Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Would you look good in the The Purple Puffy Coat?

The Purple Puffy Coat, by Maribeth Boelts/Illustrated by Daniel Duncan, (Nov. 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536204971

Ages 3-7

Beetle can’t wait to give his best friend, Stick Bug, his birthday present, so he gives it to him early: it’s a purple puffy coat! Beetle loves it – after all, purple is Beetle’s favorite color. Stick Bug isn’t really in love with it, but Beetle is his best friend, so he endures Beetle’s marching him all around town to show off the coat. But when Beetle takes the time to think about it, he realizes that maybe, just maybe, the purple puffy coat wasn’t what Stick Bug wanted. A sweetly humorous and poignant story about empathy and taking others into consideration, kids will see themselves and their friends in the story. Guide them into a discussion, using Candlewick’s downloadable Teacher Tips, about giving gifts and taking the other person into consideration before giving them a gift. Digital illustrations are colorful and cute, and the friendship between Beetle and Stick Bug will make readers think of Frog and Toad, or Bert and Ernie. A fun story to illustrate thoughtfulness that kids will like.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

More Holiday Book Joy!

More great holiday books to crow about! Let’s take a look!

The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol, by Arthur A. Levine/Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9780763697419

Ages 5-8

“Nate Gadol is a great big spirit with eyes as shiny as golden coins and a smile that is lantern bright.” He has the gift of making things last as long as they are needed, whether it’s a tiny bit of oil that needs to stretch for the eight nights of Hanukkah, or a little bit of chocolate that will be enough to give a a family like the Glasers a sweet holiday treat. He sees the Glasers and their neighbors, the O’Malleys, helping one another out all the time, sharing what little they have with one another, so when Nate spots Santa Claus having sleigh trouble on Christmas Eve, he’s happy to figure out how to stretch some holiday magic – and share a special evening with old friends and new. Author Arthur A. Levine was inspired to write this hybrid holiday tale that creates a “supplementary mythology” that has less to do with religion than with the spirit of the holiday season.An author’s note from Mr. Levine explains his inspiration, and the story is a sweet pairing of two holidays. Acyrlic artwork is rich, with lots of texture, and gold foil accents bring a magical element to life. A cheerful holiday story to have available for your readers.

Publisher Candlewick has a free, downloadable activity kit available on their website.

 

Christmas is Joy, by Emma Dodd, (Sept. 2020, Templar Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536215458

Ages 2-5

The latest in her Love You series, Emma Dodd creates another affectionate story that’s perfect for lapsits and cuddle time. Rhyming verse presents tender holiday musings: “Christmas is joy / that’s overflowing / It’s sparkling eyes / and faces glowing”. Two reindeer take in the wonder of the snow season together and in a group. Digital illustrations are gently colorful, with silver foil effects added for snowy winter magic. Emma Dodd’s books always create a quiet sense of joy when I read them; I hope they do for you, too. A nice choice for your holiday bookshelves.

 

The Worst Christmas Ever, by Kathleen Long Bostrom/Illustrated by Guy Porfirio, (Sept. 2020, Flyaway Books), $17, ISBN: 978-1947888098

Ages 5-8

Matthew is not happy when his family decides to pack up and move to California. He misses his friends, his school, and now, with Christmas coming, he misses snow! Palm trees instead of evergreen? No way! Pink Christmas trees for sale? NOPE. When Matthew’s dog, Jasper, runs away, Matthew is heartbroken and convinced that this will be the worst Christmas ever. His sister, Lucy, is sympathetic, but she is much more excited about the move than Matthew is, and he feels more alone than ever. It will take a special kind of magic during the Christmas Eve church service to save the holiday for Matthew. A story of feeling uprooted and finding the strength to believe, The Worst Christmas Ever is a holiday story with the message of the season at its heart. Illustrations are realistic and expressive, and the relationship between Matthew and Jasper comes across through the artwork. A nice story about believing in miracles for the kids this holiday.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Storytime is book review time! Something For You, With All My Heart, C Jumped Over Three Pots and a Pan

I’m a #SaturdayLibrarian today, so I figured that best way to catch up on book reviews was to put them in front of my toughest audience: TODDLERS. See, on Saturdays, I do storytimes in my children’s room’s Family Place center, which, in Corona (my library), is a little area full of learning toys for the kids to explore. So this is an audience that’s not always going to be riveted to my every word, ya know? I have to be on top of my game for Saturday Storytime, and I need books that are going to keep the kids and parents entertained. These three fit the bill.

Something for You, by Charlie Mylie, (Nov. 2019, Farrar Straus Giroux), $17.99, ISBN: 9780374312350

Ages 2-6

A sweet book about friendship, Something for You is about a mouse who wants to cheer up a sick friend. He searches for something to make her smile, but things don’t always go as planned. Mouse learns that just being a friend is all we need. The watercolor artwork brings a delicacy to the story, and the characters are drawn with kind, expressive faces; their movements also delicate and nurturing. The mouse who searches for something for his friend gently wraps a scarf around a cold pigeon and shares a flower with a bee – even if he’s a little grumpy about it! The story incorporates panels into the storytelling, allowing for a nice sequential feel, while showing small moments coming together to create a story.

This was the first book up, and the kids were intrigued. The cover caught their eye, and I asked, “Isn’t it nice when someone does something for you? Don’t you feel good when you do something nice for Mommy or Daddy?” Moms and dads smiled, and toddlers looked at them skeptically, but seemed to go along with it. The framed window, giving readers a view into the mouse caring for his sick friend, also caught the kids’ eyes: we’re natural spectators, right?

Something for You is adorable, and perfect for stories about kindness and empathy. Toddlers and preschoolers are the spot-on audience for this one, but older kids – Kindergarten and first grade, especially – will enjoy this one, too. Reading this book can lead to some wonderful discussions about friendship.

 

With All My Heart, by Stephanie Stansbie & Richard Smythe, (Dec. 2019, Silver Dolphin), $15.99, ISBN: 9781684129102

Ages 2-6

This is the sweetest book about parent-child love. A big bear and little bear cuddle together, splash, explore, and enjoy making memories together in this ultimate cuddle-sit rhyming story with die-cuts throughout the book. The verse reads with a soothing cadence and is a love letter to caregiving, to parenthood, to loving a child: “I saw your sweet smile/and I knew from the start,/I’d love you forever/with all of my heart”; “Each day, more than ever,/I love your sweet smile,/And feeling you close/as we cuddle a while”. Die cuts on each spread spotlight words in hearts, leaves, and star shapes.

The parents loved this one, and snuggled their little ones (still clutching their toys) into the laps and pointed out the bears, the diecuts, and details like the warm sun, the soft and silvery moon, the little moments between parent and child. This is a nice storytime/lapsit-cuddlesit/bedtime book to have in your collection, and would pair nicely with Anna Pignataro’s Our Love Grows, Margaret Wise Brown’s A Long Time That I’ve Loved You, and the classic Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.

I’ll be reading this one again and again.

 

C Jumped Over Three Pots and a Pan and Landed SMACK in the Garbage Can!, by Pamela Jane/Illustrated by Hina Imtiaz, (Oct. 2019, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764357954

Ages 2-6

I had to end on a silly note! After a rousing rendition of the Alphabet Song, I launched into a spirited reading of this hilarious rhyming story. The alphabet letters are at camp, when C, trying to show off to A and B, decides to leap over  – you guessed it – three pots and a pan. C jumps a little farther than expected, though, and lands – SMACK! – in a garbage can, sending the rest of the alphabet into a tizzy as they search for the letter E, who has three arms and can help pull C out. But E’s gone missing, along with three other letters! We have an alphabet mystery with dramatic tension here, and the repeated phrase, “C jumped over three pots and a pan and landed smack in a garbage can” make this a laugh-out loud book to read aloud. This is made for silly, emphatic reading out loud: I smack my thigh to emphasize the word “smack”, which gave the kids an extra giggle. It’s a fun take on concepts, and is PERFECT for kids who love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr.

The artwork is fun, adorable, and bold, with large letters that have arms, legs, and expressive faces. The primary colors are bright and playful, set against a camp setting complete with tents, boats and rivers, and grass.

Parents and kids alike enjoyed this one, and I’ll be coming back to this book again and again. If you do storytime crafts after your storytimes, there are loads of ideas to enhance your program. There are Do-a-Dot printables (perfect for little hands), letter crafts (my second grader did these in preschool, but the teachers used construction paper and cut out the shapes for the kids to decorate), and hundreds of alphabet coloring sheets. A quick Pinterest search or Internet search will lead you down the wonderful rabbit hole of alphabet coloring and crafts. Enjoy.

And that was my storytime today!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Friendship has been around since the beginning: Cavekid Birthday

Cavekid Birthday, by Cathy Breisacher/Illustrated by Roland Garrigue, (March 2019, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 9781580898768

Ages 4-8

Caveboy and Cavegirl are best friends, born on the same day in side by side caves. Caveboy loves rocks, while Cavegirl enjoys working with tools and painting on cave walls. One birthday, each wants to give the other a gift, but what to get? They each visit Caveman’s Collectibles, separately, and find the perfect gifts. Caveboy trades his rock collection to get a box for Cavegirl to put her tools and paintbrushes in; Cavegirl trades her tools and paintbrushes to get a box for Caveboy to store his rock collection. When they exchange gifts, they figure out ways to put their new gifts – and existing talents – to work.

An updated, kids’ version of O’Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, Cavekid Birthday is a story about friendship, and it’s a story about creative thinking. Caveboy and Cavegirl’s friendship means so much to the other that they’re willing to trade their prized possessions away to get each other the perfect gift – and once they have those perfect gifts, they put them to creative use. But as they start to miss their rock and tool collections, they use their creative talents in another way in order to barter and get them back. Cavekid Birthday has a message about resourcefulness that encourages kids to think outside… well, the box.

The cartoon artwork is mostly earth-toned, with tonal greens and browns, and bright yellows and oranges that perk up the landscape. The characters are expressive and cute, and will keep readers interested. The storytelling leaves room for discussion throughout; ask the kids what they predict will happen when each Cavekid goes to the store, and what will happen when they unwrap each other’s gifts. A nice add to storytime collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Valentine’s Day Readaloud: Love, by Stacy McAnulty

Love, by Stacy McAnulty/Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, (Dec. 2018, Running Press), $17.99, ISBN: 978-0-7624-6212-4

Ages 3-8

Stacy McAnulty and illustrator Joanne Lew-Vriethoff team up again for Love, a sweet companion to Brave and Beautiful. Here, Ms. McAnulty and Ms. Lew-Vriethoff explore the sweet side of love, illustrated by children undertaking the kindest, most gentle tasks. Stacy McAnulty’s words take on even greater significance when paired with Joanne Lew-Vriethoff’s illustrations. “Love at first sight” features a spread of kids hugging shelter pets and new siblings; greeting a new friend in nature or a new, adopted sibling at the airport; “Love needs special presents and designer greeting cards” sees friends visiting and giving gifts and making cards for others, be it a sick friend, a grandmother, or someone who just needs a pick-me-up.

Love speaks to the value of time spent with friends and family, doing good things for the purpose of seeing one another smile. As Stacy McAnulty concludes, “Because nothing else matters without love”. The colorful illustrations and multicultural group of characters will keep readers interested. It’s a comfort to read stories that remind kids (and adults!) that the simplest things are the most important, and most remembered: time spent with family, friends, and community.

Love has a starred review from Kirkus, which also notes that this is a perfect read “for balancing the commercialism of Valentine’s Day”. Have your storytime group make their own “designer greeting cards” to give to someone they love. Maybe create a list of good deeds, based on the ones here, for readers to take home, reminding them of the power of kindness. This one is a good add to your storytime and empathy collections. Stacy McAnulty has valentines and worksheets based on Love available for free download at her website!

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Picture Book Roundup: Bears, Babies, Bats, and more!

In my continuing struggle to get on top of my review list, I present another roundup; this time, with picture books!

Priscilla Pack Rat: Making Room for Friendship, by Claudine Crangle,
(March 2017, Magination Press), $15.95, ISBN: 978-1433823350
Recommended for readers 4-8

Priscilla is a very sweet rat who loves to collect things, but when she’s invited to friends’ birthday parties, she finds that she has a hard time even parting with the gifts she chooses for her friends! When Priscilla’s house finally crashes around her, she realizes that her friends are worth much more than being surrounded by stuff. Magination Press is an imprint of the American Psychological Association; this is a book designed to discuss clutter and hoarding tendencies in kids, and it does so in a mild, easy manner. This can easily be a kids’ story on sharing and giving, no red flags necessary. Adorable felted characters and found objects create a visually interesting story that you can also turn into a little game of I Spy with little ones: there are plenty of things to find! A note to parents and caregivers advises parents on what to do if children have trouble parting with possessions, the differences between hoarding and collecting, and ways to help kids organize their belongings. A nice add to developing empathy collections and for caregivers and educators who need books to address behaviors.

Letters to a Prisoner, by Jacques Goldstyn
(Sept. 2017, OwlKids Books), $18.95, ISBN: 9781771472517
Recommended for readers 4+

Letters to a Prisoner is getting rave reviews, with good reason. The wordless picture book, inspired by the letter-writing campaigns of human rights organization Amnesty International, is so impactful, so relevant, and so necessary. A man is arrested during a peaceful protest, injured by a soldier who also pops the man’s daughter’s balloon. The man is thrown in a solitary jail cell, where he befriends a mouse and a bird. When letters arrive, the guard takes joy in burning them in front of the man, but the joke’s on the guard: the smoke from the burning letters serves as a worldwide beacon. Groups of people all over send the man letters; they arrive, en masse, and turn into wings with which the prisoner soars above the helpless, infuriated guard. The watercolor over black ink sketches adds an ethereal feel to this beautiful story of hope and social justice. The book’s wordlessness allows for every reader to come together, transcending language, to take part in this inspirational story. An author’s note tells readers about Amnesty International’s inspiration. Display and booktalk with Luis Amavisca’s No Water, No Bread, and talk with little ones and their parents as you display the book during social justice and empathy themed storytimes. Letters to a Prisoner has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Quill and Quire.

 

I Am Bat, by Morag Hood,
(Oct. 2017, OwlKids Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492660323
Recommended for readers 3-7

One of my favorite picture books this year. Bat is adorable. And he loves cherries. DO NOT TAKE HIS CHERRIES. He is quite serious about this, so you can imagine his distress when his cherries start disappearing! The reader’s clued in, naturally – we see paws and ants sneaking cherries out of the book’s margins while Bat stares at us, demanding to know what’s going on. The animals leave him a pear, which Bat embraces – and the story is ready to begin again. There’s bold, black fonts to make for expressive storytime reading, and Bat and Friends are just too much fun to read and play along with. Absolutely delightful storytime reading; just make sure you read this one before you get it in front of your group: you will squeal with glee the first couple of times you read it. Print out bat masks for the kids to color in as part of your storytime craft.

Shelter, by Céline Claire,
(Oct. 2017, Kids Can Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781771389273
Recommended for readers 3-7

A storm’s approaching, and two strangers – brothers – arrive in the forest. They stop at several animal family homes, offering a trade for shelter; they have tea, can anyone offer them some food? A place to ride out the storm? We see each family, safe and with full larders, turn them away. A young fox feels terrible about this, and runs out to give the brothers a lamp, which they use to find shelter. But as fate would have it, the storm is even more trouble than the families expected, and soon, they’re asking the brothers for shelter: which is cheerfully given. This kind, moving story about kindness and succor is perfect for illustrating the power of empathy. Qin Leng’s watercolor and ink illustrations are soft and gentle, a perfect match for Céline Claire’s quiet narration. Shelter offers the perfect opportunity to talk about putting kind thoughts into practice; whether it’s sharing with others or offering friendship to someone who needs it.

The Little Red Wolf, by Amelie Flechais,
(Oct. 2017, Lion Forge),$19.99, ISBN: 9781941302453
Recommended for readers 6-10

A slightly macabre twist on the traditional Little Red Hiding Hood tale, The Little Red Wolf is a story about a little wolf who, on the way to visit an ailing grandma, encounters an awful human girl. The message here is consistent with the original fable: there’s a strong stranger danger warning, but also a reminder that every side has a story, every villain has an origin. The art is beautiful and dark; an additional add for collections where readers may be ready for darker fantasy.

Middle Bear, by Susanna Isern/Illustrated by Manon Gauthier,
(Oct. 2017, Kids Can Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781771388429
Recommended for readers 3-7

The middle child gets lots of love in this adorable picture book. Middle Bear is the second of three brothers; not small, but not big; not strong, but not weak; not a lot, not a little… “he was the middle one”. He has a hard time feeling special until the day his parents both fall ill and the three cubs have to get willow tree bark from the mountain top, to help them get well. When big brother is too big, and little brother is too little, it’s up to Middle Brother to save the day: he is, to quote that other story starring three bears, “just right”. The emphasis on bear’s “middleness” will drive home the point that he persevered and succeeded as is, through determination. Manon Gauthier cut paper collage, pencil, and mixed media illustrations add texture and a childlike sense of place in the story. There’s a good lesson about empathy to be learned here, too; the bear’s brothers and parents all support him and let him know that what he may see as being a challenge – being the middle one – is what makes him the perfect bear for the job. Perfect storytelling for middle children who may be feeling the frustration of being too big for some things, not big enough for others.

No Room for Baby!, by Émile Jadoul,
(Oct. 2017, Kids Can Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781771388412
Recommended for readers 3-7

Leon’s baby brother, Marcel, has arrived! Leon’s excited, but a little concerned about where the baby’s going to go when he’s not in his crib. He certainly can’t go in Leon’s room. And there’s no room on Mama’s lap for him; there’s only room for Leon. And Daddy’s shoulders are just too high. After Leon thinks on the situation, he discovers the best possible place for his baby brother: in his arms. This is the such a sweet story about becoming an older sibling; it addresses the fears an older sibling may have when a new baby joins the family, and it allows the sibling to work through his fears and come to his own happy decision. At no point do Leon’s parents correct him or force the baby on him; they stand back and let him reason things out for himself. It’s an empowering story with a sweet sense of humor. The simple black pencil, crayon and oils illustration feels childlike and will easily appeal to readers. I’m looking forward to adding this one to my new baby bibliography.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish!

Not Very Merry CoverThe Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish, by Deborah Diesen/Illustrated by Dan Hanna (Sept. 2015, Macmillan), $16.99, ISBN: 9780374355494

Recommended for ages 3-7

The grumpiest fish in the sea is back, and this time, he’s stressed out over holiday shopping. He’s so worried about finding the perfect gifts for all of his friends, that he’s missing the whole point of the h0liday season – it’s the thought that counts, after all! He learns that making handmade gifts that speak from the heart are the best gifts of all – a valuable lesson for kids and adults alike.

The kids in my library LOVE Pout-Pout Fish. When I first got here, there were two board books of the original story that were worn to the point of falling apart (they’ve been replaced). I can’t wait to bring this story out as the holiday storytimes get a little closer (I have to do Thanksgiving, after all!), with a fun craft afterwards that will show the kids how delighted their parents are with their own handmade gifts.

The book is written in rhyme, perfect for young audiences to follow along. Pout-Pout’s initial refrain about gift-giving: “A gift should be big, and a gift should be bright, and a gift should be perfect—guaranteed to bring delight! And a gift should have meaning, plus a bit of bling-zing, so I’ll shop till I drop for each just-right thing.” will resonate with grownups who work themselves into a state each and every holiday, and maybe give them the message to slow the heck down and enjoy the season.

How happy are we when our kids give us a handprint on a piece of construction paper, or a tissue paper flower? It’s a gift made for us, with love. And it goes beyond that – look at the success of Etsy, the site where crafters sell their handmade stuff. We want that personal touch, that connection. I knit for my friends and family, and the time and love that goes into my gifts means that anyone who gets something handknit from me is pretty amazing in my life. It’s a message that we seem to inch away from a little more every year; maybe the Pout-Pout Fish will help bring us back to that all-important message this holiday season.

Dan Hanna’s art is absolutely adorable. Pout-Pout has a big, gloomy pout as he rushes around trying to make everyone happy – but himself. Paired with Deborah Diesen’s rhyming text, kids will giggle and engage with this book right away. My toddler loved it!

Add The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish to your holiday libraries and get your winter crafts ready. But wait – you can also enter this Rafflecopter giveaway//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js for a chance to win your own copy!

INTERVIEWS WITH THE AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR!

Deborah Diesen - Author PhotoDeborah Diesen, Author

Since the first book, we’ve seen Mr. Fish go to school, learn to smile, face the dark, discover how to dream and play hide-and-seek. What do kids (and their parents) love most about the series?

I think one of the things that makes Mr. Fish an appealing character for many kids and parents is that kids and parents alike can identify with his experiences. Toddlers sometimes pout; so do adults! Preschoolers have things they’re scared of; so do adults! Kindergarteners get nervous about starting something new; so do adults! Mr. Fish’s experiences provide a way for kids and grown-ups to explore those issues together. In addition, the stories have rhyme, repetition, and wordplay, which are fun in a read-aloud book. And Dan Hanna’s illustrations! They’re fantastic. They truly bring the stories to life.

What do you hope young readers (ages 3-6) will learn from The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish? Is there a message here for grown-ups as well?
I hope that Mr. Fish’s latest tale will help children to realize that presents don’t need to be expensive or complicated or splashy. Simple, heartfelt presents that connect us to one another are the best gifts of all. A drawing; a craft project; time spent together; even just a smile! These sorts of gifts are the most cherished and the most enduring. It’s a lesson we grown-ups have to re-learn periodically as well.

Do you have any tips for parents of toddlers about the joy of giving presents, rather than just receiving them, this holiday season?
Kids love to give presents, and they especially love having an active role in the process of creating the presents. Try a craft idea or project that’s extremely simple and stress-free, and then let your child have at it with a minimum of help. The more messy, lopsided, and imperfect the results the better! Have fun with the process, and as you do you’ll create not just gifts but memories as well.

Dan Hanna, Illustrator

danhanna by jennifer beckwithThe items in the shop and the gifts Mr. Fish imagines in this story are so detailed and quirky. How did you come up with them? Did you have a specific inspiration?

For the imagined gifts, I drew on my own experience as a kid where I would dream up magnificent presents for my family and friends.  Eventually, as with Mr. Fish, I would have to confront reality and drastically scale back my plans.

The shop items are based on all the goofy stuff you can find on the shelves of some of the more interesting gift shops.

Of all the items that the Pout-Pout fish dreams up (robot, spaceship, submarine etc.), which one would you love to get this Christmas?

The Submarine!  When I was a kid there was an ad in the back of a comic book for a submarine.  The ad went something like this: “Deluxe Submarine!  Life Size!  Torpedo Tubes!  Absolutely NO Cardboard Parts!  Only $10!!

I saved up the money and sent away for it.   As I waited for it to be delivered my dreams were filled with visions of underwater adventure.  Eventually it arrived and sank my dreams into the abyss.  It was just a cardboard box with torpedo tubes made from toilet roll tubes.  It was even more depressing than the Sea Monkeys and X-Ray Glasses.

What do you think was your most valuable childhood experience?
Being bored.  I firmly believe that having enough free time to sit around and be bored is very important for the development of a healthy imagination.

What do you want the students to get out of your school visits?
That being a writer or illustrator is like being a wizard.  Your magic wand is a pencil.  Your potions are words and scribbles.  And the spells you cast will be the stories you write and the pictures you draw.  So pick up a pencil and make some magic happen!

THE NOT VERY MERRY POUT POUT FISH BLOG TOUR

Chat with Vera chatwithvera.blogspot.com

MomReadIt https://momreadit.wordpress.com/

Anakalian Whims anakalianwhims.wordpress.com

Mymcbooks Blog mymcbooks.wordpress.com

Outnumbered 3 to 1 http://www.outnumbered3-1.com

Picture Books Review http://www.picturebooksreview.com/

Check It Out https://maclibrary.wordpress.com/

Jumpin Beans http://jumpin-beans.blogspot.com/

Caiafa Craziness http://www.caiafacraziness.com

TeacherDance http://www.teacherdance.org/

Kid Lit Reviews http://kid-lit-reviews.com/

Heck of A Bunch http://www.heckofabunch.com

Leslie Lindsay http://leslielindsay.com/

Double Duty Twins doubledutytwins.com

GeoLibrarian http://geolibrarian.blogspot.com/

Cassandra M’s Place http://www.cassandramsplace.com

Philly Burb Moms http://www.phillyburbmoms.com

Not So Average Mama http://www.notsoaveragemama.com

Tales of Mommyhood http://www.talesofmommyhood.com/

Susan Heim on Parenting susanheim.blogspot.com

Bookish Babes https://bookishbabes.wordpress.com/

Bea’s Book Nook http://beasbooknook.blogspot.com/

Bumbles and Fairytales http://bumblesandfairytales.blogspot.com/

Be the Difference http://mariadismondy.com/blog/

Stacking Books http://www.stackingbooks.com/

Local Busy Bees http://www.localbusybees.com

Reading through Life http://readingtl.blogspot.com/

Parenting Healthy http://www.parentinghealthy.com

Unleashing Readers http://www.unleashingreaders.com/

Kristen Remenar http://kristenremenar.com/

Oh My! Omaha http://www.ohmyomaha.com/

My Silly Little Gang http://mysillylittlegang.com/

The Corner on Character http://corneroncharacter.blogspot.com/

Mommy Ramblings mommyramblings.org

SoCal City Kids socalcitykids.com

Saffron Tree http://www.saffrontree.org

Mrs Brown Loves Bookworms http://mrsbrownthebookworm.blogspot.com/

The Neighborhood Moms http://www.TheNeighborhoodMoms.com

Inspired by Savannah http://www.inspiredbysavannah.com

The Reading Nook Reviews http://www.bookrookreviews.com/

In the Pages Blog inthepages.blogspot.com

Writers’ Rumpus http://writersrumpus.com/

Miss Marple’s Musings http://www.joannamarple.com/

Investing Love http://www.aliciahutchinson.com/

Natural Mama http://www.naturalbabygoods.com/

One Crazy Kid http://onecrazykid.com

Mommy’s Block Party http://www.mommysblockparty.co/

Mommy Has to Work http://mommyhastowork.com/

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads, Uncategorized

Book Review: Thank You Bear, by Greg Foley (Viking, 2007)

thank-you-bearRecommended for ages 2-4

Bear finds a box that he cannot wait to share with his best friend, Mouse. On his way to Mouse, he meets other friends – a Monkey, an Owl, a Fox, an Elephant, a Squirrel and a Bunny – who criticize Bear’s gift as being too small, too ordinary, or even a better gift for someone else. Dejected, Bear is unsure whether or not his gift is worth giving, until Mouse shows him that friendship is all about gratitude. Preschoolers will appreciate this simple book on friendship and gratitude, and the joy that even the simplest gifts can bring to another. The font is a spare, typewriter-like print, and the pastel watercolor artwork, outlined with strong black lines, bring simplicity to a story that may diverge from more brightly colored books, but will stand out because of it.

 

This would be a great addition to a storytime on friendship and gratitude. There is the potential for a wonderful discussion about friends and giving – Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree would be a great companion story to this book – and the importance of saying “thank you”. Friendship is a popular storytime theme, with many songs available on children’s CDs. DLTK’s website has a friendship wreath craft made with traced handprints that can be prepared in advance and ready for attendees to assemble with help from their parents/guardians.

The author’s website has downloadable designs for Bear stationery and computer wallpaper, in addition to links to other books. Mr. Foley’s “Bear” series includes Make a Wish Bear; I Miss You Mouse; Good Luck Bear and Don’t Worry Bear, which also features his friend, Mouse.

The book received the Charlotte Zolotow Award in 2008 and was a nominee for Iowa’s Goldfinch Book Award (2011).

Posted in Graphic Novels, Humor, Middle School, Tween Reads

Book Review: Amelia Rules! The Whole World’s Crazy, by by Jimmy Gownley (Renaissance Press, 2006)

Recommended for ages 9-12
 
Jimmy Gownley’s graphic novels about Amelia McBride and her group of friends remind me of Bugs Bunny cartoons – when you’re a child, they entertain you; when you’re a little older, you get the jokes.
 
In this first volume, we meet Amelia, age nine. Her parents have just divorced and she and her mom have moved from Manhattan to “the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania”, where they live with her retired pop rock star Aunt Tanner. Tanner provides a ready ear and sometimes, shoulder, for Amelia when she needs to vent.
 
Amelia’s a wise-cracking tomboy, but she isn’t skin deep. We see the effect of her parents’ divorce on her, be it through the frustration and anger with her father for canceling plans for their weekend together because he has a last-minute work commitment or her discomfort in overhearing her mother berating her dad on the phone. She shakes it off, adapts her hard-as-nails persona, and moves on. We all know kids like Amelia;  maybe we have even been in Amelia’s place at one point, and this is what makes her so accessible to kids and grownups alike.
 
Speaking of grown-ups, there are plenty of in-jokes for mom and dad to catch. Amelia and her friends go to Joseph McCarthy Middle School (motto: “Weeding out the wrong element since 1952”). Ann Coulter garners a mention on one of Santa’s lists (hint: it ain’t the “nice” list). There are pop culture references aplenty. The dialogue is funny and smart; Gownley doesn’t talk down to his audience, nor does he shy away from sensitive topics.
 
Amelia’s friends are a mixed bag of personalities. Amelia’s friend Reggie is obsessed with being a superhero, to the point of starting his own league of heroes called GASP (Gathering of Awesome Super Pals). Pajamaman is the most popular kid in school, but never speaks, wears footie pajamas, and comes from a poor family. Rhonda, Amelia’s nemesis (and grudgingly, good friend), has a crush on Reggie and puts herself in competition with Amelia for his attention. The group deals with bullies and crazy teachers, unrequited love and poverty. It’s a group of kids that readers will see themselves reflected in.
 
The Amelia Rules! website offers even more to Amelia fans. There are book trailers, podcasts, a blog, and links to fan art and fan fiction. Visitors can listen to music in Tanner’s Garage and play games in the Ninja Lair.