Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Indie author/publisher spotlight!

I’m back with more independently published authors! You’ve seen them here before: both Lois Wickstrom and Riya Aarini have been kind enough to share their books with me in the past, and I’m happy to feature more of their books today. Let’s see what Carefree Ollie and Alex the Inventory are up to, and meet some new friends along the way.

How to Make a Flying Carpet, by Lois Wickstrom/Illustrated by Janet King, (November 2020, Independently Published),  $24.99, ISBN: 978-0916176778

Ages 7-11

Alex is a girl who likes science and likes repurposing broken things, so when a frog magnet falls from her refrigerator and breaks, she sees opportunity. Taking the magnet, she discovers that she can rescue her father’s key from the heating vent where it fell, and she can make paper clips dance. She begins experimenting with the magnets to find out what else she can do, and when she discovers a cache of magnets in the garage, she gets an idea… can she use the repelling powers of magnets to make a real flying carpet? Filled with fun and easily creatable experiment with magnets, How to Make a Flying Carpet is a fun STEM/STEAM story that will work really well with a science club/Discovery Club. The illustrations help kids visualize how to work with magnets, especially in a household setting: super-helpful these days, when finding things around the house is the best way to keep kids busy during remote and blended learning days! Alex’s interest in learning and in expanding the scope of her experiments will motivate kids to dig deeper and embrace the fun in learning. If you’re interested in more magnet experiments, Babble Dabble Do has four easy magnet experiments that you can easily do with household items or with a quick trip to the 99-cent store.

Visit author Lois Wickstrom’s website, Look Under Rocks, for more information about her books, including What Do the Plants Say?, her first Alex the Inventor story.

 

Ollie’s Garden (Carefree Ollie #3), by Riya Aarini/Illustrated by Virvalle Caravallo, (Nov. 2020, Independently Published), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1735347325

Ages 6-10

Carefree Ollie has to negotiate between bickering groups of animals in his garden kingdom in his latest adventure. The orange ladybugs won’t let the red ladybugs near the daisies; frogs are chasing toads away from the water because they “ribbit” while toads “croak”; chipmunks and squirrels are quarreling over their tails. With Ollie’s garden kingdom in chaos, it’s up to him to stop the fighting and help bring peace, tolerance, and understanding to the kingdom once more.  A sweet parable on equity, diversity, and inclusion, Ollie’s Garden is a good way to approach embracing our differences and how those differences make us wonderful. Digital artwork is kid-friendly and colorful, and the storytelling is a good starting point for your own discussions about how diversity makes us stronger.

Education.com has some great activities on diversity, including a Kindergarten lesson plan on Appreciating Diversity, a second grade lesson plan on Appreciating Diversity and Differences, and a Welcome All activity for Kindergarten and first graders that helps develop an appreciation for differences and building social awareness.

 

Sam and Sophie, by Kerry Olitzky/Illustrated by Jen Hernandez, (March 2021, Higher Ground Books & Media), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1949798838

Ages 3-7

Sam has just become a big brother to baby sister Sophie, but he’s frustrated. There doesn’t seem to be much time or energy left over for him, and he’s not happy with all the attention baby Sophie is getting. But when Baby Sophie gets sick, Sam finds himself worrying and trying to make her happy and feel better. A moving story that grows from the Jewish tradition of planting a tree when a new child is born, Sam and Sophie includes back matter on the tradition and on trees, people, and their relationship to God. Mixed media artwork has a manga influence. Sam and Sophie is a good book to begin a talk on sibling jealousy and how to navigate complicated feelings that arise when a new baby arrives.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Operation Photobomb: Smile! (Plus, a giveaway!)

Operation: Photobomb, by Tara Luebbe & Becky Cattie/Illustrated by Matthew Rivera, (Sept. 2019, Albert Whitman & Co.), $16.99, ISBN: 9780807561300

Ages 4-7

Monkey and Chameleon love when jungle tours visit their jungle: they get toys! This time around, Monkey finds a camera and starts snapping away. Chameleon loves the spotlight a little too much, though, and when Monkey starts taking photos of their other jungle friends, Chameleon can’t resist a good photobomb. This gets on everyone’s nerves pretty quickly, so the animals plan a little comeuppance of their own.

This book is guaranteed to bring the snickers. Most people, certainly most kids, know what a photobomb is these days, and love doing it. They’ll love Chameleon’s spotlight-stealing presence, and they’ll get a kick out of the other animals’ retribution. There are a good discussion points to be found here, too, the biggest being to think about how one’s actions can affect others. Ruining other people’s pictures, other people’s fun? Not very nice. Talk about jealousy, and how that motivates Chameleon – what could he have done to let others know he was feeling left out? Light-hearted and fun, the story gets its point across without being preachy or melodramatic. The bright and bold illustrations feature striking colors and bold fonts, making this a storytime winner.

Speaking of storytime, Operation Photobomb went over well at storytime here, and a little too well at home: my little guy already appreciates a good photobomb; now I fear for his older brother even more. Stay tuned.

 

Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie are sisters and collaborators. Together they’ve written several picture books, including I Am Famous and I Used to Be Famous, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, and Shark Nate-O, illustrated by Daniel Duncan. Visit Becky and Tara online at www.beckytarabooks.com.

Matthew Rivera began drawing animals when he was old enough to hold a crayon. His parents still prize the toucan he drew when he was five. He earned his degree in Fine Arts from the University of Arizona. Visit him on Instagram @matthewdidit, or at his website, matthewdidit.com.

 

Want a shot at winning your own copy of Operation Photobomb? (U.S. addresses only, please!) Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd? We Are (NOT) Friends!

We Are (Not) Friends, by Anna Kang/Illustrated by Christopher Weyant, (May 2019, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-5420-4428-8

Ages 3-7

The duo from the We Are (Not) books are back; this time, they’re learning how to handle having a new friend in the picture. Brown bear and Purple bear are having a great time playing together, when a Blue bear shows up and asks to play. Brown exuberantly agrees, but Purple isn’t quite so sure. Sure enough, Purple and Brown hit it off immediately, and Purple finds himself left out, and proceeds to subtly enact measures that will get Blue away from his best buddy! Blue doesn’t get the hint, and when he returns, Brown suggests they all play together. But now Brown is on the outs, and he’s not happy about it at all. Can three friends find a way to play that makes everyone happy?

The thing I love about the We Are (Not) books is their genuine voice. If you’ve been around kids, this is how things play out; when there are three, someone’s going to end up mad, crying, breaking something, or all of the above. Kids are learning how to navigate relationships; so are Brown, Purple, and Blue. Kids and adults alike will recognize this situation; use that recognition to get them talking about what the three friends could have done differently from the start. Has t his ever happened to them at school? The playground? Home, with friends or family? (Adults can talk about it, too, because let’s be honest: we still haven’t figured it all the way out.) Anna Kang’s dialogue and the escalating frustration of trying to be included when you feel like you’re being left out is so honest, so adorably real, that your readers will giggle with recognition and empathy. And this is a great way to start discussions about inclusion and empathy.

Christopher Weyant’s art is just a joy to look at. It’s bold, bright, and uncomplicated. The bears are simply drawn, performing in their white space, with a chest full of hats and props to move the story forward. Facial expressions, paw gestures, and sound effects roll across the page and speak volumes. We Are (Not) Friends is essential picture book reading.

Anna Kang’s and Christopher Weyant’s You Are (Not) Small is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Winner (2015). Visit Anna Kang’s author website for free downloadable activity kits, coloring pages, and curriculum guides for You Are (Not) Small, which you can use to enhance a reading of We Are (Not) Friends.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Pure Adorableness: Pug Meets Pig

pug-meets-pig_1Pug Meets Pig, by Sue Lowell Gallion/Illustrated by Joyce Wan, (Sept. 2016, Simon & Schuster), $17.99, ISBN: 9781481420662

Recommended for ages 3-7

Pug is a happy-go-lucky pup, living the good life. He’s got his own house, his yard work, his food bowl, and his doghouse. When Pig joins the family, though, Pug is not thrilled. His routine is completely thrown off, because Pig is in all of his business; Pig’s eating his food, hanging out with his friends, and sleeping in his doghouse! What’s a Pug to do? Can Pug and Pig work it out so they can live in the same space happily?

This is the sweetest story about change, learning to share, and welcoming a new friend (or family member). Kids will recognize Pug’s feelings, especially kids that may be starting school and meeting new kids (and having to share supplies and toys) for the first time, or even closer to home, welcoming a new sibling or family member to their home. Pug’s reaction to sharing his toys, yard, and bed is spot-on for toddlers and preschoolers learning to share. Ultimately, the good-hearted Pug and eager to please Pig come together to share, and kids will, too.

pug-meets-pig_6

The fun begins with the book’s endpapers, where readers follow along on Pug’s very busy day (and later, Pug’s and Pig’s day). I am in love with Joyce Wan’s adorable art. Her board books, You Are My Cupcake and We Belong Together are in heavy rotation at my storytimes (and in my home). Her Kawaii-inspired art never, EVER ceases to make me squeal, and Pug Meets Pig brings on the cute attack thousandfold. I almost passed out from cute overload. True story.

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Bonus goodies: Joyce Wan’s website offers a discussion and activity guide, plus an activity kit that will see quite a bit of action at my library. There are also coloring sheets galore! Author Sue Gallion’s webpage also links to the activity kit and coloring sheets, and to Publisher’s Weekly‘s starred review. The book has also been selected for the Society Of Illustrators 2016 Original Art Show, an annual exhibit which showcases the year’s best children’s picture books.

Adorable art plus a fun, sweet story that kids will love? Pug Meets Pig has it all. Add this one to your storytime collections, and put it in cuddle time storytime rotation. My little guy can’t get enough of this book, and neither can I. We’re getting a Pug & Pig Trick or Treat book in 2017, so watch this space for more of my incoherent squealing over this series.