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Take a trip downtown on public transportation with The Way Downtown

The Way Downtown, by Inna Gertsberg/Illustrated by Mike Lowery, (Oct. 2017, Kids Can Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781771385527

Recommended for readers 8-12

This fun book to public transportation introduces readers to the subway; light rail transit; buses, and ferry boats as five different characters head to a mutual venue in the imaginary city of Zoom. Robbie is a 7 year-old boy visiting the city; a secret agent, Theodore Rybka, is on a secret mission – but loves to stop for a cup of tea; the Zanies are a family of digeridoo and juggling performers; Dr. Brody is a scientist, excited about her newest discovery, and Boris is a seeing-eye dog who takes good care of his companion. Maps, facts, and a diverse urban crowd make this a good additional purchase for transportation shelves.

 

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MAD Magazine gives Superman a Miserable, Rotten, No Fun, Really Bad Day

Superman and the Miserable, Rotten, no Fun, Really Bad Day, by Dave Croatto/Illustrated by Tom Richmond, (Oct. 2017, Mad Magazine), $14.99, ISBN: 9781401276119

Recommended for readers 5+

MAD Magazine, I love you. I grew up laughing at your Star Wars parodies, your Spy vs. Spy comics, and  host of jokes I probably didn’t get until I was older. And now, you bring me a series of superhero parodies based on childhood classics. You get me. You really, really get me.

The fun began with last year’s Goodnight, Batcave: narrated in the gentle bedtime style of Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight, Moon, we peeked into Batman’s bedtime routine. Now, we get Superman having the lousiest day ever in the style of Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and it is hilarious. Whether he’s listening to kids argue over who the better hero is – Batman or The Flash – or being relegated to monitor duty by the Justice League, Superman has the same petulant, endearing voice that makes Alexander such a fun storytime read. Supes tends to get dinged a lot by Batfans (cough, cough) that  call him a boy scout, and seeing that reflected here is just perfect. Lois and Jimmy Olsen get sent on super cool assignments, while Clark goes to a flower show. Where Alexander is ready to move to Australia, Supes is ready to abandon it all for the Fortress of Solitude. But as with all the best bedtime stories, Ma is there to tell him that some days are like that, and sends him off to bed – and hopefully, a better day the next day.

Tom Richmond’s classic MAD-style artwork meets Ray Cruz – the illustrator on Judith Viorst’s Alexander books – gives an instantly recognizable feel to the story – even the cover is a perfect sendup of the original. This is absolutely perfect for a Superhero Storytime, or just a really fun laugh-along. Read it in the same pouty voice that you use for Alexander, and make sure to be extra offended by the Batman-is-Better inferences.

What’s next? Make Way for Lanterns? Where the Amazons Are? I NEED MORE.

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Great books for Toddler Storytime!

Just Like Me, by Joshua Seigal/Illustrated by Amélie Falière, (Sept. 2017, Flying Eye Books), $13.99, ISBN: 9781911171119

Recommended for readers 2-4

Can you rub your tum? Can you stretch up high? Join a little girl and her fuzzy friend as they play a game of Just Like Me with colorful animals! Tap your foot like a rabbit, stretch your neck like a giraffe, or spin like a dog: this book is made for a storytime activity or an animal storytime. I’d pair this with Eric Carle’s Head to Toe, Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance, and Lindsey Craig’s Dancing Feet for an interactive, physical toddler time. The colors are bright and the bold, black text makes it easy to read along as you show off the story.

 

 

 

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A Creepy Crawler Crossword from Education.com!

I’ve got another Education.com goodie today! This cute, bug-themed crossword is a fun way to get some spelling practice. Looking for more exciting educational games that are sure to have your child asking to play again? Check out all the spelling games from Education.com! Click here to download the crossword puzzle, and here for the answer key.  They’ll look similar to these mazes:

I’ve been using a lot of Education.com resources at the library these days; they’re great passive programs to offer the kids – coloring, mazes, crosswords, matching games – and the site is searchable by grade, age, and activity. Thanks to Education.com for the fun freebie!

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A cranky flea sets off a chain of events in Leap!

Leap!, by JonArno Lawson/Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon, (Sept. 2017, Kids Can Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781771386784

Recommended for readers 3-6

This fun circular, rhyming story starts with a flea, who leaps into a grasshopper’s path; the startled grasshopper leaps onto a bunny. The action continues, involving a dog, bullfrog, horse, and finally, back to the dog and the flea. It’s a fun story that would make for a good storytime read; get the kids up and jumping if you have more active storytimes, or bounce for lapsits. The cadence of the rhyme is fun and energetic, but I expected to see more spreads with the full animal leaping; there were a few where the right-side page showed the back end of a leap and it felt a little cut off, choppy, for me.

I’d add this to a storytime with Kalan ‘s Jump, Frog, Jump! and add some flannels for audience interaction.

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Science Comics takes an up-close look at Plagues

Science Comics: Plagues-The Microscopic Battlefield, by Falynn Koch, (Aug. 20017, :01First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781626727526

Recommended for readers 8-12

The latest issue of Science Comics introduces readers to Bubonic Plague and Yellow Fever – no, really, they’re characters in this volume – a white blood cell, and a scientist charged with studying pathogens via simulation in order to “recruit” them to help fight disease. Kids learn how the body trains white blood cells – leukocytes – to fight infection and will meet the different kinds of leukocytes on the job. We also get a closer look at different germ classifications, bacteria, viruses, and fungi: it’s a biology class in the form of a graphic novel. We learn about scientists who studied germs, meet a black plague victim (yikes), and see the evolution of disease prevention from medieval times to the present.

Science Comics have been a valuable addition to my nonfiction collections since First Second introduced the series. They’re comprehensive, breaking a wealth of detailed information into readable, digestible panels. The art never disappoints, blending fun artwork like germs with personalities and detailed cross-sections and diagrams of cells, and historical representation. A fictional narrative wraps around the nonfiction information, creating a comfortable reading and learning environment for voracious and reluctant readers alike. A brief glossary provides definitions for terms that appear throughout the book, and there is a timeline outlining milestones in the fight against disease. Footnotes provide further reading for those interested in learning more.

I’m a big proponent of comics in the classroom, and books like Science Comics are why. There’s solid, scientific information presented in a way that never talks down to readers, yet manages to make complex subjects accessible to kids and adults alike. I learn something new every time I pick up a Science Comic.

Author Falynn Koch also wrote the Bats Science Comic. You can read her blog, see more of her illustration, and see a calendar of her appearances at her website.

 

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, Realistic Fiction, Uncategorized

Chow Mein and Potstickers brings global friends together

Chow Mein and Potstickers, by Liselotte Schippers/Illustrated by Monique van den Hout, (June 2017, Clavis Publishing), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1605373287

Recommended for readers 5-10

Chan is new to the neighborhood and wants to make some friends. The best way to go about it? Go door by door, of course! Told in the first person, we follow Chan along and meet the neighbor kids, who are from Bosnia, Indonesia, Poland, Afghanistan, Turkey, the Netherlands, Suriname, the U.K., South Africa, and Italy. Each new friend introduces Chan, and the reader, to a fun activity, food, and greetings in each language. The kids all gather together at the end for a celebration, where they share food and friendship.

Originally published in Belgium and Holland in 2015, Chow Mein and Potstickers is an initiative by Inclusive Works, a Dutch organization that promotes diversity and inclusiveness – and what better way to accomplish that than by having children serve as our example? Chan is our guide, as the new kid who wants to make friends. By playing together, Chan – and readers – learn about the ways kids all over the world have fun; we learn how to greet one another in global languages, and finally, we share food together. All great ways of promoting peace and togetherness. My son’s pre-k class had an international day where we did something similar; they sang “It’s a Small World” in 15 different languages and ate food that parents contributed from their native countries. This is a great story to read for a similar occasion; it’s a great story to read to our preschoolers and beyond to promote the global village we call our world.

Each 2-page spread features a new child Chan encounters; backgrounds are light, washed out, to bring the realistic artwork of the children to the forefront, with bright faces and clothing, surrounded by colorful toys. The vocabulary is set off with smiling icons for hello and good-bye, and a colorful sketch of each food the kids eat together.

This is a solid addition to diversity collections. It’s similar to How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea, in that it stars a character who travels the world (well, in this case, the world in a diverse neighborhood), meeting different people from different cultures, and sharing food together. Get some recipe cards together and hand them out with coloring sheets for a multicultural storytime!