Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Back to School stories!

Step right up, I’ve got a bunch of back to school stories for your readers!

Pearl Goes to Preschool, by Julie Fortenberry, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536207439

Ages 3-5

Pearl is the youngest and smallest student at her mother’s ballet school, but when Mom suggests that Pearl try out preschool – a school full of kids her age! – she’s got some questions: Is there dancing? Do they have stories? What else is there to do? Mom answers all of Pearl’s questions, and Pearl mulls it over, finally deciding that yes, she, and her stuffed mouse, Violet, are ready to try out preschool. Narrated from little Pearl’s point of view, this is an adorable story for kids getting ready for preschool: questions get answers, there’s a routine to the day, and best of all, Pearl has a wonderful day – and dances! Digital illustrations are soft, with muted pastels and lovely illustrations of ballet dancing and the relationship between a mother and her child. An adorable addition to school stories.

A free, downloadable activity kit features a Pearl paper doll with two outfits! Try to print it out on a heavier card stock, so it’s durable. Brightly has a good list of ballerina books for preschoolers, Scholastic has a list of books for beginning preschoolers.

 

Play Day School Day, by Toni Yuly, (June 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536202830

Ages 3-7

It’s always a good day for a Toni Yuly book, and her latest, Play Day School Day, captures a sweet moment between a little boy and his older sister. Mona, a young girl, is excited for the first day of school; her younger brother, Milo, asks what she does at school. “Lots of things”, Mona replies, and tells him about a typical school day, from riding the bus, to practicing reading, writing, science, and math. She tells him that sometimes, one must sit quietly at school, but other times, one can run around and be loud with friends. Mona makes school sound pretty great! The two siblings share their day in a garden or backyard, playing together with their black cat. Toni Yuly’s spare prose is to-the-point and enticing, giving Milo a wonderful vision of school. The story text is bold and black, easily readable against the bright white background, and Toni Yuly’s mixed media artwork is bright, cheerful, and vibrant. Play Day School Day is a fun school story for school-aged children and their younger siblings.

Pair Play Day School Day with Anna McQuinn’s books, Lola Reads To Leo.

 

I Got the School Spirit!, by Connie Schofield-Morrison/Illustrated by Frank Morrison, (July 2020, Bloomsbury Kids US), 9781547602612

Ages 4-7

She’s back! The exuberant, spirit-filled little girl from Connie Schofield-Morrison and Frank Morrison’s previous books, I Got the Rhythm! and I Got the Christmas Spirit! is back and ready for school in her newest story! Brushing her teeth, and getting dressed, she’s filled with the spirit, which stays with her and powers her – and her friends – through the school day! The spirit helps her comfort a scared friend on the school bus and enjoy her school day; it helps her kick a ball at recess, and propels her right into her mother’s arms at the end of her school day, leaving her ready to do it all again the next day. Filled with small moments that make up a school day, and with gorgeous, evocative oil painting, I Got the School Spirit! is the picture of Black Joy, and a picture book that will get kids excited about their own upcoming school days. Sound effects throughout: the stomp, stomp of shiny new shoes, zip, zip! of a school bag, and crunch, munch, sip! of lunchtime makes this a perfectly interactive read-aloud. A definite must-add to your back-to-school/first day of school collections.

For more Black Joy book selections, refer to these articles and lists from School Library Journal, We Are Teachers, Brightly, and Helping Kids Rise.

All Welcome Here, by James Preller/Illustrated by Mary GrandPré, (June 2020, Feiwel and Friends), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-250-15588-7

Ages 4-7

James Preller, author of the Jigsaw Jones chapter book series, and Mary GrandPré, whose illustrations we all know and love from Harry Potter, come together to present a collection of haiku poems about the first day of school. Covering subjects like new school supplies, the fear of boarding the bus, and class pets, all students will find themselves in the words and mixed media illustrations in the book. Moments like “Growing Up”, as a parent sighs after waving goodbye to the school bus, and “Principal K”, the new principal who has a dab of shaving cream on his ear, show kids that we grownups have our own first-day jitters, too. It’s not easy saying goodbye to our littles and it’s a little scary when the first day of school is your first day of work, too! Other poems celebrate first-day stalwarts like name tags on desks, the Reading Rug (it was the Circle Time rug when my elder boys were was in grade school), and running errands – and choosing a friend to accompany – all find their voice here. “Library” is a touching nod to school libraries everywhere: “…the whoosh and thrum / of the school’s heart beat”. Colorful and buoyant, with a diverse group of students and teachers, All Welcome Here is a thank you letter to schools, teachers, and students everywhere.

A free, downloadable storytime kit encourages readers to write their own haikus and make their own name tags.

 

I’m Afraid Your Teddy Is in the Principal’s Office, by Jancee Dunn/Illustrated by Scott Nash, (June 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536201987

Ages 3-8

A delightfully hilarious companion to Jancee Dunn and Scott Nash’s 2017 book, I’m Afraid Your Teddy Is in Trouble Today, I’m Afraid Your Teddy Is in the Principal’s Office is all about you – the principal is speaking to you, isn’t she? – and your teddy, who stashed away in your backpack and went to school with you today; Teddy, along with your friends’ stuffed animals, who all did the same thing, waited until everyone was in assembly to burst out of their schoolbags and wreak havoc all over your school! They wrote their names with condiments and tied up the coach; they trapped the art teacher in glue and rolled around in finger paint. As the principal details everything that went on during the day, parents will have to suppress their giggles – just like poor Mr. Krimple, standing next to the principal – as they imagine the principal’s tone of voice. But are you really in the principal’s office? Is there even a principal? Or is it an imaginative little girl playing school? Way too much fun to read and act out, I’m Afraid Your Teddy Is in the Principal’s Office is fantastic reading… and will put a new spin on playing school, I’m sure. The colorful digital illustrations showcase a group of stuffed toys having the time of their lives throughout school, as teacher chase them through the chaos. The title page begs for a real-life storytime setup, featuring a bunch of guilty-looking toys sitting uncomfortably on chairs, some covered in paint, waiting to be claimed by their children. Just great fun to read.

 

When Pencil Met the Markers, by Karen Kilpatrick & Luis O. Ramos, Jr./Illustrated by Germán Blanco, (July 2020, imprint), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250309402

Ages 4-8

The companion to 2019’s When Pencil Met Eraser, also by Karen Kilpatrick, Luis O. Ramos, Jr., and Germán Blanco, is about teamwork, friendship, and coloring outside the lines. A group of markers loves to color, but Purple sees things differently. He colors outside the lines, which drives the other markers CRAZY. They confront Purple, telling him his creativity is a mistake and that he doesn’t fit in. Dejected, Purple sets out on his own and meets Pencil and Eraser, who inspire him to look at things differently: he doesn’t need lines! As Purple creates, Pencil and Eraser fill in the area around his work, making gloriously purple grapes, butterflies, birds, and cupcakes. The creative team’s work draws the attention of the other markers, who ultimately learn that coloring outside the lines can be fun, and Pencil says – in a tribute to Bob Ross – that “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents!” It’s a great story to read to kids, while reminding them that it’s good to approach life with a flexibility and attitude, and to color outside the lines every once in a while. Be creative, take chances, and don’t be afraid to be the Purple Marker. The digital artwork has bright, primary colors that pop off the bright white background; dialogue between the markers, Pencil, and Eraser are bold and rounded, while the narrative text is more of a Roman font, not bolded. Endpapers let Purple – and, later, the other markers – show off their scribbly best. Full of lessons that respect the reader, When Pencil Met the Markers is perfect for school stories like Eraser, by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant, The Day the Crayons Quit/The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers, and A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen and Mike Lowery. Visit the When the Pencil Met website to sign up for their newsletter and get a free, downloadable activity book.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Sara Varon’s Hold Hands eases fears

Hold Hands, by Sara Varon, (June 2019, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781596435889

Ages 3-6

It’s a day in the life of a preschooler in this adorable graphic novel by award-winning graphic novelist Sara Varon. Her adorable animal characters all hold hands: camels hold hands with giraffes, the sun and the moon share a hand-to-hand clasp as they pass in the sky, cats and dogs walk hand-in-hand, even the title page of the book sports colorful letters with sweet, smiling faces, holding onto one another. The whole day is seen as a series of hand-holding moments: a little bear holds hands with his mother, father, and brother during morning routines and on the way to daycare; holds hands with teachers and friends during the school day; during playdates; on the way home, and during bedtime stories and nighttime routines. The rhyming text is short and sweet, assuring readers that every time is a good time to hold hands: “Hold hands when the day is new, when you need a pal, or when one needs you”; “Hold hands with your buddy when you’re on the go, especially if your teacher tells you so”. The illustrations are colorful, boldly outlined, and loaded with sweet details, like a father wearing bunny slippers, or a heart charm hanging off a mom’s rear view mirror. Sara Varon emphasizes the power of connection by creating little starbursts around each hand-holding relationship.

Hold Hands is perfect for kids in daycare and preschool, and it’s an adorable testament to the power of physical contact. A must-have.

Posted in Preschool Reads, programs

Guest post from Education.com: Pre-K Shapes Activity!

I was so excited when Shannon from Education.com contacted me and asked me if I’d be interested in featuring a guest blog post with an activity! I’m always looking for something fun to do at home with my (graduating) preschooler and my library kids, and this fun shapes/geometry activity is simple, requires few materials, and is fun. Pair it with a fun shape story like Suse MacDonald’s Shape by Shape, or one of my more recent favorites, Mac Barnett’s Triangle, and you’re set. Enjoy the activity, and check out Education.com’s Geometry Resources for tracing, coloring, and game-creating activities!

Create Spectacular Shape Stick Puppets!


Puppets are great resources to help kids act out their own stories or re-enact stories from a favorite book. This activity lets your kid in on the fun by introducing her to a simple puppet-making activity. Large craft sticks can easily be formed into shape puppets of the characters in The Three Little Pigs so that she can act out her own version after watching the Speakaboos video. This is a great opportunity to bring out the performer in your child!

What You Need:
Thick paper, like cardstock
Construction paper
Scissors
Glue
Pencil
Crayons
Large craft sticks
Tape
What You Do:
Help your child trace a large circle onto the cardstock with a pencil. An easy way to create a circle template is to turn a bowl upside down on top of the paper and trace around the rim. Cut the circle out. Cardstock or other sturdy paper may be too thick for your child to cut by herself, so be ready to assist if needed. Cut out a variety of shapes in different sizes from the construction paper with your child. Triangles, rectangles, circles, squares, or even free-form shapes are perfect for the puppets’ features. Have your child decide on a character (animal or person) for the puppet. Ask your child to choose shapes that will make up the various facial features of the chosen subject. Discuss what the different parts of the face are, and how many of each shape she will need. Glue the shapes onto the circle. Allow the glue to dry. Once dry, your child can add small details with crayons. These details may include eyelashes, whiskers, a beard, spots, or stripes. Attach a large craft stick to the back of the circle with tape.

 

What’s Going On:
Your child is now ready to have her own fanciful puppet show! Encourage your preschooler to put on plays and create simple stories with her stick puppets. And to make it more of an event, you can even build a puppet theater for an expressive dramatic play experience.

What’s Going On? Puppet shows and puppet-making inspire artistic creativity, movement, and dramatic play while also enhancing your child’s fine motor skills and her understanding of the visual and dramatic arts. Working with puppets also has the benefit of letting her make creative play with literacy and sequencing skills, both of which are important for reading comprehension later on. The shape stick puppet activity is also a great way to encourage early math skills such as shape recognition and the part-to-whole relationship.

Visit Education.com for more learning resources, searchable by subject and grade! Thanks to Shannon and Education.com for the guest post.

Posted in Preschool

Faraway Friends: A far-out adventure that takes place on Earth!

faraway friendsFaraway Friends, by Russ Cox (2015, Sky Pony Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781632204080

Recommended for ages 3-7

Sheldon’s friend is moving – possibly, to Jupiter! What’s a kid to do? Why, build a rocketship and blast off to visit!

Faraway Friends is a great blending of realistic and fantasy for young kids. You’ve got the story of loss, when Sheldon’s friend moves away, as the frame. Within that frame, you have Sheldon and his first-mate, Jet the Dog, building a rocketship to head out to the stars, explore, and go for a visit. Finally, you have the beginning of a new friendship – with an alien?!

This book is adorable. Russ Cox’s artwork is exciting and fun, with action and movement. Jet the Dog’s facial expressions and thought bubbles make him the best part of this story for me. Sheldon’s decision to take action as part of his dealing with his friend moving away is a great way to illustrate the concept of moving on and forming new friendships. The basic text is unintrusive and perfect for a read-aloud, and the countdowns to blastoff provide fun opportunities to get little listeners involved in the book.

I read this story to my three preschool classes, who loved the book and wanted me to read it again and again. What a home run! This one’s going on the shelves for Summer Reading, no question about it.

Enjoy the book trailer for Faraway Friends, and then go get your own copy – it’s on shelves now!

Posted in Preschool Reads

Daredevil Duck Blog Tour! Author interview and contest!

daredevil duckDaredevil Duck, by Charlie Alder (May 2015, Running Press) $16.95, ISBN: 9780762458929

Recommended for ages 3-7

Daredevil Duck wants to be brave. He really does, but there are so many scary things out in the world: fluttery things, the dark, heights – what’s a wannabe daredevil to do? One day, Daredevil Duck is called on to help a friendly Mole save his balloon, stuck up in a tree. This is Daredevil Duck’s big moment: can he face his fears and save the day?

This is a great story for the preschool and Kindergarten set. It addresses common fears, and tells a sweet story of how one young duck faced and overcame those fears in order to help someone. If that’s not great motivation, what is? It also addresses bullying, which is so important to tackle in these early years, when kids are forming their social patterns.

Most of all, Daredevil Duck is just fun. The book has interesting die cuts and flaps that kids will love exploring, and it adds great interest to a read-aloud. I love keeping the kids in suspense for a second or two before opening a flap and giving them an exciting reveal, and they love the delicious anticipation. The cartoony artwork, with bright primary colors inside a thick black outline, gives a child-friendly welcome to the story. Emphasized moments and text will catch readers’ attention and keep them giggling.

I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book for review, and read it to my preschooler storytime classes, where it went over very well. The kids loved the reveals under the flaps and gatefolds, and they loved going on Daredevil Duck’s brave journey with him. A fun read-aloud to add to the collection.

 

I was thrilled to get Daredevil Duck‘s author, Charlie Alder to answer a couple of questions. Read on for more!

coffee-bearMomReadIt: Would you call Daredevil Duck an accidental superhero?
Charlie Alder: That’s a good question! Well, Daredevil Duck wants to be a superhero, but his fears get the better of him every time. It’s only when he’s really determined to help a new friend, and his fears have to be put to one side, that he realizes anything is possible! This realization is totally accidental to him, so I guess he really is an accidental superhero!

MRI: Is Daredevil Duck based on anyone you know?
CA: I would say Daredevil Duck is very similar to my little boy at age 4 or 5! Initially, when I first started coming up with story ideas and character sketches he was very much his own character, but as the story started to progress, I realized he had taken on many of the traits, hopes and fears of my little boy, and indeed many of his friends.

MRI: What advice would you have for anyone who wants to be a superhero, daredevil, or just sleep without a night light? How can someone channel Daredevil Duck in his or her own life?
CA: Well, being brave can take many different forms, from trying a new sport, making new friends or eating a new vegetable! Throughout the story Daredevil Duck kept telling himself he couldn’t do things, that he was too scared, but he never really tried! When he really tried to rescue the yellow balloon he surprised himself! The only way you’ll really know if you can do something or not is to try it, it doesn’t matter if you fail, at least you have tried… and you never know, you may surprise yourself too!

You can follow Charlie Alder on Twitter @chuckie346, or visit her author website for more information. Thanks, Charlie!

Win your own copy of Daredevil Duck with this a Rafflecopter giveaway
-good luck!

TAKE THE DAREDEVIL DUCK BLOG TOUR!

DAREDEVIL DUCK
By Charlie Alder
Blog Tour Schedule
>>>>
5/4 Wife Hat, Mom Hat
5/5 Geo Librarian
5/6 In The Pages
5/7 Stacking Books
5/9 Bea’s Book Nook
5/10 ReaderKidz
5/11 Coffee for the Brain
5/12 The Picture Book Review
5/13 Mrs. Brown Loves Bookworms
5/14 Mom Read It
5/15 Unpacking the POWER of
Picture
Books
5/16 Cheryl Rainfield
5/17 Unleashing Readers

Posted in Preschool

This is Sadie gives us a little girl with a big imagination

this is sadieThis is Sadie, by Sara O’Leary/illus. by Julie Morstad (May 2015, Tundra Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781770495326

Recommended for ages 4-8

Sadie is a little girl whose friends sometimes live in the pages of books. She makes worlds and kingdoms out of cushions and boxes and anything around her. She has wings that bring her wherever she wants to go, and get her home safely. She can do anything, be anything, with her imagination. She’s Alice in Wonderland, she’s Mowgli, she’s anyone she wants to be.

The whole book is an invitation to all readers to get lost in their imaginations. Sadie is the focal point for the story, but boys and girls alike will recognize their own adventures, whether it’s sailing in a cardboard box boat or talking to birds and trees. Sadie’s creativity will spark children to create their own adventures – storytime and a pillow fort building activity would go great together for this book!

The art itself is dreamlike, with soft, bright yet relaxed colors on the pages. The simple black font is unintrusive and is perfect for storytime reading.

Kids will love this book, and grown-ups will love reading it. Read together, and go on an adventure.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Preschool Reads

Storytime: Dinosaurs!

This is a short storytime I did at for my preschool classes. Because this was a week where they had library time, I only read one story and sang one song, but the kids loved the story!

It’s hard to go wrong with How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen/illustrated by Mark Teague. The kids were largely unfamiliar with the book, so they really got a kick out of seeing the dinos storm and stomp and pout and, ultimately, kiss Mama and Papa good night. I gave everyone a fun coloring sheet from  Twisty Noodle, and we were off to the library!

how-do-dinosaurs-say-goodnight      twistynoodle dino

 

We also sang a fun song about dinosaurs, to the tune of Ten Little Indians:

10 Big Dinosaurs

1 big, 2 big, 3 big dinosaurs,
4 big, 5 big, 6 big dinosaurs,
7 big, 8 big, 9 big dinosaurs,
10 big dinosaurs!

There are great dinosaur songs on the Bry-Back Manor blog!

Posted in Toddler Reads

Book Review: Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis (HarperCollins, 2006)

not a boxRecommended for ages 2-5

A young bunny uses his imagination to make an ordinary cardboard box into a spaceship, a mountain, a robot, and more.

Not a Box illustrates the importance of childhood imagination. The rabbit insists that his toy is “not a box” in answer to the repeated question stated in the title. Using bold, black line drawings on white backgrounds, each page presents readers with the inner working of the rabbit’s imagination; what he imagines his toy is rather than what it isn’t: a race car; a burning building that his fireman can put out; a robot; a mountain. The questions are featured in bright white text against a brown background – the color of a cardboard box. Even the cover and endpapers have the color and texture of a cardboard box. The simple art and design of the book add to the importance of imagination contained within.

This book provides the opportunity for an imagination read-aloud, where children can participate by repeating, “It’s not a box!” in answer to the questions asked on each spread. A printable activity at TeacherVision encourages children to illustrate their vision of “not a box”, and offers coloring sheets and instructions on making their own “not a box”. An episode of Spongebob Squarepants features Spongebob and Patrick the Starfish play with a box, using their imaginations; this would be fun companion viewing to the reading.  For those lapsit readers who may not grasp the concept of the box being 3-dimensional, incorporating a cardboard box into storytime can further spark the imagination and get them thinking about what the box can be.

The book has received designation as an ALA Notable Children’s Books (2007), and received Theodore Seuss Geisel Honors (2007).

The author’s website offers information about the author and her books. She continues the story in Not a Stick.

 

notabox robot