Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Let’s get ready for Hanukkah!

You laugh, sure, but you know, Hanukkah isn’t that far off: it starts on November 28 this year. I’ve got some adorable Hanukkah stories for you here!

The Three Latkes, by Eric A. Kimmel/Illustrated by Feronia Parker-Thomas, (Oct. 2021, Kar-Ben Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9781541588912

Ages 3-8

The classic Gingerbread Man story (also an Eric A. Kimmel book!) gets an adorable Hanukkah retelling here as three latkes argue about who is the best latke. Gold Latke is made with golden potatoes and fried in peanut oil; Red Latke is made from red potatoes and fried in vegetable oil, and Yellow Latke is made from yellow potatoes and fried in schmaltz, so he’s got to be the best! No one is budging, so the three latkes ask the cat, Kitty, for her opinion. You can guess what happens, right? Adorable latkes sport little hats (or a headband, in Gold Latke’s case) and accessories, like Yellow Latke’s bow tie and Gold Latke’s gold medal, and have stick figure arms and legs attached to colorful latkes with cheery expressions. The dialogue takes place atop a table set for Hanukkah, with holiday details like a banner running across a fireplace, a menorah, and blue and white table settings. Kitty sports a navy blue bandana with white stars of David on it and is hilariously expressive, with sly smiles, a raised eyebrow, and a hungry tongue licking her chops communicating her intentions to the reader from the very beginning. A recipe for The Very Best Latkes at the end gives readers their choices of potatoes, oils, and toppings – just like the story! – to choose from. An adorable holiday story. Hand out latke coloring pages for readers to bring home and decorate, like this cute one from clker.com and this adorable set of pictures from Hug O’the Day.

Visit Eric Kimmel’s website for more about his books, and to watch recorded videos of him reading some of his books.

 

A Rugrats Chanukah: The Classic Illustrated Storybook, Illustrated by Kim Smith, (Sept. 2021, Quirk Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781683692867

Ages 4-8

Can you believe the Rugrats Chanukah episode aired 25 years ago? In celebration of that first Chanukah episode of a children’s television series, Quirk’s Pop Classics released the book inspired by the special, A Rugrats Chanukah. We start out on the eighth night o Chanukah, and Grandma Minka is reading a story about the holiday to Tommy, Chuckie, Phil and Lil, and Angelica while Grandpa Boris naps. As Grandma reads the story of Chanukah, the babies imagine themselves as characters in the story, but she doesn’t get to finish – they have to head to the synagogue, where Grandpa is acting in a Chanukah play. The babies misunderstand the “meaning of Chanukah” and think that the actor opposite their grandfather is the “meany of Chanukah”, and take to the stage to help save their Grandpa; meanwhile, all Angelica wants to do is watch her holiday specials!

Whether or not readers have seen the Rugrats Chanukah special, they’ll love the story. The story wraps the Chanukah origin around a classic Rugrats episode, with all the imagination, comedic mishaps, and loving family moments. Those of us who already loved Rugrats (thanks especially to my older kids) will love seeing Tommy dressed as a brave Maccabee, and uttering a take on Tommy’s famous “baby’s gotta do” statement, “A Maccababy’s gotta do what a Maccababy’s gotta do!”; endpapers mimic the opening and closing scenes of the story, just like an episode of the show. Add this to your holiday readaloud list.

 

Hello Hanukkah!, by Susan S. Novich, (Oct. 2021 Kar-Ben Publishing), $7.99, ISBN: 9781728403441

Ages 0-3

An adorable board book that illustrates counting and colors, Hello Hanukkah! shows how young Badger celebrates the holiday every day by doing one activity as he lights the candles. He opens a box of Hanukkah candles and lights one red candle; plays with a dreidel and lights two orange candles; all the way up through the eighth night. It’s Badger has a bird friend present to help him out on every spread, and the two celebrate with a banner and full menorah at the end. A very sweet way to introduce holiday vocabulary and concepts to the littlest learners.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Great TBR Catchup continues: STEM concepts for Kids

I’m still working my way through the Great TBR Catchup, so I appreciate everyone’s patience, if you’ve sent me a book and have been waiting for me to post about it! I’m a one-woman operation, and I read everything I receive, so sometimes, my eyes are bigger than my sense of reality: everything just sounds amazing, I wish I could read them all at once.

Having said that, let’s take a look at some fun STEM concept books for kids!

The Book of Wrong Answers, by Penny Noyce/Illustrated by Diego Chaves, (Dec. 2020, Tumblehome, Inc.), $17.95, ISBN: 9781943431618

Ages 5-7

This very sweet book about STEM concepts stars an Gigi, inquisitive young girl and her humorous brother, Diego. As they go about their day, she asks her brother questions about the world around them; he responds with funny, exaggerated responses: “Where do tadpoles come from?” “They fall inside raindrops. Then they grow into frogs”; “Why does Felicity [the cat] purr?” “She’s restarting the motor in her chest”. The warm artwork shows a close pair of siblings enjoying each other’s company; the answers are teasing and funny, and quite inventive. Diego’s explanations are illustrated in amusing style, with children floating away from their parents, colorful pixels floating off a TV screen, and people wearing magnetic shoes as they stick to the bottom of the Earth. Colorful fonts let readers move easily between the dialogue between brother and sister; Gigi’s sentences are in red, Diego’s are blue. Back matter includes explanations about the real science behind Gigi’s questions. Great for a Kindergarten or first grade classroom.

 

Sometimes We Do, by Omo Moses/Illustrated by Diego Chaves, (Sept. 2019, Tumblehome, Inc.), $16.95, ISBN: 9781943431472

Ages 3-6

Math educator Omo Moses creates an affectionate family story with some math thrown in for extra fun. A young boy named Johari gets his dad out of bed early to make pancakes for breakfast and play with trains. As Dad cooks, he models great behavior for parents, asking Johari math-related questions about the meal: “How many blueberries you got?”; “Do you want THICK [pancakes] or THIN ones?”; “More milk or more flour?”, all reinforcing for Johari – and our readers – ideas about size, number, amount, and recipes. Johari imagines his responses to his father, giving us a forest of pancakes and blueberries, a tiny Johari lifting the lid off a jar of Grandma’s secret ingredient, and riding life-sized trains in the house. Mom and younger sister Kamara wake up and join the breakfast discussion, and Johari and Dad head out to play, where we get more discussion about Grandma’s special ingredient: love. Warmly illustrated by Diego Chaves, Sometimes We Do shows a family of color enjoying some together time, with easy-to-read dialogue; each family’s speech is rendered in a different color to help kids determine who is speaking: Johari’s sentences are green; Dad’s are blue, Mom’s are black, and Kamara’s are pink. What a great way to bring early math concepts to everyday interactions – it makes math so accessible to our little learners! Back matter includes Grandma’s recipe, a helpful math tip, and illustrated “math words” that come up in the story.

See a video with Omo Moses, where he talks about math and Sometimes We Do, on Tumblehome’s website. And check out this great Tweet from Cambridge Dads, spotlighting a StoryWalk that featured Sometimes We Do! You can also visit Mr. Moses’s organization, MathTalk, here.

Luna’s Yum Yum Dim Sum, by Natasha Yim/Illustrated by Violet Kim, (Dec. 2020, Charlesbridge), $6.99, ISBN: 9781623541996

Ages 3-6

I went a little berserk on Charlesbridge’s Storytelling Math debut at the end of last year, you may remember – they’re great books for a variety of ages, teaching concepts and diversity as they go. What’s not to love? Think of Luna’s Yum Yum Dim Sum as a new generation’s The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins. Luna’s the birthday girl, so her parent take Luna and her two brothers to a dim sum restaurant for her birthday dinner. One of Luna’s pork buns falls on the floor, and now she and her brothers have to figure out how to split the remaining ones equally. How do three people divide five buns so no one feels left out? The dialogue is great here, as the kids come up with defense on why he or she should get the greater part of the share. It’s playful and fun, with a glimpse into Chinese culture, using Chinese vocabulary and the zodiac, and starring a biracial Chinese American family. A section on Exploring the Math offers tips for engaging kids and refining their math skills.

Publisher Charlesbridge offers a Luna activity kit in both English and Chinese.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Day Time Stopped: What were we doing?

The Day Time Stopped: 1 Minute, 26 Countries, by Flavia Ruotolo, (Oct. 2021, Prestel), $14.95, ISBN: 9783791374895

Ages 5-9

A little girl living in Genoa, Italy, takes a bite of her popsicle when time stops, all over the world. What was everyone doing? In Germany, two girls screech to a halt on their scooters; in the U.K., a child takes a picture, while in Cape Verde, Africa, a boy’s soccer ball gets stuck in a tree. A grandma in La Paz, Bolivia, was knitting a sweater, and a scientist at Concordia Station in Antarctica gets a call from his mother, who lives in Paris, France. Dolphins cuddle their babies, and snails get to enjoy their strawberries. One moment links the world in this sweet, moving story about the things that unite us. Bright illustrations show a variety of humans and animals. The story opens with an explanation of the world and how it’s split into different time and weather areas that helps kids understand how it can be morning in one area of the world and night time in another; summer in one country, and winter in another.

 

Posted in Intermediate, picture books

The weight of a moment: Once Upon a Time There Was and Will Be So Much More

Once Upon a Time There Was and Will Be So Much More, by Johanna Schaible, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Studio), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536222135

Ages 5-9

Collage artist Johanna Schaible’s debut picture book weighs time in terms of the universe and our place in it. Beginning with the formation of our world, the first half of the book catalogs time, inviting readers to consider all that has happened; the second half invites readers to consider their place in time, asking them thought-provoking questions about their future. As readers move through time, the pages decrease in size, then increase as they move through the present into the future. The collage artwork is breathtaking, spanning eons of time: volcanoes erupting in the earth’s formation; Pteranodons soaring across a prehistoric sky; a steamship traversing an ocean.  It’s a wonderful book that plays with perspective and thought on large and small moments, with the big stuff: the formation of the planet, the construction of the pyramids, hopes for the future, laid out on larger pages; progressively smaller moments fit into smaller pages. It’s a wonderful visual explanation for small moment writing, and encouraging introspection.

Once Upon a Time There Was and Will Be So Much More has a starred review from School Library Journal.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Let’s get the school year off to a great start!

You want books for back to school? I got books for back to school!

 

My First Ready for School, by Roger Priddy, (May 2021, Priddy Books US), $9.99, ISBN: 9781684491384

Ages 3-5

Priddy Books does it again; I’ve loved their board books and early learning books for babies since my own now-fourth grader (fourth grade!) was born. This preschool activity book is the perfect Welcome to School gift for preschoolers, and a great add to preschool shelves and collections in your classrooms and libraries. It’s all about concepts, early learning, and fun: there are pull tabs and flaps on every single page, all getting the little ones ready to experience a school day. Learn what to put in your school bag, with pull-down flaps that reveal what goes in your pencil case, lunch box, gym bag, and backpack; use the pull tab to discover all the great activities taking place at school, like playtime and storytime; learn about mixing colors, school shapes, patterns, and more! The book is tough, strong enough to stand up to repeated use, with bulky board pages, strong tabs, and secure flaps. Colorful and friendly animal characters will greet little readers and help them sharpen their pattern and shape recognition, counting skills, and sight words. Get a few of these in your collections if possible; they’re a great investment.

 

 

Let’s Be Safe, by Alice Le Henand/Illustrated by Thierry Bedouet (Oct. 2021, Twirl Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9782408028497

Ages 0-3

I am a big fan of Twirl Books’s Pull and Play series. This outing, Let’s Be Safe, teaches readers about safety while doing everyday tasks. Familiar animal friends from previous books in the series are back, like Little Kangaroo, Little Cat, and Little Monkey, and their parents gently guide them through scenarios that could end up with tears – but don’t, thanks to some smart thinking and safe action. Little Crocodile wants to come down the stairs by himself – great! – and Dad lets him, as long as he holds onto the railing. Little Kangaroo wants to stand up to play in the tub, but Mom cautions against it, because slipping and falling really hurts. Isn’t it better to sit and play? Pull tabs illustrate the before-and-after, with the Little Gang modeling safe behaviors as parents lovingly explain and stand by to help. Parents will appreciate the modeling on what to say to newly independent toddlers and preschoolers, and kids will love pulling the tabs and seeing their animal friends be safe. Win-win for all.

 

The New Kid Has Fleas, by Ame Dyckman/Illustrated by Eda Kaban, (June 2021, Roaring Brook Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250245243

Ages 3-6

Award-winning author Ame Dyckman’s story about welcoming the new kid is a study in kindness and discovery. There’s a new kid at school, and she’s a little… different. Naturally, the rumors fly when the mean girl tries to spread rumors, but our narrator, who ends up paired with the New Kid for a science project, discovers that she and her family are pretty cool, after all! The New Kid – who we discover is named Kiki – is different, with a different family and a different home. She doesn’t wear shoes, she howls, she chases squirrels, and her family seem to be wolves! After spending a day working on a school project, though, our narrator – a young boy – embraces Kiki’s family, tussles with her brothers and sisters, and, in a laugh-out-loud moment, “goes with the flow” when it comes to using the restroom. Turns out, welcoming the new kid is a far more fun way to go than being mean! Digital illustrations capture the fun spirit of the story and show the growing friendship between Kiki and her new friend, and I loved the use of a wolf’s shadow to illustrate the Kiki is more than meets the eye. What a great way to teach kids to extend a friendly hand to new students. Another win from Ame Dyckman!

Visit Ame Dyckman’s author page for more information about her books.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

CATastrophe! teachers readers to spot patterns

CATastrophe! : A Story of Patterns, by Ann Marie Stephens/Illustrated by Jenn Harney, (Aug. 2021, Boyds Mill Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781635923216
Ages 4 to 8
Nine kittens set out on a fishing adventure to catch some dinner, but – OH NO! – they’re running into some trouble! Luckily, the Captain is there to help them out, by organizing them and calling out patterns for them to follow: row, row, meow; heave, heave, ho; Captain calls out the code, and the kittens follow, creating an organized unit where they can paddle their boat and catch their fish. Using math as a code-building foundation, this is a great way to introduce patterns and coding to younger kids. Rhyming and wordplay, a fun story, adorable artwork, and a fun story makes mathematical concepts accessible and fun to learn and easy to remember. A fun side challenge has readers searching for a dragonfly and a worm that each appear 20 times throughout the book.
A fun companion to Ann Marie Stephens’s Arithmechicks series and Josh Funk’s How to Code books, bring the math fun early on this school year.
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Book Bundles: Go Fish!

I’m brainstorming book bundles for the back-to-school season, and working on reviewing new books. Why not marry my two worlds? Enjoy some fishy ideas with brand new books for the littlest learners!
Fish by Fish, by Giuliano Ferri, (Sept. 2021, mineditionUS), $11.99, ISBN: 9781662650550
Ages 0-3
Board book master Giuliano Ferri tells an hilarious story about hungry fish in his book, Fish by Fish. Using die-cuts to create interest and action, a fish spies a tiny clownfish swimming nearby, and decides it would make a perfect snack. But as it opens its mouth, a bigger fish shows up to claim the fish! Each spread includes the big fish up against an even bigger fish, until the biggest fish gets a big surprise! Progressively larger die cuts accommodate the bigger predators, and colorful adjectives expand readers’ vocabulary, using words like “gigantic”, “colossal”, and “enormous” to describe the growing fish. There’s a good anti-bullying message, and a strong message about standing together with your friends. The fish are bright, as are their underwater surroundings. Sparsely worded, big exclamations, and a funny twist ending make this a fun read-aloud or lap-read for your little ones.
Ten in a Hurry: An Interactive Colors and Counting Book for Toddlers, by Lo Cole, (Oct. 2021, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN: 9781728215952
Ages 0-3
An amusing die-cut counting board book has 10 fish, swimming in a hurry… why could they be in a such a rush ? It could be the big fish swimming up behind them, gobbling them up one by one! The final fish makes a stand against this hungry bully, with hilarious results. A funny rhyme on each page keeps the story moving; bright fish against a black background, and die-cute pages, show the hungry fish getting bigger and bigger and the colorful fish bounce around inside its belly, a colorful GULP follows each fish down the big guy’s gullet. A great read for colors and counting; the die cuts will keep little fingers busy and engaged. If you have the budget, order some squishy fish in bulk and hand them out to let readers play along.
Add a song and fingerplay sheet with some Under the Sea Songs – I’m including a link to one I made in Canva, here, if you’d like. If you are doing grab-and-go activities, consider a fish handprint craft, like this one from CraftyMorning. All you need to include is a square of colorful paper large enough to track a child’s handprint on, a craft stick, and some decorations (Googly eyes,, stick-on jewels, beads) or extra pieces of scrap paper to add fins and designs.
I am not wonderful at origami, as you can see from my library’s latest program (I’m the hopeless goofball), but this origami fish video gave me some hope. There are relatively few folds, kids can decorate and color the completed fish, and you can link to the video in your grab and go, or make your own craft video (just be kind, let them know that @Wei5432 on TikTok made this video).
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

New children’s book publisher: Red Comet Press!

I am so excited whenever a new indie publisher debuts on the scene! I just received wonderful book mail from Red Comet Press, a brand new children’s book publisher who will be sharing their books with everyone in just a few weeks! Here’s a sneak peek at what we can expect.

Cat & Dog: A Tale of Opposites, by Tullio Corda, (Sept. 2021, Red Comet Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781636550022

Ages 3-6

Concepts never made me laugh this hard. An orange cat and blue dog illustrate opposites in the most hilarious of ways as they go through a day of waking up, chasing one another, getting into trouble, and… being friends? Originally published in French in 2020, Taylor Barrett Gaines’s translation is spot on. Drowsy (and bored) Cat eyes sleepy Dog for Awake/Asleep; you just know what’s coming next. But the choice of Brave/Afraid is amusing and unexpected as Cat jumps on the startled Dog, whose eyes go wide, pupils as tiny pinpricks. My favorite spread? Upset and Unconcerned, which hilariously describe the action as Dog sports an overturned plant on his head as Cat blithely grooms. Fonts are in orange for Cat’s words; blue for Dog’s. A perfect combination of words and illustration, and a concept book that tells a cohesive story.

Find a free, downloadable activity cat on the publisher’s book detail page. A great beginning!

 

Before We Sleep, by Giorgio Volpe & Paolo Proietti, (Sept. 2021, Red Comet Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781636550046

Ages 4-8

Originally published in Italian in 2019, this book is a touching, beautifully illustrated story about friendship and the pain of separation. A red fox and gray dormouse are the best of friends, but as the Fall closes in and the seasons move toward Winter, Fox is sad, knowing Dormouse will be hibernating soon: “For Red, the smell of winter meant one thing: loneliness”. Fox tries to think of ways to keep Winter away so Dormouse can stay awake and with Fox, but who can hold off Nature? Agreeing to share one more story, the friends curl up together… and sleep. The storytelling is gentle, full of love and yearning; the muted colors in the artwork let Fox’s bright coat stand out beautifully against the encroaching gray of Winter. Dormouse’s tilted head and soft words show a kindness and love for a friend; body language that immediately sends a comforting signal to readers. A lovely story of friendship and the fear of separation and loss; a warm feeling of knowing that your friends will be there when you open your eyes. Think about this one for possible grief and loss resources, too.

Red Comet has a great activity kit available for download, with coloring sheets and discussion questions.

Before We Sleep has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Mister Fairy, by Morgane de Cadier/Illlustrated by Florian Page, (Sept. 2021, Red Comet Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781636550008

Ages 4-8

A forest full of animal-like fairies work their magic except for the taciturn Mister Fairy, whose spells never seem to match the other fairies. Depressed, Mister Fairy takes off to a dull, depressed city, where his seemingly backward spells are exactly what the citizens need: he adds much-needed splashes of color, tickling everyone with his wings and wand, and changing umbrellas into fluffy cotton candy. When he returns to the forest, he discovers that his friends have missed him there, too! A sweet story about embracing your talents, Mister Fairy was originally published in French in 2018 and is an empowering story about embracing your own gifts and uniqueness. Artwork reminds me a bit of Jon Klassen; the illustrations are colorful yet maintain a minimalist appeal. A fantastic back-to-school story about recognizing your own worth. Pair this one with Mister Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown.

Red Comet offers a free, downloadable activity kit for Mister Fairy. Enjoy!

 

That’s it for now – but I’ve got more to come! Welcome, Red Comet Press!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

New car and truck books for littles!

Red Truck, Yellow Truck, by Michelle Robinson/Illustrated by Jez Tuya (Aug. 2021, Peachtree Publishers), $16.99, ISBN: 9781682633021

Ages 2-6

A rhyming truck story always hits the storytime spot. Dogs drive their red and yellow trucks to a construction site, going through various locales – cities, forests, farms – on their way to a construction site, spotting other types trucks along the way. Jez Tuya’s always got bright, playful artwork, and brings out the fun in Michelle Robinson’s rhyming text. Endpapers feature all sorts of colorful trucks, making for a great lead-in and out to the story. There’s a fun chaos to the story as trees fall, mud splashes, trucks roll over cars, and trucks get stuck behind one another. Details throughout each spread will give readers more to see and giggle along with. A fun storytime read-aloud for toddlers and pre-kindergarteners.

Pair with Richard Scarry’s books, like Cars and Trucks and Things That Go and What Do People Do All Day?; Kate and Jim McMullan’s series of vehicle books, and loads of car and vehicle coloring pages.

 

 

Hop Aboard! Baby’s First Vehicles, by Elliot Kruszynski, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781536217780
Ages 0-3
More vehicles, more bold and bright colors! Baby can join a group of animal friends and ride a number of vehicles: the baby train, the baby plain, even a baby rocket! Bold colors, defined lines, and adorable cartoony animals invite babies to explore; you can provide the colors and shapes while making super-fun noises for each spread. Splish and splash with the boat, zoom with the rocket! Animals take measures to be safe, sporting safety helmets to ride their bikes and seat belts in the driver’s seat.  A mirror at the end provides a surprise that will let your little one “hop on” and join the next adventure. Adorable for babies and toddlers, with appealing artwork and repetitive phrases.
Pair with Toni Buzzeo’s board book, Caution! Road Signs Ahead! for toddlers and preschoolers to familiarize them with road signs they may encounter from the back seat. Pair with Byron Barton’s My Car, or Emma Garcia’s Toot Toot, Beep Beep, for more fun vehicle sounds.
Posted in Early Reader, Preschool Reads

What’s YOUR favorite color?

What’s your favorite color? Chances are, Macmillan has an activity book for you!

Loaded with activities about your favorite color, these activity books are great for summer days when kids “have nothing to doooooo” (says my Kiddo, as the dog tries to play with him and I’m stepping on his LEGOs, scattered around the room). I’ll be posting activities to my Instagram (@roesolo) starting this week, so tune in and see what my favorite color is! I’ll also be posting activity sheets Macmillan and Odd Dot have provided for free, for you to print and play with – check ’em out here, too!