Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board Books to celebrate Spring, Dinosaurs, and Art!

How much do I love board books? SO MUCH. And they just keep coming and coming! I’ve got a stack of adorable board books that celebrate Spring, and a few that were originally published as picture books but that have made a great transition to board books.

Hello Garden!, by Katherine Pryor/Illustrated by Rose Soini, (May 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361098

Ages 0-3

Two kids wake up and enjoy a day in their garden! They crunch on green beans and snap peas, help tend to the garden, and enjoy the local wildlife. Rhyming verse tells a story that celebrates each of the senses, and accompanied by colorful artwork. Kids will want to get their hands and toes in the dirt and revel in being in nature after reading this cheery, upbeat story. A great addition to a Spring or Garden storytime – pair with the National Geographic board book, In My Garden, from the Look & Learn series, and Kadir Nelson’s gorgeous book, If You Plant a Seed. If you’re looking for a Spring activity with your Kiddos, Nat Geo Kids has you covered with an article on planting a garden; Kids Gardening has Garden Lesson Plans for kids and a free newsletter. Short on space? Try a garden sensory bin! There are great ideas at Mess for Less and Fireflies and Mud Pies.

 

Little Bug on the Move, Stéphanie Babin/Illustrated by Olivia Cosneau, (March 2021, Twirl Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9782408024642

Ages 0-3

A little bug goes exploring in this interactive book that kids can slide, spin, and play with. The bug crawls uphill, inches along the trees, spins on a flower, and hides on a mushroom, all heading toward a pop-up surprise at the end. The question-and-answer format format of the text encourages kids to think as they manipulate the activities on the pages, and provides an opportunity for an older sibling, parent, or caregiver to read along. Bright and colorful artwork and sturdy activities and pages make this another book kids will reach many, many times. Invite readers to identify different bugs, shapes, and colors as you go! Pair with the board book of The Very Hungry Caterpillar for an adorably buggy storytime.

 

Mamasaurus, by Stephan Lomp, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797205328

Ages 3-5

I’ve written about my love for Mamasaurus before. It’s the sweetest little story of a baby dinosaur who finds himself separated from his Mama and has to ask other dinosaurs if they’ve seen her; all of whom describe their own Mamas when trying to get an idea of what Mamasaurus looks like. The book makes a great transition from picture book to board book, making it even easier to read during a lapsit and cuddle storytime.

 

Papasaurus, by Stephan Lomp, (May 2021, Chronicle Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797205335

Ages 3-5

The companion book to Mamasaurus, Papasaurus makes the seamless transition from picture book to board book in time for Father’s Day, with a May release date. Here, Babysaurus and his dad are playing a game of hide and seek. As he searches for his Papa, he encounters other Kid-osaurs and asks for their help. As with Mamasaurus, the little dinos all frame their questions using their own parents as reference. Papasaurus and Babysaurus are sweetly reunited, reassuring readers that “misplaced” parents will always be found. The artwork is charming, with bright colors and sweetly expressive dinosaurs with large eyes and smiley faces. Perfect for cuddle time and Dino storytime.

 

Mix It Up!, by Hervé Tullet, (May 2021, Chronicle Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9781797207605

Ages 2-5

Another great transition from picture book to board book, Hervé Tullet’s Mix It Up! brings creativity and interactivity to this wonderful board book that keeps kids pressing, touching, and shaking their books as they work with color. The narration walks readers through the book, directing readers through cause-and-effect spreads that will invoke delight as readers discover that the page they’ve touched leads to a riot of color on the next spread, or mixing colors by tilting the book leads to an entirely new color emerging! Hervé Tullet writes like he’s in a one-on-one with each reader, gently leading them with sentences like, “take a little bit of the read… and rub it on the blue”; “Do you want to go on? OK!” I’ve read all of Tullet’s books in my storytimes, and they never fail to elicit joyful participation as I weave through the seated kids, everyone waiting their turn to take part. Art storytime, Color storytime, everything works with an Hervé Tullet story. Having this in board book format invites little learners to sit and play on their own or with another reader. They’re just wonderful books. The original release of Mix It Up! was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a Buzzfeed Best Book of the Year, a PBS Parents Best Picture Book, an ACL Distinguished Book, and selected as a Best Book of the Year by Chicago Public Library. Get out the fingerpaints and let your Littles create their own masterpieces!

Posted in picture books

Books that love beautiful weather

I’ve been going through my TBR as we sit in time out for a little while. Today’s picture book slam is all about books to read while enjoying the beautiful weather. Grab some books (they’re available via ebook – check your libraries or order from your indies; many have ebooks!), sit outside with your littles, and enjoy every moment.

The Bear’s Garden, by Marcie Colleeen/Illustrated by Alison Oliver, (March 2020, Imprint/Macmillan), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250314819

A young girl envisions a community garden from a spilled plant in this story, based on the actual Pacific Street Brooklyn Bear’s Community Garden in Brooklyn, New York. Living in the inner city, the girl sees potential in everything: a cardboard box, a tomato can, a seed. When her tomato can plant falls over, she sees “a baby garden”, and tends to the seedling where it landed. As her plant grows, people being slowing down, admiring her progress. But the girl has to leave, and she worries that without her love, her plants will suffer, so she makes the decision to leave her teddy bear behind. Under the bear’s loving eye, the neighborhood comes together to create a community garden filled with life, color, and love. Colorful and upbeat, The Bear’s Garden illustrates the beauty of imagination, creation, and community coming together. Endpapers are laid out like a map of the boroughs; the back endpapers focuses on Brooklyn, with a colorful burst of flowers noting where the Bear’s Garden can be found.

Consider a planting activity with your own kiddos – I love this Buzzfeed link that has different types of kitchen scraps that you can grow; Kids Gardening has a downloadable planting activity using kitchen scraps.

The Bear’s Garden has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Kaia and the Bees, by Maribeth Boelts/Illustrated by Angela Dominguez, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536201055

Ages 4-8

Kaia is a little girl who is pretty brave, but one thing scares her: Bees. She tries to keep it a secret from her friends, but when she’s spooked by a bee flying by her, she turns to her beekeper dad: she wants to go up on the roof with him, to his apiary. She’s doing great with the bees, until she slips her glove off and one stings her finger! Just when Kaia thinks she’s done with bees, she has a moment where she faces her fears and discovers that maybe bees aren’t so scary after all.

A story about bravery and empathy, with a smart message about our environment and urban apiaries, Kaia and the Bees warmly addresses relatable fears – in this case, bees – and how the smallest steps can lead to big progress. Kaia is relatable; she’s brave and smart, but hides her fear of bees until she’s called out on it. Her beekeeper father explains how bees are important to our world, and how his work – the family’s work – as beekeepers helps keep bees safe and healthy. Maribeth Boelts, herself a beekeeper, brings her love of bees and social mindfulness to Kaia’s voice, while Angela Dominguez’s cartoon-realist illustrations give readers an expressive, accessible heroine and a multicultural family living and thriving in an urban setting. Endpapers give readers a peek into a beehive, complete with nonthreatening, cute bees.

There are some interesting facts about honeybees available from NatGeo Kids. Hobby Farms has information on beekeping safety for kids who want to be like Kaia. The New York City Beekeepers Assocation has education on urban beekeeping. Introduce kids to urban beekeeping with Kaia and with Lela Nargi’s book, The Honeybee Man; The Honeybee Conservancy also offers a good list of bee books for children.

 

Hike, by Pete Oswald, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536201574

Ages 4-8

A dad and child wake up and hit the trail for a day’s hike. As they walk a trail together, they notice the beauty of their surroundings: spy a family of deer; track a black bear’s footprints; indulge in a snowball fight, and contribute their own offering to the forest: they plant a sprig from a tree. A celebration of the parent-child bond and our world, Hike is largely wordless, relying on the illustrations to tell the story. The colors are warm, drawn from nature, and the father and child share a visibly warm, loving relationship that invites caregivers and their kids to put on their hiking boots – or sneakers! – and explore their world. Be it a backyard, an urban neighborhood, or a suburban landscape, there’s always something to discover together. A sepia set of endpapers present a map, with start and finish points noted.

I loved the idea of a DIY Nature Journal like this one from KC Edventures. Last year, when I was home with my little guy during Spring Break, we made a nature journal with brown paper lunch bags and went wandering around our neighborhood, collecting cool leaves, acorns, and pebbles we found and liked. Kiddo loved it, and I printed out photos I snapped during our walk to add to the pages. The Pragmatic Parent has a great, free Nature Scavenger Hunt PDF that kids will love, too.

Hike has five starred reviews.

 

Solar Story: How One Community Lives Alongside the World’s Biggest Solar Plant, by Allan Drummond, (March 2020, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), $18.99, ISBN: 9780374308995

Ages 5-10

This is nonfiction that appeals to multiple grades. The story of the Noor Solar Power Plant in Morocco’s Sahara Desert – the largest solar power plant in the world – wraps around a story about everyday life in a small village next to the plant. Jasmine and Nadia are two friends who go on a class trip to the plant; during that trip, the girls’ class and readers will learn about Morocco and how the power plant creates jobs and improves the quality of life by bringing turnkey skills, technology, and the magic word, sustainability.

By giving readers relatable guides in the forms of Jasmine and Nadia, readers get a glimpse of life in a small Moroccan village, where the villagers have farm animals and cook on open fires, and the huge sprawl of the power plant and the modernity it brings while honoring the culture of the people who inhabit the area. The teacher engages her students, and readers, by asking thoughtful questions; most notably, “what does sustainability mean?”, to get her students and our readers ready for the school trip that illustrates how the power plant creates sustainability.

Watercolor illustrations and word balloon dialogue make this an enjoyable read. Warm yellows wander through the story, and earth tones and blues bring the reader to the land and its people. The teacher and many female children wear hijab. Sidebars throughout provide more detailed information about Morocco, the power plant, and sustainability. An author’s note showcases photos of workers at the Noor plant and a bibliography provides an opportunity for more reading. Endpapers bookend the story by having Nadia and Jasmine meet before the trip, and head back to school after.

A good addition to STEM collections. Toms of Maine has some easy to do activities to teach kids about solar power. Time for Kids has a 2016 article about the Noor plant.

 

That’s it for this time, I want to get this posted! More books coming!

Posted in Non-Fiction

Celebrate Earth Day! Books about our big, blue dot.

Families on Foot: Urban Hikes to Backyard Treks and National Park Adventures, by Jennifer Pharr Davis & Brew Davis, (March 2017, Falcon Guides), $17.95, ISBN: 978-1-4930-2671-5

I’ve been waiting to talk this one up! Published in partnership with the American Hiking Society, this is the book you want if you want to start – or already are a fan of – hiking and taking nature walks with your family. You’ll find tips and information on hiking etiquette, packing, safety, urgent matters like diaper blowouts, using technology like smartphone apps and GPS, activities to keep all ages engaged, and 9 tasty trail mix recipes that are nature-friendly. There’s information on hiking with special needs children and seniors; comprehensive online resources, and a state-by-state directory of family-friendly trails. Full color photos and first-hand stories from the trail will have you packing a bag and getting ready to hit the road.

 

Ranger Rick’s Travels: National Parks!, by Stacy Tornio & Ken Keffer,
(Aug. 2016, Muddy Boots), $14.95, ISBN: 9781630762308

Now that you’re ready to hit the trail, Ranger Rick’s Travels: National Parks will tell you where to go! Ranger Rick and his friend Deputy Scarlett take readers on a scenic tour of America’s 58 national parks, which profiles including stunning photos and facts, top nature picks on plants and animals to look for, and a bucket list for each park.

 

Change the World Before Bedtime, a collaboration by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good (Schiffer Publishing, 2012). $16.99, ISBN: 978-0764342387

I tend to think of Change the World Before Bedtime as an accompanying read to 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World, by Melanie Walsh. The story tells kids that anyone, big or small, can do things to bring about positive change. Over the course of one day, a group of children make positive decisions and take action to brighten the world around them, tying on their “hero capes” and eating a healthy breakfast, spending the day doing random good deeds, like picking up litter, visiting a sick friends or family, donating clothing, toys, and food to the needy, and keeping a positive mindset.

 

The Earth Book, by Todd Parr, (March 2010, Hachette), $11.99, ISBN: 9780316042659

Who does social justice better than Todd Parr? The Earth Book – printed with recycled material and nontoxic ink – empowers kids to work together to make the Earth feel good, from planting a tree to reducing, reusing, and recycling. The Earth Book is great for toddlers and preschoolers, who may otherwise feel left out of the action.

 

These Bees Count!, by Alison Ashley Formento/Illustrated by Sarah Snow,
(March 2012, Albert Whitman), $16.99, ISBN: 9780807578681

I love this book and its companions, These Seas Count!, These Rocks Count!, and This Tree Counts! In These Bees Count, kids learn the importance of bees to our society by helping pollinate flowers and producing honey. There’s a counting aspect to the books, too, making it accessible to preschoolers and possibly younger; introduce the counting concepts and talk about the good things bees do.

 

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth, by Mary McKenna Siddals/Illustrated by Ashley Wolff,
(March 2010, Tricycle Press), $15.99, ISBN: 9781582463162

What’s composting? Glad you asked! This A -to-Z explains composting, how to make a compost pile: what to throw in? what to keep out?, and how composting helps keep gardens growing healthy and happy. It’s great for toddlers and preschoolers who can learn their ABCs through gardening, after they practice their 123s with the bees (above)!

Gabby and Grandma Go Green, by Monica Wellington,
(March 2011, Dutton), $10.99 via Kindle, ASIN: B01F2IJRXA

If you can buy this through a third-party seller or see it in a bookstore, it’s worth it to make the purchase. I really hope this one comes back into print, because I love this story. It’s a good intergenerational story, with young Gabby and her Grandma going green by sewing their own cloth bags, buying veggies at the Farmer’s Market, and recycling their bottles. I love this book and use my battered old copy during my Earth Day storytimes.

These are just a few great Earth Day titles. For today, go out and enjoy the planet! Tomorrow, go to your library or bookstore and check a few out for yourself and your family.

Posted in Preschool

Butterfly Park by Elly MacKay is a gorgeous book about new beginnings and friendship!

buterfly parkButterfly Park, by Elly MacKay (2015, Running Press), $16.95, ISBN: 978-0762453399

Recommended for ages 3-8

A young girl moves from her home, surrounded by green and butterflies, to a new house, where she hears horns and sirens, and everything looks the same. Until she finds the gates to a park next door, that read “Butterfly Park”. Thrilled, she drops in – but there are no butterflies to be found in the park! She sets to work with her neighbors to create a place that the butterflies will return to again and again.

This book delivers such positive messages in a beautiful setting. Created with collage and diorama, the art seemingly takes on an extra dimension, inviting the reader to join in the quest to bring the butterflies to Butterfly Park. The characters, known only as The Girl and The Boy, facilitate this by easily allowing any child reading the book to become The Girl or The Boy, chasing butterflies and planting flowers with nectar that the butterflies will love.  The entire neighborhood comes together to help The Girl create the garden, illustrating the value and the fun in teamwork. The girl’s determination to make the best of her move and her new surroundings will resonate with anyone who’s had to move and start over.

The book’s cover folds out into a poster featuring plants that attract butterflies, and the final pages fold out into a beautiful panorama of a community butterfly garden. Kids will likely want to get some seeds and tools and plant their own gardens after reading this book – and they should! It’s springtime! Show kids they can create a garden anywhere – container gardens and houseplants are just as much fun to work with as outdoor gardens.

Join #TheButterflyTrail at Running Press’ Butterfly Park site and learn more about the book and the author.