Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Graphic Novels, I Read Stuff/Kiddo

Introducing… The Kiddo!

Hi all! I’ve been radio silent for a while, because I’ve been home enjoying my midwinter break vacation with my kiddos. Imagine my delight (and abject terror) when he announced that he wants to be a YouTuber, and that he wanted his first video to be about books. I went back and forth on this for a while, but here I go… I’d like to introduce you all to my kiddo, Gabe.

It’s his first, and he’s 7, but I think – in my very biased opinion – he’s adorable. I hope you enjoy hearing about kids’ books from an actual kid.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a big ol’ TBR to start writing up!

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Media, picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads, TV Shows

Nick Jr’s Rainbow Rangers come to bookshelves

Since my kids have gotten bigger, I find myself woefully out of the loop on what’s popular on Nick Jr. these days. Apparently, Wallykazam is not a thing anymore? Thank goodness for Paw Patrol, or I’d really feel out of touch. Anyway. I was invited to check out the new line of books from Nick Jr’s newest show, Rainbow Rangers, so I did my research and consulted my 4-year-old niece, who assured me that this was a good show, because they girls are all rainbow colors and there is a unicorn. This, if you don’t realize it, is pretty big praise, so I dove in.

The Rainbow Rangers are “Earth’s first responders”. Basically, they’re the Avengers meets Captain Planet, and wow, I’ve just aged myself in one sentence. They live in Kaleidoscopia, a magical land on the other side of the rainbow, and there are six of them, each representing a different color of the rainbow: Rosie Redd; Mandarin Orange; Anna Banana; Pepper Mintz; Bonnie Blueberry; Indy Allfruit, and Lavender LaViolette all have different superpowers that they use to work together and keep Earth’s natural resources safe. Their leader, Kalia, sends them out on missions, and their pet unicorn, Floof, is there to help out. ImprintReads, from publisher Macmillan, has a Rainbow Rangers book for every reader in their new line of releases.

Rainbow Rangers: Rockin’ Rainbow Colors, by Summer Greene,
(Sept. 2019, Imprint/Macmillan), $9.99, ISBN: 9781250190345
Ages 3-6

This tabbed, oversized board book introduces each Rainbow Ranger, their talent, and also works with color recognition. Each of the Rainbow Rangers is named for a color in the spectrum, after all. It’s chunky, will hold up to multiple reads and exploring little hands, and the artwork is full of bright colors and large-eyed, expressive superheroines. Way too cute, preschoolers and toddlers will love this book.

 

Rainbow Rangers: The Quest for the Confetti Crystal, by Summer Greene/Illustrated by Joshua Heinsz and Maxime Lebrun,
(Sept. 2019, Imprint/Macmillan), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250190338
Ages 3-6

This picture book is great for preschoolers and early elementary school readers, and it’s an original Rainbow Rangers story. The Rainbow Rangers have plans to celebrate Bonnie Blueberry’s 100th mission with a party, and unicorn Floof is put in charge of protecting their Confetti Crystal for the celebration, while the Rangers head off on their mission. Floof tries to contribute to the party planning using the crystal, but the crystal rolls away, and Floof is off on his own mission to retrieve it. The artwork is adorable; the characters from the show are instantly recognizable, and for those of us who aren’t quite familiar with the Rainbow Rangers, it’s a fun fantasy adventure starring a unicorn, magic, and adventure.

 

Rainbow Rangers: Meet the Team, by Summer Greene,
(Sept. 2019, Imprint/Macmillan), $4.99, ISBN: 9781250190314
Ages 3-7

The team’s origin story comes together in Easy Reader format in Meet the Team, which introduces the characters and their powers, using a little more vocabulary than the Rockin’ Rainbow Colors board book. The story also emphasizes the importance of teamwork and respecting one another, even if you don’t always agree. Sentences are longer, with a little more meat to the information; emerging readers will love sitting down with this one and digging right in.

 

Rainbow Rangers: To the Rescue!, by Summer Greene,
(Sept. 2019, Imprint/Macmillan), $4.99, ISBN: 9781250190253
Ages 3-7

To the Rescue! is the 8×8 media tie-in, recreating the first Rainbow Rangers adventure: rescuing a polar bear cub when a melting ice floe separates him from his mother. The girls fly into action, discovering how to work together and addressing climate change on an age-appropriate level: “When temperatures get hotter, ice shelves break apart”. There’s a punch-out, wearable Kaleidocom that kids can wear just like the character Rosie Redd (librarians: keep this one in your desk until you can make copies or hold a giveaway). Fonts are bright and bold, with some words getting rainbow bubble font treatment for extra emphasis.

There’s a little something for everyone here, and kids will gobble this series up.┬áThe Rainbow Rangers website also has video clips, profiles on each character, and free, downloadable activity and coloring sheets. Have them on hand!

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate

Spooky Halloween Activities – A spooky wipe-clean doodle pad

Spooky Halloween Activities, by Priddy Books, (July 2019, Priddy Books), $6.99, ISBN: 9780312528836

Ages 4-7

A quick Halloween goodie to crow about: Spooky Halloween Activities is a fun activity book from Priddy Books, that comes with wipe-clean pages and a dry-eraase pen. Kids can complete scary mazes, decorate a door and design a Halloween monster, or use the included stickers to design a costume and fill a witch’s cupboard. The book is spiral-bound and sturdy, and you can use any dry-erase pen if the one that comes with it goes missing, or if two kids want to work together on a creation (and since the book is spiral, it can be laid out flat to let two kids work on a page simultaneously). If you are able to invest in a few of them, are a nice, reusable handout to kids at the reference desk, classroom for quiet time, or your living room. It’s a fun, creative way to get the Halloween vibes flowing.

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

My First Book of New York: See All the Sights!

My First Book of New York, by Ingela P. Arrhenius, (Sept. 2019, Walker Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536209907

Ages 3-7

Artist Ingela P. Arrenhuis is quickly becoming a favorite early childhood author illustrator of mine. Her Christmas and Halloween board books and her large picture book, City, are adorably illustrated, with bright, bold, eye-catching colors that early readers and learners are immediately drawn to. Similar to City, My First Book of New York is an oversized book and gives readers an armchair tour of the boroughs I love so much, with bright white and orange endpapers loaded with New York icons: the Statue of Liberty; the Flatiron Building, subway cars, pizza, hot pretzels, and more. Each spread introduces readers to a different area of New York: 4 of the five boroughs are spotlighted (sorry, Staten Island), with New York City getting most of the space: Rockefeller Center, Chinatown, Greenwich Village, Harlem, Central Park, Wall Street, Times Square, and Broadway all get their moments to shine here, as do activities like shopping, structures including the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Grand Central Station, and destinations like museums. There is brief text introducing the attraction to place readers; the left hand page is a full-page illustration of each selection; the right hand page is dedicated to placing the reader within that area by showcasing attractions around it: shopping, for instance, features an illustration of shoppers crossing Fifth Avenue; on the right hand side, illustrations of Tiffany & Co., Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Saks Fifth Avenue windows, FAO Schwarz, Union Square Greenmarket, a SoHo boutique, and a limousine all place the reader.

This is the first in a series, and I’m looking forward to it. My First Book of London, Austin, Texas, or Chicago, anyone?

Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

Nocturnals Easy Readers are back with The Tasty Treat and The Kooky Kinkajou!

Regular readers know how much I love Tracey Hecht’s The Nocturnals series from Fabled Films Press. There are four great middle grade novels about the three adventuring animal friends, and there have been four easy readers so far, which has been fantastic for my second grader, who loves reading them. There are positive messages in each book, and the Fabled Films friends have really put the time in to create lesson plans and learning games that address kindness and compassion among kids, using the series’ characters to communicate the message. Here’s a look at the two latest books in the Nocturnals series.

The Nocturnals: The Kooky Kinkajou, by Tracey Hecht/Illustrated by Josie Yee, (Sept. 2019, Fabled Films Press), $5.99, ISBN: 9781944020248

Ages 4-7

The Nocturnals Brigade meets a Karina, a careening kinkajou, while stargazing one night. Naturally, Bismark is his usual churlish self at first, but Karina leads the group through imaginative play through the forest, enchanting them with her exciting way of seeing things: a weeping willow tree becomes a rainfall; bent tree, a rainbow. Even Bismark can’t stay cranky with Karina’s contagious enthusiasm and creative way of looking at things. Nocturnals fun facts and new words make up the back matter. This makes a good readaloud for preschoolers, indulging and encouraging their imaginations and creative play, and is a Grow & Read Level 3, making it spot-on for newly independent readers.

There are great moments for discussion within the story. Bismark always makes for good “what not to do” moments; Tobin’s sweet innocence makes him the first to commit to Karina’s game, and makes him the perfect character to inspire readers to see shapes in the clouds, make up stories with the stars, and jump over rocks in an imaginary riverbed.┬áJosie Yee’s art really captures the playful spirit of each character, making them soft, approachable, and cuddly for younger readers (especially my son, who made off with my plush Dawn months ago). Another win for my favorite group of nocturnal friends!

The Nocturnals: The Tasty Treat, by Tracey Hecht/Illustrated by Josie Yee, (Oct. 2019, Fabled Films Press), $5.99, ISBN: 9781944020309

Ages 4-7

The friends share a tasty treat – a pomelo, a favorite that shows up in many Nocturnals books – in this Level 1 reader. Short, simple sentences make this a good choice for pre-readers and new readers to start with, giving them some new vocabulary words and introducing them to the Nocturnals. The story revolves around Dawn, the fox, as she seeks and finds her friends one evening. Bismark has a pomelo, which he graciously offers to share, and the friends sit down to a pomelo picnic. Nocturnals fun facts reinforce character traits and introduce new words. Josie Yee’s artwork always makes the Nocturnals feel like cozy friends that kids will love spending time with. Bismark’s wide-eyed, exaggerated facial expressions are perfect for his blustering character with a heart of gold; Dawn’s all-knowing fox always has a slight smile, like she knows something most don’t (especially Bismark), and Tobin is the picture of shy but sweet, with eyes that gaze upward and a shy smile on his face.

This is a good introduction to The Nocturnals for new readers, and a great way to illustrate sharing.

The Nocturnals webpage has educator resources and activity kits, with Common Core activities and discussion questions and science activities that meet Next Generation Science standards. Activity Kits include word games, printable masks, and face-painting kits.

 

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

Upside Down Sid teaches inclusivity and empathy

Upside-Down Sid, by Dylan Shearsby, (Sept. 2019, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781610678896

Ages 4-7

Upside-Down Sid is upside-down and a right-side world. It’s been that way as long as he can remember, so he mostly keeps to himself and stays home. When some neighbors send a basketball flying through his window, Sid discovers a new group of friends. When he joins them at the amusement park and has them over for dinner, things are a little bit of a mess… but one day, while Sid goes out, his new friends fix up his house and give Sid’s home the makeover he deserves: everything is upside-down to fit Sid’s life!

Upside-Down Sid is a story about kindness, empathy, inclusivity, and accessibility. Sid has to adjust to the world around him, which makes him sad and withdrawn. His new friends help make changes that will make Sid’s world conform to his life, and they go happily along for the ride, finding ways to include Sid in their activities. The brief sentences and cartoon art make this a good choice when talking about kindness and working with other who may need environmental adjustments for accessibility. The egg-shaped characters have expressive eyes and facial expressions, and the art is boldly outlined with bright colors.

Originally published in Australia in 2018, Upside-Down Sid has free, downloadable teachers’ notes and discussion questions that will hopefully spark good discussion and a pay-it-forward feeling among readers.

Posted in Conferences & Events, Early Reader, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

Kevin McCloskey, Giggle & Learn, Ants and Pigeon Poop: It’s all good here!

Kevin McCloskey is one of my favorite graphic novelists. What does he draw, you ask? Spidey? The Avengers? X-Men?

Nope. He creates science graphic novels for the little ones, examine such subjects as snail goo, pigeon and worm poop, and foot-long goldfish. Sometimes, he paints his pictures on recyclable grocery bags, because he believes in recycling. Most importantly, he creates nonfiction that speaks to young learners in a way that engages their minds and their funny bones, talking about the funny, gross, and awesome parts of nature and making them equally… amazing.

Ants Don’t Wear Pants!, by Kevin McCloskey, (Sept. 2019, TOON Books), $$12.95, ISBN: 9781943145454

Ages 4-7

Who here hasn’t been told, “You have ants in your pants!” while growing up? With that phrase, Kevin McCloskey sets readers off on the study of ants: biology and physiology, life cycle, food, kinds of ants, and what they eat. The book is loaded with fun facts and illustrations, like the one of an ant bench pressing an apple, combined with a picture of a child lifting a car, to bring home the fact that an ant can lift up to 50 times its own weight, and what that would mean to us human folk. The front endpapers have hundreds and hundreds of ants, with one magnified under a magnifying glass, greeting readers and inviting them to come and learn. This is the newest in Kevin McCloskey’s Giggle and Learn series of graphic novels for young learners, published by TOON, and I love it. My kiddo’s first McCloskey book was We Dig Worms (2015), which I read to him when he was barely out of the toddler years, and he loved it, because the material is accessible and fun. A lesson plan is coming soon!

 

The Real Poop on Pigeons!, by Kevin McCloskey, (Sept. 2019, TOON Books), $6.99, ISBN: 9781943145430

Ages 4-7

Originally published in 2016, The Real Poop on Pigeons! is coming to paperback. When a man sitting on the park bench starts shooing pigeons away, a group of children, dressed as pigeons, show up to school him – and us readers – on pigeon history – they carried the first airmail! – and biology, breeding, and pigeon milk. (Read the book. You can’t buy this in Stop & Shop.) There are some great pigeon family tree revelations here, like the fact that the Dodo was a member of the pigeon family. A three-foot pigeon! Ever wonder why you haven’t seen a baby pigeon? Read the book! The Real Poop on Pigeons is yet another win from Kevin McCloskey, and another win for young readers.