Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Keep the Dad Love going!

Hi all! I know I was quiet for a few days, and I apologize. I’ve been getting ready for two big graduations, and ended up letting myself get dehydrated, so last night was spent recovering on the couch and drinking a bunch of water. Note to self: Do NOT clean the garage without a few chilled bottles of water on hand; one lukewarm bottle over a few hours doesn’t do a whole lot.

But Father’s Day was yesterday! Did the Dads of all sorts have a great day? I hope you did! I have two adorable books to crow about, and a few more suggestions for dads and grandpas. Enjoy.

Cave Dada: Picky Eater, by Brandon Reese, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452179957

Ages 3-5

The follow-up to Brandon Reese’s Cave Dada (2020) is every bit as adorable and hilarious as the first. Dada and Baba are back, and Baba is hungry for an egg… but Dada isn’t sure he has an egg, which doesn’t sit too well with Baba. Poor Dada wasn’t in the mood to hunt and gather, but Baba is pretty focused on an egg.. and Dada may just discover a new way to make breakfast! From the bouncing baby wakeup to the refusal to eat anything in the pantry and fridge, parents and caregivers will laugh as they see themselves in this story. My favorite part? Right here:

This, friends, was my life story, three times in a row. When Baba doesn’t want spinach because it touched the onion? I felt that in my soul, especially because I have a 9-year-old who STILL gives me a hard time about what I lovingly refer to as “food cooties”. I love the adorable details in this book, like the cave painting door art, and Dada’s creaks and groans when he gets up. The artwork is just so much fun, with facial expressions that are perfectly spot on. Endpapers look like a warm cave interior. The story’s ending gives me hope that there will be a third installment in the Cave Dada series; I think we all need to see Cave Dada: Bathtime, don’t you?

 

 

You Be Daddy, by Karla Clark, (April 2021, Feiwel & Friends), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250225399

Ages 2-6

A tired daddy asks his son to take over daddy duties for a little while in this companion to last year’s You Be Mommy. Rhyming verse takes readers through all the things Daddy has done today, from breaking up a food fight, to household duties, to teaching the cat a trick. There’s sweet repetition interspersed with Dad’s day and with Daddy duties he’s handing off to his little one, like building a bedtime fort and lending him a night light and stuffed dinosaur. But when the day is done and it’s time for bed, Daddy is happy to take back Daddy duties and put his little guy to bed. Gentle storytelling and the repetitive phrase, “Daddy’s too tired to be Daddy tonight”, empowers children to take on the fun part of Daddying, while reassuring them that, at bedtime, Daddy’s going to be the one to tuck them in and snuggle them to sleep. The family is Asian, and subtle details like a door decoration, a koi painting, and family portraits infuse the setting with a personal and cultural feel.  The household is warm, welcoming, and will make readers feel right at home. Endpapers show he family cat snuggling and stretching around the house. An adorable celebration of dads.

 

Don’t forget to print out some fun activities from the mother of all Dada books, Jimmy Fallon’s Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada: you can match the baby animal to the sound it makes here and you can count baby ducks and “Dadas” here.

 

 

Papasaurus, by Stephan Lomp is about a fun game of hide and seek between Babysaurus and his father. As Babysaurus searches for his Papa, he asks other young dinos for their help, learning about their dads in the meantime. Available in both picture book and board book!

Channing Tatum’s The One and Only Sparkella (and Her Dad!) is the adorable story of a sparkly little girl and her father, who’s always ready to dress up and sparkle with her! Dad can don a feather boa and break out into dance moves whenever Sparkella needs a little extra glitter in her life. Written by actor/director/producer Channing Tatum for his daughter Everly, The One and Only Sparkella is an adorably fun and sweet book about being true to yourself, embracing what makes you unique, and the wisdom of Girl Dads.

Karen Hesse’s Night Shift shows a warm relationship between a father who works nights and his son, who accompanies him. The pair ride to school on the boy’s father’s motorcycle, and, as Dad works, the two share time together listening to the radio, sharing their meal, and reading together. Dad and son take care of each other in this story: Dad rouses his son and helps him get dressed to leave for work at 4 a.m., and the boy cleans out his father’s lunch box at the day’s end. A lovely story about making the most of any time you have together.

In The Bureau of Misplaced Dads, a boy has to recover his misplaced father at a municipal building where Dads of all shapes, sizes, and quirks, await their kids. Played for laughs, there are strongman dads, dads named Michael, clueless dads, and dancing dads all wait to be claimed, striking silly poses and wearing crazy costumes, all hoping to get their child’s attention.

A boy and his father work together to build a tree fort in Jessica Scott Kerrin’s The Better Tree Fort. After moving into a new home, a boy named Russell and his father decide that the giant maple tree in their yard is the perfect project to work on together. A story about quality versus quantity, Russell and his father share time together as they build the fort and plan their sleepover; a contrast to the luxury treehouse being built down the block.

Elizabeth Zunon’s Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family touches on how our parents’ parents can sometimes be a larger-than-life, almost mythical figure. A girl and her father bake a cake and reminisce about “Grandpa Cacao” – her father’s father – and his life working on a cacao farm on the African Ivory Coast. Grandpa Cacao appears as a pale image, illustrating his existence as part of the girl’s imagination as she fits him into the landscape. Inspired by the author’s own “Grandpa Cacao”, the story links generations and celebrates the joy of creating together and uniting families.

Around the Table That Grandad Built by Melanie Hauser HIll is an adorable, multicultural cumulative story along the lines of The House That Jack Built. A family assembles for a celebration at a table built by Granddad, but everyone has a part in this meal: cousins gather sunflowers; Mom’s sewn napkins go with the dishes and the glasses come from Mom and Dad’s wedding; flatware comes from Dad’s grandma, and the family cooks a huge meal together, with squash, tamales, samosas, and other tasty fare.

In Leonid Gore’s When I Grow Up, a little boy asks his father what he will be when he grows up, and looks at the world around him for ideas. A raindrop tells him he could be “like me” and become the fastest river; a green sprout, the tallest tree; a caterpillar, the most colorful butterfly in the meadow. As the boy paints the images he sees around him, he ultimately makes his own decision: he will be like his dad. Die-cut images transition spreads from one to the next, making this a great touch-and-feel book to explore.

A young crow learns that his own song is beautiful in Marit Menzin’s A Song for Papa Crow. Little Crow loves to sing, but the other birds complain about his caw. Papa Crow reassures him, telling him that always knows where to find him when he follows his song, but it’s The Amazing Mockingbird that convinces Little Crow that singing your own song is the best song of all.

Kathleen T. Pelly’s Happy Papas gives love to dads in both the animal and human world, taking readers through a Happy Papas kind of day: as the sun pops up; as the sun sails high; as the clouds and sun play peek-a-boo; as the shadows gather, and finally, as the moon blooms. Otter dads, meerkat dads, tiger dads, and all sorts of human dads celebrate the day-to-day joys of fatherhood as they play, protect, cook for, and cuddle their little ones.

Grandparents and grandkids enjoy some quality time in JoowonOh’s Our Favorite Day. Grandpa has a routine he keeps to, but Thursday is the best day of the week: it’s Grandpa’s day with his granddaughter! Grandpa chooses some crafting materials at a craft shop on his trip to town, gets two orders of dumplings to go, picks some flowers, and is ready to greet his granddaughter with a hug when she bounds out of the car! Together, the two enjoy their lunch, make a kite, and head out to fly it. Our Favorite Day is all about the mutual benefits of a multigenerational relationship.

Beth Raisner Glass’s Blue Ribbon Dad gives dad an actual prize: a Number 1 Dad ribbon! A young squirrel counts down the hours until dad gets home from work, crafting a project to have ready for him when he gets there. He thinks of everything he does with his father, and all the things his Dad does for him, and presents his father with a blue ribbon when he gets home.

 

 

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Middle School, Teen, Tween Reads

Quick Takes: Graphic Novels

This is a graphic novel summer: so many good ones hitting shelves week after week! Perfect for Summer Reading and anytime reading, there are some gorgeous, fun, fantastic stories to be found.

Ham Helsing #1: Vampire Hunter, by Rich Moyer, (June 2021, Crown Books for Young Readers), $12.99, ISBN: 9780593308912

Ages 8-12

Ham Helsing is a young descendant of a long line of vampire hunters who never seem to live quite long, usually because they make rather silly decisions. Ham was always content to let his older brother, Chad, wear the monster hunting mantle; he preferred more creative pursuits, like painting and poetry, but Chad’s daredevil acts led to… well, Ham is the new monster hunter in the family, so he’s off to hunt a vampire. The only problem is, the vampire he’s out to get isn’t what you’d expect. Ham Helsing: Vampire Hunter is the first in a planned trilogy and is a fun, not-at-all scary story about learning that people aren’t always what they seem, and that it’s always good to have friends to back you up. The action is animated, the dialogue is fun and witty, and there are robotic knights, sight gags, a toddler werewolf, and animated bacon. What more can you ask from a graphic novel?

Author Rich Moyer’s website has links to more of his illustration work, social media, and school visit information. Get a look at some more of Ham Helsing at Random House’s website.

 

 

Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo Book 3: Battle of the Bards, by James Parks & Ben Costa, (Apr. 2021, Knopf Books for Young Readers), $16.99, ISBN: 9780399556203

Ages 11-14

A fantasy more geared toward middle- and high schoolers rather than middle graders, the third volume of the Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo book continues the adventures of the skeletal bard and his jelly-like friend, Gelatinous Goo. In this adventure, Rickety Stitch – an animated skeleton who retains his love of music and his gentle soul, despite having no memory of who he was when he was alive – and Goo travel with an acting troupe to perform in a music competition, but Rickety discovers another performer, a woman named Canta, who brings back memories of his past. It becomes clear that the competition is a distraction from some seedy behavior underneath the city, and Rickety and Goo find themselves right in the middle of the action. The story is full of action and adventure and manages to tug at readers’ heartstrings with Rickety’s genuine tale of loss and memory. Middle schoolers and early high schoolers in particular will love this great wrap-up to a fantasy tale. It helps to read the first two before beginning the third; you may feel lost otherwise, as there is a lot of world-building and character development that’s gone on thus far. Great for your fantasy section.

Check out the Land of Eem website for Rickety Stitch and Eem-related role-playing games and sign up for a newsletter!

 

Apple of My Pie, by Mika Song, (June 2021, Random House Graphic), $12.99, ISBN: 9781984895851

Ages 5-8

The follow-up to last year’s Donut Feed the Squirrels, the newest Norma and Belly adventure is an adorable romp to save Pops, who falls onto a truck and heads to the apple orchard where he may end up in a pie! Norma, Belly, and their friend, B, are on the case in this sweet story, perfect for newly confident readers. The watercolor artwork is colorful but not overwhelming, with lots of calming earth colors and cute animal artwork. A school trip to the orchard provides some extra fun as the squirrels dash around the kids on their race to find Pops first.

Mika Song’s website has all sorts of treasures for readers, including extra comics, a newsletter signup, and printable activity sheets! Great to bundle with other graphic novels for young readers, like Narwhal and Jelly, Blue Barry and Pancakes, Fox and Chick, and Shark and Bot. You can also mix up the formats and include other books, like Mo Willems’s Unlimited Squirrels series, or Mélanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel series (graphic novels are forthcoming, too: future post!).

Apple of My Pie has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Much, much more to come: let these three start you off!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Rock From the Sky is here!

The Rock from the Sky, by Jon Klassen, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536215625

Ages 4-8

Any time Jon Klassen releases a new book is cause for celebration. The Rock from the Sky, his newest, is an hilarious study in dialogue, sight jokes, and a little touch of science fiction. A behatted trio of animals – a turtle, an armadillo, and a snake – touch on that creeping feeling that something’s just not right; feeling like a third wheel, and imagining the future, all with the deadpan humor that makes books like his Hat Trilogy such storytime gold. Klassen’s digital and watercolor artwork sets a sepia-toned stage that works perfectly with the dry humor to create a darkly hilarious story atmosphere. Candlewick has an activity kit, teacher’s guide, and author notes available for free download. You can’t miss with Jon Klassen; The Rock From the Sky is an instabuy for me.

The Rock From the Sky has six starred reviews from School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books, and The Horn Book.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Kitty Sweet Tooth serves up movies and magic candy!

Kitty Sweet Tooth, by Abby Denson/Illustrated by Utomaru, (Apr. 2021, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250196774

Ages 6-10

Kitty Sweet Tooth is a cat who loves candy and movies, so when her Pop-Pop gives her the chance to realize her dream of running a combination restaurant and movie house, she is thrilled! With the help of magical candy makers, she’s off and running. But playing with magic is never easy, so when the creations start taking on lives of their own, Kitty and her viewers all get a little more than they bargained for! Manic, adorable, and just plain fun, Kitty Sweet Tooth is perfect graphic novel reading for younger readers who love a good, silly story. The artwork is bright and jumps off the page, enchanting readers with magical food like crepes that grow into waving towers, rainbow chips that give the snacker their own case of the stripes, or blooming tea and scones that grow into a veritable garden inside the theatre! Luckily for Kitty, her customers love it all! This is the first in a new series of adventures for intermediate readers. Back matter lets readers create their own candy-making magic with an illustrated recipe for rock candy, including step-by-step instructions, ingredients, and a suggestion to seek grownup help.

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Elvin Link, doodler, sketch artist… and THAT kid?

Elvin Link, Please Report to the Principal’s Office!, by Drew Dernavich (July 2021, Square Fish), $7.99, ISBN: 9781250791702

Ages 8-12

Fifth grader Elvin Link is a doodler. He doodles on everything, everywhere, including his desk, which clearly looks cooler as a rocket ship… despite what the custodian and his teacher think. While he’s scrubbing down the desk, an incident involving a teacher’s glasses, an ill-fated ice cream cone, and a schoolyard collision lands him back in the principal’s office, this time, as a sketch artist. He’s so good at it that the principal brings him back in shortly after, to solve a school mystery! Meanwhile, the school bully, who specializes in wedgies, has his sights set on Elvin. Elvin has to navigate his twin sisters, one of whom has a crush on the bully, keep his best friend out of trouble, and cover his rear end: literally. For readers who loved Timmy Failure and, yes, that other illustrated diarist, Elvin Link: Please Report to the Principal’s Office is an insta-read. Award-winning New Yorker artist Drew Dernavich creates a likable, laugh-out loud funny character with Elvin and his best friends and family members are equally fun to spend time with. The book is laid out like a journal, with Elvin’s doodles and opinions throughout. He’s got the Wimpy Kid snark with a slightly more generous personality, and the black and white illustrations and added back matter will have your library kids asking when the next book is coming out. (Hey, Mr. Dernavich, when is that happening?)

Released in hardcover last July, Elvin Link is coming to paperback this July and is a good fit for your middle grade shelves.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Never Show a T-Rex a Book! Or else…

Never Show a T-Rex a Book!, by Rashmi Sirdeshpande/Illustrated by Diane Ewen, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464159-8

Ages 3-7

In this adorable nod to cumulative favorites like Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a… series, Never Show a T-Rex a Book! warns readers against letting their T-Rexes get hold of a book… because then they’ll want more, naturally! A little girl starts the story off, reading to her dinosaur toys, when her imagination takes her on a thrill ride: her T-Rex becomes real, and demands a trip to the library – and an all-night reading marathon that will result in a VERY clever dinosaur. Which could lead to the first dinosaur in government, the education of other dinosaurs, and a WORLD DINOSAUR TAKEOVER. Imagine? Giggle-worthy, with illustrations that show the power of books exploding all over the spreads, Never Show a T-Rex a Book! is all about imagination and embracing the fun of reading. We get frightened librarians and towering T-Rexes holding stacks of books (pshaw, I say; like we’ve never seen dinosaurs in the library before); dinos holding court in classrooms and in Parliament, and demanding luxuries like larger seats in the movie theatre! Get your dinosaur toys out and let them read along with you as you take your Kiddos on this cartoonish, wild, book-loving adventure.

Posted in Uncategorized

Hats, Hats, Hats!

Now That’s a Hat!, by Heath McKenzie, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684642212

Ages 3-6

A customer strolls into a hat store and would like a new hat. But that one’s too big, and that one’s too small… the proprietor is showing off everything he’s got, will they be able to find the just right hat? Hilariously manic, with a rhyme scheme that gets progressively more frantic with each outrageous hat. The story is almost Seuss-like, with a dog and a goat going back and forth on presenting and refusing the wild headgear: stripes, Roman helmets, potties, tacos, nothing is too wild for this hat store! The twist ending will make readers gleefully giggle as they imagine events happening all over again. Artwork and endpapers are bright, bold, and feature hats of all shapes and sizes. A fun readaloud that should definitely lead to silly hat making. Get your construction paper out!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Do you live with a Wakey Bird?

Wakey Birds: Will They Ever Sleep?, by Maddie Frost, (Jan. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536215465

Ages 2-6

All the animals in the jungle are asleep… except for The Wakey Bird. Kids and grownups will recognize the Wakey Bird right away: “they can’t get comfortable, they’re easily spooked, they have lots of BIG thoughts”… they left out the part about wanting a glass of water and then having to go to the bathroom, but to each Wakey Bird their own. Soothing Shushers and Go-to-Sleep Leapers try to get the birds back to sleep, but the littlest Wakey Bird is still up and raring to go, and decides to wake the others up for company, including the Shrieking Monkey! What happens when Wakey wakes up… the Dreaded Jungle Beast? Adorably fun and so very relatable, this is a perfect bedtime story for your own Wakey Birds. Maddie Frost’s mixed media and digital collage artwork make for colorful animals set off against the midnight blues and blacks of the nighttime jungle. A new bedtime classic in the making. Fun grab-and-go idea: cut different shapes out of colorful construction paper, add some feathers and googly eyes, and let your Library Kiddos make their own Wakey Bird companion.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Cover Reveal: YES & NO by Elisha Cooper

How adorable is this new cover for Elisha Cooper’s new book, Yes & No?

Yes & No, by Elisha Cooper, (April, 2021, Roaring Brook Press),
$18.99, ISBN: 9781250257338
Ages 2-6

Elisha Cooper is the critically acclaimed author/illustrator of many children’s books, including Caldecott Honor-winning BIG CAT, LITTLE CAT. This new story is a timeless tale of friendship, adjusting your perspective, and the joys (and trials) of siblinghood.

As a mother of three children, a dog, and a cat, I can tell you that sibling relationships cross species lines. Reading the sneak peek at Macmillan’s website, I realized it, and you will, too, with chuckles and grins. Visit the book’s page at Macmillan’s site for yourself – Elisha Cooper’s artwork is always a joy to see.

Posted in picture books

One Mean Ant is back!

One Mean Ant with Fly and Flea, by Arthur Yorinks/Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier, (Oct. 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763683955

Ages 4-8

The rollicking, continuing adventures of the Mean Ant continues in this second book, which picks up shortly after the events of the first. The Ant and the Fly are prisoners in a spider’s web, so Ant’s day isn’t getting any better. But, wait! What’s that spot? It’s Flea! With Flea’s acrobatic prowess – he’s a flea circus escapee – the group manage to escape the web, but they’re not out of danger yet! This is the second book in a trilogy, and I rank this up there with Jon Klassen’s Hat Trilogy in terms of laugh-out-loud storytelling. The comedic timing here is spot on: this is a priceless readaloud. Ant is cantankerous, Fly just tries so hard, and Flea is frightened for his life! The wordplay is genius, and the expressive faces and body language enhances the dialogue. I can’t wait for the third installment. A great readaloud choice beyond the little ones, first and second graders will love this story – my third grader laughs out loud when we read it together.