Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Not So Fast, Max! is all about patience and preparing for Rosh Hashanah

Not So Fast, Max: A Rosh Hashanah Visit with Grandma, by Annette Schottenfeld/Illustrated by Jennifer Kirkham, (March 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781735087511

Ages 4-8

Max and his sister Emily are so excited: their Savta (grandma) is visiting from Israel, in time for Rosh Hashanah! Max can’t wait to make caramel apples, but Savta has a fun day planned first. She takes Max and Emily apple picking, and while Emily enjoys every moment, Max is so impatient! He wants his caramel apples! Savta’s quiet patience wins out, though, and Max discovers how much fun a beautiful fall day with Savta can be. She juggles, she can play ball, and she tells stories about her safta when she was a little girl! At the end of the day, they head home and it’s time to make those apples. Looks like Max’s patience has paid off after all! A gentle Rosh Hashanah story about the new year, Not So Fast, Max teaches readers about the beauty of traditions and celebrates the bond between grandparent and grandchildren. Facts about Rosh Hashanah, a glossary of Hebrew words, and tasty recipes for Savta’s Apple Cake and Max’s Caramel Apples make up the back matter. Endpapers feature decorative fall leaves and crisp red apples, bringing to mind the Fall season and the sweetness of the holiday. A lovely story and a lovely addition to your collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Get ready for a Pumpkin Hunt!

We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt, by Mary Hogan-Wilcox/Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, (Aug. 2020, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-62354-118-7

Ages 3-7

The latest spin on the classic “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” is this Fall story about a group of animal friends who go off in search of the biggest orange and round pumpkin in town! Dressed in costumes for trick-or-treating fun, the friends wander into the “dark, shiver-your-socks night”. The story has all the sensory fun that every retelling features; in this case, squeaky gates, blinking night time bugs, tickly grass, and an unexpected surprise! Lots of repetition helps kids get into the story with you, and the check-ins – “I’m not scared. / Are you? / Not me.” – are a nice opportunity to check in with your own listeners and make sure no one feels too nervous about the story. Pen, ink, and watercolor artwork is gentle and soft. A cute addition to your storytime collections; most folks are familiar with We’re Going On a Bear Hunt and like the different variations on a familiar theme.

We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Runaway Pumpkins is fun Fall reading

Runaway Pumpkins, by Teresa Bateman/Illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, (Aug. 2020, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1580896818

Ages 3-6

A school trip to the pumpkin patch goes awry when all but one of the pumpkins fall through a loose hatch… but the townspeople and the kids are determined to look at the bright side in this sweet Fall story, originally released in 2018. The story, written in rhyming verse, captures the excitement of a class trip, including the bouncing bus and the excited kids. The illustrations capture the crisp Fall feeling, with orange, yellow, and occasionally, green trees and a darkening blue Fall sky. Kids imagine creating all sorts of jack-o-lanterns with their pumpkins in an amusing spread, with all sorts of pumpkin faces and the children dreaming them up. When the escaped pumpkins are discovered, the kids salvage the remaining pumpkin and focus their attention on it, while the townspeople who’ve discovered the broken, banged up pumpkins in their yards decide to show kindness to the children, and surprise them with a veritable pumpkin feast at the harvest fair. Kids look on in hungry astonishment at pumpkin soup, pie, even ice cream and barbecue, earning the cutest line in the book, “Our pumpkins are back, but they came in disguise!” A recipe for caramel frosted pumpkin cookies at the end lets readers and their grownups experience some of the fun.

A fun Fall readaloud for preschoolers and Kindergarteners, have plenty of pumpkin coloring sheets ready. There are some great ones on The Spruce Crafts and First Palette, and Education.com has some really great activities, including a dress-up pumpkin and paper bag Jack-o-Lantern.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Halloween’s a-comin’!

I loooooove Halloween. I’m one of those wackos that start decorating the first week of October (I’ll be going out to the garage to get my decorations tonight), and I’ve already started stockpiling goodies to stock for my trick-or-treaters at home and the library, plus goodies to hand out to my kiddo’s class. For Halloween storytime, I hand out little trick or treat bags with a mini-coloring book, like this Five Little Pumpkins rhyme from DLTK, some stickers, and a little trinket or two.

Halloween storytimes are the best, because I go nuts. I dress up, we sing great Halloween songs and dance to videos, and I stockpile Halloween stories to read and display. So here are some of the newer books I have on my Halloween storytime pile.

Pick a Pumpkin, by Patricia Toht/Illustrated by Jarvis, (July 2019, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536207644

Ages 3-7

The folks who brought us 2017’s Pick a Pine Tree are back with a Halloween story from the pumpkin patch. This rhyming story brings a family to the pumpkin patch, where they pick the perfect pumpkins; bringing them home, they assemble a pumpkin carving crew, their tools, and create the coolest Jack O’Lanterns you could wish for! The kids don their Halloween costumes for a night on the town while the Jack O’Lanterns guard their homes. Easily readable, with a soothing rhyme cadence, this is perfect storytime reading. The pencil, chalk, and paint artwork uses warm and vibrant Fall colors, and creates fun Jack O’Lantern faces for the kids to love. Don’t miss this one; you’ll come back to it for regular holiday reading. Have Jack O’Lantern coloring sheets ready to hand out post-storytime.

Pick a Pumpkin has a starred review from Booklist.

 

Where’s the Witch?, by Ingela P. Arrrhenius, (July 2019, Nosy Crow), $8.99, ISBN: 9781536207538

Ages 0-3

Christmas authors are getting into the Halloween spirit this year! Ingela P. Arrenhius’ board book, Where’s Santa?, was perfect toddler holiday reading and exploring last year. This year, she introduces kids to Halloween concepts, using her bold, bright, expressive art to send kids searching for Halloween icons: a witch, a skeleton, a spider, and vampire, all hidden behind shaped felt. The final spread asks, “Where are you?” and hides a mirror behind a felt ghost, letting toddlers see themselves for the final reveal. These books are adorable, and little fingers will love exploring and discovering their Halloween friends. Pair this with A Mischief of Monsters for a monstrously good storytime! (I know, that was painful, but it was right there.) Order two if you can, and keep one in your storytime collection: this one will get beaten up in circulation.

Give Me Back My Bones!, by Kim Norman/Illustrated by Bob Kolar, (July 2019, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763688417

Ages 4-8

A rhyming anatomy lesson and hide-and-seek all in one book! A stormy night has wreaked havoc on a poor pirate skeleton, whose bones have been scattered all over the sea floor. The rhyme incorporates proper biological terms for the bones, including mandible, metacarpals, scapula, and femur. The endpapers lay it all out for you, too: the front endpapers feature the scattered skeleton, with all his parts labeled; the back endpapers have our skeletal friend reassembled, with everything labeled so kids can see how they come together. As the rhyme proceeds through the book, encourage kids to look for the old buccaneer’s bones, and for any other pirate gear he may be missing: his hat, sword, earring, peg leg, and more have all been scattered to the seven seas, too! The digital artwork is bright, bold, and fun, showing the skeleton reassemble amid curious marine life, all of whom have taken ownership of the shiny skeletal treasures. The cover of the book doubles as a poster, with our pirate skeleton assembled and labeled. Could be a fun decoration! Kids will love it if you read this in an improvised pirate voice, just make sure you have some water nearby to soothe your throat. That pirate rasp can leave you parched.

Don’t miss this one. Give Me Back My Bones! has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Bear parents: Just like us! Hush up and Hibernate

Hush Up and Hibernate, by Sandra Markle/Illustrated by Howard McWilliam, (Aug. 2018, Persnickety Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781943978366

Ages 3-7

Parents and caregivers will love this one as much as their kids. Mama Bear knows that winter’s coming, and it’s time to hibernate, but Baby Bear is just not ready to go to sleep yet, and can’t understand why he can’t stay up all winter. So he asks for something to eat. And then he has to have something to drink. And then the bed is too hard. And he hasn’t said goodbye to all the other animals in the forest! Mama Bear has finally had E-NOUGH, and tells him, in no uncertain terms, that it is time for hibernating. While Baby Bear finally beds down for the winter, he manages to have the hilarious, adorable, last word.

Sandra Markle is a nonfiction maven, and Hush Up and Hibernate shows that she’s got fiction chops, too. She creates a situation that every parent and child will recognize – that bedtime back-and-forth – and makes it sweet, funny, and absolutely relatable to nature, both wild and human. What parent hasn’t said, “Okay, I’m going, bye now…” to their child, who refuses to leave with them? (My mom did it to me, and I see parents saying it to their kids at the library. We wink at each other and smile.) What parent hasn’t heard “One more hug”, “I need a glass of water”, “I need to go to the bathroom”, and “I need to say goodnight to my 100 stuffed animals/everyone in the house/the moon and each planet”?

The artwork is bold and warm, with Mama and Baby Bear’s black fur standing out against the changing seasonal colors. Expressive, big eyes let readers know what’s on each bear’s mind, and Mama Bear’s expression at the end is utterly relatable. Absolute fun for bedtime and anytime. Add this one to your collections.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Pumpkins… Pumpkins Everywhere! Arthur Geisert’s Pumpkin Island is overrun!

Pumpkin Island, by Arthur Geisert, (Nov. 2018, Enchanted Lion Books), $17.95, ISBN: 9781592702657

Ages 4-7

This “what if?” story is inspired by the real-life town of Elkader, Iowa. In Pumpkin Island, a rising river washes away a pumpkin, which cracks and spills open on a small island near Elkader, releasing its seeds, which immediately begin sprouting vines and growing pumpkins. The pumpkins start showing up all over town, prompting the residents to do all sorts of things, from creating delicious recipes to constructing catapults (ever hear of Punkin Chuckin?). But the vines keep growing, and the pumpkins are everywhere. When Halloween arrives, the pumpkins get one last glorious moment, before the townfolk cut the vines and mulch the pumpkins, but even then, pumpkins take on a life of their own, with beautiful flowers sprouting from the compost.

Readers will get a kick out of this “nature gone wild” story, which pairs nicely with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It’s a short, simple story with a touch of fantasy and humor that will get kids giggling. The artwork bustles across each spread to give the feel of a busy town trying to accommodate all of these pumpkins!

A fun Fall story that works for collections where seasonal books are popular.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

The newest Board Books for little learners are GREAT!

I have a special place in my heart for a good board book. They’re so little, and durable, and take the biggest ideas in the world and make them perfect for little eyes, fingers, and minds (and yes, mouths) to enjoy. I  love everything about board books, so I’m always on the lookout for good ones to read to my toddlers and babies. Here are the latest ones that you can expect to show up in storytimes.

8 Little Planets, by Chris Ferrie/Illustrated by Lizzie Doyle, (Oct. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $10.99, ISBN: 9781492671244

Ages 2-5

How adorable is this book?! Put a cute little face on a planet or two, and I will buy it. It’s a weakness. Chris Ferrie, whose praises I sing pretty regularly here at MomReadIt, shifts his focus from the sciences to this sweet rhyming story about the planets. Counting down from 8 to 1, readers learn a couple of facts about each planet, from Neptune to Mercury, in an upbeat rhyming pattern that kids and caregivers will easily clap along with. Each planet is unique in its own way: Uranus spins on one side; Mars has the tallest mountain in the solar system. The collage artwork adds fun texture; there are corrugated planets and waffle-patterned moons, comets that combine textures, and happy stars and constellations abound. The happy-faced planets are going to delight any reader that comes across the book.

This is a perfect flannel board read. I’m going to have to get some flannel planets underway. Pair this with They Might Be Giants’ “How Many Planets?” to get the little ones up and dancing. For some more nonfiction-y board books, you can’t go wrong with ABC Universe, from the American Museum of Natural History (nice and big, for a larger storytime), and Our Solar System, also from the American Museum of Natural History, complete with graduated flaps that make turning pages a little easier for itty bitty fingers.

Vroom Vroom Garbage Truck, by Asia Citro/Illustrated by Troy Cummings, (Oct. 2018, Innovation Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781943147434

Ages 0-4

A garbage truck wakes up and starts its day in this fun board book. Creaks and clangs, rumbles and bangs, and naturally, vroom-a-vroom vrooms abound as the garbage truck trundles through the city, picking up the trash and keeping its headlights open for crossing ducks and slowing down for a grateful early riser who forgot to put out his trash the night before. After a trip to the dump to lighten its load, Garbage Truck heads back to the garage for a good night’s sleep, with a shush, a sigh, and a click.

Told using only sound effects, this is a great story for infant and toddler storytime! There are so many fun sounds to make, and inviting caregivers to rumble and gently bounce little ones on their laps adds to the fun. Bold, black lines, bold, large text, and bright colors will keep little eyes engaged and active. There are oodles of great transportation board books out there to make for a fun storytime, especially anything by Byron Barton. If you want to go with a city-inspired storytime, you can’t go wrong with Christopher Franceschelli’s CityBlock. Songs and fingerplays abound, too. Add some plastic cars and trucks to your playtime and let the toddlers vroom along!

 

You Can Be, by Elise Gravel, (Oct. 2018, Innovation Press), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-943147-40-3

Ages 3-5

A sight familiar to any kid or caregiver, You Can Be starts readers off with a carefree kid, clad only in underwear, running across the cover. And you know this is going to be a kid-friendly book about being a carefree, happy kiddo. Elise Gravel starts off by telling readers, “There are many ways to be a kid. You can be…” and proceeds to bring readers through weird and wonderful ways of being a kid: funny and sensitive; noisy and artsy; grumpy and smelly (sometimes… complete with toot cloud!). Kids are diverse and the drawings are bold and bright, each adjective large, bold, colorful, and fun. The message here? You can be angry, you can be smelly, you can be funny, or quiet… there’s no wrong way to be a kid. After all, as Elise Gravel says, “you can feel “almost any way you feel like being. (Except mean or rude, of course.)” I love that gender doesn’t define anyone’s mood here: girls are smelly, boys are artsy; kids are kids. It’s a great message to readers about self-acceptance and self-awareness.

Invite your readers to act out different moods! Let them be as silly or serious as they want to be. I love all things Elise Gravel, so this one will be on my shelves, no question. Pair this one with any Todd Parr book for a feel good, I Love Me! storytime. Check out Elise’s website for a free downloadable book, Artsy Boys and Smelly Girls, and other fun downloadables!

 

Autumn Babies and Winter Babies, by Kathryn O. Galbraith/Illustrated by Adela Pons, (Sept. 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $6.95, ISBN: 9781682630662 (Autumn) and 9781682630679 (Winter)

The first in a new series, Babies in the Park, Autumn Babies and Winter Babies star a group of multicultural babies who discover the joy in each season as they play in the park. Composed of two- and three-word sentences, each book takes readers through a park as it goes through the season. The four babies ( Sai, Simón, Jayden, and Emma) are dressed for the season and stomp, romp, and roll through the Fall, throwing sticks for pups to fetch, flying kites, and throwing leaves.

They bundle up for their winter playdate, sporting boots, hats, scarves, and warm coats. Snow plops, and babies catch snowflakes on their tongues, run, glide, and ride through the snow. Each book begins with a simple statement of the season: “It’s autumn in the park.” “It’s winter in the park”, establishing the season, and ends with a closeup of one a baby, with a joyful exclamation of the season: “It’s Autumn!” “It’s Winter!”

These books are such fun ways to greet the seasons, and the Babies in the Park idea is adorable. Give parents and caregivers ideas about activities – Peachtree has done the work for you and made up an activity companion sheet to the books! There are great extension activities to engage the kids during storytime: show different shapes (circle trees, diamond kites, triangle roofs), talk about different colors that you see. There are so many seasonal songs and fingerplays to be found on the Web: TeachingMama, one of my favorite blogs, always has adorable printables that you can give out to your families to sing along; let them bring the sheets home to keep the kids singing along after storytime.

If you want to read a little more about the series, Peachtree has an article on their website. Spring Babies and Summer Babies will be out early next year, so completionists like me can breathe a sigh of relief.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Seasons with Granddad explores fall with Storm

Storm, by Sam Usher (Seasons with Granddad), by Sam Usher, (Aug. 2018, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536202823

Ages 3-7

Sam Usher’s Seasons with Granddad wanders into the fall with Storm. A red-headed young boy wakes up to see the wind rattling at his window; orange and red leaves flying outside. He can’t wait to go outside so he can play in the leaves and the wind with his granddad, who agrees that it’s perfect kite-flying weather. Grandfather and grandson discover a treasure trove of goodies from previous adventures (readers of previous Seasons with Granddad books may recognize a few) as they search for the kite, then head to the park for their newest adventure. As the storm nears, Granddad and grandson head home to enjoy a meal together.

Seasons with Granddad is such a lovely series about a grandparent and grandchild. I love the familiarity of the story: the grandson wakes up to the latest seasonal weather, and he always says, “I couldn’t wait to go outside”. The action moves gently between the outside world, where the weather takes on a fantastic turn, and indoors, where the two prepare for their latest endeavor. Granddad and grandson experience a bit of magic in their everyday life, then head home to share some quiet time together. It’s a comforting series, filled with everyday magic and the unconditional love that one can only find with a loving caregiver. This is the kind of book you read on a lap; it’s the kind of quiet adventure that begs readers to slowly savor every moment, every bit of ink and watercolor artwork, because there’s something new to discover every time.

 

Storm, and its companion books Rain, Sun, and Snow, are the kind of books you keep forever. They’re wonderful books about weather and the seasons, but first and foremost, they’re about the special and magical relationship between generations. Grandparents Day in the US falls on Sunday, September 9; this would be a sweet gift for the grandparents in your lives.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Creepy Crawler Crossword from Education.com!

I’ve got another Education.com goodie today! This cute, bug-themed crossword is a fun way to get some spelling practice. Looking for more exciting educational games that are sure to have your child asking to play again? Check out all the spelling games from Education.com! Click here to download the crossword puzzle, and here for the answer key.  They’ll look similar to these mazes:

I’ve been using a lot of Education.com resources at the library these days; they’re great passive programs to offer the kids – coloring, mazes, crosswords, matching games – and the site is searchable by grade, age, and activity. Thanks to Education.com for the fun freebie!

Posted in Toddler Reads

Book Review: We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt, by Steve Metzger/illus. by Miki Sakamoto (Scholastic, 2008)

leaf huntRecommended for ages 2-5

A group of friends goes on a leaf hunt, which leads them on adventures over a mountain, through a forest, around a waterfall, and across a lake.

I have a special place in my heart for this book; it was one of my son’s favorite books, because of its repetitive interactivity. The story follows a group of friends on a leaf hunt. They state their beginning intention – “We’re going on a leaf hunt. We’re going right away. Let’s find colorful leaves. It’s a wonderful day!”. The group’s arrival at each point – a mountain, a forest, a waterfall, and a lake – comes is accompanied by a repetitive phrase (“climb, climb, huff puff. We made it!”). They collect leaves from a different tree at each spot, and when they return, they revisit these areas, arriving home ready to jump and play. It makes for a fun read-aloud, where children can echo the repeated phrase and act out the group’s actions (climbing a mountain, crossing a lake).

The artwork appears to be watercolor, with lively reds, browns and yellows to create a beautiful fall day. The story font is mostly brown and bold, but words with emphasis receive a different treatment: the world “colorful” is spelled out with different fall colors; the names of the trees are bright orange, and water-related words are blue.

There are many websites available that offer printouts of different leaves that children can color for a fun, seasonal craft. There are also many seasonal and Fall-related songs and fingerplays.

The author’s website offers links to all of his books, with printables related to some of his books.