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, 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.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Tiger Days: Let the animals be your guide to feelings!

Tiger Days: A Book of Feelings, by M.H. Clark/Illustrated by Anna Hurley, (March 2019, Compendium), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-946873-41-5

Ages 3-6

Tiger Days helps kids understand their emotions, and how to describe their feelings, by using animals to illustrate them. Ever feel like a rhino? So stubborn, no one can move you or change your mind? How about a silly monkey, all wiggly arms and legs, full of mischief and fun? Each spread is vividly colored, featuring a different animal, and characteristics of that animal that map to different moods. The background color of each page adds to the feel of each feeling; bright greens and yellows for happy rabbits and monkeys, who play across the pages; soft purple for a shy turtle; red for an angry bull. Each drawing is boldly lined and bright, popping off the page; fonts are capitalized to emphasize key words.

Tiger Days also lets kids know that their feelings are normal. No feelings are presented as “good” or “bad”; they just are, and this is how they can make people feel. I’d easily add this to one of my storytimes, including a yoga storytime, where I use animal poses. The kids’ favorite one tends to be the Lion Pose, where they get to open their mouths wide and roar. Linking feelings to mindfulness is a great way to help kids understand their feelings and be present for them, allowing them to describe and name what’s going on and furthering communication. Encourage your storytime kids roar, stamp the ground, or curl into their shells to describe different feelings! This would made a good time to break out some emoji flash cards, too; let the kids color the different faces and match them to animals mentioned in the book.

Tiger Days is a good book to have in your bookshelf, especially when you’re working with kids who are learning not only how to communicate with you, but to put words to things happening within themselves.

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Red Bunny & Yellow Bunny: The one that slipped by me!

Red Bunny & Yellow Bunny, by Claire Garralon, (March 2019, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $7.99, ISBN: 9781492680147

Ages 0-4

I sent off my Board Books post this morning, then realized I forgot one! Red Bunny & Yellow Bunny is the latest board book from Claire Garralon, who gave us the adorable Black Cat & White Cat in 2016. In Red Bunny & Yellow Bunny, two bunnies meet, fall in love, and have an orange baby bunny! What happens when that baby bunny grows up and falls in love? Keep reading!

I love how Claire Garralon communicates ideas about gender, social issues, and community for our youngest readers. The bunnies are genderless – no male or female pronouns needed; they are different colors, yet come together, fall in love, and have a baby that adorably blends their colors (red plus yellow makes orange, after all!). Bunnies fall in love with other bunnies, regardless of color, and create a rainbow of happy baby bunnies, all of whom play and live together. We saw a similar story emerge from Black Cat & White Cat, where two different color cats have to find a neutral place to play so they can see one another.

Naturally, we also have a sweet story that uses color concepts: explain that yellow and red make orange, and then ask what a yellow bunny and blue bunny’s baby would look like, or a red bunny and blue bunny’s baby. There’s a free, downloadable color mixing resource available on Teachers Pay Teachers, that you can hand out and let kids play with for a storytime activity. Let them fingerpaint and discover their own colors, or grab some Do a Dot! art markers.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Storytime Fiesta: One is a Piñata!

One is a Piñata, by Roseanne Greenfield Thong/Illustrated by John Para, (March 2019, Chronicle Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452155845

Ages 3-5

The duo behind concept books Round is a Tortilla and Green is a Chile Pepper are back with a counting book! This rhyming, bilingual English/Spanish concept book takes readers through the preparation for a fiesta, with maracas, calaveras, salsas, and plenty of sonrisas! The illustrations’ rich colors and the story’s lively, upbeat text will have readers counting down to a part of their own. There are wonderful Latinx touches to the artwork, including luchador masks and caleaveras; papel picado decorates the background, and a string of twinkling lights dangle across the endpapers. Count from 1 to 10, uno al diez, with your storytime group.

I love Roseanne Greenfield Thong’s multicultural concept series, and am so happy to see a counting book join her shapes and colors books. Invite your school-age kids to make their own papel picado to display, and let the little ones color some Sesame Street Spanish/English flash cards. Back matter includes a glossary with phonetic pronunciation of the Spanish-language words used in the book.

So… does this mean Roseanne Greenfield Thong and Grace Lin will team up on a counting book to accompany Round is a Mooncake and Red is a Dragon?

Roseanne Greenfield Thong is an award-winning author of over a dozen children’s books, including ‘Twas Nochebuena, Día de Los Muertos, and her multicultural concept books, Round is a Mooncake, Red is a Dragon, Round is a Tortilla, and Green Is a Chile Pepper.  John Parra is an award-winning illustrator who has three Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor awards, including one for Green is a Chile Pepper.

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

March Picture Books

Astro Pea, by Amalia Hoffman, (March 2019, Schiffer Publishing), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764356988

Ages 3-6

Pete the Pea pops out of his pod, finds a carrot rocket ship and blasts off into space! When his ship collides with a satellite, he’s rescued by a shuttle full of corn kernels, who also provide him with a ride back home to Earth. This adorable picture book stars a cast of vegetables posing as heavenly bodies. Pete zooms by cauliflower star clusters, asparagus satellites, corn shuttles, and mushroom parachutes. It’s a fun story about space and exploring, and a sweet story about making new friends.

The artwork is bright, with primary colors leaping off the jet black background of outer space. The anthropomorphic veggies have smiley little faces, and the simple artwork and text makes for an attention-grabbing storytime selection. Display, booktalk, and read Astro Pea with your healthy eating books, like Eating the Rainbow by Rena D. Grossman and Lois Ehlert’s classics, Growing Vegetable Soup or Eating the Alphabet.

The artwork also lends itself to an interactive storytime and craft. The artwork can be recreated with colorful chalk and black construction paper, letting the kids create their own outer space adventures. Make some felt veggies and let the kids identify each of them as they come up throughout the story. There so many ways to enjoy this adorable book – there’s even a free coloring page available through author Amalia Hoffman’s website. Astro Pea is a cute add to your picture book and storytime collections.

Bravo, Chico Canta, Bravo!, by Pat Mora and Libby Martinez/Illustrated by Amelia Lau Carling, Translated by Elena Iribarren, (March 2019, Groundwood Books), $9.95, ISBN: 9781773062198

Ages 7-10

Originally released in hardcover in 2014, this mouse tale is all about the benefits of being bilingual. This release is the paperback version, written by superstar author Pat Mora and her daughter, Libby Martinez. Chico Canta is the youngest mouse in his family; they live in a theatre and love to watch the performances, and yelling “Bravo!” along with the audiences.The family loves the theatre so much, they decide to put on their own production, getting right to work. But Gato-Gato, the cat, is always sneaking around, and Chico saves the day when he uses his own knack for languages to alert everyone on opening night.

This is such an adorable story, embracing the gift of a multi-lingual household. Chico’s mom, Mrs. Canta, speaks many languages (English, Spanish, Italian, Cricket, Spider, and Moth) and encourages her children to develop their own skills. Chico saves the day when he uses his own developing language skill – a dog’s bark – to scare off the cat and save the day. The family works together on the production, everyone working on their own task. The artwork is full of rich color, with adorable animal faces. An author’s note from Pat Mora describes how she and her daughter were inspired to write the story after reading a book of Mexican-American folktales. An inspirational add to collections, especially in communities with multicultural families. I’m always telling parents at my library that the more languages kids know, the better!

Friends, by Geraldo Valério, (March 2019, Groundwood Books), $19.95, ISBN: 9781773061023

Ages 3-6

A girl and her frog go fishing, but are disappointed when the fish aren’t biting. She and the frog start making silly faces in the water, and their reflections come to life! The girl’s reflection transforms into a mermaid, and the two sets of friends enjoy a day of underwater adventure where the two girls discover glowing pearls, which they turn into matching necklaces. It’s a sweet, wordless story about friendship and imagination, with bright pastel, color pencil, and acrylic artwork. Pre-readers will love to look at the pictures and tell you what they see happening. Invite your readers to draw their own underwater adventure.

There’s wonderful detail in every spread, with little seahorses and jellyfish popping up. The frogs have their own little underwater romp, so encourage your readers to spot them! This one is a cute additional add to your wordless books.