Posted in Toddler Reads

It’s another Board Book Blitz!

Time for more board books!

Tummy Time! A high-contrast fold-out book with mirror for babies, by Mama Makes Books, (March 2022, Red Comet Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781636550138

Ages 0-1

A two-sided, fold-out board book that’s perfect for infants whether they’re laying on their tummies or during a lapsit. On one side, there is rhyming verse and photos of baby faces; a mirror lets baby see themselves. On the other, high-contrast black and white images with pops of bright primary colors attract baby’s attention. Stiff cardboard allows the book to stand up without tipping over, and the foldout pages allow for caregivers to lay out multiple images for baby to look at. Great for lapsit storytime and baby social time. These are sturdy enough to put into circulation, too!

 

The Trainbow, by Nina Laden, (Aug. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 9781452176413

Ages 0-3

Another foldout board book! This time, a colorful “trainbow” is rolling down the track, with rhyming text reminiscent of Donald Crews’s classic Freight Train. One side folds out into a color study of the cars on the freight train, all inhabited by colorful cartoon art animals and people. The other side features a cheerful rhyme as the train chugs past a group of well-wishers. Die cut pages fold into a rainbow readers will see from either side of the book. The pages are sturdy and will hold up to circulation and storytimes and will easily stand up for display or tummy time. A very cute collection choice from the author of the Peek-a…. series of die-cut board books, another board book collection staple.

 

Baby Hippo Finger Puppet Book, Illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang, (Sept. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797212876

Ages 0-3

I can’t get enough of these adorable finger puppet books! I love putting them up and around my early reading area so my littlest learners can see and easily reach them. Baby Hippo has an exciting day, splashing in the water and playing with her fellow calves, having some grass to eat, and running back to Mama in time to go to sleep. There’s one sentence on each spread except for the last page; gentle blues and greens make up most of the scenery, making this a good naptime/bedtime lapsit choice. Let your kiddos take turns wiggling their fingers inside of the Baby Hippo puppet as you read, letting them act out the story. I won’t lie – the pages are blocky and study, but that puppet is going to go in little mouths, so give them a wipe down with some soap and water if you can. They are durable enough to hold up in circulation.

 

Baby Lion Finger Puppet Book, Illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang, (Sept. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781797212869

Ages 0-3

Set up your own jungle adventure storytime by pairing Baby Lion with Baby Hippo. Baby Lion spends his day playing with friends, nuzzling and getting a bath from Mama, taking a nap, exploring, rejoining his family as the sun starts setting. Oranges and yellows are the main colors here, with greens, blues, and browns joining the natural colors that dominate this story of life on the African Savanna. The Baby Lion finger puppet will easily accommodate a couple of tiny fingers to wiggle around and act out the story. These books are very sturdy and will hold up to multiple readings and in circulation; with all the finger puppet books, my suggestion is to wipe them down; I’ve seen my in-house copies are going in little mouths as toddlers and babies use all of their senses to explore.

 

Mr. Bear’s World of Food, by Virginie Aracil, (Sept. 2022, Twirl Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9791036345173

Ages 2-5

This oversize book has so much to discover! Mr. Bear just loves food, and takes readers on a trip through their taste buds to learn about different types of flavors, including sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami. Each spread introduces a new flavor, showcases foods with those flavors, and a little commentary from Mr. Bear on how each one makes him feel. Salty makes Mr. Bear thirsty; he thinks bitter, like coffee, tastes funny; fried makes him feel warm and toasty. Foods are labeled, expanding vocabularies, and introducing children to all sorts of different food, from endive and radicchio to miso and mushrooms; seasonings like vanilla bean and star anise to rich foods like salmon and whipped cream. A section of Favorite Foods features popular comfort foods – ask readers what they love most! – and Foods to Share encourages readers to share the love. There are lift-the-flaps and pop-ups to further delight readers, and a baguette bookmark assures readers can return to their favorite spreads again and again. Great for a yummy storytime! Originally published in France in 2021, this Mr. Bear book accompanies the three previous titles: Mr. Bear’s ABC, Mr. Bear’s Birthday, and Mr. Bear’s Colors.

 

So Many Kisses!, by Alexandra Garibal/Illustrated by Claudia Bielinksy, (Sept. 2022, Twirl Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9791036348822

Ages 0-3

An adorable board book that’s just perfect for a cuddly lapsit storytime. Adorable animals have a lovefest and show off all the fun ways of showing affection! Do you prefer a nose-to-nose kiss? Maybe a foot-to-foot kiss is more your style. An octopus loves to give tickly kisses, and a porcupine is there to give prickly kisses! Colorful animals and colorful backgrounds engage kids’ attention and different “kissy sounds” give readers a chance to really make this a fun readaloud. Originally published in France in 2021, So Many Kisses! gives readers the opportunity to show their caregivers how they like to be kissed and hugged.

 

Bookscape Board Books: We Love Books!, Illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius, (Oct. 2022, Chronicle Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9781797215587

Ages 0-3

Bookscape Board Books pack a little world into each book! We Love Books is all about developing a love of books, showing readers that they can enjoy a book just about anywhere, and maybe even consider writing a book one day. Arrhenius’s bold artwork is eye-catching, and the die cuts work together to create a layered world that reveals more with each turn of a page. Sturdy and absolute fun for exploring hands and minds, the Bookscape series is great for young learners. We Love Books is the fifth in the series and is great for board book collections. See more of Ingela P. Arrhenius’s illustration work on her Instagram.

 

Little Wild Animal Hugs, by Hans Wilhelm/Illustrated by Wednesday Kirwan, (Oct. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9781797207186

Ages 1-3

Pair this one up with So Many Kisses! for your cuddly lapsit! Little wild animals love hugging, and this die-cut board book allows readers to mix and match the hugs. When a monkey and a seal hug, they make a Chitter-Chatter, Splish-Splash Hug! A porcupine and a lion make a Prickly-Prickly, Roar-Roar Hug! You can read this in a different way each time, just mix and match your animals any way you please. Die cuts make the animals look like they really do hug, and colorful cartoon art shows affectionate, lovable animal friends sharing affectionate embraces. Perfect for readalouds.

 

TouchWords: Color Cards : Touch and Feel, Illustrated by Rilla Alexander, (Sept. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9781797214993

This oversized deck of ten cards is perfect for learning color. The die-cut cards let little hands feel and trace color names and a primary image on each card. Card backs show different shades of the featured color and other items of the same color. Purple is the color of a violet, with accompanying vocabulary words to help kids visualize and identify the world around them: flower / blossom / petals / leaf / stem / wild / delicate. On the back, shades of lilac, violet, and indigo give children additional shades of color, with examples including an iris, an eggplant, and grape jelly. The cards are study and will hold up to exploration; you may lose some in circulation, but keep a set or two handy for your storytime/playgroup collection.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

Black Lives, Black History

The Big Day, by Terry Lee Caruthers/Illustrated by Robert Casilla, (Oct. 2020, Star Bright Books), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-59572-913-2

Ages 5-8

This celebration of suffrage and Black women voters is a fictionalized story of Agnes Sadler, the first Black woman to legally vote in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1919. Agnes, called Big Mama here, wakes her daughter Tansy up and urges her to get moving; today is a “big day”, after all. Tansy and Big Mama dress in their finest, get on the bus, and head to the polls; it’s voting day and women have the vote! A lovely tribute to Black women’s suffrage, Agnes and the other women voters proudly wear sashes; the Black women belong to the “Colored Women’s Political League”, and the white women wear “Votes for Women” sashes. The artwork is colorful, soft, and carries a beautiful, historic feel to it. Endpapers are made up of newspaper articles about women’s suffrage, and back matter provides more information about Agnes Sadler, women’s suffrage and Black women’s role in suffrage, and sources for further reading. A great introduction to Black women’s history, and a good picture book biography on a little-known figure in Black suffrage.

For more information about African American Women and the suffrage movement, visit the Suffragist Memorial, the Black Women’s Suffrage Digital Collection, and National Geographic.

A Voice Named Aretha, by Katheryn Russell-Brown/Illustrated by Laura Freeman, (Jan. 2020, Bloomsbury Kids USA), $17.99, ISBN: 9781681198507

Ages 5-8

All hail the Queen of Soul! This picture book biography on Aretha Franklin starts from her beginnings, singing in her father’s church choir through her singing for President Barack Obama (and bringing him to tears). Covering Aretha’s social justice work, Katheryn Russell-Brown notes that Aretha refused to perform for “whites only” audiences and her work with civil rights groups and philanthropy. Laura Freeman’s artwork brings Aretha Franklin to life with rich colors and passionate renderings; Aretha’s head thrown back as she sings and plays the piano at 12; clasping her hands to her chest as she belts out a song in the choir, and Barack Obama wiping a tear away as he listens to a lushly garbed Franklin sing onstage. Endpapers are a feast of vinyl and gold records on a deep purple background. Back matter provides more information about Aretha Franklin’s life and music and some of her hit songs. A must-have in your picture book biography section, this is an excellent introduction to a music and civil rights icon.

A Voice Named Aretha has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal.

 

William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad, by Don Tate, $18.99, ISBN: 978-1-56145-935-3

Ages 5-8

Written in free verse, Don Tate’s biography of William Still, abolitionist, member of the Underground Railroad, and archivist of stories that reunited families, is simply incredible. Born to former slaves living in New Jersey, William Still grew up with a desire to learn and a desire for justice. He moved to Philadelphia and worked with the Anti-Slavery Society, where he took on greater roles, ultimately becoming part of the Underground Railroad. When he reunited his long-lost brother with his family, Still began keeping extensive notes on the people he spoke with, leading to more reunions. The verse is concise but packs emotional punches, like this moment where he meets his brother, Peter: “The man was middle-aged. / Stooped back. Furrowed brow. / Threadbare clothes. / His name was Peter. / He was looking for his mother, his family.” Endpapers include excerpts from Still’s observations. Digital illustrations are emotional and expressive. Another must-have picture book biography. Publisher Peachtree has an excerpt, teacher’s guide, and poster on their website.

William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad has starred reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly.

 

 

Mary Seacole: Bound for the Battlefield, by Susan Goldman Rubin/Illustrated by Richie Pope, (Oct. 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763679941

Ages 8-11

This intermediate picture book biography on Crimean War figure Mary Seacole, born in Kingston, Jamaica, begins with her childhood in Kingston, watching her healer mother care for soldiers with herbal remedies and hoping to be like her one day, through her own healing work with soldiers during the Crimean War and cholera patients in Panama. The book deep dives into the racism she encountered as a biracial woman, including a run-in with Florence Nightingale, who scoffed at her remedies and cures and refused her services. Drawn from Mary Seacole’s own writing, this biography is comprehensive for younger readers, with richly colorful and evocative illustrations. Back matter includes sources notes and a bibliography. An important biography for younger readers.

 

Northbound: A Train Ride Out of Segregation, by Michael S. Bandy & Eric Stein/Illustrated by James E. Ransome, (Oct. 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763696504

Ages 6-8

Inspired by author Michael S. Bandy’s memories of taking the train as a child of color during segregation, Northbound tells the story of a boy of color and a white boy becoming friends on a train ride from Alabama to Cincinnati, amid the shifting segregation seating on the train. Young Michael boards the train and goes to the “colored only” section, but when the train leaves Atlanta, the signs come down and he’s free to roam the train. He meets Bobby Ray, a boy his own age and from his own town, and the two become instant friends. Once the train approaches Chattanooga, though, the signs go back up and the new friends are separated. A heart-rending story of separation and segregation, Northbound ends with a spark of hope. The story explains segregation in its most basic terms to children, and encourages discussion about how the story – and our past – parallels with our present. James A. Ransome’s watercolor and collage artwork creates splendid scenery as the train speeds along and the two boys become friends over the course of a train ride; moments of racism, as when the conductor leads Michael out of the “whites only” car when the train approaches Chattanooga, are emotional; the “whites only” harsh white sign stands out like an ugly scar across a lovely painting. An author’s note explains the Interstate Commerce Act and how segregation played into it.

Northbound: A Train Ride Out of Segregation has starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Kindness is always on time when you ride Zero Local

Zero Local, by Ethan Murrow and Vita Murrow, (Apr. 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763697471

Ages 4-8

An above-ground train kicks off the week with delays, and tensions run high, but one passenger embraces the extra time and thoughtfully creates a thank-you drawing for the conductor. A young girl notices the act of kindness and decides that gratitude is the way to go; for the rest of the week, as moments of stress and tension creep back into the daily commute,

Zero Local shows the power of kindness and the beauty of paying it forward. Mostly wordless – the only text here exists to let readers know the day of the week and the train’s schedule status – the artwork does all the talking. Vita and Ethan Murrow capture the tension and stress of the daily commute while illustrating the power of art and empathy. Graphite illustrations derived from photos give a gritty realness to the urban commuters and bursts of yellow give us sunshine for those small, bright moments when kindness prevails. A nice addition to wordless picture books, and hopefully, an inspiration for understanding. Read and display with Melanie Hope Greenberg’s Down in the Subway, another book where a crowded, hot day on the subway turns into something magical.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Stanley the Hamster chugs back to bookshelves with Stanley’s Train

Stanley’s Train, by William Bee, (Aug. 2019, Peachtree Publishers), $14.95, ISBN: 978-1-68263-108-9

Ages 3-7

Stanley the Hamster is back! This time, he’s workin’ on the railroad, along with his buddy, Charlie. The two get the train ready to go; they oil, grease, and shovel, and then chuf-chuf-chuf along, picking up their neighbors for a trip to Seaside, and a day at the beach. When the day is done, they load everyone back on the train, and head back home, where Stanley has his routine supper, bath, and bedtime.

This is William Bee’s 12th Stanley book. It’s a series kids enjoy because Stanley and his friends are adorable; they learn careers and concepts, encounter familiar, regular characters, and contain a familiar routine to close out each book, as Stanley returns home from his busy day. Stanley and Charlie work on getting the train ready for its trip, giving young learners a glimpse into maintaining a vehicle. The colors are bright and bold, primary colors with bold, black outlines that pop against the white background of the pages. Each book closes with Stanley’s return, with three spreads dedicated to Stanley’s evening routine: “Well! What a busy day!/Time for supper! Time for a bath!/And time for bed! Goodnight, Stanley!”

Transportation fans will enjoy Stanley’s’ Train, because train books are HUGE with preschoolers. Stanley books are great storytime standards, because the text is large, bold, and brief. Pair these with Lisbet Slegers’s community helper picture book “… and What They Do” series, and Brian Biggs’s Tinyville Town board book series. Learn more about Stanley and his friends at Peachtree Publishers’ Stanley Fan Page, where you can also find fun downloadable word searches, activities, and coloring pages.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018: Down in the Subway #ReadYourWorld

Take a tropical vacation… in the New York Subway!

Down in the Subway, by Miriam Cohen/Illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg,
(2003, Star Bright Books), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-932065-08-4

Recommended for ages 4-8

Oscar and his mom are on a hot subway train, when a fellow passenger – a brightly outfitted Island Lady – reaches into her bag and pulls out a magical Island Party, complete with food, cool island breezes, a Calypso singer and steel band, even the green Caribbean sea! You can just hear the music and feel the energy coming from this story as you read it; it’s a wonderful New York story that embraces our multicultural surroundings and shows how a hot, sticky summer subway ride can turn into a great time with a little imagination.

Miriam Cohen’s story invites readers in for a magical afternoon, and Melanie Hope Greenberg’s art is colorful and loaded with movement and expression, from the swirling island breeze that winds its way through the subway car, to the group of passengers jumping up to dance and eat together. I love the spread that illustrates three of the train cars moving and grooving along the track with palm trees sticking out of the windows and an island breeze carrying it along its path. Down in the Subway shows New York at its best: a gathering of cultures, enjoying a trip together.

I’ve enjoyed this book for a few years now, so I was thrilled to receive this for my MCBD review. I had a great Subway Storytime using this book, plus Karen Katz’s Subway, and I gave kids little laminated (play) Metrocards of their own to wave around as we sang songs. (That was a laptop or two ago, so I’ll have to dig into my portable hard drive for that storytime plan and put it up.)

Thanks so much to Star Bright Books and MCBD!

 

cropped-banner2018 multicultural book

Multicultural Children’s Book Day (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM: Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD: Audrey Press,Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal BoweGokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

2018 Author Sponsors

Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina

Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo, Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari,Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul,Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKidsAuthor Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. SwiftAuthor Elsa Takaoka,Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and  MFL PublishingAuthor Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane WhittinghamAuthor Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with MCBD on social media and be sure and look for/use the official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction

Clavis non-fiction picture book series: Want to Know

Clavis Books’ non-fiction picture book series, Want to Know, introduces non-fiction concepts for younger readers, providing information in a light-hearted, fiction-meets-non-fiction way. With cut-out pages, foldout illustrations, and facts and quizzes throughout each book, each topic provides opportunities to learn and do.

This season’s additions to the Want to Know series include The Romans, by Suzan Boshouwers and illustrated by Boshouwers and Veronica Nahmias, and Traveling by Train, by Pierre Winters and illustrated by Tineke Meirink.

The Romans, by Suzan Boshouwers/Illustrated by Boshouwers and Veronica Nahmias, (Apr. 2017, Clavis), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1605373195

Recommended for readers 6-8

The Romans falls under Want to Know’s History category. We meet Theo and his little sister, digging a deep hole in hopes of finding Roman artifacts. Suddenly, Theo, his sister, and we readers are transported back in time to the Low Countries – part of the Roman Empire, where we now call the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Rhine, Meuse, Scheldt, and Ems rivers. We learn where the Romans lived, how they celebrated, the story of Romulus and Remus, and about the Roman gods. Endpapers include a map of the Roman Empire un der Emperor Trajan, and a look at some Roman artifacts recovered near the Netherlands.

The book provides a wealth of information for younger readers, but while the author doesn’t shy away from slavery being a part of Roman life, the slaves are depicted more like servants; they’re pretty happy around their captors. There are other books available, like books by DK and the Step Into Reading series, but if you’re looking for a more picture book-based introduction to Ancient Rome, this is an additional add to collections.

 

Traveling by Train, by Pierre Winters and illustrated by Tineke Meirink, (Apr. 2017, Clavis), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1605373409

Recommended for readers 4-7

Traveling by Train, from Want to Know’s The World section, is a fun addition for transportation fans. From learning about the first trains to trains in other countries, this book is loaded with fun information, quizzes, activities, and rhymes for young readers. Wrapped around the story of a boy named Sam’s first train trip, readers journey through the book, learning fun facts and discovering the story behind how trains run: who works for the railroad, and who does what; what trains look like on the inside; what schedules and connections are, and what a modern train station looks like. Endpapers feature artwork depicting an overcrowded train in India. The artwork kid-friendly, fun, and nicely detailed for its age group. I’d gladly add this one to my train books, and introduce it during a vehicle storytime.

Make this one a centerpiece with Thomas the Tank Engine books, or a host of vehicle-related books, for your readers to love.

 

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Trains and tracks love to play in Old Tracks, New Tricks

oldtracks_1Old Tracks, New Tricks, by Jessica Peterson, (March 2017, The Innovation Press), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1943147243

Recommended for ages 3-6

Trixie, Tracky, and Tinker are three wooden toy tracks that are excited when a little boy brings them home. They’ve been waiting to join a train set of their own! Things are a little different than they expected, though, when they arrive.  The trains are bossy and mean, and the old tracks just snore on the floor. These tracks aren’t about to just snooze their days, away, though – they get to work and show the old tracks (and trains) some new tricks – and then share them with readers!

This is such a fun little rhyming story full of adorable photo and digital art! The facial expressions digitized onto the toys give a fun feel to the story and little additions, like stickers, paint, and crayon, personalize the characters, really making the toys look and feel like they’ve come from a child’s room. Younger audiences will love the rhyming cadence, and the bright colors really catch a reader’s attention.

oldtracks_2

 

The book includes instructions for the track tricks used in the story. Tips offer ideas for experimenting and suggest adult help where necessary. A website dedicated to the book (maybe it will become a series?) is coming in January, and further resources, like printables and educator resources, may be on the way in the future.

oldtracks_5

This is a fun go-to for storytime, especially if you’ve got room for a couple of trains and tracks to keep out so the kids can play and explore with parents after storytime. If space or budget is an issue, there are fun paper trains you can make as a post-storytime craft. You can hand out some paper track printables, if time permits, and have parents and kids fit together their own train routes. This is one of those books that will be a great resource for preschoolers and school-age kids alike; you can discuss ideas like teamwork, bullying, and welcoming a new friend.

oldtracks_3

oldtracks_4

 

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Murder on The Transatlantic Express? The Transatlantic Conspiracy

transatlantic consThe Transatlantic Conspiracy, by G.D. Falksen (June 2016, Soho Press), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1616954178

Recommended for ages 12+

It’s 1908, and 17 year-old Rosalind Wallace, daughter of a self-made millionaire industrialist, is vacationing in England, spending time with her best friend, Cecily de Vere. Cecily’s family is high-society, old moneyed England, and treats Rosalind as more of a curiosity, even referring to her as “my peasant”. Where Cecily eschews intellectual pursuits and seeks a full dance card during party season, Rosalind is more adventurous; her father has used her to promote his inventions for years, and she’s quite brilliant. When her father calls for her to return back to the States by way of his newest venture, the Transatlantic Express – an underwater railway – Cecily and her handsome brother, Charles, offer to journey with Rosalind.

The problems begin almost immediately, when Charles goes missing while boarding the train; things take a turn for the worst when Cecily and her maid are discovered murdered in their room. Rosalind tries to deal with her grief while proving her innocence and conducting her own investigation into her friend’s murder.

There is so much rich material to draw on in The Transatlantic Conspiracy, but it never fully realized its potential. It’s promoted as a YA novel, but reads more like a middle grade book; the black and white illustrations throughout the book add to this overall look and feel. The characters are stiff, with little development; there are some interesting concepts glanced over, but we don’t get much in the way of development. The detective on the train is one-dimensional but borders on being so much more. Cecily is victimized by her lack of development; all we get is a vapid party girl who, it turns out, is more than she seems, but gets killed off so early on, that I guess we’ll eventually find out about her, posthumously, in subsequent adventures.

I was hoping for more from The Transatlantic Conspiracy. It may be a good introduction to readers who aren’t typical steampunk readers, but fans of the genre may be let down. I’m going to test this one out with the kids in my library and see how it goes; I’ll report back.

Posted in Early Reader, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Train is On Track is perfect for your transportation book lovers!

train is on trackTrain is on Track, by Peter Bently/Illus. by Louise Conway (Aug. 2015, QEB Publishing), $14.95, ISBN: 9781609927905

Recommended for ages 3-6

Train is in the rail yard, preparing for today’s journey. Dog checks the controls and gets the train moving, picking up and discharging passengers. But wait! During a thunderstorm, a tree has fallen onto the track and the mail truck has derailed. Can train help deliver the mail on time?

With bright colors and easy to read text, Train is on Track from QEB’s Busy Wheels series is a fun addition to any transportation library. Mr. Bently presents new vocabulary words for young learners; Ms. Conway’s art helps make the connections. A detailed spread at the end of the story, “Let’s Look at Train”, offers illustrations detailing different parts of railroad vehicles, such as the driver’s cab and switches, and several different types of trains.

9781609927905_il_1

The kids in my preschool libraries LOVE transportation books. Boys and girls alike, the books fly off the shelves, and I’m always on the lookout for good transportation books.  This Busy Wheels series will be a great purchase for me!

Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: Dinosaur Train, by John Steven Gurney (HarperCollins, 2002)

dinosaur trainRecommended for ages 3-6

A young boy loves dinosaurs and trains. One night, a dinosaur train shows up and takes him on a ride.

Dinosaurs and trains are both very popular themes for young readers – there’s a PBS show called Dinosaur Train, unrelated to this book – and putting the two together in a Polar Express-type of situation is a great idea. Jesse is a young boy who loves dinosaurs and trains. He draws them, he plays with them, he thinks about them constantly. When he gets ready for bed one Thursday night, he hears a loud noise, and his house begins to shake – a train full of dinosaurs has pulled up outside his window, and he’s been invited along for a ride! He hops on for a brief adventure. The artwork, done in oils and finished in Photoshop, detailed and bright, standing out against the plain backgrounds. The dinosaurs all have pleasant faces and are wearing people-like clothes – engineer’s overalls and caps, a ticket taker with a change belt, and jeans and dresses. Jesse is dwarfed by the huge dinosaurs, but there is never a moment where we worry for his safety.

 

dinosaur train_2

Dinosaurs and trains could be a fun storytime idea to explore further, with this book linking the two concepts. There are many train-related and dinosaur-related songs and fingerplays available; Everything Preschool has themes devoted to both.  It may be fun to stock the play area with toy trains and dinosaurs, and allow for a dinosaur train playtime after the story, or even arrange for a viewing of the PBS show.