Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Find the Extraordinary in all things

Extraordinary!, by Penny Harrison/Illustrated by Katie Wilson, (March 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684641444

Ages 4-8

When you think of the extraordinary, you tend to think big. Extraordinary acknowledges this, with dreams of soaring eagles and space travel: “the extraordinary bellows, it trumpets and booms. / It towers above us it blazes and blooms”. But consider the everyday moments that bring a touch of the extraordinary into our lives: turn to nature for incredible moments that often go overlooked. Extraordinary celebrates these moments, encouraging families to seek out these moments, whether it’s discovering a bird’s nest or a bug on a leaf, enjoying a cool breeze, or watching birds soar. Extraordinary is about finding the magic in the everyday and embracing it. Taking place over generous spreads and separate panels, the rhyming verse leads readers through image after image of families and friends spending time outdoors, together. Illustrations appear like watercolor paintings, gently colorful. Endpapers show a colorful outdoor landscape and a more sepia-toned version of the same landscape. A gorgeous Spring story.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Barbara Throws a Wobbler… watch out!

Barbara Throws a Wobbler, by Nadia Shireen, (April 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-225-0

Ages 3-6

Barbara is not having a good day. First, there was a sock problem. Then, there was a strange pea at lunchtime. Things just keep going wrong for Barbara, and even her friends calling out to her isn’t helping. Barbara is nearing that last straw, which leads to a big… giant… WOBBLER! Wobbler is British slang for “tantrum”, something you’ll easily pick up in context, and it takes on a life of its own in this adorably fun and relatable story. The Wobbler is giant, gelatinous, and red, sitting atop Barbara’s head and eventually engulfing her until she can get a handle on it. Once she talks to her Wobbler and takes a deep breath, the Wobbler becomes more manageable, until it finally shrinks away – but not without letting her know it’ll be back one day! Kids and grownups alike will recognize toddler and preschooler triggers, from the “strange pea” at lunch, to the “hundred bad moods wrapped up in one” feeling that Barbara feels, right before the Wobbler takes over. A Very Useful Guide to Bad Moods at the end offers other moods to recognize, along with symptoms: The Sulk, The Tizzy, and The Seethe are just a few on the path to the Wobbler. Never making fun of Barbara or the frustration that leads to a tantrum, Barbara Throws a Wobbler takes an sensitive approach to identifying what sets a Wobbler off, and how to shrink it back down once it appears.

Originally published in the UK in 2020, Barbara Throws a Wobbler has just arrived on U.S. shores and has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Wrong Fairy Tale is a side-splitting new fractured fairy tales series!

Jack and the Three Bears (The Wrong Fairy Tale), by Tracey Turner/Illustrated by Summer Macon, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-161-1

Ages 4-7

Once upon a time, in the Land of Fairy Tales, three bears go out for a walk while they wait for their porridge to cool down. But there’s a giant beanstalk outside, and Baby Bear scampers up to explore! He discovers a castle, and a little boy named Jack, making off with a hen that lays golden eggs and is on the run from a mean giant… but WAIT! The Bears are in THE WRONG FAIRY TALE! Can Jack and the Bears elude the giant, keep the hen, and save themselves, or are they all destined to be Giant Food? Kids will love this new twisted take on two favorite fairy tales – invite them to point out what’s wrong when you start reading! The artwork is loaded with fun little details: the giant’s kitchen has a full shelf of cookbooks, and he’s got some cookies and muffins in the oven, which makes you wonder, when you consider what he normally uses for flour. It turns out, Mama Bear is pretty good with a chainsaw, too. A hoot to read with your fairy tale fans – if you have fans of Josh Funk’s “It’s Not…” series, they’ll love this new series.

 

Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs (The Wrong Fairy Tale), by Tracey Turner/Illustrated by Summer Macon, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-160-4

Ages 4-7

So we just read about the three bears, but where was Goldilocks? Glad you asked! In this adventure, Goldilocks – a cute little blonde girl with wild ponytails and a bear sweater dress and leggings – spots a brick house with a sign out front that says, “Notice to Wolves: GO AWAY”. Well, not being a wolf, she decides to pop in and say hello, and that’s how she meets the Three Pigs, who are hiding in a cupboard from who they think is a wolf. As she digs into the porridge they have out on the table, the three pigs put their heads together and realize that Goldilocks is IN THE WRONG FAIRY TALE – just as the Big Bad Wolf shows up! Well, he can’t blow the brick house down, but he’s going to try and come down that chimney, so Goldilocks grabs some straw left over from one of the other pig’s homes, and uses it to start a fire in the fireplace. Day saved! Cartoony, colorful artwork and frenetically paced storytelling make this too much fun to read, and more fun to listen to. Fractured fairy tales fans will love this.

Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs has a starred review from Kirkus.

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

Hooray! It’s Garbage Day!

Hooray, it’s Garbage Day!, by Eric Ode/Illustrated by Gareth Llewhellin, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684641147

Ages 3-6

More truck and vehicle books! More community helpers! This rhyming concept book is all about the excitement of hearing the big garbage truck rumble down the street, lights flashing, hissing and sighing, as it grabs cans and dumps them into its maw to crunch and crash up the trash. Fun sounds in the story make for fun read alouds: let your kiddos stomp and smash, rumble and crash as you read along. Kids can count from 1 to 5 along with garbage truck workers, garbage cans, neighborhood kids waving, and more. When the kids in the book make up their own garbage crew using art supplies, encourage your kiddos (if you’re virtual) to make their own signs and trucks, or (if you’re in person) hand some out! If you’re grab and go, like I am, you can make some make and take craft bags with some pieces of cardboard, this cool recycling printable, and some truck coloring sheets, along with a few crayons. Digital artwork is colorful, bright, and cartoony.

Posted in Uncategorized

Another post about Bears…

(It’s a joke, based on one of the book’s titles. Keep reading.)

Who loves bears? We love bears! Teddy bears, polar bears, brown bears brown bears, bears are children’s book gold. I’ve got three books about bears to crow about today, so let’s start with the inspiration for this post’s title.

Another book about bears., by Laura & Philip Bunting, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-084-3

Ages 3-7

I love a story that breaks the fourth wall! Have you ever thought about how many books there are about bears? Did you ever consider that every time a bear stars in a story, that bear may have been in the middle of something “really good – like sleeping, or snoozing, or napping”? Well, the bears have had it and are going on strike! This hilarious book is all about one bear’s fight for justice. The omniscient narrator tries their best to nudge the bear into compliance in a silly series of moments like dressing it up in a tutu or suggesting the bear kiss a frog, but Bear stands firm, even calling up other animals to serve as a proper stand in. Kids will laugh out loud at the deadpan humor, and the ultimate solution that works for everyone is priceless. Originally published in Australia in 2018, Another book about bears is storytime hilarity just waiting to be revealed.

Visit Philip Bunting’s webpage for free, fun downloadables for kids, too!

 

A Polar Bear in the Snow, by Mac Barnett/Illustrated by Shawn Harris, (Oct. 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536203967

Ages 3-6

Gorgeous cut paper and ink artwork presents a polar bear’s meandering through a brilliant white world and a deep blue sea. A polar bear wakes up in the snow and begins walking… but where is he going? What does he want? Award-winning author and illustrator Mac Barnett builds curiosity and excitement as readers follow the bear past seals, through a storm, and as he rebuffs a human in a very polar bearlike fashion, to end up at his destination. Shawn Harris’s illustrations give such texture and motion, layering shades of white upon white and blue upon blue, giving us a feeling of purpose and joy. Simple sentences and facts about polar bears (he clearly eats seals, but he’s not hungry right now; his coat protects him from the snowstorm; he likes to swim) are a wonderful introduction to young readers about the natural science of bears and the Arctic. A final question leaves much open to discussion. There’s so much presented in this book, so beautifully, and respects its youngest readers in its presentation. Teacher Tips are downloadable from Candlewick’s website.

A Polar Bear in the Snow has starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly.

 

Can Bears Ski?, by Raymond Antrobus/Illustrated by Polly Dunbar, (Nov. 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212662

Ages 3-7

Little Bear can feel the world around him – all its rumbles and shakes, trembles and wobbles – but hearing his world is a little more difficult. He doesn’t hear things clearly, and thinks he hears everyone asking him, “Do bears ski?” Dad takes him to an audiologist one day, and is fitted for hearing aids that make his world way too LOUD. He resists them at first, hiding them around the house, but with his dad’s love and support, he understands that it’s just something new to get used to – and he also learns that everyone has been asking him not whether or not bears can ski, but “Can you hear me?” A touching story about self-discovery, Can Bears Ski? is essential for bookshelves and can start many conversations with children. Author Raymond Antrobus is a Ted Hughes award-winning deaf poet and teacher who wrote Can Bears Ski because “It’s the book I could see myself reaching for as a child, and I can’t wait to have it exist in the world.” Colorful ink and paint artwork made this a gentle, comforting story about a big topic. The CDC’s Kids Quest webpage has helpful facts for kids on hearing loss.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Books for Pet Lovers!

Ollie and Augustus, by Gabriel Evans, (May 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209679

Ages 3-5

Ollie and Augustus are the best of friends: Ollie is a slight young boy, and Augustus is his large dog. The two friends did most things together; as most best friends do, they even got on each other’s nerves – but quickly got over it. When Ollie is about to start school, he worries: who will be there to keep Augustus company? OIlie tries to find a friend to occupy Augustus’s time until Ollie gets home, but the playdates he sets up with local dogs just don’t work out. They don’t share Augustus’s interests and he certainly doesn’t share theirs. Ollie needn’t worry, though: Augustus is perfectly capable of keeping himself busy until Ollie gets home.

An adorable story of friendship and that comfortable, “just right” feeling, Ollie and Augustus also eases back-to-school worries by assuring kids that comfort and love will be waiting at home for them. Assure your kiddos that pets will be fine; teddy bears, dolls, and other comfort objects that they may transfer worry to will be okay, and waiting for them when they get home after an exciting new day at school. Watercolor, gouache, and pencil artwork with soft colors gives a gentle feel to the story, and the brief prose moves about the pages, narrating each picture, keeping the reader’s interest moving throughout the story. Endpapers are set up like a photo album, capturing moments in Ollie’s and Augustus’s life together from the early moments forward, giving a sense of investment and time in the relationship. A sweet back to school or pet storytime choice.

 

My Pet (Not Yours) (Lento & Fox #2), by Ben Sanders, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1684640850

Ages 3-6

The hilarious follow-up to My Book (Not Yours) is here! Lento the Sloth and Fox are back to delight readers with their latest romp. Lento has found a new pet! It’s a pink long-eared creature who really doesn’t look thrilled to be wearing the collar we assume Lento has adorned it with. But wait! Fox steps in and claims that Mr. Fluffington – Lento’s name for his new pet – should actually be HIS pet, because he is “an expert pet handler”. Fox dubs the new pet Frankensausage, which doesn’t seem to cheer it up any more than Lento did. The two go back and forth, hilariously trying to outdo the other and win Mr. Fluffington-Frankensausage’s affections. The pink friend’s disapproving face and posture remains constant throughout the shenanigans, making events even funnier. As the two frenemies take turns dressing their new pet up, tossing it about as they swear they’re playing with him, and bickering over who he’s better suited for, the pink guy can’t take it anymore. Sight gags, back and forth snarking, and bright, bold colors make this another home run for Lento and Fox, and another great addition to your storytimes. Put on different voices, grab a plush friend to stand in for Mr. Fluffington/Frankensausage, and have at it. Endpapers are there for more laughs as the stoic visage of Fluffington-sausage takes on different emotions, never-changing.

 

Pet That Dog! A Handbook for Making Four-Legged Friends, by Gideon Kidd & Rachel Braunigan, (Oct. 2020, Quirk Books), $14.99, ISBN:  978-1683692294

Ages 8-12

Eleven-year-old Gideon Kidd (now 12) loves dogs! He’s even got a website, IvePetThatDog, with pictures of Gideon and all the dogs he’s been petting since he was 8. Who better to write a book about befriending dogs, for kids? Pet That Dog! is part guide to caring for a pet dog, part guide to dogs, perfect for middle graders who love and may be getting a pupper of their own. Chapters include How to Pet That Dog, which shows kids the best way to approach a dog for pets (and how to walk away if the dog isn’t up for it); things to talk to dog people about in order to learn more about dogs, and fun personality quizzes and ideas for naming your dog. There’s even a Dog Tracker so kids can start journaling their own dog-petting adventures. Fun facts, colorful illustrations, and a conversational tone make this a great book for dog aficionados. Books, movies, and online sources provide more information for kids who want to learn more. My Kiddo has absconded with my copy of this book, and, while we haven’t been able to approach anyone to learn about their dogs lately, he’s definitely been putting it to use with our own pup.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Gift ideas for Little Kiddos

They’re going to get tons of toys, why not be the cool gift-giver that gives books? Here are some recent faves:

My Favorite Color: I Can Only Pick One?, by Aaron Becker, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Studio), $15.99, ISBN: 9781536214741

Ages 0-3

Caldecott Honor-winner Aaron Becker’s board book follow up to 2019’s You Are Light is all about choosing one’s favorite color… wait, can you choose a favorite color? Is it yellow, like the sun? Or blue, like the sea? But then again… there’s green… or pink! Yikes, how can someone have just one favorite color when there’s beautiful colors in all of nature? Aaron Becker takes readers through colors in nature, with die-cuts and small, colorful squares laid out; some translucent and beautiful to look at in the light. It’s an art book and a lovely meditation on nature; at its simplest, it’s a relatable book for any kid who’s been asked a question for which there is no one clear answer. Read and display with Mary Murphy’s What I Like Most, and, of course, You Are Light.

My Favorite Color has starred reviews from Booklist and Kirkus. Publisher Candlewick has a free, downloadable teacher’s guide with helpful tips to start a conversation.
This is a Book of Shapes, by Kenneth Kraegel, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781536207019
Ages 0-3
A laugh-out-loud concept book of shapes with curveballs thrown in, This is a Book of Shapes starts off like most concept books: A circle on one page; a statement on the other: This is a circle. The pattern follows for a few pages, and then… “This is an emu pushing a pancake wagon down a hill”. Wait, what? Perfect for those “are you paying attention?” moments, the book alternates shape statements with surreal, wacky divergences that will delight kids and grownups alike. Read as deadpan as you can – you may need to practice a few times to get there, I keep giggling as soon as I turn the page to the emu – for extra loud laughs. You can’t NOT read this for storytime. Make sure to have copies of Candlewick’s activity page handy for afterward.
1, 2, 3 Do the Dinosaur, by Michelle Robinson & Rosalind Bearshaw, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-044-7
Ages 2-5
Follow a little boy named Tom as he teaches all the dinos a new dance: The Dinosaur! Tom is a little boy dressed in dinosaur PJs, surrounded by all sorts of colorful dinosaurs as he leads them – and you! – through chomps, roars, tail swishes, and stomps. But what happens when the big T-Rex shows up? Why, you let him join in the fun, of course! The rhyming text is interactive and is perfect for storytime stomping and swishing. Colorful, friendly dinosaurs will appeal to all dino lovers. No scary ones here.  Think of Ed Emberley’s If You’re a Monster and You Know It, Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance, Kelly Starling Lyons’s One More Dino on the Floor, or Laurie Berkner’s We Are the Dinosaurs. It’s a dino dance party and your readers are invited, so let them color in some dinosaurs and take them along!
Catch that Chicken!, by Atinuke/Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212686
Ages 2-5
The latest outing from Anna Hibiscus author Atinuke and illustrator B is for Baby illustrator Angela Brooksbank is all about ingenuity. Lami is a little girl who’s the best chicken catcher in her village, but when she chases a chicken up a baobab tree and has a fall, her ankle is sprained and she needs a new way to think about catching the fiesty birds. Her Nana encourages her to think differently: “It’s not quick feet that catches chickens – it’s quick thinking”, and with a little thought, Lami has an idea: make the chickens come to her! A simple, smart way to get kids to consider alternatives, Catch That Chicken! has short sentences with lots of repetition; alliterative action words that will be fun in a story time (“Lami leans! Lami lungues! Lami leaps!”), and the colorful mixed media artwork is done in warm colors. Characters have friendly, welcoming faces and body language, and there’s a lot of movement in the pictures. A fun story for storytime and for little ones’ bookshelves.
Arlo the Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep, by Catherine Rayner, (Oct. 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-222-2
Ages 2-6
Arlo is a lion who just can’t get comfortable and fall asleep. The grass is too prickly, his family wriggles too much, he just can’t make it work and he is EXHAUSTED. Luckily, Owl is nearby and teaches Arlo a sweet relaxation exercise that soothes him right to sleep. When Arlo finally has a refreshing night’s sleep, he’s so excited that he wakes Owl to tell her… and proceeds to help Owl soothe herself back to sleep. Together, the two friends teach the trick to Arlo’s family, and everyone is happily dozing in no time. Except for Owl, who’s nocturnal. Kate Greenway Medal winner Catherine Rayner creates a sensitive bedtime story that’s perfect for teaching kids to self-soothe using visualization and deep breathing. Mixed media artwork uses soft colors, with warm landscapes and a cuddly, sleepy lion; the meditative phrase repeats throughout the story, helping little ones listen to their reader lead them into a night of pleasant dreaming. Perfect for bedtime reading, read this one slowly and guide your littles through thoughts and breathing into naptime or bedtime.
Arlo the Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep has a starred review from Kirkus. Publisher Peachtree has an excerpt and Author Q&A available on their website.
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Fair Shares teaches kids about equity

Fair Shares, by Pippa Goodhart/Illustrated by Anna Doherty, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $$12.99, ISBN: 9781684640485

Ages 3-7

Hare and Bear both want some of the tasty-looking pears in a tree, but can’t reach. Hare finds three chairs, but Bear says it’s unfair if Hare takes two chairs, to Bear’s one – but once they’re on the chairs, Bear is the only one that can reach! Luckily for Hare, Beetle steps in and explains that “giving everybody the same thing isn’t always fair”. Whew! Bear realizes that Hare really does need two chairs to reach the pears. Now, what does Beetle want to eat?

Originally published in the UK in 2019, Fair Shares is a beautifully smooth and straightforward explanation of equity, Fair Shares teaches readers of ALL ages that equal doesn’t always mean fair. Bear, who towers over Hare, only needs one chair to reach the pears. With just one chair, Hare is still struggling. Once Bear realizes this simple fact, he’s happy to let Hare get his share. The digital artwork is wonderfully textured, and Anna Doherty’s scanned ink and pencil textures give the story a lovely fall feel, with deep reds, greens, and yellows, and a fuzzy Hare and furry Bear. The ending will surprise and delight readers. Beautifully done, and an essential book to keep on hand.

Free Spirit Publishing has an article, with additional book suggestions, on teaching kids the difference between fair and equal. Teachers Pay Teachers has several free, downloadable classroom printable posters that explain and illustrate equity, including this one from the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, this equity classroom poster from Panda Circus, and this equity poster from Studying Education.