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

Board Books everywhere!

It’s time for another board books rundown! I’ve got a pile that begs to be shared and enjoyed. Let’s see what’s cooking.

My Big Birthday Party, by Jeffrey Turner, (May 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361050

Ages 0-3

Schiffer’s board book program has just taken off. They’ve been putting out consistently great concept books, working with great authors and illustrators, for a few years now and I get excited whenever a box shows up for me. Author Jeffrey Turner has been putting out a series of board books to explain concepts, starring a fluffy white poodle. My Big Birthday Party explains opposites, framing the words in the context of Poodle’s birthday party. Lights are off, then turned on to reveal friends of all shapes and sizes, holding gifts; we see the group from the front and back; piles of gifts are closed, then opened; we see a page loaded with colorful balloons, illustrating “more”; when Poodle’s friend Porcupine enters the page, we see a burst balloon, and “less”. Colorful, bright digital artwork holds exciting reveals on each page, and a note about the science of magnets – a branch concerned with opposites! – closes out the book. It’s a great way to communicate the concept to newly budding STEM/STEAM learners. Schiffer Kids’s Resource Hub has free, downloadable coloring sheets, too!

 

Smile, Baby! (Beginning Baby), (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9781452170923

Ages 0-3

Chronicle has a new board book series debuting, and it is adorable. Beginning Baby addresses developmental milestones, teaches motor control and self-identification, and is loaded with friendly characters and bright colors. A series of questions about finding baby’s smile, nose, ears, eyes, cheeks, and mouth take readers through each page, with a die-cut revealing a mirror for baby to see themselves in at all times. Each question comes with an activity for baby and caregiver: blow a kiss, pat baby’s cheeks, find baby’s ears and nose. Perfect for lapsit reading, this is a great way to bond with baby: let baby see you reading in the mirror with them, and let them learn the parts of their face with colorful words paired with loving gestures as you tickle baby’s cheeks, blow kisses, give a brushing kiss on their eyes. What a fun way to snuggle and read together!

 

10 Hugs and Kisses (Beginning Baby), (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781452170947

Ages 0-3

Another Beginning Baby book! This one is all about cuddles and counting from 1 to 10. Sweetly affectionate animals count their hugs and kisses through each rhyming spread, making for a perfect lapsit where caregiver and little one can join in for hugging, smiles, and butterfly kisses. A big number on the left-hand page stands out against the background; the book invites readers to trace the numbers as they go through the story. Pairs nicely with Karen Katz’s Counting Kisses.

 

Welcome to Shape School!, (Beginning Baby), (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781452170947

Ages 0-3

It’s a day at Shape School! Our animal friends (Gabriel Gabriel Giraffe, Elijah Elephant, Riley Narwhal, Mia Monkey, Layla Llama, Paisley Octopus, and Mateo Red Panda) want you to help them navigate all the space challenges they encounter in school: count squares, touch the three points on a triangle, outline the ovals in a book nook, and press hearts in the garden, for starters. There are 9 tabs that let kids explore each shape, and something new to discover on each spread. Helping develop story-following and fine motor skills and helping reinforce understanding shapes, this is just an adorable book for littles to enjoy.

 

Who is Hiding in the Sea?, by Marc Clamens & Laurence Jammes, (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764361029

Ages 0-6

A board book and puzzle all in one sends kids underwater to explore. Four underwater spreads to discover, and eight punch-out puzzle pieces of underwater friends to set into their homes. Each animal fits into a die-cut piece hidden under flaps: who lives in the sea anemones? Where does the seahorse call home? Facts under each flap provide a little more information on the animal that fits in the space, and colorful artwork gets readers’ attention with cute, friendly underwater buddies. Great for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination for littles, learning about underwater life and habitats for bigger kids, this is a collection you’ll need a few copies for if you’re circulating the book (or put out when you put your toys out).

 

Who Is Hiding in the Forest? by Marc Clamens & Laurence Jammes, (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764361012

Ages 0-6

Another Who is Hiding? book by Marc Clamens and Laurence Jammes, this board book includes 8 puzzle pieces of forest friends. Kids can look for homes for a badger, squirrel, fox, wild piglet, fawn, bat, beaver, and owl, across four wintry forest spreads. Who hides in the tree, and who makes a lodge out of mud and banches? Where do these little animals go to stay warm? These are such sturdy pages, flaps, and puzzles pieces, assuring that they’ll hold up to multiple reads. Make sure to have a few copies on hand, especially if you’re putting them into circulation. Pair with animal coloring sheets, like these cute ones from Simple Everyday Mom, or animal toys and go over names for each animal.

 

Mommy, You’re Amazing, by Roger Priddy, (March 2021, Priddy Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781684491254

Ages 0-3

Part scrapbook, part board book, Mommy, You’re Amazing is a celebration of moments between mommy and child. Each spread has a rhyming passage about why Mommy is amazing: for discovering new things, dancing and singing together, or playing imagination games being just a few of the great things mommies do. Each spread has a space for a keepsake, whether it’s an envelope to hold little treasures, like those dandelions we all get, or slots to slide in photos, drawing spaces, or a spot to write a story. It’s a warm, loving keepsake that moms will adore (and a darned good baby shower gift).

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, picture books

Picture book STEM with second-grader, Geraldine: Gizmo Girl!

I’ve got two STEM picture books from Schiffer Publishing, by author Sol Regwan and illustrator Denise Muzzio. The Gizmo Girl series stars a second grader named Geraldine. If you have readers who enjoyed Pip Jones’s Izzy Gizmo, Andrea Beaty’s Questioneers series, or Ashley Spires’s The Most Magnificent Thing, this series should be next on their reading lists.

 

Geraldine and the Most Spectacular Science Project, by Sol Regwan/Illustrated by Denise Muzzio, (Feb. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764358982

Ages 5-8

Geraldine is a second grader who loves to call herself a troublemaker, but she’s really not. She’s curious, a budding astronaut and scientist, and just needs a little focus, which she gets when her teacher announces a science contest! The winner gets a trophy and the title of Best Second-Grade Scientist, and Geraldine knows she has to win. She puts her talent for tinkering to work and gets out her piles of gadgets, screws, electronic parts, and other bits and pieces she’s scavenged from her parents (sometimes, while they were still in use), and thinks about what to make that would win first prize. Will it be good enough to impress her teacher and take home the gold? A fun story with a rambunctious heroine, Geraldine and the Most Spectacular Science Project is a good STEM/STEAM picture book for kids who still love picture books, but are ready to take on more complex text. The story provides a look at some popular science fair projects, like the erupting volcano and solar system mobile; teachers who are prepping classes for a science fair should kick off with this one, particularly for first- and second-graders. Illustrations are colorful and cheerful, and present a diverse group of learners. The cover and endpapers are a nod to Geraldine’s interest in outer space, and her name looks like a fun mashup of technology and gadgets from her project pile. Additional Schiffer Kids readalikes in the back are spotlighted as some of Geraldine’s “favorites”, which is really sweet and invests readers in the character.

Give this one a shot; I think it’s going to be a hit. Kids who are interested in Geraldine’s project can find a similar one here at the HomeScienceTools website.

 

Geraldine and the Space Bees, by Sol Regwan/Illustrated by Denise Muzzio, (Aug. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764359941

Ages 5-8

Gizmo Girl Geraldine waters her mother’s plants one day and notices that there aren’t as many bees as she’s used to seeing. After mentioning it to her mother, she learns that bee populations are on the decline and that pesticides – bug-killing poisons – are a big cause. Geraldine decides to make saving the bees the subject of her next science project: creating a model of something she’d like to send into outer space, for the Space Museum. After thinking over the decline of the bee population and how a spaceship wouldn’t have harmful chemicals aboard, she decides she’s going to build a feeding station that will allow scientists to study bees in space, in a pesticide-free environment! This story delves even further into the scientific process than the first Geraldine book, and it’s really exciting to read and see Geraldine work out the steps in her experiment. Geraldine and the Space Bees makes a great reading choice for science and STEM/STEAM classes, where learners can discuss how they can and would address the environmental factors leading to the decline in bee populations, and why this is such a serious matter. Back matter includes a note about pollination and why bees are so important. Endpapers show bees buzzing around the planets in outer space, a nod to the story inside. A note at the end of the book promises more Gizmo Girl books are coming soon.

Readers who are interested in learning more about the bee crisis can read 6 Ways to Help Honeybees, from the Whole Kids Foundation; A Bee is More Than a Bug from NASA’s Climate Kid webpage; and Why Are Bees Vanishing? from Science News for Students. The Pragmatic Mom blog has a DIY Bee House STEM project that would be a good project to work on over the winter.

Posted in picture books

If there was ever a timely book… King of Boredom

King of Boredom, by Ilaria Guarducci, (Apr. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764359743

Ages 5-8

Pale, thin Ben is a kid who never enjoyed himself. His favorite color is light gray, he likes plain white pasta, he doesn’t really do a whole heck of a lot, and no matter what his parents do, he’s just bored. He pronounces himself the Supreme King of Boredom, locks himself in his room… and decides to make himself a throne. And if you make a throne, you should really have a castle, right? As the Supreme King of Boredom, Ben adds onto his empire, aided by a cardboard box, scissors, some buttons and thread, and the toys in his room. He even takes a lovely queen, who pledges to be bored with him forever. WAIT! Is that… a slight smile?

Who doesn’t have a King (or Queen) or Boredom at home these days? Ben is incredibly relatable to kids stuck indoors and BOOOOOOOORED, and those kids who just don’t know what to do to NOT be bored. The dramatic pronouncement of Supreme King of Boredom is all Ben needed to spark his creativity: he’s got a cardboard box, some supplies, and – whether he realizes it or not – a little bit of imagination. At once a fun book on making and a boredom buster, King of Boredom is a smart summer reading choice for kids who need a little push in the right direction. Colorful artwork, with a taciturn Ben in the center of it all, makes for a fun read. Grab some cardboard, some paper, tape, and glue, and see what you and your Boredom Royalty can create together.

 

Just to clarify, King of Boredom – as with most of the books I read and write about here – was provided to me for free by Schiffer in exchange for a review. I haven’t added this disclaimer in the past, but I want to make sure I’m FTC complaint, so I’ll be tacking a little boilerplate at the bottom of future reviews going forward. Thanks, all!

 

Posted in Fantasy, picture books, Preschool Reads

The Great 2019 Read-Down: Fairy Tales

I love a good fairy tale, and the end of 2019 brought some fun new ones. Here are two of them.

If the Shoe Fits…, by Deborah Guarino/Illustrated by Seth Hippen, (Nov. 2019, Schiffer Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764358432

Ages 5-8

This fun take on Cinderella is the story of Murray, a humble shoemaker who meets a fairy godmother on a very special night. The fairy godmother’s out of magic, and needs some help in the form of a pair of shoes, so her poor godchild could make it to the royal ball. But Murrays clerk, Mona, has designs on being a royal bride herself, and when word gets out that the prince is trying to track down the mysterious woman who left her shoe behind at the ball, she begs Murray to make a shoe in her size, so she can make the big switch and land her prince. Murray, who’s desperately in love with Mona, complies, even though it breaks his heart, but never fear – the fairy godmother isn’t letting anyone take the day away from her godchild!

Told in rhyme, with a sweet Happily Ever After for everyone, is an adorable fractured fairy tale that kids will enjoy and get a good laugh from. The characters are goofy and kind, and the rhyme cadence is instantly familiar once you start reading, letting you fall right into the storytelling. Animator Seth Hippen’s art is cartoony and exaggerated, and loads of fun to look at as you read this progressively crazier fairy tale. Fractured fairy tale lovers will get a big kick out of this.

 

The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears, by Alastair Chisholm/Illustrated by Jez Tuya, (June 2019, Kane Miller Books), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-849-0

Ages 4-8

This book is a RIOT. It’s a fairy tale with The Princess Bride-type humor and takes on fairy tale tropes with delight. A child named Jamie gets ready for bed, and Dad sits down to tell a bedtime story to Jamie’s liking. What we get is a laugh-out loud story of a prince who sets out to rescue a princess – who doesn’t need rescuing, THANK YOU VERY MUCH – and a witch who can turn things to stone or jello, and hideous broccoli castles. Jamie has opinions throughout Dad’s story, which changes events in the telling, and ends with a drowsy kiss goodnight and the promise of more stories to come. My second grader loves the Interrupting Chicken books, and had a ball reading this one with me.

Jez Tuya’s digital artwork adds so much fun and color to this fun, colorful story! Big, expressive eyes, little nuances like the story’s characters showing up as toys in Jamie’s room, and wink/nudge moments throughout the storytelling make this artwork and story a great marriage.

Originally published in the UK in 2018, The Prince and the Witch and the Thief and the Bears is officially one of my bedtime go-tos, and I’m eyeing it for a potential stuffed animal sleepover kickoff in 2020.