Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Two Stanley board books for back to school!

Who could start a school year without our friend Stanley, the hardest working hamster in kidlit? Stanley’s publisher, Peachtree Publishing, sent me these last year, but my library was closed, and I didn’t get them until June of this year – but the best thing about books is that they’re always ready to be read and enjoyed. So let’s visit Stanley together, shall we?

Stanley’s Toolbox, by William Bee, (March 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $6.99, ISBN: 9781682631874

Ages 2-5

Stanley’s going to help Little Woo build a treehouse! He shows up with his toolbox and the two friends get to work drilling holes, hammering roof tiles, sanding floors, and hanging signs. The board book captures the spirit of the Stanley picture books, taking readers through the process of building a tree house; a page in the board book shows all of the equipment in Stanley’s toolbox, so readers can follow which tool he uses as the book progresses. Get out your toy toolkits or hand out tool coloring pages for kids to make their own storytime toolboxes with Stanley!

 

Stanley’s Paint Box, by William Bee, (March 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $6.99, ISBN: 9781682631867

Ages 2-6

Stanley’s getting ready for a painting project with his friends! Sophie, Benjamin, and Little Woo are all ready, so Stanley gets his paints ready and the friends have a great time painting boxes and learning how to make even more colors by mixing the colors they have! As Stanley mixes up a new color, the bottom of the page changes color to showcase that color, teaching early color theory. It’s a fun way to spend the day, isn’t it? Great to read as part of an art storytime, encourage your readers to let their creative sides run wild. I love using the chunky sponge-tipped markers, like Do a Dot, for less mess and cleanup, but feel free to cover your tables in newspaper and let your fingerpainters go wild, too. If you’re like me and don’t have programming back in your library yet, consider a grab-and-go kit with some crayons or small painting sets and paper to go with a virtual storytime. Stanley is fun for everyone!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Books about Working Animals!

Stanley’s Fire Engine, by William Bee, (Aug. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $14.99, ISBN: 9781682632147

Ages 3-7

The hardest-working hamster in children’s books is back, and now he’s a firefighter! The day starts off with Stanley and Peggy work on keeping the fire engine in tip-top condition, because Stanley needs to use that fire engine for a bunch of things; whether he’s getting things stuck in trees, like kites or Little Woo; putting out the annual fire at Charlie’s barbecue, or filing up a pool so the littles can cool off on a hot day, Stanley and his fire engine are there. The fun begins when he loads his friends up in the fire engine and take off to watch the firework display! After the fireworks, it’s time for Stanley to go home, where he has his evening routine of dinner, bath and bed. Thanks for a fun day, Stanley!

The latest Stanley book shows the lighter side of being a firefighter, but the main idea is there: firefighters help in all sorts of ways, and it’s a really good idea to have a fire engine at the ready if you’re shooting off fireworks. The endpapers showcase some of the equipment kids can expect to find at the firehouse, including the big ladder, a hose, the fire bell, and a fire extinguisher. Bright colors, boldly outlined, and short sentences perfect for sight word readers make this a hit. If you’re doing a virtual storytime, many firefighting companies offer free links to coloring books. Check out Liberty Mutual’s coloring book, this one from Indian Mills Fire Company in New Jersey, and New York’s Official FDNY Fire Safety Activity Coloring Book.

Snakes On the Job, by Kathryn Dennis, (Jan. 2020, Feiwel & Friends),  $17.99, ISBN: 9781250214003

Ages 2-5

The companion to 2019’s Snakes on a Train is the adorable story of a group of snakes, working in construction, to build a playground. The story plays with sound, offering occasional rhyme, and plenty of sssssslithery, hissssshhing sounds to make a readaloud fun! Brightly colored snakes don yellow construction helmets and get behind the wheels of different trucks – backhoes, dump trucks, diggers, and more – to clear the way and prepare the ground for building. They work together, even eat together – I loved the food truck offering Ant Tacos – and get back to work to stay on schedule. Once the park opens, they welcome visitors.

Bright colors, adorable digital illustrations, and short sentences that are loaded with action make this a fun choice for a construction storytime.

 

Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog, by Lisa Papp, (Sept. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682631492

Ages 4-8

In this third Madeline Finn book, Madeline and her dog Star are training for Star to become a therapy dog. The two visit Walker Oaks, a retirement community, where Star will be evaluated three different times. Star seems to be a hit, and is so well-behaved, but Madeline is drawn to one gentleman, a wheelchair-bound man named Mr. Humphrey, who sits off by himself and doesn’t want to engage with Madeline or Star. While Madeline’s mother reminds her that people work at their own pace, Madeline thinks of ways she and Star can cheer up Mr. Humphrey.

This is such a great series, and this latest installment shows the value of therapy dogs and how they touch people’s lives. It’s a story with empathy and compassion, and inspires younger readers to make a difference in their communities. The pencil and watercolor artwork are realistic, with muted colors for this quietly moving story. A must-have. Publisher Peachtree has an activity kit covering all three Madeline Finn books available for free download.

Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog has a starred review from School Library Journal.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

¡Guau! ¡Libros de Stanley en espanol! (Review in English)

(Review in English, because I’m still learning Spanish, much of it with the help of children’s books.)

I was so excited when Peachtree sent me copies of the super-popular Stanley series: in Spanish! My library community is predominantly Spanish-speaking and English-language learning, and the kids there LOVE Stanley. Being able to read Stanley to them in Spanish, and having Stanley books in Spanish available for them to take home makes me happy.

Stanley y s escuela, by William Bee, (Aug. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-224-6

Ages 3-6

The story of Stanley’s day at school gets a nice Spanish translation. Stanley and Hattie welcome the students, and they follow their morning routine of putting their belongings away and sitting on the carpet. All of the names are translated into Spanish, so Sophia becomes Sofi, and Little Woo becomes Pequeño Woo. School supplies, including those on the endpapers are boldly labeled, letting children familiarize themselves with a classroom layout and where to find school supplies they will use during the day. (It’s helpful to put their supplies in similarly labeled containers at home, too, especially with remote learning on the rise this coming school year; I always found that incorporating some things from school, like keeping supplies in labeled containers and having little areas to put up weather reports and days of the week gave some familiarity to the classroom for my kiddos.)

Talk to your kids about Stanley y su escuela, and how things may be different this year for Stanley, just like they are for your kids. Talk about routines, and see what routines you can develop at home that mimic a school day. And don’t forget, there’s a school supply activity sheet free for download on the Peachtree website; you’ll find other Stanley activity sheets there, too. Stanley fans can find out more about Stanley’s world on the Peachtree Stanley Fan Site. (Peachtree, can you put up some Spanish language activity sheets? I can translate the school supply sheet!)

 

Stanley el constructor, by William Bee, (Aug. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-223-9

Ages 3-6

Stanley the Builder gets a Spanish translation! Stanley’s friend Myrtle has just bought some land, and asks Stanley to build her a house. Stanley gladly obliges, and kids follow, step by step, as he clears the land, pours cement for the foundation, and builds and paints Myrtle’s house with a little help from his friend, Charlie. When all is done, Stanley heads home to eat, bathe, and go to bed, all ready for the next day. Stanley el constructor is great for concept readers, with a nod to color throughout the story. Kids who love construction vehicles (which is, like, all the kids in my library) will love the mentions of excavators, bulldozers, cement mixers, and more.

Get some printable truck pictures together and let the kiddos color them or get some flannel or felt and make your own for flannel board storytelling. If you have felt or flannel tools, or have a box of toy tools, leave them out to let kids identify tools on the endpapers and let them have some free play. Teachers Pay Teachers has a lot of great clipart and worksheets for transportation and working vehicles; this “Big Build” clipart is just one of many. There’s also an adorable counting printable with construction vehicles.

These are the first two Stanley books to be translated into Spanish, so let’s thank and support Peacthree and make sure that more will join them!

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 Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Stanley the Hamster heads off to school in his latest picture book adventure

Stanley’s School, by William Bee, (Oct. 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $14.95, ISBN: 9781682630709

Ages 3-7

It’s another busy day at Stanley’s school, as he and his assistant, Hattie, get ready to welcome their students. The children follow their morning routine of hanging up their hats, bags, and teddy bears, and sit on the carpet while Stanley calls attendance. At storytime, they dress up: Sophie as a dragon, Little Woo as a knight, and Benjamin, a princess, complete with blue crown and tutu. There’s playtime, time in the garden, lunch, nap, and art to end the day, and Stanley brings his busy day to a close with supper and a bath.

The Stanley books are a hit because they’re adorable. They’re provide children with introductions to different careers, the direct, concise text is great for newly confident readers and for storytime, and the digital artwork is simple, attractive, and fun, with bright colors and bold lines. William Bee doesn’t limit gender roles in Stanley’s School, putting a kid named Benjamin in princess garb. (Jessica Spanyol’s Clive series is another good series that bucks genderized norms.)

Stanley’s School was on shelves in time for back-to-school, but it’s a great choice for storytimes now, because younger kids will recognize the students’ daily routine. It won’t be new and exciting or nerve-wracking; it’ll be familiar and comfortable. Let the kids tell you what else their daily routines include, and tell them yours. Do you, like Stanley, get home, eat, and go to bed? Maybe you play with a pet, or eat dinner with your family, or read to your kids. Stanley’s School is all about comforting routines, and a good add to your shelves.

There’s a school supply activity sheet free for download on the Peachtree website; you’ll find other Stanley activity sheets there, too. Stanley fans can find out more about Stanley’s world on the Peachtree Stanley Fan Site.

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

Stanley’s Store Blog Tour!

The hardest working hamster in town is back in his sixth book, Stanley’s Store (by William Bee, March 2017, Peachtree Publishers, $14.95, ISBN: 978-1-56145-868-4) . It’s a busy day at Stanley’s Store: Stanley’s got to unload fresh fruits and vegetables; Mattie helps customers pick out cheese, and there’s some excitement when Charlie doesn’t know how to control his shopping cart! Stanley’s always there to help, though, and at the end of a busy day, it’s time for him to go home.

stanley

My colleague LOVES Stanley. When we opened this library, she made darned sure we had the full line of Stanley books ready for the kids, so when I told her there was a new book coming out, she was thrilled! I sat down and read the first five books, and they’re adorable. They introduce kids to different careers (builders, business owners – stores and diners, farmers, mechanics, and mailmen) that shape their world, and provide a little look into the events of each job’s day. Stanley’s Store is a good book to read with your child and talk about your experiences at the grocery store; it’s also a good opportunity to point out safety and paying attention, illustrated by Charlie’s mishap. I love Shamus and Little Woo, a father and son duo, whose cart mysteriously fills up with cookies and sweets when Shamus’ back is turned. The story also slips in shape and color awareness, making this a great book for toddler and pre-k audiences.

Play store! Save some packaging and let your kiddos “shop” and create displays! Plastic food is huge with the kids in my library (and with my own kiddos, when they were younger) and is available everywhere. Talk about shapes and colors and talk about what foods are good for you. This could be paired with a fun flannel board activity and there are many food-related songs available to put together a fun storytime and playtime.