Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Santa’s Story by Will Hillenbrand

It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa’s sleigh is packed and ready to go. The reindeer are off, doing their own thing: dancing and prancing, dozing, boasting… but when Santa calls them to get ready to leave, no one is showing up! What the heck is going on? And then, Santa remembers: he almost forgot the most important step of all!

Santa’s Story, by Will Hillenbrand, (Sept. 2019, Two Lions), $17.00, ISBN: 9781542043380
Ages 3-7

This cuddly Christmas story is perfect for kids who understand the power of routine. Who wants to go to bed without a good night story? No one! Well, no reindeer wants to take off for a long night’s ride without a story to get them ready, either. When Santa puts out the call, the reindeer don’t respond until Santa says the phrase they’ve been waiting to hear: “STORY TIME!” It’s an adorable story that kids will see themselves in, and parents and caregivers sure will, too. This can be a lead-in to the famous Clement Moore poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”  and the start of a new Christmas ritual – the kids will love it if you tell them that you’re reading the same story that Santa reads to his reindeer before they head out to bring gifts to their homes! Get your hot chocolate ready, and put out extra cookies and milk for the kids to share, pre-Santa.

Will Hillenbrand’s artwork is soft and sweet, perfectly cuddly to match the story. The snow looks cottony soft, and the cartoony reindeer and other North Pole denizens are earth-toned against the brilliant white snow, and Santa’s bright red (and green book) is an attention-getter. Pair this with Will Hillenbrand’s Snowman’s Story for a sweet Christmas storytime, and make sure to visit Hillenbrand’s author website for free Snowman downloadables.

Praise for SANTA’S STORY:

“Hillenbrand’s digital illustrations have a pleasingly soft visual aesthetic…A merrily-ever-after read.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Hillenbrand reveals the spirited goings on in snowy, buoyant digital pictures featuring expressive reindeer and a jolly Santa who would be right at home in an animated movie. A light and cheery holiday tribute to tradition and storytelling.” —Publishers Weekly

“Interesting vocabulary, a touch of suspense, and a satisfying conclusion make this simple story a good addition to holiday collections.” —School Library Journal

Will Hillenbrand has written and illustrated many beloved picture books, including Snowman’s Story, Down by the Barn, Mother Goose Picture Puzzles, and the Bear and Mole series. He has also illustrated dozens of books, including the Big Bear series by Maureen Wright. Will lives with his wife and son in Terrace Park, Ohio. You can find out more about him at www.willhillenbrand.com.

Connect with Will on Facebook

On Instagram: willhillenbrand

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, picture books

A change in perspective: Mr. Posey’s New Glasses

Mr. Posey’s New Glasses, by Ted Kooser/Illustrated by Daniel Duncan, (Apr. 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763696092

Ages 6-9

Mr. Posey is an older gent who’s feeling down. When he puts his glasses on, everything looks boring. Everything is just the same, same, same, and he wants to do something about it! He heads to the thrift store with his young friend, Andy, and starts trying on glasses from a big barrel, with… interesting results. The star-shaped glasses transport him to a field, where he can see all the constellations in the night sky, but it’s much too dark for him. The stripy brown frames bring him underwater, where some mean-looking fish swim around him, menacingly. The big, round lenses send the room spinning, and the cat=shaped frames put him in a field, pursued by dogs! Nothing clicks for him, no matter how many frames he tries on – and then, Andy notices that his glasses are dirty. Once Mr. Posey cleans his glasses, everything is clear and colorful again! Mr. Posey’s New Glasses is all about how we see things; what filters we have in place that color how we enjoy – or are brought down by – the world around us. There’s a lovely inter-generational friendship between Mr. Posey and his young friend, Andy; Andy also helps give Mr. Posey some perspective, noticing his dirty glasses and rejuvenating his attitude. The story is fun, and meatier than most picture books; this one is good for first to third graders. The digital artwork is tinged with a tan overlay and muted colors for most of the book, letting readers experience things as Mr. Posey does, but once he clears his glasses up, color becomes more lively, with pink store signs, blue skies, and colorful buildings. The thrift store is eclectic and has a great feel to it. This is a great book to start a discussion on how one’s outlook can affect mood, and how imagination can help spice things up. (Psst… glasses craft!)

Ted Kooser is a former US Poet Laureate and has a weekly column on American life in poetry available on his website.

 

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

Stanley the Hamster heads off to school in his latest picture book adventure

Stanley’s School, by William Bee, (Oct. 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $14.95, ISBN: 9781682630709

Ages 3-7

It’s another busy day at Stanley’s school, as he and his assistant, Hattie, get ready to welcome their students. The children follow their morning routine of hanging up their hats, bags, and teddy bears, and sit on the carpet while Stanley calls attendance. At storytime, they dress up: Sophie as a dragon, Little Woo as a knight, and Benjamin, a princess, complete with blue crown and tutu. There’s playtime, time in the garden, lunch, nap, and art to end the day, and Stanley brings his busy day to a close with supper and a bath.

The Stanley books are a hit because they’re adorable. They’re provide children with introductions to different careers, the direct, concise text is great for newly confident readers and for storytime, and the digital artwork is simple, attractive, and fun, with bright colors and bold lines. William Bee doesn’t limit gender roles in Stanley’s School, putting a kid named Benjamin in princess garb. (Jessica Spanyol’s Clive series is another good series that bucks genderized norms.)

Stanley’s School was on shelves in time for back-to-school, but it’s a great choice for storytimes now, because younger kids will recognize the students’ daily routine. It won’t be new and exciting or nerve-wracking; it’ll be familiar and comfortable. Let the kids tell you what else their daily routines include, and tell them yours. Do you, like Stanley, get home, eat, and go to bed? Maybe you play with a pet, or eat dinner with your family, or read to your kids. Stanley’s School is all about comforting routines, and a good add to your shelves.

There’s a school supply activity sheet free for download on the Peachtree website; you’ll find other Stanley activity sheets there, too. Stanley fans can find out more about Stanley’s world on the Peachtree Stanley Fan Site.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board Books for everyone!

I’ve been on a board book kick the last couple of months. I’ve mentioned before that I’m always on the lookout for fun, new board books that tell a story or teach concepts in a fun way. These are a few I’ve come across on my recent wanderings.

10, 9, 8… Owls Up Late!, by Georgiana Deutsch & Ekaterina Trukhan, (Feb. 2018, Silver Dolphin), $9.99, ISBN: 9781684121847

Recommended for 3-6

This rhyming, counting book is just too  much fun. Ten little owls are playing in a tree, when Mama Owl calls, “It’s time for you to rest!” One by one, each of the birds listen to Mama and flies down to the nest, but it’s a lot of fun while they take their time! Each spread is die-cut, as is the cover, to highlight different owls, hanging out in the tree. Each number appears in a star on the upper left hand side of the spread, easily letting readers know which number they’re on; owls and other inhabitants of the tree are cartoony and colorful, with little individual touches like a pair of earmuffs here, a nightcap there. The repetitive text assures that you’ll have company reciting this fun bedtime countdown in no time, and a spread numbering 1-10, counting up with the owls, finishes off this adorable board book. This book invites readers to really explore and have fun with the book, turning pages and wiggling fingers through die cuts.

 

You’re My Little Cuddle Bug, by Nicola Edwards/Illustrated by Natalie Marshall, (Feb. 2018, Silver Dolphin), $8.99, ISBN: 9781684122585

Recommended for readers 0-5

Books like this are my weakness. I love, love, LOVE books about snuggling and cuddling, and I’ve been known to refer to my little one as my “snuggle buggy” and “cuddle buggy”. I love reading these books in storytime, because it gives my caregivers kissy-huggy-snuggly time with their little ones. Rhyming text and die-cut/raised bug caregivers and little ones lead readers through a story that’s just about loving and being loved: “You’re my little ladybug, You brighten up my day/With rosy cheeks you smile at me, And chase my blues away”. Bumblebees, caterpillars, butterflies, and beetles are all here, with cartoony, sweet, expressively large eyes and bright colors. You have to have this book on your shelves and in your gift cart. Add some Joyce Wan books (You Are My Cupcake, You Are My Pumpkin, We Belong Together) and you are set!

 

Black Bird, Yellow Sun, by Steve Light, (March 2018, Candlewick Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9780763690670

Recommended for 0-3

I love Steve Light’s books! This is a departure from his “Have You Seen My…” series, and I’m excited to see him introduce concepts. In Black Bird, Yellow Sun, we meet a black bird as he goes through his day, set off against the colors he interacts with: yellow sun, orange leaves, purple grapes, green grass, red snake, gray rocks, pink flowers, and finally, a blue moon. The repetition of the black bird on each spread makes for nice continuity for the kids, who will pick up that the bird is there each time; explain that the bird goes through its day in terms of colors, and ask kids what colors they meet throughout their days. A perfect concept board book for storytimes, gifts, and collections. Black Bird Yellow Sun has a starred review from School Library Journal.

 

In the Rain, by Elizabeth Spurr/Illustrated by Manelle Oliphant, (March 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $6.95, ISBN: 978-1-56145-853-0

Recommended for 0-4

Some kids may be disappointed when the rain begins, but not this little girl! She puts on her slicker and heads outdoors to sail a boat, stomp in puddles, and make mud pies! This fun exploration of weather and play stars a child of color, illustrated joyfully and realistically by Manelle Oliphant. I was excited to find out that author Elizabeth Spurr and Manelle Oliphant have a whole series of “In the…” and “At the…” board books that explore weather, nature, and play! I’ll be adding these to my next purchase cart for sure; the rhyming text, short sentences, and beautiful illustrations make these a great storytime read!