Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

So Many Cuddles: Reading time is cuddle time!

So Many Cuddles, by Ruth Austin/Illustrated by Clare Owen, (June 2017, Compendium), $16.95, ISBN:  978-1-943200-49-8

Good for readers ages 3-6

So Many Cuddles is an adorable look at the many different types of cuddles: rise and shine cuddles, bear-sized cuddles for being extra brave, tickly, giggly, wriggly cuddles – one of my personal favorites – and more, all illustrated by a young girl, her cat, her dog, and her doll. Each spread is a new type of cuddle; one page for text, one for illustration, giving each picture space to breathe and for kids to explore details like the textured rug in the girl’s room, or her sneakers, kicked to the floor when the friends are cuddling on the couch. It’s a great bedtime story – the cuddling winds down with “feeling very tired cuddles/let’s be cozy in bed cuddles” – or a great anytime story. This went over fabulously with my toddler storytime! Parents cuddled their little ones, and I had soft toys out for the kids to cuddle. It’s a soothing, loving story that encourages affection – what’s more perfect than that? The kids also loved the textured cover – I passed it around for everyone to love!

So Many Cuddles is a sweet celebration of cuddling. I love it, the kiddos here at my library love it, and my 5 year-old and I loved reading it while cuddling on the couch. Clare Owen’s soft, sweet art immediately gets readers’ attention, and the different kinds of cuddles helps explain different moods and feelings – something toddlers are still working on verbalizing.

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Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Size matters not… Small, by Gina Perry

Small, by Gina Perry, (Aug. 2017, Little Bee Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0401-0

Recommended for readers 3-7

Sometimes it’s a drag being small. It can be intimidating. In Small, a little girl goes through a day in the crowded city feeling small and overwhelmed. When ducks snatch her hot dog, she feels helpless… until a trip to a playground helps her turn it around by allowing her to embraces the positives in her life and how they make her feel big. The love of her family; her drawing ability; her fierce game – all of these and more make her big, brave, and loved.

Small is loaded with positivity. It’s a good book for preschoolers and kindergarteners on self-esteem, filled with moments kids recognize all too well: feeling like second banana to a younger sibling; fears about being lost in a crowd; of not being heard; of just feeling plain helpless. It also taps into positive moments that kids feel: the invincibility of being on a slide or the monkey bars; the power of sidewalk chalk, the power that comes from doing something for someone else. I read this to my toddler/preschooler storytime group, and they loved it! Two of my QH kiddos were captivated by the sidewalk chalk art, so we spent a couple of minutes letting everyone look at the spread and point to the different drawings. The story and the pictures resonated with them.

Author/Illustrator Gina Perry’s webpage has a free, downloadable butterfly craft and activity kit that I’ll definitely use – especially since I just saw a sidewalk art page! This is a great book for letting little ones know what a big space they take up in your life.

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Night Creepers: nonfiction that goes from toddler to school-age

Night Creepers, by Linda Stanek/Illustrated by Shennen Bersani, (Sept. 2017, Arbordale Publishing), $9.95, ISBN: 978-1-607-183235

Recommended for readers 3-7

Night Creepers is both a rhyming tale about night time animals for toddlers and preschoolers and a nonfiction text on nocturnal animals for first and second graders. Each spread introduces a new nocturnal animal: foxes and wolves, bats and flying squirrels, skunks, possums, and more. On the left hand side of the spread, we have short, rhyming text about animals who wake up when the rest of the world starts getting ready for bed. On the right hand side, we have short paragraphs, constructed with simple sentences, containing information about each animal. Shennen Bersani’s realistic illustrations are beautiful, with vibrant and deep colors coming together to give readers an exciting reading experience. As with all Arbordale books, there is a “Creative Minds” section at the end, with activities and resources for further learning; they are free to photocopy and hand out for educational, non-commercial use.

I read Night Creepers in my toddler storytime this past week, and the little ones enjoyed it. One of my QH Kids excited pointed out animals she knew, and we all repeated the names of the animals on each spread. The rhyming, brief text was just the right length for a short story.

I was able to see author Linda Stanek speak at a non-fiction panel at KidLitCon, and look forward to adding more of her books – particularly, award-winner Once Upon an Elephant. Arbordale has a great website, releasing Spanish editions concurrently with English editions of their books, e-book access (and one free read-aloud e-book a month), and free resources for educators. Linda Stanek’s author website has more info about her books, and about school and library visits.

I’m always on the lookout for good nonfiction – my library’s collection needs constant updating, and animal books are big here. Night Creepers‘ appeal to different age groups means I can get this book in front of a larger group of kids, getting more bang for my budget’s buck. A nice add to primary nonfiction/easy nonfiction collections.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Bring a book (or three) for the kids at Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK. How did that sneak up so fast? If you’re spending the holidays with family, you don’t want to show up empty-handed, right? And if you have kids in your family, you may be that sort of guest that likes to bring a book. (It’s not just me, is it?) Here are a few holiday books to get kids ready for Christmas:

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas (Panorama Pops), Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith,
(Sept. 2017, Candlewick Press), $8.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-9485-2
Perfect for ANY age!

 

How adorable is this itty bitty gift book? It comes in its own little slipcase, and opens to a pop-up, beautifully illustrated panoramic reading of the classic Christmas carol. There’s a brief explanation of the 12 days in the beginning of the book, which was news to me. I’ve spent the last *cough cough* decades thinking my birthday kicked off the 12 days of Christmas, but the days are actually from the 25th, Christmas Day, to the Epiphany, on January 5th. (I bet my parents are thrilled about that Catholic school tuition money.) There’s a note about the song’s origins; the words dating back to 1780, the music to 1909. Sing along with the kiddos, and then sing a fun take on the carol, like my son’s favorite, The Twelve Bots of Christmas! This one will take a beating in a public library – this one is great for storytime reference, but you’re taking matters into your own hands if you put this in circulation.

 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Snow Globe Edition), by Michael Rosen/Illustrated by Helen Oxbury,
(Oct. 2017, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536200294
Great for all ages, but perfect for readers 3-7

This is such a fun update of a storytime classic! The cover is a 3-D, plastic-encased snow globe, with little styrofoam balls to shake up and down and all around.  This version of the story features die-cut and pop-up that will add to all of your splashing and sploshing, squelching, and squerching. I’m reading this one, along with Over the River: The Turkey’s Tale at my Thanksgiving storytime next week, and I can’t wait to see the kids’ faces when I show off the snow globe. Again, this one is great for gifts and storytime reference, but circulating librarians, be ware.

 

We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Sing Along With Me!), Illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang,
(Sept. 2017, Nosy Crow/Candlewick), $8.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-9612-2
Great for all ages, but the board book is perfect for 2-5

Another illustrated Christmas carol, this time in board book form! Sing along with adorable animal friends as they get ready to celebrate Christmas, and scan the QR code in the book for a free, downloadable version of the song. There are five fun sliders, one on each spread, that let little hands peek at little buddies hiding behind a Christmas tree, pop up snowmen, slide a cat and mouse team down a hill, open a home to visiting friends, and watch Santa fly by. This book is way too much fun, and it’s nice and sturdy: built to last repeated uses. Put this one in your board book collections, you’re all good!

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Peep and Egg debate the pros and cons of bathing: I’m NOT Taking a Bath!

Peep and Egg: I’m Not Taking a Bath, by Laura Gehl/Illustrated by Joyce Wan, (Oct. 2017, Farrar Straus Giroux), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0-374-30327-3

Recommended for readers 3-7

I adore Peep and Egg. Yes, they’re illustrated by Joyce Wan; I should have heart-eyed emojis setting off her name every time I talk about one of her books, because I adore her art. In addition to the squeal-worthy art, though, they’re just fun. They’re Elephant and Piggie for the toddler set; one surly little bird and one level-headed friend who manages to steer the other in the right direction.

This time, it’s about bathing. The front endpapers show us a bunch of pigs, happily playing in the mud; the verso shows us a pair of muddy footprints tracking across the page, leading us to the title page, where we see a very dirty Egg, already stating, “I’m Not Taking a Bath”. We know what we’re getting into from the second we open the book, and I don’t know about you, but I’m already giggling. (Maybe it’s because I have three boys and am having deja vu.) Sure enough, there’s Peep, suggesting Egg take a bath. “Too wet!” Egg fires back. Peep suggests different enticing bath ideas: special shampoo, the hose, the dog’s water bowl; all met with reasons why Egg refuses to consider them, ending with the repeated phrase, “I’m NOT taking a bath!” Egg even refuses a bath in the river, to which Peep responds – like most parents I know – with the time-tested, “Okay… well, see ya!” As Egg notices all their friends run by – including the muddy pigs! – ready for a day of playing at the river, Egg changes tune pretty fast and heads to the river!

When Peep offers Egg a towel, Egg politely declines… “because I’m not getting out!” Sound familiar, folks? Peep and Egg works so well because – like Mo Willems’ Pigeon books – we have seen the characters, and they are US. Egg is the fussy toddler and preschooler, starting to make their own decisions; we’re the caregivers, trying to get them to make the decision WE want them to make. We cajole, we entice, we finally say, “Okay, well, I guess I’ll have to play with all of these cool bath toys all by myself“, and our kiddos change their tune. Only to assert themselves again when it’s time to come out of the tub, their fingers wrinkled, lips blue from sitting in the now-cold bathwater. Laura Gehl gets us: children and caregivers alike.

Laura Gehl has loads of great stuff, including curriculum guides and activity sheets, at her website. Joyce Wan has downloads and printables aplenty at her website, too!

Want a chance to win your own copy of Peep and Egg: I’m Not Taking a Bath? Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in Early Reader, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Handmade Holidays: Books for the littles

Don’t shoot me, I know we haven’t even hit Thanksgiving yet! But you and I both know that the holidays have a way of sneaking up on you, and I have some books that are perfect to let the kiddos make their own special gifts to celebrate the season. (Plus, you know me, I love a program in a book.)

Gift Boxes to Decorate and Make: Christmas, illustrated by Sarah Walsh,
(Sept. 2017, Nosy Crow), $15.99, ISBN: 9780763696375

Every single page in this book can be colored in and made into a box! Pages are perforated, to easily tear out, and scored for easy folding. This is such a great idea for storing little goodies for teacher gifts; you can take care not to rip the boxes when you open them and hang them up so you have a nice piece of artwork; or, you can keep little things like paper clips or rubber bands in them. It’s the gift you’ll enjoy receiving because it’s handmade, and the kids will love creating their own gift for you.

 

Make and Play: Christmas, illustrated by Joey Chou,
(Sept. 2017, Nosy Crow), $11.99, ISBN: 9780763696160

From the time my older kids were little, we’ve had a tradition of buying ornaments to decorate and hang on our tree. I’d buy kits from Oriental Trading, plain ornaments at Michael’s, anything my boys could make their own; I date them and hang them on the tree, and it’s created a sweet legacy to look back on. This year, I’m going to give my 5 year-old a new project: Make & Play Christmas! There are 10 absolutely adorable die-cut pieces to press out and create, all with die-cut slots to easily fit pieces together, and holes to tie string or ribbon through, to hang on the tree. From angels and colorful ornaments, to Santa and his reindeer, there is something for every kid to enjoy. A fun activity section at the end has more ideas to get ready for the holidays: craft instructions for paper chains, reindeer prints, and DIY wrapping paper; the words to “Jingle Bells”, “Deck the Halls”, and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”; and recipes for gingerbread cookies and snowball truffles. Way too much fun!

 

Press Out & Color Christmas Ornaments, illustrated by Kate McLelland,
(Sept. 2017, Nosy Crow), $15.99, ISBN: 9780763696184

For slightly older kids who want in on the fun (or little ones who want more to color), there’s Press Out & Color Christmas Ornaments. There are 20 die-cut ornaments in here for coloring; outlined in shiny gold foil and featuring beautiful designs including rocking horses, Russian nesting dolls, nutcrackers, and snowflakes. There are standalone pieces and pieces that fit together to make 3-D ornaments, and small holes punched in at the top to thread ribbon or thread through to hang up. Absolutely stunning.

 

Make & Play Nativity, illustrated by Joey Chou,
(Sept. 2017, Nosy Crow), $11.99, ISBN: 9780763696177

Last one for now! This Nativity, also illustrated by Joey Chou, makes a great gift to place under someone’s tree. There are 20 press out and put together figures to create the Nativity scene. Pages are thick and sturdy, and the pieces fit easily together; ideal for little fingers; instructions are included for more complex pieces, like the manger. Christmas activities feature at the end of the book: the Nativity story; crafts, like Make a Christmas Star, Make an Advent Calendar, and Make a Christmas Angel; and Christmas carols “Away in a Manger”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, and “We Three Kings”.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board and Picture Book Rundown!

I started this post in Hershey, PA while I attended KidLitCon17 – which was amazing, but kicked my butt! – so I’m finishing up now that I’m back home and getting ready to great a new week. More to come on the conference, but for now, let’s talk board books! I’ve been on a board book kick at work, having weeded a bit of the collection, so let’s take a look at a few that have just hit shelves. I’m on the lookout for fun, new, and different board books to get in front of the littles, and to keep up the momentum for my Mother Goose lapsit storytime. The Rodgers & Hammerstein board books are a must, and these look like big fun, too.

 
ABC for Me: ABC Baby Signs: Learn baby sign language while you practice your ABCs!, by Christiane Engel,
(Oct. 2017, Quarto Group), $16.95, ISBN: 9781633223660
Recommended for parents for kiddos 0-2
Sign language with babies has increased in popularity over the years. I used a couple of signs with my now high-schooler, and it blew my mind to see him communicating before he was fully forming words. It made things easier, too; he was able to express himself when he was hungry, for instance, and I was able to put together when he was fussy because he was hungry rather than running through a flow chart of options that always ended in tantrum. I use ASL in my toddler storytime to teach the kids a hello and goodbye song, so ABC for Me: Baby Signs is going in my distributor cart for my November order. This one goes in my Parenting collection, and I’ll use it in a storytime, too. With adorable illustrations and small call-outs with arrows and movement to show how to fully communicate signs, this book is a great new parent gift, too.
ABC Baby Signs is part of the ABC for Me series of board books, which includes ABC Yoga and ABC Mindful Me.
Little Concepts: ABC Color: Apricot, Burgundy & Chartreuse, 26 cool new colors are out on the loose!
Illustrated by Ingela Peterson Arrhenius, (Nov. 2017, Walter Foster Jr), $12.95, ISBN: 9781633223363
Recommended for readers 1-4
Primary colors are exciting, but why limit yourself? ABC Color introduces kids to the 64-crayon box, with colors like chartreuse, persimmon, and razzmatazz (it is too a real color). Each spread features two colors: they’re named on the left hand page, and the background design and accompanying illustration on the right page combine to create strongmen in striped singlets (scarlet and turquoise) or umber and violet (a reindeer by the light of a snowy moon). It’s just good fun, and a nice way to introduce even more complex words into a toddler’s or preschooler’s vocabulary. Get out the crayons and explore once you’re done! Kick your color by number worksheets up a notch!
The newest picture books I looked at are perfect for my littles, too. I can easily put these into my toddler storytime rotation and see the kids enjoying them.
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star: Classic Nursery Rhymes Retold, by Joe Rhatigan/Illustrated by Carolina Farias,
(Sept. 2017, Quarto Group), $12.95, ISBN: 9781633222373
Recommended for ages 0-5
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is big in my storytimes (or anyone’s, really!), so a fun takeoff on the classic always brings some new life with it. Joe Rhatigan and illustrator Carolina Farias’ vision introduces readers to a group of cats that wants to hang out with their friend, the twinkling little star, but she’s so far away! Some ingenuity and teamwork, all in verse and to the tune of the original classic song, bring the friends together in the sweetest way that explains a lot. The song gets progressively sillier as the cats attempt their visit to the stars, offering readers the opportunity to work with facial expressions, gestures, and voice to make kids laugh along with you and the story. Perfect for a sing-a-long storytime. Make toilet paper roll rockets – DLTK Kids has an easy one that comes with a template.
GOA Kids – Goats of Anarchy: Polly and Her Duck Costume: + The true story of a little blind rescue goat,
by Leanne Lauricella/Illustrated by Jill Howarth, (Sept. 2017, Quarto Group), $17.95, ISBN: 9781633224186
Recommended for readers 3-8
Any book that includes the phrase, “Goats of Anarchy”, gets my attention. Polly and Her Duck Costume is the story of one of the Goats of Anarchy – a rescue for disabled and special needs goats in New Jersey – named Polly, a blind goat rescued when Leanne Lauricella adopted her and brought her to GOA. Polly loved being snuggled; it made her feel safe, so Lauricella came up with the idea of putting her in an adorable duck costume. It worked! When rescue goat Pippa joins the fold, she gets a duck costume, too. Eventually, the goats feel secure enough to go without their costumes, a testament to the safety and love they get at their home. A great book for kids because it’s adorable – there are baby goats wearing duck onesies! – and it leads into a discussion about special needs. Special needs readers will see themselves in Polly and Pippa, with their need for compression clothing to help them feel swaddled and secure; explaining to all kids that some children have sensory issues, and special clothes help them process their world at their own pace. The cartoony artwork is soft and sweet, almost reminding me of classic Golden Books artwork. There is a photo album starring Polly, Pippa, and Leanne Lauricella at the end of the book. Visit the Goats of Anarchy website to learn more about the organization, and link to their Instagram for more adorable pictures. There are more GOA books to come, including The Goat with Many Coats and Piney the Goat Nanny, about a rescue pig who comes to live at the sanctuary.  There’s a 2018 calendar due out, too!
Feather, by Cao Wenxuan/Illustrated by Roger Mello, Translated by Chloe Garcia-Roberts (Translated by)
(Oct. 201, Steerforth Press), $18.00, ISBN: 9780914671855
Recommended for readers 4-8

This beautiful book by celebrated Chinese children’s author and 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award-winner Cao Wenxuan tells the tale of a feather trying to find its origin. The feather blows along with the wind, encountering different birds and asking, “Am I yours?”; the feather is usually ignored or brushed off. Just when Feather is about to give up hope, she spies a bird missing a feather… could it be? This beautifully illustrated and narrated story of searching for one’s origin, one’s place in the world, works on different levels for different age groups. For little readers, I’d pair this with Are You My Mother? and talk about families, who we are. For school-age children, this pairs with Jon Muth’s books, Zen Shorts and Zen Ties, offering a deeper look into daily life. The storytelling is meditative and the artwork is dynamic and beautiful. Both Wenxuan and illustrator Roger Mello are Hans Christian Anderson Award winners, and this pairing is wonderful. I’m hoping to see this one on my Mock Caldecott shortlist this year. Feather has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

 

Seagrass Dreams: A Counting Book, by Kathleen M. Hanes/Illustrations by Chloe Bonfield,
(May 2017, Quarto Group), $17.95, ISBN: 9781633221253
Recommended for readers 4-8
This is a solid mix of concepts and nonfiction for readers who love ocean animals. Seagrass is rooted to the sea floor, long blades or narrow, hollow tubes, that provide food and shelter for a variety of animals. In Seagrass Dreams, readers meet and count barracudas, stingrays, dugongs, sea cucumbers, and more. Each spread provides the opportunity to count marine life and learn their numbers. Readers who can sit still a little longer can learn more about each animal through a descriptive paragraph. Back matter includes a recap of the animals, their scientific names, a glossary of new terms, and a map of seagrass meadow locations around the world. There are further references for readers who want to learn more. The illustrations are created with deep colors and movement; you can envision the seagrass waving underwater as the fish zip through the blades.  A nice addition to concept collections, especially where you have readers who love ocean books. Display and booktalk with Alison Formento’s These Seas Count! and Marianne Berkes’ Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef.