Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Before the World Wakes, by Estelle Laure

Remember those mornings when you were a kid, when you were awake before everyone else woke up and it felt like you were the only person in the world? That spirit of magic and anticipation is the heart of Estelle Laure and Paola Zakimi’s Before the World Wakes.

Before the World Wakes, by Estelle Laure/Illustrated by Paola Zakimi,
(April 2022, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542028837

Ages 4-7

Two siblings awaken in the wee hours of the morning and explore the world around them, enjoying each other’s company. It’s the best time of day: it’s not too bright; there’s not a lot of noise; they aren’t rushing to be anywhere. Estelle Laure’s lyrical prose evokes the best childhood memories and makes them available to a new audience, brought to life by Paola Zakimi’s gentle watercolor, pencil, and gouache illustrations. Phrases like, “The stars say good morning at the same time / they say good night, / and we watch the moon pull them home, / as night and day hold hands” beautifully capture the gentle time before the hectic rush of the day begins; the spread brings the words together by illustrating a waking sky, moving from midnight blue to soft blue, stars and moon still twinkling in the sky, with a pink and yellow dawn moving in from the east and bringing secrets of the day with it: flowers perking up to greet the sun, and snails creeping out to snack on morning dew. Perspectives shift from close-up portraits of the children watching the world awaken around them, moving out to glimpse them dancing in their blanket capes, to their toes squishing into the “wet grass that is cold but not too cold”. Before the World Wakes is a joyful celebration of childhood, of exploration, and of the anticipation of a new day.

A great sensory storytime read aloud, inviting kids to talk about how they “feel” their days begin: the warmth of a blanket versus the shiver of cold air when they emerge from their blankets; the feel of a floor – grass or otherwise! – under their feet, the sounds of the morning, from the birds outside to the chatter in their homes as everyone starts their day.

“The poetic text and charming pictures celebrate a special time and universal feelings” – Booklist

Estelle Laure is the author of six young adult novels, including This Raging Light, Mayhem, Remember Me, and the City of Villains series, and the picture book The Perfect Pet for You, illustrated by Amy Hevron. She lives with her family in New Mexico, where you can often find her walking the dogs and watching the sun rise before the world wakes. For more about Estelle, visit www.estellelaure.com or on Instagram: @estellelaurewrites

Paola Zakimi is the illustrator of Secrets I Know by Kallie George, Teddy & Co. by Cynthia Voigt, The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains by Annie Silvestro, and Ruby’s Sword by Jacqueline Viessid. She is also a doll maker and fine artist and lives in Argentina. Her favorite part of the early morning is listening to the buzz of the bees while the sun comes out all bright and beautiful. You can learn more about her at www.paolazakimi.com or Instagram: @paolazakimi
Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Going Outside board books introduce concepts in nature

Going Outside: Look, by Amy Huntington, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 9781684642465

Ages 0-3

This new concept board book series invites readers to mindfully explore their world, concentrating on their senses.  In Look, a toddler and her parent help rehabilitate an urban space, creating a community garden where there was once litter and neglect: “Bags of paper, bottles, cans, / Bits of plastic, shards of glass. / Friends and neighbors, pitching in. / Look, what can you see?” Spreads show the community working together to clean up the area, boxing up garbage and tending to the land, planting and watering the earth, creating a welcoming garden. The artwork moves from a darker, almost gloomy cityscape to a warm, green space that local wildlife returns to, with gentle repetition to encourage readers to point out what they see on each spread. Ask your littles what they see and how it differs from the previous spread: are there more plants? Less junk and litter? Notice how the cityscape fades further into the background as the garden – the focus of the story – grows and flourishes. The toddler and her parent are brown-skinned; the community is diverse.

Download a coloring page for Look from publisher Kane Miller and have them ready to hand out.

 

 

Going Outside: Listen, by Amy Huntington, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 9781684642472

Ages 0-3

The companion book to Look, Listen follows a toddler and his parent as they go on a nature walk on a rainy day. The focus here in on the sounds around the two: “Winds whisper. Winds whoosh. / Rain pitters, patters, pours, / Through the leaves. / Listen, what can you hear?” The fonts play with language, stretching and bending to elicit sounds from readers. The repetitive question, “What can you hear?” invites readers to think about what the characters must be hearing, based on the verse, or even what they themselves hear in their environments. This is a great book to read twice in a seating if you can manage it: ask your readers to close their eyes and listen to a reading first, asking them, to form a picture in their minds of walking through a woodsy area on a rainy day. Animals add to the soundscape on each spread, as deer sniff, moles scratch, birds tweet, and frogs croak. The parent and child are people of color. Watercolor illustrations create a peaceful landscape and foster a love for nature.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Amy Huntington has planned for our other touch, taste, and smell! Download a coloring page for Listen at Kane Miller’s webpage.

 

Posted in Toddler Reads

#HomesCool: Baby Senses Board Books!

I LOVE the Baby Loves series from Ruth Spiro and Irene Chan. They introduce the five senses to little learners in a way that we can demonstrate and they can understand, with an ittty bitty bit of science to introduce them to new words and ideas. There are three new books out right now that are wonderful for adding to your snuggle time reading time.

Baby Loves The Five Senses: Taste!, by Ruth Spiro/Illustrated by Irene Chan, (Aug. 2020, Charlesbridge), $8.99, ISBN: 9781623541545

Ages 0-4

Baby loves tasty food! Baby helps in the kitchen and loves to snack on strawberries. The easy-to-understand text works with Irene Chan’s adorable illustrations of a wide-eyed baby discovering why strawberries taste so good, and why food smells so yummy (it’s all connected!). Illustrations of the major flavor groups – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami – help readers map flavors to descriptive words. Surrounded by yummy foods, a happy baby indulges! The cover gives visual cues to the sense we’re exploring, with a bowl of yummy food next to the word “Taste”.  Do you have to read words like “receptor cells” and “flavor molecules” to babies? Why not? Stick your own tongue out and let babies stick theirs out, to get the main idea across. And have some yummy foods, like yogurts, Cheerios, and fruit, available (at home, please) to let your own little ones explore their senses of taste.

Pair this with Leslie Patricielli’s Yummy Yucky for a fun, tasty read-aloud!

 

Baby Loves The Five Senses: Touch!, by Ruth Spiro/Illustrated by Irene Chan, (Aug. 2020, Charlesbridge), $8.99, ISBN: 9781623541552

Ages 0-3

This one is all about the textiles and the tactile. With a feather on the cover, ready to tickle the title, we know this is all about the sense of touch before even cracking the cover. Sure enough ,there’s a happy baby, helping with the laundry. The baby notices that clothes go into the dryer feeling wet and cold, and come out feeling dry and warm. How does he know these feelings? He touches things! Two spreads explain the science behind touch, followed by the simpler breakdown: “Touch helps baby pick things up. / It also helps him know when to put things down. / TOO HOT!” New vocabulary words include receptor cells and epidermis: roll up a sleeve and let baby touch your arm, and give baby a soft tickle on the foot or neck!

Leslie Patricelli’s Blankie and Tickle are nice read-alongs with this book. Get all sorts of tactile surfaces for baby to touch and explore, like a soft blankie or lovey of their own, a cold bowl of cereal, or a warm sweater. And remember Pat the Bunny? That is a PERFECT accompanying read!

 

Baby Loves The Five Senses: Smell!, by Ruth Spiro/Illustrated by Irene Chan, (Aug. 2020, Charlesbridge, $8.99, ISBN: 9781623541538

Ages 0-3

The cover image of bread, the scent wafting from a freshly baked slice, gives us a clue about where Baby’s latest adventure will take us. Baby is shopping at the market and smells something tasty… bread! How does bread smell so good to Baby’s little nose? Illustrated spreads explain the science of molecules and how they release and mix with other molecules in the air, delivering them right to Baby’s nose. Baby smells yummy things like bread, and some not-so-yummy things, too! But Baby’s favorite smell is the smell of lunch!

Point to your nose and Baby’s nose to explain where smells enter, and have tasty-smelling things around for your own Baby to enjoy: some flowers, some tasty toast or fresh bread if you have some, and something sweet, like an orange or apple, for starters. You can point to toes and hold your nose, saying “Stinky!” for giggles. Read with Leslie Patricelli’s Yummy Yucky or Annie Kubler’s What Can I Smell? for extra sensory fun.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Arthur Yorinks’ Making Scents: A New Family Structure

Making Scents, by Arthur Yorinks/Illustrated by Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline, (June 2017, :01 First Second), $15.99, ISBN: 9781596434523

Recommended for readers 8-12

Mickey is a boy who’s been raised a little differently. His parents raised bloodhounds before he was born, and raised Mickey just like his “brothers and sisters”. Mickey doesn’t see anything different with his upbringing, even if other kids treat him like he’s weird. He wants to make his parents proud of him, so he’s working on developing his sense of smell, constantly sniffing and honing his senses. A tragedy strikes, and Mickey’s sent to live with his elderly aunt and uncle, who don’t like kids or dogs – but maybe Mickey can show them that he and his sniffer are more helpful than they realize.

This one was a wacky read. Making Scents reads like realistic fiction – it deals with grief and loss, extended families, and nontraditional families – but it does work on your suspension of disbelief. The opening scene, with baby Mickey being left in the woods for the dogs to find as a test/publicity gimmick sets the tone for the story: two dog-crazy grownups find themselves with a baby that they have no idea how to raise, but they do the best with what they’ve got. They love their human son as much as they do their canine sons and daughters, but I have to wonder what kind of parent-child relationship you can have if you see your child as equal to a pet that you “master”.

Regardless, Making Scents progresses to become a touching story of intergenerational relationships and family. Mickey, his mother’s older sister, and her husband have to create their own new family structure when an accident leaves Mickey orphaned. Once again, Mickey is thrust into a family that doesn’t know what to do with him, but this time around, he doesn’t have anyone or anything to take a social cue from; his aunt and uncle, like his parents, do their best with what they have and stumble along until Mickey’s abilities help reveal a potential health crisis.

Unexpected and sensitive, Making Scents is good for graphic novel collections that provide different perspectives.