Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Spring Books for Toddlers!

There are so many great toddler and preschoooler books hitting shelves this Spring! There are picture books, board books, lift the flap books, and slide books – all sorts of books for little ones to explore and enjoy. Let’s take a look at a few.

 

The Three Little Pugs, by Nina Victor Crittenden,
(March 2018, little bee), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-05279-1
Recommended for ages 2-7

Three little pugs – Gordy, Jilly, and Zoie – love to play, and they really love to nap in their big cozy basket. One day, they head over to their basket for their morning nap, but – oh no! – the big bad cat is in their basket! The three little pugs each devise a plan to get the cat out of their basket, using straws, sticks, and bricks: sound familiar? This cute little take on the classic fairy tale, The Three Little Pigs, ends up a lot happier for all, with decidedly less huffing and puffing. Kid-friendly art makes for a fun read-aloud or quiet time; endpapers add to the fun, with framed photos of the pugs, cat, and other pets looking warily at one another at first; closing endpapers have everyone posing in harmony. I’d pull out some plush cats and dogs (bean-bag size would be great) for small storytimes to play with, and read as part of a pet storytime or the original Three Little Pigs.

 

 

The Backup Bunny, by Abigail Rayner/Illustrated by Greg Stones,
(March 2018, North South Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9780735842823
Recommended for readers 3-8

Meet Fluffy. He’s soft and lush, and he lives in Mom’s sock drawer. You see, he’s the backup bunny. Parents, you know the Backup Bunny – the one we’ve got just in case the Luvvie/Lovey goes missing; the one we hope will stave off the tears. That’s exactly what happens when Max misplaces Bunny, and Fluffy’s called into service. But Fluffy isn’t right! His ears don’t feel right – he’s too new, he hasn’t been loved enough. Imagine how poor Fluffy feels, after waiting all this time to be played with; to be thrown on the floor, hung by his ears on a clothesline, and dunked in the mud – but wait! That’s the key! As Max plays with Fluffy, he breaks him in – and before Fluffy realizes it, Bunny’s been found, and Fluffy finds himself part of the new Lovey rotation. Kids will love The Backup Bunny because they’ll get it: the stress of missing a beloved toy and the frustration of a toy that isn’t quite right. The artwork is gentle and soft, with warm browns, and soft blues inviting the reader into a world of stuffed toys, cushiony beds, and soft sock drawers. The endpapers are adorable, with Fluffy hanging out, waiting by himself on the front papers, only to be part of the Max/Bunny group on the back pages. Caregivers will appreciate The Backup Bunny, because we’ve all been there. Overall, a nice addition to picture book collections, and a fun addition to storytimes where kids bring their own stuffies to cuddle.

From Mother to Mother, by Émilie Vast,
(March 2018, Charlesbridge), $7.99, ISBN: 9781580898133
Recommended for readers from 0-4

Émilie Vast has two adorable board books out this month, celebrating the relationship between generations. From Mother to Mother uses Russian matryoshka nesting doll artwork to illustrate ancestry. Narrated as a mother to a child, each page traces a new branch in the family tree: from mother’s great-great-grandmother to “my own child”. Each nesting doll becomes progressively smaller, with the child being the smallest doll; each doll and its accompanying artwork is a different color, with unique artwork.

 

From Father to Father, by Émilie Vast,
(March 2018, Charlesbridge), $7.99, ISBN: 9781580898140
Recommended for readers from 0-4

Émilie Vast’s From Father to Father, the companion to From Mother to Mother, celebrates the link between fathers. Using male nesting dolls and narrated by a father to his son, each spread describes one generation’s link to another, from the birth of a great-great-grandfather to the narrator’s own son.  The artwork, as with From Mother to Mother,  is inspired by nature and changes color and design with each generation; dolls grow smaller from great-grandparents to child, throughout the book.

These are adorable board books that will resonate with kids as easily as they will with adults, and it’s a wonderful way to show children the relationship between parents, grandparents, and beyond. I can’t wait to get these on my shelves (and possibly, my bookshelf at home) at my library, where my community often sees grandparents as caregivers for the little ones. Books like this form beautiful bonds.

 

Me and My Cars, by Liesbet Slegers,
(Apr. 2018, Clavis Publishing), $11.95, ISBN: 9781605373997
Recommended for readers 1-4

A little boy takes readers along with him on a tour of all different types of cars: vehicles that get us from one place to another, like buses and vans; vehicles that help others, like ambulances and police cars; vehicles that get hard work done, like tractors and street sweepers; and vehicles that race, like racecars and Formula 1 racecars. Perfect for cars and truck fans, this is going to be a staple in my early childhood area. The colors are bright, the lines and fonts are bold, and books about vehicles are a home run for little readers.

 

Open the Suitcase, by Ruth Wielockx,
(Apr. 2018, Clavis Publishing), $17.95, ISBN: 9781605374017
Recommended for readers 3-5

Different animals have different jobs! Can you guess which animal has which job based on their suitcase?  (The clothing hints help.) Meet different friends with different jobs, with a fun flap on each spread that gives readers a peek inside their work bag. See what a teacher, a magician, a doctor, and a car mechanic take to work with them! There’s an opportunity to talk to readers about what they would pack in an overnight bag for a sleepover; use that as a chance to talk about what goes in your bag when you go on vacation; what goes in Mom’s or Dad’s bag, and what different people in careers may have in their bags. What about what goes in a diaper bag? (Eww! Not stinky diapers, I hope!) A fun addition to toddler and preschooler bookshelves and a chance to talk about different careers.

 

My Bed, by Anita Bijsterbosch,
(Apr. 2018, Clavis Publishing), $14.95, ISBN: 9781605373874
Recommended for readers 3-5

It’s nighttime, and all the animals are tired and ready for bed. Reindeer tries out every bed he sees, but they’re not his! He grows more and more tired – will he ever find his own bed? This is an adorable lift-the-flap book that reveals the different animals whose beds Reindeer tries out. The animals are wearing bright, eye-catching pajamas that match their bedding, so kids can match up the animals with repeated reads. The nature of the book – Reindeer searching for his bed – and the lift the flap format makes for a great interactive read; invite the kids to call out whether or not they think it’s Reindeer’s bed. Give some exaggerated yawns as you continue reading, illustrating how tired Reindeer is getting. My library kiddos (and my own kiddo) love Anita Bijsterbosch’s previous lift-the-flap books, When I Grow Up and Do You See My Tail, so this one is a go for me.

 

Take a Look. More Fun Together!, by Liesbet Slegers,
(April 2018, Clavis Publishing), $12.95, ISBN: 9781605373829
Recommended for readers 2-5

Sure, you can have fun on your own, but some things are even better with friends! Six different individuals are by themselves, but a slide of the board book reveals more friends! A cat plays with yarn, but with a pull of the slide, there’s another cat joining in the fun! Clavis board books tend to be sturdy, and the slides will hold up to repeated use. I’ve got  a few in my children’s room that have circulated quite a bit, and they’re still good to go. Liesbet Slegers books never disappoint, either: her artwork is bold and bright, and toddlers love it. This one’s a solid add to collections that let kids explore their world through interactive books.

 

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Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Books for your Spring radar!

Spring always brings some good books to read. In April and May, there’s a little something for everyone – come and see!

April Books

Dr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest, by Sarah Hampson/Illustrated by Kass Reich,
(Apr. 2018, Kids Can Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781771383615
Recommended for readers 4-8
Dr. Archibald Coo is a sophisticated pigeon who’s tired of the way he and his fellow pigeons are treated by humans. They’re shooed at, swatted, and treated like a general menace. Dr. Coo remembers when pigeons enjoyed a higher profile in history: in ancient Greece, they delivered news about the Olympic Games; during World War I, they carried messages across battlefields. Now? pfft. So Dr. Coo and his pigeon friends organize and decide to strike: they disappear from every public space, leaving a confused public wondering what happened. Dr. Coo heads over to the mayor’s office a history of the pigeon and a note, asking for tolerance, opening the door to a new era of pigeon-human relations. It’s a cute urban story with a wink to New York and other urban spaces, and has a nice thread about inclusivity and diversity running through the book. Gouache paint and colored pencil art makes for a soft illustration, with attention to the different types of pigeons – there are! – in the cityscape. This would be cute to booktalk with James Sage’s Stop Feedin’ Da Boids!

My Teacher’s Not Here!, by Lana Button/Illustrated by Christine Battuz,
(Apr. 2018, Kids Can Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781771383561
Recommended for readers 4-6
Kitty gets to school and knows something’s up when her teacher, Miss Seabrooke, isn’t there to meet her. What’s going on? There’s another teacher there today! How does school even work when your teacher is absent? This sweet rhyming tale about a student’s first substitute teacher is great for younger kids who are just getting into the swing of school routines and provides some fun advice for coping with and adjusting to unexpected change. Kitty teaches readers some coping strategies, including helping out her friends and the teacher by contributing to class and modeling good behavior using cues she learned from her teacher, that the substitute may not be aware of. This is an animal story, so kids will enjoy seeing the “ginormously tall” teacher, a giraffe named Mr. Omar; pigs, elephants, bears, a whole menagerie of students. Hand-drawn artwork and digital collage come together to create colorful, textured, cartoony fun. This one’s a good addition to preschool and primary collections.

Tinkle, Tinkle Little Star, by Chris Tougas,
(Apr. 2018, Kids Can Press), $9.99, ISBN: 9781771388399
Recommended for readers 1-3
One of my favorite books coming out this season is this adorable board book! Set to the tune of everybody’s favorite classic song, this sweet and funny version is all about where not to go: not in a plane, not on Grandpa’s knee, not at a puppet show. Luckily, the poor Little Star gets relief by the story’s end, and sits on a potty to… “Tinkle, Tinkle, Little Star”. It’s adorable with the cutest digital art. Little Star is beyond cute, and gender neutral! Sing along at storytime – I know I’ll be throwing plenty of voice inflection (“Did you just pee on this page?”) and leg-crossing as I read this one. Absolutely adorable, must-add, must-give for collections and toddlers everywhere.

May Books

Polly Diamond and the Magic Book, by Alice Kuipers/Illustrated by Diana Toledano,
(May 2018, Chronicle), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452152325
Recommended for readers 7-9
Polly Diamond is an aspiring, biracial young writer who discovers a magic book on her doorstep one day. Not only does the book write back to her when she writes in it, Everything she writes in the book happens in real life! At first, Polly is psyched: who wouldn’t be, right? But you know how it goes… for every magic journal action, there’s a pretty wild reaction! Written in the first person, with excerpts from Polly’s book, including a pretty great intermediate-level book list for awesome display purposes (“Read Polly Diamond’s favorite books HERE!”). Chapter book readers who love books like Juana and Lucas (on Polly’s favorites list), Jasmine Toguchi, and Katie Woo will thoroughly enjoy Polly’s adventures. There are short, descriptive sentences and a nice amount of new words – Polly is an aspiring writer, after all! Lots of fun for chapter book readers; I’d have kids create their own aquariums as a related craft.

Old Misery, by James Sage/Illustrated by Russell Ayto,
(May 2018, Kids Can Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781771388238
Recommended for readers 5-10
Readers with a darker sense of humor (and parents who are Gorey fans) will get a chuckle out of Old Misery, the story of a cranky old woman named – you got it – Old Misery, and her old cat, Rutterkin. She’s broke, and the apples keep disappearing from her apple tree! Lucky for Old Misery, she’s not completely heartless and feeds a wandering visitor, who grants her one wish: she wants all the apple thieves to be caught in the tree until she lets them go! Old Misery decides to play a little risky game when Death himself shows up at her door – and she sends him to the apple tree. Be careful what you wish for! The black and white, pen and ink artwork has a creepy, quirky feel to it, which will appeal to kids who like Lemony Snicket’s work, but may go over some kids’ heads. Old Misery narrates the story, offering an opportunity for a fun read-aloud.

Binky fans, Gordon’s got his own adventure! For readers who love Ashley Spires’ Binky the Space Cat graphic novels will love Gordon, fellow member of PURST (Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) and Binky’s house-mate, as he finds himself traveling through time to stop an alien invasion. But Gordon travels back too far – before PURST even exists! He’s got to get back to his normal time and set things right! This is fun reading for graphic novel fans, and a nice addition to a popular series. There’s time-travel, problem-solving, aliens, and humor, along with fun art.

See How We Move!: A First Book of Health and Well-Being, by Scot Ritchie,
(May 2018, Kids Can Press), $15.99, ISBN: 9781771389679

Recommended for readers 5-8
Author Scot Ritchie’s multicultural group of friends are back together again. Last time we save them, they visited a farm to learn how to grow grains and vegetables in See How We Eat!; this time, Pedro, Yulee, Nick, Sally, and Martin are training as their swim team, The Flying Sharks, prepares to compete. They learn about using proper equipment for different activities, warming up before beginning your activity, teamwork and encouragement, goal-setting, nutrition, the mind-body connection, and more. There are suggestions for fun activities and words to know, all coming together to give kids a fun story about a group of friends staying strong and having fun together while encouraging kids to create lifelong habits of health, nutrition, and physical fitness. I like this See How! series; it offers a wealth of information on healthy living, made accessible to younger readers. I can easily read this in a storytime and get the kids talking about the different ways they play, how they eat, and good habits to get into.

The Bagel King, by Andrew Larsen/Illustrated by Sandy Nichols,
(May 2018, Kids Can Press), $16.99, ISBN; 978-1-77138-574-9
Recommended for readers 4-8

Zaida, Eli’s grandfather, gets bagels from Merv’s Bakery every Sunday morning. One morning, when no bagels show up, Eli gets a phone call: Zaida’s fallen on his tuchus and can’t get the bagels! Eli and his family aren’t the only ones waiting on bagels, either – Eli visits Zaida, only to discover that Zaida’s friends are verklempt, too. No bagels! What a shanda, as my stepdad would say! Eli helps care for his zaida and keep him company, but he knows the best way to cheer Zaida up, and heads to the bagel store on his own the very next Sunday. This story is the most charming book about grandparents and grandchildren, loaded with compassion, a wink and nudge type of humor, and loads of fun, new Yiddish terminology. If you’re an urban dweller, like me, these words are kind of a second language: Zaida is grandfather, and tuchus is your bottom; there’s a little glossary of other Yiddish words that show up in the story, too. (Verklempt is overwhelmed with emotion, and shanda is a shame – you won’t find them in the story, but all I could hear was my stepdad when I read this, so there you go.) I loved the sweet storytelling, the compassion and the decision to act on Eli’s part, and Zaida and his group of friends were wonderful. It’s got an urban flavor that everyone will enjoy, and is good storytelling. Use this story as an opportunity to get your kids talking about relationships with their grandparents: what do you call your grandparents? Do they cook, bake, or shop for food? Do you go with them? (I’d love to get some bagels to hand out with my group… hmmm…) The acrylic artwork has a soft, almost retro feel, but really emphasizes the relationship story with colors, gentle expressions, and soft lines.

The Golden Glow, by Benjamin Flouw,
(May 2018, Tundra/Penguin Random House), $17.99, ISBN: 9780735264120

Recommended for readers 4-8
A fox who loves nature and botany goes on a quest for a rare plant to add to his collection. The Golden Glow is a plant from the Wellhidden family, and only grows high in the mountains. There’s not even a picture of it; it’s never been described. Fox packs his supplies and heads off to the mountains, meeting different animals and noting different plants and trees along the way. When Fox finally reaches the mountaintop, he waits… and discovers the Golden Glow! It’s stunning! It’s breathtaking! And Fox realizes that “the golden glow is more beautiful here on the mountaintop than it ever would be in a vase in his living room”. Part story and part nature journal, The Golden Glow is just gorgeous and teaches a respect for nature. The angular art draws the eye in; there’s so much to see on every page, every spread. Flouw creates detailed lists of Fox’s hiking pack, plus trees and flowers that he encounters on his way, and a map of different zones on the way up to the mountain, from the foothill to snow zones, all in beautiful detail for younger readers to enjoy. Fox’s decision to leave the flower where it is presents a love of and respect for nature that can lead to a great discussion on conservation. Bright red endpapers with angular design could be a topographic map of the area – talk about how different areas look from above! I know it’s way early, but I’ll quietly whisper this one now: Caldecott contender.
Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Frog and Toad fans, meet Peter & Ernesto!

Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths, by Graham Annable, (Apr. 2018, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626725614

Recommended for readers 7-10

Peter and Ernesto are best friends. They’re sloths, who live in a tree and spend their days munching hibiscus and watching the clouds, naming the shapes they see in them as they go by. But Ernesto isn’t satisfied. He loves the sky, but their tree only offers one piece of it. There’s so much more sky to see! Peter is content to stay in his tree, but Ernesto needs to take a trip and see the sky from all over. Ernesto revels in his adventure, making new friends and having exciting new experiences, while Peter stays at home, worried sick over Ernesto. Despite his fear, Peter sets off in search of Ernesto, making some new friends of his own. The two friends reunite, having both learned valuable lessons: Ernesto, the value of home; Peter, the importance of expanding one’s horizons.

The friendship between Peter and Ernesto is the sweetest part of this book. Graham Annable’s one-two punch of adorable, cartoony artwork with giant, expressive eyes, and fun dialogue will be a winner with intermediate and middle grade readers. The characters’ friendship is reminiscent of Frog and Toad; two characters, each a foil for the other, and their unabashed friendship. Their reunion will make you sigh and smile; it’s that sweet. The art is adorable, and at times – like a panel where Ernesto gazes at The Northern Lights, and we see how small he is in relation to the sky – is breathtaking.

Thank goodness, Peter and Ernesto will return. I can’t wait.

Posted in Toddler Reads, Preschool Reads

Get your cute on with Animal Babies!

Animal Babies, by Charles Fuge, (March 2018, MoonDance Press), $8.95, ISBN: 9781633225480

Recommended for readers 0-3

This adorable board book features squeal-worthy menagerie of baby animals, including ducklings, platypuses, koals, sloths, and meerkats. Rhyming text provides some factual info about the animals: baby ducks following the first thing they see; father seahorses having babies, and a perplexed snake, surrounded by playful meerkats who aren’t the slightest bit afraid of it. The illustrations are adorably realistic, and the text is just right for babies and toddler storytimes.

I’m always on the lookout for board books that give me a little something more than the basics, to use in my storytimes; Animal Babies will fit in nicely, letting me add some interactivity, like animal sounds, movements, and some teaching moments, while giving kids a nice cadence to follow along, thanks to rhyme. Too much cuteness! Pair with animal board books with animal sounds (I like this list from Inspiration Laboratories), and make it fun by adding some Sandra Boynton; I love Moo, Baa, La La La.  I also really enjoy Douglas Florian and Barbara Bakos’s Animals Play board book series, including Once I Was a Polliwog, Flamingos Fly, Leap, Frog, Leap, and Bears are Big.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Socially smart storytelling: Sara Varon’s New Shoes

New Shoes, by Sara Varon, (March 2018, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781596439207

Recommended for readers 8-12

Francis the Donkey is the best shoemaker in his village, using the finest materials to handcraft beautiful shoes. One day, he gets the most exciting news: his favorite calypso singer, Miss Manatee, is coming to sing in his village, and she wants him to create a special pair of new shoes just for her! He’s so excited, but he’s out of the special tiger grass that’s integral to his shoe designs. He asks his friend and supplier, Nigel the Squirrel Monkey, to go into the jungle and get some more tiger grass, but when Monkey doesn’t come back as expected, Francis has to go find him… will he get back to his village AND be able to make Miss Manatee’s shoes on time?

I am a Sara Varon fan. I loved Sweater Weather, and my library kids adore Robot Dreams. I love her cartoony illustration, her bright colors, and in the case of New Shoes, the deeper messages found in her story. Francis is a genuinely kind character who is mortified when he discovers that his shoe materials have been acquired via shady means, and immediately sets to putting things right. When Francis realizes he has to make special accommodations for his newest client, he does the work, researching how to make the best footwear for Miss Manatee. Nigel is big enough to admit his mistakes, apologizes, and helps Francis grow his own materials responsibly.  There are strong messages about fair trade and honesty, good business practices, sustainability, and consideration of others’ differences to be found here, all told in a story that kids can understand without dumbing down the message. It’s smart storytelling with a social conscience that respects the reader. What more can you ask from your books?

I can’t wait to put New Shoes on my graphic novel shelves. It’s got a little nonfiction snuck in, as Francis travels, with his guide book, through the South American jungle and encounters such inhabitants as the capybara, jaguar, and three-toed sloth; it’s got a moral compass, a main character who loves calypso music, and it’s just fun reading.

 

Posted in Non-Fiction

Poems celebrate creatures who build in A Place to Start a Family

A Place to Start a Family: Poems About Creatures That Build, by David L. Harrison/Illustrated by Giles Laroche, (Jan. 2018, Charlesbridge), $17.99, ISBN: 9781580897488
Recommended for readers ages 5-9
A nice meeting of prose and science, A Place to Start a Family includes 12 poems about creatures that build homes to house their families. Organized into poems for animals who build underground, like prairie dogs and moles; on land, like the cobra or termite; in water, like the beaver or pufferfish; in the air, like storks and wasps, each poem is illustrated with attractive, textured mixed media artwork. Poems are brief, factual, and some bring a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor to nature. Witness the poem in praise of the White-Spotted Pufferfish: With tail and fin/hoping he/will soon charm/a willing she/he works hard/day and night/Will he win a mate?/He might. More information about each animal, including scientific names, descriptive paragraphs, and further resources, are available at the end. Thanks to the authors and editors for recommending readers visit the library to learn more! A nice additional resource for animal and poetry collections.
Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Susanne Strasser creates board books with a sense of fun!

I read board books at my lapsit storytime every week, and I’m always looking out for fun, new board books. Ones that I can read to babies and toddlers, and ones that keep it interesting. This past weekend, I came across two board books by Susanne Strasser that fit the bill: So Light, So Heavy, and So Far Up.

So Far Up, by Susanne Strasser,
(Jan. 2018, Charlesbridge), $7.99, ISBN: 9781580898485
Recommended for readers 0-3

Bear sees a tasty cake in the highest window of a tall house. It’s so high up, and Bear is so far down! Maybe some of his animal friends can help. As each animal stacks on top of another, the text repeats, adding a new sound effect, making for some fun interaction with listeners: Boingaboing! Hippity Hop! An unexpected twist takes the story to a sweet ending for all. The artwork is calming – that turquoise background is very relaxing – and the text allows kids to name their animals, while avoiding the “same old song and dance” territory.

So Light, So Heavy, by Susanne Strasser,
(Jan. 2018, Charlesbridge), $7.99, ISBN: 9781580898492
Recommended for readers 0-3

Elephant wants to use the teeter-totter, but it won’t tip! Different animals come along to help tip the scales, but it’s no good: they’re so light, and elephant is so heavy. Wait a minute – here comes the child from So Far Up, with another unexpected twist!

Both books introduce and reinforce concepts in an unexpected, amusing way that will get readers and storytellers alike laughing. So Light, So Heavy is also a good choice for a science storytime, when discussing balance (along with Ellen Stoll Walsh’s Balancing Act). I’ll be adding these to my board book shelves, for sure.