Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Silver Dolphin loves hands-on learning

Silver Dolphin Books has some great novelty books for kids. I’ve loved their First Stories board books and their adorable Noisy Books. They were kind enough to send me two more sets of their developing novelty lines, the Busy Builders and Woodworks Nursery Rhyme series, and after a lot of playtime with  my 5 year old, I can safely say these are way too much fun!

The Woodworks Nursery Rhymes series has got to be my favorite. The cute little box has a magnetic flap, allowing kids to easily get to the small board book, play mat, and little wooden vehicle inside. The nursery rhymes: The Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonald Had a Farm – are adorably illustrated, and caregivers and kids can sing along while they drive their little tractors or school buses around the vinyl playmat.

This is what happens when you let a 5 year-old fold the playmat.

 

Talk about the path the school bus is taking, lead into a conversation about your child’s school bus, or, for pedestrians, the walk to school, as you play, introducing your little ones to the neighborhood around them. Farm play is great for the Old MacDonald playset! Point to the animals on the mat, make animal sounds, and add any animals to your playset as you go along. We introduced dinosaurs to our Old MacDonald playset, which may have upset the chickens a bit.

I want to pick up a few of these sets to add to my Story Hour reference. It will make for a great toddler storytime! The sets are sturdy, the wooden vehicles are well made, and the board books are small enough for little hands.

Next up are the Busy Builders series. I received the Construction Site, Airport, and Fire Station sets. Each box folds out into a playset and includes a 32-page book and model pieces to build roads, vehicles, equipment, and people to add to your playset.

The model pieces come together like puzzle pieces, allowing you to create 3-dimensional fire trucks, construction equipment, ground crew at the airport, and a radio tower, most with moving pieces. The dump truck will tip, for instance, and the fire truck ladder will lift. The book includes instructions in addition to facts about fire stations, construction sites, and the airport. The illustrations are very cute and there’s a lot of information available, in a readable and easily digestible format.

Some of the vehicles are a little fiddly to put together, and the stands for the people take a little time to get just right, but it’s worth it. My kiddo goes berserk for these playsets, and goes right to the book box where I stash them on a regular basis. He can’t put these together solo, so it makes for a nice playtime for us. Breakdown is easy, and I put all the pieces in gallon-size Ziploc bags before putting them back in the boxes, so we can avoid losing pieces and tears for the next time.

These aren’t for toddler hands – they’ll break these apart in no time – but are perfect fun for preschoolers to 2nd graders; they have more manual dexterity and, once they start reading, will enjoy reading the books over and over again. If you have a small library, you may consider these for a playtime collection, but they’d be eaten alive in my library; these are a good gift idea for me!

Old McDonald Had a Farm, Illustratrated by Elliot Kreloff, (Silver Dolphin), $13.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-955-4
Format: Kit
Pages: 16 pp.
Trim: 6.25 x 8.25
Art: Full Color
Category: Nursery Rhymes
Age Range: 0 to 3

The Wheels on the Bus, Illustrated by Elliot Kreloff, (Silver Dolphin), $13.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-956-1
Format: Kit
Pages: 16 pp.
Trim: 6.25 x 8.25
Art: Full Color
Category: Nursery Rhymes
Age Range: 0 to 3

Busy Builders: Construction Site, by Katherine Sully/Illustrated by: Carles Ballesteros (Silver Dolphin), $19.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-564-8
Format: Kit
Pages: 32 pp.
Trim: 7.10 x 9.84
Art: Full Color
Category: Machines & Vehicles – Activity & Sticker Books
Age Range: 5 and up

Busy Builders: Airport, by Timothy Knapman/Illustrated by Carles Ballesteros, (Silver Dolphin), $19.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-563-1
Format: Kit
Pages: 32 pp.
Trim: 7.10 x 9.84
Art: Full Color
Category: Machines & Vehicles – Activity & Sticker Books
Age Range: 5 and up

Busy Builders: Fire Station, by Chris Oxlade/Illustrated by Carles Ballesteros, (Silver Dolphin), $19.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-565-5
Format: Kit
Pages: 32 pp.
Trim: 7.10 x 9.84
Art: Full Color
Category: Machines & Vehicles – Activity & Sticker Books
Age Range: 5 and up

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Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Gareth Lucas Noisy Books are too much fun!

Gareth Lucas Noisy Books are fun board books that feature different sounds on each spread. No more worrying about the sounds being off from the spread when your little ones press the page 10 times on the first spread! (I can’t be the only one who sweated that, can I?)

Dinos on Deck!, by Gareth Lucas, (June 2017, Silver Dolphin Books),
$14.99, ISBN: 978-1-62686-938-7

All aboard the Jurassic Jewel for a dino-riffic adventure! Each spread boasts roars, squawks, splish-splashes, digging, creaks, and a hoo-ray as the dinos set sail in search of a tasty treasure. The dinos are cartoony and fun, the sounds have a good volume and are clear, and toddlers and preschoolers alike will love reading this one again and again. My own kindergartener-to-be won’t let this one out of his room: I’m writing this while he’s at camp. Shhh.

 

Dig, Dig, Digger!, by Gareth Lucas, (June 2017, Silver Dolphin Books),
$14.99, ISBN: 978-1-62686-936-3

A construction crew of friendly animals build a playground! They’ve got diggers and cranes, bulldozers and cement, and there are plenty of beeps, crashes, and bangs for kids to enjoy as they follow the builders to the playground. The art is cartoony and fun, and each sound – as with the Dino book – is easy to spot, set off with a bold, fun font and blue design on each spread.

Both books are sturdy and should hold up to multiple readings. There’s battery information on the back of each book, so parents (and librarians) can stock up and extend the life of the books. Each adds its own fun to storytime, whether you read them together for a fun, noisy storytime or separately, to enhance a construction storytime (a nice fit with Summer Reading’s Build a Better World theme), a pirate storytime, or dino storytime.

The Noisy Books are adorable and fun, and little ones will get a kick out of them. I love introducing books with unexpected moments, like lift the flap, pop-ups, and sounds, in toddler storytimes; it adds a sense of excitement for the kids, and their expressions make storytime even more rewarding. Try one in your next circle time!

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

Tales from the Backlist: Christy Hale’s Dreaming Up

dreamingup_1Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building, by Christy Hale, (2012, Lee & Low Books), $18.95, ISBN: 9781600606519

Recommended for ages 5-10

When I started at my current library last year, the younger kids were in the middle of a school project on architecture. I was able to give them books like the most current picture book retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, Block City and Byron Barton’s Building a House, but after I exhausted the fiction section, I was stumped. Luckily, a quick tour of my nonfiction section brought me to Christy Hale’s beautiful book, Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building.

Dreaming Up combines illustrations of multiethnic children at work on their own constructions, with rhyming text building and swirling in construction of its own, and pairs each illustration with a photo and description of a notable work of architecture. Kids will experience the works of Frank Lloyd Wright and Antoni Gaudi, and they’ll see such masterpieces as the open-air church in Cartegena, Columbia, inspired by Gothic cathedrals; a temporary Chinese school constructed by students and teachers from plywood and recycled paper tubes, and New York City’s Gugghenheim Museum. It’s an exciting way to experience the world and emphasizes the importance of play in the creative process.

dreamingup_2

I put this book out during a storytime for my preschoolers, and just read the rhyming text. After storytime, I brought out stacking cups, blocks, and foam building pieces, and let the kids go to work. Watching the little ones work with their parents was amazing; there were walls, buildings, and winding roads by the time they were done. This is a great book for school-age kids, but you can easily modify it for younger ones. Booktalk it, let them draw or work with their hands, and see what the kids can create for you.

dreamingup_3

Dreaming Up has received multiple awards and honors, including Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors, the International Reading Association (IRA) Children’s and Young Adult Book Award Honor, and the 2012 California Book Award. It has been designated a Notable Children’s Book by the American Library Association (ALA) and was included on the Read! Build! Play! Summer Reading list of Books that Inspire Play, ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) and LEGO.

dreamingup_4

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Blog Tour: Busy Builders, Busy Week! Interview with Jean Reidy!

busy builders_1Busy Builders, Busy Week, by Jean Reidy/Illustrated by Leo Timmers, (June 2016, Bloomsbury), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1619635562

Sunday! Dream day! Study, scribble, scheme day. Map, measure, plan a treasure. Gather up a team day!

The author-illustrator team that brought us All Through My Town – a storytime staple at my library – comes together to bring readers a book about working together! Over the course of a week, animal characters pull together to build a brand new playground in their community. Each day brings new things to do, from planning, to digging, to fixing and planting!

This is such a fun story to read out loud, and has entered regular rotation at home. Kids can practice their days of the week and get lost in the rhyming story, which has the added benefit of showing readers how to group tasks to get things done in the best way. On Sunday, the builders come up with plans for their big job ahead; on Monday, they clear the area. Tuesday is for infrastructure: cement, pipes, boards, fixing fences. On Wednesday, we load everything up and take it on the road. Thursday is for getting the place shaped up: drills, nails, rake and spread. Friday, the plants go in and the final details, like painting and sanding, get the park ready for their big opening on Saturday!

I love Leo Timmers’ bright, bold acrylics here. The bright colors and cartoony animal characters are a perfect accompaniment to Jean Reidy’s bouncy, happy rhyming text. Even the endpapers bring on the fun, with yellow, diamond-shaped construction signs featuring different animals working at different tasks leading readers in and out of the story.

Transportation books have done well at all of my libraries, so this is a no-brainer for my collection. If your readers love books like Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, and Kate and Jim McMullan’s series (I Stink!, I’m Brave!, et al), this is a perfect fit. Busy Builders also lends itself to a days of the week read-aloud, right next to fun books like John Himmelman’s Chickens to the Rescue!,  or Albert Bitterman’s Fortune Cookies.

I was lucky enough to get a few minutes with author Jean Reidy, and we talked about Busy Builders, Busy Week! Read on!

 

MomReadIt (MRI): I love the idea of the characters coming together to create a playground! Did you decide on the idea of building the playground as the best way to talk about the days of the week, or did the story come together separately?

Jean Reidy (JR): A little bit of both, I’d say. When my editors at Bloomsbury asked me to write a days-of-the-week book for their list, I loved the idea. So I brainstormed a variety of approaches that ranged from the mundane to the wildly weird. But that’s the way I like to work, creatively uncensored, putting all the possibilities out there. I’ve always wanted to write a construction trucks book, so when I hit on the notion of a “construction week” the only decision left was, “What can we build in a week that will resonate with a child?” Well, a playground, of course. Even better, a playground designed by illustrator Leo Timmers. And while the premise was fun and uncomplicated, the idea of a community coming together to transform an old, abandoned city lot into something fun and beautiful felt like it added an additional layer of meaning to the essential story. I like that layer. I think it gives readers more to talk about. And Leo did a fabulous job bringing it to life.

MRI: When you were working on the text, did you plot out the different phases of construction to help you group together the tasks the characters undertake each day?

JR: That would have been really smart, eh? But my process was a little looser than that. I tried to keep my free association of the topic going as long as I could before I forced it into any kind of order. I wanted to fully explore all the fun possibilities for structure and language. So, I developed word lists—starting with the days of the week and then all the construction actions, sounds, vehicles and tools I could think of. I played with those lists until I sounded out the bouncy rhythm and rhyme scheme I wanted for my young readers. From there, I made sure that the construction tasks were logically ordered and grouped so that the artwork could then bring sense to the process of building the playground.

MRI: You’ve also written a book called ALL THROUGH MY TOWN that features animals as the main characters. Do you think these two books could take place in the same storytelling universe? Could the kids from All Through My Town come and play at the new playground built in Busy Builders, Busy Week?

JR: Oh my goodness! What a brilliant idea! I love unexpected connections, surprises and meta moments in storytelling. So let’s play that out. ALL THROUGH MY TOWN is loosely modeled after the Chicago suburb in which I grew up—a self-contained town with its own shops, library, gardens, fire department and only thirty miles from Chicago. The Chicago and Northwestern train line—now called the Metra—whistled through multiple times each day, taking commuters to and from the Windy City. BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! takes place in an urban area where the characters transform an old empty lot. So yes, let’s have our town characters hop on their train and visit their city friends—all meeting up at that brand new playground. Bloomsbury, how ‘bout it? Readers, toss me a title! Let’s do this!

 

Jean Reidy photoJean Reidy is a two-time winner of the Colorado Book Award. Especially gifted at writing for very young children, Jean is a frequent presenter at national and local literacy, writing, and education conferences and at schools across the country—in person and via Skype. She is a member of the Colorado Council International Reading Association and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and she serves on the board of Reach Out and Read Colorado. Jean writes from her home in Colorado where she lives right across the street from her neighborhood library, which she visits nearly every day. Visit her at www.jeanreidy.com and on Twitter: @JeanReidy.

 

Follow Jean on the BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! tour!

Mon, Aug 22 Cracking the Cover
Tues, Aug 23 Literary Hoots
Wed, Aug 24 NC Teacher Stuff
Thurs, Aug 25 Mom Read It
Fri, Aug 26 Unleashing Readers
Sat, Aug 27 Booking Mama
Mon, Aug 29 Bluestocking Thinking
Tues, Aug 30 Jean Little Library
Wed, Aug 31 Geo Librarian
Thurs, Sept 1 Mrs. O Reads Books
Fri, Sept 2 Where Imagination Grows

Click here for a free classroom curriculum guide and storytime kit!

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