Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Gorgeous concept books for toddlers and preschoolers!

There are some some amazing concept books in the publishing pipeline that are going to make toddler storytimes even more fun. Grab some colorful scarves, egg shakers, and art supplies because you’re going to want to hold an art storytime with these books as your foundation.

Lili’s Seasons, by Lucie Albon, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361043

Ages 2-6

Lucie Albon’s “On the Fingertips” series illustrates concepts using finger-and hand-painted artwork that kids are going to love – and that they’ll be able to try on their own. Two mice, Lily and Henri, explore the seasons. Each seasons is set off with a spread of what you’ll discover on the pages – or outside! – for each season. In the fall, you’ll look for autumn leaves, pine cones, and squirrels; in the winter, there will be mittens, wool socks, hot chocolate, and snowflakes. Lili and Henri enjoy the gifts of every season, together, whether having hot chocolate at home in the winter or visiting the beach in the summer. Back matter teaches readers how to “draw with their fingertips”, and provides instruction on necessary supplies, and how to use the paint on your hands and fingers to create clouds and trees through the seasons. The book has a create space for exploration, but if you’re using this in your library, consider having a create space ready for your library kiddos, stocked with paper, art materials, and smocks or old t-shirts. If you’re like me, and still virtual, you can explore doing a virtual art program, and offering some supplies via grab-and-go promotion. Colorful, bright, and absolutely “you can do this!” kid-friendly, this is a fun new series that I’m looking forward to spending time with.

 

Lili’s Colors, by Lucie Albon, (Apr. 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361036

Ages 2-6

In the companion “On the Fingertips” book to Lili’s Seasons, Lili’s Colors brings Lili and Henri back to talk about color. The two friends enjoy red lollipops, cuddle yellow chicks, sail on blue water, and spend a colorful day together, wandering across brightly colored, finger-painted spreads. Colors are featured in a bigger, bolder font, in their own shades, and the text – dialogue between Henri and Lili – is brief and perfect for young listeners and readers. A finger paint workshop section goes over primary and secondary colors, color mixing, and how to paint your fingers and hands to create the artwork in the book and a self-portrait. A spread showing paintings by children encourages readers with a “you can do it!” attitude! Adorable and cheery, this is an adorable new series for burgeoning artists.

 

Colors de la Runway, by Clarence Ruth, (Feb. 2019, Schiffer Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9780764356834

Ages 2-6

How, oh how, did I miss this when it came out the first time? I owe Schiffer big thanks for sending me a copy of Colors de la Runway to rectify my not seeing this earlier. Colors de la Runway is a concept book on color by Clarence Ruth, fashion designer and creative director of Cotte D’Armes. Vibrant colors named in both English and French come off the page as model sketches show off fashions and accessories in 20 spreads: red/rouge dresses, light blue/bleu clair eyeshadow and the peek of a shirt under a jacket, brown/marron frames to a pair of dramatic glasses. Clarence Ruth’s book is inspiration for older readers who love fashion and art, and for littles who want to learn their colors with some pizzaz. Stunning, playful, and absolutely fun: get out a feather boa and giant sunglasses and have yourself a fashion storytime.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

But what if the sky really *was* falling? DUCK!

Duck!, by Meg McKinlay/Illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom, (Aug. 2019, Candlewick), $15.99, ISBN: 9781536204223

Ages 3-7

It’s a quiet afternoon at the farm when a duck comes running, panicked, yelling, “DUCK!” The horse, cow, pig, and sheep each correct him, reminding him that he is the duck, and they have far lovelier qualities (like a fine pink snout or a fine pair of cloven hooves). The duck remains insistent, until the animals are tired of him and lecture him. At that point, Duck tells them to run… just in time for a house to come crashing down on the group. A newspaper headline strewn about the downed house notes that there are tornadoes in Kansas… and there’s a street sign in the debris that says, “Kansas”.

Duck! is a fun spin on the classic Chicken Little tale, with a cumulative spin added. Each animal that corrects Duck adds his own name and qualities onto the growing list of animals Duck is trying to warn. The artwork is wonderfully subtle here – alert readers will get the idea that something’s up when they see something in the sky, right next to a cloud… is that a house? As the spreads progress, the house gets closer, the sky gets darker, and leaves and household objects start entering the pages. The entire book is a sight gag and a play on words, and I love reading this to the kids. My son likes reading Duck’s parts, and I take the other animals.

The illustrations are done in pencil, acrylic, and digital and are colorful and are full-bleed, taking up each spread with something to see. The sky starts out as a light blue and darkens as the story moves forward; the characters’ faces are comical enough to mimic while telling the story for maximum laughs. Don’t miss this one.

Originally published in Australia in 2018, you can find free, downloadable activities and discussion questions at author Meg McKinlay’s website.

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

Get ready for the season with First Snow with a giveaway!

First Snow, by Nancy Viau/Illustrated by Talitha Shipman,, (Sept. 2018, Albert Whitman), $16.99, ISBN: 9780807524404

Ages 2-6

A brother and sister join their friends for a day of fun when the first snow falls.

This rhyming story stars a brother and sister, both children of color, who wake up to discover that it’s snowing! With mostly two- and three-word rhyming sentences, we follow them as they get dressed and meet their friends for a day of sledding and snowplay. Their pup follows along, adding to the fun and games, and at the end of the day, the siblings and their dog head home to enjoy hot chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, and a story before bedtime.

A lovely companion to Ezra Jack Keats’ A Snowy Day, First Snow takes place in a more suburban settting than Peter’s famous city backdrop. The kids’ bright winter clothes stand out against the soft, white snow. The watercolor artwork is soft, lending a comfortable, hazy, snowy-day feel to the scenery. Brightly colored kids’ hats and mittens set the tone on the endpapers.

Perfect for snowy day reading, preferably with some hot chocolate and a warm blanket and stuffed animal. Great for toddlers and easy readers alike!

Nancy Viau is the author of five picture books, including City Street Beat, Storm Song, and Look What I Can Do!  Her middle-grade novels include her new release, Beauty and Bernice, along with Just One Thing! (2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Gold Award Winner), Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head (to be reissued in the spring of 2019), and Something is Bugging Samantha Hansen (fall 2019). As a member of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature, Nancy volunteers with other council members to produce the Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference every year. She works as an assistant librarian, and when not reading or writing, she hikes, bikes, and travels wherever her frequent flyer miles take her. To learn more, and to download a free Story Hour kit for First Snow, visit her website, NancyViau.com.

 

Talitha Shipman graduated with an MFA in illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2008. She’s illustrated several books, including You Are My Little Pumpkin Pie, Everybody Says Shalom, and Applesauce Day. Talitha lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and dog. She can be found at talithashipman.com.

 

Praise for First Snow:

“A sweet suburban/rural contrast to the snowy day enjoyed by Peter in the city.”  — Kirkus Reviews

Relive the joy of the season’s first snow in this sweet trailer!

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of First Snow, courtesy of Albert  Whitman & Co (U.S. addresses). Just enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance!

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Seasons with Granddad explores fall with Storm

Storm, by Sam Usher (Seasons with Granddad), by Sam Usher, (Aug. 2018, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536202823

Ages 3-7

Sam Usher’s Seasons with Granddad wanders into the fall with Storm. A red-headed young boy wakes up to see the wind rattling at his window; orange and red leaves flying outside. He can’t wait to go outside so he can play in the leaves and the wind with his granddad, who agrees that it’s perfect kite-flying weather. Grandfather and grandson discover a treasure trove of goodies from previous adventures (readers of previous Seasons with Granddad books may recognize a few) as they search for the kite, then head to the park for their newest adventure. As the storm nears, Granddad and grandson head home to enjoy a meal together.

Seasons with Granddad is such a lovely series about a grandparent and grandchild. I love the familiarity of the story: the grandson wakes up to the latest seasonal weather, and he always says, “I couldn’t wait to go outside”. The action moves gently between the outside world, where the weather takes on a fantastic turn, and indoors, where the two prepare for their latest endeavor. Granddad and grandson experience a bit of magic in their everyday life, then head home to share some quiet time together. It’s a comforting series, filled with everyday magic and the unconditional love that one can only find with a loving caregiver. This is the kind of book you read on a lap; it’s the kind of quiet adventure that begs readers to slowly savor every moment, every bit of ink and watercolor artwork, because there’s something new to discover every time.

 

Storm, and its companion books Rain, Sun, and Snow, are the kind of books you keep forever. They’re wonderful books about weather and the seasons, but first and foremost, they’re about the special and magical relationship between generations. Grandparents Day in the US falls on Sunday, September 9; this would be a sweet gift for the grandparents in your lives.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board Books for everyone!

I’ve been on a board book kick the last couple of months. I’ve mentioned before that I’m always on the lookout for fun, new board books that tell a story or teach concepts in a fun way. These are a few I’ve come across on my recent wanderings.

10, 9, 8… Owls Up Late!, by Georgiana Deutsch & Ekaterina Trukhan, (Feb. 2018, Silver Dolphin), $9.99, ISBN: 9781684121847

Recommended for 3-6

This rhyming, counting book is just too  much fun. Ten little owls are playing in a tree, when Mama Owl calls, “It’s time for you to rest!” One by one, each of the birds listen to Mama and flies down to the nest, but it’s a lot of fun while they take their time! Each spread is die-cut, as is the cover, to highlight different owls, hanging out in the tree. Each number appears in a star on the upper left hand side of the spread, easily letting readers know which number they’re on; owls and other inhabitants of the tree are cartoony and colorful, with little individual touches like a pair of earmuffs here, a nightcap there. The repetitive text assures that you’ll have company reciting this fun bedtime countdown in no time, and a spread numbering 1-10, counting up with the owls, finishes off this adorable board book. This book invites readers to really explore and have fun with the book, turning pages and wiggling fingers through die cuts.

 

You’re My Little Cuddle Bug, by Nicola Edwards/Illustrated by Natalie Marshall, (Feb. 2018, Silver Dolphin), $8.99, ISBN: 9781684122585

Recommended for readers 0-5

Books like this are my weakness. I love, love, LOVE books about snuggling and cuddling, and I’ve been known to refer to my little one as my “snuggle buggy” and “cuddle buggy”. I love reading these books in storytime, because it gives my caregivers kissy-huggy-snuggly time with their little ones. Rhyming text and die-cut/raised bug caregivers and little ones lead readers through a story that’s just about loving and being loved: “You’re my little ladybug, You brighten up my day/With rosy cheeks you smile at me, And chase my blues away”. Bumblebees, caterpillars, butterflies, and beetles are all here, with cartoony, sweet, expressively large eyes and bright colors. You have to have this book on your shelves and in your gift cart. Add some Joyce Wan books (You Are My Cupcake, You Are My Pumpkin, We Belong Together) and you are set!

 

Black Bird, Yellow Sun, by Steve Light, (March 2018, Candlewick Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9780763690670

Recommended for 0-3

I love Steve Light’s books! This is a departure from his “Have You Seen My…” series, and I’m excited to see him introduce concepts. In Black Bird, Yellow Sun, we meet a black bird as he goes through his day, set off against the colors he interacts with: yellow sun, orange leaves, purple grapes, green grass, red snake, gray rocks, pink flowers, and finally, a blue moon. The repetition of the black bird on each spread makes for nice continuity for the kids, who will pick up that the bird is there each time; explain that the bird goes through its day in terms of colors, and ask kids what colors they meet throughout their days. A perfect concept board book for storytimes, gifts, and collections. Black Bird Yellow Sun has a starred review from School Library Journal.

 

In the Rain, by Elizabeth Spurr/Illustrated by Manelle Oliphant, (March 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $6.95, ISBN: 978-1-56145-853-0

Recommended for 0-4

Some kids may be disappointed when the rain begins, but not this little girl! She puts on her slicker and heads outdoors to sail a boat, stomp in puddles, and make mud pies! This fun exploration of weather and play stars a child of color, illustrated joyfully and realistically by Manelle Oliphant. I was excited to find out that author Elizabeth Spurr and Manelle Oliphant have a whole series of “In the…” and “At the…” board books that explore weather, nature, and play! I’ll be adding these to my next purchase cart for sure; the rhyming text, short sentences, and beautiful illustrations make these a great storytime read!

Posted in Preschool Reads

Hedgehog and Rabbit: Friends who have each other’s backs

Hedgehog and Rabbit: The Scary Wind, by Pablo Albo/Illustrated by Gómez, (Nov. 2017, nubeOCHO), $14.95, ISBN: 978-84-945971-7-6
Recommended for readers 3-7

Two friends, Hedgehog and Rabbit, are in the garden looking for snails and eating cabbage, when a gust of wind stirs up a pile of leaves and scares them both! Each friend runs off in a different direction, but realizes they’ve left the other behind. Determined to be brave, Hedgehog and Rabbit each disguise themselves to scare the windy monster – but will they end up scaring each other instead?

 

Hedgehog and Rabbit: The Stubborn Cloud, by Pablo Albo/Illustrated by Gómez, (Nov. 2017, nubeOCHO), $14.95, ISBN: 978-84-945971-9-0
Recommended for readers 3-7

Hedgehog and Rabbit, are in the garden on a sunny day, looking for snails and eating cabbage, when a cloud rolls in and covers the sun! Try as they might, neither Rabbit nor Hedgehog can get the cloud to move out of the way. Looks like they’ll have to enlist some help from their fellow animal friends.

 

The Hedgehog and Rabbit stories are sweet, fun books about friendship. Like an earlier readers’ Frog and Toad, the two friends spend time together, watch out for one another, and face some amusing weather-related misunderstandings together. The stories revolve around Rabbit and Hedgehog not being in on the joke – but the readers are, allowing for some fun dialogue with your audience as the stories progress. These stories can be a fun enhancement for early lessons on weather. Gomez’s illustrations are bright and eye-catching, and the characters have expressive faces, which makes these books a fun storytime choice.

Hedgehog and Rabbit are also available in Spanish (Erizo y Conejo).

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Picture Book Roundup: Bears, Babies, Bats, and more!

In my continuing struggle to get on top of my review list, I present another roundup; this time, with picture books!

Priscilla Pack Rat: Making Room for Friendship, by Claudine Crangle,
(March 2017, Magination Press), $15.95, ISBN: 978-1433823350
Recommended for readers 4-8

Priscilla is a very sweet rat who loves to collect things, but when she’s invited to friends’ birthday parties, she finds that she has a hard time even parting with the gifts she chooses for her friends! When Priscilla’s house finally crashes around her, she realizes that her friends are worth much more than being surrounded by stuff. Magination Press is an imprint of the American Psychological Association; this is a book designed to discuss clutter and hoarding tendencies in kids, and it does so in a mild, easy manner. This can easily be a kids’ story on sharing and giving, no red flags necessary. Adorable felted characters and found objects create a visually interesting story that you can also turn into a little game of I Spy with little ones: there are plenty of things to find! A note to parents and caregivers advises parents on what to do if children have trouble parting with possessions, the differences between hoarding and collecting, and ways to help kids organize their belongings. A nice add to developing empathy collections and for caregivers and educators who need books to address behaviors.

Letters to a Prisoner, by Jacques Goldstyn
(Sept. 2017, OwlKids Books), $18.95, ISBN: 9781771472517
Recommended for readers 4+

Letters to a Prisoner is getting rave reviews, with good reason. The wordless picture book, inspired by the letter-writing campaigns of human rights organization Amnesty International, is so impactful, so relevant, and so necessary. A man is arrested during a peaceful protest, injured by a soldier who also pops the man’s daughter’s balloon. The man is thrown in a solitary jail cell, where he befriends a mouse and a bird. When letters arrive, the guard takes joy in burning them in front of the man, but the joke’s on the guard: the smoke from the burning letters serves as a worldwide beacon. Groups of people all over send the man letters; they arrive, en masse, and turn into wings with which the prisoner soars above the helpless, infuriated guard. The watercolor over black ink sketches adds an ethereal feel to this beautiful story of hope and social justice. The book’s wordlessness allows for every reader to come together, transcending language, to take part in this inspirational story. An author’s note tells readers about Amnesty International’s inspiration. Display and booktalk with Luis Amavisca’s No Water, No Bread, and talk with little ones and their parents as you display the book during social justice and empathy themed storytimes. Letters to a Prisoner has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Quill and Quire.

 

I Am Bat, by Morag Hood,
(Oct. 2017, OwlKids Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492660323
Recommended for readers 3-7

One of my favorite picture books this year. Bat is adorable. And he loves cherries. DO NOT TAKE HIS CHERRIES. He is quite serious about this, so you can imagine his distress when his cherries start disappearing! The reader’s clued in, naturally – we see paws and ants sneaking cherries out of the book’s margins while Bat stares at us, demanding to know what’s going on. The animals leave him a pear, which Bat embraces – and the story is ready to begin again. There’s bold, black fonts to make for expressive storytime reading, and Bat and Friends are just too much fun to read and play along with. Absolutely delightful storytime reading; just make sure you read this one before you get it in front of your group: you will squeal with glee the first couple of times you read it. Print out bat masks for the kids to color in as part of your storytime craft.

Shelter, by Céline Claire,
(Oct. 2017, Kids Can Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781771389273
Recommended for readers 3-7

A storm’s approaching, and two strangers – brothers – arrive in the forest. They stop at several animal family homes, offering a trade for shelter; they have tea, can anyone offer them some food? A place to ride out the storm? We see each family, safe and with full larders, turn them away. A young fox feels terrible about this, and runs out to give the brothers a lamp, which they use to find shelter. But as fate would have it, the storm is even more trouble than the families expected, and soon, they’re asking the brothers for shelter: which is cheerfully given. This kind, moving story about kindness and succor is perfect for illustrating the power of empathy. Qin Leng’s watercolor and ink illustrations are soft and gentle, a perfect match for Céline Claire’s quiet narration. Shelter offers the perfect opportunity to talk about putting kind thoughts into practice; whether it’s sharing with others or offering friendship to someone who needs it.

The Little Red Wolf, by Amelie Flechais,
(Oct. 2017, Lion Forge),$19.99, ISBN: 9781941302453
Recommended for readers 6-10

A slightly macabre twist on the traditional Little Red Hiding Hood tale, The Little Red Wolf is a story about a little wolf who, on the way to visit an ailing grandma, encounters an awful human girl. The message here is consistent with the original fable: there’s a strong stranger danger warning, but also a reminder that every side has a story, every villain has an origin. The art is beautiful and dark; an additional add for collections where readers may be ready for darker fantasy.

Middle Bear, by Susanna Isern/Illustrated by Manon Gauthier,
(Oct. 2017, Kids Can Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781771388429
Recommended for readers 3-7

The middle child gets lots of love in this adorable picture book. Middle Bear is the second of three brothers; not small, but not big; not strong, but not weak; not a lot, not a little… “he was the middle one”. He has a hard time feeling special until the day his parents both fall ill and the three cubs have to get willow tree bark from the mountain top, to help them get well. When big brother is too big, and little brother is too little, it’s up to Middle Brother to save the day: he is, to quote that other story starring three bears, “just right”. The emphasis on bear’s “middleness” will drive home the point that he persevered and succeeded as is, through determination. Manon Gauthier cut paper collage, pencil, and mixed media illustrations add texture and a childlike sense of place in the story. There’s a good lesson about empathy to be learned here, too; the bear’s brothers and parents all support him and let him know that what he may see as being a challenge – being the middle one – is what makes him the perfect bear for the job. Perfect storytelling for middle children who may be feeling the frustration of being too big for some things, not big enough for others.

No Room for Baby!, by Émile Jadoul,
(Oct. 2017, Kids Can Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781771388412
Recommended for readers 3-7

Leon’s baby brother, Marcel, has arrived! Leon’s excited, but a little concerned about where the baby’s going to go when he’s not in his crib. He certainly can’t go in Leon’s room. And there’s no room on Mama’s lap for him; there’s only room for Leon. And Daddy’s shoulders are just too high. After Leon thinks on the situation, he discovers the best possible place for his baby brother: in his arms. This is the such a sweet story about becoming an older sibling; it addresses the fears an older sibling may have when a new baby joins the family, and it allows the sibling to work through his fears and come to his own happy decision. At no point do Leon’s parents correct him or force the baby on him; they stand back and let him reason things out for himself. It’s an empowering story with a sweet sense of humor. The simple black pencil, crayon and oils illustration feels childlike and will easily appeal to readers. I’m looking forward to adding this one to my new baby bibliography.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Sam Usher’s Rain explores patience and celebrates imagination

Rain, Sam Usher, (March 2017, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-9296-4

Recommended for readers 3-7

It’s raining out – and the young boy sitting inside can’t wait to go outside and have an adventure! Grandpa suggests they wait for the rain to stop, and putters around the home while the boy fidgets and waits for the weather to let up. When the rain finally lets up, Grandpa and grandson go out to mail a letter, and have their own adventure together.

I adore the quiet adventure of Rain: it’s got a soothing repetition while pulsing with the excited impatience a child knows all too well when waiting for an adult to give him or her the go-ahead to do something fun. The boy tries to talk his grandfather into heading outside by talking about things one can do in the rain (catch raindrops splash in puddles) and expressing a desire to go on adventures, like voyaging with sea monsters or visit a floating city. Grandpa, unruffled, continues to tell the boy to wait for the rain to stop. We feel the boy’s impatience when he repeats, “But did the rain stop? NO!” When it’s finally time to venture out, the excursion is every bit as exhilarating as the boy expected. When they return home, grandfather and grandson sit together, with warm socks and hot chocolate, sharing a perfect moment together, complete with the dispensing of grandfatherly wisdom: “…the very best things are always worth waiting for”.

Sam Usher’s art reminds me of some of my favorite British illustrators, Tony Ross and Quentin Blake. His use of watercolor makes grandfather’s home warm and cozy, and the rain outside looks almost dewy and real as seen from the boy’s window. His rainy scene spreads are properly gray and stormy, with sparks of imagination wandering into the picture to prepare readers for what’s coming: a prow of a boat here, an upturned umbrella there. The endpapers extend the story, with puddles and birds, and a cameo by the penguin from Usher’s previous book, Snow.

This is the second in a four-part celebration of the seasons. Snow (2015) saw the boy trying to get Grandpa out of bed to adventure in the snow. I can’t wait to see what Mr. Usher has in store for the next two seasons.

This is a great read-aloud for toddlers and preschoolers alike, and a wonderful companion to nonfiction books about weather and the seasons. Ask the kids what their adventure in the rain would look like; talk about what to wear in the rain (raincoats, boots), and let them decorate their own umbrellas. I really like this one from MamaJenn that incorporates glue raindrops.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Imagination steers one boy past The Storm

stormThe Storm, by Akiko Miyakoshi (Apr. 2016, Kids Can Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771385596

Recommended for ages 3-7

A young boy is planning on a weekend trip to the beach with his parents, but a storm threatens otherwise. When the storm arrives, the boy tries not to be scared, imagining himself on a ship that’s strong enough to drive the storm away. When he wakes up the next day, will his dream of smooth sailing come true?

This is a perfect rainy day read. The gray charcoal illustrations with bright spots of blue (the boy’s shirt, the rain puddles) communicate the overall mood of the coming storm and the hope that it will pass in time to enjoy a trip to the beach. When the storm arrives in all its fury, the boy finds a safe place for himself: curled up in his bed, covers over his head, so he can’t hear the rain. He waits out the storm by imagining himself on a ship with propellers powerful enough to blow the storm away. He faces his fears by finding a safe place and through visualization.

The book provides a great opportunity to talk to young readers about overcoming fear and using positive imagery to steer them past any storms – negative thoughts or fears – in their own lives.

Read this one with Mercer Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet or Lemony Snicket’s The Dark to talk about overcoming fear. Or just curl up on a rainy day with The Storm and a copy of Taro Yashima’s Caldecott Honor book, Umbrella, for a rainy day read.

The Storm has received a starred review from Kirkus. The Storm is writer and illustrator Akiko Miyakoshi’s first picture book, and won the Nissan Children’s Storybook and Picture Book Grand Prix. Her book, The Tea Party in the Woods, was published by Kids Can Press in 2015.

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

Marianne Dubuc retells the story of Noah in The Animal’s Ark

animals arkThe Animal’s Ark, by Marianne Dubuc (Apr. 2016, Kids Can Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771386234

Recommended for ages 3-6

It’s raining! The animals huddle together to try and stay dry, but the rain keeps coming and the land is filling up. Thank goodness, a nice man named Mr. Noah shows up with his boat and lets the animals on, two by two, to stay warm, dry and safe. At first, the animals cuddle together and sleep, play games, and get along, but the rain keeps falling and things start to get a little cramped. When are they going to find dry land?  When is this rain going to stop?

This is an adorable retelling of the story of Noah’s Ark by an illustrator with a gift for telling entire stories within her art. Marianne Dubuc is wonderful with putting little winks and nudges to readers in her illustrations: she told us the story of Little Red Riding Hood in The Bus Ride, where we saw a little girl riding a bus to her grandmother’s house; in Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds, she told us the story of a postmouse making his mail delivery rounds, while her illustrations told us the stories of all the animals who lived in the forest. Here, we see little touches that tell us volumes about life aboard the ark; predator and prey all living together and having fun at first, grateful to be out of the rain. We see a chameleon blending into a tiger, attached to his hind quarters while the tiger naps; snails draw mazes with their snail slime; the elephant helps bail out the ark when a leak springs up. We also see what happens when a hedgehog’s prickles get… prickly, and a cat sharpens her claws in a very inconvenient spot. The animals’ postures go from relaxed to combative, and a crocodile is ready to snap! Ms. Dubuc’s pencils and crayons provide a soft, colorful story that kids will love to read and have read to them, over and over again.

While The Animal’s Ark is a retelling of the biblical story, this is a book that can be read to all audiences. Noah is a kind man with a boat, offering to shepherd the animals through the storm. The rain and flood are just a heavy storm. It’s a good introduction to the story for Christian readers; parents and teachers can lead children into a deeper discussion at their leisure. This makes the book work well for public storytimes with diverse audiences; kids love animals stories, and that’s exactly what this is.

Get out your stuffed animals and make your own story arc around the carpet or the bed. Talk about what animals you’d let board the ark – would you let an alien board the ark? What about animals like the dodo bird, or a dinosaur? And what other things did the animals do on the ark? Did the chickens lay eggs and the bees make honey to help feed everyone? Get creative, and let the kids get creative; you can turn this into a lesson on animals or you can turn it into a wacky storytime. It’s up to you.