Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Storytime is book review time! Something For You, With All My Heart, C Jumped Over Three Pots and a Pan

I’m a #SaturdayLibrarian today, so I figured that best way to catch up on book reviews was to put them in front of my toughest audience: TODDLERS. See, on Saturdays, I do storytimes in my children’s room’s Family Place center, which, in Corona (my library), is a little area full of learning toys for the kids to explore. So this is an audience that’s not always going to be riveted to my every word, ya know? I have to be on top of my game for Saturday Storytime, and I need books that are going to keep the kids and parents entertained. These three fit the bill.

Something for You, by Charlie Mylie, (Nov. 2019, Farrar Straus Giroux), $17.99, ISBN: 9780374312350

Ages 2-6

A sweet book about friendship, Something for You is about a mouse who wants to cheer up a sick friend. He searches for something to make her smile, but things don’t always go as planned. Mouse learns that just being a friend is all we need. The watercolor artwork brings a delicacy to the story, and the characters are drawn with kind, expressive faces; their movements also delicate and nurturing. The mouse who searches for something for his friend gently wraps a scarf around a cold pigeon and shares a flower with a bee – even if he’s a little grumpy about it! The story incorporates panels into the storytelling, allowing for a nice sequential feel, while showing small moments coming together to create a story.

This was the first book up, and the kids were intrigued. The cover caught their eye, and I asked, “Isn’t it nice when someone does something for you? Don’t you feel good when you do something nice for Mommy or Daddy?” Moms and dads smiled, and toddlers looked at them skeptically, but seemed to go along with it. The framed window, giving readers a view into the mouse caring for his sick friend, also caught the kids’ eyes: we’re natural spectators, right?

Something for You is adorable, and perfect for stories about kindness and empathy. Toddlers and preschoolers are the spot-on audience for this one, but older kids – Kindergarten and first grade, especially – will enjoy this one, too. Reading this book can lead to some wonderful discussions about friendship.

 

With All My Heart, by Stephanie Stansbie & Richard Smythe, (Dec. 2019, Silver Dolphin), $15.99, ISBN: 9781684129102

Ages 2-6

This is the sweetest book about parent-child love. A big bear and little bear cuddle together, splash, explore, and enjoy making memories together in this ultimate cuddle-sit rhyming story with die-cuts throughout the book. The verse reads with a soothing cadence and is a love letter to caregiving, to parenthood, to loving a child: “I saw your sweet smile/and I knew from the start,/I’d love you forever/with all of my heart”; “Each day, more than ever,/I love your sweet smile,/And feeling you close/as we cuddle a while”. Die cuts on each spread spotlight words in hearts, leaves, and star shapes.

The parents loved this one, and snuggled their little ones (still clutching their toys) into the laps and pointed out the bears, the diecuts, and details like the warm sun, the soft and silvery moon, the little moments between parent and child. This is a nice storytime/lapsit-cuddlesit/bedtime book to have in your collection, and would pair nicely with Anna Pignataro’s Our Love Grows, Margaret Wise Brown’s A Long Time That I’ve Loved You, and the classic Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.

I’ll be reading this one again and again.

 

C Jumped Over Three Pots and a Pan and Landed SMACK in the Garbage Can!, by Pamela Jane/Illustrated by Hina Imtiaz, (Oct. 2019, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764357954

Ages 2-6

I had to end on a silly note! After a rousing rendition of the Alphabet Song, I launched into a spirited reading of this hilarious rhyming story. The alphabet letters are at camp, when C, trying to show off to A and B, decides to leap over  – you guessed it – three pots and a pan. C jumps a little farther than expected, though, and lands – SMACK! – in a garbage can, sending the rest of the alphabet into a tizzy as they search for the letter E, who has three arms and can help pull C out. But E’s gone missing, along with three other letters! We have an alphabet mystery with dramatic tension here, and the repeated phrase, “C jumped over three pots and a pan and landed smack in a garbage can” make this a laugh-out loud book to read aloud. This is made for silly, emphatic reading out loud: I smack my thigh to emphasize the word “smack”, which gave the kids an extra giggle. It’s a fun take on concepts, and is PERFECT for kids who love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr.

The artwork is fun, adorable, and bold, with large letters that have arms, legs, and expressive faces. The primary colors are bright and playful, set against a camp setting complete with tents, boats and rivers, and grass.

Parents and kids alike enjoyed this one, and I’ll be coming back to this book again and again. If you do storytime crafts after your storytimes, there are loads of ideas to enhance your program. There are Do-a-Dot printables (perfect for little hands), letter crafts (my second grader did these in preschool, but the teachers used construction paper and cut out the shapes for the kids to decorate), and hundreds of alphabet coloring sheets. A quick Pinterest search or Internet search will lead you down the wonderful rabbit hole of alphabet coloring and crafts. Enjoy.

And that was my storytime today!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

‘Tis the Season to be Reading!

Seasons Readings! I’ve got a bunch of holiday and winter books to talk about over the next couple of days. Let’s start with Christmas!

How Winston Saved Christmas: An Advent Story in Twenty-Four and a Half Chapters, by Alex T. Smith, (Sept. 2019, Silver Dolphin), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68412-983-6\

Ages 3-10

How Winston Saved Christmas is adorable. It’s an Advent storybook and activity book, starring a mouse named Winston, who discovers a little boy’s note to Santa and is determined to deliver that important message in time for Christmas! Start reading on December 1st, a chapter a day, leading up to the big day. Each chapter is about three pages, and the book is beautifully illustrated with color artwork. After each chapter, there’s a story-related craft that you can easily do with your kiddos. Great for the library, great for a way to end a day in the classroom, great to do with your own kids at home. The crafts are simple and don’t require lots of time or materials, making this a wonderful way to spend holiday time with your kiddos. Tips for next year, Christmas poems, and an author’s note finish everything off and get you ready for the holidays; the chapters and craft ideas are laid out in the front of the book, written on little gift tags, across an opening spread before the story begins, so you can get a peek at each activity (and gather your materials in advance).

This is an adorable way to prepare for the holidays. I think Winston will become a regular part of our holiday celebrations.

 

The Lobsters’ Night Before Christmas, by Christina Laurie/Illustrated by Elizabeth Moisan, (Oct. 2019, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0-7643-5826-5

Ages 3-10

Who doesn’t know and love Clement Moore’s classic poem, A Visit by Saint Nicholas (also known as The Night Before Christmas)? Add some ocean life to the mix for an Underwater the Sea holiday storytime with The Lobsters’ Night Before Christmas! Read the rhyming tale of Sea Nick, pulled in his clamshell by his eight minnows, each with a distinctive species name, as he fills skate cases with holiday gifts and moves on to the next cave. There are lobster and fish facts woven into the rhyme, making this a great story for sea life readers. Elizabeth Moisan’s watercolor artwork brings a soft, underwater feel to the illustrations, and she’s hidden a lobster, hiding in the eel grass, for sharp-eyed readers to find. Make it a game to see who can find the hidden lobster! The endpapers are loaded with tiny little lobsters, some holding little red stars for a tree. The cover is die-cut in a pine tree shape, adding fun to the design. Back matter includes an All About Lobsters feature, with information about what lobsters look like, eat, how they molt, and how they’re affected by climate change.

A cute read and gift for your sea life readers.

More winter and holiday books to come! If you know of any upcoming or new Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other multicultural holiday books, please tweet me @roesolo or email me here and let me know!

Posted in Uncategorized

Build up your 5-Minute story libraries!

5-Minute Story collections are big news in my library. Parents love being able to get a volume full of storybooks and only carry one book home. Sometimes, they take the place of the 3 or 4 picture books that are out at the moment, so kids can still take home their favorite story. They’re great gift ideas, too; they economical in an age where we’re laying out upwards of $15 for a picture book. I’ve got a couple to crow about here.

5-Minute Stories by Margaret Wise Brown, (Sept. 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684128495

Ages 1-6

For anyone who thought Margaret Wise Brown only wrote Goodnight, Moon and The Runaway Bunny, I have news for you: publishers have been working with her estate to publish recently discovered books with new artists for a few years now. This collection of 5-Minute Stories includes eight stories by Ms. Brown, and all have that wonderfully calm cadence that kids love to listen to. Most rhyme, all have the repetition of concepts and sounds that help kids grasp the narrative and jump in after a couple of pages. The stories explore concepts and seasons (Count to 10 With a Mouse; A Song for All Seasons; Sleep Little Angel; All the Families); adventure (Away in My Airplane); nature (The Tickly Spider); and soothe at bedtime (Sleep Little Angel; All the Families; Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears; Wish Upon a Dream). They’re fully illustrated and unabridged, so readers will lose nothing from the picture book to this collection.

It’s a lovely anthology of stories, illustrated with calming pastels and muted colors, featuring adorable mice, spiders, bears, butterflies, and kids. 5-Minute Stories by Margaret Wise Brown is a good volume to keep on hand for your readers, a nice way to introduce reaaders to Margaret Wise Brown beyond her two most famous stories, and a good gift idea to hang onto, whether it’s for a baby shower or for the holidays.

 

Disney Stories for 2-Year-Olds, (Sept. 2019, Studio Fun International), $12.99, ISBN: 9780794444341

Ages 2-6

Who loves Mickey Mouse? Any of your Disney fans will love this anthology of 14 stories, all starring the original Mickey Mouse crew: Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Huey, Duey, and Louie, Daisy, and Pluto are all here. Stories run about 12-14 pages long; each story is brightly illustrated, has bold, brief sentences, and are good for kids starting at 2 and going up to at least 6. Kids will love seeing Mickey and his friends go camping, help put on a parade, visit an airport, and give a cow a bath! Throw in some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse songs in between stories for extra fun, and have Mickey and friends coloring sheets available.

These are especially helpful for libraries like mine, where many Disney/Mickey books are hard to find, or in formats that get quickly beaten up in circulation. A nice volume like this is a quick and easy go-to for anyone who wants Mickey Mouse stories, and a nice all-in-one to have on hand at home.

 

Disney Stories for 3-Year-Olds, (Sept. 2019, Studio Fun International), $12.99, ISBN: 9780794444358

Ages 3-7

More Disney 5-minute stories! Slightly longer and wordier, these 14 stories are simplified versions of favorite Disney movies, including classic favorites like 101 Dalmations, Lady and the Tramp, and Alice and Wonderland, and newer picks like Aladdin, The Lion King, and Hercules. The colorful pictures depict favorite scenes from each movie, and stories run about 12-14 pages long; sentences are slightly longer and there’s more text on each page, making this a good start to read with 3-year-olds, and to keep reading all the way up through the early grades. I’ve been reading through these with my 2nd grader, and he loves them – he can read most of them on his own, and I love the chance to curl up on the couch with him and read these to him at the end of a long day. Familiarity with the movies brings the chance to talk about the scenes as you read (fair warning: Bambi and Dumbo are in here. My family knows I have refused these two movies since I was 5, and this goes for the stories, too. Get a stunt reader in for you if you need to.) Pair with Disney coloring pages, or pull up your Disney DVDs and make an afternoon of it.

As with Disney Stories for 2-Year-Olds, this is a nice anthology to have handy for kids who want to read through their favorite Disney movies, but are finding the pricing for each book a little much or just can’t find each book available.

Any of the 5-Minute Stories are great gift ideas, great anytime books, and handy go-to books on your storytime shelves.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Go on a Big Book Adventure with two friends!

The Big Book Adventure, by Emily Ford/Illustrated by Tim Warnes, (Sept. 2018, Silver Dolphin Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68412-378-0

Ages 3-7

A pig and a fox excitedly tell each other about their reading adventures, having spent their day at a Mad Tea Party, swimming with mermaids, running from Big Bad Wolves, and more! The rhyming story communicates the transformative power of reading by placing the characters – and readers – into the middle of beloved fairy tales and exciting new adventures, including a spaceship voyage and a dragon ride. The two friends decide to share books and exchange adventures, their favorite new and old literary friends surrounding them.

The artwork is sweet and whimsical, using soft colors for the main characters and changing palettes to fit each story: bold, vibrant colors for a science fiction story; classic Alice in Wonderland artwork for the tea party; muted blues and greens for a mermaid swim. The endpapers continue the story, with the front endpapers showing Piggy sitting on a tree branch, reading; a library-like “book club” meeting place at the base of a tree, where Foxy leaves, with a wagon holding books. Membership cards for the “Maple Leaf Book Club” show Foxy and Piggy’s credentials. The back endpaper shows different literary characters – and the Maple Leaf Book Club’s owl mascot – reading.

This one is great for a library read-aloud, and a class visit storytime. I’d pair this with Nibbles the Book Monster for more fairy tale fun.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

To Baa or Not To Baaa… it’s William Sheepspeare’s Wild Bio!

William Sheepspeare (Wild Bios), by Courtney Acampora & Maggie Fischer/Illustrated by Benedetta Capriotti, (Apr. 2019, Silver Dolphin), $7.99, ISBN: 9781684126194

Ages 2-5

The latest in the Wild Bios board book series introduces readers to William Shakes- I mean, William Sheepspeare, the Baa-rd of Avon. Like Frida Catlo, the first book in the series, William Sheepspeare uses animal-related puns to tell the story of playwright William Shakespeare: “William Sheepspeare wrote over thirty plays-histories, comedies, ram-ances, even shearious tragedies”. The authors even pun the titles of several of his play, including “Hamblet” and “The Taming of the Ewe”, and notes historical details like men taking on women’s roles: “…no ewes acted. All of the roles were performed by rams. The rams would perform the parts of the ewes, dressed in fancy fleeces and wooly wigs“. Sheep-related words are highlighted and in bold yellow font to stand out, and the artwork is cartoonish and charming. Most of this is going to go over little ones’ heads, but for preschoolers and kindergarteners, it’s a cute story about a sheep who writes plays. There’s a lot of text for a board book, and I lost my little ones during a storytime; I had to pick up the pace to get them back again. If you’re reading during a toddler time, you can cut it down to a sentence or two per page, and they’ll love it. I do like the Wild Bios, and want to continue getting the set to keep for my preschoolers.

Posted in Family Storytimes, picture books, Preschool Reads, programs, Storytime, Toddler Reads, Toddler Storytime

Margaret Wise Brown storytime: The Diggers, Count to 10 with a Mouse, Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears

Last week, I decided to test drive three Margaret Wise Brown re-released books in my toddler storytime. Most of my kiddos and families know Ms. Brown as the “Goodnight Moon Lady”, or “The Runaway Bunny lady”, so I thought it would be fun to give them more choices when they’re looking for something to read. It went over pretty well. Before I get into that, though, I thought some background on these three books would be interesting – I know I found it fascinating.

In 1990, author Amy Gary discovered a trunk of unpublished manuscripts and songs in the attic of Margaret Wise Brown’s sister’s barn. These manuscripts provided the source material for many of the titles in a new line of classics by the beloved author. While I’d seen Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears pretty recently – Kohl’s had the book and a companion teddy bear as one of their Kohl’s Cares book/plush sets about a year or two ago, and my mom picked up a book and teddy for my little guy – The Diggers and Count to 10 With a Mouse are new to me.

The Diggers, by Margaret Wise Brown/Illustrated by Antoine Corbineau, (March 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684127429

Ages 3-7

Moles dig holes. So do dogs. Worms, rabbits, mice, and pirates all dig holes, too! Animals and people alike dig holes for different reasons, and The Diggers tells their stories. The kids loved the whole process of digging a hole for a subway system, and I favored the digger machine digging up “stones, and find dinosaur bones, and cavemen’s homes, and buried gnomes”. This is just an fun, rhyming story that has so much detail to enjoy: buried dinosaur bones and pottery; worm homes that curve to meet their owner’s bodies; a train running along the horizon as it goes down its track, a pirate’s trail of thievery. The kids really enjoyed this one, and so did I. Artist Antoine Corbineau (whose website features much of the artwork from The Diggers, and from where I sampled the interior art) makes bright, bold artwork with loads of things for kids to find. The black and grey-purple endpapers show a cityscape in progress, with pathways all dug out. This is an adorable choice for a construction or transportation storytime; two choices that always go over well with my storytime groups.

The verse is Margaret Wise Brown – you can’t go wrong. The repeated phrase, “Dig Dig Dig” allows kids to jump right in and interact with you during a reading, and there are so many chances to ask them questions: identify the animals, where do they live/what do they eat; what predictions can they make about what’s going to happen next?

Consider an author study with your school-age kids, to really expose them to Margaret Wise Brown’s body of work; The Diggers is such an active book compared to Runaway Bunny and Goodnight, Moon; it will give the kids so much to think about and discuss.

 

Count to 10 With a Mouse, by Margaret Wise Brown/Illustrated by Kirsten Richards, (March 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684127412

Ages 2-5

This book is a hit! I love a counting book that has a fun story to go along with it, and Count to 10 With a Mouse fits the bill perfectly! The endpapers are covered in mouse paw prints, and there are two holes, one of which has the cutest little mouse peeking out of it! This counting story has everything: rhyme, repetition, and concepts (counting). A little mouse lives in a hole, and teaches himself to count by looking at the things around him: one mouse, two holes, three fish; all things he discovers as he crawls through the holes to the next pages. The rhyme and repetition are sweet, and filled with discovery: Each page, each discovery, starts off with the repeated phrase, “And there, what does he see? And there, what does he see?” Each spread leads readers to the next with a tempting invitation: “Then the mouse ran through the book, the mouse ran through the book. He ran onto the next page to take a little look”. Kirsten Richards’ illustrations are soft, sweet, and fit perfectly with Margaret Wise Brown’s storytelling rhyme, creating a whole experience for readers. The end of the book suggests turning around and starting all over again – expect that at bedtime!

I loved Count to 10 With a Mouse, and this one is definitely going in my storytime collection. I’m tucking it into my Children’s Book Week book ideas.

 

Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears, by Margaret Wise Brown/Illustrated by Julie Clay, (Apr. 2019, Silver Dolphin), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684127603

Ages 2-6

What would a Margaret Wise Brown collection be without another cuddly bedtime story? Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears is perfect for bedtime cuddling. Pastel-colored endpapers look like a comfy quilt to snuggle down into, and the story – a big sleepy bear and a little sleep bear get ready for bed – teaches important lessons about modeling behavior. Everything big sleepy bear does, little sleepy bear does, from yawning, to stretching, to getting into bed and putting heads on the pillow. They each recite a sweet little rhyme (a variation of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep) and drift off to sleep. I’ve read this to my little guy when we’re both about to nod off, and it’s a wonderful way to ease into bedtime. The affection between big and little bear comes through as words and the soft art palette come together to send readers off to their own dreams.

The kids at storytime weren’t quite ready to go to bed when I finished this story, but it was a nice close to storytime. Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears is a new bedtime classic to add to your shelves.

 

The best news? Silver Dolphin is launching 15 more Margaret Wise Brown books this Spring and Summer, and will have two more in the fall!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Board Books, Board Books, Board Books!

There’s a whole bunch of great board books out, and I love it!

Cat & Mouse, by Britta Teckentrup, (March 2019, Prestel Publishing), $14.95, ISBN: 978-3-7913-7374-4

Ages 0-4

This die-cut, rhyming book is adorable! A cat and mouse play a game of hide and seek, with die-cut squares on each page letting little ones find the mouse, and explore with their fingers as well as their eyes and ears, as they go along. Cat and mouse wreak havoc across each spread, upending furniture and running up and down stairs: will the cat catch the mouse? I read this to my storytime group and wiggled fingers through the squares, let the little ones peek through the holes, and stuck my nose through one or two to mimic a cat sniffing for a mouse, all to tremendous giggles. This is an adorable storytime read, and a great pick for sensory and explorative reading. The artwork is loaded with shapes and colors to identify, making this a book you can really engage your little ones with.

 

Who is Afraid of Little Wolf?, by Yayo Kawamura, (Apr. 2019, Prestel Publishing), $12.95, ISBN: 978-3-7913-7381-2

Ages 0-3

Little Wolf is bored and wants to play, but it seems like no one wants to play with him: the squirrel, rabbit, and fox all tell him their moms won’t let them play with wolves! Just when Little Wolf starts to cry, a little bee invites him to play. Seeing Wolf and Bee play together, the other animals realize that there’s nothing to be afraid of, and join the game. At sunset, Little Wolf and his new group of friends sit in a cuddled group, enjoying one another’s company after a big day of playing hide and seek. A sweet, simple story about overcoming prejudice, Who is Afraid of Little Wolf is a story that has a big message for little eyes and ears. Bold, colorful artwork and friendly animal faces make this instantly appealing to young readers and listeners, and gives a face to the fallout of predetermined ideas.

 

I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-5362-0757-6

Ages 2-5

This is one of my favorite picture books of ALL TIME, and now it’s available in board book form! The darkly hysterical tale of a bear, a hare, and a hat is complete here; just in smaller format for littler fingers. The illustrations are beautifully, perfectly recreated here. My 6-year-old asked me if this was a “backpack copy” for him to bring to school, and darned if I didn’t say, “Wow… you may be onto something here”. Start your younger readers off right: give them Jon Klassen board books! (PLEASE say we’ll be getting Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s Triangle, Square, and Circle trilogy in board book at some point!)

Do you have crafts after storytime? Use this free, downloadable activity kit to let the kids make their own red hat, recreate their own forest story scene, and more.

 

Wild Bios: Frida Catlo, by Courtney Acampora & Maggie Fischer/Illustrated by Lindsay Dale-Scott, (Jan. 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $7.99, ISBN: 978-1-68412-558-6

Ages 2-5

This is the cutest new board book series! Wild Bios puts an “animalistic twist” onto famous figure biographies by adding cute animals and wink, nudge puns to the biographical text. Here, we’ve got artist Frida Kahlo’s life with a feline spin: Frida Catlo was born in Meowixco City, painted self-pawtraits, and married fellow artist Doggo Rivera. A sweet way to introduce art to your little ones (I think it’s time for me to revisit my Art Storytime) and the puns will keep older siblings and adult caregivers chuckling at storytime. The bright, festive artwork is fun to look at, and Frida’s even got a little unibrow. Make sure to mention that Friday Kahlo loved animals – display and booktalk Monica Brown’s Friday Kahlo and Her Animalitos handy. Let the little ones draw afterward!

 

The Story of Rock, by the Editors of Caterpillar Books/Illustrated by Lindsey Sagar, (May 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-68412-509-8

Ages 0-5

Perfect for music storytime, this rhyming look at the history of rock music starts – as it should! – with rock’s roots in blues and features some of the most iconic names in rock history, including Chuck Berry, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, the Ramones, and more. The blues, through the rockabilly ’50s, the psychadelic ’60s, punk, hair metal, grunge, and ska are all here, with sweetly illustrated, friendly faces and instruments. Add this to your music shelf with board books like What is Punk?, Brandon Stousy’s What is Music? and We Are Music, Amazing Me! Music, by Carol Thompson, and Baby Loves to Rock! by Wednesday Kirwan.

 

The Story of Rap, by the Editors of Caterpillar Books/Illustrated by Lindsey Sagar, (May 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-68412-508-1

Ages 0-5

A companion to The Story of Rock, The Story of Rap starts off with rap’s beginning at a New York house party in 1973 and explains the genre’s sound: big bass, spoken word rhyme. Learn about rap icons, from Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, and NWA; the protests, the East vs. West battle, and modern figures, including Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar. The emphasis on soul and social justice is here, and like the books says: “Rap is for the people, just like from the start, it’s more than music: it’s a work of heart”. The artwork is identical to The Story of Rock, with soft, cute, friendly faces and urban street wear; there’s some breakdancing, mixing and scratching at the turntables, and female representation (Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott are here, but where’s Queen Latifah?). Add this to your music board books, and keep up your readers’ music education.

 

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

The Holiday Shopping has started… buy some books!

It’s that time of year again, where I dig deep to find all sorts of great books to add to your holiday shopping lists. This is the first round, so I’m thinking this post will suggest books and goodies to bring when you celebrate Thanksgiving, or the Fall Harvest, with your families and friends. These books will be fun for the kiddie table – before the food, naturally!

City, by Ingela P. Arrhenius, (Sept. 2018, Candlewick Press), $22, ISBN: 9781536202571

Ages 3-7

This book is just too much fun. First of all, it’s huge: over 40 inches high by over 17 inches wide, making it almost as big as some of the kids you’ll be seeing this holiday season! My niece giggle-shrieked when I stood the book up next to her, and that was that. She was hooked. It’s a gorgeous, funky concept book, introducing readers to different sights of city life: streetlamps, subways, coffee shops, fountains, zoos, even skateboarders are all here, with retro chic, bright art. The only words are the descriptive words for each picture; the endpapers are loaded with pictures of the smaller details of city life: a cat, a server, a scale, a shrub.

Put this in front of the kids, and let them have at it. My niece and my son loved talking about things they recognized: my niece remembers taking a train to work with her mom, and my son talked up the subway when I took him into the city on our winter break. And they both pretended that I was in the coffee shop and the bookstore, so it’s nice to know they think of me.

City is a gorgeous gift book that can be a coffee table art book for kids, or a prompt for creativity. Its only limit is the imagination.

The Smithsonian Exploration Station sets are fantastic gifts. Bring one or two of these with you, and set the kids up in their own personal science labs while the food cooks.

Smithsonian Exploration Station: The Human Body, (Nov. 2018, Silver Dolphin Books), $21.99, ISBN: 9781626867215

Ages 4-10

The Smithsonian sets are contained in a nice, sturdy box that holds a lot of stuff. The Human Body box includes a 56-page fact book, 30 stickers, a plastic model skeleton kids can put together, and 25 fact cards. It’s similar to the Adventures in Science kit Silver Dolphin put out earlier this year, and my son loved them both. Learn what makes your blood pump, your muscles stretch and how your different systems come together to make you walk, run, eat, sleep, and play. Older kids can help younger kids with some basic terms and reading, and the littlest ones can still enjoy putting the stickers on the skeleton body while bigger kids help put the skeleton together.

 

Smithsonian Exploration Station: World Atlas, (Nov. 2018, Silver Dolphin Books), $21.99, ISBN: 9781626867208

Ages 4-10

This set was hands-down my son’s favorite set. A blow-up globe, a world map and stickers of landmarks from all over the world, and cardstock puzzles of the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, and a Mayan Pyramid? Plus, a 56-page fact book that tells readers all about the cool landmarks as they decorate their maps? SOLD. We spent three days working on the map, at which time he told me that he wants to see every single one of these sights. We built the cardstock models, which called for much dexterity – so I called my eldest son in to help, because I tend to become a little exuberant, shall we say, with my papercrafting. My son also loves his inflatable globe, and asks me to point out cool places to him; some from the map, some, the countries that his friends at school hail from, some, names of places he hears about on TV. It’s a great set.

 

Smithsonian Exploration Station: Space!, (Nov. 2018, Silver Dolphin Books), $21.99, ISBN: 9781626867222

Ages 4-10

Kids love planets! The Space! Exploration Station includes a 56-page fact book, astronaut and rocket plastic figurines, stickers, and glow in the dark stars to make their own constellations. There are incredible, full-color photographs and text that explains the makeup of our solar system, galaxies, planets, and constellations. Let the kids decorate your dining room to and eat under the stars!

Every single one of these kits is such fun, and urges kids to be curious and explore the world inside them and around them. If you have the budget for it, throw these in your distributor cart and get a few sets for your STEM/STEAM programming, too. The Smithsonian has a good science education channel on YouTube, with kid-friendly videos that make for good viewing.

 

Where’s Waldo? The Spectacular Spotlight Search, by Martin Handford, (Oct. 2018, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536201765

Ages 5-9

Waldo’s back with a new trick: this time, the spreads have all gone dark! Luckily, the Spectacular Spotlight Search comes with a cool spotlight viewer to help you find him, and the challenges he sets out for you. There are six puzzles and a magic slider that slides into the scene to “light up” small sections – like a spotlight. Find Waldo and other familiar characters, plus other hidden challenges and games on each spread.  My 6-year-old and my 3-year-old niece had a blast with this book, eventually recruiting me for my Waldo-finding skills (narrator: The children were better.)

If you have puzzle and game fans in your family, this is a great gift to bring along. If you’re looking at it for your library, I suggest keeping it in reference; that spotlight will go missing or get beaten up in no time. But it’s good Waldo fun.

I have so much more to come, but I think this is a good start. A little something for everyone and plenty of hands-on fun!

Posted in Non-Fiction

My Wild Activity Book is BIG fun for kids!

My First Wild Activity Book, by Maxime Lebrun, (Jan. 2018, Silver Dolphin), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626869578

Ages 4+

This activity book on animals and their habitats is packed with things to do and make! Inviting kids on an adventure, the book begins with a challenge: take a journey through seven habitats around the world, and offers kids the chance to write their own profiles and draw a self-portrait. From there, the game is on! Readers can work their way through the seven habitats: rain forests, deserts, oceans, the mountains, forests, the savanna, and the polar ice by enjoying search and find activities across fold-out spreads, mazes, connect-the-dots and matching games, coloring sheets, and spot the difference challenges. There are loads of facts throughout the book, and each habitat offers a “think outside of the book” activity that parents, caregivers, and educators can enjoy with the kiddos! Sticker badges for each habitat add a little passport-y punch to the book, and two pages of animal stickers (seriously, so. many. stickers) lets readers go wild on the spreads, or, if you’ve got a kid like mine, his bed, the walls in his room, and, in one case, my laptop.

My son went through this book in just shy of a day and a half, and that’s only because I begged for mercy to make dinner when he was halfway through. We had a great time working on these activities and coloring the pages together, and our next step is to work on a few of the “outside of the book” activities: should we make a leaf collage first, or liberate some of our renegade socks, to make a snake? Maybe we’ll go for the paper plate aquarium! This one is absolute fun for families, and the projects are great for a STEM or Discovery Club at the library or in school. It’s a fun way to enhance natural science learning.

There’s a free maze and “spot the differences” printable at Silver Dolphin’s website. Enjoy!

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!