Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Excellent life advice: Eat the Cake!

Eat the Cake, by MH Clark/Illustrated by Jana Glatt, (Feb. 2020, Compendium), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1946873842

Ages 4-7

It’s time to celebrate? Celebrate what, you ask? Who needs a reason? Eat the Cake is all about picking a special day – it can be a birthday, a graduation, a special occasion, or just waking up and deciding this is YOUR day – and celebrating! Great things are coming your way, so relax, enjoy, and eat the cake!

This rhyming, upbeat story is all about embracing positivity; a new mindset; creativity, and being bold and brave. Brightly colored figures parade up, down, and all around the pages, throwing confetti, playing instruments, and celebrating the reader. The bright, happy colors pop off the bright white of the pages, really grabbing the reader’s attention and creative a fun, festive atmosphere. The story is a celebration of the reader/audience, encouraging them to “be so bright that the stars, watching all that you do, / look right down from the sky and start wishing on you”. How fantastic is that to read?

Play some upbeat music, give kids egg shakers, and let them celebrate themselves after reading Eat the Cake at storytime. Don’t limit the fun to the little ones, either: this works nicely with Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! for a graduation reading at any age. Give this to a retiring colleague or family member to remind them to enjoy life and all they have ahead of them, or someone achieving a major milestone, or someone who just needs a pick-me-up. Eat the Cake is just too much fun.

MH Clark is also the author of Tiger Days, a great book about emotions, and Tiny Perfect Things, a lovely book about those small and perfect moments in our day.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Tiger Days: Let the animals be your guide to feelings!

Tiger Days: A Book of Feelings, by M.H. Clark/Illustrated by Anna Hurley, (March 2019, Compendium), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-946873-41-5

Ages 3-6

Tiger Days helps kids understand their emotions, and how to describe their feelings, by using animals to illustrate them. Ever feel like a rhino? So stubborn, no one can move you or change your mind? How about a silly monkey, all wiggly arms and legs, full of mischief and fun? Each spread is vividly colored, featuring a different animal, and characteristics of that animal that map to different moods. The background color of each page adds to the feel of each feeling; bright greens and yellows for happy rabbits and monkeys, who play across the pages; soft purple for a shy turtle; red for an angry bull. Each drawing is boldly lined and bright, popping off the page; fonts are capitalized to emphasize key words.

Tiger Days also lets kids know that their feelings are normal. No feelings are presented as “good” or “bad”; they just are, and this is how they can make people feel. I’d easily add this to one of my storytimes, including a yoga storytime, where I use animal poses. The kids’ favorite one tends to be the Lion Pose, where they get to open their mouths wide and roar. Linking feelings to mindfulness is a great way to help kids understand their feelings and be present for them, allowing them to describe and name what’s going on and furthering communication. Encourage your storytime kids roar, stamp the ground, or curl into their shells to describe different feelings! This would made a good time to break out some emoji flash cards, too; let the kids color the different faces and match them to animals mentioned in the book.

Tiger Days is a good book to have in your bookshelf, especially when you’re working with kids who are learning not only how to communicate with you, but to put words to things happening within themselves.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Beauty in the small places: Tiny, Perfect Things

Tiny, Perfect Things, by M.H. Clark/Illustrated by Madeline Kloepper, (June 20118, Compendium), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-946873-06-4

Recommended for readers 3-8

A grandfather and granddaughter go for a nature walk, where they keep their “eyes open for tiny, perfect things”: the glint of light on a spider’s web; the bright color of an apple against the blue sky. It’s a lovely story of slowing down and taking the time to look at the little treasures around us. The grandparent and grandchild stop to examine these tiny, perfect things, leading us on our own adventure; when they arrive at home later that day, mom and dad are cuddled on the couch. A spread opens up to reveal the neighborhood, inviting readers to find their own tiny, perfect things.

Tiny, Perfect Things offers readers a glimpse at a small moment between a grandparent and grandchild, yet speaks volumes about their relationship. It’s also a moving statement to the power of slow movement – the slowing down of life’s hectic pace – and taking the time to notice the little bits and pieces that so many just ignore or don’t see. It’s a tribute to getting our noses out of our phones and enjoying the warmth of a little hand in ours; smelling the rain in the air; listening to the crunch of sneakers on dirt. The illustration is dreamy and soft, like a wonderful daydream, in warm colors. There’s a quiet, beautiful diversity in the story, from the white grandfather and his biracial grandchild, to the multicultural neighbors, to the father of color and white mom at home. You can follow Madeline Kloepper’s Instagram to see more.

It’s also the perfect opportunity to get out the door with our kiddos and explore! There’s a great post on Book Nerd Mommy about Tiny, Perfect Things and nature walks. Get out there! I love wandering around my neighborhood with my kiddo – we found a complete, empty snail shell and some acorns when we were clearing our yard for spring planting. What things can you find when you look?

Tiny, Perfect Things received a starred review from Kirkus.

This is a great storytime add and a nice book to feature in mindfulness collections. You can easily read this in your Toddler/Preschooler Yoga storytimes during belly breathing. You can pair and display with any of the Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds books, like I Am Yoga and I Am Peace; or Whitney Stewart, Stacy Peterson’s Mindful Me.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Kids can discover their Superpowers with this fun activity book

Superpowers! A Great Big Collection of Awesome Activities, Quirky Questions, and Wonderful Ways to See Just How Super You Really Are, by M.H. Clark, (Feb. 2018, Compendium), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-943200-75-7

Recommended for readers 7+

It’s no secret that I love my superhero programs. I’ve turned my libraries into Gotham City and put the kids on the hunt for Bat-signals, celebrated birthdays for the Bat and Captain America, and run the kids through a superhero camp over the summer. Compendium sent me a book that will make for some more introspective superhero programming, too.

Super Powers! is a workbook/journal where kids (and us grownups, too) get a chance to be our own superheroes. Led by thoughtful prompts, readers are invited to think about words that describe themselves, think about what they feel happy doing and what they¬† love, and what makes each reader fantastically, wonderfully, them. They’re invited to connect with the grownups that they can turn to – hey, every Batman has an Alfred, right? – and maybe even the famous people they would like to talk to (and that can totally include Iron Man, in my humble opinion). Finally, the proud moment arrives, and kids can fill out their own Official Announcement of Superpowers, choose their superhero name, fill up a superpower tool kit, and fill out their anti-superpowers – their Kryptonite, if you will – in the form of things they just don’t like. Finish up by creating your own origin story, and Superhero You #1 is ready!

This is a great way to get kids thinking – and creating! – about their strengths and what makes them special. Each spread is bright, with science fiction-like illustrations, and lots of journaling space for kids to create. It makes a great gift. It’s not a book I’d put into circulation – it’s just too tempting to write in, because it’s so cool! – but I plan to use this book in my summer reading programming (hello, Infinity War releases in May) to get the kids writing, drawing, and thinking about themselves as a little group of Avengers or Justice League of their own.