Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Sharey Godmother has love to share!

The Sharey Godmother, by Samantha Berger/Illustrated by Mike Curato, (Apr. 2021, Imprint), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250222305

Ages 3-6

Shari T. Fairy is a fairy godmother who LOVES to share. She’ll throw you a party, she’ll share her ice cream sundae, she’ll leave you surprises on your doorstep. She just loves to share! But when other fairies get in Shari’s ear, asking what she’s getting in return for all of that sharing, Shari starts to wonder… does she share TOO much? She tries not sharing, but is so unhappy… she realizes that sharing is who she is and what she does, and that sharing and doing good things has nothing to do with what you get out of it; it’s how it makes you feel. A feel-good story about how being kind makes your world a better place, The Sharey Godmother also delivers an important lesson to readers: don’t let other people influence what you think, feel, and do! Shari knows herself best; it’s when she lets others influence her that she doubts herself and ends up doing something that goes against who she is at heart. Mike Curato’s mixed media illustration is so much fun! Cartoon artwork, photographs of various textures, bold fonts, and vibrant color make this a perfect readaloud, and a perfect book for empathy, kindness, and socio-emotional collections.

Samantha Berger is the award-winning author of books like Crankenstein and Snail Mail. Her website is a delight, with links to information about her books, her blog, and video clips from her work on Sesame Street and Nickelodeon. Mike Curato is the award-winning author and illustrator of the Little Elliott books and the YA graphic novel, Flamer. His website has links to information about his books, along with links to videos, virtual events, and his shop.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board Book Bonanza!

I haven’t done a board book bonanza in a while, so let’s get right to it! There are OODLES of great board books out and hitting shelves soon, so make sure you have your collections ready for your littlest learners!

Surprise! Slide and Play Shapes, by Elsa Fouquier, (Feb. 2021, Twirl Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9782408024697

Ages 0-3

Way too much fun! A cat goes on an adventure in this adorable book with chunky sliding panels and colorful spreads. Readers can twist, push, wiggle, and slide colorful shaped blocks to reveal hidden panels that pop up to delight and surprise: Make birds fly, shoot stars into the sky, grow a tree, and reveal a happy rainbow. Sturdy pages will hold up to multiple readings; if your budget allows, buy two: the kids will thank you.

 

Sleep, Cat, Sleep!, by Antje Damm, (March 2021, Prestel), $9.95, ISBN: 9783791374482

Ages 0-3

This board book about a cat who wants to go to sleep is perfect for naptime and bedtime. Cat want to have a nap, but the reader’s woken him up by opening the book! With every turn of the page, sleepy cat just gets grumpier… but, wait! Cat notices YOU look a bit sleepy, too… would you like to take a nap together? Sleep, Cat, Sleep! is a silly, funny way to nudge readers toward a nap: toddlers will see themselves in a grumpy cat who doesn’t want to be woke up once he falls asleep, and they’ll also appreciate cat’s expressive facial expressions. Ask your little ones if they want to peek in and see Cat, but that they mustn’t wake him… and watch the giggles begin. If you’ve ever read Grover and the Monster at the End of the Book, you know what to do here. Colorful spreads and playful fonts will make this a book your littles will come back to often.

 

Sharing, by Alice Le Hénand/Illustrated by Thierry Bedouet, (Feb. 2021, Twirl Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9782408019716

Ages 0-3

Twirl’s Pull and Play books teach toddlers and preschoolers valuable social and emotional skills. In Sharing, Little Bear, Little Cat, and their friends are learning how to share. It’s not always easy, but thank goodness their grownups are there to help support them! Little Crocodile isn’t so sure about sharing his car with Little Kangaroo, but when Mom suggests letting Little Kangaroo play with another toy while he’s got the car, the two friends even figure out a game to play together. Little Kangaroo doesn’t really want to give up space on Mama’s lap, even for her baby brother, but Mama encourages her to scoot over, showing her that there’s room for both. Each spread has a pull tab that shows readers the before and after effects of sharing, and straightforward, simple text helps guide parents through the not-so-easy work of negotiation. The books are durable, the illustrations are colorful, and the characters are expressive. Great additions to your social-emotional learning collections.

 

Pacifier, by Alice Le Hénand/Illustrated by Thierry Bedouet, (Feb. 2021, Twirl Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9782408024611

Ages 0-3

Another addition in the Pull and Play series from Twirl, Pacifier is all about the big moment: moving away from the pacifier. Little Bear, Little Crocodile, and their friends still use their pacifiers, but their parents encourage them to leave them behind, little by little: a slow, gradual separation; say, to take a walk or go play outside. Parents encourage their little ones to think about whether or not they want to use the pacifier any more, or mention that sometimes, the pacifier is a hindrance, making it harder to be understood when speaking. When the children all leave their pacifiers behind, even for a little while, the parents cheer their children on! They’ve taken big kid steps today! Pull tabs show each character with the pacifier and in the process of putting it away. Straightforward text helps give adult caregivers easy ways to talk to children about the process of separating from the pacifier. Pull and Play Books are all about support, encouragement, and empowering our children, making them a good addition to your collections. There are nine other books in the Pull and Play collection, covering a wide range of topics for toddlers, including potty training, feelings, siblings, and saying please and thank you.

 

Drive the Race Car, Illustrated by Dave Mottram, (March 2021, Chronicle Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781452178868

Drive the Fire Truck, Illustrated by Dave Mottram, (March 2021, Chronicle Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781452178851

Ages 0-3

We’ve got a twofer here, with Dave Mottram’s super-cute Drive the Car books! The wheel-shaped books open up to let little hold onto the book like a steering wheel and play as their grownup reads the rhyming stories of a day in the life of a race car and a fire truck. Each spread lets the reader imagine themselves behind the wheel of a vehicle, watching the action take place from the dashboard.  The race car puts the reader on a race track, where they can see other cars they’re racing against. They can pretend to press the buttons on the dashboard and make all the fun sound effects of a race car on the move!

Drive the Fire Truck! puts the reader in the driver’s seat of a fire truck as a call comes in: there’s a fire and they have to go to the rescue! The dashboard shows readers button including the siren, horn, and the radio, all of which come into play throughout the story. The action on the streets unfolds in front of the reader as they see the black smoke, and drive toward the fire. Perfect for lapsits, and if you’re able to secure copies for a few families to read their own copies during the storytime, even better. If you’re doing a virtual storytime, this comes in handy: hold the book up and let the readers imagine they’re at the wheel as you read.

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 Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Little Box of Emotions: Great for communication, great when kids struggle to find the words

Little Box of Emotions: Matching and Memory Cards, by Louison Nielman , illustrated by Marie Paruit, (July 2020, Schiffer Kids), $19.99, ISBN: 9780764358975

Ages 2+

Twenty-four cards with colorful and expressive animals and items make for a memory game and teaching tool. A 32-page guide book explains represented emotions and offers some game ideas, from matching colors to memory games. What I appreciated most is the opportunity to use these cards to teach children how to recognize emotions in themselves and others; to use these cards to define what they may not have had the words to describe before. I work in a community of English language learners; for me, having cards like this available to my kids is great: when we reopen, I would use these in storytimes to deep dive into emotions experienced by different characters; I’d leave the box by my desk, so anyone wanting to talk to me without having the words, regardless of language capability, can use these little cards to communicate feelings and thoughts. They’re a good choice to have available for toddlers, who are learning more and more words by the day, and experiencing very big emotions that may scare or frustrate them. It makes for a fun game for parents and children to play together, and the adorable animals are eye-catching and colorful. Consider making some crib notes for yourself, describing these emotions in different languages to help language learners get a firmer foot in their two worlds. For those of us with big infant populations, have some baby sign language books around to enhance language, and make yourself familiar with ASL signs for emotions.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction

Spotlight on indie and small publishers!

I hope you like these as much as I do. As I’ve worked through my ginormous TBR this year, I’ve gotten to many of the books sent to me by independent and small authors and publishers; the best way to show them off is to give them their own little spotlight. There are some little gems to be found here.

 

Ollie’s Backpack (A Carefree Ollie Book), by Riya Aarini/Illustrated by Virvalle Caravallo, (July 2020, independently published), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1733166140

Ages 5-7

Ollie is a kid who loves to put stuff in his backpack. He knows there’s stuff that’s way too big, like a moose; way too heavy, like a watermelon, or way too cold, like an igloo. The thing is, he starts to collect little things that end up really weighing him down as he goes through his day: a crumpled homework assignment; a broken toy that a bully snatched from him; a granola bar that a classmate refused to share; even a trophy that he won! As Ollie takes a break from carrying all that heavy weight, he realizes that sometimes, you have to get rid of the weight you carry. He sheds the things that made him sad, and displays the trophy, which made him happy. Once he stops hiding everything away, he realizes that he’s not weighed down anymore!

Ollie’s Backpack is a good social-emotional learning story that reminds me of Brian Wray’s and Shiloh Penfield’s excellent Max’s Box. Kids will see themselves both in the packrat stuffing of everything and anything into a backpack, and will understand the meaning of holding onto memories – for better or for worse – and appreciate Ollie’s way of embracing the good and letting go of the bad. The digital artwork is bright and colorful. A nice choice for your SEL collections. Visit author Riya Aarini’s website for more books, including the next Ollie books.

 

Sam the Superhero and His Super Life, by Kathryn F. Pearson & James T Pearson/Illustrated by Lauren Jezierski, (July 2020, independently published), $9.25, ISBN: 979-8640502343

Ages 5-8

A young boy named Sam lives with his grandparents and loves his stuffed dog, Hercules. He’s very sensitive to sound, light, and touch, and he has what his grandfather calls “big feelings”: he feels everything intensely. His grandfather shows Sam photos of himself as a baby and explains that he was he was born very small and needed to stay in the hospital for a few weeks, and was very sensitive, even as a baby; he also tells Sam that he is a superhero, just like the guys in the comics, for overcoming so many obstacles.

The book looks at children born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS): children born substance-exposed and the challenges they overcome from birth. Developed by an 8-year old girl named Sophia, the story is brought to life through straightforward, simple prose and sketched, gently colorful artwork. Sam the Superhero and His Super Life raises NAS awareness and encourages adults and children alike to approach all kids with kindness and understanding. Visit https://2themoonandback.org/ for more info.

 

Chicken Little Investigates, by Lois Wickstrom/Illustrated by Francie Mion, (Aug. 2019, Look Under Rocks), $12, ISBN: 978-0916176365

Ages 5-7

A fun spin on the classic Chicken Little tale, Chicken Little Investigates puts a STEM spin on the story. Chicken Little and Henny Penny are strolling along when an acorn falls on Chicken Little’s head. Chicken Little and Henny Penny do some experimenting with gravity, and decide to go visit the king to find out what he would call their discovery. Along the way, they meet Goosey Loosey, Ducky Lucky, and Turkey Lurkey, all with different ideas on what to call their discovery, when they meet up with sly Foxy Woxy, who has his own ideas. But the gang is too smart for Foxy, and use their new discovery to escape to safety. A cute introduction to physics, with fun sounds like jangles, flops, and plops, this is a cute read-aloud that invites kids to chime in with their own sound effects. I’d use this in a Discovery Club readaloud and invite kids to drop their own pencils, pillows, and pom-pom balls to see what drops fast, what drops slow, and what sounds they make. Lois Wickstrom has been writing some fun STEM/STEAM stories; see more of her books at her website, Look Under Rocks.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Sometimes A Wall…

A group of children play with walls, both figurative and literal, at the neighborhood playground in this rhyming picture book that explores the feelings that come up when walls enter the conversation. Walls have been a big topic of discussion in our adult lives over the last few years, and a book like Sometimes a Wall… helps put things into perspective for children AND adults.

Sometimes A Wall, by Dianne White/Illustrated by Barroux,
(Oct. 2020, OwlKids), $19.95, ISBN: 9781771473736
Ages 3-7

 

There are so many walls at the playground! A sprinkler can make a spill wall; kids can climb a rock wall. These are walls that invite people to work together, to play together. But some walls come between people, as one child finds out when friends make a wall to hide behind, taunting and being cruel to those left out. Being behind a wall gives children a different point of view, as we see one child adopt a crown and refuse to play with others entirely, and then we discover that walls can separate and bring feelings of isolation and regret. But these kids can look at a wall as a new opportunity, and decide to make it a structure that welcomes everyone in the end. Some paint and a feeling of community is all it takes to mend walls and hearts.

The story is touching, using few words, but they are words that wield power, especially when paired with Barroux’s colorful artwork. When the children work together, there’s color and happy faces; when the wall initially goes up, the landscape is dominated by the giant gray wall, giving the children’s cruel facial expressions even more menace; putting a gray cloud around the child left brings a sadness to their posture and to the reader. The artwork and text work beautifully together, never overwhelming the page or the reader, to tell a moving story as eloquently and simply as possible.

A wonderful book to have ready to read to younger children, and a good choice to have available for school-age children, to start important discussions.

A conversation with a friend got author Dianne White thinking about different kinds of walls, both physical and metaphorical. Sometimes a Wall… is an exploration of these, and, with it, an invitation to take down barriers and find common ground. Dianne’s other books include Green on Green and Who Eats Orange? A long-time elementary school teacher, she lives with her family in Gilbert, Arizona. To learn more, and to download discussion guides and more, visit Dianne’s website at DianneWrites.com. You can follow her on Twitter @diannewrites or on Facebook.

Barroux lives in Paris, France, and has studied photography, art, sculpture, and architecture. His work has been published in The New York Times and The Washington Post. He believes that the world needs fewer walls and more trees. You can follow him on Instagram @barrouxillustrations.

“Rhyme, rhythm, and simple art – all including references to walls – show children expressing different emotions and behaviors… Mending walls for the nursery crowd.” – Kirkus Reviews

Author Dianne White has put together a fantastic packet of information for readers, parents, and educators:

The “Why” Behind the Book

A Letter to Parents and Educators

A Letter to Young Readers

Discussion Guide

Sometimes a Wall… Discussion Guide

 
A lesson in 3 Movements…
Intro to the Unit (PLEASE READ FIRST!)
1st Movement: TOGETHER (I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoët)
2nd Movement: APART (Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi)
3rd Movement: REGRET. NEW START? (Sometimes a Wall… by Dianne White, illustrated by Barroux)
 
Coloring Pages for Younger Students
Posted in Uncategorized

Terrific Toddlers understand your little ones

I first found the Terrific Toddlers series at BookExpo two years ago, and I love the way they communicate feelings and action to both parents and toddlers in a way that’s constructive and instructional. There are three new books coming in November, and they look at some big topics for little people.

Potty! (Terrific Toddlers), by Carol Zeavin & Rhona Silverbush/Illustrated by Jon Davis, (Nov. 2020, Magination Press), $8.99, ISBN: +978-1-4338-251-2

Ages 1-3

JoJo, Kai, and Jack are all learning to use the potty! Parents are there to help, whether it’s to usher a toddler into the bathroom to take off a diaper, or to help a little understand that when we flush, the water takes away the poop – but not the toddler! Each toddler has a different experience with the potty, and Ava has graduated to undies. With short, informational sentences, readers learn that, whether wearing a diaper or undies, we all use a potty to poop or pee, and we learn to recognize the feeling that tells us to use the potty. A note to parents and caregivers provides guidance for potty training, including signs of physical and emotional readiness. Soft pastel artwork and a white background with occasional splashes of pastel provide a relaxing reading experience, and a multicultural group of children to appeal to all readers.

 

Time to Go! (Terrific Toddlers), by Carol Zeavin & Rhona Silverbush/Illustrated by Jon Davis, (Nov. 2020, Magination Press), $$8.99, ISBN: 978-1-4338-252-9

Time To Go! is all about that challenging moment in toddlerhood: leaving one place or task to go somewhere else. Ava is singing, but Daddy knows it’s time to head to the playground; once at the playground, JoJo’s mom tells her it’s time to go; at home, Jack needs to take a bath, but he’s playing with his trains. Each parent recognizes the pushback: “I busy!”; I singing!”; and the one we all know so well, “NO!” Each parent follows their little, acknowledges how they feel at the moment, and uses a bit of deflection to help ease feelings. Ava’s dad tells provides her with a routine: “first we put on our shoes, then we take our snack”; JoJo’s mom gives JoJo a choice: slide down the slide one more time, or Mom can catch her; Jack’s mom lets him drive his trains to the bath. Each time, the toddler has a choice in how to proceed, but the parent is making the decision. There’s no yelling, no lost tempers, no crying, giving us parents a realistic plan for handling that toddler pushback. The parent and caregiver note offers suggestions for setting limits, including giving a heads-up (I still give my 8-year-old the “5-minute warning”), having a routine, using transitional objects, and giving a choice. Having the same cast of toddlers in each book gives our toddlers familiar faces, letting them bond with the characters and see them as having a full range of experiences, like our own kids do.

 

New Baby!, by Carol Zeavin & Rhona Silverbush/Illustrated by Jon Davis, (Nov. 2020, .Press), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-4338-32505

This book tackles the biggie: The New Baby. The opening sentences put it best: “Sometimes a new baby comes. Sometimes we worry about what will happen.” Kai’s mommy is about to have a baby, and Kai is not really sure how to feel about it.  Mommy and Daddy reassure him, but when Baby comes home, Kai is frustrated and wants the baby to go away! Mommy lets him get his emotions out, encouraging him to stomp and voice his anger, and then calms him down by letting him sit on her lap while Daddy shows him pictures of Kai when he was a baby. By letting Kai know that he will always be Mommy and Daddy’s baby, even when he’s their big boy, they are showing him that he is an important part of the family. New Baby! addresses fear and frustration that toddlers feel when a new baby joins the family. The parent and caregiver note encourages adults to acknowledge the possible regression, as toddlers try to revert back to baby behaviors; let toddlers help out by letting them get diapers, blankets, or toys for baby.

I’m really happy with this series of toddler books; looking forward to seeing how they do at my library.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction

Two more #Nocturnals easy readers bring laughs and love!

The Nocturnals: The Best Burp, by Tracey Hecht/Illustrated by Josie Yee, (Apr. 2020, Fabled Films Press), $12.95, ISBN: 9781944020323

Ages 4-6

Another fun night out with the Nocturnals has Bismark (of course) competing in a burping contest with a new friend, Bink the Bat. As Bismark and Bink bicker (hee hee… alliteration is fun), Dawn emerges to suggest that maybe a burping contest isn’t the way to be their “best selves”. A cute story about recognizing that burps are natural, but sometimes, polite behavior calls for an “excuse me”, The Best Burp also has a cute side joke that involves my poor buddy, Tobin, as the butt (the burp?) of the joke when Bismark and Bink try to blame the other for the burping contest, which leaves them both pointing toward Tobin, who’s standing the in the middle. Adorably fun with a nice lesson about manners, to boot. Kids will love (and cafeteria aides will relate to) the characters and the tempting fun of the burping contest. Parents, educators, and caregivers will appreciate Dawn, ever the voice of reason, stepping in to negotiate more polite behavior.

 

The Nocturnals: The Weeping Wombat, by Tracey Hecht/Illustrated by Josie Yee, (Aug. 2020, Fabled Films Press), $5.99, ISBN: 9781944020330

Ages 5-8

Can you believe this is the eighth Nocturnals adventure? This time, we’ve got a sensitive story about Walter, an emotional, highly sensitive wombat who’s made fun of because he has a tendency to cry easily. The Nocturnals friends rally around Walter, letting him know that they all cry sometimes – even Bismark, who gets emotional just thinking about his Grandpa Guffy. Walter feels so much better after Dawn wisely explains that weeping is “just another way to show how we feel”, and that it can even make us feel better. A very sweet story about sensitivity and emotions, The Weeping Wombat is a nice addition to social-emotional learning texts for storytime.

Each book has a Nocturnals Fun Facts section that introduces readers to the Nocturnals. Don’t forget to visit their Nocturnals website, which is updated often and has great resources for homeschooling and nature camp activities. You’ll find Nocturnals character masks, book club questions, sight words games, and Common Core, Science, and Social-Emotional Learning Guides, all free and available for downloading.