel’s mom is South Asian, her dad is white, and mom’s parents live with the family, as shown in a house cross-section. The story bounces humorously along, words in caps for emphasis; this will make a spectacular read-aloud. Mabel and her little brother have a sweet relationship, as he follows her through the book, engaging with each new pet she brings home. A good add to storytime collections.

 

 

Hat Cat, by Troy Wilson/Illustrated by Eve Coy, (Feb. 2022, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536213669

Ages 4-8

An elderly man visits the park to feed squirrels every day, and one day discovers that a kitten has taken up residence in his hat! He takes the kitten home, naming it Hat, and lavishes Hat with love and affection. He won’t let Hat outside to roam, though; he is afraid Hat won’t come back, and he’s afraid for the squirrels. But one day, the man doesn’t come home. A few days later, a woman and child arrive to take care of Hat, and an open door gives Hat the chance he’s waited for: he heads outside, but he doesn’t chase the squirrels and he doesn’t run away. He finds the Man’s hat, left on the bench, and he curls up to sleep in it. And when the Man finally comes back home, he, his caregivers, and Hat all sit together, outside, enjoying the day. Hat Cat is a moving story of friendship and companionship. Pencil and watercolor illustrations give a soft, gentle feel to the story, with the Man and Hat in their cozy book- and plant-filled home. When Hat realizes the Man is gone, the loneliness communicated is just heartbreaking: tiny Hat, standing against a door, the sun shining in, feels so big and empty, and the reunion between Hat and Man bring a warmth and coziness back to the story. The old man presents as white; the caregiver and her daughter are brown-skinned. Details like family photos on the wall give the old man a life beyond the confines of the book. A gorgeous book that evokes emotion.

 

Big Dog, Little Dog, by Sally Rippin/Illustrated by Lucinda Gifford, (March 2022, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684643837

Ages 3-6

A big dog learns about friendship in this adorable story, originally published in the UK in 2021. Big Dog has a good life with his male human, even if it feels a little lonely, from time to time. But things change when Big Dog’s human meets a lady, who has a Little Dog. The two humans move in together, and Big Dog is not thrilled about sharing his home with Little Dog, who interprets things like “Sit”, “Up”, and “Come” very differently. Big Dog has had the run of the house, and now Little Dog – who’s better behaved – seems to be stealing his thunder. Big Dog goes on a campaign of chaos to try framing Little Dog, but when he goes too far, he’s put out for the night; Little Dog refuses to go to sleep without Big Dog, and raises a ruckus indoors until the two are reunited, leading to a friendship between the former rivals. Little Dog calms some of Big Dog’s rebellious nature, and Big Dog teaches Little Dog that it’s okay to take a mud bath every now and then. Big Dog’s owner presents as white, Little Dog’s owner is brown-skinned. Endpapers show Big Dog running across a park in the opening spread, and being joined by Little Dog in the closing. The dogs are expressive from their faces to their active tails, and the illustrations show the amusing difference between Big Dog’s and Little Dog’s interpretations of commands like “UP!” (he lies on the couch; Little Dog jumps into his human’s arms) and “Walkies!” (he takes off, dragging his human being him; Little Dog walks alongside his human). Great for dog fans and kids with new siblings, Big Dog Little Dog shows kids that even the roughest of beginnings can lead to a sweet ending. Adorable for storytime reading.

 

 

We Love You, Magoo, by Briony Stewart, (March 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684643646

Ages 2-6

A lovable cartoon pup has his own ideas about what a dog should do in this giggle-worthy rhyming look at a dog’s life. Alternating spreads show Magoo contemplating what he thinks he should be doing – chowing down on bacon and eggs at the breakfast table, taking the car wheel, chewing a bunch of toys – and what he should be doing, like eating kibble from his bowl, sitting in his dog house, or playing with a tennis ball. Spreads fall into a question and answer format, making it easy for kids to chime in with the repetitive answer, “No, Magoo. This is for you”. Magoo’s facial expressions and body language are adorably played for laughs, and the sweet ending will melt hearts. The bold, bright artwork and big, black fonts make this an excellent readaloud choice that will get little ones gleefully taking part in your storytime. Originally published in Australia in 2020, We Love You, Magoo is new to U.S. shores and has a companion book, Where Are You, Magoo? that I hope makes its way here.

Author-illustrator Briony Stewart’s webpage has more information about her books, including the Magoo books.

 

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

’80s storytime: Good Times Roll

Good Times Roll, by Ric Ocasek/Illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr., (Oct. 2021, Akashic Books), $16.95, ISBN: 9781617758485

I’m a 70s and 80s kid, and Akashic’s LyricPop books give me such joy. This latest one is based on The Cars’s 1978 hit, “(Let the) Good Times Roll”. Rob Sayegh Jr. brings a playful spin to this song with two cats, a ball of yarn, and a lot of imagination. The two cats play together as they create waves, rainbows, and zooming planets and stars with the yarn, frolicking through lyrics like, “Let them leave you up in the air. / Let them brush your rock and roll hair. / Let the good times roll”. It’s playful, it’s bright, it’s just fun: just what your ’80s storytime needs.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Two fun books about cats

Inside Cat, by Brendan Wenzel, (Oct. 2021, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781452173191

Ages 3-5

Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Brendan Wenzel brings readers a new story about cats from a different point of view. Where 2017’s They All Saw a Cat showed us how other creatures perceive cats, Inside Cat shows us how a house cat perceives his world. Using rhyme and repetition, we follow Inside Cat as he wanders through a room, stops at windows, and looks outside. Cat’s imagination fills in what he perceives the rest of the outside world entails, from birds wearing clothes stolen off a clothesline to a giant salt shaker shaking snow just outside the window frame. Inside Cat is pretty confident that he knows everything about what goes on in the outside world… until he ventures outside for the first time. Mixed media illustrations and playing with color let readers create their own stories about what goes on outside Cat’s window – or their own! Endpapers get in on the fun. A story that encourages imagination and plays with perception, kids will love hearing Inside Cat again and again.

Inside Cat has starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. While I didn’t see an Inside Cat activity kit, you can use many of the cat-tivities (I had to) from the kit for They All Saw a Cat.

 

Bathe the Cat, by Alice B. McGinty/Illustrated by David Roberts, (Feb. 2022, Chronicle Books). $17.99, ISBN: 9781452142708

Ages 3-5

Grandma’s coming to visit, and it’s time to clean the house! Daddy is calling out chores, all written out with fridge magnets, but Cat will do anything to get his name off that list. As the chores get wackier and wackier, Daddy and Papa are desperate to know who’s messing with the list! I mean, really: sweep the dishes? Scrub the fishes? The clock is ticking! Can these dads and their kids get it together and get the house clean in time? A laugh-out-loud story about a cat who’s a step ahead of its family, with bright, eye-catching pencil and watercolor artwork. There are two brown-skinned dads and a diverse group of kids, and the chaos is fun and relatable as they turn into a whirlwind of misguided chores as Cat, firmly set against having a bath, gives knowing smiles and side-eye expressions in between spreads showing them playing with the magnet letters and creating all sorts of wacky chores. There are thoughtful details, like various Pride flags decorating the refrigerator and Grandma’s tote bag (I see you, Philly!). A fun, quietly meaningful book that embraces the chaos of family life and shows a fun, positive depiction of an LGBTQ+ family. Pair with Friday Night Wrestlefest by JF Fox and Micah Player for more stories about family hijinks.

Download a fun activity kit, complete with a chore list and wacky word scramble, to hand out at storytime.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Kicking into Holiday Mode with Robin, Robin!

Hi all. This is probably the most up-and-down year for me, blog-wise. I’ve tried to keep my ups and downs off my blog and my blogging schedule, but I guess, like just about everyone else, the chaos of the last almost two years (jeez!) has had its way with me. All I can do is thank you all for continuing to read, and promise that I’ll keep working on doing better. That said, let’s get right into the holiday reads with Robin, Robin!

Robin Robin, by Dan Ojari & Mikey Please/Illustrated by Briony May Smith, (Nov. 2021, Red Comet Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781636550091

Ages 4-8

What a feather in Red Comet Press’s cap: an adorable book with a companion Netflix release! Robin is a sweet young bird that’s been raised by mice, and wants so much to be a mouse, she fluffs up her feathers to create fuzzy little ears on top of her head. The Mouse family dreams of delicious crumbs that can be found at the Who-man’s home, but they have to be so quiet and careful, to avoid the Cat that guards their home. On one crumb expedition, Robin meets a Magpie, who tells her that the Who-mans have so much because of the Chrim-Cross Star that they put on top of a spikey tree every year; they wish on that star and get ANYTHING they want. Robin’s wish is to become a mouse, but this heartwarming story is all about families, loving who we are, and – hey, it’s the holidays! – enjoying good food together! Briony May Smith’s artwork is warm, with delightful animals, homey interiors, all set against a holiday backdrop with snow, trees, and homemade Chrim-Cross trimmings. There are such incredible details to discover, like Magpie’s home, with shiny keys, rings, and found objects forming decorative garlands; a wonderful use of shadows to convey Cat’s menace as she sneaks up on an unsuspecting Robin; the proud stance Magpie adopts as he marvels at his own Chrim-Cross Tree. The storytelling comes together with the artwork to create a new Christmas classic. Don’t miss this one.

Twinkl, an online educator/caregiver resource, has free Robin, Robin downloadables, from coloring sheets to math challenge cards. Create a free account to get access. If you get a chance, check out the Netflix trailer below: Aardman Animations, the studio that gave viewers Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep, does the animation and it is just adorable.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Frankie and Amelia is a great buddy story

Frankie and Amelia, by Cammie McGovern, (Oct. 2021, HarperCollins), $16.99, ISBN: 9780062463326

Ages 8-12

Franklin is a cat who ends up separated from his family. He finds a temporary home with a family, where he meets a dog named Chester, a service dog to a boy with autism named Gus. But Gus’s dad is allergic to Franklin, so he ends up with one of Gus’s classmates, a girl named Amelia, who loves cats, and who really needs a good friend.

Frankie and Amelia is a the companion book to Chester and Gus (2017), but you don’t need to have read it to enjoy Frankie and Amelia. It’s a gentle story about found families, inclusion, and autism, particularly how it’s often missed in girls. The story is narrated by Franklin, who grows as a character as the story progresses and he learns more about and becomes more sensitive to his adopted humans, Gus and Amelia. Chester, a seasoned seizure response dog, is Franklin’s guide into this new world and provides an incredible amount of information to readers on autism and the sensitivity that companion animals provide to their charges. Cammie McGovern, the parent of a child with autism, writes with an understanding and sensitivity to the topic, and creates characters that are kind, realistic, and lovable. By exploring the relationship between pets and people, she’s able to give readers a new understanding of autism, how people with autism are often perceived by others, and how autism presents differently in boys and girls.

A must-have for your shelves.

 

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

See the Dog follows See the Cat for wordplay hilarity

See the Dog: Three Stories About a Cat, by David LaRochelle/Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781536216295

Ages 4-7

The hilarious follow-up to last year’s Geisel Award-winning See the Cat has Cat taking center stage while Dog is out sick. Cat’s not thrilled with the bossy book, though, and the results are laugh-out-loud funny. In the first story, “See the Dog”, we get the scoop on Cat, who’s filling in for Dog, but isn’t really up for that whole “Dogs dig holes” sort of business. “See the Lake”, story number two, has the book trying to get Cat to jump in a cold lake and swim, and “See the Sheep” is all about how brave Cat will save a sheep… until Cat discovers that there’s a wolf on the way. A surprise cameo caps off this side-splitting story. Gouache artwork makes for warm, cartoony expressions and the back-and-forth dialogue between “Book” and “Cat” makes for a hilarious readaloud. Download the activity kit from Candlewick!

See the Dog has starred reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus.

 

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

This Halloween, Zombert returns!

Return of Zombert, by Kara LaReau/Illustrated by Ryan Andrews, (July 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536201079

Ages 8-12

Last summer, I read Kara LaReau and Ryan Andrews’s Rise of Zombert, and audibly squawked at the cliffhanger ending; needless to say, seeing Return of Zombert in my review box of goodies from Candlewick Press gave me a large amount of seasonal joy.

To catch you up: Lambert is a corporate town, with the YummCo corporation at the town’s heart. Everyone is employed by or affected by YummCo in some way, but it’s okay! Because YummCo is great! They have a catchy jingle, and the head of the company loves to give people the thumbs up! And they swear they don’t test on animals! Except they do. YummCo’s got their corporate fingers in a lot of pies, and some projects are shadowy and secret, and involve some awful animal testing. Zombert – known at the lab as Y-91 – is a cat that escaped from the lab with promises of revenge when he returns to liberate the other animals, but he’s found by a girl named Mellie, who cares for him, nurses him back to health, names him Bert, and doesn’t mind (too much) that he prefers to eat the heads of his live prey.

Zombert – as Mellie’s best friend Danny calls the “zombie cat” – has started easing into life with Mellie while haunted by nightmares of his mother, who never returned from a food run; his brother and sister, captured with him and brought to the lab, and the memories of Cold Hands, the cruel human at the lab who experimented on him. And YummCo hasn’t forgotten about Zombert, either: there are new plans afoot to get him back, and they have another inside man infiltrating Mellie’s and Danny’s lives to facilitate that. Mellie needs to earn some money to get Bert to the vet, and YummCo just happens to be holding a Best Pet contest. Is the contest legit? What do you think? This latest entry into the Zombert chronicles is even more compulsively readable than Rise of Zombert. It’s dark humor at its best, with poignant moments as we experience Zombert’s trauma through his memories. The ending will leave you yelling at the book yet again, and waiting not-so-patiently for the third part of the series, due in the Summer of 2022. Ryan Andrew’s black and white illustrations add the perfect touch of chiller to this story. Definitely grab this one.

Read a sample chapter of Return of Zombert here.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

Bridge Easy Readers and Intermediate chapter books with Barkus and Charlie & Mouse

Transitioning from Easy Readers to chapter books is even more fun with these colorful chapter book series!

Barkus: The Most Fun, by Patricia MacLachlan/Illustrated by Marc Boutavant, (Sept. 2021, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781452173344

Ages 6-9

Newbery Medalist Patricia Machlachlan’s Barkus series is adorable and perfect for easy readers who are ready to take on some more complex reading. The third book, Barkus: The Most Fun, has Barkus, the family dog, and his family going on a series of outdoor adventures. Composed of four stories, Barkus, Baby the Kitten, and his human family go camping, visit grandmother and grandfather’s farm, visit a parade, and head to their winter cabin. Narrated by the young girl who happens to be Barkus’s favorite human, the stories are brief enough to read one at a time or all at once; sentences are simple and informative, and the colorful illustrations show a happy family doing things together. There are warm and funny moments in each story: Barkus and Baby end up making news in “The Most Fun!” and witness the birth of a calf in “The Crazy Cows of Spring”. The images are warm, comforting, and familiar: a family traveling in their car, a dog and cat curled up together in the back; a grandparent hugging his granddaughter and patting Barkus’s head as he leans into the loving touch; even a mildly put-upon dad, frowning as his daughter, her dog, and cat peek out from a pile of leaves that he was raking. Patricia MacLachlan and Marc Boutavant make magic and memories here.

Visit Scribd and download Barkus activity sheets!

 

Charlie & Mouse: Lost and Found, by Laurel Snyder/Illustrated by Emily Hughes, (Aug. 2021, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781452183404

Ages 6-9

Siblings Charlie and Mouse have new adventures in their fifth outing. Lost & Found has four short stories, taking the sibs on slightly smaller – but no less exciting – adventures, all taking place in the course of one day. In “Somewhere”, the two search high and low for Mouse’s blanket; in “Errands”, they join Mom on the dreaded series of errands – the bank, the post office – but make a BIG discovery! In “Silly”, Charlie and Mouse have a sad goodbye, but in “Boop”, another discovery warms their hearts. Chapters are short, with simple sentences; stories are kid-friendly and oh-so relatable (the very mention of the words “bank”, “grocery store”, or “post office” strikes fear into my 9-year-old’s heart), Illustrations are softly illustrated, with friendly, expressive characters. The body language between the siblings is comforting and playful. The siblings slump on each other in the car during the dreaded errands; Charlie comforts a distraught Mouse, who cannot locate Blanket. Parents show up for a few moments in the stories, but the focal point is the relationship between Charlie and Mouse, as it should be. The first book in the series, Charlie and Mouse, is a 2018 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner.

Get a free Teacher’s Guide to the series, and two activity sheets here.