Posted in Toddler Reads

Phoebe Cakes leads a doggie A-B-C in An Alphabet Tail

Phoebe Cakes and Friends: An Alphabet Tail, by Michelle K. Dumont/Illustrated by Jennifer Zoe Taylor, (Sept. 2022, Susan Schadt Press), $14.95, ISBN: 979-8985071306

Ages 2-4

Last week, I posted a list of author Michelle K. Dumont’s favorite dog books for National Dog Week. This week, I’m happy to talk up the adorable lift-the-flap board book she wrote to celebrate her own special needs bulldog, Phoebe Cakes. Phoebe introduces herself in a note at the beginning of the book, guaranteeing that you’ll fall in love with her as quickly as I did. From there, it’s all about the doggos as Phoebe frolics across each spread with a different dog of the alphabet, from Affenpinschers to Irish Setters, Newfoundlands to Zapadno Sibirska Lajkas. Rhyming text and colorful artwork with adorable dogs running, roasting marshmallows, napping, and playing peek-a-book make this perfect dog lovers everywhere. Each letter of the alphabet is set off a large frame, with bold green and pink colors, with each breed running across the top of the page. Lift-the-flaps divulge fun facts about Phoebe. An Alphabet Tail is a very cute abcedary, and will hold up to multiple reads. Dog fans will enjoy learning about new dog breeds and want to hear more about Phoebe.

An Alphabet Tail is the second Phoebe Cakes book, joining A Mardi Gras Tail, which published earlier this year. There are more books planned, and you can follow Phoebe’s adventures on Instagram to keep up with her.

Posted in Toddler Reads

It’s another Board Book Blitz!

Time for more board books!

Tummy Time! A high-contrast fold-out book with mirror for babies, by Mama Makes Books, (March 2022, Red Comet Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781636550138

Ages 0-1

A two-sided, fold-out board book that’s perfect for infants whether they’re laying on their tummies or during a lapsit. On one side, there is rhyming verse and photos of baby faces; a mirror lets baby see themselves. On the other, high-contrast black and white images with pops of bright primary colors attract baby’s attention. Stiff cardboard allows the book to stand up without tipping over, and the foldout pages allow for caregivers to lay out multiple images for baby to look at. Great for lapsit storytime and baby social time. These are sturdy enough to put into circulation, too!

 

The Trainbow, by Nina Laden, (Aug. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 9781452176413

Ages 0-3

Another foldout board book! This time, a colorful “trainbow” is rolling down the track, with rhyming text reminiscent of Donald Crews’s classic Freight Train. One side folds out into a color study of the cars on the freight train, all inhabited by colorful cartoon art animals and people. The other side features a cheerful rhyme as the train chugs past a group of well-wishers. Die cut pages fold into a rainbow readers will see from either side of the book. The pages are sturdy and will hold up to circulation and storytimes and will easily stand up for display or tummy time. A very cute collection choice from the author of the Peek-a…. series of die-cut board books, another board book collection staple.

 

Baby Hippo Finger Puppet Book, Illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang, (Sept. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797212876

Ages 0-3

I can’t get enough of these adorable finger puppet books! I love putting them up and around my early reading area so my littlest learners can see and easily reach them. Baby Hippo has an exciting day, splashing in the water and playing with her fellow calves, having some grass to eat, and running back to Mama in time to go to sleep. There’s one sentence on each spread except for the last page; gentle blues and greens make up most of the scenery, making this a good naptime/bedtime lapsit choice. Let your kiddos take turns wiggling their fingers inside of the Baby Hippo puppet as you read, letting them act out the story. I won’t lie – the pages are blocky and study, but that puppet is going to go in little mouths, so give them a wipe down with some soap and water if you can. They are durable enough to hold up in circulation.

 

Baby Lion Finger Puppet Book, Illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang, (Sept. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797212869

Ages 0-3

Set up your own jungle adventure storytime by pairing Baby Lion with Baby Hippo. Baby Lion spends his day playing with friends, nuzzling and getting a bath from Mama, taking a nap, exploring, rejoining his family as the sun starts setting. Oranges and yellows are the main colors here, with greens, blues, and browns joining the natural colors that dominate this story of life on the African Savanna. The Baby Lion finger puppet will easily accommodate a couple of tiny fingers to wiggle around and act out the story. These books are very sturdy and will hold up to multiple readings and in circulation; with all the finger puppet books, my suggestion is to wipe them down; I’ve seen my in-house copies are going in little mouths as toddlers and babies use all of their senses to explore.

 

Mr. Bear’s World of Food, by Virginie Aracil, (Sept. 2022, Twirl Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9791036345173

Ages 2-5

This oversize book has so much to discover! Mr. Bear just loves food, and takes readers on a trip through their taste buds to learn about different types of flavors, including sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami. Each spread introduces a new flavor, showcases foods with those flavors, and a little commentary from Mr. Bear on how each one makes him feel. Salty makes Mr. Bear thirsty; he thinks bitter, like coffee, tastes funny; fried makes him feel warm and toasty. Foods are labeled, expanding vocabularies, and introducing children to all sorts of different food, from endive and radicchio to miso and mushrooms; seasonings like vanilla bean and star anise to rich foods like salmon and whipped cream. A section of Favorite Foods features popular comfort foods – ask readers what they love most! – and Foods to Share encourages readers to share the love. There are lift-the-flaps and pop-ups to further delight readers, and a baguette bookmark assures readers can return to their favorite spreads again and again. Great for a yummy storytime! Originally published in France in 2021, this Mr. Bear book accompanies the three previous titles: Mr. Bear’s ABC, Mr. Bear’s Birthday, and Mr. Bear’s Colors.

 

So Many Kisses!, by Alexandra Garibal/Illustrated by Claudia Bielinksy, (Sept. 2022, Twirl Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9791036348822

Ages 0-3

An adorable board book that’s just perfect for a cuddly lapsit storytime. Adorable animals have a lovefest and show off all the fun ways of showing affection! Do you prefer a nose-to-nose kiss? Maybe a foot-to-foot kiss is more your style. An octopus loves to give tickly kisses, and a porcupine is there to give prickly kisses! Colorful animals and colorful backgrounds engage kids’ attention and different “kissy sounds” give readers a chance to really make this a fun readaloud. Originally published in France in 2021, So Many Kisses! gives readers the opportunity to show their caregivers how they like to be kissed and hugged.

 

Bookscape Board Books: We Love Books!, Illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius, (Oct. 2022, Chronicle Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9781797215587

Ages 0-3

Bookscape Board Books pack a little world into each book! We Love Books is all about developing a love of books, showing readers that they can enjoy a book just about anywhere, and maybe even consider writing a book one day. Arrhenius’s bold artwork is eye-catching, and the die cuts work together to create a layered world that reveals more with each turn of a page. Sturdy and absolute fun for exploring hands and minds, the Bookscape series is great for young learners. We Love Books is the fifth in the series and is great for board book collections. See more of Ingela P. Arrhenius’s illustration work on her Instagram.

 

Little Wild Animal Hugs, by Hans Wilhelm/Illustrated by Wednesday Kirwan, (Oct. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9781797207186

Ages 1-3

Pair this one up with So Many Kisses! for your cuddly lapsit! Little wild animals love hugging, and this die-cut board book allows readers to mix and match the hugs. When a monkey and a seal hug, they make a Chitter-Chatter, Splish-Splash Hug! A porcupine and a lion make a Prickly-Prickly, Roar-Roar Hug! You can read this in a different way each time, just mix and match your animals any way you please. Die cuts make the animals look like they really do hug, and colorful cartoon art shows affectionate, lovable animal friends sharing affectionate embraces. Perfect for readalouds.

 

TouchWords: Color Cards : Touch and Feel, Illustrated by Rilla Alexander, (Sept. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9781797214993

This oversized deck of ten cards is perfect for learning color. The die-cut cards let little hands feel and trace color names and a primary image on each card. Card backs show different shades of the featured color and other items of the same color. Purple is the color of a violet, with accompanying vocabulary words to help kids visualize and identify the world around them: flower / blossom / petals / leaf / stem / wild / delicate. On the back, shades of lilac, violet, and indigo give children additional shades of color, with examples including an iris, an eggplant, and grape jelly. The cards are study and will hold up to exploration; you may lose some in circulation, but keep a set or two handy for your storytime/playgroup collection.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

STEAM-pressed flipped fairy tale: Jo Bright and the Seven Bots

Jo Bright and the Seven Bots, by Deborah Underwood/Illustrated by Meg Hunt, (Sept. 2022, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781452171302

Ages 4-7

The creators of fun flipped fairy tales Interstellar Cinderella and Reading Beauty are back with a fun tinkering tale that will be popular in STEM/STEAM storytimes, fairy tale storytimes, and any time. Jo Bright is a tinkerer with a talent for building bots despite the selfish queen not sharing her supplies. Even Mirror-bot knows the score, telling the queen that “your bots are great, ’tis true, / but Jo Bright has become / a better bot-builder than you”, sending the queen into a tizzy and getting Jo dropped off by a dragon’s lair. Turns out, the vegetarian dragon took to the woods to escape the queen, too, and bonds with Jo, who creates seven bots to keep the lonely dragon company. When the queen discovers that Jo is still the superior bot-maker, she takes things even further! Mixed media illustrations are just plain fun, with adorable robots, diverse and interesting background characters, and a likable blue-haired heroine with a talent for creating. Endpapers add a little extra fun to the story. The rhyming verse is easy to read and makes for a lively readaloud. Pair this one with Ashley Spires’s The Most Magnificent Thing (2014) for a fun STEAM story, and leave out some LEGOs for post-storytime play.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The new workplace: HELP MOM WORK FROM HOME

Help Mom Work from Home!, by Diana Murray/Illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld (Oct. 2021, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), $17.99, ISBN: 9780316273657

Ages 4-7

With more parents working from home than ever before, Help Mom Work from Home! is a fun, rhyming readaloud that speaks to the work-life balance. A mom is working from home and her little one is right next to her, modeling everything from Mom’s hot beverage of choice to taking notes and important phone calls. Mom looks a little frazzled, though: it must be time for a break! Learning how to relax and take the chaos of home life as it comes, the story then leads into a look at making time for creative play and work – little one stacks cups as Mom packs boxes; they make deliveries together, they even straighten up their workplaces together. Endpapers show Mom’s packed schedule, with a childlike drawing of a solitary kid holding a red balloon scrawled across the calendar loaded with deadlines and meetings; back endpapers show a much happier schedule, filled with playdates, game nights, and library visits, and a drawing of Mom and child together, playing soccer. Is it an easy answer to the work/parent from home question? No, but it’s a helpful addition to the ever-increasing dialogue. A recognizable and relevant story with playful rhyme, Help Mom Work from Home! is a good addition to picture book collections. Visit Diana Murray’s author webpage for free printables including a word search and DIY desk nameplate.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Take your baby traveling with Feather Flores’s new picture book series!

Author and editor Feather Flores is breathing new life into a series of city-based books from Chronicle! Great for touristing families and residents alike, these rhyming looks at popular U.S. cities feature families of color enjoying the sights. Let’s take a look at two of them.

Los Angeles, Baby!, by Feather Flores/Illustrated by Asia Ellington, (Aug. 2022, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781797207216

Ages 3-5

A family heads out to explore Los Angeles on a bright, sunny day! Mom and Dad buckle their daughter into the car and head out for adventure, visiting such sights as the Pier, famed restaurant The Grove, and the La Brea Tar Pits. At night, they head to historic Olvera Street and take in a show at the Hollywood Bowl. Lively rhyming text and vibrant digital illustration show diverse people enjoying the daily hustle and bustle of the city while pointing out some popular tourist sites. Endpapers feature different landmarks in bright and darker yellow, like Hollywood stars and shopping bags, film reels and the Hollywood Bowl. Start a travel storytime and have your kiddos make their own stars to create a Walk – or a Wall – of Fame at your library, and bust out the tissue paper and your papel picado templates for an Olvera Street-related craft.

Make a travel display or booktalk this to families looking for travel-related books. Consider displaying with Byron Barton’s Airport, Richard Scarry’s A Day at the Airport, Paul and Peter Reynolds’s Going Places, and Barefoot Books’s Amazing Places.

 

 

Texas, Baby!, by Feather Flores/Illustrated by David DePasquale, (Aug. 2022, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781797207223

Ages 3-5

Yee-haw, cowhands! Join a family as they head out on a tour through the Lone Star State! Rhyming phrases, bold text, and a diverse cast of characters are just the beginning of what makes this such a fun and vibrant book for toddlers and preschoolers. A girl and her dad are the main characters here, stopping off at the Fort Worth Stockyards to take in a rodeo, visiting the Space Center at Houston, enjoying a Tex-Mex lunch, and visiting the Alamo. There’s BBQ, western dancing, and bluebonnets to give readers the full Texas experience. Endpapers show a mix of things to discover, from armadillos and ten gallon hats to space shuttles and cactus. Have paper bags and construction paper on hand for cowboy crafts, cardboard tubes for rocket crafts, and crayons for this Texas Bluebonnet coloring page.

Other Travel, Baby! (my own title; I didn’t see a name for the series yet) books in this series include Chicago, Baby! and Washington, DC, Baby! by Feather Flores. San Francisco, Baby! and New York, Baby!, both illustrated by Ward Jenkins, were released in 2012 and are still available.

 

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

I’m a Neutrino – great for science storytimes

I’m a Neutrino: Tiny Particles in a Big Universe, by Dr. Eve M. Vavagiakis/Illustrated by Ilze Lemesis, (March 2022, MIT Kids Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536222074

Ages 7-9

If you enjoy Chris Ferrie’s Baby University books, and Ruth Spiro and Irene Chan’s Baby Loves Science board books, you’re going to flip for I’m a Neutrino, a rhyming science tale by a Cornell physicist and her illustrator mother. I’m a Neutrino  introduces burgeoning young scientists to the neutrino: “I am a particle, like electrons and light / I can pass through you without stopping my flight!” The neutrinos, depicted as bright, colorful, spiky-headed little beings, adventure throughout the story, dancing and playing across the cosmos as a diverse group of kids and adults try to unlock their mysteries. The rhyming text informs with a playful tone, and the accompanying illustrations make science exciting and fun while adding new science terms to readers’ vocabularies. A “Know Your Neutrinos” section in the back matter identifies and gives a little more factual information about the neutrinos we encounter in the story.

There isn’t a glossary of new words in this volume, so consider making some flash cards to hand out, to help readers navigate these new words. You can find more about neutrinos at Kiddle and Academic Kids.

This is the first collaboration between Dr. Vavagiakis and MIT Kids and a natural progression for readers who started reading science board books like Chris Ferrie’s and Ruth Spiro and Irene Chan’s series as toddlers and preschoolers. Great for a science storytime, Junior Discovery Club, or STEM class.

Visit Eve Vavagiakis’s webpage for more about her research and mentoring.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Pout-Pout Fish returns!

The Pout-Pout Fish and the Worry Worry Whale, by Deborah Diesen/Illustrated by Dan Hanna, (June 2022, Farrar, Straus & Giroux), $18.99, ISBN: 9780374389307

Ages 3-6

The Pout-Pout Fish is back and helping a friend overcome anxiety in the newest Pout-Pout story! Pout-Pout is off to a party when he meets his friend, Willa Whale. Willa, who’s also supposed to be going to the party, is petrified with anxiety. What if there are too many guests? What if she doesn’t know what to say, or if no one wants to play with her? There is so much to worry about, but Mr. Fish is ready with some easy-to-follow tips to relieve her stress and get her to the party, where he checks in with her and makes sure she’s having a good time and feeling supported.  The tips are great for Willa, and for younger readers who may need some coping tips for anxiety, too. Rhyming text and familiar, friendly faces will draw readers in right away. Kids may relate to Willa’s dilemma and appreciate seeing others with the same worries and ways to overcome them.

The Pout-Pout Fish books fit nicely into the CSLP Summer Reading “Oceans of Possibilities” theme. Visit the Pout-Pout Fish website for a look at all the Pout-Pout titles and free downloadables. Pair and display with Guido van Genechten’s Little White Fish books. For more about breathing exercises to relieve anxiety for children, visit this page on The Children’s Bureau’s website.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Books about Birds

Birds are a great storytime theme: there are great songs and fingerplays, crafts are plentiful and adorable, and there’s a bird for every season. I’ve got some new(ish) bird books for your storytimes right here; let’s see what’s good.

Odd Birds: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Flock, by Laura Gehl/Illustrated by Gareth Lucas, (June 2022, Abrams Appleseed), $8.99, ISBN: 9781419742231

Ages 2-4

Laura Gehl and Gareth Lucas’s companion board book to Odd Beasts (2021) has gone to the birds! Odd Birds is a rhyming look at eight different birds, all with unusual characteristics: “This seabird has a pouch. / This booby has blue feet. / This shoebill’s beak is huge. / This ostrich likes the heat.” Striking, colorful illustration brings these birds to life, with a new spread for every encounter. Back matter includes photos and descriptions on each of the eight featured birds: the magnificent frigatebird; the blue-footed booby; the ostrich; the shoebill stork; the hoatzin; the oilbird; the California condor, and the burrowing owl. An excellent storytime choice.

 

The Song of the Nightingale, by  Tanya Landman/Illustrated by Laura Carlin, (Apr. 2022, Candlewick Studio), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217681

Ages 6-9

A newly created world thrums with color, but the animals are so drab! The Painter sets to work, imbuing each animal with color and patterns, from the striped zebras and blue whales to the golden scarab beetle. As the day comes to an end and the animals head back to their homes, the Painter discovers a shy bird, preferring the quiet and stillness of the nighttime, has come forward for a splash of color. Will the Painter have enough paint left?

This rich story carries the lyricism and storytelling magic of myth and legend. Tanya Landman uses sporadic rhyme, alliteration, and humor to tell her story and enchant readers. Watercolor, acrylic, and pencil illustrations add a dreamlike quality, letting readers easily imagine an omniscient Painter wielding a paintbrush to bring color to their world. Th titular character’s gift adds a final spark of wonder. Endpapers show black and white and colorful menageries. A gorgeous story that wraps itself around readers.

Show kids a picture of a nightingale at National Geographic. Print out some coloring pages and let kids become Painters! Here are some nightingale pictures, and here are some wild animal coloring pages.

 

Chirp!, by Mary Murphy, (March 2022, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217698

Ages 2-6

Mary Murphy has entered that realm of go-to authors I always have ready for anyone who asks me for book suggestions for early readers: Eric Carle, Lois Ehlert, Donald Crews, and Mary Murphy. With Chirp!, different birds show off their different songs as the night gradually moves toward a bright new day. A little bluebird demands their turn, and the other birds join in, serenading the new day. Bold, easy-to-read fonts and high-contrast illustrations make this an excellent lapsit choice for babies, too!

With colorful, bold illustrations, cheerful rhymes, and lovable characters, kids love looking at her books, and grownups love reading them. An insta-buy for storytime collections.

 

The Legend of the Storm Goose, by Fiona Halliday, (Feb. 2022, Page Street Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781645673484

Ages 5-8

Fiona Halliday creates a legend, inspired by the Scottish coastline of her childhood, about a magical bird that protects those who live and work along the coast. Erin is a little girl living with her dad and her Nana, and loves hearing her father’s stories about the Storm Goose, a great white bird who protects him while he’s at sea. Shortly after he returns to the sea, a terrible storm hits and she discovers an injured bird, tangled in a net. Is it the Storm Goose? And if it is, who’s protecting her Papa?

The Legend of the Storm Goose is a moving story of grief, loss, and recovery. Illustrations add a mythic quality to the overall look and feel of the story, with the Storm Goose wreathed in gold dust; a shimmering aura. A sensitive story about healing oneself by healing another.

Posted in Intermediate, picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Books About Nature to Brighten Your Spring

It’s time for a roundup! This time, we’ve got nature books to enjoy now that the Spring weather finally looks like it’s going to stick around. Get comfortable by your favorite tree, or sit in the warmth of the sun, and enjoy some of these Spring-y books.

Be Thankful for Trees : A tribute to the many & surprising ways trees relate to our lives, by Harriet Ziefert/Illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald, (March 2022, Red Comet Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781636550206

Ages 4-8

This is a fantastic way to introduce younger readers to all the great ways people and animals depend on trees! A rhyming tale expounds on the seven big things trees provide: food; comfort; music; art; recreation; home, and life. Colorful illustrations shows trees in nature, and how they’re used in day-to-day life, from providing a forest full of animals with food, to a kitchen table seating a family for dinner; from a child playing a piano, to a bird feeding her babies high up on a branch. Each area opens with a repetitive question and answer: “Would life be satisfying/good/possible without trees? It would not!” During a read-aloud, it’s the perfect opportunity for interaction; invite your littles to tell you what they think. The verse reminds also readers that trees are essential to life on earth, and the man-made disasters that threaten them, like deforestation and forest fire; Ziefert encourages readers to “explore a cool forest with its pine-scented breeze” and to “remember forever, BE THANKFUL FOR TREES!”. Playful, cheery color illustrations add to the fun verse, and golden leaves pop from the blue endpapers, really making this a wonderful book for early childhood natural science readalouds.

Author Harriet Ziefert has written hundreds of children’s books. You can see more of illustrator Brian Fitzgerald’s work at his website.

Visit Red Comet’s book detail page for a free, downloadable Teachers Guide. TeachersPayTeachers has a wealth of free learning activities about trees. I really like the idea of adopting a “class tree” and journaling observations over the course of a school year, as Robynn Drerup’s class has. Amanda Whitaker also has a fun tree journal for kids. Our Time to Learn’s Tree Animals Coloring sheet is great to hand out after a readaloud.

Firsts and Lasts: The Changing Seasons, by Leda Schubert/Illustrated by Clover Robin, (March 2022, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536211023

Ages 4-8

Every season comes with its own unique firsts and lasts. Leda Schubert and illustrator Clover Robin beautifully capture these moments in Firsts and Lasts: The Changing Season. Organized by season, the book offers gentle observation designed to provoke memories and warm feelings as we follow family through the year: Spring is the last time they (and we) wear snowsuits and build snow forts, but it’s the first time they see new grass, and wash the car; in the Fall, it’s the last time for things like going to the ice cream stand, but it’s the first time for seeing wooly caterpillars and jumping in leaves. Cut paper illustrations add a playful whimsy and the colors capture the feelings for each season; crisp winter skies and warm autumn leaves; bright spring flowers and lush summer landscapes. It’s a wonderful illustration of the transition nature – and people! – go through from season to season, and offers opportunities for kids to share their observations on seasonal change.

First and Lasts has a starred review from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

KB3Teach has a fun Seasons Cut and Paste activity on TeachersPayTeachers that nicely extends this book. Teresa Tretbar’s Amazing Literacy has seasonal coloring pages and posters for you to hand out, too.

Olaf Hajek’s Fantastic Fruits, by Olaf Hajek (Illustrations) and Annette Roeder (Text), (Apr. 2022, Prestel Junior), $19.95, ISBN: 9783791375069

Ages 6-9

Olaf Hajek has made beautiful art from vegetables and flowers; now, fruit gets the Hajek treatment in Olaf Hajek’s Fantastic Fruits. Annette Roeder returns to provide fun and interesting profiles on 25 fruits, like the pomegranate, also known as the “apple of discord” that was created, according to Greek myth, by an angry goddess of strife and discord; the banana, whose curve is slowly being bred out of the fruit in order to make for easier stacking; and the fig, whose juice can help against insect bites. Factual information on each fruit’s countries of origin, and other names and varieties of each fruit run across the bottom of each profile, and – as we’ve come to expect from Hajek – colorful, stunning portraits are the star of the show in this oversized volume. A fox and a woman collect orange juice from giant fruits hanging from a tree in one painting; another woman serves cherry cake to a young boy and a bird as cherries hang from a tree and provide a headdress; a porcupine carries a gigantic blackberry and raspberry on its back through a field. Hajek’s playfully surreal artwork is sure to catch eyes and make new fans as they pore through the pages of this gorgeous book. Great for art sections and 634 sections (fruits, naturally!).

Visit Olaf Hajek’s illustrator webpage for more of his work.

 

What’s Cooking in Flowerville? Recipes from Balconies, Rooftops, and Gardens, by Felicita Sala, (Apr. 2022, Prestel Junior), $14.95, ISBN: 9783791375182

Ages 6-10

Flowerville is a bustling, multicultural neighborhood where everyone loves to grow and share food! Beginning in April, the book takes readers through the year, month by month, with Flowerville citizens tending to their plants: in April, Maria chops down her asparagus spears; in July, Ramon tests the floating ability of a cucumber as his parent waters the plants. Each month features a new recipe, made with ingredients shown in the artwork. In July, we get creamy tzatziki sauce; in November, roasted beet dip. Warm and colorful artwork shows families and friends sharing food and friendship, and gardening tips and recipes make this a handy gardening guide for families and classes. Pair with Francine Sala’s What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street and Cynthia Cliff’s Pie for Breakfast for a worldwide trip for the palate.

Felicita Sala’s webpage has more of her illustration work, and a link to her food illustration is a must-see.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

What is The Most Important Thing?

The Most Important Thing, by Antonella Abbatiello, (March 2022, Red Comet Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781636550220

Ages 3-6

A group of animals has a discussion about what each considers “the most important thing”. Is it to have long ears, to hear any potential danger? Quills, to protect oneself? Maybe it’s a long neck, to keep an eye out for danger. Each animals takes a turn expounding on why a quality they possess is the most important, and the other animals envision themselves with those traits in amusing, large-size foldout spreads, and the recurring rhyming phrase, “That could be true. / Perhaps it is so. ‘ It could be [trait], / but how can we know?” helps readers with predicting what’s coming next. A wise owl weighs in with the importance of uniqueness and variety being important, bringing home the message that everyone is unique; everyone has a special quality that makes them special and important. Flaps are sturdy and fun to fold out, and the illustrations of elephants with quills; flying snakes and foxes; giraffes and alligators with gopher teeth, and more make this a home run for storytime reading.

The Most Important Thing was originally published in Italy in 1998, and it beautifully holds up today. Download the free activity kit through the Red Comet website and have copies on hand for a storytime activity.