Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Two Lions Celebrates Children’s Book Week with FREE EBOOKS

Happy Children’s Book Week! I just got the news that Two Lions/Amazon Publishing is offering free ebooks to celebrate this week!

You may recognize some of these books (especially my best T-Rexter buddy, Dexter); you may even have hard copies. But now, you can get e-copies to have handy whenever the occasion pops up – impromptu storytimes, long train rides (or car rides, if you and the kiddos don’t get car sick), or just those lovely “I’m so BOOOOOOOORED” moments that pop up, whether you’re visiting, sitting and waiting for a parent-teacher meeting, or out at a restaurant that actually has flatware on the tables.

Two Lions has a website ready for you to view and download your books, along with discussion prompts and reading tips, courtesy of Amazon’s nonprofit partner, Reading is Fundamental.

Now, go get your books!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Before the World Wakes, by Estelle Laure

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

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

Ages 4-7

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

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

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

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

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

Blog Tour: Pruett and Soo!

A robot and alien make friendship and life colorful in this adorable story by Nancy Viau.

Pruett & Soo, by Nancy Viau/Illustrated by Jorge Lacera,
(March 2022, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542043427
Ages 4-7

Pruett is an adorable little robot with a computer monitor for a head, living on Planet Monochrome, where everything is… well, monochrome. Signs all over the place remind citizens to “Blend In. Wear Only Black, Gray, or White. Be Calm”, and encourage them to never ask questions, never play, and never use colorful crayons. That all changes when Soo, a colorful alien from Planet Prismatic, shows up in class one day! She’s a friendly extrovert who wants to share crayons and talk to her new classmates, and is stymied by the distanced reaction she gets. Pruett, who desperately wants to break out of his black, white, and grey world, sees Soo being rebuffed and becoming progressively sadder and lonelier, takes the chance: a colorful exclamation point lights up above his head, and he invites Soo to play tag. The two friends have so much fun together, that they spread a little of their joy – and their color – through the classroom. A colorful, playful story about taking the first step and affecting positive change, Pruett and Soo combines picture book narration with comic book word balloons to denote conversations between characters. The story begins in monochromatic black, white, and gray, and uses color to show the infectious fun Soo and Pruett bring to Planet Monochrome; a change reflected in the characters’ mannerisms and fonts, which become as colorful as Soo’s with time. The digital illustrations will delight young video gamers familiar with 8-bit games like Minecraft and Roblox.

Bottom line: Don’t let anyone dull your color. Change the world by adding some color! Pair this with F. Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell, and Rafael López’s book, Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood, to illustrate how bringing color to a landscape brings positive change.

“The unlikely friendship at the heart of this allegorical picture book is touching. Viau’s writing is engaging.” Kirkus Reviews

“Highlighting the value of asserting one’s individuality in the face of pressures to conform, this vivid episode can stand alone or fit neatly into a storytime. – Booklist

Nancy Viau is the author of a number of books for children including Storm Song, illustrated by Gynux; Today Is a Beach Day!, illustrated by Charlie Alder; First Snow, illustrated by Talitha Shipman; and the Samantha Hansen series. A former teacher, she currently lives in New Jersey and travels around the solar system in her imagination. Learn more at nancyviau.com.

Twitter: @NancyViau1

Instagram: @nancyviau1

Facebook: Nancy Viau

 

Jorge Lacera was born in Colombia and grew up in Florida. He attended Ringling College of Art and Design and has worked as an artist or art director at major gaming studios and entertainment companies. He is the illustrator of Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies by Megan Lacera and XO, Exoplanet by Deborah Underwood. He lives in Canada with his family. Learn more at studiolacera.com.

Twitter: jlacera

Instagram: jlacera

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: This is (Not) Enough

The Orange and Purple Fuzzy Friends are back! Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant’s adorable twosome are wracked with anxiety over the perfect gift in This is (Not) Enough.

This is (Not) Enough, by Anna Kang & Christopher Weyant,
(March 2022, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542018517

Ages 4-8

The two BFFs are excited: they’re giving each other gifts! But how do you find a gift that’s worthy of your best friend? Like Orange says, it “has to be COOL and FUN and BIG and ‘WOW’!” Each tries to choose the perfect gift for their perfect friend, only to discover that the love and time that goes into the gift is everything. Perfect for preschoolers and younger school-age kids who are navigating those strong feelings and how to communicate them, This is (Not) Enough is all about the moment we realize that the best gifts come from the heart. The dialogue between the two friends is heartfelt, and two additional friends add even more humor to the story. The artwork brings the humor  to the forefront, with hilarious facial expressions and body language. Another fun readaloud with characters we’ve grown to love.

 

Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small as well as series titles That’s (Not) MineI Am (Not) ScaredWe Are (Not) Friends, and It Is (Not) Perfect. They also wrote and illustrated Christopher Award winner EraserHudson and Tallulah Take SidesCan I Tell You a Secret?, and Will You Help Me Fall Asleep? Christopher’s work can also be seen in The New Yorker and the Boston Globe and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their dog, Hudson. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.

Twitter: @annakang27 @ChristophWeyant

Instagram: annakangbookschristopherweyant   

Facebook: Anna Kang – AuthorChristopher Weyant

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of This is (Not) Enough, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. and Canada). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in picture books

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Dancing With Daddy

Inspired by her daughter, Elsie, author Anitra Rowe Schulte created a lovely story about a girl’s night out with Daddy in her first picture book, Dancing With Daddy.

Dancing With Daddy, by Anitra Rowe Schulte/Illustrated by Ziyue Chen,
(Dec. 2021, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542007191

Ages 4-7

Elsie is a little girl who can’t wait for her first father-daughter dance, and really hopes the weather holds out so she doesn’t miss it! She’s got the perfect dress and matching headband, and she and her sisters have practiced dance moves. Elsie sways in her wheelchair, and her sisters twirl her around, until she’s ready! The snow may come, but that won’t stop Elsie, her sisters, and their daddy from dancing the night away!

Inspired by her daughter, who has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome (WHS), Dancing With Daddy combines external narration with internal dialogue, giving us a glimpse into Elsie’s world as she waits for the big dance to arrive. Elsie’s thoughts are italicized and colorful fonts to set them apart from narration. Her sisters are supportive and excited, including her in all their dance-planning activities; they coo and squeal over her dress, and help her with dance moves by twirling her around in her chair. Soft colors and gentle illustration create a comfortable, warm family setting; when Elsie and her Daddy dance together, the world disappears around them, and the spread becomes the two, Elsie in her Daddy’s arms, as he sways and swings with her against a black background with glittering lights around them. Endpapers celebrate this moment, showcasing Dad and Elsie dancing together against a glittering background of navy blue. The story also illustrates how Elsie communicates with her family using a special communication book, with pictures and words she points to in order to give voice to her thoughts. A good book to add to your inclusive lists.

Visit Anitra Rowe Schulte’s author page for more information about her book, her journalism, and her school visits.

★“Refreshingly, Elsie’s disability is seamlessly presented as simply another aspect of family life…As she swings and sways in her father’s arms, her forehead against his, their love is palpable; Chen’s illustrations fairly glow with affection…A heartwarming portrayal of a family embracing disability.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[Anitra] Rowe Schulte uses accessible, rhythmic language…conveying Elsie’s thoughts in pink- and red-colored text. Light-filled digital illustrations by [Ziyue] Chen make use of differing angles and dynamic shots, emphasizing the love the family has for one another.” Publishers Weekly

“This sweet story is a great addition to any diverse and inclusive library.” ―TODAY

Anitra Rowe Schulte has worked as a journalist for The Kansas City Star and the Sun-Times News Group, as a staff writer for Chicago Public Schools, and as a publicist. She is the mother of three beautiful girls, one of whom has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and is the inspiration for Elsie in this book. She lives in the Chicago area, and this is her first picture book. Learn more about her at www.anitraroweschulte.com and follow her at @anitraschulte on Twitter.

Ziyue Chen is the Deaf illustrator of a number of children’s books, including Mela and the Elephant by Dow Phumiruk, How Women Won the Vote by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Rocket-Bye Baby: A Spaceflight Lullaby by Danna Smith. She lives with her loved ones in Singapore. Find out more at www.ziyuechen.com or follow her @ziyuechen on Instagram.

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Dancing With Daddy. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! If you’ve won in the last six months, please give other folx a chance and don’t enter this one. U.S. addresses and no P.O. Boxes, please!

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: A Christmas Too Big!

Thanksgiving arrives this week, and you know what that brings… the Christmas Blitz! Are you ready? Yes? No? Well, there’s a book for that:

A Christmas Too Big, by Colleen Madden, (Nov. 2021, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542028004

Ages 4-8

A Christmas Too Big arrives with perfect timing. Our narrator, Kerry, is a young girl happily making a fall leaf craft when she realizes it: “The day after Thanksgiving, my family goes TOTALLY BERSERK with CHRISTMAS”. Comics panels reveal the frenetic excitement with which her family embraces Christmas: the holiday songs that start even before Thanksgiving, given full reign the day after; the TV shows on every single channel; the decorations, the commercials, it’s all too much – Christmas is just too big! Going out to clear her head, Kerry lends a helping hand to her Spanish-speaking neighbor, Mrs. Flores, who invites her in for some hot cocoa. The two spend the afternoon quietly making colorful paper flores de Navidad, and enjoying a quiet, handmade holiday afternoon. Kerry helps Mrs. Flores use her Christmas gift from her family, living in Mexico, and decides to introduce some of her happy holiday traditions at home, too.

The story is so perfect for this time of year, which can be stressful and overwhelming for everyone, especially kids who don’t feel like they get a chance to transition from one season or holiday to the next. The story also provides a welcome answer to the mass commercialization of the holiday, offering a quieter, more meaningful alternative to Kerry – and to families who may seek something less slick and shiny. The use of Spanish and English to tell Mrs. Flores’s story adds real meaning to our multicultural world and how kindness stretches across languages. Bilingual endpapers showing different objects we associate with Christmas, like fancy presents (regalos elegantes) and manoplas (mittens) introduce new vocabulary. A flores de Navidad craft at the end is perfect for a post-storytime craft (that I will absolutely be introducing in my library).

Colleen Madden grew up in a crazy Christmas house and, like Kerry, she found a break by spending time with her neighbor who was from another country. She has illustrated many children’s books, including the bestselling What If Everybody? series, written by Ellen Javernick, and the picture-book adaptation of All I Want for Christmas Is You, by Mariah Carey. She recently published Monkey Walk, her debut as both author and illustrator, and is currently working on her first graphic novel. She lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.

 

“An intergenerational friendship and a busy holiday made meaningful set this title apart.” Kirkus Reviews

“Madden’s bilingual tale strikes both humorous and poignant notes; the visual blend of comic-style panels, playful fonts, speech bubbles in both English and Spanish, and traditional spreads offers readers plenty to celebrate.” Publishers Weekly

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Turkey Goes to School

Welcome back to school with a HUGE giveaway for a great new book! Read ahead to find out more!

It’s time to go back to school, and Turkey can’t wait! He and his friends at the farm are practicing their writing and math skills, getting ready to show off their big brains in the classroom, but the school bus brings with it the bad news: animals can’t go to school! Turkey just knows he has to show the students, teachers, and the principal that he and his friends belong in school, and he’s going to find a way to do it equipped with his brains and a closet full of costumes.

Turkey Goes to School, by Wendi Silvano/Illustrated by Lee Harper,
(Aug. 2021, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542023641
Ages 4-8

Wendi Silvano’s Turkey books are a staple in my library, with Turkey Trouble holding a firm favorite spot in my Thanksgiving storytimes. Wendi Silvano and Lee Harper have worked on four Turkey books, inviting us to share holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Halloween with them, and now it’s time to take Turkey to school! The story is adorably fun and silly, with Turkey trying his very best to score an invite to school, even inserting himself into an actual story to get there (while the teacher reads Turkey Trouble: I love a good cameo appearance!)

The story will appeal to kids who can’t wait to get back to school, and show kids who want summer to last forever that school can be a pretty fun place to be, whether or not they’re sharing classrooms with farm animals. The artwork is light-hearted, with expressive animals and people alike; exaggerated expressions and colorful spreads will keep readers interested in both farm life and classroom interactions. Positive messages about school and about rolling with changes make this a great way to start a school year. The school has a diverse group of students and little details throughout will keep kids’ attention. Ask them what they see that reminds them of their own classrooms!

Add Turkey Trouble to your holiday collections and Back to School storytime lists. I’d love to see teachers reading this to welcome their students back!

Wendi Silvano was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has lived in Oregon, Colorado, and Peru. The author of the Turkey Trouble series, she has a BA in early childhood education and taught preschool and elementary school for eleven years. She is the mother of five children and the owner of an assortment of odd pets that are not nearly as clever as Turkey. She now writes from her home in Colorado, where she enjoys hiking, reading, and playing the piano. Visit her online at wendisilvano.com.

Lee Harper is the author-illustrator of the books CoyoteThe Emperor’s Cool Clothes, and Snow! Snow! Snow! Lee is also the illustrator of the Turkey Trouble series, by Wendi Silvano, as well as the Woolbur series, written by Leslie Helakoski. Lee has four children, a German shepherd, a Great Pyrenees, two barn cats, eleven chickens…but no turkeys. Yet. He lives with his wife in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Visit him online at leeharperart.com.

“A cute twist on both the farm and school themes.” Kirkus Reviews

To celebrate this latest installment in the Turkey Trouble series, Two Lions is offering a set of all 5 books in the series: Turkey TroubleTurkey ClausTurkey Trick or Treat, Turkey’s Eggcellent Easter, and Turkey Goes to School to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses). Just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant

Dogs and Cats… the eternal struggle. Can they ever be friends? This adorable antagonists-to-besties story by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant (You Are (Not) Small,  I Am (Not) Scared, Eraser) believes they can. Hudson is a mud-loving, hole digging dog; Tallulah is a butterfly-chasing, self-cleaning cat. The two live on opposite sides of the same fence, and have very different outlooks on the world until they find themselves out on the town for a day of adventure. They bicker, they quibble, they flat-out squabble, until a moment arises when they discover that even those with different opinions can find a moment of community. From there, they discover how much they really can enjoy together, ending the day as besties.

Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides, by Anna Kang/Illustrated by Christopher Weyant,
(May 2021, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542006682
Ages 4-7

 

I adore the Kang/Weyant team; they have a gift with fun dialogue and make the most vehement disagreements gleefully silly. Christopher Weyant’s gouache and graphite artwork gives readers cartoonlike characters that kids will love from the outset; we know all we need to about this twosome from the opening spread, where Tallulah sits on a fluffy cat seat, surrounded by cat toys, as she swipes at a butterfly; Hudson’s yard is covered in balls, sticks, bones, and a tempting, muddy hole. The story takes place entirely in dialogue, letting readers develop their own voices for the two frenemies. Tallulah looks appropriately smug, as only a cat can do; Hudson, adorably disgruntled. Anna Kang’s back-and-forth dialogue reminds readers that they may see things differently, too; Hudson digs out from under his fence to explore, while Tallulah sits in judgment on the fence, as Hudson says, “I’m busting out. Fences keep me trapped”. Tallulah responds, “Fences keep us safe”. It’s a simple statement that appeals to both sides of the argument, and kids will see themselves in these two funny friends as they forge a new friendship.

Hudson and Tallulah Takes Sides has a starred review from Booklist, and anything by Team Kang/Weyant is an insta-buy for me.

Anna Kang and Chrisotopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small as well as series titles That’s (Not) Mine, I Am (Not) Scared, and We Are (Not) Friends. They also wrote and illustrated Eraser, Can I Tell You A Secret?, and Will You Help Me Fall Asleep? Christopher’s work can also be seen in The New Yorker, and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their rescue dog, Hudson, the inspiration behind the character in this book. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.

Twitter: @annakang27 @ChristophWeyant

Instagram: annakangbookschristopherweyant   

Facebook: Anna Kang – AuthorChristopher Weyant

New Yorker cartoonist Weyant’s illustrations, which use gouache, graphite, and lots of white space, carry the day, filling the dog’s and cat’s reactions to what they encounter with plenty of comic details (like the bold lettering conveying the dog-park dogs’ frantic barking at the cat). Madcap fun.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Charming cartoons convey the nearly wordless story augmented with dialogue between the two rivals…An amusing exploration of how opposite personalities can learn to appreciate their unique relationship.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Aptly captured by married team Kang and Weyant (You Are (Not) Small), the unlikely friends’ comic path to camaraderie unfolds nearly wordlessly, with expressive gouache and graphite scenes that burst with physical humor, showing that even those who fight like cats and dogs can be friends.” —Publishers Weekly

 

 

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blast off on the Sadie Sprocket Blog Tour!

Let’s hear it for Science Kids! I’ve got a rhyming STEM/STEAM story that’s going to rock(et) storytimes!

Sadie Sprocket Builds a Rocket, by Sue Fleiss/Illustrated by Annabel Tempest,
(Feb. 2021, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542018036
Ages 4-6

Sadie Sprocket is a little girl with a big wish: she wants to go to Mars! She maps out the distance, puts together a crew of her most trustworthy stuffed toys, and gets to work building a rocket. They blast off from Earth and arrive at Mars, where they take pictures and gather samples, but when it’s time to head back to Earth, there’s a problem: can Sadie get herself and her friends back home? Lively rhyme and adorably bright and friendly, cartoony artwork make this an eye-catching readaloud. Sadie is a smart cookie who knows how to plan a mission and lay out the problem in order to solve it – just like our Kiddos learn at school. Facts about Mars and women in space make up the back matter, and make this a phenomenal choice for Women’s History Month in March, too. Pair with Andrea Beaty’s Questioneers series, Sol Regwan’s Geraldine series, and Ken Wilson Max’s Astro Girl. Consider adding some Mars picture books, like Brianna Caplan Sayres’s Night Night Curiosity,  or Buzz Aldrin’s Welcome to Mars for Kids. Remind kids that nothing is out of reach by inviting them to create coffee filter planets after reading.

“Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids.” —Kirkus Reviews

Sue Fliess is the author of more than thirty children’s books, including Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins, illustrated by Mark Chambers; Shoes for Me!A Dress for Me!, and Books for Me!, all illustrated by Mike Laughead; and Let’s Build, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto. She lives with her family and their two dogs in northern Virginia, where they admire the moon, stars, and sometimes even planets from their backyard. Learn more about Sue at www.suefliess.com.

On Twitter: @SueFliess 

Facebook: Sue Fliess Author 

Pinterest: Sue Fliess

Annabel Tempest is the illustrator of a number of picture books and board books. She holds a degree in fashion and textiles and has worked as a freelance illustrator on everything from maps and packaging to greeting cards and children’s books. She lives in the beautiful Somerset countryside in the UK with her husband and a houseful of muddy boys and dogs. Learn more about Annabel at www.annabeltempest.com.

On Instagram: annabel.tempest