Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Reading for the Season: Bright Winter Night

Bright Winter Night, by Alli Brydon/Illustrated by Ashling Lindsay, (Dec. 2022, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542022248

Ages 4-7

Folks, I’m finally back. The flu tore through our home, but we hung in there and are all finally on the mend. I’ll be playing catch-up for quite a bit, so I think everyone for their patience. I fell behind on two blog tours while I was sick, so let me start with these first.

Bright Winter Night is a story in verse, perfect for bedtime reading. A group of woodland creatures come together on a winter evening, using materials around them to create something… wonderful. A quietly joyful celebration of nature, friendship, and creativity, the story builds expectation as this seemingly unlikely group of animals – mice and wolves working together? Rabbits, bears, and birds? Stags and squirrels? – come together with one goal in mind: to enjoy one of nature’s most breathtaking sights. There’s a quiet urgency as the animals work – “They sense there is a task to do / as night descends, replacing blue” – and a spirit of teamwork and conviviality, as everyone contributes to the project and enjoys the moments they spend together. Mixed media artwork in deep blues give a cozy feeling to the chilly winter landscape. Sure to be a readaloud kids will want to hear again and again; keep this one handy for storytimes and winter craft times.

 

 

“Destined to be a favorite bedtime read-aloud.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Awash in shades of purple, blue, and pink, [Ashling] Lindsay’s watercolor and digital artwork project the magic evoked by Brydon’s smooth rhymes, illuminating a magnetic portrait of woodland camaraderie.” ―Publishers Weekly

 

Author Alli Brydon is inspired by natural wonders and what they can teach us, and she strives to bring that magic to the books she writes for children. Recent picture books include Lobstah Gahden, illustrated by EG Keller, and Love Around the World, illustrated by Wazza Pink. She also writes nonfiction about creatures, from insects to lemurs to humans. Alli holds an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in New York and lives in England with her family. Learn more at www.allibrydon.com.

Instagram: allibrydon

Twitter: Alli Brydon

 

Ashling Lindsay is an artist and writer from Belfast, Ireland. Her picture books are published in more than ten languages and have received various awards and accolades, including a nomination for the Kate Greenaway Medal; being shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the Klaus Flugge Prize, and the Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year; and being longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards. In 2020 she was awarded the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Honour Award for Illustration with her book The Tide, written by Clare Helen Welsh. Learn more at www.ashlinglindsay.co.uk.

Instagram: ashling.lindsay

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour ANNI DREAMS OF BIRYANI

A little girl living in her neighborhood’s “Little India” loves her neighborhood cafe’s biryani, made by the curmudgeonly chef everyone calls “Uncle”. Anni’s family has biryani as a special treat on Fridays, but Anni wishes she could make delicious biryani like Uncle’s; then she could make it every day! Determined to learn how Uncle makes his biryani, Anni sits at Uncle’s cafe with a notepad and a bunch of questions, determined to learn his process and hopefully, his secret recipe.

Anni Dreams of Biryani, by Namita Moolani Mehra/Illustrated by Ghaaya Prabhat,
(Sept. 2022, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542030410

Ages 4-7

Author Namita Moolani Mehra and illustrator Chaaya Prabhat bring the sights and scents of a neighborhood to life with this delicious story of perseverance. Digital artwork and bright colors show a bustling, diverse neighborhood. Anni, her family and Uncle, are brown-skinned; neighbors wear outfits ranging from contemporary shorts and tees to saris to hijab and flowing tunics. The food takes the main stage, with mouth-watering descriptions like “Fluffy and fragrant. Spicy and succulent. Absolutely addictive”; colorful details in the artwork showcase robust cardamom pods, bright saffron threads, and verdant chiles. Anni is cheerfully determined to make her biryani like Uncle’s and surrounds herself with notes and storyboards, envisioning her way to the perfect dish. The story’s positive resolution will encourage readers to keep trying and envisioning success, whether it’s in the kitchen or elsewhere. Back matter includes a note on the biryani dish and a link to a version kids can make (with grown-up help, please!). An absolute feast for the senses!

Namita Moolani Mehra is a children’s book author, cookbook author, and a food and parenting writer. She wrote the children’s cookbooks The Magic Spicebox and Superfoods for SuperheroesAnni Dreams of Biryani is her first picture book. Namita also runs a social-impact business called Indian Spicebox that helps fund hot meals for underprivileged children in India. Namita was born in a remote village in Nigeria, grew up in the UK and India, studied in Chicago, and worked in New York for over a decade. She currently lives in Singapore with her husband and two children. Learn more at www.namitamehra.com, and follow her on Twitter @namstwit.

Instagram: @indianspicebox

Chaaya Prabhat is an illustrator based in Chennai, India. She holds an MA in graphic design from Savannah College of Art and Design. She has illustrated several picture books, including Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers, written by Rajani LaRocca. In addition to her books, Chaaya has created illustrations for numerous clients, such as Google, Facebook, Snapchat, the Obama Foundation, the Times of India, and more. Learn more at www.chaayaprabhat.com, and follow her on Instagram @chaaya23.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Pink is Not a Color

A day late, and I apologize, but trust me, it’s worth the wait: Lindsay Ward is back with another crayon in the crayon box! Two years ago, she told us about all the great ways we can use the color gray, with her book This Book is Gray; now, it’s all about Pink!

Pink is Not a Color, by Lindsay Ward, (July 2022, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542026864

Ages 4-8

Lindsay Ward bring us back to the group of crayons we met in This Book is Gray (2019), where the crayons are getting ready for a Rainbow Extravaganza! Pink sees all the planning and fun, but… why wasn’t she invited? The Primaries and Secondaries are all there, after all. Pink asks why she’s never heard of the Extravaganza before, and the uncomfortable truth is revealed: she’s not in the rainbow, so… she’s not really a color? How can that be? Luckily, the Tints are there to save the day: colors mixed with white, like Coral, Mint, Buttercup, Lavender, and Sky are all there to welcome Pink into the fold, and Gray even makes an appearance with some sage wisdom and friendship.

What a great story! Pink is going to be an instant hit with readers, with her adorable unicorn horn headband and pink Western boots. (She reminds me of my adorable niece, which makes me love her even more.) She has a cheery room, with ballet slippers, her best friend, a pink flamingo named Phil, pink-tabulous artwork on her walls, even a pink microscope! The colors all have such vibrant personalities: purple has a tutu and an antenna headband; blue sports a backwards baseball cap; yellow wears sunglasses. The story is told in word balloon dialogue, making it easy for a Reader’s Theatre summer reading activity and for illustrating dialogue over narration. Have a Rainbow Extravaganza of your own and invite your kiddos to choose what color they would be: and then ask them to illustrate themselves! Make sure to check out the color glossary at the beginning of the book; there are great explanations of color groups that make for an excellent color theory sorting activity for preschoolers. Endpapers give readers more of a glimpse into Pink’s character..

Pink is Not a Color is perfect for storytime and colorful programming. I really hope we get more Crayon Box stories from Lindsay Ward!

Make sure to visit Lindsay Ward’s website!

“Ward’s cast of colors, pink-cheeked and wearing accessories, speak in color-coded speech bubbles; appropriately, pink hues dominate the exuberant art. A rosy take on selfhood.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Lindsay Ward is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series as well as Between the Lines, Scooper and Dumper, Rosie: Stronger than Steel, This Book Is Gray, Brobarians, Rosco vs. the Baby, and The Importance of Being 3. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. Lindsay lives with her family in Peninsula, Ohio with her husband, three boys, one dog, and eight ducks. When she’s not drawing, Lindsay loves to bake. Pink-frosted cupcakes are her favorite. Learn more about her online at www.lindsaymward.com.

Twitter: @lindsaymward
Instagram: lindsaymward

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Thursday by Ann Bowill and Kayla Harden

Thursday, by Ann Bowill/Illustrated by Kayla Harden, (June 2022, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542032896

Ages 4-7

Thursday used to be a little girl’s favorite day of the week, until she learns that her parents are getting a divorce on a Thursday. Now, instead of art class, and popsicles with friends, Thursdays mean that everything will change. Her stuffed unicorn steps in to give the girl a much-needed friend and comfortable shoulder, staying with her to support her through the hard feelings and the move, until Thursday becomes “just Thursday again”. The story moves forward with a gentle sensitivity, told in first person by the unicorn, who repays an act of kindness with love and and concern. The unicorn grows into a larger-than-life-sized companion that the little girl can lean on; when she can stand on her own again, the unicorn shrinks back to a toy-sized stuffie, but never leaves her – always around, ready to take her side if she needs it. Kayla Harden’s digital illustrations glow with optimism, letting readers know that things may be difficult right now, but the sun will always come up the next day, and things will eventually get better. The unicorn has its own cheerful radiance, sharing its warmth with the little girl. Add this one to your SEL (social-emotional learning) collections, and maybe consider adding some stuffed friends to your collection for kids who need a friend to lean on.

 

Ann Bonwill grew up in Maryland surrounded by books. Before becoming an author, Ann worked as a clinical social worker, a Montessori teacher, and an autism therapist. She is the author of multiple picture books and nonfiction books for children, including When Mermaids Sleep, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, and I Am Not a Copycat!, illustrated by Simon Rickerty. Ann has lived in many places, from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Frankfurt, Germany. She currently lives in Virginia with her family. Learn more at www.annbonwill.com.

Kayla Harren is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City with a BFA in illustration. She’s an award-winning illustrator of multiple picture books, including A Boy Like You, written by Frank Murphy, and The Boy Who Grew a Forest, written by Sophia Gholz, among other titles. Her work has been featured in the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Communication Arts, and 3×3 Magazine, and she won the Highlights for Children Pewter Plate Award. She lives in Minnesota with her family. Learn more at www.kaylaharren.com.

Facebook: Kayla Harren Illustrator

Instagram: @kaylaharren

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!