Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, programs, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Summer Fun: Escape Room Books

Now that I’m back in the library, I’m trying to think of ways to keep the kids engaged while we have no in-person programming. Enter Escape Room books! My Kiddo and I discovered some fun ones online, like this Dog Man one, but I want to be able to give the kids something to think over while they’re here. Luckily for me, Schiffer Books sent over some escape room books, and I’m thinking these may be my next project.

The Escape Game series by Mélanie Vives and Rémi Prieur, and illustrated by El Gunto, consists of four books right now. They don’t need to be read or played in order; each book has instructions and the story: you’re a member of a time traveling agency called Spatial-Temporal Agency Y. As a high-risk mission specialist, you and your robot companion, Dooz, are sent into different time periods to head off horrible disasters. Together with Dooz, you have to figure out the clues to advance through the adventure and save the day. You can get hints in a different section of the book, and check your answers against Dooz’s “validation grid” – and yes, you can look at the answers, if you really, really need to. Let’s take a look at the adventures!

Escape Game Adventure: The Last Dragon, by Mélanie Vives and Rémi Prieur/Illustrated by El Gunto, (Jan. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764358951

Ages 7-12

We’re going further back in time in this adventure: heading to the 12th century, our mission is to save the last dragon egg, currently in the clutches of an evil king, who wants to make it into a dragon egg omelet! Recover the egg and get it to safety while escaping the castle before the king finds out you’re even there, all while learning about the Middle Ages, magic, and dragons. Perfect for fantasy fans that want to have their own fun adventure; kids will be able to save a wizard, put pieces together to create a coat of arms, and choose the right invisibility potion so you won’t be seen. Use Dooz’s clues – they’re your best way of figuring out what you need to advance! Have pictures of eggs for participants to decorate and take home – or wizard hat crafts available; all you need is a piece of construction paper to roll into a cone, and some stickers or gems and glue!

Have fun with these books, extend the activities into programs if you can, and handouts if you aren’t able to yet. There are so many fun ideas to have with this book as a jumping-off point: make your own coat of arms, have a magic wand workshop (I’m pulling from my old Harry Potter party ideas); decorate with Time Machine clip art.

 

Escape Game Adventure: Trapped in Space, by Mélanie Vives and Rémi Prieur/Illustrated by El Gunto, (Oct. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764360312

Ages 7-12

You and Dooz are being sent to the year 3144 to rescue a crew of astronauts from the planet Vacumy, who have not responded to messages for 24 hours. They’re some of the most intelligent scientists in the universe, and in danger from the evil inhabitants of the star, Hyena, so you need to intervene and find out if the crew is safe, fast! Solving puzzles and logic riddles, you and Dooz will complete your mission and learn about space thanks to helpful callout boxes. The Validation Grid is a fun way of checking your answers without spoilers: follow the page number and your suggested puzzle answer; if you see a thumbs up, you’re good: proceed! If there’s a thumbs down, go back to the drawing board. The artwork is kid-friendly, with big-eyed, friendly robots and aliens, and fun, challenging puzzles that will get your readers thinking and playing with solutions to advance.

Jumping-off activities: we just had an entire Summer Reading program about space two years ago! You know there are oodles of space-related fun activities to be found! Let readers color in their own aliens, or have some craft supplies around so they can make their own.

 

Escape Game Adventure: The Mad Hacker, by Mélanie Vives and Rémi Prieur/Illustrated by El Gunto, (Feb. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764358968

Ages 7-12

All right, in this adventure, you and Dooz are going to the year 2394 to stop a mad hacker named Snarf from releasing a computer virus that will paralyze all the world’s computers! You need to localize and destroy the virus by hacking Snarf’s computers, and then escape from his compound before he finds out what you’re doing there. Solve problems, save the world, and learn about computers thanks to callout boxes. The story is not linear: solving problems will help you jump easily around the book, taking you further into Snarf’s compound and closer to destroying the virus! The answer key is illustrated and step-by-step, but you don’t want to do that, do you? You want to solve these along with your kiddos! Choose from a number of keys to break down the languages of different drones you encounter, take apart a riddle to find the right door to Snarf’s lair, and cut the right cable to unlock the doors and escape. Time yourself and see if you’ve improved your escape time!

Offer to let readers take the books and have – if you have the budget – small pads for them to work out the riddles, or just have extra paper on hand for them. Explain what a hackathon is – a collaborative event where computer programmers get together to work on a project – and tell them that The Mad Hacker Adventure is a kind of hackathon for them, collaborating to destroy the virus and save the world! You can always make cool certificates to hand out when they’ve completed the adventure.

 

Escape Game Adventure: Operation Pizza, by Mélanie Vives and Rémi Prieur/Illustrated by El Gunto, (Feb. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764360305

Ages 7-12

Heading back to Naples, Italy in 1889, your mission this time is to preserve pizza history. A chef is due to present his new creation – a margherita pizza – to the royal family, but he’s about to be murdered by his cold-blooded rival, unless you and Dooz can save the day. Enter the bad guy’s restaurant, find the poisoned food, and replace it with an identical dish you prepare, and escape before they can find out you’ve been there. Is there a more important mission than to preserve the sanctity of pizza? Learn all about pizza thanks to fact boxes throughout. Use menus to help you navigate the ingredients you need to make an identical dessert that won’t kill our pizza inventor; locate the poisoned dessert so you can dispose of it, and figure out how to get out of a locked bathroom before you can get caught!

I’ve done a bunch of pizza programs in the past, and they’re always popular. Make your own pizza crafts couldn’t be easier, and you can make them grab and go: put a small paper plate, and cut-up construction paper shapes for toppings, like sausage, peppers, cheese, sauce, and mushrooms, into a plastic or paper bag, and you’ve got a craft kids will love.

If you’re going to invest in these for your library, be forewarned: they’re going to get marked up. Consider for your games reference collection if you don’t have the budget to replace them. I’m thinking of introducing the adventure to my library kids, a few puzzles at a time, by leaving the book at reference and collecting answers each day (I have a LOT of prizes in my prize drawer, for incentive). Give the Escape Game series a shot!

 

Pirates Escape Game : A High Seas Mystery, by Eric Nieudan/Illustrated by Margot Briquet, (Aug. 2020, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764360084
Ages 8-12

Okay, last one up, and it’s a good one: a pirate escape game! You’re a sailor who wakes up and discovers you’re the only one left on a ship that’s been adrift in the high seas. No captain. No crew. No memory of anything that’s happened. You have to explore the ship and find clues to discover what happened, solving logic puzzles, breaking codes, and figuring out word puzzles and riddles. Unlock a padlocked pantry; find a mysterious note in the surgeon’s cabin; decipher recipes, with the help of a separate clue book and your own wits. The book is not linear – you’ll be jumping back and forth as solving different puzzles takes you to different pages – and includes brain busters for every type of skill. Pirate fans are going to love it, and you know you can enhance a pirate day! Make eyepatches, mustaches, and pirate hats as either grab-and-go or in-house crafts!

Escape Room Games don’t have to be relegated to online or in a room – see how these work out for you with your kids and teens. We’ve all had to get more creative in the last year and a half; let’s keep adapting.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Craft time? Any time!

During this last year, lots of us have started some new things: yes, I made my own sourdough starter in the beginning of the shutdown. I finally picked up my knitting needles again, and even managed to finish projects, rather than leave them in various tote bags stuffed into my closet. But one thing I haven’t been able to get back to is sewing. The wonderful folx at Schiffer sent me these two adorable sewing books, though, and I’m thinking that this may be where I pick up some felt, some thread, and a needle, because these are just too cute.

Sewing Simple Softies with 17 Amazing Designers, by Trixi Symonds & Deborah Fisher, (March 2021, Schiffer Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764361272

Ages 8-12

This book is ADORABLE. They have a softie sandwich! And a tiger with a tooth pouch for the Tooth Fairy! Seventeen projects, loaded with color photos, and with bright, easy-to-follow instructions make this a book I need in my home collection and my 745 section. The book is big on being accessible: no expensive threads, fancy machines, or pricey fabrics needed. This is all about learning to love creating with fabric and thread. Inspired by Trixi Symonds’s Sew a Softie initiative to teach kids how to sew, the book offers all you need to get you up and running on a sewing habit, from choosing tools and materials to deciphering the different kinds of stitches. A section for parents on teaching kids to sew is a reminder that this is supposed to be a fun learning experience where the kids get to have a say. Just offer a guiding hand, try not to take over the project. Designs are offered by popular creative bloggers around the world and include such fun projects as a koala softie, circus pincushion, and mermaid snuggle friend. The book includes templates for each softie, making this a fun book to pick up a new hobby. I love it!

 

The Zenki Way: A Guide to Designing & Enjoying Your Own Creative Softies, by Trixi Symonds, (March 2021, Schiffer Publishing), $22.99, ISBN: 9780764361494

Ages 8-12

What’s a Zenki, you ask? The simplest way to use your imagination and create a softie that speaks to you! Trixi Symonds of Sew a Softie also came up with this great idea to get kids sewing: two squares of felt, four straight lines to sew, and wide seam allowances to let all sorts of limbs, hair, and features be added in with no pinning. Just stick ’em in and sew! These little folx are loaded with character and will inspire kids to make their own Zenkis. All you need is materials and imagination (and a grownup to help out)! Fourteen Zenki patterns include the basics: square, circle, triangle, and mixed-up Zenkis; other patterns let readers add features and character to their Zenkis once they feel ready. Templates are in the back, and the book is filled with color photos and tips and ideas to help you along. A section on the Zenki pattern testers from ages 7-17 with their creations. SO kid friendly, with easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions make this a definite must-buy.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Read a book, hug the Earth, it’s Earth Day!

Some more books to love our Big Blue Dot by…

The House of Grass and Sky, Mary Lyn Ray/Illustrated by E. B. Goodale (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536200973

Ages 4-8

The touching story of a house that wants to be a home will appeal to little ones and their grownups alike. Once, the house “smelled of sunshine and new lumber”, and a family filled its days and nights with love and laughter. Families came and families went, but the house always waited, knowing a new family was on the way. Until there wasn’t. The house quietly waited, and bit by bit, nature claimed the area. Lonely, the house keeps its vigil… and is rewarded when a new family moves in, reclaiming the home, filling it with love, laughter, and family once again. It’s a gentle, moving story of memory, nature, and embracing renewal. The mixed media illustrations make the home as much a character of the story as the people in it. One spread shows the house standing alone, among shadows of memories: someone playing ball, a child with a wagon; someone on a tree swing. Mary Lyn Ray’s prose makes the house become real with sentences like, “The house learned about babies being born and babies growing up. It learned about bedtime stories and birthday parties.” Endpapers display an older wallpaper, giving a nice feel to the story. Just a beautiful, touching book that makes you want to find an old house and fill it with the love you have to give. Think about all the ways you can show your home love: plant some new plants, even if you live in an apartment. Repurpose old t-shirts and make them into throw pillows or quilts. There are so many things you can do!

Peppa Pig and the Earth Day Adventure, by Candlewick Press, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $12.99, ISBN’: 9781536218985
Ages 2-5
It’s a new Peppa PigI! Today is Earth Day, and Peppa and her family are off to the Botanical Gardens once they finish sorting the recycling and composting. They get into Roger, the electric car, and head off for a fun day of learning how bees and flowers work together, see a Venus flytrap eat a fly, and play in the children’s garden! The kids in my library system love Peppa Pig, and this book will circulate like wildfire. Visit Peppa Pig’s website for Peppa news and activities.
The Forest : A Poster Book to Understand Everything about the World, by Emmanuelle Grundmann/Illustrated by Gal Weizman (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764360992
Ages 5-8
It’s a poster book! It’s a giant fold-out book! It’s both! Unfold each page to read a new piece of information about the forest, and enjoy a seek and find that continues on each section. The book opens up into a giant poster that spans more than 2 feet! Great for a science club/Discovery Club program, kids will love watching you unfold page by page as you read about ants, frogs, badgers, and more forest friends.
The Sea: A Poster Book to Understand Everything about the World, by Véronique Sarano/Illustrated by Anine Bösenberg & Loris F. Alessandria (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764361005
Ages 5-8
The companion to The Forest, The Sea is another panoramic poster book. Seek and find fish and urchins and learn about underwater cliffs, and underwater life like plankton, krill, dolphins, and sperm whales. The poster unfolds into a giant underwater scene, seek and finds leading the way with a turn of the page. Great for science programs, and keep at least one copy in your Reference section while you put one in circ – it may get beaten up, despite the sturdy pages. The Panoramic series is a fun way to explore the world!
Posted in Fiction, Intermediate

What is a poem? Oh, so many things…

A Poem is a Firefly, by Charles Ghigna/Illustrated by Michelle Hazelwood Hyde, (April 2021, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764361081

Ages 5-8

A lovely answer to the oft-asked question, “What is a poem?”, A Poem is a Firefly is also a love letter to the art of poetry. I’ve been asked many times about poetry, when my own kids and my library kids have worked on a unit at school. “Does it have to rhyme?” “What’s the difference between a poem and a story, if it doesn’t rhyme?” “How do I read this, anyway?” The answer? I don’t really have them, because poetry tends to confound me, too. I love Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky, and their silly verse, but the true meaning of poetry has escaped me while I have friends who simply adore it (and have earned my envy). A Poem is a Firefly is a lovely guide to unlocking the poetry kids have inside them. A group of animal friends wonder and wax thoughtfully on what a poem is: it can be a whisper or a shout; it can be a “thought… turned inside out”; it can be an “echo… slowly passing by”, or a “moment… a memory caught in time”. There are beautiful things that a poem can be, including a firefly, on the summer wind. Beautifully phrased, the rhyming verse encourages readers to observe the poetry in nature, around them, and inside them. It’s a great storytime book and a great way to introduce a poetry unit in school. Cartoon animals invite readers in, and they hang around on the endpapers, welcoming readers and seeing them out. A lovely way to introduce poetry this National Poetry Month.

Fun thing to watch for: the title and the firefly on the cover are glow-in-the-dark!

Charles Ghigna is also known as “Father Goose”. His author webpage has links to plenty of resources, including help on writing a poem.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board Books to celebrate Spring, Dinosaurs, and Art!

How much do I love board books? SO MUCH. And they just keep coming and coming! I’ve got a stack of adorable board books that celebrate Spring, and a few that were originally published as picture books but that have made a great transition to board books.

Hello Garden!, by Katherine Pryor/Illustrated by Rose Soini, (May 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361098

Ages 0-3

Two kids wake up and enjoy a day in their garden! They crunch on green beans and snap peas, help tend to the garden, and enjoy the local wildlife. Rhyming verse tells a story that celebrates each of the senses, and accompanied by colorful artwork. Kids will want to get their hands and toes in the dirt and revel in being in nature after reading this cheery, upbeat story. A great addition to a Spring or Garden storytime – pair with the National Geographic board book, In My Garden, from the Look & Learn series, and Kadir Nelson’s gorgeous book, If You Plant a Seed. If you’re looking for a Spring activity with your Kiddos, Nat Geo Kids has you covered with an article on planting a garden; Kids Gardening has Garden Lesson Plans for kids and a free newsletter. Short on space? Try a garden sensory bin! There are great ideas at Mess for Less and Fireflies and Mud Pies.

 

Little Bug on the Move, Stéphanie Babin/Illustrated by Olivia Cosneau, (March 2021, Twirl Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9782408024642

Ages 0-3

A little bug goes exploring in this interactive book that kids can slide, spin, and play with. The bug crawls uphill, inches along the trees, spins on a flower, and hides on a mushroom, all heading toward a pop-up surprise at the end. The question-and-answer format format of the text encourages kids to think as they manipulate the activities on the pages, and provides an opportunity for an older sibling, parent, or caregiver to read along. Bright and colorful artwork and sturdy activities and pages make this another book kids will reach many, many times. Invite readers to identify different bugs, shapes, and colors as you go! Pair with the board book of The Very Hungry Caterpillar for an adorably buggy storytime.

 

Mamasaurus, by Stephan Lomp, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797205328

Ages 3-5

I’ve written about my love for Mamasaurus before. It’s the sweetest little story of a baby dinosaur who finds himself separated from his Mama and has to ask other dinosaurs if they’ve seen her; all of whom describe their own Mamas when trying to get an idea of what Mamasaurus looks like. The book makes a great transition from picture book to board book, making it even easier to read during a lapsit and cuddle storytime.

 

Papasaurus, by Stephan Lomp, (May 2021, Chronicle Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797205335

Ages 3-5

The companion book to Mamasaurus, Papasaurus makes the seamless transition from picture book to board book in time for Father’s Day, with a May release date. Here, Babysaurus and his dad are playing a game of hide and seek. As he searches for his Papa, he encounters other Kid-osaurs and asks for their help. As with Mamasaurus, the little dinos all frame their questions using their own parents as reference. Papasaurus and Babysaurus are sweetly reunited, reassuring readers that “misplaced” parents will always be found. The artwork is charming, with bright colors and sweetly expressive dinosaurs with large eyes and smiley faces. Perfect for cuddle time and Dino storytime.

 

Mix It Up!, by Hervé Tullet, (May 2021, Chronicle Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9781797207605

Ages 2-5

Another great transition from picture book to board book, Hervé Tullet’s Mix It Up! brings creativity and interactivity to this wonderful board book that keeps kids pressing, touching, and shaking their books as they work with color. The narration walks readers through the book, directing readers through cause-and-effect spreads that will invoke delight as readers discover that the page they’ve touched leads to a riot of color on the next spread, or mixing colors by tilting the book leads to an entirely new color emerging! Hervé Tullet writes like he’s in a one-on-one with each reader, gently leading them with sentences like, “take a little bit of the read… and rub it on the blue”; “Do you want to go on? OK!” I’ve read all of Tullet’s books in my storytimes, and they never fail to elicit joyful participation as I weave through the seated kids, everyone waiting their turn to take part. Art storytime, Color storytime, everything works with an Hervé Tullet story. Having this in board book format invites little learners to sit and play on their own or with another reader. They’re just wonderful books. The original release of Mix It Up! was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a Buzzfeed Best Book of the Year, a PBS Parents Best Picture Book, an ACL Distinguished Book, and selected as a Best Book of the Year by Chicago Public Library. Get out the fingerpaints and let your Littles create their own masterpieces!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Art Storytimes to Inspire your Little Artists

When you start off a day with a post about Frida Kahlo, you’re going to have art on your mind for the rest of the day. At least that’s how I’m wired. So I dove into my TBR and came up with a handful of art books to inspire your little ones.

Hide-and-Seek with Little Hippo, by Géraldine Elschner/Illustrated by Anja Klauss,
(Feb. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 9780764361111
Ages 0-6

This is a board book in one of Schiffer Kids’s new series, First Steps in Art. Inspired by a different work of art, each of these books weaves a little adventure, with concepts and an explanation of the piece that inspired the book. It’s such a great idea! Hide-and-Seek with Little Hippo is inspired by an ancient Egyptian figurine (pictured on the back cover); the story is a counting, color concept story about Little Hippo, who loves playing hide-amd-seek with his friend, Butterfly.  The story is colorful, bright, and so cheery and a brief explanation of Little Hippo’s origins at the end provides a nice little art history lesson for emerging readers. Pair the First Steps in Art books with Schiffer’s Lily series for an art storytime your little will love.

 

 

Antoinette the Tree Frog, by Géraldine Elschner, Illustrated by Xavière Devos,
(Feb. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 9780764361104
Ages 0-6

The next First Steps in Art book is all about impressionism: Antoinette the Tree Frog is inspired by Claude Monet’s beautiful water lilies. Little Antoinette is a tree frog, happily napping on a water lily as Mr. Claude paints nearby. A gust of winds blows his straw hat away, and a magpie tries to grab it, until Antoinette makes a fuss! When the magpie drops the hat, Antoinette discovers a comfortable new place to nap. A word about Claude Monet’s garden concludes the story. The artwork is soft, gentle, with Monet’s Impressionist influences apparent in the light color work and pastoral setting. Monet makes a cameo in this story, a painter sitting on a stool by the water, his watercolor canvas featuring his beloved water lilies. A very sweet story for young and emerging readers. I’m looking forward to seeing what other stories we’ll get from this series! Can you imagine a Halloween story from Edvard Munch? A story featuring Andy Warhol, or Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art?

 

A Purr-Fect Painting: Matisse’s Other Great Cat, by Joan Waites,
(May 2021, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764361128
Ages 5-8

Inspired by artist Henri Matisse’s cats and the illness that spurred his paper-cut art, A Purr-Fect Painting: Matisse’s Other Cat is an adorable story of La Puce, one of Mattise’s three cats. La Puce seems to be the most artistically-minded of Matisse’s cats; he’s the feline that sits with Matisse, watching him create art, while Minouche and Coussi sleep in the sunlight or get in trouble. When Matisse falls ill and is confined to his bed, La Puce thinks of ways to inspire his master to create art again. Henri may not be able to pick up his paintbrushes, but when La Puce makes a mess, Matisse sees potential in the brightly colored splashes of paint that go flying: and calls to his assistants to bring him painted sheets of paper and scissors! A colorful, kind-hearted story about love and art, A Purr-Fect Painting is an adorable readaloud for budding artists and cat lovers alike.

 

Need more inspiration? Here are more books inspired by art!

Posted in picture books

Women to Know: Frida Kahlo

The Two Fridas: Memories Written by Frida Kahlo, Illustrated by Gianluca Folì, (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9780764361166

Ages 5-8

When most people think of Frida Kahlo, they usually think of adult Frida, with flowers in her hair and thick eyebrows. Maybe they’ll think of her love for animals and her many pets. The Two Fridas, taken from the artist’s own diary, introduces readers to a younger Frida; a child who creates an imaginary friend and a fantasy world. The “other” Frida is a friend that will always listen to Frida’s “secret problems” and will always play and laugh with her. The Two Fridas is a peek into a child’s imaginary world; artwork in shades of grey, black and white has minimal, quiet color to emphasize Frida’s journey into her fantasy world. At the conclusion, we realize that this is Frida’s own recollection, as the art moves into an artist’s workroom, with the Frida people have come to know, seated and working on a self-portrait. The Two Fridas lets children know that it’s okay to have an imaginary place to go, an imaginary friend to spend time with, and to take that joy with you into adulthood. A biographical note on Kahlo talks about the artist’s relationship to her sisters, the ailments that kept Frida home, even bedridden, and the imaginary friend that meant so much to her that she dedicated a painting to her in 1939. Originally published in Spanish in 2019, The Two Fridas provides a new look at an iconic artist.

For more information about Frida Kahlo, visit The Frida Kahlo Foundation and The Blue House, the museum located in Frida’s former residence.  The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a page dedicated to her. Education.com has a free, downloadable biography worksheet on the artist, and Teachers Pay Teachers has many free activities for all ages, including Llamame Spanish’s Spanish-language biography worksheet, Art with Mrs E’s coloring sheet, Lindsey Carter’s Frida paper doll, and Fun for Spanish Teacher’s presentation.

Posted in picture books

A diamond in the night: The Bird Who Swallowed a Star

The Bird Who Swallowed a Star, by Laurie Cohen/Illustrated by Toni Demuro, (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764361074

Ages 5-8

One night, a bird swallows a star, making brighter than a diamond. But because he “glowed like a thousand fires”, none of the other animals want him around them; he makes them vulnerable to predators. Alone and sad, the bird cries glittering tears that sprout into golden flowers, and a wandering traveler discovers him. Enchanted by the bird, the traveler takes him on as a companion. A beautifully illustrated story of how friendship sees into everyone’s inner light, The Bird Who Swallowed a Star is a story of imagination and inner strength. The textured cover glows in the dark and will delight younger readers. The illustrations play beautifully with light and shadow with elegance. The storytelling is repetitive, encouraging readers’ confidence as the story continues. The ending allows for imagination: encourage littles to interpret the wordless final spreads to finish their story. A solid choice for social-emotional collections. Originally published in French in 2015, it’s wonderful to welcome The Bird Who Swallowed a Star to U.S. bookshelves. Visit illustrator Toni DeMuro’s webpage for more of his illustration work.

 

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle School, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Fairy tale meets the half pipe: Beauty and Bernice

Beauty and Bernice, by Nancy Viau, (Sept. 2018, Schiffer Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764355806

Ages 8-12

I continue my quest to read down my TBR and feature great backlist for your readers advisory and your booklists. This time out, I’ve got another Nancy Viau book, Beauty and Bernice. Twelve-year-old Bernice Baransky is a skater girl. She’s a grunge-loving whiz on a skateboard, on the verge of middle school, and she’s got a crush on fellow skater Wyatt – not that she can do anything other than nod when he calls her “Dude”. Enter Odelia, a new transplant to the neighborhood, who appears dressed in princess gowns and decides to make Bernice her new best friend and project. She’s determined to teach Bernice her guide to the “Social Graces”, with lessons on hygiene, posture, and manners, and Bernice reluctantly goes along for the ride, teaching Odelia that she can let loose a little, herself. Both spend a summer learning about one another while volunteering with Smile Academy, a summer camp for children with Down syndrome. A kind story that brings a little everyday magic to realistic fiction, this has some surprises that will make readers smile. The subplot with the girls volunteering – and encouraging their friends to help – with the Smile Academy gives nice depth to the characters and allows for Bernice’s character growth.  If you have skater fans, sell the detailed discussions on skateboarding.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Gorgeous concept books for toddlers and preschoolers!

There are some some amazing concept books in the publishing pipeline that are going to make toddler storytimes even more fun. Grab some colorful scarves, egg shakers, and art supplies because you’re going to want to hold an art storytime with these books as your foundation.

Lili’s Seasons, by Lucie Albon, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361043

Ages 2-6

Lucie Albon’s “On the Fingertips” series illustrates concepts using finger-and hand-painted artwork that kids are going to love – and that they’ll be able to try on their own. Two mice, Lily and Henri, explore the seasons. Each seasons is set off with a spread of what you’ll discover on the pages – or outside! – for each season. In the fall, you’ll look for autumn leaves, pine cones, and squirrels; in the winter, there will be mittens, wool socks, hot chocolate, and snowflakes. Lili and Henri enjoy the gifts of every season, together, whether having hot chocolate at home in the winter or visiting the beach in the summer. Back matter teaches readers how to “draw with their fingertips”, and provides instruction on necessary supplies, and how to use the paint on your hands and fingers to create clouds and trees through the seasons. The book has a create space for exploration, but if you’re using this in your library, consider having a create space ready for your library kiddos, stocked with paper, art materials, and smocks or old t-shirts. If you’re like me, and still virtual, you can explore doing a virtual art program, and offering some supplies via grab-and-go promotion. Colorful, bright, and absolutely “you can do this!” kid-friendly, this is a fun new series that I’m looking forward to spending time with.

 

Lili’s Colors, by Lucie Albon, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361036

Ages 2-6

In the companion “On the Fingertips” book to Lili’s Seasons, Lili’s Colors brings Lili and Henri back to talk about color. The two friends enjoy red lollipops, cuddle yellow chicks, sail on blue water, and spend a colorful day together, wandering across brightly colored, finger-painted spreads. Colors are featured in a bigger, bolder font, in their own shades, and the text – dialogue between Henri and Lili – is brief and perfect for young listeners and readers. A finger paint workshop section goes over primary and secondary colors, color mixing, and how to paint your fingers and hands to create the artwork in the book and a self-portrait. A spread showing paintings by children encourages readers with a “you can do it!” attitude! Adorable and cheery, this is an adorable new series for burgeoning artists.

 

Colors de la Runway, by Clarence Ruth, (Feb. 2019, Schiffer Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9780764356834

Ages 2-6

How, oh how, did I miss this when it came out the first time? I owe Schiffer big thanks for sending me a copy of Colors de la Runway to rectify my not seeing this earlier. Colors de la Runway is a concept book on color by Clarence Ruth, fashion designer and creative director of Cotte D’Armes. Vibrant colors named in both English and French come off the page as model sketches show off fashions and accessories in 20 spreads: red/rouge dresses, light blue/bleu clair eyeshadow and the peek of a shirt under a jacket, brown/marron frames to a pair of dramatic glasses. Clarence Ruth’s book is inspiration for older readers who love fashion and art, and for littles who want to learn their colors with some pizzaz. Stunning, playful, and absolutely fun: get out a feather boa and giant sunglasses and have yourself a fashion storytime.