Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, picture books, Preschool Reads

August Picture Book Rundown

Loretta’s Gift, by Pat Zietlow Miller/Illustrated by Alea Marley, (Aug. 2018, little bee books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1499806816

Recommended for readers 4-8

Loretta is a little girl who’s so excited when she learns that her aunt and uncle are having a baby! Everyone is busy getting ready for the baby; making things, buying things, preparing a room, but try as she might, Loretta can’t seem to make the perfect gift. When Baby Gabe is born, Loretta feeds with him and plays with him; she adores him and he has the biggest smiles for her. At Gabe’s first birthday party, Loretta is sad that she doesn’t have a gift for him yet, but when he falls and hurts himself, Loretta knows just what to do. Turns out, love is the best gift of all.

This gentle story is a sweet way to show kids that the best gifts aren’t bought; they’re already with us. Loretta’s capacity to love Gabe, to make him smile and laugh, and to comfort him, is a gift that means more to him than any toy that will break or be forgotten. The story delivers this message in the most loving of ways, while showing readers about the exciting preparations made for a new baby: the room decorating, the knitting, the collection of family photos, even wrestling with putting together the crib. Getting ready to welcome Gabe involves the whole family. Loretta’s parents makes the wonderful statement that “Babies are a celebration… of love. Of Life. Of hope”, and Loretta’s first response is to look at her aunt’s belly and wonder if all of that and a baby could fit in one belly? It’s an adorable and perfectly childlike reaction.

The artwork is warm, with earthy shades of green, orange, and muted, darker colors; there are some great textured patterns that make me think there may be some collage here. The illustrations give a comfortable, close feel to the story.

Loretta’s Gift is a nice addition to New Baby collections, and a good big brother/sister/relative gift idea.

 

How to Cook a Princess, by Ana Martinez Castillo/Illustrated by Laura Liz, Translated by Ben Dawlatly (Aug. 2018, nubeOCHO), $16.96, ISBN: 9788494692642

Recommended for ages 7-10

Dark fantasy fans with a morbid sense of humor, this one’s for you. No handsome princes are saving the day here: he’s likely to end up in a stew or as a side dish (with frog legs, to be precise). Gingrich the witch is famous for her recipes, and she dishes all here, where she cooks up the best of fairytale royalty. You’ll learn what kitchen utensils are best (a cage should have 12 padlocks and 2 chains, to prevent sneaky princesses from escaping) and how to trap a princess; there are recipes, like the Snow White Stew, which also gives a shout-out to the dwarves for their skill in rearing organic, free-range princess; and there are tasty treats, like little pigs, fairy godmothers, Puss in Boots, and, yes, Prince Charmings. It goes without saying that this hilarious book is best served with a side of tongue in cheek. The pencil artwork is loaded with gasps from horrified – or, really, more very annoyed – princesses and dark shades. This is a book of fairy tales for kids who don’t think they like fairy tales. Booktalk this one with The Lunch Witch graphic novels. How to Cook a Princess was originally released in Spanish in 2017.

 

A Place for Pluto, by Stef Wade/Illustrated by Melanie Demmer, (Aug. 2018, Capstone), $15.95, ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Ages 5-8

Pluto is a happy little planet; he’s one of the famous Nine and life’s all good until the day the news breaks: he’s not a planet anymore. He’s confused and sad, and wanders around the universe trying to figure out where he fits in: can he be a comet, like his buddy, Haley? How about a meteoroid or an asteroid? Just when Pluto doesn’t think he fits in anywhere, he meets a whole new group of friends who are just like him: the dwarf planets! This book is just adorable, and it’s my son’s favorite of the BookExpo 2018 haul. It’s a smart approach to explaining Pluto’s history to readers, with a timeline (1930 – Pluto’s a planet! 2006 – Nope, it’s not!) and information on what makes Pluto, Ceres, Eris, Makemake, and Haumea dwarf planets, as opposed to part of the Big Nine. With an upbeat messages about identity, acceptance, and friendship, and adorable artwork, this is a must-add to your planet books. (We sing They Might Be Giants’ “How Many Planets?” planet song – modified to include all the dwarf planets, Haley’s comet, and a few galaxies – at home, after reading this one.)

 

 

The Truth About Dinosaurs, by Guido van Genechten, (Aug. 2018, Clavis Publishing), $18.95, ISBN: 978-1-60537-423-9

Ages 5-10

A chicken walks readers through its family history to prove that they are descended from dinosaurs. Family resemblances include has similar feet and feathers, in addition to that whole egg-hatching business. Presented as a family album, The Truth About Dinosaurs is a fun introduction to dino science for readers, with an accessible illustration of evolution from dinosaur to modern-day birds, and ends with the chicken hatching a rather large dino egg. Guido van Genecthen uses earth tones and his cartoony look to make non-threatening dinosaurs, and the green chicken is an amusing host to the book. The scrapbook features BC dates when showing off the “family photos” throughout history, and each dinosaur’s weight appears on tags that look like amusement part tickets. It’s a cute, additional add for your dino collections.

 

Maximillian Villainous, by Margaret Chiu Greanias/Illustrated by Lesley Breen Withrow, (Aug. 2018, Running Press Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780762462971

Ages 5-8

Poor Maximillian Villainous! He’s from a long line of villainous monsters, but he doesn’t have it in him to be mean. He always finds a way to make up for things his family does, like giving Santa Claus the keys to the family car when his father stole Santa’s sleigh, or sending Mother Nature to a spa when his mother stole her powers. But when his family threatens to get rid of his pet bunny – it’s not a suitably villainous sidekick – he promises to succeed at three evil tasks to make things right. He’s got to steal something; make someone cry, and gain fame by being devious. What his family doesn’t realize is how open to interpretation that is! Maximillian Villainous is a sweet story about being true to oneself, accepting who you are – even if that’s different from how those around you think you should be – and the wonderful power of kind acts. The storytelling is light and plays with interpretation, and the artwork reminds me of Richard Scarry’s bold colors and big facial expressions. Pair this one with Mo Willems’ Leonardo the Terrible Monster for some monsters that aren’t really very monstrous.

 

That’s a taste of what August has in store. What books are you excited for?

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

And They Lived Happily Ever After… Prince & Knight

Prince & Knight, by Daniel Haack/Illustrated by Stevie Lewis, (May 2018, little bee), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0552-9

Recommended for readers 4-8

I am head over heels in love with this gorgeous rhyming tale of a prince who finds his perfect knight and lives happily ever after! A handsome young prince is coming of age, so his parents set out to find him a worthy bride. The ladies all love him – he’s adorable! – but he just doesn’t feel it for any of them. While the royals are away, a dragon attacks the village, and the brave prince jumps on his horse and rides back, ready for battle… and discovers a knight in shining armor, ready to fight by his side and save their kingdom! The knight saves the prince from a nasty fall, takes off his helmet, and… FIREWORKS. The village and the king and queen are thrilled with the match, and the prince and knight live happily ever after. I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying.

This book just makes me swoon. The rich color illustrations are a joy to look at, the rhyming text is so adorable you’ll want to read it again and again, and the combination of the beautiful words and the artwork of the two young men, completely and happily in each other’s arms, makes this an absolute must for storytime and for collections everywhere. Read this often, and explain that sometimes, the prince wants a handsome knight at the end of the story. And that’s just wonderful. Prince & Knight has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Lion (Forge), Tigers, and Bears… Oh, My!

In a twist on the classic Wizard of Oz quote, I found myself with a tiger book, a bear book, but no lion book. Lion Forge came to the rescue with a hilarious (and animal-related) picture book! Enjoy!

This is a Taco!, by Andrew Cangelose/Illustrated by Josh Shipley, (May 2018, Lion Forge), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1941302729

Recommended for readers 4-8

Lion Forge Comics also puts out some really good kids’ books. This is a Taco! is a laugh-out-loud take on a nature book about squirrels that breaks the fourth wall. Taco is a squirrel who loves tacos. As the nonfiction narrative on squirrels progress, Taco is there to disabuse readers of any facts they may be picking up about squirrels. Squirrels eat tree bark? This is news to Taco, who really wants to know where his tacos are. Great climbers? Taco’s terrified! He lives in a bush! Taco has enough by the time a section on hawks – the greatest squirrel predator – shows up on the scene, and decides to change the story. Grabbing a red pen, Taco writes his own happy ending and imparts serious wisdom to readers: “if you want tacos in your story, then YOU make sure there are tacos in your story”.

Kids are going to love this hilarious book. Taco the Squirrel is right up there with Mo Willems’ Pigeon in terms of characters who take charge of their stories and bring the laughs. This makes for a great creative writing exercise with older kids; let them “rewrite” their own stories with weeded picture books or some photocopied pages. Show them Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett’s Battle Bunny for another example of a picture book taking on a life of its own. And for taco-loving readers, get those Dragons Love Tacos books on the display shelves. This book is way too much fun – get it into the hands of kids, ASAP! There’s a companion book, This is a Whoopsie, coming out in October.

 

The Tiptoeing Tiger, by Philippa Leathers, (Feb. 2018, Candlewick Press), $14.00, ISBN: 9780763688431

Recommended for readers 3-7

Everyone knows that tigers are sleek, silent, and totally terrifying. Except for Little Tiger. He can’t seem to get anyone in the forest to notice him, let alone be afraid of him! After his brother bets that he can’t scare any animal in the forest, Little Tiger sets off, determined to frighten someone. He tiptoes his way through the book, trying to scare boars, elephants, and monkeys, with no luck. Isn’t there anyone he can scare before the day is out?

This is a great book for the littles, who LOVE “scaring” people. I remember I couldn’t walk out of my bathroom without my little guy jumping and “boo!”-ing me starting around the age of 3. (He’s 5 now, and still tries it; these days, it’s usually with a Nerf sniper rifle.) The author speaks to a child’s desire to be seen as someone bigger, and the frustration at being ignored, or worse – laughed at – when they’re trying to be like the bigger folks. The repetition of Little Tiger’s tiptoeing up to his prey invites readers to be part of the story, whether they tiptoe with their toes or walk their fingers on a surface. Let them give their best ROAR! to see how they’d match up with Little Tiger.

The pencil and watercolor illustrations are adorable; very kid-friendly, and leave a lot of open space to show the size differences between Little Tiger and the rest of the animals. Green endpapers with fern leaf patterning bring readers into the story. The Tiptoeing Tiger is a fun story about being small, but determined. A fun additional book for animal lovers.

 

The Curious Cares of Bears, by Douglas Florian/Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez, (Aug. 2017, little bee books), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0462-1

This rhyming story takes readers through the four seasons with a group of bears and how they spend their time. In the spring, they love to climb trees and steal honey from bees, play and chase each other; in the summer, there’s swimming and games, family reunions, and parties; in the fall, they play all day and sing by a campfire at night; and when winter arrives, it’s time to make their way to their den to hibernate, until the spring thaw comes, and they get ready to explore their world all over again.

This is a gentle, fun read about the seasons. The group of cuddly bears pass their time in similar ways to our own families, which makes for some fun questions to pose to readers, especially near different seasonal school breaks. The rhyming text has a nice, steady rhythm for readers and the soft art makes the bears look fuzzy and cuddly, like the best bear books do. Endpapers feature an extended family group of bears wandering around the forest, setting the tone for the story. Give this to your teddy bear loving readers, and booktalk with some easy reader season books, like those from Rookie Readers.

 

Great Polar Bear, by Carolyn Lesser, (Apr. 2018, Seagrass Press), $17.95, ISBN: 9781633225022

Recommended for readers 5-8

I had to add an extra bear book here, because Great Polar Bear is just beautiful. A nonfiction book written in verse, Carolyn Lesser takes readers through a year in the life of a polar bear. Originally published in 1996 as The Great Crystal Bear (illustrated by William Noonan), this new edition features all-new collage artwork by Lesser; it gives beautiful texture and depth to the illustrations. The narrative brings facts to readers through rhythmic verse, rather than terse statements: the bear’s fur, for instance, “gathers sunlight, to heat your black skin and thick layer of fat”. We also learn about the endangered environment and problems caused by climate change. Back matter contains “Explorer’s Notes” and emphasizes conservation. This is a good additional text for nonfiction collections where bears are popular.

 

Africa Calling, Nighttime Falling, by Danny Adlerman/Illustrated by Kim Adlerman, (March 2018, Lee and Low Books), $9.95, ISBN: 9781620147955

Recommended for readers 3-7

For my Oh My! book, I’ve got the bedtime story, Africa Calling, Nighttime Falling; a mellow story about African animals in their habitats as the sun sets for the day. The rhyming text leads includes quiet accompanying phrases for each animal: “As moonlight cloaks the desert land, Viper slinks across the sand… swiftly sliding, vipers gliding”. I read them as whispered phrases, between stanzas, because it seems to really work with my Kindergartner. The artwork includes collage over paintings, with what looks like some photographic media mixed in. The twist at the end brings this full circle when readers see that it’s a little girl’s imagination, before bedtime, and that she’s surrounded by her jungle’s worth of stuffed animals. It’s a nice additional add where bedtime stories and animal books are popular, and a good one to test out with stuffed animal sleepover storytimes.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Mother’s Day book ideas!

Mother’s Day isn’t that far away. Wouldn’t a sweet picture book or three make for a nice cuddle time?

Little Owl’s Egg, by Debi Gliori/Illustrated by Alison Brown, (Nov. 2017, Bloomsbury USA), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-68119-324-3

Recommended for readers 3-6

Mommy Owl has exciting news for Little Owl: she’s laid a beautiful egg with a new baby owl inside! Little Owl isn’t too thrilled with this turn of events, though: he’s the baby owl – she doesn’t need a new one! Because Moms are well-practiced in the art of deflection, Mommy Owl agrees. It’s so quiet, maybe it’s a baby worm inside the egg! Or is it a chocolate egg? Little Owl and Mommy Owl go back and forth, guessing who could be in the egg, with reactions going from “YUCK” (worms) to horror (dragons!), all adorably illustrated in acrylic paint and color pencil. Little Owl finally comes around to the idea of a new, little owl in the nest, and his role as a big brother owl… and Mommy has more than enough love for them both.

What a sweet way to introduce a sibling to a preschooler, especially one who may be a little resistant to the whole “new baby in the nest” idea. Little Owl takes his mother’s little guessing game and runs with it, coming up with outlandish ideas of his own. When he sees animal siblings play together, he finds himself warming to the idea of having a playmate, and Mommy Owl assures him that she will always love him. It’s a story that parents, caregivers, and kids can cuddle up and read together, talk about the new baby(ies), and how everyone feels about the baby. Let kids know it’s okay to be nervous about a new baby! This is a good gift for a sibling-to-be; pair with Émile Jadoul’s No Room for Baby! for more surly sibling fun.

 

What Mommies Like, by Judy Carey Nevin/Illustrated by Stephanie Six, (Apr. 2018, little bee books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781499805284

Recommended for readers 2-5

Mommies like a whole bunch of things, especially when they’re with their little ones! Mommy Bear and her cub spend a day together doing all sorts of things that mommies like, end up at the library for storytime, and continue on to sing, play kazoo, and share an “I love you” at bedtime. Each page has a short sentence stating what mommies like, with a soft illustration. It’s a loving story about the bond between mother and child and a fun story about daily routines. Mother and baby bear share loving glances as they go throughout their daily activities; they’re out and about, doing super-healthy things like yoga and cycling; she’s an active part of storytime, taking part in the stomping and general hullabaloo; she’s even in a blanket fort. Mommies are pretty darn fun, aren’t we? This is an absolutely adorable book for toddlers and preschoolers; I think I’ll be using this one in a Mother’s Day storytime. Pair this one with Our Love Grows by Anna Pignataro for an extra-cuddly storytime.

 

Posted in picture books

Under the Sea books for your favorite fishy fans!

The weather’s warming up, so why not start thinking of ocean-y fun? I’ve got a couple of fun, new books that are perfect for fans of sea life!

Shark Nate-O, by Becky Cattie and Tara Luebbe/Illustrated by Daniel Duncan, (Apr. 2018, little bee books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0496-6

Recommended for readers 4-7

Nate LOVES sharks. He’s got shark posters and books, spouts shark facts all day, and pretends to be a shark, chomping his way through the schoolyard and the dinner table. But Nate has a secret that’s keeping him from fully realizing his full shark potential: he can’t swim. And his school swim team is named The Sharks! Luckily, Nate has the tenacity of a great white, and takes lessons, determined to get on the team and show his brother – who’s also on the swim team – who the real shark is.

This is a fun story about overcoming fear. Nate loves sharks, but he’s got to learn how to swim; his first lesson doesn’t go so well – he feels like a “great white wimp” – but he doesn’t give up, and works harder, until he’s good enough to make it on the team and compete at the swim meet. The art is kid-friendly, with a great cover: Nate casts a shark-y shadow as he stands at the tiled floor of a pool area; the endpapers show wavy, bluish-green water with a single shark fin navigating the spreads. There’s a spread on different kinds of sharks, with fun facts (the blue shark eats until he throws up – and then goes back to eating). Kids, parents, and caregivers alike will enjoy reading this one.

 

Inky the Octopus: Bound for Glory, by Erin Guendelsberger/Illustrated by David Leonard, (Apr. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN:9781492654148

Recommended for readers 4-8

Based on a real-life story, Inky the Octopus is a rhyming tale about an octopus who escapes his New Zealand aquarium tank and heads out for the open sea. When we first meet Inky, he’s bored, maybe even a little sad, with his fish friend, Blotchy, for company. But he spies an open drain and that’s it: “Out of this tank, I must be free/I must explore the open sea!” Inky gets ready to make his escape, asking Blotchy to come with him – an invitation that his friend politely declines. The next morning, the discovery is made: Inky is gone, free to experience life in the ocean.

The real-life Inky escaped from his National Aquarium of New Zealand tank in 2016, when aquarium keepers came into work and noticed that the octopus wasn’t in his tank. It appears that he slipped through a small opening in his tank, maneuvered across the floor, and slid down a 164-foot-long drainpipe that led out to Hawke’s Bay. There’s even a real-life Blotchy, but he’s another octopus, not a fish. While there are other children’s books about Inky, including 2017’s Inky’s Great Escape by Casey Lyell and Sebastià Serra, Inky the Octopus is officially endorsed by the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

The artwork is adorable and the rhyming text gives a nice cadence to storytelling that allows for dramatic embellishment (at least, when I read it: he’s an octopus, he’s got eight arms, give him some grand gestures!) Inky has big, sweet eyes that will appeal to readers and have them falling in love with the sweet cephalopod, rooting for him to make a run for it. Information about the real-life Inky at the book’s conclusion adds a nice learning opportunity for readers.

 

Sea Creatures from the Sky, by Ricardo Cortés, (Apr. 2018, Black Sheep), $16.95, ISBN: Ricardo Cortés

Recommended for readers 4-8

A shark’s tale of being kidnapped by aliens! Kind of. A shark speaks directly to the reader in rhyme, confiding in us a true story that happened to him: he was kidnapped by aliens from the sky. Now, remember: when a shark looks up, that’s the sky. We know it as the surface. As the shark notes: “There is something else/and that’s no lie. It stole me from the ocean, and took me to the sky.” The poor shark sees a yummy fish, goes for a snack, and discovers – whoops! – the fish has a hook. And those aliens were terrifying: “In ships they steered? Faces with beards? Heads with two ears? It was all just too weird.” To add insult to injury, no one believes him. What’s a poor shark to do?

I loved everything about this story. The art is just beautiful, from the endpapers that could be a starry night sky or the surface of the water at night; the combination of realistic and almost dreamlike renderings of sea life, from the hazy, colorful jellyfish to the crisp spread of rays making their way through the story, to the black-eyed protagonist whose tale will make you chuckle and yet, feel for his plight (gender pronoun is mine; the character has no determined gender in the story). It’s a look at preservation and oceanography from a different point of view, and makes a realistic-looking shark less threatening, even likable. Kids will appreciate the misunderstood predator; how many times have kids been called out for exaggerating a recollection that is absolutely true from their point of view? Sea Creatures From the Sky provides a good jumping-off point to discuss point-of-view storytelling and what exactly the humans were doing with the shark when they “measured, probed, and spoke in strange code”. This one is a must-add to storytimes and books where sharks and undersea life are popular. Which, really, has to be, like every collection. Kids LOVE sharks.

Ricardo Cortés illustrated one of my baby shower gifts, Go The F**k to Sleep (no, I’ve never read it to the kiddo, but it did comfort me on many a sleepless night), and its child-friendly companion, Seriously, Just Go to Sleep.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Books about art for kids to love and be inspired by

I love letting kids go hog wild on artwork. I’ve had art stortyimes where kids have made their own Frida self-portraits and contributed to a Diego Rivera mural; I’ve let little ones create collage by tearing up paper and gluing them to paper in any way, shape or form that strikes their fancy, and I make coloring sheets and crayons available at my reference desk every day. It’s fun to watch how kids take a simple piece of blank paper and create something wonderful, and if I get a contribution to my art gallery – the shelves running the length of the children’s room – even better. Here are some picture books that will get your storytimes jumping; two are interactive – think Herve Tullet readalikes – and one is a multicultural, bilingual rhyming book that explores Latinx culture and imagination. Go forth and create!

Crocodali, by Lucy Volpin, (Aug. 2017, little bee books), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0633-5

Recommended for readers 4-8

Crocodali is the most talented painter in the whole wide world, and he’s allowing readers into his studio to help him create a new masterpiece! By tilting, turning, shaking, and rubbing pages, kids will get a kick out of seeing how they “affect” the painting with each turn of the page! Watercolor endpapers and artwork may inspire kids to create art with simple swipes of the brush, and Crocodali’s reactions – especially great for read-alouds – bring on the giggles. This has entered regular storytime rotation here at home and is great for preschooler storytimes with some time set aside afterward to let kids create their own artwork. I’d pair this one with Art & Max, by David Wiesner.

 

 

Rosa Draws, by Jordan Wray, (May 2018, words & pictures), $17.95, ISBN: 9781910277508

Recommended for readers 3-7

Rosa is a little girl who loves to draw, and has a big, vivid imagination! This adorable rhyming story introduces readers to a cat wearing a ridonkulous hat, a hungry bear, a posh goose, a peacock wearing socks, and more. Where will Rosa’s imagination take her – and readers who come along for the trip? There are bright, bold colors and wacky characters aplenty for kids to discover here; perfect for encouraging readers to create their own wacky characters after a stortyime. Positive messages about creativity and family make this a nice storytime read-aloud or cuddle time reading at home. For some extra fun, put rhyming words into a box or bag, have the kids choose a couple, and illustrate what they get. I think Lois Ehlert’s The Scraps Book would go nicely with the creative process introduced in Rosa Draws.

 

 

The Color Factory, by Eric Telchin/Illustrated by Diego Funck, (June 2018, little bee books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781499805567

Recommended for readers 4-8

The Color Factory has already entered regular storytime reading for me at home, with my Kindergartener demanding it on an almost daily/nightly basis. The follow-up to 2016’s The Black and White Factory (wait until my kid finds out about this one), the three animal friends are back and taking readers on a tour of their new color factory. They invite readers to help mix up new, factory-approved colors, until things go horribly wrong! Readers have to pitch in to help as the characters refer to the instruction manual, which isn’t really encouraging. Luckily, the trio – with our readers’ help – learn to accept and enjoy the exciting new colors they create. With bright, vibrant colors and loads of opportunities to “push” buttons, “mix” colors, and help save the day, kids are going to love this wacky, fun adventure. Pair this one with Herve Tullet’s Mix It Up for added interactive fun, and if you have the space, put some newspaper down, hand out old t-shirts, and let kids learn how to mix their own colors with some fingerpainting time.

 

A Paintbrush for Paco, by Tracey Kyle/Illustrated by Joshua Heinsz, (July 2018, little bee books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781499805444

Recommended for readers 4-8

Paco is a young boy sitting in class, doodling as he awaits recess. His drawings catch his teacher’s eye, and the excited profesor rushes Paco to the art room, where a world of color awaits him! The bilingual text flows like the beautiful, colorful artwork; I love the lyrical rhyming text that curls and wanders around each page as the world of color and imagination opens itself to Paco: “Pink, rosado. Purple, morado. A fiery orange, anaranjado. Verde, the green in a vine of ripe grapes. Rojo, the red in the matadors’ capes.” The artwork is influenced by Paco’s Latino heritage, enchanting readers with visions of mountains, family, and vibrant Mexican-inspired artwork. I love that Paco’s teacher is a positive role model that encourages his student’s talent, and I love the way the Spanish and English languages come together to tell a gorgeous story. This one is an absolute must-add for art collections and for storytime reading. Pair with Roseanne Thong’s Green is a Chile Pepper or Cynthia Weill’s concept books, published through Cinco Puntos Press, that teach concepts in Spanish and English, and feature Mexican folk art.

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

Hello, Door gives a fun new twist to a classic tale

Hello, Door, by Alastair Heim/Illustrated by Alisa Coburn, (Jan. 2018, little bee), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0536-9

Recommended for readers 3-7

A wily fox sneaks into an opulent home and starts helping himself to food, furnishings, and valuables, greeting each item as he goes; he’s in for a big surprise once the owners return in this fun retelling of The Three Bears!

Alastair Heim creates a fun, repetitive rhyming story where kids can thrill to the fox’s antics and laugh when he gets caught. I’ve test-run this with my picture book storytime; the kids cackled with every “Hel-LO!”: windows, sinks, sandwiches, drinks, and more; you can have a great time switching up the different ways to greet each item he comes across, making it progressively sillier, leading up to the return of none other than The Three Bears, who exact hilarious retribution. The story reminds me of the funniest Warner Brothers cartoons I loved growing up – parents will get just a big a laugh out of this story as the kids.

Alisa Coburn’s art is vibrant, with fun details for sharp-eyed readers (notice the book in the bedroom). The cover, made up of Georgian doors spelling out the book’s title, is eye-catching and gives us an idea of what’s going to happen: that wily fox is already sneaking around. Hello, Door is going to make a fun read-aloud for your next storytime.

Find out more about Alastair Heim and his books at his author webpage. Enjoy more of Alisa Coburn’s illustration at her webpage.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Size matters not… Small, by Gina Perry

Small, by Gina Perry, (Aug. 2017, Little Bee Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0401-0

Recommended for readers 3-7

Sometimes it’s a drag being small. It can be intimidating. In Small, a little girl goes through a day in the crowded city feeling small and overwhelmed. When ducks snatch her hot dog, she feels helpless… until a trip to a playground helps her turn it around by allowing her to embraces the positives in her life and how they make her feel big. The love of her family; her drawing ability; her fierce game – all of these and more make her big, brave, and loved.

Small is loaded with positivity. It’s a good book for preschoolers and kindergarteners on self-esteem, filled with moments kids recognize all too well: feeling like second banana to a younger sibling; fears about being lost in a crowd; of not being heard; of just feeling plain helpless. It also taps into positive moments that kids feel: the invincibility of being on a slide or the monkey bars; the power of sidewalk chalk, the power that comes from doing something for someone else. I read this to my toddler/preschooler storytime group, and they loved it! Two of my QH kiddos were captivated by the sidewalk chalk art, so we spent a couple of minutes letting everyone look at the spread and point to the different drawings. The story and the pictures resonated with them.

Author/Illustrator Gina Perry’s webpage has a free, downloadable butterfly craft and activity kit that I’ll definitely use – especially since I just saw a sidewalk art page! This is a great book for letting little ones know what a big space they take up in your life.