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, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Abracadabra, katakurico! What’s in the Hat?

Hat Tricks, by Satoshi Kitamura, (March 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9781682631508

Ages 2-6

Meet Hattie, the magician! She’s going to perform a wonderful magic show, and you get the front seat! With every spread, readers guess what’s in Hattie’s magic hat! Mattie pops out first, and with each spread and the magic words, abracadara, katakurico… a surprise awaits! But we get hints peeking out from the hat, so readers can take a guess at who’s next to pop out of the hat. The shenanigans get progressively sillier, heading toward a grand finale that everyone will love.

I LOVE this book. It’s meant to be read out loud, and to a group! Satoshi Kitamura’s comic book-type artwork is colorful, with bold outlines and expressive faces. This book would work very well with some flannels, or small stuffed animals, too: just pull ’em out of a hat and watch the kids cheer. The movement in the book takes up the whole spread, with hilarious energy and action that will make kids squeal and giggle.

Originally published in the UK in 2019, I’m very happy to welcome Hat Tricks to our shores and hope Satoshi Kitamura gives us some more interactive books to read with toddlers and preschoolers.

Hat Tricks has a starred review from Kirkus. There is a free, downloadable activity sheet available at the publisher’s website.

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

Am I Yours? is an adorable dino guessing game

Am I Yours?, by Alex Latimer, (Sept. 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 9781682630440

Ages 3-6

An icy prehistoric wind blows an egg out of its nest; it rolls, then lands, in the midst of a group of dinosaurs. As the egg begs for help in identifying its parents, each dinosaur offers a description of itself and asks the embryonic dinosaur if it shares the same trait: Stegosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Triceratops, Corythosaurus, even Tyrannosaurus all try to help, but the poor egg is bereft: it doesn’t sound like any of these dinosaurs are its parents! In a melodramatic turn, the egg fears the chill night will be its last, but no worries: the setting sun presents a silhouette of the little pterosaur inside the egg, and the dinosaurs rejoice: they can reunite the family!

This adorable rhyming tale is a dinoriffic take on the “Are You My Mother?” theme. The dinosaurs are mostly familiar faces, and the rhyming and repetition allows kids to anticipate what will happen next. Dinosaurs are bright in color; pencil art that’s been digitized and finished with color and texture gives the artwork a mixed media feel. This would make an adorable flannel story – get yourself to the craft store! There’s a free downloadable matching game on Peachtree’s website.

Booktalk and display with Stephen Lomp’s Mamasaurus and Papasaurus, and Ed Young’s Seven Blind Mice.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Humor, Preschool Reads

Good advice: Never Follow a Dinosaur!

never-followNever Follow a Dinosaur, by Alex Latimer, (Sept. 2016, Peachtree Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 9781561457045

Recommended for ages 3-8

Siblings Joe and Sally spy a strange set of footprints by their cat’s bowl one morning, setting them off on an investigation. Clearly, it’s a dinosaur. With each spread, they deduce more about the dinosaur: it’s a heavy dinosaur, because the tracks are so deep; it’s a hungry dinosaur, because it’s eaten the cat’s food; footprints in the fish pond clue them in that it’s a dinosaur who likes to swim. Should you follow a dinosaur, though? Especially when it’s a hungry dinosaur? You’ll just have to read to find out!

Never Follow a Dinosaur is a cute book that teaches kids about using clues to figure out more and more about the dinosaur. The spreads are hilarious, as the dinosaur suffers indignity on top of indignity (bumped head, stubbed toe… the humanity!). The layouts give a lot of space to the kids’ imagination as they conjure up visions of their visitor, and the layout the kids come up with to trap the dino are up there with the best Rube Goldberg devices from the old Warner Brothers cartoons (totally dating myself there).

This is a fun storytime read that offers a lot of interactivity and the chance to give the kids’ imaginations a workout. Ask kids to come up with their own dinosaurs, based on the clues in the book, or just have pictures of dinosaurs to color and customize, for younger readers. Pair this with Ed Young’s Seven Blind Mice for a storytime on deduction and investigation, and then turn it on the kids: have them close their eyes and touch a piece of felt, a chair, a book, a plush toy, and use their five senses to investigate and deduce.