Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Don’t miss Tracey Baptiste’s Looking for a Jumbie!

I have been a fan of Tracey Baptiste’s Jumbies series since the first one hit shelves in 2015. They’re such a rich, spooky mix of Caribbean folklore and horror, with smart characters and fantastic pacing: every kid in my library knows that if they ask me for something scary, they’re going to get a Jumbies book handed to them. Fast forward six years, and Tracey Baptiste has a Jumbies picture book, so that I can start getting my itty bitties into all things Jumbie. Start them early, right?

Looking for a Jumbie, by Tracey Baptiste/Illustrated by Amber Ren,
(Sept. 2021, Balzer + Bray), $17.99, ISBN: 9780062970817
Ages 4-8

Naya is a little girl who just knows jumbies are real, even if her Mama says they only exist in stories. Naya heads off, Going on a Bear Hunt-style, to find some, and makes some… interesting friends along the way. Repeated, familiar phrasing that may remind readers of the classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt runs throughout the book as Naya meets a new friend to join her quest: “We’re looking for a jumbie. We’re going to find a scary one”. She meets several interesting characters in the woods, all who seem to meet the characteristics of well-known jumbies (especially for older siblings and parents who’ve read the novels!), but they don’t seem terribly mean at all. They all manage to convince Naya that they’re not the monsters she’s looking for, and join her quest. Vibrant digital illustrations are colorful and eye-catching, and Naya, a young girl of color, is a brave heroine who forges through each spread. Jumbies are a friendly a group of monsters, and while Naya provides informational descriptions of these spooky monsters, the colorful group are very friendly and cartoon-like in appearance. Looking for a Jumbie could be a wonderful story to read at bedtime to kids who may be worried about things that go bump in the night, as jumbies offer practical reasons for their appearances that have nothing to do with being a monster. No nightmares here! I love, love, love this book.

Tracey Baptiste offers a field guide to jumbies on her website, along with further resources on her Jumbies novels for anyone interested in learning more.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Two fun books about cats

Inside Cat, by Brendan Wenzel, (Oct. 2021, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781452173191

Ages 3-5

Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Brendan Wenzel brings readers a new story about cats from a different point of view. Where 2017’s They All Saw a Cat showed us how other creatures perceive cats, Inside Cat shows us how a house cat perceives his world. Using rhyme and repetition, we follow Inside Cat as he wanders through a room, stops at windows, and looks outside. Cat’s imagination fills in what he perceives the rest of the outside world entails, from birds wearing clothes stolen off a clothesline to a giant salt shaker shaking snow just outside the window frame. Inside Cat is pretty confident that he knows everything about what goes on in the outside world… until he ventures outside for the first time. Mixed media illustrations and playing with color let readers create their own stories about what goes on outside Cat’s window – or their own! Endpapers get in on the fun. A story that encourages imagination and plays with perception, kids will love hearing Inside Cat again and again.

Inside Cat has starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. While I didn’t see an Inside Cat activity kit, you can use many of the cat-tivities (I had to) from the kit for They All Saw a Cat.

 

Bathe the Cat, by Alice B. McGinty/Illustrated by David Roberts, (Feb. 2022, Chronicle Books). $17.99, ISBN: 9781452142708

Ages 3-5

Grandma’s coming to visit, and it’s time to clean the house! Daddy is calling out chores, all written out with fridge magnets, but Cat will do anything to get his name off that list. As the chores get wackier and wackier, Daddy and Papa are desperate to know who’s messing with the list! I mean, really: sweep the dishes? Scrub the fishes? The clock is ticking! Can these dads and their kids get it together and get the house clean in time? A laugh-out-loud story about a cat who’s a step ahead of its family, with bright, eye-catching pencil and watercolor artwork. There are two brown-skinned dads and a diverse group of kids, and the chaos is fun and relatable as they turn into a whirlwind of misguided chores as Cat, firmly set against having a bath, gives knowing smiles and side-eye expressions in between spreads showing them playing with the magnet letters and creating all sorts of wacky chores. There are thoughtful details, like various Pride flags decorating the refrigerator and Grandma’s tote bag (I see you, Philly!). A fun, quietly meaningful book that embraces the chaos of family life and shows a fun, positive depiction of an LGBTQ+ family. Pair with Friday Night Wrestlefest by JF Fox and Micah Player for more stories about family hijinks.

Download a fun activity kit, complete with a chore list and wacky word scramble, to hand out at storytime.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads, Uncategorized

Guess the birdie! Who is Singing?

Who is Singing?, by Janet Halfmann/Illustrated by Chrissy Chabot, (July 2021, Pen It! Publications), $20.99, ISBN: 978-1954868373

Ages 2-6

Take a walk and listen on any given day, and you’ll hear a cacophony of birds: tweets, chirps, screeches, and coos abound; even city kids can hear a dove coo, a pigeon scold, and a blue jay (like the one who likes to argue with the squirrels, right outside my window). Who is Singing? is author Janet Halfmann’s tribute to some colorful, musical birds, all identifiable by their songs. Using each bird’s defining song, repetitive verse, and a noticeable characteristic for each bird, Janet Halfmann introduces readers to the gentle art of bird-watching and bird-listening, giving readers 11 fairly familiar birds to start out with. You’ll recognize pigeons, “begging for treats along a city sidewalk”; “bully loud and bold” blue jays screaming; cheery chick-a-dees, “dressed up for dinner in a black cap and bib”, and more. Ms. Halfmann encourages the birds to “take a bow”, making for a fun readaloud where you can invite your littles to take a bow – or let a bird puppet or flannel take their own bows when you announce them, too.

Chrissy Chabot’s illustrations are bright and lovely, photorealistic birds that will help readers more easily spot and identify them the next time they’re out and about. A lovely little story to read out loud, and works well with a lapsit. Print out some coloring pages and let the kiddos envision their own colorful birds and make some music of their own!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Mr. Watson’s Chickens is shooby-doo, wonky-pow, bawka-bawka in da chow-chow!

Mr. Watson’s Chickens, by Jarrett Dapier/Illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi, (Oct. 2021, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781452177144

Ages 3-6

Mr. Watson and Mr. Nelson are a happy couple who share their lives and their home with a couple of dogs, a few cats, and a handful of chickens. But Mr. Watson just loves his chickens so much, and acquires more and more, until he’s got 456 chickens! The chickens are everywhere and into everything, and one chicken, Aunt Agnes, has a habit of making up her own song that she sings all the time. Mr. Nelson loves Mr. Watson, but something has to give. Mr. Watson loves his chickens, but he loves Mr. Nelson more, so together, they decide to give the chickens away to loving homes at the county fair… but the chickens escape, and chaotic hilarity ensues! An hilarious Where’s Waldo-type spread invites kids to help find a missing chicken, and Aunt Agnes’s favorite song makes for an extra-fun interactive readaloud. Mr. Watson’s Chickens features an LGBTQ+ couple in a sweet story of love and chickens, and a richy diverse cast of characters throughout the story. Perfect for storytime reading, with a fun chick and egg peekaboo craft for after the story’s done.

 

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!