Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Sleepover bonding time with Grandpa: Time for Bed, Old House

Time for Bed, Old House, by Janet Costa Bates/Illustrated by AG Ford, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209983

Ages 3-7

Isaac is looking forward to his sleepover at Grandpa’s house, but he’s a little nervous about being away from home. After and evening of games and snacks, Grandpa and his dog, Snuffles, teach Isaac how to put the house to bed. As they go through each room, turning off lights and pulling down shades, Isaac is initially frightened by the sounds the old house makes, but Grandpa wonderfully observes that “this old house makes sleepy sounds, just like you… you yawn. You stretch. I bet you even snore”. As they end up in Isaac’s room and settle down for the night, Isaac is content, saying good night to the house, and looking forward to the next day.

This is a wonderful and cozy story about a grandparent and grandchild. Janet Costa Bates’s quiet storytelling wraps readers up like a blanket, tucking them in with her words. AG Ford’s watercolors envelop readers in the welcoming setting, with warm golds leading Isaac and Grandpa through the house as they help ready it for the night, and cooler blues and purples to provide the cover of darkness. When Isaac goes to bed holding Bear, a smile on his face, readers won’t be able to help but smile themselves, having heard a wonderful story. Front endpapers show Snuffles heading toward Grandpa and Isaac, most likely; back endpapers show him sleeping in his dog bed. The opening spread begins the story as we see Grandpa and Isaac on Grandpa’s porch, waving goodbye to a car pulling away, presumably Isaac’s parents, with his mom waving out the window. Isaac and his family are people of color. A perfect bedtime story, grandparent story, and first sleepover story for all collections.

Time for Bed, Old House has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus and has also been named a Book of Distinction by the Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Sam Usher’s Rain explores patience and celebrates imagination

Rain, Sam Usher, (March 2017, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-9296-4

Recommended for readers 3-7

It’s raining out – and the young boy sitting inside can’t wait to go outside and have an adventure! Grandpa suggests they wait for the rain to stop, and putters around the home while the boy fidgets and waits for the weather to let up. When the rain finally lets up, Grandpa and grandson go out to mail a letter, and have their own adventure together.

I adore the quiet adventure of Rain: it’s got a soothing repetition while pulsing with the excited impatience a child knows all too well when waiting for an adult to give him or her the go-ahead to do something fun. The boy tries to talk his grandfather into heading outside by talking about things one can do in the rain (catch raindrops splash in puddles) and expressing a desire to go on adventures, like voyaging with sea monsters or visit a floating city. Grandpa, unruffled, continues to tell the boy to wait for the rain to stop. We feel the boy’s impatience when he repeats, “But did the rain stop? NO!” When it’s finally time to venture out, the excursion is every bit as exhilarating as the boy expected. When they return home, grandfather and grandson sit together, with warm socks and hot chocolate, sharing a perfect moment together, complete with the dispensing of grandfatherly wisdom: “…the very best things are always worth waiting for”.

Sam Usher’s art reminds me of some of my favorite British illustrators, Tony Ross and Quentin Blake. His use of watercolor makes grandfather’s home warm and cozy, and the rain outside looks almost dewy and real as seen from the boy’s window. His rainy scene spreads are properly gray and stormy, with sparks of imagination wandering into the picture to prepare readers for what’s coming: a prow of a boat here, an upturned umbrella there. The endpapers extend the story, with puddles and birds, and a cameo by the penguin from Usher’s previous book, Snow.

This is the second in a four-part celebration of the seasons. Snow (2015) saw the boy trying to get Grandpa out of bed to adventure in the snow. I can’t wait to see what Mr. Usher has in store for the next two seasons.

This is a great read-aloud for toddlers and preschoolers alike, and a wonderful companion to nonfiction books about weather and the seasons. Ask the kids what their adventure in the rain would look like; talk about what to wear in the rain (raincoats, boots), and let them decorate their own umbrellas. I really like this one from MamaJenn that incorporates glue raindrops.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Teen, Tween Reads

Map of Days is a fable woven into a boy’s story

map-of-days_1Map of Days, by Robert Hunter, (March 2017  Nobrow), $18.95, ISBN: 9781910620298

Recommended for ages 10+

Originally published in 2013, Map of Days follows a clock-obsessed boy, who wonders where his grandfather goes when he disappears into a door on his grandfather clock. One night, the boy steps into the clock and discovers a fantastic world, where the face of Earth, the Sun, and the love story that joins the two. It’s a fable contained within a narrative, beautifully illustrated for readers of all ages. Children under the age of 10 will enjoy the colorful art, but may be lost by the story, which isn’t always linear and can be confusing.

The artwork is beautiful, and the fable of the Earth and the Sun is bittersweet. Art fans will want this book on their shelves for the sheer beauty within; fantasy fans will happily follow the boy on his journey.

Robert Hunter is a graphic novelist and illustrator who also wrote The New Ghost (2011). Find more of his illustration work at his website.







Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Seti’s Charm starts off an exciting middle school adventure series!

setis charmSeti’s Charm: A Max Carter Adventure, by Chris Everheart (2014, Yellow Rocket Media) $12.99, ISBN: 9780985912581

Recommended for ages 9-12

Fourteen year-old Max Carter has lived with his grandfather since being orphaned at a young age. He adores his grandfather, and works alongside him in the family Egyptology museum, with plans to be an archaeologist himself one day. When smugglers attack the museum, putting his grandfather in the hospital and burning the museum to the ground, Max knows he has to recover the funeral charm of Pharaoh Seti I from the thieves and see it safely back to Egypt. Max seemingly has all the odds against him – his grandfather’s younger wife wants to see him sent to military school and the museum sold off for good, and the thieves – whom Max traces to a tropical island – certainly aren’t going to make it easy for him.

This is a great middle grade adventure. We’ve got a young hero who will appeal to Alex Rider fans, with a touch of Indiana Jones to spark some interest. There’s intrigue, action, and enough Egyptian history in here to give readers a beginning foundation of Ancient Egyptian funeral rites, which will make the next family trip to the museum a lot of fun. (Possible spoiler alert: I found myself wondering if a character was going to get his or her brains pulled out through his or her nose at one point, so I may spend a little too much time on that sort of thing.) English teachers and school librarians, this would be a good book to talk up during a history class unit on Ancient Egypt.

Chris Everheart’s author page has information about his books, plus links to his bio, blog, and events.

Posted in Early Reader, Toddler Reads, Uncategorized

Time Together: Me and Grandpa evokes sweet memories for kids and grandparents

Time Together: Me and Grandpa, by Maria Catherine/illus. by Pascal Campion (Mar. 2015, Capstone) $8.95, ISBN: 9781479557967

Recommended for ages 3-7

Morning reading time. Whispery fish time. Ultimate nap time. Close your eyes and see the images these words evoke, and you have the essence of Me and Grandpa, a sweet litany of different “times” children spend with their grandfathers. The images are bright, yet subdued, feature boys and girls from multiethnic backgrounds, and there is one spread dedicated to each setting. There are active and passive activities, from playing a sport or gardening to relaxing, reading the morning paper or cuddling for an afternoon nap.

The digital images are vivid, with splashes of realistic touches that look like paint or sponge art, creating a multilayered appearance. Text is black or white, depending on the background, distinguishing itself but never taking over the spread, allowing for a gentle read and contemplation of each image and moment with a grandparent.

They’re great books for a grandpa/child storytime, and a perfect gift to either a grandparent from a child, or vice versa. Libraries, plan your Grandparent’s Day/Mother’s Day/Father’s Day events around this one.

A companion book, Time Together: Me and Grandma, also by Maria Catherine/Pascal Campion, will be released on March 1st.