Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board Books for everyone!

I’ve been on a board book kick the last couple of months. I’ve mentioned before that I’m always on the lookout for fun, new board books that tell a story or teach concepts in a fun way. These are a few I’ve come across on my recent wanderings.

10, 9, 8… Owls Up Late!, by Georgiana Deutsch & Ekaterina Trukhan, (Feb. 2018, Silver Dolphin), $9.99, ISBN: 9781684121847

Recommended for 3-6

This rhyming, counting book is just too  much fun. Ten little owls are playing in a tree, when Mama Owl calls, “It’s time for you to rest!” One by one, each of the birds listen to Mama and flies down to the nest, but it’s a lot of fun while they take their time! Each spread is die-cut, as is the cover, to highlight different owls, hanging out in the tree. Each number appears in a star on the upper left hand side of the spread, easily letting readers know which number they’re on; owls and other inhabitants of the tree are cartoony and colorful, with little individual touches like a pair of earmuffs here, a nightcap there. The repetitive text assures that you’ll have company reciting this fun bedtime countdown in no time, and a spread numbering 1-10, counting up with the owls, finishes off this adorable board book. This book invites readers to really explore and have fun with the book, turning pages and wiggling fingers through die cuts.

 

You’re My Little Cuddle Bug, by Nicola Edwards/Illustrated by Natalie Marshall, (Feb. 2018, Silver Dolphin), $8.99, ISBN: 9781684122585

Recommended for readers 0-5

Books like this are my weakness. I love, love, LOVE books about snuggling and cuddling, and I’ve been known to refer to my little one as my “snuggle buggy” and “cuddle buggy”. I love reading these books in storytime, because it gives my caregivers kissy-huggy-snuggly time with their little ones. Rhyming text and die-cut/raised bug caregivers and little ones lead readers through a story that’s just about loving and being loved: “You’re my little ladybug, You brighten up my day/With rosy cheeks you smile at me, And chase my blues away”. Bumblebees, caterpillars, butterflies, and beetles are all here, with cartoony, sweet, expressively large eyes and bright colors. You have to have this book on your shelves and in your gift cart. Add some Joyce Wan books (You Are My Cupcake, You Are My Pumpkin, We Belong Together) and you are set!

 

Black Bird, Yellow Sun, by Steve Light, (March 2018, Candlewick Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9780763690670

Recommended for 0-3

I love Steve Light’s books! This is a departure from his “Have You Seen My…” series, and I’m excited to see him introduce concepts. In Black Bird, Yellow Sun, we meet a black bird as he goes through his day, set off against the colors he interacts with: yellow sun, orange leaves, purple grapes, green grass, red snake, gray rocks, pink flowers, and finally, a blue moon. The repetition of the black bird on each spread makes for nice continuity for the kids, who will pick up that the bird is there each time; explain that the bird goes through its day in terms of colors, and ask kids what colors they meet throughout their days. A perfect concept board book for storytimes, gifts, and collections. Black Bird Yellow Sun has a starred review from School Library Journal.

 

In the Rain, by Elizabeth Spurr/Illustrated by Manelle Oliphant, (March 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $6.95, ISBN: 978-1-56145-853-0

Recommended for 0-4

Some kids may be disappointed when the rain begins, but not this little girl! She puts on her slicker and heads outdoors to sail a boat, stomp in puddles, and make mud pies! This fun exploration of weather and play stars a child of color, illustrated joyfully and realistically by Manelle Oliphant. I was excited to find out that author Elizabeth Spurr and Manelle Oliphant have a whole series of “In the…” and “At the…” board books that explore weather, nature, and play! I’ll be adding these to my next purchase cart for sure; the rhyming text, short sentences, and beautiful illustrations make these a great storytime read!

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Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Let Wallpaper take you on an adventure!

Wallpaper, by Thao Lam, (Apr. 2018, OwlKids Books), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771472838

Recommended for readers 3-7

A young girl moves into a new neighborhood, but is too shy to greet the neighborhood kids playing outside her window. She notices a little bird peeking at her from an upturned piece of wallpaper, and follows the bird on an exciting journey! She releases a flock of birds, wanders into a flower-filled garden, and escapes from a monster as she discovers world after world.

The collage illustration is breathtaking. This is a wordless book that could be used as easily in a storytime as it can in a creative writing class or an art class. The collage artwork is so colorful, so crisp, and so textured, that it appears to stand apart from the page – my own son tried to tap my tablet, seeing if it would cause a flap to lift, or a bird to fly. Thao Lam creates world after world for her protagonist, and us readers, to explore, marvel at, and thrill to. Her protagonist is a child of color and the children in her neighborhood are a wonderfully diverse group, making Wallpaper an exciting journey for all kids. As a librarian in an urban system, I can put this book out on my desk and have the kids in my children’s room identify with all of the children in this book – now, I’ll have to figure out how to explain a possible rash of torn wallpaper to parents…

Wallpaper is a must-have book for collections. I’m interested in exploring this as a book discussion choice, where my kids tell me what worlds they’d like to find if they were in the same situation. And come on: how much fun will it be to have kids create their own collage art? Have magazines and some weeded picture and easy reader books available to cut up.

Wallpaper has starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus.

 

 

Posted in Adventure, Fiction, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Tween Reads

Art takes on a new dimension in The Maker

The Maker, by D.F. Anderson, (Jan. 2018, Underdog Books), $14.95, ISBN: 9780991800346

Recommended for readers 9-13

Thirteen-year-old Nate loves to draw. It’s one of his lasting connections with his father, who’s been gone for months, with no word. His mother’s boyfriend, Ted, goes at Nate whenever he gets a chance, insulting his artwork and attacking his grades; his mother is no comfort. Things change rapidly for Nate when a group of aliens show up at his window one night, telling him that he and his father are Makers: artists with the talent to bring their drawings to life. Nate’s father hasn’t abandoned them, he’s been kidnapped, and the aliens from the planet Meer are relying on Nate to help them save his father and the other kidnapped Makers before a cruel alien race wipes them out – and then heads for Earth.

The Maker has a great concept: using living beings as 3-D printers, when you think about it. By channeling their talents, Makers can give life to their drawings to create starships, cities… the sky’s the limit. The Makers connect with an energy source, mica, to give shape to their ideas; they can collaborate on large projects, or work individually to create small, detailed pieces. Readers will get into the sci-fi adventure story and relate to Nate, a kid who’s been put down to the point where he doesn’t believe in his own talent until put to the test – and then exceeds his wildest dreams. The evil parent/boyfriend situation is addressed in a neatly wrapped-up plotline. There are warring alien races, planet-eating machines to stop, and strong relationships that sci-fi and fantasy fans will enjoy, plus some moments of humor, including an evil alien who can be tortured… by pulling on his toe. Made you smile!

Add this to collections where you have sci-fi readers. Display this with some maker titles, and have a booktalk ready when kids come over and ask why it’s there.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Books about art for kids to love and be inspired by

I love letting kids go hog wild on artwork. I’ve had art stortyimes where kids have made their own Frida self-portraits and contributed to a Diego Rivera mural; I’ve let little ones create collage by tearing up paper and gluing them to paper in any way, shape or form that strikes their fancy, and I make coloring sheets and crayons available at my reference desk every day. It’s fun to watch how kids take a simple piece of blank paper and create something wonderful, and if I get a contribution to my art gallery – the shelves running the length of the children’s room – even better. Here are some picture books that will get your storytimes jumping; two are interactive – think Herve Tullet readalikes – and one is a multicultural, bilingual rhyming book that explores Latinx culture and imagination. Go forth and create!

Crocodali, by Lucy Volpin, (Aug. 2017, little bee books), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0633-5

Recommended for readers 4-8

Crocodali is the most talented painter in the whole wide world, and he’s allowing readers into his studio to help him create a new masterpiece! By tilting, turning, shaking, and rubbing pages, kids will get a kick out of seeing how they “affect” the painting with each turn of the page! Watercolor endpapers and artwork may inspire kids to create art with simple swipes of the brush, and Crocodali’s reactions – especially great for read-alouds – bring on the giggles. This has entered regular storytime rotation here at home and is great for preschooler storytimes with some time set aside afterward to let kids create their own artwork. I’d pair this one with Art & Max, by David Wiesner.

 

 

Rosa Draws, by Jordan Wray, (May 2018, words & pictures), $17.95, ISBN: 9781910277508

Recommended for readers 3-7

Rosa is a little girl who loves to draw, and has a big, vivid imagination! This adorable rhyming story introduces readers to a cat wearing a ridonkulous hat, a hungry bear, a posh goose, a peacock wearing socks, and more. Where will Rosa’s imagination take her – and readers who come along for the trip? There are bright, bold colors and wacky characters aplenty for kids to discover here; perfect for encouraging readers to create their own wacky characters after a stortyime. Positive messages about creativity and family make this a nice storytime read-aloud or cuddle time reading at home. For some extra fun, put rhyming words into a box or bag, have the kids choose a couple, and illustrate what they get. I think Lois Ehlert’s The Scraps Book would go nicely with the creative process introduced in Rosa Draws.

 

 

The Color Factory, by Eric Telchin/Illustrated by Diego Funck, (June 2018, little bee books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781499805567

Recommended for readers 4-8

The Color Factory has already entered regular storytime reading for me at home, with my Kindergartener demanding it on an almost daily/nightly basis. The follow-up to 2016’s The Black and White Factory (wait until my kid finds out about this one), the three animal friends are back and taking readers on a tour of their new color factory. They invite readers to help mix up new, factory-approved colors, until things go horribly wrong! Readers have to pitch in to help as the characters refer to the instruction manual, which isn’t really encouraging. Luckily, the trio – with our readers’ help – learn to accept and enjoy the exciting new colors they create. With bright, vibrant colors and loads of opportunities to “push” buttons, “mix” colors, and help save the day, kids are going to love this wacky, fun adventure. Pair this one with Herve Tullet’s Mix It Up for added interactive fun, and if you have the space, put some newspaper down, hand out old t-shirts, and let kids learn how to mix their own colors with some fingerpainting time.

 

A Paintbrush for Paco, by Tracey Kyle/Illustrated by Joshua Heinsz, (July 2018, little bee books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781499805444

Recommended for readers 4-8

Paco is a young boy sitting in class, doodling as he awaits recess. His drawings catch his teacher’s eye, and the excited profesor rushes Paco to the art room, where a world of color awaits him! The bilingual text flows like the beautiful, colorful artwork; I love the lyrical rhyming text that curls and wanders around each page as the world of color and imagination opens itself to Paco: “Pink, rosado. Purple, morado. A fiery orange, anaranjado. Verde, the green in a vine of ripe grapes. Rojo, the red in the matadors’ capes.” The artwork is influenced by Paco’s Latino heritage, enchanting readers with visions of mountains, family, and vibrant Mexican-inspired artwork. I love that Paco’s teacher is a positive role model that encourages his student’s talent, and I love the way the Spanish and English languages come together to tell a gorgeous story. This one is an absolute must-add for art collections and for storytime reading. Pair with Roseanne Thong’s Green is a Chile Pepper or Cynthia Weill’s concept books, published through Cinco Puntos Press, that teach concepts in Spanish and English, and feature Mexican folk art.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Hispanic Heritage Month: nubeOcho picture books

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I love nubeOCHO picture books. I discovered the publisher when I was at the PLA conference last year; I was a children’s librarian in a largely monolingual Spanish-speaking community, with outdated books on the shelves in their language. I was buying books in Spanish that I knew how to search for: Goosebumps, Harry Potter, Percy  Jackson – but I needed to find new books that spoke to the kids and their cultures. I found that publisher in nubeOCHO, who simultaneously publishes Spanish and English language copies of their books that are perfect for my kiddos. I could read a storytime book in English, interjecting some Spanish words where I knew how, and the parents could borrow the Spanish copy to take home and read with their kids. I am forever grateful.

This season, nubeOCHO has a couple of adorable books out – available in English and Spanish – for beginning readers and cuddlers. Enjoy.

The Perfect Animal (El animal perfecto), by Raquel Diaz Reguera, (Sept. 2017, nubeOCHO), $15.95, ISBN: 978-8494633393
Recommended for readers 4-8

The kids at school have to dress up as an animal; Valentina wants to be “the perfect animal”. But what does that mean? Valentina considers several animals: elephants, bears, bats, birds, and more. She notes their strengths and their “curiosities” – noted throughout the book as fun facts, paper-clipped to the pages, written on note paper. So which one is the perfect animal? Why pick just one? There’s vibrant art throughout the book, plus fun facts kids will love (elephant are the only mammals that can’t jump, which makes really good sense). The Perfect Animal is part of nube’s Egalite imprint; publishing stories that emphasize equality and that illustrate the richness of diversity.

A Surprise for Mrs. Tortoise (Una sopresa para tortuga), by Paula Merlan/Illustrated by Sonja Wimmer, (Oct. 2017, nubeOCHO), $16.95, ISBN: 978-84-946333-4-8
Recommended for readers 4-8

Mrs. Tortoise sees her reflection one morning, and it really brings her down. Her shell looks old and worn out, and it’s really making her feel old and sad. Luckily for her, Birdie, her best friend, is there to cheer her up! He bops around to the sky, the flowers, the wind, and clouds to help decorate her  shell and cheer her up, but it seems like everything just makes Mrs. Tortoise feel worse; she loses her temper and snaps at Birdie, but even that doesn’t stop him. When Mrs. Tortoise goes to apologize to Birdie, she discovers that forgiveness and friendship are all that matter (and a little help from the rainbow doesn’t hurt). Washed-out watercolor art splashed across each page spread creates beautiful artwork that readers will gravitate to – especially when Mrs. Tortoise’s shell is covered in flowers! (I see art project at storytime here!) This is a sweet story about friendship and going the extra mile for a friend. A Surprise for Mrs. Tortoise is part of nube’s Somos8 imprint, exploring first sensations and challenges kids meet.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Happy Book Birthday, Space Boy and the Snow Monster! Plus, a giveaway!

Space Boy and the Snow Monster, by Dian C. Regan/Ilustrated by Robert Neubecker, (Oct. 2017, Boyds Mill Press), $17.95, ISBN: 978-1-59078-957-5

Recommended for readers 3-8

Niko the Space Boy blasts off on his third adventure! This time, Space Boy’s trusty friend Radar is missing on Planet Ice (don’t worry, he’s never far out of the reader’s sight) and a horrible Snow Monster – who looks a lot like Niko’s sister – is menacing him! His space dog, Tag, wanders away from him, leaving him all alone to battle the Snow Monster, who’s building an army of mohawked snow soldiers. Luckily, Niko manages to locate Radar and get to the ship, re-acquire Tag, and get to safety. Maybe.

This fun book is perfect for readers of all levels. With a layout that feels part picture book, part comic book, with comic-like panels cartoony art that includes mohawked snowmen, kids and adults alike will be waiting for a snow day to go on an exploration of their own. There’s a real Calvin & Hobbes feel to the story, as we see the story through Niko’s imagination; little hints keep us grounded in reality, but not too much that we can’t surrender to the adventure. My son immediately asked me to start saving cardboard boxes, so we can make our own spaceship, when I first read him this one; I suggest you start saving your own delivery boxes now. Split into mini-chapters (or episodes, for old school serial sci fi fans) lets kids come back to the adventure if they need to take a break. The fonts are wild and exaggerated, and the art is loaded with movement across spreads.

SPACE BOY AND THE SNOW MONSTER; text copyright c 2017 by Dian Curtis Regan, illustrations copyright c 2017 by Robert Neubecker,
published by Boyds Mills Press. All rights reserved.

Space Boy and the Snow Monster is an enjoyable addition to the Space Boy series, and a fun standalone picture book on its own. Put this one with your snow day books and your maker books, like DK’s Out of the Box, to give kids some adventuring ideas of their own.

Want to blast off with your own copy of Space Boy and the Snow Monster? Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance! (U.S. addresses only, please!)

SPACE BOY AND THE SNOW MONSTER; text copyright c 2017 by Dian Curtis Regan, illustrations copyright c 2017 by Robert Neubecker,
published by Boyds Mills Press. All rights reserved.

 

Dian Curtis Regan is the author of more than 60 books for young readers, ranging from picture books to YA novels.  Her books have received many honors, including Best Books for Young Adults, Children’s Choice Awards, Junior Library Guild selections, Los Angeles Times Recommended Book, and New York Public Library’s Best Books.  Space Boy and the Space Pirate was a 2017 finalist for the Colorado Book Award, and the winner of a 2017 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Space Boy and the Snow Monster is brand new this fall. Dian lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  To learn more, and to download a curriculum guide, visit diancurtisregan.com and spaceboybooks.com.

 

https://i1.wp.com/illustrationfriday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IllustrationFriday_RobertNeubecker12.jpgRobert Neubecker is the award-winning author-illustrator of Wow! City!, Wow! America!, and Wow! School!, and the illustrator of The Problem with Not Being Scared of Monsters and its companion The Problem with Not Being Scared of Kids. He lives in Park City, Utah. Visit neubecker.com.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Meet two new middle grade heroines with big imaginations

Ruby Starr, by Deborah Lytton, (Aug. 2017, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $7.99, ISBN: 9781492645771

Recommended for readers 8-12

Ruby Starr loves getting lost in a good book. She even has a lunchtime book group with her BFFs at school: The Unicorns! Things change when Charlotte, the new girl in school, shows up and starts making big changes: she scoffs at reading and wants to make The Unicorns a drama club, and she’s spending more and more time with Ruby’s best friend, Siri. Ruby needs to dig deep into her imagination to help bring things back to normal again.

Part Secret Life of Walter Mitty, part Dork Diaries, Ruby Starr is a lovable new protagonist for middle grade readers. She daydreams scenarios to help her cope with the everyday frustrations – or imagine exciting outcomes for upcoming events – and zones out while she’s doing it, making for some giggleworthy moments throughout the story. The imagination sequences are illustrated, letting readers in on the joke. The stress of friendship – and losing it – will resonate with middle graders, as will the fear of being the outsider in the group; Ruby handles these challenges with humor and style, even reaching out to her frenemy and offering a helping hand. I loved seeing a nice librarian-student relationship, too; maybe the author can give us a Ruby Starr/Unicorns reading list to promote to our kids!

Ruby Starr is a fun entry into the humorous journal fiction sub-genre. Give this to your Dork Diaries, My Dumb Diary, and Frazzled (by Booki Vivat) readers. Ask them to draw an imaginary scenario for themselves! There’s a reader’s guide on Deborah Lytton’s author webpage, along with an author Q&A and link to her blog.

The Half-True Lies of Cricket Cohen, by Catherine Lloyd Burns, (Aug. 2017, Farrar, Straus & Giroux), $16.99, ISBN: 9780374300418

Recommended for ages 8-12

Cricket Cohen has a big imagination. Sometimes, it gets away from her – especially when she wants to impress someone, or just make a boring autobiography school assignment a little more exciting. After all, it’s fun when she and her grandmother pretend, right? Well… wrong, at least according to her schoolmates, who are tired of her making up stories, and her teacher, who wants her to redo her autobiography assignment with the truth this time. When her parents leave her alone with her grandmother, Dodo, while they go summer house-hunting in the Hamptons, Dodo convinces Cricket that they’re going to run away and have an adventure; Cricket’s all too happy to go. But Dodo starts becoming confused, and Cricket finds herself having to bail herself AND Dodo out of hot water when she’s the only one who knows what’s fact and what’s fantasy.

The Half-True Lies of Cricket Cohen is much more than a novel about a kid who likes to embellish the truth. It’s a story about grandparents and grandchildren, and it’s a story about what happens when children find themselves with the responsibility of caring for an adult: something that today’s kids sometimes find themselves managing.

Cricket finds herself disappearing into her imagination to deal with her boring classmates who prefer talking about clothes, shoes, and crushes to geology and stuffed animal brain surgery, but you can also argue that it’s an attention-seeking response to her parents, who are consumed with their nonprofit fundraising for the city’s public schools. They live above their means, and her mother – a control freak and perfectionist – treats her own mother like an inconvenience. Artsy free spirit Dodo pushes back against her daughter’s rules and regulations, and Cricket embraces her kindred spirit; but Cricket, previously unaware of her grandmother’s health struggles, finds herself in the position of being responsible for herself and her grandmother when her grandmother’s failing memory causes a problem in a department store.

The New York setting is fun – it’s got a touch of From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to it. The story handles big issues like family relationships, aging grandparents, and embellishing the truth with a shot of fun and adventure. At the same time, the Dodo is the one character that remains truly likable throughout the story. Cricket and her family may be living above their means, but they are still an upper middle class family, living on New York’s Upper West Side and renting summer homes in the Hamptons. Her parents border on neglectful, putting the welfare of New York City’s public school children ahead of their own daughter’s. Cricket’s actions are understandable in the bigger picture, and she becomes a more sympathetic character as the story progresses.

Have The Half-True Lies of Cricket Cohen available, along with Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart, and There Will Be Bears, by Ryan Gebhart, for readers who may be coping with an aging grandparent. Booktalk it with Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Kay Thompson’s Eloise, Laura Marx Fitzgerald’s Under the Egg, and Nadja Spiegelman’s Lost in NYC graphic novel for a fun New York reading theme.