Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

#HomesCool Pop Up Books for Little Learners

Twirl Books is releasing incredible new books for little learners. I was thrilled to receive a big box of their new and upcoming books, and I’ve loved everything I’ve read so far. This post looks at two pop-up nonfiction titles for preschoolers that are going to love. Make space in your easy nonfiction and board book libraries: Twirl is taking over.

The Pop-Up Guide: Space, by Sophie Dussaussois/Illustrated by Charline Picard, (March 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9791036325199

Ages 3-5

A pop-up guide to space is just what the budding astronomer ordered! Ten spreads open up to reveal 3-D starscapes, our solar system, the lunar landing, the International Space Station, and more. Brief paragraphs provide a factual overview of each spread, and pictures are labeled to increase readers’ science vocabulary, with terms and proper nouns including “observatory”, “centrifuge”, “Buzz Aldrin”, and “Curiosity rover”. Illustrations are colorful and informative, with detail to engage readers. The pages are sturdy, but you’ll want to buy a copy to keep in reference to be on the safe side. Elastic bands on the corners of the front cover make for a nice hands-free reading experience, letting kids examine every inch of the illustrations on each spread. I can’t wait to see what other Pop-Up Guides Twirl has planned!

 

Ultimate Spotlight: Rain Forest Animals, by Sandra Laboucarie/Illustrated by Émilie Lapeyre, (March 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9791027608775

Ages 4-7

The Ultimate Spotlight series from Twirl is also has pop-up panels, but adds other interactive features like lift-the-flaps, movable tabs, and turn-the-wheel. Five spreads take readers through a rain forest, where they can see a 3-D representation of the layered forest, from ground up through emergent layer; play hide and seek with camouflaged denizens of the forest; meet animal families; discover gliding animals and see how they move, and explore a foldout visualizing of the rain forest by day and at night. Animals are clearly labeled and brief, factual sentences provide exciting new facts for animal fans. Pages will hold up to a lot of reading, but I’d consider a backup copy if your budget allows. I’d also reinforce the spines of both books with library tape if you have it; these are going to be heavily circulated. Illustrations are colorful, with the vibrant colors of the rain forests and its citizens nicely represented. Kids are going to love this and the other books in the Ultimate Spotlight series: Savanna Animals, Dinosaurs, Firefighters, Trains, and Astronauts.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

#HomesCool for Littles: Board Books with a mission!

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the great board books that are loaded with learning activities for tiny hands to explore. Turning wheels, sliding panels, flaps, these books are filled with fun and imagination. Let’s take a look at a few.

Turn•Seek•Find: Habitats, by Ben Newman, (Feb. 2021, Twirl), $14.99, ISBN: 9782408019693

Ages 3-5

Perfect for preschoolers, this larger board book (11″x9.5″) takes readers on a journey to five different areas – the African Savanna, the Ice Field, the Indian Jungle, the Pacific Island, and the Big City – and talks a little about the kind of habitat each one provides, along with fun seek and find activities at the turn of a wheel. Two wheels on each spread encourages readers to discover different items and colors within the spreads. The artwork is bright and cold, with eye-catching colors and details that kiddos will love exploring. Perfect for cultivating observation skills and fine motor skills, the book is sturdy and will hold up to multiple readings. Find books and facts about each spread to encourage littles to go deeper and learn more. Ask kids what they recognize from the spreads and encourage them to find out more about things that may be new. Never seen a baobab tree before? Look it up on kid-friendly sites like National Geographic and find books like John Archambault’s By the Baobab Tree. There are so many ways to encourage and extend learning with a fun book like this; let it be your jumping-off point and follow your little’s interests.

 

Matching Game Book: Bugs and Other Little Critters, by Stéphanie Babin/Illustrated by Manu Callejón (March 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9782408024659
Ages 3-5
Another fun, larger-sized board book with activities to keep little brains busy! Meet the bugs that live in the meadow, at the pond, in the forest, in the ground, and in the dark! Sliding panels allow kids to play a memory game on each spread, and additional suggested activities encourage kids to play seek and find, I Spy, and Hide and Seek. Panels slide easily back and forth; no struggles here. The insects are cute, with big, expressive eyes and are colorful and kid-friendly. Excellent manipulation for fine motor skills, and pair with Eric Carle books like The Very Grouchy Ladybug and The Very Lonely Firefly. Bob Barner’s Bugs, Bugs, Bugs! is a great choice, too. There are so many “Buggie Books”, as my Kiddo used to refer to them, out there  – just ask your favorite librarian! The Spruce Crafts has some adorable and easy bug-related crafts, too: I’m partial to the ladybug hat and firefly suncatcher.
Animal Friends 1 2 3, by Christophe Loupy/Illustrated by Shunsake Satake, (Feb. 2021, Twirl Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9782408024680
Ages 3-5
A lift-the-flap counting book with a fun spin, Animal Friends 1 2 3 has a fun question-and-answer format that encourages readers’ curiosity: “5 little bears are busy picking blueberries. 2 got a wee bit hungry!”  The facing spread has five little smiling bears sitting among minimalist blueberry trees. Easy-to-lift flaps reveal two bears snacking on blueberries. Colored dots run across the bottom of each spread, adding a fun visual component. The story also includes basic addition skills, with a group of 4 mice inviting groups of friends to their party, and increasing their number: “‘Let’s invite our 4 performer friends!’ says the fourth mouse. ‘With them, there will be 9 of us. They can show us magic tricks!'” Flaps will reveal the four friends, while dots across the bottom of the page will account for all nine characters. Good for preschoolers developing their math skills and toddlers who are learning their 123s. There are so many great printables for little counters available. Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds has some fun printables, On Teachers Pay Teachers, Play to Learn Preschool has a fun apple counting printable, and Kamp Kindergarten has an adorable school bus clip and count activity.
Posted in Toddler Reads

More Board Books!

I’m sorry I’ve been quiet for a few days, but this year has been… a lot. But I’m back and ready to bring you some of the cutest board books in my TBR. I know I gush about board books a lot, but they are just adorable, and they’ve grown so much over the last few years. They look at concepts in new ways and have gone beyond the basic “ABCs/123s” to give real storytelling fun for our youngest learners. Let’s see the ones I’ve got here.

My Big Family, by Jeffrey Turner, (Aug. 2020, Schiffer Publishing), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764360053

Ages 0-3

Meet Doodle, the Science Poodle, as she introduces her big, blended family to readers! Family members include one aardvark, eight llamas, nine elephants, and a bunch more. Bright, colorful digital illustrations and giant numbers let readers count each of the animals in Doodle’s family. A note about the science of arithmetic connects the counting story to STEM learning. A fun way to start kids learning and counting; have goodies around for them to count, like toys, blocks, or toes (yours, theirs, the dog’s). Absolute fun for readalouds and counting songs.

 

Peep!, by Kevin Luthardt, (Aug. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $6.99, ISBN: 9781682632000

Ages 0-3

A duckling hatches and bonds to a boy he sees. Excitedly “peeping”, the duckling follows its new friend home, and the two share time together playing and enjoying one another’s company. One day, though, the “peep!” turns to a “quack!” and the boy and his family know they have to bring the duckling to be with other ducks. But there’s always a new friend waiting just around the corner. This sweet story of friendship is sparsely worded, letting the pictures tell the story. The colorful artwork is cheery, and kids will love the little duckling – sound effects run throughout, so invite your listeners to crack, peep, and quack along with you! Make sure to sing 5 Little Ducks with this one.

 

Guess Who is Behind the Door: A Counting Book in 4 Languages, by Susan S. Novich, (Oct. 2020, Schiffer Publishing), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764360046

Ages 0-3

This rhyming story about a painting porcupine introduces counting, colors, and language concepts. Pinky Porcupine paints the doors in the town, and finds a different animal friend behind each one. Kids can count from one to 10 in English, Spanish, Chinese, and French, with pronunciations noted on each page. The animals gather together to say goodnight in their different languages at the end and fun animal facts close out this fun, fact-filled board book.  Pictures are colorful and eye-catching and fun, perfect for counting storytimes and introducing readers to new languages.

 

Faster, Please!, by Catherine Leblanc/Illustrated by Laurent Richard, (Sept. 2020, Schiffer Publishing), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764360329

Ages 0-5

A board book that opens into a play mat! A dog can go faster on a scooter, but even faster on a bike! The pup picks different vehicles to take the speed up a notch as the sections unfold into a 4 foot-long play mat, just right for zooming little cars on. Illustrations are colorful and bright, and vehicle books are so popular, that kids will gobble this right up. Invite kids to tell you which vehicles are outlined on the cover, and point them out inside the book. A felt board with vehicle cutouts would be a fun accompaniment during storytime, too. Have a couple on hand, this one will circulate hard.

 

Paper Peek: Animals, by Chihiro Takeuchi, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Studio), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536211498

Ages 0-3

A board book, seek and find, and geography lesson all in one, Paper Peek: Animals is a wonder of board book making.  Visit the continents and oceans and discover animals native to each region through the artwork. Die cuts and colorful cut paper artwork make endless fun for exploring fingers and eyes. Discover African lions, giraffes, and zebras; North American brown bears and eagles; koalas, platypuses, and cockatoos from Oceania; seahorses, whales, and sharks from the oceans, and so much more. A map of the world at the end of the book shows the animals on their homelands. I love this book for its gorgeous artwork and for its versatility: you can use it during storytime or one-on-one time.

 

Love Can Come in Many Ways, by Terry Pierce, (Oct. 2020, Chronicle Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781452172606

Ages 0-3

A perfect cuddle up and snuggle book, this rhyming story of all the ways animals (and people!) show love comes with 10 felt flaps to lift and explore. Giraffes nuzzlilng noses, elephant trunk hugs and embracing swan wings are just a few of the ways animals reveal their affection for one another. This is an adorable lapsit choice – invite parents to snuggle, rub noses, lightly squeeze, and play peekaboo with their littles. A soft color palette makes this a perfectly soothing read for babies and toddlers, maybe a good choice for a final story choice in storytime, to start calming things down. Make sure you keep a copy in your storytime collection; this one will get beaten up in circulation as family after family loves it.

Posted in Uncategorized

Fill your basket with Easter Books!

The Easter Storybook: 40 Bible Stories Showing Who Jesus Is, by Laura Richie/Illustrated by Ian Dale, (Jan. 2020, David C Cook), $18.99, 978-0-8307-7860-7

Ages 4-8

Beginning with Jesus’ time as a boy in the temple and ending with His resurrection and promise, “I am with you always”, The Easter Storybook contains 40 illustrated Bible stories about the life of Jesus. Each story begins with a Bible passage and includes a discussion question for families to explore together. Each story presents a different facet of Jesus – Teacher, Good Shepherd, Savior – and will help children relate their own insights and stories to events in the Bible. The illustrations are colorful and softly realistic with famous Biblical scenes, like Palm Sunday and the Sermon on the Mount. There’s one story for every day of Lent, making this a good choice for families who celebrate together and for kids in parochial or Sunday school.

 

Hoppy Floppy’s Carrot Hunt, by Educational Insights/Illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti, (March 2020, Candlewick Entertainment), $9.99, ISBN: 9781536212310

Ages 0-3

You have to have a fun board book for the Littlest Easter Bunny fans! This lift-the-flap, egg-shaped board book is a slam dunk for little ones. Hoppy Floppy the Rabbit is on the search for colorful carrots to fill her Easter basket. Some animal friends pitch in along the way, but she needs some extra help from your littles! Sturdy flaps on each spread let kids search for colorful carrots. Inspired by the Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel board game from Educational Insights (and with an appearance from Squirrel), this is a book that babies and toddlers will love. Illustrations are colorful and cartoony; perfectly kid-friendly. Great for learning colors, animals, and nature (point out trees, flowers, bushes).

 

Hazel and Twig: The Lost Egg, by Brenna Burns Yu, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536204926

Ages 3-7

In this second Hazel and Twig installment, Korean-American bunny sisters Hazel and Twig are playing in a meadow when they discover a pale blue egg. First, they decide to hatch it themselves, but when it begins raining, they head home to keep it warm; but after considering how worried the egg’s family may be, they call on their Umma and Appa (mother and father) to help them seek out the egg’s family. Adorably narrated and with delicate, lovely pastel ink and watercolor illustrations, this sweet story about sisterhood, exploration, and family is a sweet way to greet Easter egg hunters.

Posted in Uncategorized

Gift Guide for Little Readers

What do you get the littlest readers? (Hint: BOOKS) Come on, everyone else is going to get them all the toys.

Alphabet Street, by Jonathan Emmett/Illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius, (Oct. 2019, Nosy Crow), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536208276

Ages 0-4

How fantastic is a lift-the-flap book that also folds out into a little neighborhood street? It’s an alphabetical trip through 13 storefronts, where each store is named after neighboring letters (Alfie’s Bakery; Coffee & Donuts; Elegant Fashions) and feature two big flaps, where little explorers can discover an alphabet lesson. The reverse side of the flaps is a bright, bold, park play area, making this absolutely perfect for kids to bring out their toys to interact with the storefronts and the book characters! The construction is sturdy, and will hold up to lots of play; the book is held together with a blue satin ribbon to keep everything together when not laid out. There’s eight feet of play here, so kids can play together or fly solo. If you put a copy in your storytime reference, your library kids will love you.

I am a big fan of Ingela P. Arrhenius’s art, which is so perfect for toddlers and preschoolers who love to see big, expressive, and friendly animal faces. The retro art, the big, bold color, it all makes for fun, tactile learning play.

 

 

100 First Words, by  Edward Underwood, (Sept. 2019, Nosy Crow), $9.99, ISBN: 9781536208221

Ages 0-3

This giant board book is loaded with words to explore – there are bunches of them hidden behind flaps, where a fence can reveal a pig; fold back a leaf to discover a caterpillar; discover a cat hidden behind a houseplant. Big, bold words are paired with bold, bright artwork, and sturdy flaps will hold up to curious little hands that want to explore over and over again. There are animals; household items; means of transportation (including a rocket ship!); body parts; baby esssentials, like diaper, cup, pajamas, and teddy: all easy words for you to share with your little one, and most easily enough spotted in the wild that you can point them out and reinforce the picture-word connection. Edward Underwood is great with concept art for little ones, and makes this book absolute fun.

 

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 History, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Big nonfiction roundup!

I have been curating a pile of nonfiction over the last several weeks, ready to do a back to school post, but all these other great books started coming out, too… so, before this pile crushes me, let’s do this!

North America: A Fold-Out History, by Sarah Albee/Illlustrated by William Exley, (Oct. 2019, What on Earth Books), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1999967925

Ages 8-14

That What on Earth Books fold-out are so much fun! This time, we’ve got a fold-out graphic timeline of Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands, going from 11,000 BCE to 2017. It’s fully illustrated and offers a wealth of history on early indigenous peoples, including the Olmecs, Maya, Taino, and Aztec. European invasions are covered – first the Vikings; later, Columbus and the conquistadors – and American history covers much of the book’s second half. History is captured with dates and a brief blurb about standout moments, and callout boxes call attention to larger happenings, like the spreading out of humans across the land, and how European conflicts played out in North America. Back matter includes facts; glossary; source notes, and an index.

Not one for circulation – it’ll sustain damage quickly – but it’s a good reference tool and darn fun to have at home. My little guy loves these books.

Source: Bounce Marketing UK

 

Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys, by Mike Unwin/Illustrated by Jenni Desmond, (Aug. 2019, Bloomsbury USA), $18.99, ISBN: 9781547600977

Ages 9-13

Originally published in the UK, Migration profiles 20 different migrating animals, including the humpback whale; emperor penguin; ruby-throated hummingbird; blue wildebeest, and green turtle. Each spread contains acrylic, watercolor, ink, pencil and crayon illustrations of these animals, captured in the progress of their journeys. Some artwork gives an incredible breadth of scale, like the spread dedicated to the Christmas Island red crabs, which form a “river of crabs” as they march to the sea. Others, like the humpback whale, are a more personal journey shared between a mother and her calf. Each spread provides a migration story, which reads like an I Survived novel: crossing rivers; digging through snow for food; flying for miles to reach their destination; marching across an icy landscape. Each spread also offers a quick animal fact. Back matter includes a migration map and notes on making the world safer for migrating animals.

Animals of all shapes and sizes make epic journeys across our planet, through harsh weather, avoiding hungry predators, in their efforts to survive. Travel around the globe with some of the world’s most incredible animals and discover their unique migration stories. A nice addition to your nonfiction collections, especially if your books on migration are spare.

Mike Unwin is a UK Travel Writer of the Year, and Jenni Desmond is a winner of the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book, The Polar Bear. Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys has a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

 

National Geographic Kids Student World Atlas (Fifth Edition), (July 2019, National Geographic Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1426334795

Ages 8-12

This latest edition of this handy-dandy student reference has a wealth of facts, figures, and maps at your fingertips. There are over 100 maps, 70 incredible color photos, 50 charts and graphs with the latest data on climate change, the human footprint on our world, and most populous urban areas. Back matter includes an updated flags of the world section; a list of important websites on world resources, religions, languages, and quality of life; a glossary, thematic and place-name indexes, and more. If your budget allows for you to order two of these, do it: I like to keep one on hand at reference and put one into circulation. Along with the NatGeo Kids Almanac, you can’t go wrong with having these available for homework help.

 

1000 Facts About Ancient Egypt, by Nancy Honovich (February 2019, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1426332739

Ages 8-12

The 1000 Facts series from NatGeo Kids is almost as popular as the digest-sized Weird/Gross/Silly Facts books in my library. These are the books that prove that kids LOVE nonfiction! There are fast, bite-sized facts all about Ancient Egypt in this book: facts about the Egyptian gods and goddesses; facts about the Nile River; about making mummies and about the most famous mummy of them all, Tutankhamun; facts about inventions and temples; facts about hieroglyphics. There’s so much here, presented in compulsively readable, memorable chunks and illustrated with photos of artifacts. Back matter includes a glossary, a look at a tomb excavation, a timeline of Ancient Egyptian civilization, an index, and further resources. Have history fans? Is Ancient Egypt on the schools’ report list this year? Get this book on your shelf.

 

Walk This Underground World, by Kate Baker/Illustrated by Sam Brewster, (Oct. 2019, Big Picture Press), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1536208566

Ages 5-8

Lift the Flap fun! Readers can wander through underground worlds, from Montreal’s famous underground city to the ancient, underground tombs of Ancient Egypt. Wander the hidden natural world and see prairie dog dens, ant cities, and naked mole rat burrows. See Australian fortune hunters and Poland’s salt-rock mines; the bustling London Underground and the sleek underground train stations in Tokyo. There are 12 spreads with over 80 flaps to discover, making this a great gift book for the kiddos in your life. Definitely not going to last in circulation, but you could score a few copies for a program on underground ecosystems or travel.

That’s all for now – I have to get this copy of Walk This World back into my son’s room before he notices it’s gone!

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

A Christmas Book for every stocking!

We’re into the holiday season now, everyone! I’ve got gift books coming, and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa books are on the way, but first, a look at some Christmas books to stuff in your kiddos’ stockings. Take a look!

Where’s Santa Claus? by Ingela P. Arrhenius, (Oct. 2018, Nosy Crow), $8.99, ISBN: 9781536206975

Ages 0-3

Guessing games don’t get much cuter than this! Five illustrated spreads show different Christmassy folks, including a polar bear, snowman, elf, and Santa, all hidden behind fuzzy felt flaps. Bold, black font asks,, “Where the polar bear?” “Where’s the snowman?”, inviting babies and toddlers to lift the cloth and discover them all on their own! The final flap, shaped like a house, asks where YOU are, and the reveal is a mirror so little ones can see themselves. The illustrations are bold, bright, and adorable; the felt is soft to the touch and bright.

It’s a perfect cuddle time, circle time, and storytime book for your youngest kiddos. I’ll be using mine quite a bit this season, mainly because I can’t stop reading it to myself in a high-pitched voice and announcing, “There he is!” The kids here at the library are starting to stare at me.

 

Christmas ABC, by Jannie Ho, (Oct. 2018, Nosy Crow), $6.99, ISBN: 9781536202496

Ages 0-3

This holiday abcedary is loaded with seasonal icons: A is for angel; B is for bell; C is for candy canes, and D is for drummer boy. Cartoony, bold, and bright, with capital and lowercase letters side by side, this concept book is as sweet as a bowlful of chocolate chips. Smiling Nutcrackers share spreads with Mrs. Claus as a pup emerges from an Unwrapped box and a bottoms-up Santa is upside down in a chimney as he Visits a home. There are familiar sights to see, but there are also words to describe feelings and emotions, like joy, excited, and quiet. Read this with your little ones and point out familiar objects around the home, classroom, or library: ornaments, reindeer, or tree will work nicely. Some concepts, like Kings and Winter (a winter scene at a windowsill), make take a little explanation, but it’s all part of the holiday fun.

I love a good board book, and Christmas ABC delivers. Put this one front and center in your board books, holidays, and concepts areas, and watch the little ones reach for it.

 

Little Christmas Tree, by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, (Oct. 2018, Big Picture Press), $15.99, ISBN: 9781536203110

Ages 2-5

This larger board book is loaded with flaps, letting little fingers discover wintry delights as they wander through the story of a little Christmas tree wakes up in its forest after a snowfall. Nature comes alive with each spread as foxes, birds, squirrels, and mice join the scene, and by the story’s end, the tree sparkles in the moonlight. The silver foil added to the trees and snowflakes create a lovely scene that catches light nicely; make sure to let the kids touch the book and feel the texture of the pages. Each flap reveals color, animals, and woodland life, many of which will be familiar to kids: owls, foxes, and sun, to name a few. Little Christmas Tree is a beautifully crafted, interactive reading experience that toddlers and preschoolers will come back to. Keep this one in your storytime reference so you have one intact for next year’s storytime – the flaps are sturdy, but circulating copies of this book will be well-loved.

Little Christmas Tree has a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Pip and Posy: The Christmas Tree, by Axel Scheffler, (Sept. 2018, Nosy Crow), $12.99, ISBN: 9781536202762

Ages 2-5

Pip and Posy are back, and trying to decorate their Christmas tree – but the edible ornaments keep disappearing! When Pip develops a bellyache, it’s pretty clear to Posy what happened, but she’s a good friend: she gets Pip outside for some air, and the two decorate their tree in a slightly less tasty, more durable fashion.

This series about two best friends is popular here at my library, so this will be a welcome add to the shelves. The Pip and Posy books are all about simple problems, resolutions, and friendship. Here, it’s about decorating a Christmas tree with tasty ornaments that Pip can’t resist: the kids are in on the joke, as Pip smiles and sneaks snacks whenever Posy leaves the room. You can invite kids to count ornaments and candy canes as part of the storytime; the text lends itself to a guessing game as Posy announces how many things are missing. There’s a bit of a cautionary tale here, too, since Pip eats too much junk food and feels sick afterward, and a wink and a laugh at Santa’s gifts to both friends.

The gouache illustrations and bold text are eye-catching and perfect for storytime reading. The white pages let the characters pop off the page, allowing the eye to go directly to the action. The Christmas Tree is a nice addition to both holiday shelves and Pip and Posy collections.

Oliver Elephant, by Lou Peacock/Illustrated by Helen Stephens, (Sept. 2018, Nosy Crow), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536202663

Ages 3-7

Noah is a little boy who gets up early to go Christmas shopping with his mom and baby sister, bringing his stuffed elephant, Oliver, along for the ride. As Mom shops, Noah and Oliver are predictably antsy and manage to get into a little bit of trouble – but Mom and the staff are good-natured, thank goodness! A quick snack and it’s time to go home, but wait! Oliver is missing! There’s a panicked search, but little sister Evie-May saves the day when she reveals that Oliver has been hitching a ride with her all along.

Originally published in the UK, this Christmas rhyming story beautifully captures the hustle and bustle of the holiday season with lively, crowded city streets and department store scenes. There’s a particularly gorgeous spread early on in the story, as a whole department store is laid out for the eye to take in, complete with giant Christmas tree in the center; the detail of Mom holding onto Evie-May’s stroller with one hand while she keeps a hold on Noah, who’s swinging Oliver around, will make parents smile in recognition.  Kids will relate to Noah’s restlessness; while Mom shops, he and Oliver play with dollhouses and dance on the displays until the inevitable “oops” happens. On the next spread, Oliver and Noah are slumped on a chair while Mom finishes shopping. The illustrations are warm and colorful, with point of view going from large to intimate – Noah playing with Evie-May, Mom snuggling Noah; there are wonderful little details to see throughout the story, and the primarily beige backgrounds let the story pop off the page for readers. Red lined endpapers put readers in a holiday mood going into the story.

Oliver Elephant has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus and is a sweet addition to holiday collections.

Coming Home, by Michael Morpugo/Illustrated by Kerry Hyndman, (Oct. 2018, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536200423

Ages 3-7

A robin sets out on his own to fly back to his home and his mate in this lyrical Christmas tale. The bird bravely invokes his heart and wings to fly him home as he travels day and night, through battering rain, fog, and snow, and under threat of predatory birds to make his way home. He encounters a kind-hearted fisherman who takes him out of the rain, letting him rest and eat, before setting him free on the final leg of his journey; finally arriving home to his garden, his mate, and the human family that’s been waiting for his return.

The digital illustrations are crisp, with the robin’s red face and chest a bright spot against the cold winter backgrounds. Kerry Hyndman creates some memorable moments, including the menacing black shadow of a hawk swooping over the robin, and the looming hands of the fisherman, from the bird’s point of view. At once a story about migration and its hazards, and families reuniting for the holidays, Endpapers bring you into the story by offering a single robin, tracking through the snow on the front endpapers, and joined by his mate on the rear endpapers. Coming Home is a lovely add to your collections. Display and booktalk with Matt Tavares’ Red and Lulu (2017) for a similar themed story. Make your own no-cook bird cakes with this recipe from Saltwater Kids.

Michael Morpugo is no stranger to sweeping stories: he’s an award-winning writer who boasts a Carnegie Medal (2003). He has also been Children’s Laureate (2003-2005) and he’s been knighted. You may know him as the author of War HorseIllustrator Kerry Hyndman is also a mapmaker, a talent you can see just by seeing how she plans out her landscapes. Her frozen forests are breathtaking, and her residential neighborhood is so well plotted out, it could be your own neighborhood.

 

Santa Claus: The Book of Secrets, by Russell Ince, (June 2013, Waxcrayon Ltd), $21.95, ISBN: 0-937739-65-0

Ages 7-12

Geared for a more independent audience, Santa Claus: The Book of Secrets gives kids the full scoop on all of Santa’s secrets, including his history (he’s not the Saint Nicholas from Turkey that people often take him for), how the Post Offices around the world help him out, and how to stay off the dreaded Naughty List. Chronicled by Santa’s official biographer, Russell Ince, the book combined the look of an illuminated manuscript with a journal feel, as if Santa’s – and Russell’s – words were written especially for each reader. There are sketches throughout to bring the words to life, including realistic reindeer and Santa’s sleigh, and a sack full of toys, waiting to be loaded up for that Christmas Eve journey.

This one’s a good bet for your intermediate readers, who may be questioning the Man in Red’s existence, and have more questions to ask.

 

Santa Claus: The Annual (Volume 1), by Russell Ince, (July 2016, Waxcrayon Ltd), $19.99, ISBN: 0-937739-67-7

Ages 7-12

Santa was so delighted with the response to his Book of Secrets, that he decided to write a book about how he spends a year. Each 2-page spread details a month in Santa’s life: January is a time to rest up after a hectic December; March is dedicated to training reindeer and visting the Elf School; in June, the Clauses pack up and travel the world, while the elves stay home and compete in an Elf Olympics. In September, the Christmas planning begins anew. Learn more about the elves, Mrs. Claus, and the general ins and outs of the North Pole here, one month at a time.

The style is consistent here, with an illuminated title setting off each page, festooned with colorful snowflakes, toys, candy, and sketches. Written on a parchment-look paper, these two slim volumes provide a magical look at the Christmas secrets kids are dying to know.

 

That’s a taste of Christmas for you! I’ve got Kwanzaa and Hanukkah books on the way, plus a gift guide for the holidays. I’ll keep you posted!

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Spring Books for Toddlers!

There are so many great toddler and preschoooler books hitting shelves this Spring! There are picture books, board books, lift the flap books, and slide books – all sorts of books for little ones to explore and enjoy. Let’s take a look at a few.

 

The Three Little Pugs, by Nina Victor Crittenden,
(March 2018, little bee), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-05279-1
Recommended for ages 2-7

Three little pugs – Gordy, Jilly, and Zoie – love to play, and they really love to nap in their big cozy basket. One day, they head over to their basket for their morning nap, but – oh no! – the big bad cat is in their basket! The three little pugs each devise a plan to get the cat out of their basket, using straws, sticks, and bricks: sound familiar? This cute little take on the classic fairy tale, The Three Little Pigs, ends up a lot happier for all, with decidedly less huffing and puffing. Kid-friendly art makes for a fun read-aloud or quiet time; endpapers add to the fun, with framed photos of the pugs, cat, and other pets looking warily at one another at first; closing endpapers have everyone posing in harmony. I’d pull out some plush cats and dogs (bean-bag size would be great) for small storytimes to play with, and read as part of a pet storytime or the original Three Little Pigs.

 

 

The Backup Bunny, by Abigail Rayner/Illustrated by Greg Stones,
(March 2018, North South Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9780735842823
Recommended for readers 3-8

Meet Fluffy. He’s soft and lush, and he lives in Mom’s sock drawer. You see, he’s the backup bunny. Parents, you know the Backup Bunny – the one we’ve got just in case the Luvvie/Lovey goes missing; the one we hope will stave off the tears. That’s exactly what happens when Max misplaces Bunny, and Fluffy’s called into service. But Fluffy isn’t right! His ears don’t feel right – he’s too new, he hasn’t been loved enough. Imagine how poor Fluffy feels, after waiting all this time to be played with; to be thrown on the floor, hung by his ears on a clothesline, and dunked in the mud – but wait! That’s the key! As Max plays with Fluffy, he breaks him in – and before Fluffy realizes it, Bunny’s been found, and Fluffy finds himself part of the new Lovey rotation. Kids will love The Backup Bunny because they’ll get it: the stress of missing a beloved toy and the frustration of a toy that isn’t quite right. The artwork is gentle and soft, with warm browns, and soft blues inviting the reader into a world of stuffed toys, cushiony beds, and soft sock drawers. The endpapers are adorable, with Fluffy hanging out, waiting by himself on the front papers, only to be part of the Max/Bunny group on the back pages. Caregivers will appreciate The Backup Bunny, because we’ve all been there. Overall, a nice addition to picture book collections, and a fun addition to storytimes where kids bring their own stuffies to cuddle.

From Mother to Mother, by Émilie Vast,
(March 2018, Charlesbridge), $7.99, ISBN: 9781580898133
Recommended for readers from 0-4

Émilie Vast has two adorable board books out this month, celebrating the relationship between generations. From Mother to Mother uses Russian matryoshka nesting doll artwork to illustrate ancestry. Narrated as a mother to a child, each page traces a new branch in the family tree: from mother’s great-great-grandmother to “my own child”. Each nesting doll becomes progressively smaller, with the child being the smallest doll; each doll and its accompanying artwork is a different color, with unique artwork.

 

From Father to Father, by Émilie Vast,
(March 2018, Charlesbridge), $7.99, ISBN: 9781580898140
Recommended for readers from 0-4

Émilie Vast’s From Father to Father, the companion to From Mother to Mother, celebrates the link between fathers. Using male nesting dolls and narrated by a father to his son, each spread describes one generation’s link to another, from the birth of a great-great-grandfather to the narrator’s own son.  The artwork, as with From Mother to Mother,  is inspired by nature and changes color and design with each generation; dolls grow smaller from great-grandparents to child, throughout the book.

These are adorable board books that will resonate with kids as easily as they will with adults, and it’s a wonderful way to show children the relationship between parents, grandparents, and beyond. I can’t wait to get these on my shelves (and possibly, my bookshelf at home) at my library, where my community often sees grandparents as caregivers for the little ones. Books like this form beautiful bonds.

 

Me and My Cars, by Liesbet Slegers,
(Apr. 2018, Clavis Publishing), $11.95, ISBN: 9781605373997
Recommended for readers 1-4

A little boy takes readers along with him on a tour of all different types of cars: vehicles that get us from one place to another, like buses and vans; vehicles that help others, like ambulances and police cars; vehicles that get hard work done, like tractors and street sweepers; and vehicles that race, like racecars and Formula 1 racecars. Perfect for cars and truck fans, this is going to be a staple in my early childhood area. The colors are bright, the lines and fonts are bold, and books about vehicles are a home run for little readers.

 

Open the Suitcase, by Ruth Wielockx,
(Apr. 2018, Clavis Publishing), $17.95, ISBN: 9781605374017
Recommended for readers 3-5

Different animals have different jobs! Can you guess which animal has which job based on their suitcase?  (The clothing hints help.) Meet different friends with different jobs, with a fun flap on each spread that gives readers a peek inside their work bag. See what a teacher, a magician, a doctor, and a car mechanic take to work with them! There’s an opportunity to talk to readers about what they would pack in an overnight bag for a sleepover; use that as a chance to talk about what goes in your bag when you go on vacation; what goes in Mom’s or Dad’s bag, and what different people in careers may have in their bags. What about what goes in a diaper bag? (Eww! Not stinky diapers, I hope!) A fun addition to toddler and preschooler bookshelves and a chance to talk about different careers.

 

My Bed, by Anita Bijsterbosch,
(Apr. 2018, Clavis Publishing), $14.95, ISBN: 9781605373874
Recommended for readers 3-5

It’s nighttime, and all the animals are tired and ready for bed. Reindeer tries out every bed he sees, but they’re not his! He grows more and more tired – will he ever find his own bed? This is an adorable lift-the-flap book that reveals the different animals whose beds Reindeer tries out. The animals are wearing bright, eye-catching pajamas that match their bedding, so kids can match up the animals with repeated reads. The nature of the book – Reindeer searching for his bed – and the lift the flap format makes for a great interactive read; invite the kids to call out whether or not they think it’s Reindeer’s bed. Give some exaggerated yawns as you continue reading, illustrating how tired Reindeer is getting. My library kiddos (and my own kiddo) love Anita Bijsterbosch’s previous lift-the-flap books, When I Grow Up and Do You See My Tail, so this one is a go for me.

 

Take a Look. More Fun Together!, by Liesbet Slegers,
(April 2018, Clavis Publishing), $12.95, ISBN: 9781605373829
Recommended for readers 2-5

Sure, you can have fun on your own, but some things are even better with friends! Six different individuals are by themselves, but a slide of the board book reveals more friends! A cat plays with yarn, but with a pull of the slide, there’s another cat joining in the fun! Clavis board books tend to be sturdy, and the slides will hold up to repeated use. I’ve got  a few in my children’s room that have circulated quite a bit, and they’re still good to go. Liesbet Slegers books never disappoint, either: her artwork is bold and bright, and toddlers love it. This one’s a solid add to collections that let kids explore their world through interactive books.

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Think Board Books teach concepts

Former Romper Room teacher Karen Robbins still keeps her Do-Bees in mind with a trio of concept board books! Think Triangles!, Think Circles!, and Think Squares! are a sturdy series of books that help develop toddler and preschooler thinking skills. Each colorful book has ten flaps that present a a number of shapes to readers, asking where they can be. Lift the flap, and a bright, cheery scene – mountains, birdhouses, watermelon slices – invites kids to count the shapes. Colors are bright and easily identifiable, and inviting readers to “think… and lift the flap to see!” challenges them, asking them to pause and count the shape outlines before moving on to identify them after lifting the flap.

Think Triangles!, by Karen Robbins, (Sept. 2017, Schiffer Publishing), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764353819

 

Think Squares!, by Karen Robbins, (Sept. 2017, Schiffer Publishing), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764353833

 

Think Circles!, by Karen Robbins, (Sept. 2017, Schiffer Publishing), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764353826

Recommended for readers 0-3