Posted in Preschool Reads

Kisses for Kindergarten starts them off right

Kisses for Kindergarten, by Livingstone Crouse/Illustrated by  Macky Pamintuan, (June 2017, Silver Dolphin Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-62686-703-1

Recommended for readers 4-6

Stella Isabella Harden declares that she doesn’t have to go to kindergarten: her puppy told her so! A girl and her pup spend the days together, reimagining kindergarten by chasing squirrels, having fun on the swings, having tea parties, making pillow forts, and having pillow fights. Things change at storytime, though, when Stella realizes that she can’t read a storybook to her dog. Looks like it’s time for kindergarten after all!

With protagonists inspired by the artist’s daughter and golden retriever, Kisses for Kindergarten is a fun way to ease kids into a new school year. Kids will love Stella Isabella Harden’s assertion that she can learn far more from her puppy than she can from school, and the dynamic duo’s exciting day at the park. Caregivers can explain that she can learn so much from her dog, sure, but when it comes to reading, even her wise pup understands that she’s got to go to school. It’s a gentle easing of fears, and having her dog begin and end the day with her gives her something to look forward to. Ask kids what they want to come home to: a favorite toy? Storytime with family? Stella’s day ends with a family storytime and kisses: it’s a pretty good rule of thumb. Endpapers illustrate Stella and pup’s day together.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Babies Come From Airports!

Babies Come from Airports, by Erin Dealey/Illustrated by Luciana Navarro Powell, (Jan. 2017, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-557-4

Recommended for readers 3-7

This rhyming story of a family growing through adoption is a sweet way to explain that sometimes, babies come from airports – but all babies come from love. Narrated by one of the children in the family awaiting a new sibling, readers enjoy a scrapbook and accompanying story of the adoption process.There are maps, drawings, and pictures of the current family, interspersed with Mom’s journey home and Dad and the boys’ trip to the airport to reunite their family. There are amusing moments, like Dad’s statement that all babies come from labor, a nice dual meaning for parents who know all too well about the work involved, from paperwork to pregnancy and delivery (which comes with its own set of paperwork), with becoming a parent; the narrating child refers to his airport friend, Security, who welcomed him to the country on his “Gotcha Day”. The boys welcome Mom and their new baby sister and add photos of her first car ride and room to the scrapbook. The family is multicultural: the new baby and Mom are en route from Beijing, and while we don’t have specific origins for the two older brothers, a chore sheet on a bulletin board provides the names Nico and Adar.

What a sweet addition to new baby/new sibling/adoption collections! The rhyming text keeps a nice rhythm through the story; the gentle artwork makes the adult sweet and soft, and the kids excited and enthusiastic. The scrapbook look and feel adds an element of fun to the story. This is a great book to give to kids who are adopted, whose families are in the process of adopting, or to explain international adoption in general to children. Hand this to families, along with a copy of Richard Van Camp’s We Sang You Home and Todd Parr’s We Belong Together.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Preschool Reads

On Duck Pond, there is chaos… and then peace.

On Duck Pond, by Jane Yolen/Illustrated by Bob Marstall, (Apr. 2017, Cornell Lab Publishing Group), $15.95, ISBN: 978-1-943645-22-0

Recommended for readers 3-7

A boy and his dog walk by a duck pond in the morning, when nature is at peace; when a quack of ducks appear, they splash, they chitter and chatter, and the pond’s inhabitants scramble in the momentary chaos. The boy notes that even his reflection looks different in the disturbed water. When the ducks move on, the pond returns to its peaceful setting, the pond life resumes, and the boy, contemplative, heads home.

This rhyming tale is a sequel to On Bird Hill, but it’s not necessary to have read it to enjoy this quiet nature tale. Award-winning author Jane Yolen gives readers a wonderful rhyming tale of quiet and chaos, coming up with fun, descriptive terms like “a quack of ducks”, and evocative phrases like, “Old Duck Pond, once still and quiet/Now seemed battered by the riot”, and, of the boy’s reflection, “Every part of me was changed/I looked like I’d been re-arranged”. She captures the riot of noise and blunder of movement that disturbs the quiet  morning, and the gradual pace with which nature recovers when the ducks move on, all witnessed by the boy and his dog. We meet some of the pond’s inhabitants – turtles, herons, frogs, and tadpoles – during the course of the story; the realistic illustrations introduce us to even more wildlife. There are lovely, detailed drawing of the pond from various angles, from close-ups of lily pads to sweeping vistas. The ducks’ descent is beautifully rendered, with wings spread, water splashing, beaks open, communicating the movement and noise they bring to the scene. A section on pond habitats and birds, and information about the ducks and other birds and animals featured in the story, adds a nice non-fiction section to the book.

This is a great read-aloud for storytimes – the rhyming text provides a nice cadence for readers to listen to – and for introductions to habitats for younger readers. Kirkus captures the spirit of the narration by referring to it as a “sense of wonder” book.

Pair this with some of Jane Yolen’s  more nature-oriented books, like On Bird Hill or Owl Moon for an author study, or display with books like Denise Fleming’s In the Small, Small Pond and Henry Cole’s I Took a Walk.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Blog Tour: Share, Big Bear, Share! And Giveaway!

Big Bear has a big pail of yummy blueberries! His friends would like some, too, but Big Bear seems to be a bit clueless. The old oak tree tells him to SHARE, BIG BEAR, SHARE!, but Bear is so enamored of his blueberries, he’s not really listening – and hears something different each time! Will he finally realize that a good friend shares, and invite his pals to have some berries?

Share, Big Bear, Share!, by Maureen Wright/Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, (Apr. 2017, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1503951006. Recommended for readers 3-7

Share, Big Bear, Share! is a great story for preschoolers and kindergarteners, who are developing social skills and learning to share and work together. Big Bear is a nice bear, he’s just a little unaware; when the Old Oak Tree tells him – multiple times – to share, Big Bear – who’s not really listening; he’s got an entire bucket of blueberries! – half-hears the message, with hilarious results. The message for readers is twofold: sharing is important, but so is paying attention! I think a round of the old game, Telephone is a perfect accompaniment to this story: a teacher, parent, or educator whispers something into one child’s ear and has the message go around the group, until the last player states what he or she heard, which is usually something very different from the original statement!

The story makes it point in a sweet, funny way that appeals to young readers. Will Hillenbrand’s graphite pencil artwork, fleshed out with digital media, gives Bear and his woodland friends a cuddly quality that kids will love. Old Oak Tree looks wonderfully wise and his facial expressions are perfect and accurate. Kids will have seen that face on their caregivers many times!

Share, Big Bear, Share! is the third Big Bear book by Maureen Wright and Will Hillenbrand (Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep! and Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze!) Display this one with books like Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama, Time to Share and Leo Lionni’s It’s Mine! for readalikes; build a social skills library by adding Beth Ferry’s Stick and Stone, Rowboat Watkins’ Rude Cakes, and Julie Gassman’s You Get What You Get.

There’s a Help Big Bear SHARE Game, available through illustrator Will Hillenbrand’s website, for you to download, print, and hand out.

GIVEAWAY! Want a chance to win your own copy of Share, Big Bear, Share? Enter here!

WILL HILLENBRAND has written and/or illustrated over 60 books for young readers including Down by the Barn, Mother Goose Picture Puzzles and the Bear and Mole series. He has lived almost all of his life in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he grew up as the youngest of four boys. He now lives in Terrace Park and was recently honored as Author/Illustrator in Residence at Kent State University.

Information about his books, selected readings, art process videos and activity ideas can be viewed at www.willhillenbrand.com. Connect with Will at www.facebook.com/willhillenbrandbooks.

 

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate

Dragons pop off the page – for real! – in Dragon Hunters!

31409133The Dragon Hunters (The Dragon Brothers Trilogy, #1), by James Russell/Illustrated by Link Choi, (Apr. 2017, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-4926-4861-1

Recommended for readers 5-10

Brothers Flynn and Paddy are on a rescue mission: their dog has been kidnapped by a dragon! Mom thinks it’s all part of their goofing around, but the boys are determined and set off to rescue poor Coco from the dragon’s clutches – hope they can get out unsinged!

The Dragon Hunters – originally published in New Zealand in 2012 – is a fun, rhyming fantasy tale for grade school level kids, but preschoolers will also appreciate the rhyming tale and the cartoony art. The dragon is bold, red, and mean, gorgeous in its sinister ferocity. Pages alternate with full color art and sketches (I’ve got an ARC – this may not be the case with the finished version), and the longer length of the tale gives it an old-school, epic poem feeling.

The best part of this book? The augmented reality! Download a free app for your tablet or smartphone, hold it over the map endpapers of the book, and see the map come to life! There’s a little bit of sound, but the real thrill is seeing the landscape come to life, complete with little dragon flying over the mountains and the steaming Putrid Plains. My little guy went nuts for it, and so did my coworker’s tween daughter. I tried to capture it using my phone camera, but the Dragon Hunters site does this far better justice than my overworked Samsung. Take a look:

The site also offers free coloring sheets, which makes my passive programmer’s heart SING.

The Dragon Hunters is the first in a trilogy, all of which are publishing this year. The Dragon Tamers hits shelves in June, and The Dragon Riders arrives in August. James Russell has a chapter book series called The Dragon Defenders coming out this year – let’s hope it reaches American shores, so middle graders can enjoy Paddy, Flynn, and Coco.

Artist Link Choi’s work on The Dragon Hunters was a finalist for New Zealand’s Russell Clark Medal for Illustration. See more of his illustration at his website.

 

Posted in Storytime, Toddler

Toddler Storytime/Test Driving New Books

I had a picture book storytime planned for my second session today, but most of my attendees were toddlers, which required a little tweaking of the booklist (I’d used most of the same songs from the first storytime). Luckily, I’d left the house with two new ARCs that I picked up at ALA Midwinter, figuring I’d test them out if the crowd seemed up for it. I’m really glad I did – the books were PERFECT for storytime (one of the reasons I picked them up); the kids loved them and really got into the reading!

clap  monkey  plant-a-kiss

Clap, by Uncle Ian Aurora (Sept. 2016, Flowerpot Press), $16.99, ISBN: 978-148670945-8 is an interactive book that got my kiddos clapping, stomping, and counting. A boy narrates the book, telling readers that “this is the book where we all clap along, because sometimes a book has a beat like a song”. We clap and stomp, counting to 10; we clap to show different feelings and for different locations; we clap for our narrator, which brings the story to a fun close. The cartoony characters and bold marker-writing font, caught the kids’ attention, and the parents enjoyed playing along with their little ones. This is entering my permanent storytime rotation.

Spunky Monkey is the newest from Bill Martin Jr. and  Michael Sampson (Jan. 2017,Scholastic Press, $17.99, ISBN: 978-0545776431), and it’s illustrated by Brian Won – this is already a home run. Monkey is absolutely adorable – the digital illustrations look entirely hand-painted, and a note at the end of the book explains how Won achieves this. It’s bright, colorful, and loaded with movement – Monkey is on the move, and he’s taking us with him! Michael Sampson uses rhyme and repetition to get kids up and moving, and uses the doctor’s diagnosis for Monkey – he needs exercise! – to emphasize the importance of movement and exercise. He builds on the classic rhyme “Down Down Baby” to set the tone and beat for the book. Kids and parents alike responded so well to this book! We ding-donged, clap-clapped, stomp-stomped, and sis-boom-bah-ed the whole way through! This is another must-own for caregivers and educators; toddlers and preschoolers will love this and so will you.

I slowed things down by reading Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Plant a Kiss, with art by Peter H. Reynolds (Dec. 2011, HarperCollins, $14.99, ISBN: 978-0061986758). Everyone enjoyed the magical story about a girl who plants a kiss and shares the explosion of glittery love and happiness that follows.

Most of the songs stayed the same from my earlier Toddler Storytime, but I added Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, Days of the Week, and I’m Going to Take a Sweater, since it’s freezing out today!

Song: “I’m Going to Take a Sweater” (to the tune of “For He’s a Jolly Good) Fellow”
I’m going to take a sweater, a sweater, a sweater
I’m going to take a sweater when I go out today
When I go out today, when I go out today
I’m going to take a sweater when I go out today
I’m going to take a scarf, a scarf, a scarf,
I’m going to take a scarf when I go out today
When I go out today, when I go out today
I’m going to take a scarf when I go out today
I’m going to take my mittens, my mittens, my mittens
I’m going to take my mittens when I go out today
When I go out today, when I go out today
I’m going to take my mittens when I go out today
I’m going to take my hat, my hat, my hat,
I’m going to take my hat when I go out today
When I go out today, when I go out today,
I’m going to take my hat when I go out today!
Source: King County Library System

Song: “Days of the Week” (Addams Family tune)
Days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap), Days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap),
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap)
There’s Sunday and there’s Monday, there’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday,
There’s Thursday and there’s Friday, and then there’s Saturday.
Days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap), Days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap),
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap or clap, clap)

These storytimes are great for my own fitness level – I spent over an hour jumping, dancing, and playing!

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Holiday Giveaway: How to Catch an Elf!

The holidays are just around the corner and it’s time to catch an elf!

catch-and-elf

Sourcebooks’ newest holiday picture book, How to Catch an Elf (ON SALE; October 2016, $10.99), is the latest from the gang who brought us the New York Times bestseller, How to Catch a Leprechaun. This time out, one of Santa’s elves is wise to kids’ tricks: they can’t catch Santa, so they’re going to try and catch him! He’s got to navigate all the traps that kids set – and keep Santa safe and delivering presents! -as Christmas Eve progresses.

The endpapers bring you right into the fun, with peppermint candies across a pale blue background. The digital over sketched artwork is adorable – I love Santa’s and the elf narrator’s sweet facial expressions, and the traps are hilariously complex, like mad scientists in training got together and worked on them. The rhyming text makes for some fun reading, and watching the duo dodge flying food, prowling pets, and the Elf Snatcher 3000 allow for kids to point out some wacky Christmas fun. This is a great Christmas read-aloud – make sure to get those milk and cookies ready before you settle down with this book and your favorite little elves on Christmas Eve.

Want a chance to win a $50 gift card for some last-minute holiday shopping? It’s simple – snap a photo of your very own #elftrap and post it with the hashtag #catchanelf, to be entered to win a $50 gift card for last-minute holiday shopping! There are more details on the Sourcebooks Pinterest page. Good luck!

Want a chance to win your own copy of How to Catch an Elf? If you’re a US or Canada resident, just enter this  Rafflecopter giveaway and I’ll contact you if you’re a winner! This giveaway also runs through December 16, so enter now!