Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Never Show a T-Rex a Book! Or else…

Never Show a T-Rex a Book!, by Rashmi Sirdeshpande/Illustrated by Diane Ewen, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464159-8

Ages 3-7

In this adorable nod to cumulative favorites like Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a… series, Never Show a T-Rex a Book! warns readers against letting their T-Rexes get hold of a book… because then they’ll want more, naturally! A little girl starts the story off, reading to her dinosaur toys, when her imagination takes her on a thrill ride: her T-Rex becomes real, and demands a trip to the library – and an all-night reading marathon that will result in a VERY clever dinosaur. Which could lead to the first dinosaur in government, the education of other dinosaurs, and a WORLD DINOSAUR TAKEOVER. Imagine? Giggle-worthy, with illustrations that show the power of books exploding all over the spreads, Never Show a T-Rex a Book! is all about imagination and embracing the fun of reading. We get frightened librarians and towering T-Rexes holding stacks of books (pshaw, I say; like we’ve never seen dinosaurs in the library before); dinos holding court in classrooms and in Parliament, and demanding luxuries like larger seats in the movie theatre! Get your dinosaur toys out and let them read along with you as you take your Kiddos on this cartoonish, wild, book-loving adventure.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me…

Pirate Nell’s Tale to Tell: A Storybook Adventure, by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty, (Sept. 2020, Sourcebooks), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1492698678

Ages 4-7

This rhyming tale of literacy on the high seas stars an all-canine cast. Nell, a younger pup, is so excited to join a pirate crew, but Captain Gnash scoffs at her bookishness and saves the ickiest tasks for her to do. A treasure map in a bottle shows up one night, but Captain Gnash manages to get himself and his crew into big trouble until Nell, and her Pirate’s Almanac, save the day! They finally make it to the island and discover the best treasure of all. Smart and light, this upbeat tale of books and how handy a little extra knowledge can be is great for library visits. Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty always manage to create the best stories about book lovers: they also wrote The Snatchabook and The Storybook Knight; both wonderfully woven rhyming tales of books and how they make things better. The colorful acrylic artwork will attract all readers; who doesn’t love a rollicking pirate story with sea monsters and treasure? Endpapers show off a cross-section of a pirate ship before and after the plunder. See if kids can spot the differences! Pair with Ronan the Librarian for the ultimate class visit storytime. Visit Helen Docherty’s website for downloadable goodies including masks and coloring sheets!

 

Daniela and the Pirate Girls, by Susana Isern/Illustrated by Gómez, Translated by Laura Victoria Fielden, (Aug. 2020, NubeOcho), $16.95, ISBN: 978-84-17673-27-7

Ages 5-8

The second book to star Daniela the Pirate, Daniela and her crew spend a good part of this new adventure aboard their pirate ship, the Black Croc, tracking down a group of pirates called The Fearless Piranhas. They keep showing up to rescue sea folk just before the Black Croc arrives, and the crew is starting to get worried: what if they beat the Croc to the best treasure, too? Just as the Black Croc happens upon the Fearless Piranhas ship, they both get caught up in a dangerous storm: luckily, Daniela knows a friend who can help everyone out! The two crews finally meet and decide that teamwork is the best way to work! Upbeat and positive, this pirate story is all about sharing and teamwork, with the acknowledgement that sometimes, jealousy and competition can get in the way of how we perceive others. Gómez always uses bright, cheerful colors in her artwork; here, vibrant landscapes and pirates stand out against the light blue sea and sky, really giving the characters center stage. Originally published in Spanish, this English translation will appeal to pirate fans while teaching a lesson in kindness.

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

#SummersCool: Concepts, Political Science, and MAD LIBS!

Summer marches on, and we still don’t know what Fall is going to look like. So let’s keep pulling together all the learning material we can get our hands on, because whether or not we realize it, we’re all learning alongside our kids these days. Let’s make it fun!

This or That? What Will You Choose at the British Museum?, by Pippa Goodhart, (March 2020, Nosy Crow), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212235

Ages 3-7

First up, I’ve got a great concept book: This or That? is part of the Early Learning at the Museum series from Candlewick’s Nosy Crow imprint. Author Pippa Goodhart and the Trustees of the British Museum have curated 12 spreads of artifacts from the British Museum’s collection, each with a different theme in mind: would you rather wear a skirt or a shirt? Live in a tent or a tree house? Soar above the ground in a balloon or skim the water in a boat? There are hundreds of jumping off points for more questions, some posed in the text (“Do you see any vehicles pulled by animals?” “Do you see any buildings with a ladder?”), and endless questions you can come up with as you look through the pictures with your kiddos. This is serious I Spy territory for colors, shapes, and counting here. The index has numbered spreads that provide more information about each featured piece. This is just a gorgeous, fun book that always offers something new to discover.

 

Baby Loves Political Science: Democracy!, by Ruth Spiro/Illustrated by Greg Paprocki, (April 2020, Charlesbridge), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-62354-227-6

Ages 0-5

And now, for political science! The Baby Loves… series of board books have been a hit at my library (Baby Loves Science titles include Baby Loves Quarks! and Baby Loves Aerodynamics!), so I’m especially interested in this latest offshoot of the series. The first book, Baby Loves Political Science: Democracy! introduces the democratic process to little ones with easy-to-understand explanations of choosing leaders and defining terms like “candidate”, “rally”, and “polling place”. Bright, colorful and cartoony illustrations appeal to the littlest listeners, inviting them to look at the action in the books and get used to hearing these new vocabulary words; the text is wonderful for explaining the political process to pre-K readers and Kindergarteners. Ruth Spiro and Greg Paprocki let kids know that there’s enough room for everyone to get involved and have a voice, including cheering parents on when they’re voting, stamping postcards, and coloring signs for rallies. Involve children early on so they’ll grow up knowing they have a voice! Charlesbridge has a free, downloadable activity kit with coloring sheets and more.

 

Baby Loves Political Science: Justice!, by Ruth Spiro/Illustrated by Greg Poprocki, (Sept. 2020, Charlesbridge), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-62354-228-3

Ages 0-5

Coming in September, we have a new Baby Loves Political Science book, Justice! Here, a little boy learns that breaking rules come with consequences, when he breaks something at home; it’s a jumping off point to explain how laws are rules that keep our communities safe and fair, and touches on an explanation of the Constitution, three branches of government, and how lawyers and courts help interpret the law to keep things as safe and fair as possible for all of us.

Greg Poprocki’s artwork is adorably bright and sweet, creating expressive cartoon characters who lead readers through classrooms, public spaces, and the halls of the court and government. Ruth Spiro explains huge concept in an easy-to-understand way that kids (and, like me, some adults) will easily understand and appreciate.  I’m a fan of this new offshoot of Baby Loves Science and look forward to seeing what else is on the horizon. (Psst… Baby Loves Civil Disobedience? Anyone?)

 

Mad Libs Workbook: Grade 2 Reading, by Mad Libs, (Apr. 2020, Penguin Young Readers), $8.99, ISBN: 978-0-593-09616-1

Ages 7-9

WOW, I never thought I’d see the day when Mad Libs was recognized as an actual ELA aid! Mad Libs kept me sane during many a summer road trip as a kid, and seeing these new workbooks now just make my ’80s kid heart happy. Remember Mad Libs? You created crazy stories by inserting random adjectives, verbs, names of animals, numbers, planets, you name it, into the dialogue, and then read it back? Hilarious! Well, now, my generation must be in the driver’s seat, because there’s a line of Mad Libs Reading Workbooks for Grades 1-4. I checked out a copy of Grade 2’s reading workbook, because I have a second grader (well, he’s a rising third grader now) at home, so why not?

WOW. So spiffy.  Now aligned with State and National Common Core Standards, Mad Libs workbooks have phonics work, grammar and spelling explanations, comprehension exercises, and vocabulary words. There are rebuses throughout the stories, helping readers use pictures to look at columns and identify the types of words that get dropped in the slots. Rather than just note, “adjective”, for instance, there will be a picture that leads the child to a column full of descriptive words. There are phonics exercises, with work on prefixes and suffixes, plurals, digraphs, and more. This is a phonics workout wrapped in absolute fun, and my kiddo and I are having a ball with it. Mad Libs, I’m so glad you’re still with me. Parents and educators, use some of these for summer reading challenges – or rewards!

 

That’s all for this #SummersCool. More to come! Stay cool and safe!

 

Posted in professional development

Good for Parents & Professional Development: How to Raise a Reader

How to Raise a Reader, by Pamela Paul & Maria Russo/Illustrations by Vera Brosgol, Lisk Feng, Monica Garwood, & Dan Yaccarino, (Sept. 2019, Workman), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1523505302

I like finding good books to recommend to parents and to add to my own professional development, so I picked up How to Raise a Reader. Written by two editors of The New York Times Book Review, How to Raise a Reader is all about inspiring parents, caregivers, and educators to promote a lifetime love of reading. Organized into four parts – Born to Read, Growing a Reader, Your Middle-Grade Reader, and A Reader for Life, with a fifth section providing book suggestions by themes and reading levels (not A-Z, more like age and grade) – this is a handy Readers’ Advisory volume to have at your fingertips, and a good suggestion to hand parents who want to work toward growing their own readers. There’s advice, tips and facts about early childhood learning, and booklists, booklists, booklists. Illustrated in full-color by popular children’s book illustrators, this is a book that will make you fall in love with reading again, too. It’s easy to read; easily skimmed if you need to look for one specific section or booklist; and filled with an upbeat, positive attitude: you can do this! You can get kids to love books!

Never overwhelming, the information is presented in easily digestible sections and fact boxes. Get yourself a desk copy to keep on hand, and consider adding this to your parenting sections. And encourage those parents when they come in, looking scared and lost. Remind them that reading kids’ books is fun, and tell them that they should never feel bad about reading along with their kids, too! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a parent confide that they “aren’t really readers”, or “haven’t picked up a book in SO long”. Kids’ books are the best way to get back into reading – let this book and your expertise be the pep talk bewildered or just plain tired caregivers need.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Go on a Big Book Adventure with two friends!

The Big Book Adventure, by Emily Ford/Illustrated by Tim Warnes, (Sept. 2018, Silver Dolphin Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68412-378-0

Ages 3-7

A pig and a fox excitedly tell each other about their reading adventures, having spent their day at a Mad Tea Party, swimming with mermaids, running from Big Bad Wolves, and more! The rhyming story communicates the transformative power of reading by placing the characters – and readers – into the middle of beloved fairy tales and exciting new adventures, including a spaceship voyage and a dragon ride. The two friends decide to share books and exchange adventures, their favorite new and old literary friends surrounding them.

The artwork is sweet and whimsical, using soft colors for the main characters and changing palettes to fit each story: bold, vibrant colors for a science fiction story; classic Alice in Wonderland artwork for the tea party; muted blues and greens for a mermaid swim. The endpapers continue the story, with the front endpapers showing Piggy sitting on a tree branch, reading; a library-like “book club” meeting place at the base of a tree, where Foxy leaves, with a wagon holding books. Membership cards for the “Maple Leaf Book Club” show Foxy and Piggy’s credentials. The back endpaper shows different literary characters – and the Maple Leaf Book Club’s owl mascot – reading.

This one is great for a library read-aloud, and a class visit storytime. I’d pair this with Nibbles the Book Monster for more fairy tale fun.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Kisses for Kindergarten starts them off right

Kisses for Kindergarten, by Livingstone Crouse/Illustrated by  Macky Pamintuan, (June 2017, Silver Dolphin Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-62686-703-1

Recommended for readers 4-6

Stella Isabella Harden declares that she doesn’t have to go to kindergarten: her puppy told her so! A girl and her pup spend the days together, reimagining kindergarten by chasing squirrels, having fun on the swings, having tea parties, making pillow forts, and having pillow fights. Things change at storytime, though, when Stella realizes that she can’t read a storybook to her dog. Looks like it’s time for kindergarten after all!

With protagonists inspired by the artist’s daughter and golden retriever, Kisses for Kindergarten is a fun way to ease kids into a new school year. Kids will love Stella Isabella Harden’s assertion that she can learn far more from her puppy than she can from school, and the dynamic duo’s exciting day at the park. Caregivers can explain that she can learn so much from her dog, sure, but when it comes to reading, even her wise pup understands that she’s got to go to school. It’s a gentle easing of fears, and having her dog begin and end the day with her gives her something to look forward to. Ask kids what they want to come home to: a favorite toy? Storytime with family? Stella’s day ends with a family storytime and kisses: it’s a pretty good rule of thumb. Endpapers illustrate Stella and pup’s day together.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fantasy, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Storybook Knight: Great messages on many levels!

storybookThe Storybook Knight, by Helen Docherty/Illustrated by Thomas Docherty (Oct. 2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-4926-3814-8

Recommended for ages 4-8

Bookish Leo would love to sit and read all day, but his parents insist that he must fight – he’s a knight, after all. Saddling up his horse, Ned, with books and sandwiches, Leo heads out into the world to find a dragon in need of taming, and encounters a host of other storybook beasts, all of whom learn that sometimes, a good story is the best diversion of all!

The Storybook Knight is written and illustrated by the same duo that gave us The Snatchabook, now an award-winnign storytime standard. Kids will love the rhyming text and fantastic story of a gentle knight who finds a less violent way to bring peace to a nearby village. There’s a sense of excitement as Leo embarks on his quest, where he proves, time and again, that a good book can remedy most ills. It’s a gentle story that makes for a great bedtime, storytime, or anytime story.

Thomas Docherty’s acrylic inks and watercolors, on hot pressed watercolor paper, provide a real fairy tale look and feel to the artwork, with pastoral scenes and fantastic creatures. I love his griffin (even if he is a bit vain), and the dragon is big, orange-red giant with a heck of a temper. When Leo finally arrives at his destination, he discovers a huge mess, with dragon poop-lined streets that will get the kids giggling even as they cringe at the stinky destruction wrought by the fiery brute. Mr. Docherty has a gift for wonderful facial expressions – we see the grouchy dragon soften immediately, once Leo threatens to toss a book with lots of dragons into the trash unless he cleans up his act. The griffin and troll each start out fierce, but turn into smiling, even preening, gentlemen once presented with a book starring someone like them.

And that’s the final gift that Storybook Knight gives us: it shows readers how wonderful it is to find yourself represented in a book. In its own way, The Storybook Knight is a fantasy championing of the need for diversity in children’s lit. Read this book with your fantasy books – maybe Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great or If I Had a Gryphon – and display books for your community nearby, so kids can find pictures of families that look just like theirs.

Great addition to storytime collections!

Helen Docherty’s author website includes free, downloadable resources that work with many of her books. You can also learn more about school visits and author talks, and find more information about her books.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Keira Gillett author visit!

Corona Library had a visitor this week: Zaria Fierce author Keira Gillett!

keira and roe

We had such a great time. Keira is awesome – personable, ready to jump in and talk, and great with the kids. My Corona kids are a little nervous when meeting someone new, but she knew just how to get them talking: she decided to raffle off a set of her books! The kids mobbed the table, and a few finally started to ask her about the books.

When it was time for our reading, I moved everyone into our meeting room so the kids doing homework could stay focused on homework and so Keira didn’t have to yell (with almost 100 kids in my children’s room after school, our library is most definitely a living organism – apologies to Dr. Ranganathan). The kids gathered ’round, and Keira read a selection from Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest; she put on different voices (that is precisely how I imagined Olaf!), she had a wonderful reading speed and volume, and her audience was rapt. No one said a word, and if you know my Corona kids, that is an accomplishment!

After the reading, I tried to give some gentle prompts to get the kids talking. They tend to be shy, and they’re still working on learning how to discuss books, so we didn’t get much, but Keira and I had a brief Q&A session, her awesome boyfriend, Neil, donated an additional set of books to our library (thank you!!), and I picked a raffle winner. We took some pictures, I gave out Zaria Fierce coloring sheets, and the kids went back to their homework and books.

It was a great experience, and I’m so grateful to Keira Gillett and Neil for coming to visit, for their support of Queens Library (did I mention that we’re the only library in Queens to have the Zaria Fierce books? You can make a request!), and I can’t wait to let you know when I hear more about the third book in the series. I got a sneak peek at some of the artwork, and all I can say is WOW.

What I’ve learned: author visits are a great way to get kids to sit for a program. They’re often shy – at least my kids are – about asking questions, though, so make sure to have some basic questions prepped for a Q&A: the writer’s inspiration, what she/he does for a living in addition to being a writer, likes, dislikes.

Raffles rock: Kids love a chance to get something for free, sure, but it’s also about that moment of recognition when the name comes out of the box/hat/whatever you have the names in. Use that raffle gathering time to promote the book, steer kids to the author to talk about the book, get them excited about the book and the reading.

Authors are amazing: The patience and generosity an author exhibits when surrounded by a bunch of kids cannot be measured. Pay it forward: have their books available, booktalk them like wild, and let the author see their event promoted in the library. Know what the book’s about, and make the author and her/his entourage feel comfortable. Next time, I need to grab some bottled water and have snacks available.

Wrap it Up: Make sure to introduce your author to your manager and assistant manager. It’s respectful to both administration and your author. And write up the experience, provide some pictures, get bragging rights out there so people know what a great program you had.

Here’s some video from Keira’s reading. Enjoy!

Posted in geek culture

Save the Date: Star Wars Reads Day is Back!!

One of my favorite Library Days is coming: Star Wars Reads Day – IN A STAR WARS MOVIE YEAR! – is back. Mark your calendars, young Jedis and Siths: on October 10, 2015, bookstores, libraries, comic shops, anywhere that has books available, will be celebrating the fourth annual Star Wars Reads Day.

SWRD_YODA10101-V1

Check around – there are signings, giveaways, parties, you name it, and it’s WORLDWIDE. And this year, we’ve got the theatrical release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to look forward to in December!

From StarWars.com: Participants in the events and festivities include: Disney-Lucasfilm Press, Marvel, Abrams, Chronicle, Del Rey, DK, Quirk Books, Scholastic, Workman, Egmont, Studio Fun, Phoenix International Publishing, and many more. BB-8 is ready. Are you?

bb8

Check out facebook.com/StarWarsReads for the latest info on special events in your area, and stay tuned to StarWars.com for more on Star Wars Reads Day!

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Summer Reading is Here! Refeatured kids’ reviews to get you started!

It’s that time – Summer Reading Time! My library is taking part in the Fizz, Boom, Read! Summer Reading program, and I’ve got reading logs and bulletin boards ready to go. I’m super excited, because I also have two storytimes! On Fridays in July, I’ll begin my Toddler storytime and my Picture Book storytime, so I’ve been getting my storytime plans together and taking a lot of inspiration from some great sites on the web (Storytime Katie and Hushlander are great blogs with great ideas)!

tubby

In the meantime, I noticed that a few books I’ve reviewed here have landed on the Summer Reading List, so I’ve decided to refeature those reviews, for anyone interested in learning a little about the books, starting with Leslie Patricielli’s board book, Tubby. I’m a huge fan of Leslie Patricelli and the baby featured in her board books (No No Yes Yes, Yummy Yucky, Toot, and more!); any parent would get a kick out of these.

 

 

chicka_chicka_boom_boom

Next up is Bill Martin Jr.’s Chicka Chicka, Boom Boom. If you haven’t read this one to your little ones yet, I urge you to pick it up! There are great toys and games that go along with the book, and with the companion book, Chicka Chicka 1,2,3, too.

 

 

 

t-is-for-terrible

 

Now, to the picture books. I’ve only read one on the list so far – T is for Terrible, by Peter McCarty. It’s an adorable book that features a T-Rex, musing over his T-Rex-ness. He can’t help that he’s not a vegetarian.

 

 

That’s all for the little ones this time around – stay tuned, as I read my way through the Summer Reading list this year!