Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

New books for your animal fans

Animals, animals, animals, kids love books with animals. Here’s a roundup that will brighten and delight…en.

P is for Puffin: The ABCs of Uncommon Animals, by Timothy Young, (Nov. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 9780764362477

Ages 0-6

Timothy Young hits shelves with an abcedary board book that puts “uncommon animals” – E is not for Elephant here! – front and center. Each letter features an animal or two, with a sentence or two of informational text and a phonetic pronounciation guide for each animal’s name. Some letters feature two animals: P is for both Puffin and Pangolin; Q is for Quokka and Quoll. There are loads of fun facts to be discovered, like the mara, who is not a deer, but rather a large rodent that looks like a cross between a deer and a rabbit, or the shekru, which looks like a multicolored squirrel and is about twice the size of the squirrels we’re more familiar with. Acorn illustrations on each page give readers an idea of each animal’s size. The author is donating 100% of his royalties to the Wildlife Conservation Network to protect the endangered species that inspired this book! Wildlife Conservation Network protects endangered wildlife by supporting conservationists around the world to help animals and people coexist and thrive.

I’ve been a Timothy Young fan since my youngest first read and loved The Angry Little Puffin back in 2014, and I’m happy he’s still writing books and introducing readers to new animals. P is for Puffin is great to introduce new animals to the earliest learners – it’s a sturdy board book with attractive illustrations – and the book will grow with readers as they discover more detailed text.

Visit Timothy Young’s author page where you can find drawing lessons, downloadable coloring pages, and information about virtual author visits.

 

Yay for Big Brothers!, by Janet Halfmann/Illustrated by Shennen Bersani, (Nov. 2021, Arbordale Publishing), $10.95, ISBN: 9781643518220

Ages 4-8

Big brothers are the best, aren’t they? In the animal world, big brothers are pretty great, too: Yay for Big Brothers is all about animal big brothers, and how they help their families by doing all sorts of things, like helping feed them at meal time; helping carry little siblings around; playing, and helping keep them safe and out of trouble. Thought-provoking questions invite readers to chime in with how they help out with their families and their littlest members, be it a younger sibling, cousin, or family friend. Photorealistic artwork  shows a variety of animal families and Janet Halfmann puts the narration in each animal’s paws, letting each big brother contribute how he helps care for his little siblings. A fun way to talk about animal jobs and animal families that younger learners will enjoy. View a preview PDF at Arbordale’s website; find the back matter Creative Minds supplement here, and visit Janet Halfmann’s author website to find a free printable activity.

 

 

The Pangolin Revelation, by Lori Schildwachter/Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein, (Nov. 2021, Arbordale Publishing), $10.95, ISBN: 9781643519791

Ages 4-9

I love all the pangolin love in books lately! The Pangolin Revelation is a fun story about school projects and how the pangolin is the ultimate animal mashup. Loran is a student with an assignment: write a report about your favorite animal, or create an imaginary animal. Loran sets out to create an imaginary animal with scales like a dragon or a fish, to protect it from predators; a long, sticky tongue, like an anteater, to help him eat; the ability to climb trees, like a squirrel, but with a prehensile tail, like a monkey. After listing all the parts to his imaginary creature, Loran realizes that this mega-mashup is a real animal: it’s a pangolin! Framed within a school project plotline, The Pangolin Revelation unfolds as a research project with a surprise ending, keeping readers entertained as they imagine their own mashup animals. (Psst… all you need is construction paper and crayons, pencils, or markers to recreate this as a program). Earth-colored illustration and photorealistic animal artwork. A fun meeting of nonfiction and fiction.

 

Wild Animal ABC, by PJ Rankin Hults, (Nov. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764361197

Ages 5-8

A rhyming ABCecdary that’s got a whimsical spirit and plenty of fun, Wild Animal ABC, like P is for Puffin, is all about teaching kids the alphabet using letters, but each of these animals has a very distinctive personality and hat to go with it: “Chester the Chipmunk / Is a curious guy. / He loves to explore / And always asks, ‘Why?'” “Vinny the Vulture / Likes his dictionary. / He won his class spelling bee / With his vast vocabulary”. Watercolor paintings of each animal, in decorative frames, add a quirky, playful feel to the story. The glossary at the end includes facts about each animal mentioned, and a thought-provoking question to get kids talking. A Who Am I? game lets kids think about different hats and the purposes they serve, from a wizard’s hat to a birthday hat. The endpapers show all different accessories that kids can go back and look for throughout the book, and you can ask littles to spot animals or habitats on the cover.

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Storytime is book review time! Something For You, With All My Heart, C Jumped Over Three Pots and a Pan

I’m a #SaturdayLibrarian today, so I figured that best way to catch up on book reviews was to put them in front of my toughest audience: TODDLERS. See, on Saturdays, I do storytimes in my children’s room’s Family Place center, which, in Corona (my library), is a little area full of learning toys for the kids to explore. So this is an audience that’s not always going to be riveted to my every word, ya know? I have to be on top of my game for Saturday Storytime, and I need books that are going to keep the kids and parents entertained. These three fit the bill.

Something for You, by Charlie Mylie, (Nov. 2019, Farrar Straus Giroux), $17.99, ISBN: 9780374312350

Ages 2-6

A sweet book about friendship, Something for You is about a mouse who wants to cheer up a sick friend. He searches for something to make her smile, but things don’t always go as planned. Mouse learns that just being a friend is all we need. The watercolor artwork brings a delicacy to the story, and the characters are drawn with kind, expressive faces; their movements also delicate and nurturing. The mouse who searches for something for his friend gently wraps a scarf around a cold pigeon and shares a flower with a bee – even if he’s a little grumpy about it! The story incorporates panels into the storytelling, allowing for a nice sequential feel, while showing small moments coming together to create a story.

This was the first book up, and the kids were intrigued. The cover caught their eye, and I asked, “Isn’t it nice when someone does something for you? Don’t you feel good when you do something nice for Mommy or Daddy?” Moms and dads smiled, and toddlers looked at them skeptically, but seemed to go along with it. The framed window, giving readers a view into the mouse caring for his sick friend, also caught the kids’ eyes: we’re natural spectators, right?

Something for You is adorable, and perfect for stories about kindness and empathy. Toddlers and preschoolers are the spot-on audience for this one, but older kids – Kindergarten and first grade, especially – will enjoy this one, too. Reading this book can lead to some wonderful discussions about friendship.

 

With All My Heart, by Stephanie Stansbie & Richard Smythe, (Dec. 2019, Silver Dolphin), $15.99, ISBN: 9781684129102

Ages 2-6

This is the sweetest book about parent-child love. A big bear and little bear cuddle together, splash, explore, and enjoy making memories together in this ultimate cuddle-sit rhyming story with die-cuts throughout the book. The verse reads with a soothing cadence and is a love letter to caregiving, to parenthood, to loving a child: “I saw your sweet smile/and I knew from the start,/I’d love you forever/with all of my heart”; “Each day, more than ever,/I love your sweet smile,/And feeling you close/as we cuddle a while”. Die cuts on each spread spotlight words in hearts, leaves, and star shapes.

The parents loved this one, and snuggled their little ones (still clutching their toys) into the laps and pointed out the bears, the diecuts, and details like the warm sun, the soft and silvery moon, the little moments between parent and child. This is a nice storytime/lapsit-cuddlesit/bedtime book to have in your collection, and would pair nicely with Anna Pignataro’s Our Love Grows, Margaret Wise Brown’s A Long Time That I’ve Loved You, and the classic Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.

I’ll be reading this one again and again.

 

C Jumped Over Three Pots and a Pan and Landed SMACK in the Garbage Can!, by Pamela Jane/Illustrated by Hina Imtiaz, (Oct. 2019, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764357954

Ages 2-6

I had to end on a silly note! After a rousing rendition of the Alphabet Song, I launched into a spirited reading of this hilarious rhyming story. The alphabet letters are at camp, when C, trying to show off to A and B, decides to leap over  – you guessed it – three pots and a pan. C jumps a little farther than expected, though, and lands – SMACK! – in a garbage can, sending the rest of the alphabet into a tizzy as they search for the letter E, who has three arms and can help pull C out. But E’s gone missing, along with three other letters! We have an alphabet mystery with dramatic tension here, and the repeated phrase, “C jumped over three pots and a pan and landed smack in a garbage can” make this a laugh-out loud book to read aloud. This is made for silly, emphatic reading out loud: I smack my thigh to emphasize the word “smack”, which gave the kids an extra giggle. It’s a fun take on concepts, and is PERFECT for kids who love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr.

The artwork is fun, adorable, and bold, with large letters that have arms, legs, and expressive faces. The primary colors are bright and playful, set against a camp setting complete with tents, boats and rivers, and grass.

Parents and kids alike enjoyed this one, and I’ll be coming back to this book again and again. If you do storytime crafts after your storytimes, there are loads of ideas to enhance your program. There are Do-a-Dot printables (perfect for little hands), letter crafts (my second grader did these in preschool, but the teachers used construction paper and cut out the shapes for the kids to decorate), and hundreds of alphabet coloring sheets. A quick Pinterest search or Internet search will lead you down the wonderful rabbit hole of alphabet coloring and crafts. Enjoy.

And that was my storytime today!

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Summer Reading is Here! Refeatured kids’ reviews to get you started!

It’s that time – Summer Reading Time! My library is taking part in the Fizz, Boom, Read! Summer Reading program, and I’ve got reading logs and bulletin boards ready to go. I’m super excited, because I also have two storytimes! On Fridays in July, I’ll begin my Toddler storytime and my Picture Book storytime, so I’ve been getting my storytime plans together and taking a lot of inspiration from some great sites on the web (Storytime Katie and Hushlander are great blogs with great ideas)!

tubby

In the meantime, I noticed that a few books I’ve reviewed here have landed on the Summer Reading List, so I’ve decided to refeature those reviews, for anyone interested in learning a little about the books, starting with Leslie Patricielli’s board book, Tubby. I’m a huge fan of Leslie Patricelli and the baby featured in her board books (No No Yes Yes, Yummy Yucky, Toot, and more!); any parent would get a kick out of these.

 

 

chicka_chicka_boom_boom

Next up is Bill Martin Jr.’s Chicka Chicka, Boom Boom. If you haven’t read this one to your little ones yet, I urge you to pick it up! There are great toys and games that go along with the book, and with the companion book, Chicka Chicka 1,2,3, too.

 

 

 

t-is-for-terrible

 

Now, to the picture books. I’ve only read one on the list so far – T is for Terrible, by Peter McCarty. It’s an adorable book that features a T-Rex, musing over his T-Rex-ness. He can’t help that he’s not a vegetarian.

 

 

That’s all for the little ones this time around – stay tuned, as I read my way through the Summer Reading list this year!

Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: Roar! A Noisy Counting Book, by Pamela Edwards Duncan/Illus. by Henry Cole (HarperCollins, 2000)

roarRecommended for ages 2-5

A little lion cub wants to play, but his roar scares other animals away, from one red monkey to eight brown gazelles – but then, he discovers nine other lion cubs.

This counting book has a story attached to it, and is good for older audiences who are about to enter Kindergarten and could use a brush-up on their counting and colors. A little lion cub wanders away from his pride, looking for some fun, and encounters different animals across the African savanna – from one red monkey to eight brown gazelles – who all run from his roar. He finally comes across a group of nine little yellow lion cubs, just like him, who aren’t afraid of him. The cartoon illustrations, done in acrylics and colored pencil, bring the savannah and the animals to life, from a group of lions lying lazily in the sun to a stampede of animals running from the group of little lions, to the little lion cub, curled up with his mother, asleep as the sun sets on the savanna. The animals’ facial expressions convey fear on the parts of the animals the lion confronts, confusion, frustration and despair, as the little lion searches for a new friend and finds none, and finally, happiness when he meets friends just like him. The book provides a fun lesson in numbers and colors in rhyme.

This would be a great opportunity to use a flannel board to depict the animals that the little yellow lion cub encounters on his trip across the savanna. Getting stuffed animals for each of the groups of animals depicted into the story area would allow for a fun playtime before or after the story. This could be part of a jungle animal read-aloud, with hand stamps of an animal for children to have as a memento of their storytime.

Roar! was a Buckaroo Book Award Nominee (Wyoming, 2003).

Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: The Spooky Hour, by Tony Mitton/illus. by Guy Parker-Rees (Orchard Books, 2004)

spooky hourRecommended for ages 3-7

Spooky Hour is a counting story – counting down, rather than a counting up – about a dog and a cat who witness spooky creatures on their way to a party at the strike of twelve. The dog and cat follow the creatures: eleven witches, ten ghosts, nine skeletons, and more, all the way to the spooky castle doors, where Mitch and Titch, the witchy twins, are waiting to welcome them to the big, spooky party, where they feast on one gigantic pumpkin pie. The cartoon illustrations are fun, even silly, but never scary, and younger audiences will enjoy the anticipation of counting down to the party. The full-bleed images have a great deal of action going on in the frames: flying ghosts, a  line of skeletons dancing into a forest, observed by owls, trolls tromping through a forest as the cat and dog hide behind a log. The font is black or yellow – whatever needs to pop on the page’s background – and looks similar to a typewriter font.

The book has interactive elements that make it a good candidate for a Halloween read-aloud. The story itself is written in rhyme, and each creature has a sound attached to its action that audiences can mimic and act out: the witches shriek, the ghosts swirl,whirl, and say, “whoooo”, the skeletons dance and go clickety-clack. Attendees can come in costume and receive a trick or treat bag with some candy and a small toy, and there can be a jack-o-lantern craft for children to color. Time permitting, they can cut out shapes for jack-o-lantern faces and glue them on. Perpetual Preschool has Halloween songs that the children can sing after the story, and there are CDs with Halloween music, like Kids Bop Halloween, which can play during the craft time, and children can receive a Halloween hand stamp before they go home.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: Twelve Bots of Christmas by Nathan Hale (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2010)

Twelve Bots of ChristmasRecommended for ages 3-7

This robot variation of The Twelve Days of Christmas, complete with Robo-Santa, electronics, and droids, has the potential for an interactive read-aloud with audiences familiar with the Christmas classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  In this retelling, Robo-Santa gifts twelve days of cyber gear, from a cartridge in a gear tree, to five BOT-TO-RIES, to twelve Beat Bots thumping. The electronic gifts will be fun for a younger generation for whom computers, tablets and iPhones are common household items, and the computer-generated illustrations manage to avoid looking flat, as tends to be the case with this type of art, thanks to subtle shading that offers depth of image. The left hand page of each spread features the text, Robo-Santa, and the growing group of gifts joining him. The right page features a full-bleed image of the day’s gift. Robo-Santa and his bots have fun and often exaggerated expressions, and the subtle details contained in the pictures reward careful viewers with fun details, including little gears that take the place of stars in a night sky, and a moon that looks similar to the Death Star from the Star Wars movies. The font is a plain black font that resembles old computer print. The endpapers offer a crush of presents, preparing readers for a fun holiday read.

This would be a fun addition to a holiday read-aloud or a robot read-aloud that takes place during the holiday season. The tune of the classic song is repetitive enough that singing along should be encouraged; the repetition of the gifts given will make the song easier to pick up as the story progresses. Incorporating a flannel board with robot images could make the read-aloud even more fun for younger audiences, who can also be encouraged to hold up the number of fingers that denotes each day in the song. Oriental Trading offers robot rubber ducks or robot tattoos in bulk that could be a fun gift from Robo-Santa to attendees at the end of the read-aloud, along with a robot hand stamp.