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

See the animal mommies, count the baby animals!

Count the Baby Animals, by Guido van Genechten, (March 2017, Clavis Publishing), $17.95, ISBN: 978-1605-37324-9

Recommended for readers 2-5

This fun die-cut book shows a pregnant animal mommy; with a flip of the page, she’s surrounded by her babies! Sweet rhyming text throughout invites readers to count each group of animals while offering descriptive details.

This is an adorable book to introduce to toddlers, who can point to and name animals as you read along. Encourage them to make animals sounds for each one to extend the fun. There are oodles of fun animal coloring sheets and activities available online; matching games with moms and babies would be a great choice for older toddlers and early preschoolers. You can pair this with books like P.D. Eastman’s classic, Are You My Mother?, or Nancy Tafuri’s All Kinds of Kisses (one of my personal faves).

Originally published in 2016, this is the English translation of Guido van Genechten’s original Dutch. His artwork is child-friendly, with gentle, cartoony faces and smiles. Endpapers with frolicking baby animals bring the reader right into the fun, and the sturdy paper stock will hold up to exploring little hands, who will love turning the half pages back and forth to see each mommy animal with a round belly, and later, surrounded by her babies.

How Many Baby Animals is a fun addition to toddler bookshelves and would make a fun sibling-to-be gift, too.

Advertisements
Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Humor, Preschool Reads

Can you really have Too Many Moose?

too many mooseToo Many Moose!, by Lisa Bakos/Illustrated by Mark Chambers, (Jul. 2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $16.99, ISBN: 9781492609353

Recommended for ages 4-8

Martha decides to get a pet, and does a lot of thinking about what pet she should get. When she decides on a moose, she’s delighted – and decides that if one moose is marvelous, more must be magnificent! But what happens when Margaret finds herself with too many moose?

Too Many Moose is an adorable story of a a little girl who finds herself in way over her head when she accumulates too many moose. It’s a counting book that wonderfully uses rhyme and alliteration, drawing readers and listeners in and inviting them to laugh along at all the hijinks the moose get themselves into. The cartoony illustrations and bold, black text are eye-catching and adorable. I’ve read this with at my family storytime, and it went over huge (and I realized that wow, there are a lot of moose storybooks for kids). We counted the moose, and we imagined what other sorts of trouble the moose could get into when Margaret wasn’t looking.

Add this one to your read-aloud collection, and your picture book collections for sure. This is going to be a storytime standard for a long time.

You can visit Sourcebooks’ Virtual Moose Mart and choose your own moose – show him (or her) off on social media and hashtag it #toomanymoose to share in the fun! Here’s mine.

toomanymoose

An activity kit and educator resources are forthcoming at the Virtual Moose Mart – keep checking in!

Posted in Toddler Reads

Learn to Count with Dracula!

baby-draculaLittle Master Stoker: Dracula, A Counting Primer, by Jennifer Adams/illus. by Alison Oliver (Gibbs Smith, 2012), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1423624806

Recommended for ages 0-3

I was in a great little indie bookstore this weekend, when I came across this lovely. Seeing as how I like a little of the unusual in my board books, I fell instantly in love. BabyLit, in case you aren’t familiar with them, produces gorgeous board books, based on the classics, for babies. They drill down basic concepts in each classic, perfect for little ones.

Dracula is a counting book. Going from 1 to 10, we count different objects present in the famous classic: 1 castle, two friends (Mina and Lucy), 3 wolves, 4 ships, 5 heroes (Harker, Seward, Turnbull, Morris, and Van Helsing), and more. The pictures are rendered in the sweetest detail with just a touch of baby goth. The art is mainly black, gray, and white, with accents of red as necessary. There are little winks to the grownups who will read this book over and over again – Dracula’s face on the Demeter flag, well-known character names and locations, a rat wearing a bat shirt – that will make you smile and chuckle. There’s a wonderful sense of humor in the book, which is as perfect for grownups as it is for children.

1 castle

This is now in my toddler’s short stack of favorites. He carries it around with him and asks to read it several times a day. I can’t wait to fill out his classics bookshelf with more BabyLit, and I know for sure that I’m buying some of these for my storytime toddlers. How often do you get to read babies Frankenstein and Dracula, where they learn about basic concepts?

Check out BabyLit’s webpage for more titles, but don’t blame me if you end up buying a Pride & Prejudice playset. They’ve also got one of the best Pinterest layouts going, and you can check out some of their videos on Google+.

 

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Ten Birds Meet a Monster teaches us to count and describe things around us.

tenbirds meet amonsterTen Birds Meet a Monster, by Cybèle Young. Kids Can Press (2014), $18.95, ISBN: 9781554539550

Recommended for ages 4-8

Ten little birds discover a scary shadow outside their door – what can they do? One by one, the birds rally together to create different beasts using the clothes in the closet, each shape becoming more amorphous than the last, with increasingly wild names to accompany their shapes: we have Vicious Polka-dactyls, a Gnashing Grapplesaurus, a Frightening Vipper-Snapper, and more. Will the monster be more scared of them than they are of him and leave the birds alone?

Ten Birds is a concept book meant for a slightly older child, due to the more elevated language. We go beyond counting here, althoug counting from one to ten is certainly the basis for the story, and delve into adjectives and wordplay. Every bird is described with an adjective as he or she jumps in to help: “always resourceful”; “always diligent”; “always creative”. Each concoction the birds come up with is also defined with an adjective, allowing the opportunity for a good discussion about adjectives and describing words. This would be a fun enhancement to an English lesson in addition to a Math lesson.

The story is repetitive,which appeals to younger readers. The black and white ink and paper artwork is spare and beautiful, with beautiful detailing on the birds’ faces and bodies. The white background and framed pages make this an art book almost as much as it is a concept book for children. The font is a simple, black font on the white background, giving the sign that this is a read-aloud book – no fancy or fun fonts to distract the reader or the audience.

Ms. Young has written and illustrated an earlier Ten Birds book – Ten Birds – where the birds encounter a problem and have to solve it with their own wits, much like they do in Ten Birds Meet a Monster. Ten Birds received the 2011 Governor General’s Award for Illustration. The Birds series is a good one for young readers and I look forward to seeing what other predicaments Ms. Young can find for these birds. Maybe a board book for little hands and minds next?

Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: Roar! A Noisy Counting Book, by Pamela Edwards Duncan/Illus. by Henry Cole (HarperCollins, 2000)

roarRecommended for ages 2-5

A little lion cub wants to play, but his roar scares other animals away, from one red monkey to eight brown gazelles – but then, he discovers nine other lion cubs.

This counting book has a story attached to it, and is good for older audiences who are about to enter Kindergarten and could use a brush-up on their counting and colors. A little lion cub wanders away from his pride, looking for some fun, and encounters different animals across the African savanna – from one red monkey to eight brown gazelles – who all run from his roar. He finally comes across a group of nine little yellow lion cubs, just like him, who aren’t afraid of him. The cartoon illustrations, done in acrylics and colored pencil, bring the savannah and the animals to life, from a group of lions lying lazily in the sun to a stampede of animals running from the group of little lions, to the little lion cub, curled up with his mother, asleep as the sun sets on the savanna. The animals’ facial expressions convey fear on the parts of the animals the lion confronts, confusion, frustration and despair, as the little lion searches for a new friend and finds none, and finally, happiness when he meets friends just like him. The book provides a fun lesson in numbers and colors in rhyme.

This would be a great opportunity to use a flannel board to depict the animals that the little yellow lion cub encounters on his trip across the savanna. Getting stuffed animals for each of the groups of animals depicted into the story area would allow for a fun playtime before or after the story. This could be part of a jungle animal read-aloud, with hand stamps of an animal for children to have as a memento of their storytime.

Roar! was a Buckaroo Book Award Nominee (Wyoming, 2003).

Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: The Spooky Hour, by Tony Mitton/illus. by Guy Parker-Rees (Orchard Books, 2004)

spooky hourRecommended for ages 3-7

Spooky Hour is a counting story – counting down, rather than a counting up – about a dog and a cat who witness spooky creatures on their way to a party at the strike of twelve. The dog and cat follow the creatures: eleven witches, ten ghosts, nine skeletons, and more, all the way to the spooky castle doors, where Mitch and Titch, the witchy twins, are waiting to welcome them to the big, spooky party, where they feast on one gigantic pumpkin pie. The cartoon illustrations are fun, even silly, but never scary, and younger audiences will enjoy the anticipation of counting down to the party. The full-bleed images have a great deal of action going on in the frames: flying ghosts, a  line of skeletons dancing into a forest, observed by owls, trolls tromping through a forest as the cat and dog hide behind a log. The font is black or yellow – whatever needs to pop on the page’s background – and looks similar to a typewriter font.

The book has interactive elements that make it a good candidate for a Halloween read-aloud. The story itself is written in rhyme, and each creature has a sound attached to its action that audiences can mimic and act out: the witches shriek, the ghosts swirl,whirl, and say, “whoooo”, the skeletons dance and go clickety-clack. Attendees can come in costume and receive a trick or treat bag with some candy and a small toy, and there can be a jack-o-lantern craft for children to color. Time permitting, they can cut out shapes for jack-o-lantern faces and glue them on. Perpetual Preschool has Halloween songs that the children can sing after the story, and there are CDs with Halloween music, like Kids Bop Halloween, which can play during the craft time, and children can receive a Halloween hand stamp before they go home.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: Twelve Bots of Christmas by Nathan Hale (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2010)

Twelve Bots of ChristmasRecommended for ages 3-7

This robot variation of The Twelve Days of Christmas, complete with Robo-Santa, electronics, and droids, has the potential for an interactive read-aloud with audiences familiar with the Christmas classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  In this retelling, Robo-Santa gifts twelve days of cyber gear, from a cartridge in a gear tree, to five BOT-TO-RIES, to twelve Beat Bots thumping. The electronic gifts will be fun for a younger generation for whom computers, tablets and iPhones are common household items, and the computer-generated illustrations manage to avoid looking flat, as tends to be the case with this type of art, thanks to subtle shading that offers depth of image. The left hand page of each spread features the text, Robo-Santa, and the growing group of gifts joining him. The right page features a full-bleed image of the day’s gift. Robo-Santa and his bots have fun and often exaggerated expressions, and the subtle details contained in the pictures reward careful viewers with fun details, including little gears that take the place of stars in a night sky, and a moon that looks similar to the Death Star from the Star Wars movies. The font is a plain black font that resembles old computer print. The endpapers offer a crush of presents, preparing readers for a fun holiday read.

This would be a fun addition to a holiday read-aloud or a robot read-aloud that takes place during the holiday season. The tune of the classic song is repetitive enough that singing along should be encouraged; the repetition of the gifts given will make the song easier to pick up as the story progresses. Incorporating a flannel board with robot images could make the read-aloud even more fun for younger audiences, who can also be encouraged to hold up the number of fingers that denotes each day in the song. Oriental Trading offers robot rubber ducks or robot tattoos in bulk that could be a fun gift from Robo-Santa to attendees at the end of the read-aloud, along with a robot hand stamp.