Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Concept Books for little learners

Hello Lilac Good Morning, Yellow: Colors and First Words, by Judith Drews, (Oct. 2018, Prestel), $14.95, ISBN: 9783791373515

Ages 3-6

This cute book features eleven colors; one per each spread. There’s a warm greeting on one side, and objects showcasing the color on the other: “Good morning, Yellow! You glow so warm and bright”, with hand-drawn pictures of a lion, a construction helmet, lemon, and crown. It’s a lovely way to introduce colors; letting kids greet them and name a property of the color that makes them enjoyable: “Ahoy, Blue! I want to splash about in you”; “Hi, White! Where is your color?” Some object choices may leave readers scratching their heads; a syringe is included for White, and blood for Red; a screw falls under Black, which I tend to associate with Silver. I’m also not sure on how words like “trousers”, “domino tile”, and “fly agaric mushroom” are considered first words.

Overall, it’s a cute enough concept book for an additional add to collections, but there are other books that are better.

 

A is for Australian Mammals, by Frané Lessac, (Aug. 2018, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763694845

Ages 7-9

This book combines an abcedary for early readers with a geographic tour of Australia. There are 38 animals to be found here: tried and true favorites like the kangaroo, platypus, and koala are here, but there are other fantastic animals to be discovered, including the flying fox (it’s actually a huge bat); the red crab and robber crab (keep an eye on your valuables), a crayfish called the yabby, and the x-shaped crusader bug.  Loaded with facts about these Australian creatures, and featuring colorful gouache illustration, this one is a hit. Pull out some cool facts to share during a science storytime or Discovery Club program. Here’s one that will go over big with the kids in my library: “In a Tasmanian devil’s poop, a wildlife biologist discovered: the head of a tiger snake, an owl’s foot, a sock, aluminum foil, half a pencil, and the knee of a pair of jeans”. Also, a koala’s fingerprints are almost identical to human’s fingerprints. Back matter includes maps of animal distribution, highlighting areas where each animal can be found on the continent. There are free, downloadable teacher’s notes available through author Frané Lessac’s website. The Educate Empower blog has some great ways to use this book across subjects, too.

This is a fun add to your natural history books, and it doubles as a concept book for learning readers who can benefit from learning about exciting new animals and their names.

 

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Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Support Noodle Equality with Noodlephant!

Noodlephant, by Jacob Kramer/Illustrated by K-Fai Steele, (Jan. 2019, Enchanted Lion), $18.95, ISBN: 9781592702664

Ages 4-7

Noodlephant is an elephant who loves noodles – and she believes in sharing! Her noodle parties are all the rage, until the bossy kangaroos decide that only kangaroos get to eat noodles. Breaking the law will land offenders in “the zoo”: which isn’t a very fun place to be! Sticks and twigs don’t cut it for Noodelphant and her friends, so they invent the Phantastic Noodler, a machine that makes pasta out of anything put into it: pens turn into penne, cans into cannelloni, pillows into ravioli! The kangaroos are ready to make a bust – will kindness save the day?

Noodlephant is a fun, wacky look at creative civil disobedience and injustice. The kangaroos are oppressive and mean, forbidding other animals from enjoying anything the kangaroos deem exclusive to their little group. The pushback is creative and silly enough to get a laugh out of readers while encouraging them to think about bullying and exclusion. Occasional verse lends a subversive air that kids will understand and appreciate: “When the laws are so unjust, misbehavior is a must!” Sometimes, you just have to break the rules. K-Fai Steele’s cartoony art is bold, bright, and loaded with noodley fun.

Pair this one with Miranda Paul’s The Great Pasta Escape for a pasta-riffic storytime. A nice add to your picture book collections and a fun, discussion-provoking add to social justice storytime.

 

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Detectives Fox and Goat are on the case!

The Missing Bouncy Ball, by Misti Kenison, (Oct. 2018, Schiffer Publishing), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764356001

Ages 1-4

A little girl’s ball bounces out of her backpack! Luckily, Detectives Fox and Goat are on the case. They search through spreads, identifying different balls, and eliminating them from consideration by identifying properties that set them apart from the bouncy ball: color, size, shape, texture. When they reunite the bouncy ball with Emma, its owner, they congratulate one another and get ready for their next adventure.

I’ve been a fan of Misty Kenison’s Young Historians series, so when I saw her name on the Fox and Goat books, I knew I was in for something fun. I love the question and answer pattern her books take, letting readers learn to spot clues as they go. The end Bouncy Ball recaps the clues used to find the bouncy ball, reminding kids of the steps they took to arrive at the conclusion. Sharp-eyed readers will notice the bouncy ball’s location a few times through the book, too.

 

The Lost Race Car, by Misti Kenison, (Oct. 2018, Schiffer Publishing), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764355998

Ages 1-4

Detectives Fox and Goat return for their next great mystery: a little boy’s race car disappears! Using concept clues, the two sleuths sniff out the details to solve the case: colors, number of wheels, weight, length, and slightly more complex characteristics, like roads traveled. When they reunite Jayden with his car, they share a congratulatory fist bump and share their clues, at the end, to remind readers of the concepts used to solve the mystery.

These are such great books! The digital artwork is bright, bold, and eye-catching. The question and answer pattern to each spread invites kids to think, explore, and solve the mysteries as they go, and offers the chance to talk about other colors/textures/sizes/shapes on the pages. Once again, sharp-eyed readers will notice the race car lingering around as they get closer to solving the case.

I just read these in a Saturday storytime with a mixed group of kids: two toddlers, a first grader, and three middle graders, all of whom got a kick out of the story. The toddlers loved pointing to the cars and balls on each page; the first grader was my sharp-eyed reader who spotted the missing items as they popped up in spreads, and the first and middle graders all loved pointing out the characteristics that set them apart from the item in question. I’m looking forward to more Fox and Goat Mysteries for my toddlers and preschoolers, for sure. A nice add to concept and board book collections.

 

Posted in Humor, picture books, Preschool Reads

Whatever you do, DON’T give the puffin a muffin!

If You Give the Puffin a Muffin, by Timothy Young, (Sept. 2018, Schiffer Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764355523

Ages 4-7

If you enjoyed Timothy Young’s The Angry Little Puffin (2014), you’re going to laugh out loud at this sequel, which takes aim at some of our favorite kids’ books. With text that starts like another popular series out there – “If you give the puffin a muffin…”, the book is a vehicle for the Puffin’s dilemma. He doesn’t want a muffin; he doesn’t eat muffins; and he certainly hasn’t agreed to be the star of another book! He turns to another familiar character in the Timothy Young universe for some advice: the boy who starred in I Hate Picture Books, and Do Not Open This Box!, who suggests a magic crayon. We get laugh-out-loud visual jokes, including some suspiciously familiar children’s book icons, including penguins dressed as mice, pigs, and moose; crayons that run away; a magic door opening into a forest, where a surprised little girl drops her red crayon, and a mysterious little boy peeking out of a purple-shaded door that seems to have come from… well, nowhere. Timothy Young turns the joke on himself as the Puffin meets his author, and gives him a piece of his mind. And a muffin.

If You Give the Puffin a Muffin is funny, witty, and just plain smart.  The visual jokes make the book, and the curmudgeonly Puffin is too much fun to read and follow. The endpapers – naturally, all different types of muffins – let readers in on the joke early on. This one’s a good storytime book, and offers a fun chance to have readers spot characters and moments they recognize from other books. A fun add!

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, picture books, Teen, Toddler Reads, Tween Reads

Need a gift? Give a book!

Now that the discount coupons are hitting inboxes, it’s a great time to stock up on books to give for the holidays. Here’s a look at some more books that will delight the readers in your life!

For the Little Ones:

Baby’s First Cloth Book: Christmas, Ilustrated by Lisa Jones & Edward Underwood, (Sept. 2018, Candlewick), $18, ISBN: 978-1-5362-0275-5

Ages 0-2

It’s Baby Boo’s first Christmas! This 8-page book is soft and squishy, perfect for exploring little hands and mouths. Baby Boo enjoys the snow, builds a snowman with Daddy, goes back inside to warm up by the fire and gaze at the Christmas tree, and at night, Santa drops off presents! The plush book is soft, and the page featuring the snowman is crinkly; perfect for play time and engaging your little one’s senses. The colors are bright, with gentle-faced animals and people. The book comes in its on add Park, Farm, and Zoo to the list.

 

Ten Horse Farm, by Robert Sabuda, (Apr. 2018, Candlewick Press), $29.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-6398-8

Ages 5+

You don’t have to be a kid to love Robert Sabuda; his paper engineering is stunning to see. Ten Horse Farm is a full-color, pop-up counting book where each spread stars a different horse engaging in some kind of activity: racing, resting, jumping, or bucking. Let your kiddos count the horses as you go, and use this book in storytime to bring wonder and surprise to your readers. This fits in nicely with a horse storytime, farm storytime, animal storytime… any time storytime. Inspired by rural America, Robert Sabuda even named his upstate New York art studio Ten Horse Farm. Sabuda books are timeless gifts.

Ten Horse Farm has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

For the Dinosaur fan:

Dragon Post, by Emma Yarlett, (Dec. 2018, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-818-6

Ages 6-10

If you’re a regular reader here, you know I LOVE Emma Yarlett. Her Nibbles the Book Monster books are required reading in my home, and the kids at my library and my son’s Kindergarten class can’t get enough Nibbles. Dragon Post has the same fun spirit as we meet Alexander, a young boy who finds a dragon in his home. He’s excited, naturally, but he’s also a little concerned about fire safety. So he writes a series of letters, as different questions pop up for him. The best part? We get to read the letters!

This is an interactive book, with envelopes (lightly toasted) and letters you can pull up and read for yourself. The story is hilarious as Alexander’s predicament grows, and just when it takes a bittersweet turn, we get the hope of a sequel. The laser-cut correspondence is a fun addition to the story, and the full-color, cartoony artwork will appeal to readers. The scrawled black text reminds me of Oliver Jeffers’ lettering. Absolute fun for the holidays. If you’re buying this for your library, put it an extra copy in your storytime reference to keep one safe. This one will be loved quite a bit.

For the adventure seeker:

Atlas Obscura: Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, by Dylan Thuras and Rosemary Mosco/Illustrated by Joy Ang, (Sept. 2018, Workman), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1-5235-0354-4

Ages 8-12

Here’s one for the kids who love the offbeat, quirky, and awe-inspiring things in life: Atlas Obscura is the kids’ companion to the website and adult guide book and is all about 100 of the most “weird but true” places on earth. Discover the Door to Hell in Turkmenistan (it’s a drilling accident gone terribly wrong), then head to Germany to ride a rollercoaster in the Wunderland Kalkar – an abandoned nuclear power plant. Check out the world’s seed bank in Norway, or visit an underwater museum near the Canary Islands.

Full-color illustrations offer an incredible point of view, and each site includes a locator globe and longitude and latitude (ahem… program in a book). A packing list – in case you’re so motivated – and explorer’s tips, along with alternate travel routes, methods of travel by speed, and height comparisons of attractions from biggest to smallest help with travel planning, and a list of further reading will have your world explorers putting up maps and pins in their rooms. This is just way too much fun. Give this to all the kids you normally hand your National Geographic gifts to, and you’ll be the favorite for another year running.

A World of Cities: From Paris to Tokyo and beyond, a celebration of the world’s most famous cities, by James Brown, (July 2018, Candlewick Studios), $25, ISBN: 9780763698799

Ages 8-12

Visit 30 of the world’s most famous cities with this book as your guide! It’s an oversize book with two- or 3-color tourism poster artwork and facts on each spread. Did you know Dubai has its own archipelago of artificial islands? Or that Albert Einstein’s eyeballs are stored in a safe-deposit box in New York City? There are tons of fun facts here, all assembled to create a stylized art book that takes armchair travelers to the bright lights and big cities of the world.

This is a follow-up to James Brown’s A World of Information, for anyone who’s a fan of infographics style information delivery.

 

For the animal lovers:

Heroes: Incredible True Stories of Courageous Animals, by David Long/Illustrated by Kerry Hyndman, (Nov. 2018, Faber & Faber), $22.95, ISBN: 978-0-5713-4210-5

Ages 9-13

I loved the companion series to this book, the more human-focused Survivors, that came out earlier this year, so I dove into Heroes when the publisher sent me a copy. If you and your kids loved Survivors, you’re going to love Heroes, with 33 stories of courageous animals (and an epilogue about London’s Animals in War Memorial). It’s more than an “I Survived” starring animals; these are stories about how we rely on animals to survive and to thrive. There’s Rip, the terrier who rescued people trapped in the rubble of the London Blitz during World War II: “…somehow having Rip around made things more bearable… if Rip could cope with the war, so they [the people]”; and Mary of Exeter, a messenger pigeon who spent five years carrying messages back and forth between England and France during World War II and who’s buried alongside Rip and Beauty, another WWII hero dog profiled here. Kerry Hyndman’s illustrations are all at once intense and beautiful, and David Long’s tributes are filled with respect for these companions. Read with a box of tissues nearby. Give to your animal fans and your adventure story fans.

 

Fly With  Me: A Celebration of Birds Through Pictures, Poems, and Stories, by Jane Yolen, Heidi EY Stemple, Adam Stemple, and Jason Stemple, (Oct. 2018, NatGeo Kids), $24.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3181-7

Ages 8+

A compendium of all things bird for your bird-readers and watchers, Fly With Me has everything you’d want to know about birds: the physical characteristics, history (dino birds!), state bird profiles, songs, migration, and birding in your own backyard are just a few areas. There’s an emphasis on conservation and activism, and the section on birds in the arts is fantastic for your budding artists. The photos are jaw-dropping, with colors that burst off the page, and gorgeous illustrations. Endpapers are loaded with bird-related quotes, including one of my favorites: “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like  duck, it must be a duck”. Back matter is loaded with additional resources. Pull some of the poems out and use them in your storytimes!

 

For the poetry reader:

Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year, selected by Fiona Waters/Illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, (Oct. 2018, Nosy Crow), $40, ISBN: 9781536202472

All Ages

There’s a poem for every single day of the year in this book. From January 1st through December 31st, greet each day with a poem and a beautiful illustration. Poets include Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost, Ogden Nash, ee cummings, and John Updike, and poems are indexed by poet name, poem title, and first lines. This is a gorgeous gift: the illustrations are absolutely beautiful, with cold winter scenes, green fall forests, and colorful, shell-covered beaches. Start the day off, or end a day, snuggled up with a poem.

This one’s a great gift for grownups, too – librarians and teachers, put this on your wish list and you’ll be thrilled to add new poems and fingerplays to your storytimes. I’m currently trying to think of hand movements to add to Alastair Reid’s “Squishy Words (To Be Said When Wet)” (August 4th).

Sing a Song of Seasons has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

The Poetry of US: More Than 200 poems that celebrate the people, places, and passions of the United States, Edited by J. Patrick Lewis, former US Children’s Poet Laureate, (Sept. 2018, NatGeo Kids), $24.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3185-5

All Ages

This is another incredible poetry volume, all celebrating the United States: it’s a love letter to the country, compiled by former US Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis. Organized by region: New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Great Plains, Rocky Mountain West, Pacific Coast, and Territories, over 200 poems celebrate the natural beauty of our lands and our rich cultural and diverse history. “Never Say No” by Laurie Purdie Salas is all about the perfection of a Philly cheesesteak, while Linda Sue Park’s “Asian Market” – showcased here in both English and Korean –  is a tantalizing tribute to the smells and sights of eating at an Asian food market. Reuben Jackson’s haunting “For Trayvon Martin” is side by side with J. Patrick Lewis’ “The Innocent”, a poem for Emmett Till. “Spelling Bee”, an acrostic by Avis Harley, is a nod to the Scripps Spelling Bee, and Allan Wolf’s “Champion Betty” celebrates a competitor at the Westminster Kennell Club Dog Show. There are poems about beaches and forests, Disney and weddings; there are poems in Korean and Spanish, and poems that shine a light on how far we have to go. It’s America, and these voices are why it’s beautiful.

For your reader who loves the classics:

Into the Jungle: Stories for Mowgli, by Katherine Rundell/Illustrated by Kristjana S. Williams, (Oct. 2018, Walker Books), $24.99, ISBN: 9781536205275

Ages 8-12

The flap of Into the Jungle says it best: “To turn the page of The Jungle Book is to long for more tales of Mowgli the man-cub, Baheera the panther, Baloo the bear, and Kaa the python”. Into the Jungle is a companion to the classic Rudyard Kipling book, enriching readers with five more stories about Mowgli and his companions: “Before Mother Wolf Was a Mother, She Was a Fighter”; “Bagheera’s Cage”; “Baloo’s Courage”; “Kaa’s Dance”, and “Mowgli” all bring back fan favorite characters and deliver themes of empathy, kindness, and understanding across species, cultures, and genders. Katherine Rundell has given Kipling’s classic – and, by extension, his fans – new life, and new relevance in a world very different – and sadly, not so different – from 1894.

Illustrations are full-color and created in collage, using Victorian engravings, to give an historical feel with incredible texture. Humans and animals alike share expressive faces and body language, and the lush Indian jungle unfurls itself to readers, beckoning them to join them in the pages. A gorgeous gift book.

I hope that helps with some shopping lists! Happy Holidays, all!
Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

Jenni Desmond talks elephants in her latest nonfiction work

The Elephant, by Jenni Desmond, (Nov. 2018, Enchanted Lion Books), $18.95, ISBN: 9781592702640

Ages 5-8

Jenni Desmond’s latest nonfiction book takes a look at one of our world’s largest animals: the elephant. Using a young boy’s exploration as a vehicle, we see him pick a book and be drawn into an elephant’s world through breathtaking, realistic color artwork. Informative facts throughout include the difference species and subspecies of elephants and the fact that they appear light on their feet because they mainly walk on tiptoe; they have sensitive skin and detect a fly landing on a leg or the rumbling of other elephants from as much as six miles away! Elephants can favor a tusk, much like humans have a preferred hand to write with. The author notes factors endangering elephants, including poachers who seek elephants’ ivory tusks.

The collage, paint, and colored pencil artwork is stunning, rendering detailed, realistic elephants on every page, while keeping readers aware that this is a child’s journey; the boy shows up, cartoon-like, in spreads, sporting a red crown and, sometimes, a friend.

This superb volume is a wonderful way to connect reading, imagination, and nonfiction – nonfiction is great for dreamers, too, after all! Jenni Desmond received the 2016 New York Times Best Illustrated award for The Polar Bear. This is her third book on endangered animals, joining The Polar Bear and The Blue Whale (2015). The Elephant has starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist, and is a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 2018. Add this one to your wildlife nonfiction collections.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Celebrating Happy Papas!

Happy Papas, by Kathleen T. Pelley/Illustrated by Mariya Prytula, (July 2018, CWLA Press), $14.95, ISBN: 978-1587601682

Ages 3-6

A companion to Happy Mamas (2016), Happy Papas celebrates dads in both the animal and human world, taking readers through a Happy Papas kind of day: as the sun pops up; as the sun sails high; as the clouds and sun play peek-a-boo; as the shadows gather, and finally, as the moon blooms. Otter dads, meerkat dads, tiger dads, and all sorts of human dads celebrate the day-to-day joys of fatherhood as they play, protect, cook for, and cuddle their little ones.

Written in verse, the storytelling moves along at a soothing cadence, with sound effect words like “screech and squawk”, “giggly wiggly”, “wade and wallow”, and “slide and pop”, using both alliteration and rhyme to play with language. There are all kinds of Happy Papas, and all kinds of Happy Babies and Kids. Perfect for storytime, the soft colors and realistic illustrations will attract readers’ attention, and the simple black font lets the artwork take center stage.

This is a sweet tribute to dads, and a lovely read-along with Happy Mamas for a Mom and Dad tandem bedtime reading, or a Family Storytime.

Author Kathleen Pelley has a podcast and literacy resources on her website. You can find more of Mariya Prytula’s watercolor artwork at her website.