Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Super Rooster Saves the Day!

Get your cape on, put on the Chicken Dance, and turn up the volume, because here comes SUPER ROOSTER!

Super Rooster Saves the Day, by Maureen Wright/Illustrated by Rob McClurkan,
(Oct. 2020, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542007788
Ages 4-7

Ralph the Rooster wants to be a superhero. He borrows the farmer’s kerchief to use as a cape. He reads superhero books. He crows flies, makes himself invisible… within reason, of course. The other farm animals are a bit dubious as to Super Rooster’s status as a superhero, but his best friend, Rosie the Pig, is always in his corner! Life on the farm really isn’t terribly exciting, but one day, when the farmer leaves the radio on in the barn, Ralph hears a song that changes his life… the Chicken Dance. With a cheep-cheep-cheep, a flap-flap-flap, a wiggle-wiggle-wiggle, and a clap-clap-clap, he is off and running! The only problem? Where Ralph sees opportunities to be a superhero, the other animals see the ordinary: until the chance to save the day appears. Will Ralph rise to the occasion and save the day?

Super Rooster Saves the Day is such fun! The digital artwork is expressive and cartoony, with picture book and comic book-type panels throughout; there are sound effects and repetition, making this a super read-aloud choice and a great book to give to your superhero fans. The colors are bright and the text is bold and black, popping right off the page. The sound effects and Chicken Dance movements just beg listeners to jump up and dance along.

Absolute fun for a farm or a superhero readaloud – heck, add some of John Himmelman’s “To the Rescue” books (Chickens, Cows, Pigs, Ducks) and have the best of both worlds. And whatever you do, play The Chicken Dance LOUD.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

But what if the sky really *was* falling? DUCK!

Duck!, by Meg McKinlay/Illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom, (Aug. 2019, Candlewick), $15.99, ISBN: 9781536204223

Ages 3-7

It’s a quiet afternoon at the farm when a duck comes running, panicked, yelling, “DUCK!” The horse, cow, pig, and sheep each correct him, reminding him that he is the duck, and they have far lovelier qualities (like a fine pink snout or a fine pair of cloven hooves). The duck remains insistent, until the animals are tired of him and lecture him. At that point, Duck tells them to run… just in time for a house to come crashing down on the group. A newspaper headline strewn about the downed house notes that there are tornadoes in Kansas… and there’s a street sign in the debris that says, “Kansas”.

Duck! is a fun spin on the classic Chicken Little tale, with a cumulative spin added. Each animal that corrects Duck adds his own name and qualities onto the growing list of animals Duck is trying to warn. The artwork is wonderfully subtle here – alert readers will get the idea that something’s up when they see something in the sky, right next to a cloud… is that a house? As the spreads progress, the house gets closer, the sky gets darker, and leaves and household objects start entering the pages. The entire book is a sight gag and a play on words, and I love reading this to the kids. My son likes reading Duck’s parts, and I take the other animals.

The illustrations are done in pencil, acrylic, and digital and are colorful and are full-bleed, taking up each spread with something to see. The sky starts out as a light blue and darkens as the story moves forward; the characters’ faces are comical enough to mimic while telling the story for maximum laughs. Don’t miss this one.

Originally published in Australia in 2018, you can find free, downloadable activities and discussion questions at author Meg McKinlay’s website.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Silver Dolphin loves hands-on learning

Silver Dolphin Books has some great novelty books for kids. I’ve loved their First Stories board books and their adorable Noisy Books. They were kind enough to send me two more sets of their developing novelty lines, the Busy Builders and Woodworks Nursery Rhyme series, and after a lot of playtime with  my 5 year old, I can safely say these are way too much fun!

The Woodworks Nursery Rhymes series has got to be my favorite. The cute little box has a magnetic flap, allowing kids to easily get to the small board book, play mat, and little wooden vehicle inside. The nursery rhymes: The Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonald Had a Farm – are adorably illustrated, and caregivers and kids can sing along while they drive their little tractors or school buses around the vinyl playmat.

This is what happens when you let a 5 year-old fold the playmat.

 

Talk about the path the school bus is taking, lead into a conversation about your child’s school bus, or, for pedestrians, the walk to school, as you play, introducing your little ones to the neighborhood around them. Farm play is great for the Old MacDonald playset! Point to the animals on the mat, make animal sounds, and add any animals to your playset as you go along. We introduced dinosaurs to our Old MacDonald playset, which may have upset the chickens a bit.

I want to pick up a few of these sets to add to my Story Hour reference. It will make for a great toddler storytime! The sets are sturdy, the wooden vehicles are well made, and the board books are small enough for little hands.

Next up are the Busy Builders series. I received the Construction Site, Airport, and Fire Station sets. Each box folds out into a playset and includes a 32-page book and model pieces to build roads, vehicles, equipment, and people to add to your playset.

The model pieces come together like puzzle pieces, allowing you to create 3-dimensional fire trucks, construction equipment, ground crew at the airport, and a radio tower, most with moving pieces. The dump truck will tip, for instance, and the fire truck ladder will lift. The book includes instructions in addition to facts about fire stations, construction sites, and the airport. The illustrations are very cute and there’s a lot of information available, in a readable and easily digestible format.

Some of the vehicles are a little fiddly to put together, and the stands for the people take a little time to get just right, but it’s worth it. My kiddo goes berserk for these playsets, and goes right to the book box where I stash them on a regular basis. He can’t put these together solo, so it makes for a nice playtime for us. Breakdown is easy, and I put all the pieces in gallon-size Ziploc bags before putting them back in the boxes, so we can avoid losing pieces and tears for the next time.

These aren’t for toddler hands – they’ll break these apart in no time – but are perfect fun for preschoolers to 2nd graders; they have more manual dexterity and, once they start reading, will enjoy reading the books over and over again. If you have a small library, you may consider these for a playtime collection, but they’d be eaten alive in my library; these are a good gift idea for me!

Old McDonald Had a Farm, Illustratrated by Elliot Kreloff, (Silver Dolphin), $13.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-955-4
Format: Kit
Pages: 16 pp.
Trim: 6.25 x 8.25
Art: Full Color
Category: Nursery Rhymes
Age Range: 0 to 3

The Wheels on the Bus, Illustrated by Elliot Kreloff, (Silver Dolphin), $13.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-956-1
Format: Kit
Pages: 16 pp.
Trim: 6.25 x 8.25
Art: Full Color
Category: Nursery Rhymes
Age Range: 0 to 3

Busy Builders: Construction Site, by Katherine Sully/Illustrated by: Carles Ballesteros (Silver Dolphin), $19.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-564-8
Format: Kit
Pages: 32 pp.
Trim: 7.10 x 9.84
Art: Full Color
Category: Machines & Vehicles – Activity & Sticker Books
Age Range: 5 and up

Busy Builders: Airport, by Timothy Knapman/Illustrated by Carles Ballesteros, (Silver Dolphin), $19.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-563-1
Format: Kit
Pages: 32 pp.
Trim: 7.10 x 9.84
Art: Full Color
Category: Machines & Vehicles – Activity & Sticker Books
Age Range: 5 and up

Busy Builders: Fire Station, by Chris Oxlade/Illustrated by Carles Ballesteros, (Silver Dolphin), $19.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-565-5
Format: Kit
Pages: 32 pp.
Trim: 7.10 x 9.84
Art: Full Color
Category: Machines & Vehicles – Activity & Sticker Books
Age Range: 5 and up

Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction

Shaun the Sheep: Flock Factor – Not just any talent show!

shaun the sheepShaun the Sheep: The Flock Factor, by Martin Howard (Nov. 2014, Candlewick Press), $4.99, ISBN: 9780763675356

Recommended for ages 4-6

There’s a talent show coming to Mossy Bottom Farm, and it’s sheep versus chickens to see who’s got the real talent!

Shaun and his friends are thrilled when they see a sign advertising a talent show – The Flock Factor! – at Mossy Bottom Farm. The only problem is, none of the sheep have much in the way of talent. Except for Shirley, who can belt out a soulful tune that would make Adele weep. The chickens, who have an enviable lineup, are the mean kids here, teasing Shirley, whose stage fright renders her unable to perform in front of anyone. Can Shaun the Sheep bolster Shirley’s confidence enough to get her on stage? Will the chickens win the talent show, or will the sheep pull it together?

Shaun the Sheep is an adorable Claymation show, spun off from the hugely successful Wallace and Gromit children’s show, coming to us from the UK. The series is getting its own, original illustrated fiction series, perfect for new readers who are ready to tackle the next level in reading. Parents who enjoy a good storytime cuddle will enjoy reading this to their preschoolers, who may have a longer attention span than their little siblings.

It’s not always easy to translate something so visual to the written word, but the illustrations help fill out the story. Familiarity with Shaun the Sheep isn’t necessary, but Shaun is likely to win some new friends and viewers if this book series takes off.

The Shaun the Sheep website offers games, videos, and a social media network that allows subscribers to post their game scores, sign up for newsletters, and enter contests.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Book Review: Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton (Little Simon, 1984)

moobaalalalaRecommended for ages 0-4

Children learn about animal sounds through fun rhymes with author and illustrator Sandra Boynton in Moo, Baa La La La! Ms. Boynton uses her popular cartoon-style animals and lettering to draw both children and adults in to her story about the silly sounds animals make, including rhinoceroses snorting and snuffing, and horses neighing. Illustrations are drawn in lighter colors featured on pastel backgrounds, soothing to babies who are learning to make sounds and toddlers who are relating animal sounds with the animals that make them.

The book would make for a fun read-aloud, encouraging children and parents/guardians to chime in and call out the animal sounds. The book ends with the author asking the audience what they say, which is a perfect time to get story time participants to say hello and wave or cheer. Story time can be animal-related, with photocopies of animal pictures to color. Songs and fingerplays could include animal-related songs like Old McDonald, which also teaches children about animal sounds.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Book Review: Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas (Beach Lane Books, 2011)

is everyone ready for funRecommended for ages 2-5

A group of rowdy cows want to have fun on a chicken’s sofa. The chicken does not share their enthusiasm.

The repetitive story follows three cows who want to have fun – jumping, dancing, wiggling fun – on Chicken’s sofa. Chicken is not at all happy about this. Reminiscent of another Jan Thomas’ story, “What Will Fat Cat Sit On?”, the cartoon illustrations use exaggerated expressions for the cows and the Chicken. The colors are bright but not overwhelming; the page backgrounds are either bright blue, green, or lime green, and the characters are boldly outlined in black. The story begins and ends with the endpapers, and Thomas uses the margins to denote offscreen action, most notably when the Chicken’s head appears to look in on the madness. Communicated in speech bubbles, the text allows young readers and listeners to imagine different voices for each of the speakers – and allows the storytime reader to affect different voices during the reading.

The book allows for a great deal of interactivity and falls into a comfortable pattern that younger readers and listeners can catch on to right away. The title phrase – “Is everyone ready for fun?” begins the series, followed by the Chicken’s protest, the cows’ latest attack on the sofa, and the Chicken’s growing aggravation. Storytime participants can get up and jump, dance, and wiggle along.

The author’s website offers links to other books and printable activities, several of which include recognizable characters from Is Everyone Ready for Fun? The activities can enhance a storytime, as can farm animal-related songs and fingerplays.