Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Barbara Throws a Wobbler… watch out!

Barbara Throws a Wobbler, by Nadia Shireen, (April 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-225-0

Ages 3-6

Barbara is not having a good day. First, there was a sock problem. Then, there was a strange pea at lunchtime. Things just keep going wrong for Barbara, and even her friends calling out to her isn’t helping. Barbara is nearing that last straw, which leads to a big… giant… WOBBLER! Wobbler is British slang for “tantrum”, something you’ll easily pick up in context, and it takes on a life of its own in this adorably fun and relatable story. The Wobbler is giant, gelatinous, and red, sitting atop Barbara’s head and eventually engulfing her until she can get a handle on it. Once she talks to her Wobbler and takes a deep breath, the Wobbler becomes more manageable, until it finally shrinks away – but not without letting her know it’ll be back one day! Kids and grownups alike will recognize toddler and preschooler triggers, from the “strange pea” at lunch, to the “hundred bad moods wrapped up in one” feeling that Barbara feels, right before the Wobbler takes over. A Very Useful Guide to Bad Moods at the end offers other moods to recognize, along with symptoms: The Sulk, The Tizzy, and The Seethe are just a few on the path to the Wobbler. Never making fun of Barbara or the frustration that leads to a tantrum, Barbara Throws a Wobbler takes an sensitive approach to identifying what sets a Wobbler off, and how to shrink it back down once it appears.

Originally published in the UK in 2020, Barbara Throws a Wobbler has just arrived on U.S. shores and has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books

Mop Rides the Waves of Life: A mindfulness story for kids

Mop Rides the Waves of Life: A Story of Mindfulness and Surfing, by Jaimal Yogis/Illustrated by Matt Allen (June 2020, Plum Blossom), $16.95, ISBN: 9781946764607

Ages 5-8

A friend of mine passed this book on to me, and I knew I had to write about it, because who couldn’t use a little more mindfulness these days? Mop is a kid with a wild mop of hair. He loves to surf, and he has a bit of a temper and a tendency to act out when he’s angry. His mom takes him to the beach and explains that he has to learn to surf life, too: “Breathing mindfully helps you notice the emotional waves inside”. She explains that he has to learn to surf those waves of fear and anger, because they will pass; when the good feelings come, to enjoy them, and when they start to ebb, keep paddling, because there are always good waves coming. Armed with this new information and linking it to his love of surfing, Mop is able to get through school interactions and enjoy his friends while being present and mindful. It’s a simply stated premise that makes for a good readaloud, and lets readers practice breathing and visualizing waves to surf during the storytime. Illustrations are soft, gently colored beach scenes and classroom scenes, a mixture of peaceful mindfulness with surfing movement. Waves take on the aggressive emotions of fear, anger, and sadness both in the water and atop Mop’s head when he’s learning to control his emotions, and he visualizes those waves turning to love, joy, and gratitude. A good book to add to your mindfulness readalouds and collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Lost little Perdu needs a home

Perdu, by Richard Jones, (Apr. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682632482

Ages 4-8

Perdu is a pup with no home. He’s hungry, cold, and lonely, and wanders the city trying to find something to eat. When he slips into a restaurant, he smells wonderful smells… but gets into terrible trouble. Will anyone find this poor pup and give him a home? Perdu – the French word for “lost” – pulls at the heartstrings in a big way; he’s small, cute, and author/illustrator Richard Jones makes him look so sad, alone with his little red scarf, the only thing he has to call his own, that readers won’t be able to help but want to take him home and cuddle him. The cruel language others yell at him – “Get out! Go away! Shoo!” – increases Perdu’s feelings of isolation, and when, out of desperation, he tries to get food in a restaurant, the public’s increased reaction causes a scared, aggressive reaction that Richard Jones masterfully illustrates with Perdu against a completely red background. Sharp-eyed viewers may notice Richard Jones’s Snow Lion on one page. This is Richard Jones’ debut as an author and illustrator, and he nails it on both counts. His artwork always communicates emotion and depth, and his gift for words creates a heartaching, and then, heartwarming story of a dog searching for a forever home. A good storytime choice.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Every toddler and preschooler will love No! Said Rabbit

No! Said Rabbit, by Marjoke Henrichs, (March 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682632949

Ages 2-6

A young rabbit’s mother tries to get Rabbit to listen to her, but Rabbit wants to do things his way, when he wants to: “Time to get dressed,” said Mom. / “NO!” said Rabbit. / “But that is my faorite top and my pants with the big pockets…” Parents and caregivers will recognize the magnificent art of deflection here: Mom seems to have Rabbit’s favorite things within eyeshot whenever he’s ready to say no to her; he’ll see his juicy orange carrots on the table, then he’ll decide to eat breakfast; see his favorite boots, and decide to go outside. Toddlers and preschoolers will joyfully holler “NO!” along with Rabbit, making for a fun readaloud, and appreciate Rabbit’s struggle for independence alongside their own. Is there anything that can make Rabbit say yes, you wonder? Of course! Cuddles from Mommy always get a yes! But there’s one more “No” to be had, and it’s adorably sweet. Colorful mixed media artwork looks will appeal to kids; the A joyful, humorous look at a toddler’s growing independence, and a good choice for storytimes and bedtimes.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Indie Spotlight: Pickerton’s Jiggle

Pickerton’s Jiggle, by Riya Aarini/Illustrated by Mariana Hnatenko, (Feb. 2021, Independently Published), $17.99, ISBN:  978-1735347332

Ages 3-7

Pickerton is a fastidious little pig who greets each day with a smile. He scrubs up and gets ready for school, only to step in a mud puddle! Poor Pickerton is very upset, but realizes that a little dirt doesn’t change who he is. He’s still the same, lovable Pickerton, and sometimes, things happen. He shakes off the mud, and with it, the bad feelings, and goes about his day, ending on an upbeat note about loving and accepting himself for who he is. The rhyme scheme is fun and upbeat, and the illustrations are colorful and cheery, with an animated cartoony pig that kids will enjoy. Author Riya Aarini’s website has more information about her books, including her Ollie series.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Value of a Kindness: The Smile Shop

The Smile Shop, by Satoshi Kitamura, (Apr. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682632550

Ages 4-8

A boy has saved his pocket money and explores his local market, enjoying a feast for the senses as he decides how to spend his money. But an accident causes him to lose most of his money, and the boy is distraught. When he spies a shop called the Smile Shop, his heart lifts: surely a smile can’t be terribly expensive, and that’s what he really needs right now! The story of a kindhearted shopkeeper and a little boy, The Smile Shop is a touching story of connection and empathy, and shows readers that there are some things no one can put a price on, like kindness. Satoshi Kitamura’s artwork, created with pen, ink, watercolor, and gouache, creates a softly colorful world where readers can explore with the boy in the story. Spare text allows the illustrations to tell the story through actions and facial expressions, with words filling in the details. A wonderful story that kids will return to again and again.

The Smile Shop has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Do you know a Grumbletroll?

The Grumbletroll, by aprilkind & Barbara van den Speulhof/Illustrated by Stephan Pricken, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764361173

Ages 3-6

A cute little troll sets out to build himself a little cottage, but things don’t go the way he wants them to and gets very cranky. There’s a rumbling in his tummy that grows and grows as the angry feelings grow inside of him until they finally pour out: he’s a grumbletroll! His friends are tired of his tantrum, so they head off to play without him while he carries on. When the tantrum subsides, the troll apologizes to his friends: there are no grudges here! A story that captures the mood swings and frustrations of being a toddler and a preschooler The Grumbletroll speaks to kids respectfully about understanding big feelings and how they can take over, and how they can make people around them want to stay away. But the story also acknowledges that friends forgive and forget, and can pick up where they left off. Originally published in German in 2018, The Grumbletroll understands that childhood, and great big emotions, are universal. Colorful artwork and expressive faces and body language let kids communicate what the troll and his friends all feel. This fits in nicely with a feelings and emotions storytime: add Mo Willems’s famous Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Bob Raczka’s Niko Draws a Feeling, Laura Dockrill’s Angry Cookie, and M.H. Clark’s Tiger Days. This would be a good opportunity to use the Little Box of Emotions, if you have them, and let Kiddos identify and describe different feelings. If Grumbletroll feels like a storm when he’s angry, what do you feel like when you feel happy? Excited? Nervous? Adorable fun for a Pre-k storytime.

Educrafters on Teachers Pay Teachers has a cute Feelings Faces Craft that’s a free download, and you can have a ball with emoji crafts! Elizabeth Low on Teachers Pay Teachers has a downloadable emoji feelings charts, and Lisa Markle Sparkles, also on Teachers Pay Teachers, has emoji clipart.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Little Box of Emotions: Great for communication, great when kids struggle to find the words

Little Box of Emotions: Matching and Memory Cards, by Louison Nielman , illustrated by Marie Paruit, (July 2020, Schiffer Kids), $19.99, ISBN: 9780764358975

Ages 2+

Twenty-four cards with colorful and expressive animals and items make for a memory game and teaching tool. A 32-page guide book explains represented emotions and offers some game ideas, from matching colors to memory games. What I appreciated most is the opportunity to use these cards to teach children how to recognize emotions in themselves and others; to use these cards to define what they may not have had the words to describe before. I work in a community of English language learners; for me, having cards like this available to my kids is great: when we reopen, I would use these in storytimes to deep dive into emotions experienced by different characters; I’d leave the box by my desk, so anyone wanting to talk to me without having the words, regardless of language capability, can use these little cards to communicate feelings and thoughts. They’re a good choice to have available for toddlers, who are learning more and more words by the day, and experiencing very big emotions that may scare or frustrate them. It makes for a fun game for parents and children to play together, and the adorable animals are eye-catching and colorful. Consider making some crib notes for yourself, describing these emotions in different languages to help language learners get a firmer foot in their two worlds. For those of us with big infant populations, have some baby sign language books around to enhance language, and make yourself familiar with ASL signs for emotions.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Small and Indie Spotlight!

As I continue catching up to my TBR, I’ve got more independently published books for you to enjoy. Take a look!

Tucker and the Garbage Truck, by Sarah Brown/Illustrated by Oscar Franco, (May 2020, Independently Published), $12.97, ISBN: 979-8648207370

Ages 3-6

Tucker is a little truck who discovers a big garbage truck winding its way through his neighborhood. Tucker approaches the garbage truck and asks him about his job, and the garbage truck invites Tucker along as he makes his stops, explaining why he enjoys his job. He’s too big to be one of those itty bitty trucks or cars, and he likes helping keep the town clean! At the end of the day, Tucker is happy to have made a new friend and has learned about a new job: Garbage Truck!

Digital illustrations are cute, and the text is easy to read. Kids who Disney’s Cars movies and shows, plus vehicle books like Kate and Jim McMullan’s I’m Fast! and I Stink! and Byron Barton’s board books (Train, Trucks, Planes) will enjoy this one.   Author Sarah Brown has a series of Tucker books available on her Amazon author page.

 

Carrie’s Flight (Grandma’s Closet #1), by Lois Wickstrom/Illustrated by Francie Mion, (March 2019, Independently Published), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1090828224

Ages 4-7

A little girl named Carrie discovers some of her grandmother’s boxes in a closet, and pulls them into her room, where she video chats her grandmother to ask what they are. When Grandma invites Carrie to open the boxes, she discovers feathers! And wings! Donning a pair of wings for herself, Carrie soon realizes she can fly like the starlings outside her window, and joins them in flight. She heads to her grandmother’s home for a visit, and when the birds beckon her home, she flies back. A gentle Icarus story for younger readers, this is a sweet story about a girl and her grandmother, with a fantasy spin. The artwork is dreamlike, with soft colors, and the text has emphasized fonts on certain words for added interest. If the text were laid out over and around the images, it would flow better, but the overall story is cute and will appeal to younger readers. A nice bedtime story to share. An author’s note on how starlings arrived in North America and their environmental impact adds an interesting nonfiction touch to the book.

 

How I Made a (Tiny Wacky) Friend (My Crazy Stories), by Daniel Georges, (Aug. 2019, Independently Published), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1088442432

Ages 5-8

This is my first dip into the My Crazy Stories series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. William is a kid who likes keeping to himself. He likes to spend time by himself, making spooky masks in his room, and enjoys being out and about when there’s no one else around: until “this kid” shows up: a new kid moves into the neighborhood, and William starts seeing him EVERYWHERE. It’s really cramping his style! When his parents invite the kid and his family over for dinner, William is ready to give the kid the scare of his life – but when he puts on one of his scariest masks, the boy is THRILLED. He loves scary stuff, too! The two new friends bond over their shared love of monsters, and Willy and Olly – that’s “this kid’s” name – become fast friends, spending their days at the playground and reading monster stories together. They even bestow secret code names upon each other, because “Good friends always have secret code names”. A spread at the end of the book invites kids to put pictures of themselves and their friends into the book, and give themselves secret code names.

The book is fun, narrated in the first person by William, and is so relatable to kids, especially kids with more introverted tendencies (or children dealing with a new sibling). The artwork is fun, colorful, boldly outlined. I was really happy with this book, and will keep an eye out for the other books in the series. A fun book to help kids break down complex emotions.

Dana Digs In, by Laura Pedersen, (Apr. 2020, Independently Published), $8.75, ISBN: 979-8638193270

Ages 4-7

Dana is a biracial girl who lives in an urban community and does not like the taste of the tomatoes in her salad. It’s not that she doesn’t like tomatoes, she doesn’t like the store-bought tomatoes her parents have bought! Her father explains that tomatoes are often picked before they’re ripe, and ripen on a truck, which gets Dana thinking about waste and pollution. She’s determined to find a better way to get good food, so she researches how and where to start a community garden – and discovers the perfect spot in a future building area that she can use for a few months. After getting the seeds started and learning to compost, she’s ready – and she gets help! The community pitches in and they have a healthy harvest, a portion of which Dana donates to the local food pantry. When it’s time to relocate the garden, Dana discovers that she’s got a couple of options – exciting! Dana Digs In shows how dedication, ingenuity, and research makes all things possible, no matter what age.  The artwork uses word balloons to illustrate dialog and nicely shows the steps involved in figuring out how to set up and run a community garden. Read during a Discovery Time/STEM program and encourage kids to start their own seeds – or do a food scrap program and show kids how to start their own crops from food scraps in their kitchens!

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

DK First Emotions Help Kids Identify Feelings

DK has a new board book series, First Emotions, that really speaks to the whole experience of emotions and how to identify them. Spun off the recently released How Do I Feel? A Little Guide to Emotions, the books get into the physiological reasons behind emotions, how kids can recognize the emotions they’re experiencing, and different situations that can spark these emotions. Great to introduce to toddlers and preschoolers, these books gives kids more words to make themselves understood and to understand others. Cheery and upbeat, with bright and fun cartoony, emoji-like characters, this series is a great place to start your social-emotional learning collection for little ones. The first two, I Feel Happy: Why Do I Feel Happy Today? and I Feel Sad: Why Do I Feel Sad Today?, come out on August 11th; I Feel Proud: Why Do I Feel Proud Today? and I Feel Angry: Why Do I Feel Angry Today? are due out in October. Print out some emoji faces for coloring or display during a Feelings/Emotions storytime.

I Feel Happy: Why Do I Feel Happy Today?, by DK Children,
(Aug. 2020, DK Children), $6.99, ISBN: 9781465498052
Ages 0-3

 

I Feel Sad: Why Do I Feel Sad Today?, by DK Children,
(Aug. 2020, DK Children), $6.99, ISBN: 9781465498250
Ages 0-3

I Feel Proud: Why Do I Feel Proud Today?, by DK Children,
(Aug. 2020, DK Children), $6.99, ISBN: 9781465498076
Ages 0-3

 

I Feel Angry: Why Do I Feel Angry Today?, by DK Children,
(Aug. 2020, DK Children), $6.99, ISBN: 9781465498090
Ages 0-3