Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Can you help Yoga Frog cheer up?

Yoga Frog, by Nora Carpenter, (May 2018, Running Press Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780762464678

Recommended for readers 4-10

Yoga Frog likes to start his day off with some stretching, but sometimes he’s grumpy. He’s not much of a morning frog, and frankly, I don’t blame him. But Yoga Frog has a secret mood lifter for those tough to drag yourself out of bed mornings: yoga!

Yoga Frog introduces young readers to 18 different poses, each illustrated by our friend and guide, Yoga Frog. Each spread is brightly colored, with one page describing the pose, and the pose’s name in both English and Sanskrit; the facing page has our green amphibian yogi demonstrating the pose. Not every pose maps to its “real” English name; for instance,¬†what grownups may know as “warrior” is “giraffe” here, in keeping with the nature-themed names. It doesn’t matter here, it’s gives the kids something fun to relate to and envision as they stretch and bend, releasing those endorphins and giving them a spot of Zen. The digital art is simple and sweet, with a big-eyed, friendly frog working his way through his asanas. A note to parents reminds caregivers about the benefits of yoga and breath awareness, and there’s a fun poster depicting the poses – not in order – that you can hang up and have kids refer to during a yoga storytime.

This nicely fits in with my yoga storytime books as a nice instructional. If you have a yoga storytime program, this is a nice add; ditto, if you need some yoga books for your collection. There’s a lovely emphasis on building childhood mindfulness lately – and it’s well-needed – so I’d jump on it.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Books for your Spring radar!

Spring always brings some good books to read. In April and May, there’s a little something for everyone – come and see!

April Books

Dr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest, by Sarah Hampson/Illustrated by Kass Reich,
(Apr. 2018, Kids Can Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781771383615
Recommended for readers 4-8
Dr. Archibald Coo is a sophisticated pigeon who’s tired of the way he and his fellow pigeons are treated by humans. They’re shooed at, swatted, and treated like a general menace. Dr. Coo remembers when pigeons enjoyed a higher profile in history: in ancient Greece, they delivered news about the Olympic Games; during World War I, they carried messages across battlefields. Now? pfft. So Dr. Coo and his pigeon friends organize and decide to strike: they disappear from every public space, leaving a confused public wondering what happened. Dr. Coo heads over to the mayor’s office a history of the pigeon and a note, asking for tolerance, opening the door to a new era of pigeon-human relations. It’s a cute urban story with a wink to New York and other urban spaces, and has a nice thread about inclusivity and diversity running through the book. Gouache paint and colored pencil art makes for a soft illustration, with attention to the different types of pigeons – there are! – in the cityscape. This would be cute to booktalk with James Sage’s Stop Feedin’ Da Boids!

My Teacher’s Not Here!, by Lana Button/Illustrated by Christine Battuz,
(Apr. 2018, Kids Can Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781771383561
Recommended for readers 4-6
Kitty gets to school and knows something’s up when her teacher, Miss Seabrooke, isn’t there to meet her. What’s going on? There’s another teacher there today! How does school even work when your teacher is absent? This sweet rhyming tale about a student’s first substitute teacher is great for younger kids who are just getting into the swing of school routines and provides some fun advice for coping with and adjusting to unexpected change. Kitty teaches readers some coping strategies, including helping out her friends and the teacher by contributing to class and modeling good behavior using cues she learned from her teacher, that the substitute may not be aware of. This is an animal story, so kids will enjoy seeing the “ginormously tall” teacher, a giraffe named Mr. Omar; pigs, elephants, bears, a whole menagerie of students. Hand-drawn artwork and digital collage come together to create colorful, textured, cartoony fun. This one’s a good addition to preschool and primary collections.

Tinkle, Tinkle Little Star, by Chris Tougas,
(Apr. 2018, Kids Can Press), $9.99, ISBN: 9781771388399
Recommended for readers 1-3
One of my favorite books coming out this season is this adorable board book! Set to the tune of everybody’s favorite classic song, this sweet and funny version is all about where not to go: not in a plane, not on Grandpa’s knee, not at a puppet show. Luckily, the poor Little Star gets relief by the story’s end, and sits on a potty to… “Tinkle, Tinkle, Little Star”. It’s adorable with the cutest digital art. Little Star is beyond cute, and gender neutral! Sing along at storytime – I know I’ll be throwing plenty of voice inflection (“Did you just pee on this page?”) and leg-crossing as I read this one. Absolutely adorable, must-add, must-give for collections and toddlers everywhere.

May Books

Polly Diamond and the Magic Book, by Alice Kuipers/Illustrated by Diana Toledano,
(May 2018, Chronicle), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452152325
Recommended for readers 7-9
Polly Diamond is an aspiring, biracial young writer who discovers a magic book on her doorstep one day. Not only does the book write back to her when she writes in it, Everything she writes in the book happens in real life! At first, Polly is psyched: who wouldn’t be, right? But you know how it goes… for every magic journal action, there’s a pretty wild reaction! Written in the first person, with excerpts from Polly’s book, including a pretty great intermediate-level book list for awesome display purposes (“Read Polly Diamond’s favorite books HERE!”). Chapter book readers who love books like Juana and Lucas (on Polly’s favorites list), Jasmine Toguchi, and Katie Woo will thoroughly enjoy Polly’s adventures. There are short, descriptive sentences and a nice amount of new words – Polly is an aspiring writer, after all! Lots of fun for chapter book readers; I’d have kids create their own aquariums as a related craft.

Old Misery, by James Sage/Illustrated by Russell Ayto,
(May 2018, Kids Can Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781771388238
Recommended for readers 5-10
Readers with a darker sense of humor (and parents who are Gorey fans) will get a chuckle out of Old Misery, the story of a cranky old woman named – you got it – Old Misery, and her old cat, Rutterkin. She’s broke, and the apples keep disappearing from her apple tree! Lucky for Old Misery, she’s not completely heartless and feeds a wandering visitor, who grants her one wish: she wants all the apple thieves to be caught in the tree until she lets them go! Old Misery decides to play a little risky game when Death himself shows up at her door – and she sends him to the apple tree. Be careful what you wish for! The black and white, pen and ink artwork has a creepy, quirky feel to it, which will appeal to kids who like Lemony Snicket’s work, but may go over some kids’ heads. Old Misery narrates the story, offering an opportunity for a fun read-aloud.

Binky fans, Gordon’s got his own adventure! For readers who love Ashley Spires’ Binky the Space Cat graphic novels will love Gordon, fellow member of PURST (Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) and Binky’s house-mate, as he finds himself traveling through time to stop an alien invasion. But Gordon travels back too far – before PURST even exists! He’s got to get back to his normal time and set things right! This is fun reading for graphic novel fans, and a nice addition to a popular series. There’s time-travel, problem-solving, aliens, and humor, along with fun art.

See How We Move!: A First Book of Health and Well-Being, by Scot Ritchie,
(May 2018, Kids Can Press), $15.99, ISBN: 9781771389679

Recommended for readers 5-8
Author Scot Ritchie’s multicultural group of friends are back together again. Last time we save them, they visited a farm to learn how to grow grains and vegetables in See How We Eat!; this time, Pedro, Yulee, Nick, Sally, and Martin are training as their swim team, The Flying Sharks, prepares to compete. They learn about using proper equipment for different activities, warming up before beginning your activity, teamwork and encouragement, goal-setting, nutrition, the mind-body connection, and more. There are suggestions for fun activities and words to know, all coming together to give kids a fun story about a group of friends staying strong and having fun together while encouraging kids to create lifelong habits of health, nutrition, and physical fitness. I like this See How! series; it offers a wealth of information on healthy living, made accessible to younger readers. I can easily read this in a storytime and get the kids talking about the different ways they play, how they eat, and good habits to get into.

The Bagel King, by Andrew Larsen/Illustrated by Sandy Nichols,
(May 2018, Kids Can Press), $16.99, ISBN; 978-1-77138-574-9
Recommended for readers 4-8

Zaida, Eli’s grandfather, gets bagels from Merv’s Bakery every Sunday morning. One morning, when no bagels show up, Eli gets a phone call: Zaida’s fallen on his tuchus and can’t get the bagels! Eli and his family aren’t the only ones waiting on bagels, either – Eli visits Zaida, only to discover that Zaida’s friends are verklempt, too. No bagels! What a shanda, as my stepdad would say! Eli helps care for his zaida and keep him company, but he knows the best way to cheer Zaida up, and heads to the bagel store on his own the very next Sunday. This story is the most charming book about grandparents and grandchildren, loaded with compassion, a wink and nudge type of humor, and loads of fun, new Yiddish terminology. If you’re an urban dweller, like me, these words are kind of a second language: Zaida is grandfather, and tuchus is your bottom; there’s a little glossary of other Yiddish words that show up in the story, too. (Verklempt is overwhelmed with emotion, and shanda is a shame – you won’t find them in the story, but all I could hear was my stepdad when I read this, so there you go.) I loved the sweet storytelling, the compassion and the decision to act on Eli’s part, and Zaida and his group of friends were wonderful. It’s got an urban flavor that everyone will enjoy, and is good storytelling. Use this story as an opportunity to get your kids talking about relationships with their grandparents: what do you call your grandparents? Do they cook, bake, or shop for food? Do you go with them? (I’d love to get some bagels to hand out with my group… hmmm…) The acrylic artwork has a soft, almost retro feel, but really emphasizes the relationship story with colors, gentle expressions, and soft lines.

The Golden Glow, by Benjamin Flouw,
(May 2018, Tundra/Penguin Random House), $17.99, ISBN: 9780735264120

Recommended for readers 4-8
A fox who loves nature and botany goes on a quest for a rare plant to add to his collection. The Golden Glow is a plant from the Wellhidden family, and only grows high in the mountains. There’s not even a picture of it; it’s never been described. Fox packs his supplies and heads off to the mountains, meeting different animals and noting different plants and trees along the way. When Fox finally reaches the mountaintop, he waits… and discovers the Golden Glow! It’s stunning! It’s breathtaking! And Fox realizes that “the golden glow is more beautiful here on the mountaintop than it ever would be in a vase in his living room”. Part story and part nature journal, The Golden Glow is just gorgeous and teaches a respect for nature. The angular art draws the eye in; there’s so much to see on every page, every spread. Flouw creates detailed lists of Fox’s hiking pack, plus trees and flowers that he encounters on his way, and a map of different zones on the way up to the mountain, from the foothill to snow zones, all in beautiful detail for younger readers to enjoy. Fox’s decision to leave the flower where it is presents a love of and respect for nature that can lead to a great discussion on conservation. Bright red endpapers with angular design could be a topographic map of the area – talk about how different areas look from above! I know it’s way early, but I’ll quietly whisper this one now: Caldecott contender.
Posted in Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

My First Book of Soccer explains the game to rookies!

My First Book of Soccer: Mostly Everything Explained About the Game (A Rookie Book), by the Editors of Sports Illustrated for Kids (May 2017, Sports Illustrated), $11.99, ISBN: 978-1-68330-002-1

Recommended for readers 4-8

Sports Illustrated’s newest book in their Rookie series introduces readers to Soccer – football, if you’re from anywhere other than the U.S. As with previous Rookie books, there are two Rookies on hand to show readers the ins and outs of the sports. I’m particularly excited about the Soccer Rookies, because we have a girl and a boy, and the girl – also the more knowledgeable of the two – is a lovely, brown-skinned young lady who’s too happy to teach her friend about the sport!

My First Book of Soccer is a light-hearted, informative introduction to the sport, featuring photos of current soccer stars (with silly word bubbles providing funny commentary) and the Rookies alike, interacting from the sidelines. The fonts are big and bold, with key words and ideas in capital, larger size. Scoreboards in the upper left- and right-hand corners keep track of the quarter and game time, giving kids a breakdown of what goes on during each part of a game.

Kudos to Sports Illustrated Kids for adding female players AND a female child of color Rookie! A must-add to sports bookshelves and collections for early readers, My First Book of Soccer joins previous Rookie books on football, baseball, and hockey. Put these out for a great sports-themed display and add them to a sports-themed storytime. I’d pair these with the Dino-sports series by Lisa Wheeler for a fun fiction/non-fiction pairing. Add some printables, courtesy of Sports Illustrated, for even more fun – check out My First Book of Soccer activity sheets.

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Posted in Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

Start the day off with Good Morning Yoga!

good morning yogaGood Morning Yoga, by Mariam Gates/Illus. by Sarah Jane Hinder (March 2016, Sounds True), $17.95, ISBN: 9781622036028

Recommended for ages 3+

Perfect for kids and grown-ups, Good Morning Yoga starts everyone’s day off with a series of yoga poses, accompanied by positive, uplifting visualization.

Kids are stressed out. Between test anxiety, general school and social anxiety, and overscheduling anxiety, kids are operating under a level of stress most of us never knew at such a young age. Yoga is a way to help everyone focus, breathe, and relax. Starting children off with a yoga practice is a wonderful way to give kids a head start on recognizing when and how to calm themselves and connect back with themselves when what’s inside them may go a little haywire – just like us.

Mariam Gates, the founder of Kid Power Yoga, wants Good Morning Yoga to help kids focus, relax, self-monitor, and self-soothe. She’s an experienced educator and yoga practioner – what a great way to bring the two passions together, right?

Ms. Gates and illustrator Sarah Jane Hinder put together a beautiful, calming vinyasa flow for kids and adults to follow to greet the morning. The book takes kids through a series of poses and breathing exercises, featuring multi-ethnic children and bright, varied backgrounds like a ski slope, a volcano, and a mountain top. The images illustrate that yoga is truly for everyone, everywhere.

The text leads the kids through poses and visualizations – a gentle stream, an explorer, a playful dog – and always, as with grown-up yoga classes, brings the children back to the centering breath with the repeated phrase, “As I breathe in, as I breathe out…” A series of pictures throughout the book and at the end guide the series of poses to create a flow that kids will quickly pick up. Each pose is fully explained at the end of the book.

I’ve been dying to do a yoga storytime for ages; ever since I read Storytime Katie’s Yoga post, where she did a preschool yoga program, and this book is going to be a valuable addition to my yoga libraries – both my work library and my home library! The book doesn’t come out until March, but never fear – Goodnight Yoga is available right now. Parents, check this book out, and do some yoga with your little ones. I used to do YogaKids DVDs with my older two when they were kidlings, and we had a great time with it. You’re laughing together, you’re creating fun poses, and for a little while, you’re just happy in the moment with the most important people in your life. Teachers, this is a great set of books to have on hand for a quick break in the day, especially during test season.

Here’s some of the beautiful art from Good Morning Yoga, to tide you over until March (or until you get your copy of Good Night Yoga).