Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Going Outside board books introduce concepts in nature

Going Outside: Look, by Amy Huntington, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 9781684642465

Ages 0-3

This new concept board book series invites readers to mindfully explore their world, concentrating on their senses.  In Look, a toddler and her parent help rehabilitate an urban space, creating a community garden where there was once litter and neglect: “Bags of paper, bottles, cans, / Bits of plastic, shards of glass. / Friends and neighbors, pitching in. / Look, what can you see?” Spreads show the community working together to clean up the area, boxing up garbage and tending to the land, planting and watering the earth, creating a welcoming garden. The artwork moves from a darker, almost gloomy cityscape to a warm, green space that local wildlife returns to, with gentle repetition to encourage readers to point out what they see on each spread. Ask your littles what they see and how it differs from the previous spread: are there more plants? Less junk and litter? Notice how the cityscape fades further into the background as the garden – the focus of the story – grows and flourishes. The toddler and her parent are brown-skinned; the community is diverse.

Download a coloring page for Look from publisher Kane Miller and have them ready to hand out.

 

 

Going Outside: Listen, by Amy Huntington, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 9781684642472

Ages 0-3

The companion book to Look, Listen follows a toddler and his parent as they go on a nature walk on a rainy day. The focus here in on the sounds around the two: “Winds whisper. Winds whoosh. / Rain pitters, patters, pours, / Through the leaves. / Listen, what can you hear?” The fonts play with language, stretching and bending to elicit sounds from readers. The repetitive question, “What can you hear?” invites readers to think about what the characters must be hearing, based on the verse, or even what they themselves hear in their environments. This is a great book to read twice in a seating if you can manage it: ask your readers to close their eyes and listen to a reading first, asking them, to form a picture in their minds of walking through a woodsy area on a rainy day. Animals add to the soundscape on each spread, as deer sniff, moles scratch, birds tweet, and frogs croak. The parent and child are people of color. Watercolor illustrations create a peaceful landscape and foster a love for nature.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Amy Huntington has planned for our other touch, taste, and smell! Download a coloring page for Listen at Kane Miller’s webpage.

 

Posted in picture books

We Are One: How the World Adds Up – Unity Counts!

We Are One: How the World Adds Up, by Susan Hood/Illustrated by Linda Yan, (Nov. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536201147

Ages 3-7

Individually, we may be one – one person, one student, one kid – but together, we are so much more: a nation; a family; a society. That’s the underlying message delivered in rhyming concept story, We Are One: How the World Adds Up. The rhyming story here will attract younger readers, with easy-to-imagine concepts like “one sandwich requires two slices of bread / Two vows make one marriage when friends want to wed”, while informational panels run across the bottom of each page, with more meaty information for older kids: how the sandwich got its name, or Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 2015 statement that “In forming a marital union, two people become something stronger than they once were”. The book goes from 1 to 10 – a relatively simple concept – and illustrates how those base 10 numbers contribute to greater and greater moments that make up our world. The message at the heart of the book is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that each of those parts are connected to one another. It’s a great book to explain the beginnings of early math concepts, and can be a book you can turn to as readers progress in their education to explain exponents, part/whole relationships, fractions, or more. All of these concepts come back to cooperation, kindness, and unity, making this a positive, upbeat read all around. Colorful digital artwork shows a wealth of illustrations, with an ever-present cast of diverse children and animals bringing the concepts to life. Back matter includes sources and resources, additional reading, and more stats on how the world adds up.

We Are One: How the World Adds Up has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board Books for Babies: Great gift ideas, super easy to wrap

What’s easier to wrap than a board book, I ask you? They’re basically the perfect little gift: sturdy, easy to wrap, easily slipped into a stocking or into a diaper bag. Enjoy some of these adorable gift ideas!

Circle Under Berry, by Carter Higgins, (Sept. 2021, Chronicle Books), $15.99, ISBN: 9781797205083

Ages 2-4

There’s something new to read and discover every time you open this concept book that’s a little bit Eric Carle, a little bit Orange Triangle Fox. Colorful collage shapes, animals, and objects greet readers on each page, concept words illustrating the ideas of over and under; side by side, and in between. A circle is under a berry, but that berry is also over a square; it’s all about the way you look at things, arrange things, see things. The words have a great rhythm and make for a fun readaloud. Ask readers what they see: what’s over? What’s under? What’s in between? Call out colors and shapes; do you see an animal? A house? Can you discover a pattern? The book celebrates discovery, with vibrant collage artwork on each page, coming alive off of a bright white page.

Visit Carter Higgins’s author webpage for free resources, including Circle Under Berry flashcards.

Circle Under Berry has starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

 

 

Mr. Lion’s New Hair!, by Britta Teckentrup, (Aug. 2021, Twirl Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9791036328619

Ages 2-5

Mr. Lion is having a bad hair day! His friend, Mr. Monkey, is ready to lend a hand in this hilariously adorable die-cut board book. Readers can follow the pages to see Mr. Lion try on different hairstyles: from curlers to pigtails, going from blond to a redhead; maybe a tiara will do? The companion to Mr. Lion Dresses Up (2020), little learners will love turning the pages as Mr. Lion sports different styles, trying to find his best look. Keep an eye on Mr. Lion’s tail: some styles go from head to toe for extra giggles. Mr. Monkey is having as much fun with the story as the readers will; Mr. Lion looks a little unsure, but ready to give it his best. Monkey, ever the good friend, lets Mr. Lion know that ultimately, style has nothing to do with what’s on the outside: Mr. Lion, like each reader, is best the way he is.

I love Britta Teckentrup’s artwork and storytelling. This will be seeing a lot of action in my board book area. Whether you’re reading this at a storytime or giving as a gift, consider a fun activity to include: Toddler At Play has a very cute hair cutting activity; Laughing Kids Learn puts a colorful spin on the haircutting exercise, and My Bored Toddler has the quickest, easiest hair cutting activity that requires only a paper plate, a crayon or marker, and a pair of safety scissors.

 

 

Active ABC: Beginning Baby, by Chronicle Books, (Sept. 2021, Chronicle Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781797203683

Ages 0-3

The Beginning Baby animal friends demonstrate verbs in this interactive abcedary with die-cut letters to help little fingers trace uppercase and lowercase letters. Filled with action words, the book’s characters also model good behavior: “A” for “ask” shows Narwhal asking Llama to play with blocks; “B” for “begin” shows the two building something together. The die cut letters have colorful patterns, setting them off from the bright white page while complementing the animal artwork. A green striped “L” pairs nicely with Narwhal’s striped t-shirt; blue triangles for “M” look like the shapes Llama makes, cutting out paper dolls. The ever-troublesome X isn’t all about the usual X-rays or Xylophones; rather, Fox, meditates on a carpet and eXhales. Toddlers will love the sheer discoveries waiting in the book; threeschoolers will enjoy pointing out what each of the animals are doing; maybe even crafting a story using the new vocabulary words here. Point out colors and shapes with your readers, let them trace letters over and over again: this is an abcedary that works overtime.

 

 

 

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).