Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Hungry, Howly, Wolfboy!

Wolfboy, by Andy Harkness, (Feb. 2021, Bloomsbury Children’s Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781547604425

Ages 3-6

A fussy, drooly, growly Wolfboy storms through the forest, howling for rabbits. The rabbits scramble around in the background, evading him… but what happens when Wolfboy finally catches up with them? In this adorable, claymation-illustrated story, things aren’t what they seem. Award-winning art director Andy Harkness creates a funny, cumulative tale that will have little readers giggling and howling along with the hungry, hangry Wolfboy. Wolfboy is relatable to anyone – who doesn’t get cranky when they need something to eat? – but toddlers and preschoolers, who can turn from happy to hangry on the turn of a dime, will see themselves in the bright blue figure. Repetitive phrases and cumulative, emphasized words (“Hungry. Huffy. Drooly. Growly. Fussy.”) offer opportunities for readers to chime in. If you have the space, stomp and fuss along! Bold artwork features claymation figures that will delight littles. There’s gorgeous texture and bright color; story text is yellow and pops nicely against the black pages. Sentences are short, easy to read, and perfect for new and emerging readers. Absolute fun for storytime! If you have money for Play-Doh in your budget, consider little grab and go kits so storytime attendees can create their own Wolfboys and rabbits.

Wolfboy is an Indie Next choice and has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Empathy and fun make up the heart of The Sinking of Captain Otter

The Sinking of Captain Otter, by Troy Wilson/Illustrated by Maira Chiodi, (Oct. 2018, OwlKids Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781771473118

Ages 4-7

Kelpy is an otter who loves the sea and fancies himself a sea captain. He’s got the heart for it. The head for it. He’s even got the hat for it! Building a ramshackle ship from scraps, that’s everything he could ever dream of, he sails the high seas, despite the cruel jokes and jabs from pirates, sharks, other otters, even the waves themselves. Sure, he cries a little, but he loves his ship and that’s that. But one day, he meets Blistering Blastering Butterbeard, a teeny, tiny pirate on a teeny, tiny boat of his own, who challenges Kelpy. Well, Kelpy can’t help it: he laughs, too. And Butterbeard cries a little. And then he cries a lot. Kelpy knows he has to do the right thing, and proceeds to cut up his ship to make Butterbeard feel better, telling him that his cannonball sunk the ship. Face to face, the two adversaries know what they have to do: rebuild their ships and play on!

Captain Otter is a story about empathy and doing unto others (or otters, as the case may be): Kelpy knows what it’s like to be laughed at and poked fun at, so when he does it to someone else – and sees the repercussions of his actions – he makes amends, paving the way to a brand new friendship. It’s a sweet story whose repetition drives home the important points of the story, particularly persistence and devotion (“He loved his ship. He loved her from keel to cabin to crow’s nest. So he took a deep breath, straightened his hat, and sailed on”). Scuttling his own ship to make Butterbeard feel better is a completely selfless act that opens the door to a friendship between the two; something we see as the two laugh together, play together, and share tea together, along with a black bird that appears in the story. It’s a good story for storytimes and to start a discussion on doing what you love, and how our actions affect others.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Susanne Strasser creates board books with a sense of fun!

I read board books at my lapsit storytime every week, and I’m always looking out for fun, new board books. Ones that I can read to babies and toddlers, and ones that keep it interesting. This past weekend, I came across two board books by Susanne Strasser that fit the bill: So Light, So Heavy, and So Far Up.

So Far Up, by Susanne Strasser,
(Jan. 2018, Charlesbridge), $7.99, ISBN: 9781580898485
Recommended for readers 0-3

Bear sees a tasty cake in the highest window of a tall house. It’s so high up, and Bear is so far down! Maybe some of his animal friends can help. As each animal stacks on top of another, the text repeats, adding a new sound effect, making for some fun interaction with listeners: Boingaboing! Hippity Hop! An unexpected twist takes the story to a sweet ending for all. The artwork is calming – that turquoise background is very relaxing – and the text allows kids to name their animals, while avoiding the “same old song and dance” territory.

So Light, So Heavy, by Susanne Strasser,
(Jan. 2018, Charlesbridge), $7.99, ISBN: 9781580898492
Recommended for readers 0-3

Elephant wants to use the teeter-totter, but it won’t tip! Different animals come along to help tip the scales, but it’s no good: they’re so light, and elephant is so heavy. Wait a minute – here comes the child from So Far Up, with another unexpected twist!

Both books introduce and reinforce concepts in an unexpected, amusing way that will get readers and storytellers alike laughing. So Light, So Heavy is also a good choice for a science storytime, when discussing balance (along with Ellen Stoll Walsh’s Balancing Act). I’ll be adding these to my board book shelves, for sure.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Attitudes of Gratitude: The Thank You Dish

The Thank You Dish, by Trace Balla, (March 2017, Kane Miller), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-644-1

Recommended for readers 3-8

Grace, a young girl, and her mother sit down to dinner. Mama thanks the rain, soil, and sunshine; Grace is thankful to the kangaroos. Why the kangaroos? For not eating the carrots! From there, Grace goes on to thank a multitude of people and animals that made Grace and her mother’s dinner possible, leading up to thanking Mom for making her such a yummy dinner. With a comfortable repetition – Grace is thankful, Mama asks why, Grace explains – The Thank You Dish is a sweet exploration of gratitude and of community. We don’t live in a vacuum; The Thank You Dish takes an amusing look at everyone and everything responsible for getting one family’s dinner on the table, from alpacas whose yarn went into the scarf that kept Uncle Fred warm while fishing, to a flower tree responsible for a fortuitous meeting. Grace and her mother eat dinner together at a dining table, emphasizing the family connection. Grace is a child of color; her mother is lighter-skinned.

I adore this book. This is a great storytime selection – see if kids can think of all the contributions made to their dinner tables! – and a great classroom circle time book. Remembering to say thank you when someone is directly interacting with you is one thing; being grateful for the unseen is just as important and essential to mindful living. A good book for classroom discussions!

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Adorable animal books for toddlers and preschoolers!

Anita Bijsterbosch has two adorable animal books out this month and next, perfect for toddlers who love to explore their books.

do-you-see-my-tailDo You See My Tail? (March 2017, Clavis Books, $12.95, ISBN: 978-1605373201) introduces readers to seven animals – well, seven animal tails; the rest of the animals are hidden behind local flora. The text drops a hint, and a gatefold reveals the full answer: an animal family! The repetitive question/answer format, and greeting to the animals and their babies, creates a fun discovery experience for little hands. An extra challenge: find the little ladybug hiding on every spread.

Preschoolers will like being able to control finding out more about the animals and learning about animal habitats: beavers play in a nest of tree trunks and branches, rabbits in a hole under the ground. Toddlers will love the excitement of discovery and the very cute artwork.

Whewhen-i-grow-upn I Grow Up (April 2017, Clavis Books, $14.95, ISBN: 978-1605373348) features six young animals who dream about what they’ll be able to do once they grow up: a little lion who can only growl softly now will be a big lion whose roar will be heard by all the animals; a little giraffe whose nose barely touches the leaves in a tree will one day be able to reach everything with his long neck. Die cut pages let readers flip the page to reveal the adult animal in the young animal’s place within the same setting.

As with Do You See My Tail?, When I Grow Up offers toddlers the excitement of discovery, with something new on every page. The pages are sturdy and will hold up to multiple page flips (always a concern in my library). Preschoolers can focus on habitats, food, and other animals sharing the living spaces.

Originally published in 2016 in Belgium and Holland, these are fun new choices to bookshelves and collections.

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

All Aboard! Blog tour for Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite

Mr. Fuzzbuster is an adorable black cat that lives with his favorite person, a girl named Lily, and a family of other pets. Lily loves them all, but Mr. Fuzzbuster knows that he’s Lily’s favorite… right?

mcanulty-mrfuzzbusterknowshesthefavorite-21153-cv-ftMr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite, by Stacy McAnulty/Illustrated by Edward Hemingway, (Feb. 2017, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1503948389

Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite is going to be a favorite in pre-k classrooms and at bedtimes. It’s a sweet story about playing favorites and being favorites. Parents will get a kick out of it, especially parents of siblings always quarreling over who’s the favorite. Kids will love the suspense of each page turn, when Lily declares that each pet – Fishy Face, the fish; Feathers, the bird; King, the lizard; Bruiser, the dog, and of course, Mr. Fuzzbuster – her favorite of its species. Mr. Fuzzbuster’s epiphany leads him to write a letter, telling Lily that she’s the collective favorite, and the story ends on an adorably hilarious moment that will leaves readers giggling.

Edward Hemingway’s pencil, ink, and digital art makes for a vibrant look combined with a warm textures. The pets, especially our star, almost pop off the page, and Lily maintains a warm, loving presence, interacting with her friends through each repetition of “You’re my favorite…” I’ll have to create some flannels to go with this story for my pre-k storytime, for sure.

stacy_mcanulty_01STACY MCANULTY is certain she’s her mom’s favorite. Her younger brother disagrees. She’s the author of Beautiful, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach; and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. Originally from upstate New York, she now lives in Kernersville, North Carolina, with her three children, two dogs, and one husband. She doesn’t have a favorite. You can find her online at www.stacymcanulty.com.


edw
EDWARD HEMINGWAY is certain he’s Stacy McAnulty’s favorite illustrator, although the illustrators of Stacy’s other books may disagree. Edward himself is the author and illustrator of the children’s books Bump in the Night, Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship, Bad Apple’s Perfect Day, and Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus. Originally from Bozeman, Montana, he now lives in Brooklyn where he teaches creative writing at the master’s level at SVA in Manhattan. If he has any favorite students, he’ll never tell. Learn more about him online at www.edwardhemingway.com.

 

Did you know Mr. Fuzzbuster loves writing notes? He wants to send cards to young readers across the country.  Maybe he will be your favorite. Visit http://www.stacymcanulty.com/fuzzbuster-email to find out how to get mail from Mr. Fuzzbuster!

Last but not least, we have a giveaway! Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win your own copy of Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite!

Posted in Storytime, Toddler

Toddler Storytime/Test Driving New Books

I had a picture book storytime planned for my second session today, but most of my attendees were toddlers, which required a little tweaking of the booklist (I’d used most of the same songs from the first storytime). Luckily, I’d left the house with two new ARCs that I picked up at ALA Midwinter, figuring I’d test them out if the crowd seemed up for it. I’m really glad I did – the books were PERFECT for storytime (one of the reasons I picked them up); the kids loved them and really got into the reading!

clap  monkey  plant-a-kiss

Clap, by Uncle Ian Aurora (Sept. 2016, Flowerpot Press), $16.99, ISBN: 978-148670945-8 is an interactive book that got my kiddos clapping, stomping, and counting. A boy narrates the book, telling readers that “this is the book where we all clap along, because sometimes a book has a beat like a song”. We clap and stomp, counting to 10; we clap to show different feelings and for different locations; we clap for our narrator, which brings the story to a fun close. The cartoony characters and bold marker-writing font, caught the kids’ attention, and the parents enjoyed playing along with their little ones. This is entering my permanent storytime rotation.

Spunky Monkey is the newest from Bill Martin Jr. and  Michael Sampson (Jan. 2017,Scholastic Press, $17.99, ISBN: 978-0545776431), and it’s illustrated by Brian Won – this is already a home run. Monkey is absolutely adorable – the digital illustrations look entirely hand-painted, and a note at the end of the book explains how Won achieves this. It’s bright, colorful, and loaded with movement – Monkey is on the move, and he’s taking us with him! Michael Sampson uses rhyme and repetition to get kids up and moving, and uses the doctor’s diagnosis for Monkey – he needs exercise! – to emphasize the importance of movement and exercise. He builds on the classic rhyme “Down Down Baby” to set the tone and beat for the book. Kids and parents alike responded so well to this book! We ding-donged, clap-clapped, stomp-stomped, and sis-boom-bah-ed the whole way through! This is another must-own for caregivers and educators; toddlers and preschoolers will love this and so will you.

I slowed things down by reading Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Plant a Kiss, with art by Peter H. Reynolds (Dec. 2011, HarperCollins, $14.99, ISBN: 978-0061986758). Everyone enjoyed the magical story about a girl who plants a kiss and shares the explosion of glittery love and happiness that follows.

Most of the songs stayed the same from my earlier Toddler Storytime, but I added Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, Days of the Week, and I’m Going to Take a Sweater, since it’s freezing out today!

Song: “I’m Going to Take a Sweater” (to the tune of “For He’s a Jolly Good) Fellow”
I’m going to take a sweater, a sweater, a sweater
I’m going to take a sweater when I go out today
When I go out today, when I go out today
I’m going to take a sweater when I go out today
I’m going to take a scarf, a scarf, a scarf,
I’m going to take a scarf when I go out today
When I go out today, when I go out today
I’m going to take a scarf when I go out today
I’m going to take my mittens, my mittens, my mittens
I’m going to take my mittens when I go out today
When I go out today, when I go out today
I’m going to take my mittens when I go out today
I’m going to take my hat, my hat, my hat,
I’m going to take my hat when I go out today
When I go out today, when I go out today,
I’m going to take my hat when I go out today!
Source: King County Library System

Song: “Days of the Week” (Addams Family tune)
Days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap), Days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap),
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap)
There’s Sunday and there’s Monday, there’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday,
There’s Thursday and there’s Friday, and then there’s Saturday.
Days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap), Days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap),
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap)

These storytimes are great for my own fitness level – I spent over an hour jumping, dancing, and playing!