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.

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Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, picture books

Blog Tour: ERASER, by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant

I am so excited for this blog tour stop! I’ve been a fan Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant since 2014’s You Are (Not) Small. That’s (Not) Mine (2015) and I Am (Not) Scared (2017) round out a fun trilogy on friendship and preschooler life that makes every storytime too much fun. Now, just in time for back-to-school, Kang and Weyant give readers…

Eraser, by Anna Kang/Illustrated by Christopher Weyant,
(Sept. 2018, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1503902589
Ages 4-8

Eraser is a school supply that’s sick and tired of cleaning up everyone’s mess and getting no respect. She’s always there to help, but Pencil gets all of her glory. Her friends Sharpener and Ruler are the only two who understand her, but their encouragement isn’t enough anymore: Eraser’s tired of being on the cleanup crew. When the other school supplies snub her while holding a creative meeting, Eraser’s has HAD IT. She heads off to other adventures, leaving Pencil and the other supplies to fend for themselves. Eraser, meanwhile, meets a group of new friends that help her see where her true talent lie.

Eraser is a fun, smart story about looking beneath the surface and embracing one’s true gifts; using school supplies to tell this story is a great way to communicate this to younger readers, who may not understand how to see within themselves – or each other – those subtle gifts that make each one of us unique. Anna Kang’s got a gift for pacing and dialogue that makes her books something we return to again and again; Christopher Weyant brings the characters to life using ink and watercolor, creating instantly recognizable, with a touch of childlike fun that will have kids drawing their own school supply adventures.

The fun part about books by Anna Kang? You can give them all sorts of different voices, or invite your kids to put on their own voices and act them out. Eraser gives readers several different characters to take on, so try out a reader’s theatre! There’s a great art project contained within the story, so keep an eye out for it and invite your kiddos to create some dioramas of their own – just make sure all art supplies get their say. You know I love my activity kits, and you can find one right here.

 

One lucky winner will receive a 7-piece school supply kit along with a copy of ERASER, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway!

Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small and its follow-ups That’s (Not) Mine and I Am (Not) Scared. Christopher’s work can be seen routinely in The New Yorker magazine and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. As an author, Anna regularly goes through first, second, and third drafts. Chris wears down many erasers while making his art. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their rescue dog. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.

 

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, picture books

In First Laugh Welcome, Baby!, a family waits…

First Laugh Welcome, Baby!, by Rose Ann Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood/Illustrated by Jonathan Nelson, (Aug. 2018, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 9781580897945

Ages 5-8

A Navajo family waits for baby’s first laugh. Who will be the first to hear it? Will nima-sami (grandmother) hear it, as she tucks Baby in for a nap? Will it be big sister (nadi), who cooks Baby a tasty meal? Maybe it will be nima (mama), who sits weaving while Baby rests in a papoose. Or will it be cheii (grandpa), who splashes Baby with water? Everyone in the family is waiting, kissing, tickling, hugging, and singing, as Baby squirms, yawns, frowns, until… suddenly… a smile! Let the First Laugh celebration begin!

First Laugh Welcome, Baby is a beautiful look at a Navajo tradition; the First Laugh Celebration is a child’s first formal welcome into a family and clans. The lyrical story is filled with Navajo words and glimpses of Navajo life, woven into a story about the joy of a baby’s first laugh and the celebration it brings to families and communities. Jonathan Nelson’s pencil, acrylic, and Photoshop artwork create a loving portrait of a family that spends time together both in the city and on a Navajo reservation; they eat together, enjoy nature together, and socialize together in settings primarily illustrated with earthy tones and bold lines.

Back matter includes author’s notes from the late Rose Ann Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood, and an illustrator’s note from Jonathan Nelson; a note about the First Laugh Celebration, and ceremonies in other cultures, including Muslim, Nigerian, and Jewish families.

Nancy Bo Flood’s Soldier Sister, Fly Home is a powerful middle grade story about a Navajo family; First Laugh is a wonderful picture book that introduces younger readers to First Nation families. Please, please, please, put these and other books by indigenous authors and illustrators in your bookshelves and in front of your readers.

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

Where does your mind go during class?

Free Association: Where My Mind Goes During Science Class (Adventures of Everyday Geniuses), by Barbara Esham/Illustrated by Mike Gordon, (May 2018, Sourcebooks), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492669951

Recommended for readers 4-8

Emily is a  young student who loves doing science: the hands-on stuff, not the rote memorization that comes with the routine school day, which tends to set her mind off, wandering. Emily wants to be like Albert Einstein, setting her off into a daydream where Einstein climbs out of a classroom poster; he ends up sticking around as a quiet mentor throughout the book. After catching Emily daydreaming again, her teacher gives her a science journal – a way to be mindful of when she’s paying attention, versus when her mind is about to wander. Emily discovers that the journal is just what she needed, and the teacher, impressed with a theory Emily comes up with in her journal, encourages the whole class to keep science journals and use their imaginations.

The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses is a series of books for kids who may learn in nontraditional ways. Where My Mind Goes During Science Class addresses everyday boredom in class – come on, we all know it happens – as well as how to reach students with ADHD. The teacher embraces creativity and imagination, and understands that journaling can lead to some pretty exciting work – bravo, teacher! Emily speaks for most kids when she grouses, “It seems like the only thing we do in science is memorize information from a book”. Who hasn’t felt like that at some point? Emily is relatable to all kids (and a heck of a lot of grownups). Back matter talks to readers who are “everyday geniuses” and offers tips for focusing and centering themselves when their minds wander. The story font is set in OpenDyslexic, a font specifically designed for readability with dyslexia; an impressive commitment by the publishers to readers. Kids may recognize illustrator Mike Gordon’s artwork – he illustrates the super-popular Robin Hill School Easy Reader series.

Find out more about the Everyday Geniuses at the series website. This looks like a good series to have in classroom and library collections, to introduce kids to different ways of learning. I’m going to request other titles in the series from my libraries, to get to know this set better. The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses series is Reading Rockets Recommended, a Parents Choice Award Winner, and an ALA Booklist Pick.

Posted in Adventure, Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Nocturnals for every reader!

My favorite group of nighttime dwellers, The Nocturnals, have two adventures to enjoy! Let’s see what mouthy Bismark, thoughtful Dawn, and sweet Tobin have been up to since we last met.

The Nocturnals: The Hidden Kingdom, by Tracey Hecht and Sarah Fieber/Illustrated by Kate Liebman,
(Feb. 2018, Fabled Films Press), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1944020118
Recommended for readers 8-12

The Nocturnals assemble in their fourth adventure to locate the source of a drought that’s ravaging their forest. The water is disappearing, animals are sick and possibly dying, and animals are convinced there’s an evil spell at work: tumbleweeds attack, sticks seemingly run away, and there’s no water to be found! Dawn, the fox, doesn’t believe in magic and knows there’s something afoot, and Tobin is desperate to save his friend, Cora, a sick wombat who needs water… FAST. What the friends discover is a hidden kingdom – right in front of their very eyes! Can they save the day, and the lives of their forest friends, once again?

This latest Nocturnals adventure has even more illustrations throughout, adding great resting points and visual interest for readers. I love the little touch of insect art throughout the book, directly tying into the storyline. Tobin, my favorite pangolin, gets some nice character development, and yes, fear not: there are fart jokes to be had, making for a laugh out loud reading selection. The theme of friendship continues to be the uniting thread in this series, and Hidden Kingdom also explores the frustration of being ignored and overlooked. There are minor consequences for acts that could have resulted in serious harm to others, but there is a concerted effort to emphasize positive solutions versus punitive measures; I think that’s an important discussion to have with kids. Were they happy with the outcome? What could have been done before the drought, to address the hurt feelings? Animal adventure fans will dig in and enjoy this latest chapter in the Nocturnals saga, and, as always, there are many opportunities for discussion here. Good characters, great humor, and a nonstop sense of adventure will keep kids coming back for more.

The Nocturnals: The Slithery Shakedown, by Tracey Hecht/Illustrated by Josie Yee,
(April 2018, Fabled Films Press), Paperback, $5.99, ISBN: 978-1-944020-16-3 OR Hardcover, $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-944020-17-0
Recommended for readers 5-7

The next Nocturnals Easy Reader is coming in April! I was so happy to see The Moonlight Meeting debut last year, because I always felt like younger audiences would get a kick out of these characters; particularly Bismark, the sugar glider with the larger-than-life personality! In The Slithery Shakedown, Bismark is menaced by a snake, who wants to snack on him! Thank goodness Dawn and Tobin are there to show the bully that no one messes with their friend. The Slithery Shakedown opens up the chance to talk about bullies, the importance of taking a stand, and the strength found in numbers. I’d even pair this with a reading of Kathryn Otoshi’s brilliant book, One, as part of a respect for all/anti-bullying storytime and discussion.

Josie Yee’s art makes the trio of friends adorable and soft for younger readers, and with deep colors and strong outlines to define her characters. A section about nocturnal animals and nighttime fun facts adds some nonfiction to this Level 2 reader (for grades 1 and 2). Having these books available in easy reader and novel formats also introduce the chance to have older readers and younger readers enjoy different Nocturnals stories and workshops together.

So… when do we get Nocturnals board books? Just sayin’…

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Non-Fiction, picture books

Science for Kindergarteners!

I’m always looking for ways to get more science in my kids’ days: my QBH Kids and my own Kindergartener alike. I’ve had some great successes and some that fell a little flat. At my previous library, I had a phenomenal early learning assistant who helped create amazing Science Storytimes, using popular storybooks to demonstrate simple science concepts for little ones: using Ellen Stoll Walsh’s Balancing Act to teach balance, while showing them a simple balance board that kids were invited to place small objects on and discover what balanced, and what tipped the sides.

I also look to fellow librarian and teacher bloggers for hints. Pinterest is a great resources, as is Education.com and Teachers Pay Teachers. Science In Storytime is one of my more recent go-tos, with loads a great book and activity ideas, and The Show Me Librarian has some fantastic programming for Pre-K and elementary programs.

I’ve just received some new books from Nomad Press’ Picture Book Science series, too. These are a lot of fun: color artwork on every page, a fun poem to kick off each book, and my favorite part: an explanation of the scientific term, with all the uses of the term. Take, for instance, the book Waves: it starts off with the simplest interpretation of the word; a way to say hello. The book goes on to include ocean waves in that explanation, then the motion of a wave, and finally, a discussion of waves: energy, light, sound, all using questions to provoke thought, discussion, and understanding. Each book “Try This!” boxes, with simple activities kids can easily do at home or in the classroom (or during Science Storytime). Glossaries are handy to define terms that come up. There are currently four books in the Picture Book Science series: Waves, Forces, Matter, and Energy, all written by Andi Diehn and illustrated by Shululu; at $9.95 each, it’s a good and reasonable investment for our home, school, and public shelves. (Waves: 978-1-61930-635-6; Forces: 978-1-61930-638-7; Matter: 978-1-61930-644-8; Energy: 978-1-61930-641-7)

   

 

Rosen Classroom has a new series of easy readers called Computer Science for the Real World. They’re not attempting to teach Python or Scratch to the little ones (yet): these readers break the concepts needed to study computer science down for beginning readers. The three readers I received use everyday concepts – morning routines, alphabetizing books, building a birdhouse – to introduce activities that will help learn computer science; in this case, repetition and doing things step by step.

 

The books are leveled and contain instructional guides with include new vocabulary words, background knowledge for the specified concept, and text-dependent questions. There are independent and class activities to help kids learn through experience, and are available in English and Spanish. I really like these readers; there aren’t that many “just right books” (as my son’s school calls them) explaining science like this, and I’d love to have them in my library, but this is more of a Central library purchase, at least in my system, because you’re going to want to buy these by the collection; you can certainly buy them as single books, but having a whole set will better benefit your readers. The pricing is pretty reasonable, so I’ll be slipping this into an interoffice envelope bound for my collection development department tomorrow morning.

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

Ginger Green, Playdate Queen, meets The Crazy Friend!

The Crazy Friend (Ginger Green), by Kim Kane/Illustrated by Jon Davis, (Apr. 2018, Capstone), $5.95, ISBN: 9781515819479

Recommended for readers 6-8

Ginger Green is the 7 year-old playdate queen! But when she invites Maisy over to play, she may have taken on more than she (or her mother) have bargained for. Maisy is out of control, and she takes Ginger’s little sister, Penny, with her! Maisy needs to figure out how to turn this playdate around, super-fast!

Every caregiver has had at least one playdate like this. Maybe it’s even your little one that strips down to his or her underwear and takes off through a friend’s house. Parents – and kids! – will sympathize with Ginger and her mom, who are taken by surprise by a playdate that is anything but expected. For parents and caregivers, The Crazy Friend provides an interesting look at kids’ behavior without knowing what’s behind it: is Maisy just a badly behaving child, or is there something more to the situation that neither Ginger nor her mom are aware of? There are some cues in the text that could lead readers to believe Maisy has some impulse control/ADHD-type behaviors. Ginger and her mom are frustrated (and I’m a little mortified that Maisy’s mom was all too quick to leave her daughter for someone else to contend with), but each decides to embrace the situation and work toward a solution that will save the playdate for everyone.

The Crazy Friend provides teachable moments and the chance for discussion. There are three short chapters, illustrated in two-color purple and white, and can easily fit in either an Easy Reader or intermediate section. There are currently four Ginger Green books available through Capstone in the US; in the author’s native Australia, there are 11.