More graphic novels to talk about, this time, real-life stories. Some are realistic fiction, some are inspired by moments in the author’s life. All are great reading!
I have a special place in my heart for a good board book. They’re so little, and durable, and take the biggest ideas in the world and make them perfect for little eyes, fingers, and minds (and yes, mouths) to enjoy. I love everything about board books, so I’m always on the lookout for good ones to read to my toddlers and babies. Here are the latest ones that you can expect to show up in storytimes.
How adorable is this book?! Put a cute little face on a planet or two, and I will buy it. It’s a weakness. Chris Ferrie, whose praises I sing pretty regularly here at MomReadIt, shifts his focus from the sciences to this sweet rhyming story about the planets. Counting down from 8 to 1, readers learn a couple of facts about each planet, from Neptune to Mercury, in an upbeat rhyming pattern that kids and caregivers will easily clap along with. Each planet is unique in its own way: Uranus spins on one side; Mars has the tallest mountain in the solar system. The collage artwork adds fun texture; there are corrugated planets and waffle-patterned moons, comets that combine textures, and happy stars and constellations abound. The happy-faced planets are going to delight any reader that comes across the book.
This is a perfect flannel board read. I’m going to have to get some flannel planets underway. Pair this with They Might Be Giants’ “How Many Planets?” to get the little ones up and dancing. For some more nonfiction-y board books, you can’t go wrong with ABC Universe, from the American Museum of Natural History (nice and big, for a larger storytime), and Our Solar System, also from the American Museum of Natural History, complete with graduated flaps that make turning pages a little easier for itty bitty fingers.
A garbage truck wakes up and starts its day in this fun board book. Creaks and clangs, rumbles and bangs, and naturally, vroom-a-vroom vrooms abound as the garbage truck trundles through the city, picking up the trash and keeping its headlights open for crossing ducks and slowing down for a grateful early riser who forgot to put out his trash the night before. After a trip to the dump to lighten its load, Garbage Truck heads back to the garage for a good night’s sleep, with a shush, a sigh, and a click.
Told using only sound effects, this is a great story for infant and toddler storytime! There are so many fun sounds to make, and inviting caregivers to rumble and gently bounce little ones on their laps adds to the fun. Bold, black lines, bold, large text, and bright colors will keep little eyes engaged and active. There are oodles of great transportation board books out there to make for a fun storytime, especially anything by Byron Barton. If you want to go with a city-inspired storytime, you can’t go wrong with Christopher Franceschelli’s CityBlock. Songs and fingerplays abound, too. Add some plastic cars and trucks to your playtime and let the toddlers vroom along!
A sight familiar to any kid or caregiver, You Can Be starts readers off with a carefree kid, clad only in underwear, running across the cover. And you know this is going to be a kid-friendly book about being a carefree, happy kiddo. Elise Gravel starts off by telling readers, “There are many ways to be a kid. You can be…” and proceeds to bring readers through weird and wonderful ways of being a kid: funny and sensitive; noisy and artsy; grumpy and smelly (sometimes… complete with toot cloud!). Kids are diverse and the drawings are bold and bright, each adjective large, bold, colorful, and fun. The message here? You can be angry, you can be smelly, you can be funny, or quiet… there’s no wrong way to be a kid. After all, as Elise Gravel says, “you can feel “almost any way you feel like being. (Except mean or rude, of course.)” I love that gender doesn’t define anyone’s mood here: girls are smelly, boys are artsy; kids are kids. It’s a great message to readers about self-acceptance and self-awareness.
Invite your readers to act out different moods! Let them be as silly or serious as they want to be. I love all things Elise Gravel, so this one will be on my shelves, no question. Pair this one with any Todd Parr book for a feel good, I Love Me! storytime. Check out Elise’s website for a free downloadable book, Artsy Boys and Smelly Girls, and other fun downloadables!
The first in a new series, Babies in the Park, Autumn Babies and Winter Babies star a group of multicultural babies who discover the joy in each season as they play in the park. Composed of two- and three-word sentences, each book takes readers through a park as it goes through the season. The four babies ( Sai, Simón, Jayden, and Emma) are dressed for the season and stomp, romp, and roll through the Fall, throwing sticks for pups to fetch, flying kites, and throwing leaves.
They bundle up for their winter playdate, sporting boots, hats, scarves, and warm coats. Snow plops, and babies catch snowflakes on their tongues, run, glide, and ride through the snow. Each book begins with a simple statement of the season: “It’s autumn in the park.” “It’s winter in the park”, establishing the season, and ends with a closeup of one a baby, with a joyful exclamation of the season: “It’s Autumn!” “It’s Winter!”
These books are such fun ways to greet the seasons, and the Babies in the Park idea is adorable. Give parents and caregivers ideas about activities – Peachtree has done the work for you and made up an activity companion sheet to the books! There are great extension activities to engage the kids during storytime: show different shapes (circle trees, diamond kites, triangle roofs), talk about different colors that you see. There are so many seasonal songs and fingerplays to be found on the Web: TeachingMama, one of my favorite blogs, always has adorable printables that you can give out to your families to sing along; let them bring the sheets home to keep the kids singing along after storytime.
If you want to read a little more about the series, Peachtree has an article on their website. Spring Babies and Summer Babies will be out early next year, so completionists like me can breathe a sigh of relief.
Norman is a perfectly normal little boy until the day he sprouts big, colorful wings! At first, he enjoys his wings and the freedom they give him, letting him soar through the sky, but then worry slips in: what would his parents think? Norman slips on a heavy yellow coat and resigns himself to being hot, uncomfortable, and sad, until his parents encourage him to take off the coat. Norman unfurls his beautiful wings, embraces his true self, and takes to the skies again: this time, encouraging other children to shed their coats and embrace their wings, too. Because there’s no such thing as perfectly normal, but he is perfectly Norman.
This sweet picture book embraces diversity and self-awareness. Norman is a biracial boy with a light-skinned mom and a dark-skinned dad, who shows lives and moves throughout his black and white world. Even Norman is black and white, sporting a bright yellow sweater with red striped sleeves, and carrying a bright yellow and red kite. once Norman’s wings make an appearance, though, Norman’s no longer black and white: he’s full color, and so are the blue skies and colorful birds he flies with! He soars above his black and white world, soaking in the color, until he gets called to dinner: Norman’s world goes back to black and white, the yellow coat now setting him apart in a seemingly different way, calling attention not to his uniqueness, but his desire to hide. When the colorful birds fly by him again, and his parents encourage him to shed the coat, the world fills with color again – and so do the multicultural group of kids he invites to fly with him. Perfectly Norman sends a passionate message about the freedom of self-acceptance and encourages kids to share that message with others. It’s a solid storytime read and a good addition to picture book collections.
Originally published in the UK, Perfectly Norman is available in the States. Tom Percival is also the author of the Little Legends chapter book series, which flies off the shelves.
I am so excited for this blog tour stop! I’ve been a fan Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant since 2014’s You Are (Not) Small. That’s (Not) Mine (2015) and I Am (Not) Scared (2017) round out a fun trilogy on friendship and preschooler life that makes every storytime too much fun. Now, just in time for back-to-school, Kang and Weyant give readers…
Eraser is a school supply that’s sick and tired of cleaning up everyone’s mess and getting no respect. She’s always there to help, but Pencil gets all of her glory. Her friends Sharpener and Ruler are the only two who understand her, but their encouragement isn’t enough anymore: Eraser’s tired of being on the cleanup crew. When the other school supplies snub her while holding a creative meeting, Eraser’s has HAD IT. She heads off to other adventures, leaving Pencil and the other supplies to fend for themselves. Eraser, meanwhile, meets a group of new friends that help her see where her true talent lie.
Eraser is a fun, smart story about looking beneath the surface and embracing one’s true gifts; using school supplies to tell this story is a great way to communicate this to younger readers, who may not understand how to see within themselves – or each other – those subtle gifts that make each one of us unique. Anna Kang’s got a gift for pacing and dialogue that makes her books something we return to again and again; Christopher Weyant brings the characters to life using ink and watercolor, creating instantly recognizable, with a touch of childlike fun that will have kids drawing their own school supply adventures.
The fun part about books by Anna Kang? You can give them all sorts of different voices, or invite your kids to put on their own voices and act them out. Eraser gives readers several different characters to take on, so try out a reader’s theatre! There’s a great art project contained within the story, so keep an eye out for it and invite your kiddos to create some dioramas of their own – just make sure all art supplies get their say. You know I love my activity kits, and you can find one right here.
One lucky winner will receive a 7-piece school supply kit along with a copy of ERASER, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway!
Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small and its follow-ups That’s (Not) Mine and I Am (Not) Scared. Christopher’s work can be seen routinely in The New Yorker magazine and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. As an author, Anna regularly goes through first, second, and third drafts. Chris wears down many erasers while making his art. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their rescue dog. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.
Zogby is a big, brown bear who’s wanted to be a Fluffy Tail Cookies delivery animal ever since he was a cub. When he finally gets his chance, he’s up against a few obstacles: management is a little concerned that he doesn’t have “the Fluffy Tail Cookies look”, and his trial run is less fluffy, more… terrifying. He tries to change his appearance to be less scary to his little woodland customers, but no one wants to give the big guy a chance! It’s time for Zogby to put the lyrics to the Fluffy Tail jingle to work: You are special! You are YOU! Zogby comes up with his own original song to put the animals at ease, and before he knows it, he’s being invited in for tea and giving out bear hugs.
Delivery Bear is an adorable story about judging other based on appearances, and about appreciating yourself for who you are.The book is loaded with comic moments of a friendly cartoon bear trying to be friendly, and wide-eyed little animals screaming in terror, but there are plenty of teachable moments to talk over with readers; most notably, why Zogby had to change his approach to be accepted. Is it right or wrong to change for someone else? There is a lot to talk about here. (There’s also the question of whether or not the hiring manager was facing a lawsuit for not hiring Zogby, based on appearances, but I digress.)
With cartoony, kid-friendly artwork and a sweet story about self-acceptance, Delivery Bear is a cute add to storytime collections. Author Laura Gehl has a bunch of free downloads on her author website, including curriculum guides and coloring sheets for her Peep & Egg series, and One Big Pair of Underwear (which is a storytime standard for me).
Recommended for readers 3-6
Rusty is a friendly robot who’s uncomfortable with the way he sounds. He squeaks, and he really doesn’t like it: “If he couldn’t like his squeak/Then he couldn’t like himself”; he’s really letting this squeak get him down. Luckily, the other robots on on Planet Robotone are there to show him that everyone’s got something to make them different, whether they Squeak!, Boom!, Twang!, or Hoot!, and when differences come together, they can create some great music!
This is such a positive story about owning one’s own individuality and embracing diversity. It’s a positive story about friendship, sending a message to kids about empathy and acceptance. The rhyming text is light and fun, inviting kids to move with the words, and the retro artwork is bright and fun, with basic black fonts setting the story apart from the big, colorful sounds each robot makes. Robot fans will love this upbeat story!
Recommended for readers 4-7