Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Patience is hard: Now? Not yet!

Now? Not Yet!, by Gina Perry, (June 2019, Tundra), $17.99, ISBN: 9781101919521

Ages 3-6

Peanut and Moe, the two monster friends from Too Much! Not Enough! are back in another story of negotiation. The two buddies are on a camping trip, and Peanut wants to go swimming. Moe has other plans, though; thus begins the back and forth of “Now?” and “Not yet”. Peanut is dying to get in the water, but Moe is methodical: Moe wants to hike; snack; set up camp, all while Peanut bounces up and down, asking the same question, until finally, in a burst of frustration, yells, “NOW! NOW! NOW!” Moe, just as frustrated, yells back, “NOT YET!” The two friends take a break from one another, during which Peanut gets camp set up, and Moe dashes by, ready for a swim. The two finish their day by a campfire, happily enjoying one another’s company over s’mores.

Now? Not Yet! beautifully captures toddler and preschooler (okay, and many, many adults) behavior. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out with my kids, having this same scenario play out. Every parent and caregiver will see themselves and their little ones in this story, and every kid will empathize with Peanut’s desire to do what he wants, only to be made to wait. Frustration? Kids and adults feel it, so the meltdown spread will resonate with your storytime group for sure. I’ve asked the kids in my storytime how many times they’ve felt like Peanut, and gotten loads of hollers and stomps; when I’ve asked parents if they have ever felt like Moe, I’ve gotten knowing nods and smiles. The moral of the story? Patience and compromise pay off.

Gina Perry’s books are popular with my storytime crowd: Small is still in high demand, and Now? Not Yet! really got through to kids and caregivers alike. The artwork is adorable, bright, and cherry. Peanut is small, peanut-shaped, and has floppy ears; Moe is big, blue, kind of boxy, with a long pink nose. They both have big, expressive eyes. The endpapers look like layouts of the camping excursion, each laid out by one of the duo: the front papers is more orderly, with defined art and a dotted line path to show the duo’s trip; the back papers are a hand-drawn memory of the day, with dotted lines, circling birds, campfires, s’mores, and a big lake with flippers, a beach ball, and a life preserver.

I love Now? Not Yet!, and will be putting this into regular storytime rotation. If you have toddlers and preschoolers are regular storytimes, consider adding this one. There’s a free, downloadable activity kit that includes a fun nature scavenger hunt, coloring sheets, and fun instructions to make your own indoor camping site, which I need to do with my kiddo, stat. Gina Perry’s author page has more free printables, including instructions on how to draw both Moe and Peanut.

Want more Peanut & Moe? Of course you do. Check out this adorable trailer!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Not Yet, Zebra! is a study in the alphabet and patience

Not Yet, Zebra!, by Lou Kuenzler/Illustrated by Julia Woolf, (June 2018, Faber & Faber), $16.95, ISBN: 978-0-571-34288-4

Recommended for readers 3-5

Little Annie wants to paint the alphabet, so her animal friends line up in alphabetical order. Except for Zebra, whose impatience results in adorable hijinks. This sweet rhyming alphabet story wanders through animal ABCs: aardvarks and bears, elephants and flamingos, gorillas and hamsters; Zebra pops up throughout the story, trying to pass for an earlier letter in the alphabet by donning animal disguises. When Annie finally gets to Z, poor Zebra is fast asleep! Well… tomorrow is another day, right, Zebra?

This is an adorable abecedary for preschoolers and kindergarteners, who will relate to the impatience of having to wait one’s turn. Zebra gives the saddest eyes, the nudgiest nudges, and the most creative disguises, all in an attempt to wheedle his way to the front of the line, but Annie catches our wily friend every time. This one’s fun to read aloud, and would make a great companion to my other favorite impatient friend, The Pigeon.

The endpapers feature our Zebra friend, contorting himself into all the letters in the alphabet, and the artwork is colorful and cartoony, nicely set against the subdued background pages. I’m always up for a good concept book for my collection; something that gets the ideas covered, but with a little fun; something that brings some personality to the narrative. Not Yet, Zebra brings the giggles, for sure.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

March picture book roundup

There are some adorable picture books publishing in March and April! Let’s take a look at some – there are some great storytime reads to be found!

A Fire Truck for Chuck, by Annika Dunklee/Illustrated by Cathon,
(March 2018, OwlKids), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771472852
Recommended for readers 3-6

A little boy named Chuck visits a yard sale with his mom, where he sees it: a fire truck! And it’s only a buck! What luck! Mom buys Chuck the truck, who proceeds to play with it everywhere. Including the mud. Yuck! Chuck is afraid his fire truck is lost forever, but joyfully finds out otherwise. Thanks, Mom! This adorable story of a boy and his truck is perfect for kids who love their vehicle stories – and there are many! You don’t need to be a car and truck fan to love this story, too – toddlers and preschoolers will all empathize and understand the love between a kid and his or her favorite toy. While not exactly a rhyming story, A Fire Truck for Chuck uses the easily rhyming word to weave humor and fun into the story. Cartoony illustrations are bold and bright and will get kids’ attention.

 

I’m a Duck, by Eve Bunting/Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand,
(March 2018, Candlewick Press), $15.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-8032-9
Recommended for readers 3-6
This adorable rhyming tale about overcoming fears is especially great for pre-K 3 and 4-year-olds. A little duck recounts the tale of falling into the lake as an egg; saved by his mother, he’s grown up too scared to go swimming, “…and that is bad. A landlocked duck is very sad”. With some encouragement from family and friends, and a little bit of practice in safe, shallow puddle, little Duck is ready to face his fears – and succeeds! I’m a Duck illustrates the importance of encouragement and positive reinforcement in addition to the power of facing one’s fears (and the emphasis on safety is a relief for caregivers). Mixed media illustrations give a snuggly, cuddly feel to the animals in the story. I love Eve Bunting’s books, and am thrilled to add this one to my shelves.

George is a happy old hound dog who just wants a nap. Farmer Fritz, his human, heads off to a retirement cabana and leaves George in charge: and that means helping the new family navigate life on the farm! Poor George; these folks are hapless, which means George is herding cows, finding lost siblings, and generally saving the day. Not only can he not get his nap in, he can’t get these folks to figure out his name, which goes through several name changes throughout the story. Full-panel artwork alternates with graphic novel-like panels to provide a fun romp. Short, concise sentences and farm animal shenanigans make this a fun read-aloud choice. Ask the kids what they’d like to call George – or how he could finally get his new family to figure out his name! A fun story for animal fans.
Not ‘Til Tomorrow, Phoebe, by Julie Zwillich,
(March 2018, OwlKids), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771471725
Recommended for readers 4-7
The second book in the Phoebe series (the first, Phoebe Sounds It Out, was published in March 2017) introduces kids to the concepts of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and just as importantly, patience. Phoebe’s day is full of “tomorrows”: Mama will make her pancakes tomorrow; she’ll get ice cream after her haircut tomorrow; musicians will visit her class – you guessed it – tomorrow. Frustrated, Phoebe turns to her grandmother, who bakes cookies and teaches Phoebe the best way to turn today into tomorrow: get a good night’s sleep. Kids will understand Phoebe’s frustration, for sure; you can even introduce the story by asking kids, “Who’s tired of hearing about all the good things that will happen TOMORROW?” As with Phoebe Sounds It Out, the illustrations are bold and expressive, with soothing colors to put kids in the mind to listen and learn. There’s a lovely relationship between grandparent and grandchild here. Phoebe is a child of color.
Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Little Knight and Edward return: Hocus Focus!

hocus-focus_1Hocus Focus, by James Sturm, Alexis Frederick-Frost, and Andrew Arnold, (Jan. 2017, First Second), $14.99, ISBN: 9781596436541

Recommended for ages 7-12

I love the Little Knight graphic novels from First Second! The latest adventure has Little Knight and her ever-present and faithful steed, Edward, learning magic. Well, right now she’s peeling turnips, but the wizard swears it’s teaching her patience! When the wizard turns his back for just a second, Little Knight steals his magic wand and spell book to learn some magic on her own, and gets much more than she bargained for when her spell merges Edward with a worm to create a giant, hungry, horseworm!

If you’ve never picked up a Little Knight graphic novel, there are a bunch to choose from, but don’t worry – you don’t need to read them in any kind of order. Each story has a young knight, her faithful horse, and a fun adventure. That’s all you need to know! The lesson in this book is all about patience; something Little Knight learns about after rushing her magic lessons. The art is cartoony and fun, bright and bold. The endpapers have the usual goofy how-to-draw tutorials, including Little Knight as a tuba player, Edward busting some sweet dance moves, and the Wizard’s Magical Mix-‘Em-Up Cauldron of mashups.

 

hocus-focus_2

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized

The Most Magnificent Thing teaches kids perspective

the most magnificent thingThe Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires. Kids Can Press (2014), $16.95, ISBN: 9781554537044

Recommended for ages 4-8

One day, a girl and her dog set out to make the “most magnificent thing” – the girl draws up schematics (her dog is the assistant), gets materials, and sets up on the street, getting to work. When she’s finished, she takes a look at it – it’s not really what she had in mind. She tries again. And again. And again. She just can’t make her vision come to life, and she gets MAD. At this point, her assistant suggests a walk, where she starts to feel better; she finds she has regained self-control and even more, perspective, allowing her to go back and look at her previous creations with a refreshed eye.

Ashley Spires, who some may know from her Binky the Space Cat series, looks at the frustrating process of working on something and not having it turn out the way you envision it. It is something everyone can relate to, from a LEGO structure to a Science Fair project to a PowerPoint presentation for the big client meeting. Children, who are still learning the delicate art of self-control, will recognize themselves in these pages, as the girl becomes increasingly frustrated with her work, and once she injures herself, loses her temper. Her dog/assistant serves as comic relief and ends up saving the day by having her walk away and clear her head. The book teaches a valuable lesson to kids and grownups alike; walking away and returning when you’re calmer often allows the ability to see things are not so bad after all, and maybe, you can even find things you liked in the project you were about to crumple up and throw out.

The digital art is adorable. The characters have large, expressive faces, and are set against a mostly line-art, blue and black or white and black background, so they really stand out. There are some beautiful spreads and the font itself is a curvy font with a quirky personality and fits perfectly with the story. The endpapers display the row of brownstones where the story takes place, leading the reader into the story.

This is a good book to use for a storytime on patience or feelings. Perhaps a small LEGO craft afterward, or a construction paper assembly craft will help young minds create their own most magnificent things.