Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Everyone has bad days!

Mr. Brown’s Bad Day, by Lou Peacock/Illustrated by Alison Friend, (Nov. 2020, Nosy Crow), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536214369

Ages 2-5

Mr. Brown is a tiger with a Very Important Job; as such, he has a Very Important Briefcase that he carries with him at all times. Mr. Brown’s briefcase goes on a big adventure during a lunch in the park one day, and our poor friend is forced to chase it all over town! What can possibly be so important in the Very Important Briefcase? No matter how big you get, or how Very Important you may be, some things are just non-negotiable. Mr. Brown is a friendly-faced lion, and the colorful mixed media illustrations show his madcap day; he starts off in a pin-striped suit, but ends up bedraggled, shirt sleeves rolled up, tie askew, jacket completely missing. The repeated “fortunately” and “unfortunately” phrases invite kids to predict whether something good or bad is about to happen. A fun adventure and a fun storytime; pair with stories like Peter Brown’s Mr. Tiger Goes Wild and Aliki’s That’s Good, That’s Bad! for similar tiger adventures.

Mr. Brown’s Bad Day has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

That’s Good That’s Bad is a classic – glad it’s back!

That’s Good That’s Bad, by Joan M. Lexau/Illustrated by Aliki, (March 2020, Prestel Publishing), $17.95, ISBN: 9783791374192

Ages 3-8

This hilarious look at the upside and one boy’s exciting day in the jungle was originally published in 1963, brought back to a new generation of readers by Prestel Junior. A tiger happens upon a boy, sitting on a rock in the jungle, and tells him to run or be eaten. The boy tells the tiger he is too tired to run, and recounts his very busy day running from a rhino and a crocodile. The spreads alternate between the boy’s story, to which the tiger responds, “That’s good!” or “That’s bad!” as the boy recounts the ups and downs of his day. The final twist is laugh-out-loud funny, and Aliki’s vintage illustrations are just as lively and bright today as they were in 1963. Bright, bold colors come right off the stark white background and bring the jungle to life for younger readers.

I adore Aliki’s artwork, so I’d read My Five Senses and ask the kids to think about how they’d use their senses if they were in the boy’s situation.

That’s Good That’s Bad is a storytime book I’m happy to welcome back into print.
Posted in Uncategorized

Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Tiger Like Me!

A little boy and his tiger alter-ego bound through the day, doing all sorts of tiger things: waking up in his tiger den, eating breakfast ast his feeding spot, springing up at those lazy humans… it’s all in a tiger’s day, after all! At night, the restless tiger can’t find sleep in his sleeping place, so he heads to his parents’ den for cuddles, and thinks about how great it is to be a tiger as he drifts off to sleep.

A Tiger Like Me, by Michael Englel/Illustrated by Joëlle Tourlonias, Translated by Laura Watkinson,
(Sept. 2019, Amazon Crossing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542044561
Ages 4-7

This is another title from Amazon Crossing, the translation imprint from Amazon’s publishing group. Originally published in Germany, A Tiger Like Me is a book every kid (and grownup) can enjoy, because it’s a celebration of childhood imagination. The book flap genders the child as male, but the artwork and text don’t make any gender definitive. Narrated by the kid-Tiger, it’s a spot-on glimpse into a child’s imagination as they navigate the world in Tiger Mode. There’s repetition of the phrase, “Because I am a tiger, a tiger!” on each spread, as they go about their day; waking up, they are a “tiger, a wide-awake tiger!”; eating breakfast, “a greedy, gutsy tiger!”; getting caught in a laundry basket full of clothes, “a clumsy, klutzy tiger!”. Mom and Dad are there to provide some comic fun, particularly when the Tiger jumps at Dad, making him spill his coffee and grab for the Tiger, hunter-style. The day ends with a loving family cuddle, making this a great bedtime story for your own little tigers.

The digital artwork is playful, fun, and bright, with an almost hand-sketched look to some details. There are great little nuances throughout the story: look for the Tiger’s toy animal friends laying around the pages, and Dad drinks from a mug with a tiger’s face on it. Tiger eats Tiger Crunch cereal and envisions itself eating at a stone table with cave paintings on it. There’s so much to enjoy here; you won’t want to read it just once. Pages are full-bleed, with atmosphere switching from a family home to a jungle. The endpapers offer a lead-in and drift-out to the story, too: opening endpapers show us the Tiger waking up and ready to begin his day as a poetic introduction about a tiger stirring in his den introduces readers to the story. The closing endpapers show our Tiger, back in his den, as a poetic epilogue to the story takes readers out of the story. This one is an adorable add to bedtime story collections.

Michael Engler studied visual communication in Düsseldorf, Germany, and first worked as a scriptwriter and illustrator. He then spent several years as an art director at advertising agencies. He is currently a freelance author in Düsseldorf, writing children’s books and plays for the theater and radio. He has written more than fifteen children’s books. Learn more about him online at www.michaelengler.com.

 

Joëlle Tourlonias was born in Hanau, Germany, and studied visual communication with an emphasis on illustration and painting at the Bauhaus University Weimar. She is the illustrator of more than thirty children’s books. She continues to draw, paint, and live in Düsseldorf. Learn more about her online at www.joelletourlonias.blogspot.com.

 

Laura Watkinson is an award-winning translator of books for young readers and adults. She is a three-time winner of the Batchelder Award and also won the Vondel Prize for Dutch-English translation. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in Amsterdam. Learn more online at www.laurawatkinson.com.

 

 

 

“Child readers (and certainly adult caregivers) will identify with the book’s central message: Children can experience a wide swath of feelings, everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has complicated ways of interacting with the world. The final quiet pages offer a peaceful conclusion…Wildness is part and parcel of everyday childhood, embraced here with a roar.” —Kirkus Reviews

 

Want a shot at winning your own copy of A Tiger Like Me, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids? Check out this Rafflecopter giveaway (U.S. addresses only, please!)

Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, picture books, Preschool Reads

Cats, Cats, Cats!

Call it the librarian in me, but I love cats, and stories about cats are the perfect mix of cuddly, funny, and just plain sweet. Here are a few new and coming-soon books featuring some favorite furry friends.

The Pawed Piper, by Michelle Robinson/Illustrated by Chinlun Lee, (July 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-5362-0165-9

Ages 3-7

A girl wants a cat to cuddle, so she sets to work, creating a trail for a potential new pet to follow, with all sorts of cat-friendly stuff, like yarn, soft cushions, boxes, and catnip. At first, her grandmother’s cat, Hector, shows up to visit, but wait! Hector’s brought friends! Many, many friends – in fact, it appears that Hector has brought all the cats to the girl’s house! The girl is thrilled at first, but feels awful and guilty when she notices all the missing cat posters going up around her neighborhood. She didn’t want to take anyone else’s cat, after all; she just wanted one of her own. After she returns all the cats to their homes, she discovers a happy surprise: one cat has been hiding in her drawer, and has given birth to kittens! Those cats get homes, too, except for one little one: that one is just for the little girl.

The Pawed Piper is a sweet “I want a pet” story that kids will love and laugh along with. The endpapers get in on the fun, plastered with Missing! cat posters across the front endpapers; the same posters stamped “Found!” across the back endpapers. The watercolor and pencil artwork makes for a soothing, enjoyable setting to a fun story. A fun addition to pet storytimes, and for cat and pet fans.

Big Cat, by Emma Lazell, (July 2019, Pavilion Children’s Books), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1843654292

Ages 3-7

I laughed out loud at this sight gag-heavy story. A girl named Isobel tries to help her grandmother find her lost glasses (the kids will find them easily – ask them!) when they come across a giant cat. It’s a friendly cat, and Gran welcomes the cat in, with all of her other cats. Gran, who still can’t find her glasses, doesn’t seem to notice that she’s inadvertently adopted a tiger, but the other cats sure do! He’s eating their food, he’s taking up all their space, and making life very inconvenient. Thank goodness Big Cat’s mother and father show up – with Gran’s glasses! – to take their son home. Gran’s reaction when she finally realizes that she’s been letting a tiger live with her is laugh-out-loud funny; her housecats’ reaction to the tiger living with them is even funnier; their protest signs and facial expressions are kidlit comedy gold. Big Cat is going into my regular storytime rotation for sure. My 7-year-old and I read it last night and decided that we need to read this very, very often, because it just made us feel happy.

Big Cat was originally published in the UK, and is Emma Lazell’s debut picture book. I’m already looking forward to her next one, That Dog!, which looks like it’s being published in the US next spring. This is one of those books where text and art come together perfectly to create sight gags, with perfectly innocent text wandering around the artwork. The artwork is bold and bright, with hilariously expressive eyes. There are such sweet moments in here, too, like the giant hug that Mother and Father Tiger give their son when they finally discover him at Gran’s. It’s just a great book filled with wonderful moments and I can’t wait to read it again and again. There’s a free, downloadable activity kit, too, with mazes, coloring sheets, and a Missing! poster (that you could probably use with The Pawed Piper, too…).

Kitten Construction Company: A Bridge Too Fur, by John Patrick Green, (Oct. 2019, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626728318

Ages 7-9

The follow-up to last year’s Meet the House Kittens, this latest in the Kitten Construction Company series has Marmalade and friends facing a new construction project – building the new Mewburg Bridge! But Marmalade is afraid of water, and what do bridges cross? WATER! The kittens figure out a workaround, and they have to call subcontractors in to help with the demolition work. When the Demo Doggos show up to the site, though, Marmalade’s biased feelings about dogs stand in the way of true teamwork. Everyone is going to have to learn to work together to get the bridge done!

John Patrick Green creates stories that make me happy. Hippopotamister is all about a hippo finding his purpose; the first Kitten Construction Company story was about being taken seriously; and now, A Bridge Too Fur is about overcoming fears and biases, and embracing teamwork to make one’s corner of the world a better place. He tells big stories in a small space, with adorable artwork and situations that appeal to young readers while teaching them how to be a positive force in the world. That is good stuff, and that is the kind of book that flies off my shelves here at the library. Kids come for the cute animals, stay for the positive messages. There’s some fun humor on the down-low that sharp-eyed readers will catch, like references to a possum street artist named “Panksy”, and Marmalade knocking a mic off the podium when he goes to speak (because, that’s what cats do). A “How to Draw Kittens” section teaches readers to draw some of the characters in the story.

You simply can’t go wrong with a John Patrick Green graphic novel. The Kitten Construction Company is such a good series for intermediate readers; add this one to your collections.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Lion (Forge), Tigers, and Bears… Oh, My!

In a twist on the classic Wizard of Oz quote, I found myself with a tiger book, a bear book, but no lion book. Lion Forge came to the rescue with a hilarious (and animal-related) picture book! Enjoy!

This is a Taco!, by Andrew Cangelose/Illustrated by Josh Shipley, (May 2018, Lion Forge), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1941302729

Recommended for readers 4-8

Lion Forge Comics also puts out some really good kids’ books. This is a Taco! is a laugh-out-loud take on a nature book about squirrels that breaks the fourth wall. Taco is a squirrel who loves tacos. As the nonfiction narrative on squirrels progress, Taco is there to disabuse readers of any facts they may be picking up about squirrels. Squirrels eat tree bark? This is news to Taco, who really wants to know where his tacos are. Great climbers? Taco’s terrified! He lives in a bush! Taco has enough by the time a section on hawks – the greatest squirrel predator – shows up on the scene, and decides to change the story. Grabbing a red pen, Taco writes his own happy ending and imparts serious wisdom to readers: “if you want tacos in your story, then YOU make sure there are tacos in your story”.

Kids are going to love this hilarious book. Taco the Squirrel is right up there with Mo Willems’ Pigeon in terms of characters who take charge of their stories and bring the laughs. This makes for a great creative writing exercise with older kids; let them “rewrite” their own stories with weeded picture books or some photocopied pages. Show them Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett’s Battle Bunny for another example of a picture book taking on a life of its own. And for taco-loving readers, get those Dragons Love Tacos books on the display shelves. This book is way too much fun – get it into the hands of kids, ASAP! There’s a companion book, This is a Whoopsie, coming out in October.

 

The Tiptoeing Tiger, by Philippa Leathers, (Feb. 2018, Candlewick Press), $14.00, ISBN: 9780763688431

Recommended for readers 3-7

Everyone knows that tigers are sleek, silent, and totally terrifying. Except for Little Tiger. He can’t seem to get anyone in the forest to notice him, let alone be afraid of him! After his brother bets that he can’t scare any animal in the forest, Little Tiger sets off, determined to frighten someone. He tiptoes his way through the book, trying to scare boars, elephants, and monkeys, with no luck. Isn’t there anyone he can scare before the day is out?

This is a great book for the littles, who LOVE “scaring” people. I remember I couldn’t walk out of my bathroom without my little guy jumping and “boo!”-ing me starting around the age of 3. (He’s 5 now, and still tries it; these days, it’s usually with a Nerf sniper rifle.) The author speaks to a child’s desire to be seen as someone bigger, and the frustration at being ignored, or worse – laughed at – when they’re trying to be like the bigger folks. The repetition of Little Tiger’s tiptoeing up to his prey invites readers to be part of the story, whether they tiptoe with their toes or walk their fingers on a surface. Let them give their best ROAR! to see how they’d match up with Little Tiger.

The pencil and watercolor illustrations are adorable; very kid-friendly, and leave a lot of open space to show the size differences between Little Tiger and the rest of the animals. Green endpapers with fern leaf patterning bring readers into the story. The Tiptoeing Tiger is a fun story about being small, but determined. A fun additional book for animal lovers.

 

The Curious Cares of Bears, by Douglas Florian/Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez, (Aug. 2017, little bee books), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0462-1

This rhyming story takes readers through the four seasons with a group of bears and how they spend their time. In the spring, they love to climb trees and steal honey from bees, play and chase each other; in the summer, there’s swimming and games, family reunions, and parties; in the fall, they play all day and sing by a campfire at night; and when winter arrives, it’s time to make their way to their den to hibernate, until the spring thaw comes, and they get ready to explore their world all over again.

This is a gentle, fun read about the seasons. The group of cuddly bears pass their time in similar ways to our own families, which makes for some fun questions to pose to readers, especially near different seasonal school breaks. The rhyming text has a nice, steady rhythm for readers and the soft art makes the bears look fuzzy and cuddly, like the best bear books do. Endpapers feature an extended family group of bears wandering around the forest, setting the tone for the story. Give this to your teddy bear loving readers, and booktalk with some easy reader season books, like those from Rookie Readers.

 

Great Polar Bear, by Carolyn Lesser, (Apr. 2018, Seagrass Press), $17.95, ISBN: 9781633225022

Recommended for readers 5-8

I had to add an extra bear book here, because Great Polar Bear is just beautiful. A nonfiction book written in verse, Carolyn Lesser takes readers through a year in the life of a polar bear. Originally published in 1996 as The Great Crystal Bear (illustrated by William Noonan), this new edition features all-new collage artwork by Lesser; it gives beautiful texture and depth to the illustrations. The narrative brings facts to readers through rhythmic verse, rather than terse statements: the bear’s fur, for instance, “gathers sunlight, to heat your black skin and thick layer of fat”. We also learn about the endangered environment and problems caused by climate change. Back matter contains “Explorer’s Notes” and emphasizes conservation. This is a good additional text for nonfiction collections where bears are popular.

 

Africa Calling, Nighttime Falling, by Danny Adlerman/Illustrated by Kim Adlerman, (March 2018, Lee and Low Books), $9.95, ISBN: 9781620147955

Recommended for readers 3-7

For my Oh My! book, I’ve got the bedtime story, Africa Calling, Nighttime Falling; a mellow story about African animals in their habitats as the sun sets for the day. The rhyming text leads includes quiet accompanying phrases for each animal: “As moonlight cloaks the desert land, Viper slinks across the sand… swiftly sliding, vipers gliding”. I read them as whispered phrases, between stanzas, because it seems to really work with my Kindergartner. The artwork includes collage over paintings, with what looks like some photographic media mixed in. The twist at the end brings this full circle when readers see that it’s a little girl’s imagination, before bedtime, and that she’s surrounded by her jungle’s worth of stuffed animals. It’s a nice additional add where bedtime stories and animal books are popular, and a good one to test out with stuffed animal sleepover storytimes.