Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blob Tour Stop: A. Blob on a Bus

Hi, all! Happy to be a stop on this fun book tour about a bully, a blob (one and the same), and a bus. Read on!

A. Blob on a Bus, by L.A. Kefalos/Illustrated by Jeffrey Burns,
(July 2019, Laughing Leopard Press), $9.95, ISBN: 978-1-731251107
Ages 3-6

The second book in the A. Blob series stars A. Blob, who’s just a big, gooey bully. He pulls hair, he oozes all over the place as he shoves his way through the bus, he throws erasers, he’s just awful. One day, a little girl named Alexandra has had enough. She confronts the bully, and the other kids, bolstered by her courage, stand behind her. Faced with a united front, the bully puts itself in their shoes, and stops oozing! What lies beneath the muck that is A. Blob?

The first book, This is A. Blob, took a look at the other side of bullying, introducing us to the big, oozing bully tormenting kids at the school playground, and hints that bullies can be sad and lonely people who have trouble connecting with others. Here, we’ve got another common bully setting – the school bus – and the story of what happens when one person says, “Enough”. With A. Blob’s ooze slithering away, we see that possibly, that ooze is a wall built up to keep others out. The third book promises to reveal all!

The artwork reminds me of Nick Jr.-like characters; a realistic cartoony feel. Characters are diverse, with large, expressive eyes. Blob’s eyes are just as expressive, on eye stalks at the top of his head, letting readers know that there’s more than just what’s on the surface. The A. Blob books are a nice addition to your anti-bullying bookshelf, adding a thoughtful look at a bully’s internal motivation while encouraging kids to stand up for themselves and others. Display and read with Kathryn Otoshi’s books, particularly One.

There are bullying facts and free, downloadable materials guides for both This is A. Blob on A. Blob on a Bus at the Laughing Leopard website.

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Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, picture books, Preschool Reads

Cats, Cats, Cats!

Call it the librarian in me, but I love cats, and stories about cats are the perfect mix of cuddly, funny, and just plain sweet. Here are a few new and coming-soon books featuring some favorite furry friends.

The Pawed Piper, by Michelle Robinson/Illustrated by Chinlun Lee, (July 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-5362-0165-9

Ages 3-7

A girl wants a cat to cuddle, so she sets to work, creating a trail for a potential new pet to follow, with all sorts of cat-friendly stuff, like yarn, soft cushions, boxes, and catnip. At first, her grandmother’s cat, Hector, shows up to visit, but wait! Hector’s brought friends! Many, many friends – in fact, it appears that Hector has brought all the cats to the girl’s house! The girl is thrilled at first, but feels awful and guilty when she notices all the missing cat posters going up around her neighborhood. She didn’t want to take anyone else’s cat, after all; she just wanted one of her own. After she returns all the cats to their homes, she discovers a happy surprise: one cat has been hiding in her drawer, and has given birth to kittens! Those cats get homes, too, except for one little one: that one is just for the little girl.

The Pawed Piper is a sweet “I want a pet” story that kids will love and laugh along with. The endpapers get in on the fun, plastered with Missing! cat posters across the front endpapers; the same posters stamped “Found!” across the back endpapers. The watercolor and pencil artwork makes for a soothing, enjoyable setting to a fun story. A fun addition to pet storytimes, and for cat and pet fans.

Big Cat, by Emma Lazell, (July 2019, Pavilion Children’s Books), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1843654292

Ages 3-7

I laughed out loud at this sight gag-heavy story. A girl named Isobel tries to help her grandmother find her lost glasses (the kids will find them easily – ask them!) when they come across a giant cat. It’s a friendly cat, and Gran welcomes the cat in, with all of her other cats. Gran, who still can’t find her glasses, doesn’t seem to notice that she’s inadvertently adopted a tiger, but the other cats sure do! He’s eating their food, he’s taking up all their space, and making life very inconvenient. Thank goodness Big Cat’s mother and father show up – with Gran’s glasses! – to take their son home. Gran’s reaction when she finally realizes that she’s been letting a tiger live with her is laugh-out-loud funny; her housecats’ reaction to the tiger living with them is even funnier; their protest signs and facial expressions are kidlit comedy gold. Big Cat is going into my regular storytime rotation for sure. My 7-year-old and I read it last night and decided that we need to read this very, very often, because it just made us feel happy.

Big Cat was originally published in the UK, and is Emma Lazell’s debut picture book. I’m already looking forward to her next one, That Dog!, which looks like it’s being published in the US next spring. This is one of those books where text and art come together perfectly to create sight gags, with perfectly innocent text wandering around the artwork. The artwork is bold and bright, with hilariously expressive eyes. There are such sweet moments in here, too, like the giant hug that Mother and Father Tiger give their son when they finally discover him at Gran’s. It’s just a great book filled with wonderful moments and I can’t wait to read it again and again. There’s a free, downloadable activity kit, too, with mazes, coloring sheets, and a Missing! poster (that you could probably use with The Pawed Piper, too…).

Kitten Construction Company: A Bridge Too Fur, by John Patrick Green, (Oct. 2019, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626728318

Ages 7-9

The follow-up to last year’s Meet the House Kittens, this latest in the Kitten Construction Company series has Marmalade and friends facing a new construction project – building the new Mewburg Bridge! But Marmalade is afraid of water, and what do bridges cross? WATER! The kittens figure out a workaround, and they have to call subcontractors in to help with the demolition work. When the Demo Doggos show up to the site, though, Marmalade’s biased feelings about dogs stand in the way of true teamwork. Everyone is going to have to learn to work together to get the bridge done!

John Patrick Green creates stories that make me happy. Hippopotamister is all about a hippo finding his purpose; the first Kitten Construction Company story was about being taken seriously; and now, A Bridge Too Fur is about overcoming fears and biases, and embracing teamwork to make one’s corner of the world a better place. He tells big stories in a small space, with adorable artwork and situations that appeal to young readers while teaching them how to be a positive force in the world. That is good stuff, and that is the kind of book that flies off my shelves here at the library. Kids come for the cute animals, stay for the positive messages. There’s some fun humor on the down-low that sharp-eyed readers will catch, like references to a possum street artist named “Panksy”, and Marmalade knocking a mic off the podium when he goes to speak (because, that’s what cats do). A “How to Draw Kittens” section teaches readers to draw some of the characters in the story.

You simply can’t go wrong with a John Patrick Green graphic novel. The Kitten Construction Company is such a good series for intermediate readers; add this one to your collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway!: What if Everybody Thought That? by Ellen Javernick

What if Everybody Thought That?, by Ellen Javernick/Illustrated by Colleen Madden, (Aug. 2019, Two Lions), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1542091374

Ages 4-8

The third book in Ellen Javernick and Colleen Madden’s “What if Everybody…” series takes a look at our internal dialogues. You know what that means… those moments when you think you’re keeping your feelings to yourself, but those thoughts come out in other ways. Here, we see crossed arms, pouts, and sneers as kids make suppositions about classmates with special needs, classmates who stutter, kids on the playground that want to play basketball, but may be a little shorter than the others.

Many of us grew up being told that “you can think it, but just don’t say it”, but What if Everybody Thought That? is here to tell you that thoughts can be toxic, too. What if Everybody Thought That? is all about how what we think influences how we act toward others. Kids scrunch up their faces and glare at foods from other cultures at an international food fair, or decide that a special needs classmate who mispells a word isn’t smart enough to be in their class. Alternating spreads illustrate a situation where classmates thinking devaluing thoughts, only to have those conclusions turned on their head when the children show other talents. The classmate who had trouble spelling vacation? He’s a whiz at robotics. That food fair turns into a success when kids try exciting new foods and rave about their experiences. A boy with a stutter can sing with a clear and strong voice, bringing his classmates to their feet with resounding applause.

What If Everybody Thought That? is here to remind readers to give everyone a chance. We’ve all got different talents and abilities, after all. The book also illustrates how thoughts can lead to action – if we think devaluing or negative things about one another, it can eventually lead to us “othering” people – separating and isolating people who aren’t like us. As one boy says to another, “I think we should all be more thoughtful”. What if everybody thought that? Ellen Javernick’s repetitive message challenges readers to pause and take a moment to ponder what would happen if positive, as well as negative, thoughts were to go viral. It creates a thoughtful atmosphere, and provides opportunities for strong class discussions and teachable moments.

Colleen Madden’s artwork presents a multicultural group of kids with a wide range of abilities and challenges, and includes quiet background lessons that support and emphasize author Ellen Javernick’s message. A playground blacktop has encouraging messages, like, “You can do it!” written in chalk; a girl with alopecia stands in a bathroom that sports graffiti-ed statements like, “How do you know, if u don’t ask?” and “Put yourself in someone else’s s-h-o-e-s”; a stage curtain hosts the message, “things are seldom what they seem”.

This is a great series, and one that I’ll be reading during class visits in the coming school year. What if Everybody Said That? went over well last year, and I’m looking forward to introducing visiting teachers and students to What if Everybody Thought That? this year.

Want a chance at winning your very own copy of What if Everybody Thought That? Check out this Rafflecopter giveaway! (U.S. addresses only, please!)

 

Ellen Javernick is the author of more than twenty books for children, including the Children’s Choice Book Award finalist The Birthday Pet, illustrated by Kevin O’Malley, and the bestselling picture book What If Everybody Did That?, illustrated by Colleen Madden. She has been an elementary school teacher for more than twenty years and currently teaches second grade. She lives in Loveland, Colorado.

Colleen Madden is the illustrator of numerous children’s books, including the picture book adaptation of All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey and the bestselling picture book What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick. She lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons. To see more of her work, visit: http://www.mbartists.com/cgi-bin/iowa/artists.html?artist=77

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A sheep in wolf’s clothing? Lana Lynn Howls at the Moon

Lana Lynn Howls at the Moon, by Rebecca Van Slyke/Illustrated by Anca Sandu, (Sept. 2019, Peachtree Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 9781682630501

Ages 4-8

Lana Lynn is a sheep with far greater aspirations than just hanging out and nibbling grass, sipping water from the pond, or napping in the meadow. She wants to run wild! To stay up late! To howl at the moon! Other sheep think Lana is odd, but her best friend, Shawn, sticks by her, even when she poo-poos (actually, she “fiddle-dee-dees”) his invitations to nibble, sip, and nap. When Lana discovers a hairy blanket one night, she tries it on and discovers the disguise is perfect: she looks like a wolf! She finds a pack of wolves and joins in their nocturnal activities, but things get a little awkward when they invite her back to their cave for dinner, and Lana discovers that Shawn – along with a squirrel and a rabbit – are on the menu! After saving Shawn from the wolves, Lana decides that she’s had enough adventure for one night, and she decides to stick to howling on the moon on her own in the future… because “even a sheep likes a little adventure now and then”.

Lana Lynn is a cute little story about venturing outside one’s comfort zone, but making sure to know what’s really important at the end of the day. Lana Lynn – adults will get the joke, pass it along during a storytime read – is a spunky little sheep, and her friend Shawn is a foil; content, where she is restless. The cartoony digital art features characters with giant, expressive eyes and bold outlines. Colors are muted, with boldly outlined sheep standing out against the pale green or white backgrounds, and muted, smudged nature colors providing soft landscapes. Endpapers have sleeping sheep sprawled across the pages.

Lana Lynn Howls at the Moon is a cute additional add to picture book collections. Publisher Peachtree has a free, downloadable activity kit, including a word scramble, word search, and crossword puzzle.

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 picture books, Preschool Reads

The Itty Bitty Witch proves that being small is pretty handy!

The Itty Bitty Witch by Trisha Speed Shaskan/Illustrated by Xindi Yan, (July 2019, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542041232

Ages 4-7

Betty Ann Batsworth is a little witch who can’t wait to start first grade, but she ends up being teased by some of the kids for being small and still having her kinder-broom, calling her “Itty Bitty”. The nickname makes Betty feel itty bitty on the inside, but when her teacher, Ms. Fit, tells the class that they’re going to prepare for the Halloween Dash – a big broom race – Betty is determined to win, and shuck that Itty Bitty nickname!

Coming from the kid who was ALWAYS first or second in height order, I am right there with Itty Bitty Betty. Being small is something we all have to grow into. The Itty Bitty Witch is a sweet story about overcoming childhood teasing, thinking outside the box, and determination. Betty discovers, during the course of the race, that being Itty Bitty is pretty handy – we can fit into places bigger folks can’t, after all! The digital illustration is bold, with cartoony characters and vibrant color. It’s full of teachable moments we can discuss with our kids like teasing vs. encouraging, and loving ourselves in any package.

The Itty Bitty Witch is good Halloween reading, and it’s good anytime reading. Size matters not!

Visit Xindi Yan’s illustrator page for more of her adorable artwork, and author Trisha Speed Shaskan’s author page for more info about her books.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Counting, Colors, and Animals Eating – Concept Fun!

Two fun picture books give kids the giggles while inviting them to count, call out colors, and animals!

One Shoe Two Shoes, by Caryl Hart/Illustrated by Edward Underwood, (July 2019, Bloomsbury USA), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-5476-0094-6

Ages 3-6

A dog and a bunch of curious mice explore all the shoes in their world in this adorable rhyming story. The rhyming pattern reminds me of Dr. Seuss’ classic, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish – “Old shoes/New shoes/On their way to school shoes” – minus the wacky, new words. The pup notices shoes all around, both inside and outside the home, when…. wait! There are two mice, making a home in a pair of shoes! A few more scramble by the dog, and before you can say “shoelace”, there are 10 mice, all making their homes in various sneakers, skates, and boots.

Originally published in the UK in 2018, this is an absolutely fun concept book that would work nicely with felt board accompaniment. The pencil, ink, and digital collage artwork is bold and bright, with primary colors and bold black fonts. The endpapers are loaded with footwear. The rhyming, counting, and colors in this book make it a multitasker for concepts, making this a good add to your concept bookshelves and storytimes. Pair with Hart and Underwood’s companion picture book, Big Box Little Box for more concept fun!

Visit author Caryl Hart’s webpage for info about visits and, for aspiring writers, mentorship! Illustrator Edward Underwood features more of his artwork on his Instagram.

What Does an Anteater Eat?, by Ross Collins, (July 2019, Nosy Crow), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-5362-0591-6

Ages 3-6

Anteater wakes up hungry, but there’s a bit of a problem. What does an anteater eat? He sets off to find out, asking sloths, snakes, bats, and cheetahs he encounters on his exploratory walk, all with different results. The book is one hilarious inside joke – we know what the anteater eats, and it’s a good bet that the ants scurrying across each spread in the story do, too – presented in Q&A format. The anteater asks every new animal he meets what anteaters eat, and the animals’ responses are colored by their experiences: the snake, belly bulging with its latest meal, cautions the anteater to chew its food; the cheetah hungrily eyes the anteater. The anteater’s questions are in bold font; the responses, in italics, signaling the chance in voice to your audience. The adorable, funny ending makes the book a storytime winner for toddlers and preschoolers.

Originally published in the UK in 2018, What Does an Anteater Eat? has the playfulness that make Ross Collins’ books so much fun to read. This one is another great candidate for felt board storytelling or puppet accompaniment. Collins’ artwork is cartoony and entertaining with a playful sense of joy added to each spread. The endpapers are in on the story’s joke, starting with an ant crawling across the front endpapers, and finishing with a pile of banana peels.

This one is a storytime winner. Ross Collins’ author webpage includes info about his books, and provides free, printable posters of his book covers and a few activity sheets.