Posted in Toddler Reads, Preschool Reads, picture books

B is for… Beautiful Baby Book!

B is for Baby, by Atinuke/Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536201666

Ages 0-5

An adorable baby gives her grandfather and older brother a surprise visit in this adorable book of words, all featuring the letter B. Baby climbs into a basket full of bananas for a little nibble, but big brother puts the basket on his bicycle and goes on a bumpy trip to their Baba’s. Brother rides across the African landscape, where readers can see baobab trees, birds and butterflies, bougainvillea flowers, and buses and bridges, until they reach Baba’s home. When Baby pops out of the basket, it’s a happy surprise! Baba brings his grandchildren inside for some biscuits and cuddling, and Brother rides home and returns Baby to Mama’s arms.

I love Atinuke’s Anna Hisbicus books and her wonderful stories about African daily life. B is for Baby is another glimpse at family life, this time, aimed at younger children and early readers. Angela Brooksbank, who worked with Atinuke on Baby Goes To Market, introducing readers to a West African market. The mixed media artwork is sweet, loaded with hugs and cuddles, and lovely nature landscapes. What a fun way to introduce new readers to the letter B!

B is for Baby has a starred review from Kirkus.

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Posted in Family Storytimes, picture books, Preschool Reads, Storytime, Toddler Reads

Saturday Storytime: Mindfulness and Wonder

I had a Saturday storytime a couple of weeks ago, and used it as a testing ground for some new books. A nice theme of mindfulness emerged, with a smidgen of wonder underneath; the kids and parents alike seemed to really enjoy this one. I created a short YouTube playlist to show videos for the singalong parts of the storytime; you can use this one, too, or build on it. Now, onto the books!

You Are Light, by Aaron Becker, (March 2019, Candlewick), $15.99, ISBN: 9781536201154

Ages 2-8

I started off with this gorgeous board book by Aaron Becker. The cover has a beautiful die-cut sun and circles; when you hold it up to the light, the effect is really stunning. The book is a rhyming meditation on the relationships between everything in our world: “This is the light that brings the dawn/to warm the sky and hug the land/It sips the sea to make the rain,/which waters wheat to grow the grain”. Each page highlights a facet of the world: sun, fire, water, wheat, leaves, a flower, the moon, and finally, a multicolored mandala with a human form inside of it. The die-cut circles shift in color as each spread progresses, always keeping the readers’ attention and reminding us that all things are connected, including us. The watercolor art is elegant, simple, and lovely; the pacing and text is thought-provoking and soothing. I saw parents cuddle their little ones while the bigger kids reveled in the shifting colors on each page. Aaron Becker does it again, bringing a board book with incredible depth for readers to love. This is going into my regular storytime rotation: it’s beautiful to look at, soothing to read and hear, and inspires thought and affection.

Aaron Becker is a Caldecott Honor-winning author of the Journey picture book trilogy and A Stone for Sascha. His author website has a wealth of free downloadables for parents, caregivers, and educators. You Are Light has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal.

The Whole Wide World and Me, by Toni Yuly, (Feb. 2019, Candlewick), $15.99, ISBN: 9780763692636

Ages 2-6

A young girl considers the world and her place in it in this beautifully illustrated book. This is another story about how we, and nature, are all connected; the story reads like a gentle meditation: “Like a flower/in a field…/like a fish…/in a pond…/like a cloud…/in the sky…/so am I”. It’s a story of being present, being mindful, and reads almost like a mantra. This would easily be as at home in a yoga or meditation storytime as it is in a traditional storytime. The ink, charcoal, torn tissue, cut paper, and digital collage artwork comes together and provides texture, with bright, bold colors adding a sweet, childhood feel that will bring the grownups in the room back to days when they would climb a tree, lay on the grass, or stick their toes in the water in a pond or at the beach. The artwork is perfect for a post-storytime craft where kids can make their own torn paper collage art.

The Whole Wide World and Me was another hit; I encouraged the kids to stretch to touch the clouds and pretend they were trees; bloom like a flower, spreading their hands wide and raising them up over their heads; and waving like a leaf floating from a tree. I’d pair this with Tiny, Perfect Things and Gina Perry’s Small for another storytime, too.

The Whole Wide World and Me has a starred review from Kirkus.

Stardust, by Jeanne Willis/Illustrated by Briony May Smith, (Feb. 2019, Nosy Crow), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536202656

Ages 3-8

A little girl dreams of being a star, but she always ends up in her sister’s shadow. Whether it’s finding her mother’s ring, knitting a scarf for her grandfather, or entering a costume contest, the girl’s sister outshines her in everything she does, but Grandpa is in her corner, cheering her on. He tells her that of course she’s a star: he explains the Big Bang Theory to her and how we are all made of stardust, and that she just “shines in [a] different way” from her sister. It’s a message that stays with the girl, as we later discover.

Stardust is one of those stories we can all relate to: there’s always someone better, smarter, funnier… sibling or no, Stardust speaks to us all and reminds us that we all have gifts, we all have something that makes us special – we’re just special at different things. The mixed media artwork gives a multilayered feel to the story, and Briony May Smith’s use of shadows give depth to her spreads. The spreads devoted to the birth of the universe are breathtaking, and placing the girl and her grandfather within those spreads is genius; it gives a real sense of the universe and our place in it, and a source of inspiration for kids everywhere.

The kids enjoyed this one, especially the outer-space spreads. I’d pair this with The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer and Jordan Crane’s We Are All Me for future storytimes and displays.

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Arrrrrrrgh! There be Pirate Chickens in them thar books!

Pirate Chicken: All Hens on Deck, by Brian Yanish/Illustrated by Jess Pauwels, (March 2019, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492665205

Ages 4-8

Avast, me hearties! If you love pirates (who doesn’t?), and you enjoy chickens (c’mon, they’re cute), Pirate Chicken: All Hens on Deck will speak to you and your storytime. Lily is a chicken with greater aspirations than pecking around at the farm, so when pirates invade her farm, she’s all in for a life on the high seas! The chickens even overthrow the pirates one night, and Lily finds herself in charge of an all-chicken pirate crew. Changing her name to Redfoot, she starts enjoying bossing everyone around a little too much – will she shape up before her crew sends her for walk on the plank?

Pirate Chicken is fun, upbeat, and just plain silly, feel-good storytelling. The colors are bright and bold, with boldly outlined figures. Lily sports a Jolly Roger-embellished pirate hat, and a bright red vest, for extra giggles. And what better craft to add to a pirate storytime, but pirate hats? Teach them the old sea shanty “Blow the Man Down” and you’re set for a Pirate Readaloud!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Prepare for a fiesta with The Piñata That the Farm Maiden Hung!

The Piñata That the Farm Maiden Hung, by Samantha Vamos/Illustrated by Sebastià Serra, (Jan. 2019, Charlesbridge), $17.99, ISBN: 9781580897969

Ages 4-8

This adorable companion to 2011’s The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred is another bilingual, cumulative story. A girl heads to the market while the farm maiden and her friends pull together a piñata for a surprise celebration! Like Cazuela, The Piñata That the Farm Maiden Hung features Spanish words in bold font, with words identifiable using context clues, and the illustrations are colorful and bright, with friendly, soft character faces and festive touches like papel picado pennants and a bright piñata. Back matter includes the lyrics to “The Piñata Song/La Canción de la Piñata”, instructions on making your own piñata, a glossary, and list of Spanish translations. Charlesbridge offers the piñata instructions available for free download on their website.

This is a cute companion to The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred, and a fun addition to storytime. It begs for a felt board storytelling, so make a trip to the craft store!

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Chickens Are Coming! What do we do?

The Chickens Are Coming!, by Barbara Samuels, (March 2019, Farrar Straus Giroux), $17.99, ISBN: 9780374300975

Ages 4-8

Siblings Winston and Sophie are shopping with their mom one day when they discover an interesting sign: someone called The Chicken Lady is moving and needs to rehome her chickens. Winston, Sophie, and their parents decide to take on the task of becoming urban farmers and adopting them! They get their backyard ready, setting up the coop and telling their friends; they promise fresh eggs to everyone, and Winston even creates a Chicken Dance. Once the chickens arrive, though, the family learns that chickens take work! They don’t want to be pets and they don’t want to lay eggs: not even for bedtime stories; not for relaxing music that the kids play for them; not at all. As Winston and Sophie try desperately to get the chickens to acclimate to their new home and family, they discover that each chicken has its own personality – and that each one is special is in its own way.

The Chickens are Coming! is a cute story about patience and learning. Winston and Sophie learn about raising farm animals in a city environment, which comes with unique challenges, and they learn that chickens aren’t just egg-laying machines for their convenience. Colorful artwork makes this appealing to readers, and each chicken is beautifully illustrated. An author’s note provides information about urban chicken-rearing, and a copy of Sophie’s Chicken Chart shows lets readers compare the different breeds, countries of origin, and egg sizes and colors. Endpapers feature the chickens in their colorful glory.

Pair this one with Caroline Arnold’s Hatching Chicks in Room 6 for more information about raising chicks in a nontraditional environment. This is a good read before a farm or domestic animal zoo visit.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Scampers teaches kids the scientific method!

Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist, by Mike Allegra/Illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel, (March 2019, Dawn Publications), $8.95, ISBN: 9781584696438

Ages 4-8

Scampers is a curious little mouse who wants to know what it will take to get a menacing-looking owl out of the vegetable garden, so he and the other mice can go back to getting food. With the help of Scampers’s friend, Nibbles, the two proceed to conduct a few experiments, including waving a rag doll and making noise that will startle the owl, and building an egg catapault to scare it off. No reaction. (Have you guessed yet?) When Scampers and Nibbles figure out the owl’s secret, they let their fellow mice know: the owl isn’t real! Will the mice believe their two scientists?

Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist is an adorable, abbreviated introduction to an scientific method. Scampers has a theory about the mouse, so she conducts some tests, considers her conclusion, and shares her results. The tests are amusing and let caregivers and educators work with readers to reason out the conclusion. It’s a cute way to introduce scientific thinking to younger readers, and publisher Dawn Publications has a free, downloadable companion activities for kids. Add this one to your science storytime.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Out of the nest and into the air! Why Should I Walk? I Can Fly!

Why Should I Walk? I Can Fly!, by Ann Ingalls/Illustrated by Rebecca Evans, (March 2019, Dawn Publications), $8.95, ISBN: 9781584696391

Ages 3-7

This rhyming story is all about a baby bird who’s ready to take the leap out of the nest and into the air… but maybe brother and sister can go first. The story is all about overcoming fears and persistence; kids will see themselves in the little robin’s excitement to take this next step, and the hesitation of moving out of one’s comfort zone. The kids will chuckle when Momma Bird gives the little bird some help leaving the nest, and parents will smirk in recognition; sometimes, we just have to help nudge our kids out of those comfort zones.

This is an encouraging story that shows kids it’s okay to be nervous, especially when trying something new; it’s perfectly normal to have excitement mixed with being nervous. And, yes, sometimes, we need a little push in the right direction; it’s all worth it, though, when we take off and succeed. Back matter includes a bird Q&A, photos, and STEM activities.

Why Should I Walk? I Can Fly! is a fun story about stretching one’s boundaries, trying new things, and growing up. It’s a good STEM storytime pick.