Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

The newest Board Books for little learners are GREAT!

I have a special place in my heart for a good board book. They’re so little, and durable, and take the biggest ideas in the world and make them perfect for little eyes, fingers, and minds (and yes, mouths) to enjoy. I  love everything about board books, so I’m always on the lookout for good ones to read to my toddlers and babies. Here are the latest ones that you can expect to show up in storytimes.

8 Little Planets, by Chris Ferrie/Illustrated by Lizzie Doyle, (Oct. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $10.99, ISBN: 9781492671244

Ages 2-5

How adorable is this book?! Put a cute little face on a planet or two, and I will buy it. It’s a weakness. Chris Ferrie, whose praises I sing pretty regularly here at MomReadIt, shifts his focus from the sciences to this sweet rhyming story about the planets. Counting down from 8 to 1, readers learn a couple of facts about each planet, from Neptune to Mercury, in an upbeat rhyming pattern that kids and caregivers will easily clap along with. Each planet is unique in its own way: Uranus spins on one side; Mars has the tallest mountain in the solar system. The collage artwork adds fun texture; there are corrugated planets and waffle-patterned moons, comets that combine textures, and happy stars and constellations abound. The happy-faced planets are going to delight any reader that comes across the book.

This is a perfect flannel board read. I’m going to have to get some flannel planets underway. Pair this with They Might Be Giants’ “How Many Planets?” to get the little ones up and dancing. For some more nonfiction-y board books, you can’t go wrong with ABC Universe, from the American Museum of Natural History (nice and big, for a larger storytime), and Our Solar System, also from the American Museum of Natural History, complete with graduated flaps that make turning pages a little easier for itty bitty fingers.

Vroom Vroom Garbage Truck, by Asia Citro/Illustrated by Troy Cummings, (Oct. 2018, Innovation Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781943147434

Ages 0-4

A garbage truck wakes up and starts its day in this fun board book. Creaks and clangs, rumbles and bangs, and naturally, vroom-a-vroom vrooms abound as the garbage truck trundles through the city, picking up the trash and keeping its headlights open for crossing ducks and slowing down for a grateful early riser who forgot to put out his trash the night before. After a trip to the dump to lighten its load, Garbage Truck heads back to the garage for a good night’s sleep, with a shush, a sigh, and a click.

Told using only sound effects, this is a great story for infant and toddler storytime! There are so many fun sounds to make, and inviting caregivers to rumble and gently bounce little ones on their laps adds to the fun. Bold, black lines, bold, large text, and bright colors will keep little eyes engaged and active. There are oodles of great transportation board books out there to make for a fun storytime, especially anything by Byron Barton. If you want to go with a city-inspired storytime, you can’t go wrong with Christopher Franceschelli’s CityBlock. Songs and fingerplays abound, too. Add some plastic cars and trucks to your playtime and let the toddlers vroom along!

 

You Can Be, by Elise Gravel, (Oct. 2018, Innovation Press), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-943147-40-3

Ages 3-5

A sight familiar to any kid or caregiver, You Can Be starts readers off with a carefree kid, clad only in underwear, running across the cover. And you know this is going to be a kid-friendly book about being a carefree, happy kiddo. Elise Gravel starts off by telling readers, “There are many ways to be a kid. You can be…” and proceeds to bring readers through weird and wonderful ways of being a kid: funny and sensitive; noisy and artsy; grumpy and smelly (sometimes… complete with toot cloud!). Kids are diverse and the drawings are bold and bright, each adjective large, bold, colorful, and fun. The message here? You can be angry, you can be smelly, you can be funny, or quiet… there’s no wrong way to be a kid. After all, as Elise Gravel says, “you can feel “almost any way you feel like being. (Except mean or rude, of course.)” I love that gender doesn’t define anyone’s mood here: girls are smelly, boys are artsy; kids are kids. It’s a great message to readers about self-acceptance and self-awareness.

Invite your readers to act out different moods! Let them be as silly or serious as they want to be. I love all things Elise Gravel, so this one will be on my shelves, no question. Pair this one with any Todd Parr book for a feel good, I Love Me! storytime. Check out Elise’s website for a free downloadable book, Artsy Boys and Smelly Girls, and other fun downloadables!

 

Autumn Babies and Winter Babies, by Kathryn O. Galbraith/Illustrated by Adela Pons, (Sept. 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $6.95, ISBN: 9781682630662 (Autumn) and 9781682630679 (Winter)

The first in a new series, Babies in the Park, Autumn Babies and Winter Babies star a group of multicultural babies who discover the joy in each season as they play in the park. Composed of two- and three-word sentences, each book takes readers through a park as it goes through the season. The four babies ( Sai, Simón, Jayden, and Emma) are dressed for the season and stomp, romp, and roll through the Fall, throwing sticks for pups to fetch, flying kites, and throwing leaves.

They bundle up for their winter playdate, sporting boots, hats, scarves, and warm coats. Snow plops, and babies catch snowflakes on their tongues, run, glide, and ride through the snow. Each book begins with a simple statement of the season: “It’s autumn in the park.” “It’s winter in the park”, establishing the season, and ends with a closeup of one a baby, with a joyful exclamation of the season: “It’s Autumn!” “It’s Winter!”

These books are such fun ways to greet the seasons, and the Babies in the Park idea is adorable. Give parents and caregivers ideas about activities – Peachtree has done the work for you and made up an activity companion sheet to the books! There are great extension activities to engage the kids during storytime: show different shapes (circle trees, diamond kites, triangle roofs), talk about different colors that you see. There are so many seasonal songs and fingerplays to be found on the Web: TeachingMama, one of my favorite blogs, always has adorable printables that you can give out to your families to sing along; let them bring the sheets home to keep the kids singing along after storytime.

If you want to read a little more about the series, Peachtree has an article on their website. Spring Babies and Summer Babies will be out early next year, so completionists like me can breathe a sigh of relief.

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Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Concept Fun: Big Box, Little Box… perfect for a cat box!

Big Box Little Box, by Caryl Hart/Illustrated by Edward Underwood, (July 2018, Bloomsbury USA), $17.99, ISBN: 9781681197869

Ages 2-6

What’s the best way to illustrate the many words to describe a box? Put a cat in the story! Big Box Little Box stars a curious cat who investigates all sorts of boxes: big and little boxes; brown and blue. The descriptive words take a fun turn when the cat stands on a box (cat box?), which immediately squashes under its weight (flat box), or when human hands designate “my box” versus “YOUR box”. As our inquisitive friend wanders through the boxes, it spies a hole in a box – and a mouse! The two run and play together, providing readers with some more fun words like “tickle”, “purr”, and “warm fur”. The endpapers show a cat and mouse romp through all sorts of boxes.

This book is a fun way to introduce adjectives to beginning readers, and ways to explore objects with younger readers. The pencil, ink, and computer-assisted collage work makes for fun, angular art, vividly colored and textured, almost inviting readers to feel the rough cardboard of the boxes under their fingertips. Lois Ehlert fans will find some similarities to the artwork, and the text is repetitive with occasional rhyme, inviting interaction.

Originally released in the UK, Big Box Little Box is a companion to Hart and Underwood’s upcoming One Shoe Two Shoes, and a fun addition to toddler and preschooler collections and concept bookshelves.

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads, Tween Reads

Book List for Beginning Activists

It’s getting harder and harder, waking up to the world we’re living in today. Some of our best defenses are, and will always be, empathy and information. I was inspired to create my own list of books to cultivate young activists by CuriousCity’s Books for All of Us post; I hope these books inspire you, too. Remember what J.R.R. Tolkien told us: even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

 

A is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara, (Nov. 2013, Triangle Square), $9.40, ISBN: 978-1609805395

Available in board book or hardcover, A is for Activist is a rhyming abcedary of activism. The book introduces little ones to ideas like Co-Op, Equal Rights, Grassroots, Indigenous, and Justice. Best for pre-k and up in terms of grasping the concepts, but it’s never too early to get an ABC book in front of the little ones. The illustrations are loaded with new things to find with each reading.

 

Change the World Before Bedtime, a collaboration by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good (Schiffer Publishing, 2012). $16.99, ISBN: 978-0764342387

One of my storytime constants, Change the World Before Bedtime is loaded with ways for kids to make positive changes in their world, from eating locally to visiting a sick friend, to donating money from a lemonade stand to a good cause. It’s another rhyming text, with homespun, cozy artwork that immediately evokes the warm fuzzies.

 

Say Hello!, by Rachel Isadora, (Apr. 2010, GP Putnam), $14.95, ISBN: 978-0399252303

Everyday activism! Carmelita is a little girl going to visit her abuela. As she walks through her neighborhood, she and her neighbors greet one another in their native languages: “Buenos días!”, “Konichiwa!”, “Shalom!”, and other joyful salutations embrace the multicultural world in which we live. Say Hello! will have kids sharing their own greetings with one another.

 

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade, by Justin Roberts/Illustrated by Christian Robinson, (Sept. 2014, GP Putnam), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0399257438

Little Sally McCabe may be the smallest girl in the smallest grade, but she’s making big things happen when she decides to speak up when she sees bullying at the playground. This rhyming story lets kids of all sizes know that we can all make a difference.

 

Letters to a Prisoner, by Jacques Goldstyn, (Sept. 2017, OwlKids Books), $18.95, ISBN: 9781771472517

This wordless picture book is inspired by human rights organization Amnesty International’s letter writing campaigns. A man is arrested during a peaceful protests and languishes in jail. A cruel guard burns letters that would sustain the man, inspiring more letter writers to come together and create a winged army of written support that overwhelms the guard and lifts the prisoner up and away. The book illustrates the power of the written word to sustain as well as to take a stand.

 

A Good Day for Climbing Trees, by Jaco Jacobs, Translated from Afrikaans by Kobus Geldenhuys/Illustrated by Jim Tierney, (Apr. 2018, One World Publications), $11.99, ISBN: 978-1-78607-317-4

Middle graders have more of a grasp on the world around them, can take action in different ways. Marnus, the 13-year-old protagonist in A Good Day for Climbing Trees, and a friend take action to save a local tree from demolition by petitioning and holding a sit-in, which alerts others to their cause. Readers get a more involved view of activism, and some potential results, here.

 

This is just a small handful of the growing number of books out there.  I encourage you all to read these books, read them to your kids, and add them to your collections.

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Hazy Dell Press makes monsters fun for readers!

Last year at BookExpo, I saw a table with board books like, “Goodnight Krampus” and “Get Dressed, Sasquatch!” and I immediately ran over. I’m the mom that buys Cthulhu board books for my kid, so this spoke to me. The guy at the table was great, gave me a bunch of stickers, and I went happily on my way. (My kid quickly snagged and stuck the stickers all over his closet. So much for decorating my laptop.) A year later, I saw the board books up on Edelweiss for review, and yelped, quickly hitting “request”. My little guy was thrilled that he got read the books that matched the stickers on his closet, and the best news of all: the books are as much fun on the inside as they are on the outside. Check ’em out.

Get Dressed, Sasquatch!, by Kyle Syllivan/Illustrated by Derek Sullivan,
(Sept. 2018, Hazy Dell Press), $13.95, ISBN: 9780996578738
Ages 1-5

Sasquatch loves running around without his clothes on – he’s a Sasquatch, it’s what they do! But the exasperated park ranger wants him to put on some pants. This hilarious rhyming tale is all about getting Sasquatch to try on some clothes and find something that works for him… or maybe, just letting go and taking advantage of the moment! There’s fun, kid-friendly art, a friendly neighborhood Sasquatch and a good-natured bear, and a park ranger who learns to loosen up with the rules once in a while.

 

Don’t Eat Me, Chupacabra! / ¡No Me Comas, Chupacabra!, by Kyle Syllivan/Illustrated by Derek Sullivan,
(Sept. 2018, Hazy Dell Press), $13.95, ISBN: 9780996578776
Ages 1-5

A little chupacabra has a hankering for goat in this bilingual story about picky eaters. He nips a goat, who tries to expand the little monster’s palate, introducing him to other food options like fruits, flowers, fish, or bugs, but Little Chupa isn’t having any of it. Luckily for the goat, Abuela is home and she always knows what to do! Set in Puerto Rico, the book offers Spanish and English vocabulary, and a nice lesson about finding new strategies for picky eaters. If food allergies aren’t an issue, bring some plantain chips to introduce to the readers at storytime.

 

Goodnight Krampus, by Kyle Syllivan/Illustrated by Derek Sullivan,
(Sept. 2018, Hazy Dell Press), $13.95, ISBN: 9780996578776
Ages 1-5

Santa’s getting ready to go on his Christmas Eve ride, but little Krampus is WAY too keyed up to go to sleep! This rhyming tale stars Santa Claus, trying to talk the Krampus into bedtime – something every parent and caregiver is familiar with, right? Krampus is riding toy trains, he’s banging drums, he’s psyched. But Santa breaks it down for him: if he can’t go to bed, Santa can’t deliver toys. Krampus immediately discovers that he’s exhausted after all, and Christmas Eve can continue! Absolute fun for Christmas reading or anytime reading, and gives us a mischievous but sweeter Krampus than the traditional German one.

 

Monster ABC, by Kyle Syllivan/Illustrated by Derek Sullivan,
(Sept. 2018, Hazy Dell Press), $13.95, ISBN: 9780996578707
Ages 1-5

Don’t trust appearances – that’s the first thing kids will learn with this rhyming abcedary, which tells kids, “Some monsters seem spooky when seen at first glance, but who knows if they’re scary if we don’t give them a chance?” Good life advice! The next 26 pages are dedicated to different monsters and their fun descriptions: “G is is for Ghost, who gave us a start; H is for Hobgobin, who smells like a fart” (guess what spread my kid’s favorite is?). Banshee, Krampus, Chupacabra, and Sasquatch are all in here, which makes me hope that the other featured monsters are in the pipeline for their own adventures. (I will buy a Quezsalcoatl board book YESTERDAY if you offer it, Hazy Press!) Kudos for introducing me to a new one, too: I had to look up Xingtian after we discovered him in the book.

 

Hush Now, Banshee!, by Kyle Syllivan/Illustrated by Derek Sullivan,
(Sept. 2018, Hazy Dell Press), $13.95, ISBN: 9780996578752
Ages 1-5

Another rhyming tale, this one, on manners! Banshee is a shrieking little demon who wants friends to play with her, but she’s so loud that she startles everyone! The story counts the monsters that Banshee encounters on her way through the Irish landscape: one Banshee, two ghosts, three hobgoblins… you get the idea. Sad Banshee wonders why no one is around for her to play with, until her friends have a polite intervention, telling her that she’s got to respect their quiet time, and teach her to count down from ten to one. It’s a nice read-aloud for teaching kids to be patient, and respectful of other people’s space. And the nine meditating druids are my absolute favorite (nudge nudge, Hazy Press).

The digital artwork in each of these books is super kid-friendly, eye-catching, and just fun to read. I’m in love with this set! Check out Hazy Press’ website, where you can sign up for a newsletter, read their blog, and download some free activity sheets. Give to your C is for Cthulhu, Sweet Dreams Cthulhu, and Mummy’s Always Right-loving parents and kids, and if you don’t have ’em in your library… consider it. Seriously, they’re too much fun.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Not Yet, Zebra! is a study in the alphabet and patience

Not Yet, Zebra!, by Lou Kuenzler/Illustrated by Julia Woolf, (June 2018, Faber & Faber), $16.95, ISBN: 978-0-571-34288-4

Recommended for readers 3-5

Little Annie wants to paint the alphabet, so her animal friends line up in alphabetical order. Except for Zebra, whose impatience results in adorable hijinks. This sweet rhyming alphabet story wanders through animal ABCs: aardvarks and bears, elephants and flamingos, gorillas and hamsters; Zebra pops up throughout the story, trying to pass for an earlier letter in the alphabet by donning animal disguises. When Annie finally gets to Z, poor Zebra is fast asleep! Well… tomorrow is another day, right, Zebra?

This is an adorable abecedary for preschoolers and kindergarteners, who will relate to the impatience of having to wait one’s turn. Zebra gives the saddest eyes, the nudgiest nudges, and the most creative disguises, all in an attempt to wheedle his way to the front of the line, but Annie catches our wily friend every time. This one’s fun to read aloud, and would make a great companion to my other favorite impatient friend, The Pigeon.

The endpapers feature our Zebra friend, contorting himself into all the letters in the alphabet, and the artwork is colorful and cartoony, nicely set against the subdued background pages. I’m always up for a good concept book for my collection; something that gets the ideas covered, but with a little fun; something that brings some personality to the narrative. Not Yet, Zebra brings the giggles, for sure.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Beauty in the small places: Tiny, Perfect Things

Tiny, Perfect Things, by M.H. Clark/Illustrated by Madeline Kloepper, (June 20118, Compendium), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-946873-06-4

Recommended for readers 3-8

A grandfather and granddaughter go for a nature walk, where they keep their “eyes open for tiny, perfect things”: the glint of light on a spider’s web; the bright color of an apple against the blue sky. It’s a lovely story of slowing down and taking the time to look at the little treasures around us. The grandparent and grandchild stop to examine these tiny, perfect things, leading us on our own adventure; when they arrive at home later that day, mom and dad are cuddled on the couch. A spread opens up to reveal the neighborhood, inviting readers to find their own tiny, perfect things.

Tiny, Perfect Things offers readers a glimpse at a small moment between a grandparent and grandchild, yet speaks volumes about their relationship. It’s also a moving statement to the power of slow movement – the slowing down of life’s hectic pace – and taking the time to notice the little bits and pieces that so many just ignore or don’t see. It’s a tribute to getting our noses out of our phones and enjoying the warmth of a little hand in ours; smelling the rain in the air; listening to the crunch of sneakers on dirt. The illustration is dreamy and soft, like a wonderful daydream, in warm colors. There’s a quiet, beautiful diversity in the story, from the white grandfather and his biracial grandchild, to the multicultural neighbors, to the father of color and white mom at home. You can follow Madeline Kloepper’s Instagram to see more.

It’s also the perfect opportunity to get out the door with our kiddos and explore! There’s a great post on Book Nerd Mommy about Tiny, Perfect Things and nature walks. Get out there! I love wandering around my neighborhood with my kiddo – we found a complete, empty snail shell and some acorns when we were clearing our yard for spring planting. What things can you find when you look?

Tiny, Perfect Things received a starred review from Kirkus.

This is a great storytime add and a nice book to feature in mindfulness collections. You can easily read this in your Toddler/Preschooler Yoga storytimes during belly breathing. You can pair and display with any of the Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds books, like I Am Yoga and I Am Peace; or Whitney Stewart, Stacy Peterson’s Mindful Me.

Posted in Toddler Reads

Adorable board books: actions, feelings, and opposites

This board book trio from author Ruth Austin and illustrator Kanae Sato is just adorable: Wiggle Jump Tickle looks at action words; Hide Seek Stinky Sweet – one of the best board book titles ever – introduces readers to opposites; and Happy Grumpy Loved is all about feelings. Let’s dive in.

Wiggle Jump Tickle, by Ruth Austin/Illustrated by Kanae Sato, (June 2018, Compendium), $12.95, ISBN: 978-1946873095

Recommended for readers 0-3

A young boy and an egg demonstrate cause and effect using action words in this adorable board book. The boy sees and egg, and reaches for it; grabs the egg, and it wiggles; as the egg hatches, he and his new friend play together, introducing words like play, stomp, dance, and wiggle to new readers. The illustrations are bright and bold, emotive, joyfully playful, and loaded with action and movement. It’s a celebration of discovery and new friendship, perfect for developing readers and listeners.

 

 

Hide Seek Stinky Sweet, by Ruth Austin/Illustrated by Kanae Sato, (June 2018, Compendium), $12.95, ISBN: 978-1946873088

Recommended for readers 0-3

A young girl and her black cat introduce children to opposites in this fun little book. At the start of the day, the girl is asleep, until Kitty decides it’s time to give some morning kisses to awaken her. Throughout their day, the girl gives a piece of candy to the cat, who decides to take her slipper; the girl takes out the stinky garbage, while the cat smells the sweet flowers. Where the Wiggle Tickle Jump illustrations are set against a blue background, Hide Seek Stinky Sweet has bold illustrations set against a bright yellow background. The characters are cheerful; two friends enjoying a day together, and the bright, bold words pop off the page and make for easy reading.

 

 

Happy Grumpy Loved, by Ruth Austin/Illustrated by Kanae Sato, (June 2018, Compendium), $12.95, ISBN: 978-1946873071

Recommended for readers 0-3

A boy, a girl, and their alligator demonstrate words to describe feelings in Happy Grumpy Loved. The children and alligator frolic their way through a bright red/pink background, introducing kids to words like friendly and shy; embarrassed and worried; pleased and excited. There’s movement, expressive body language, and a slew of great new words to get little ears used to hearing. The words map wonderfully to the illustrations, helping readers learn nonverbal communication, and develop empathy. The friendly girl waves at a dog, a big smile on her face; her friends hang back, heads cast down and the boy hiding behind the alligator, because they are shy. The dog barks, causing the alligator to leap into the air, surprised; he runs away, scared.

 

These books are absolute fun and loaded with teachable moments. They teach children to put words to feelings, actions, and concepts, and they encourage empathy by allowing children to experience cause and effect from an onlooker’s perspective. In Happy Grumpy Loved, the boy is jealous that the girl and alligator play together without him; he reacts by becoming grumpy, and destroying the structure the two friends built. In the next spread, he continues to throw the blocks, because he is angry; then, when the smoke clears, he is sad. The alligator helps him rebuild the structure, which makes him pleased, and together, the two friends are excited at their new creation.  Each book follows a story path, using the words to introduce readers to new vocabulary, while relying on the illustrations to tell the story.

The books are especially sturdy, too. They’ll hold up under multiple reads, and kids will want to return to these again and again. Put these books on your board book shelves and give them to your toddlers to enjoy. These pair nicely with Todd Parr books like The Feelings Book and Big and Little, and Leslie Patricelli’s board and picture books like Higher, Higher, Yummy Yucky, and Huggy Kissy.