Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Three great books about space!

The Summer Reading theme for this year is all about Space, and I am psyched. I love outer space, and I’ve got a growing list of books to add to my own readers advisory lists (I’ll put that together in the next week or two for a post). Meanwhile, Sourcebooks and Barefoot Books have three great books about space that are staggered throughout the year, and perfect for your space-faring STEM fans. Let’s check them out, shall we?

 

Moon’s First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship, by Susanna Leonard Hill/Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, (June 2019, Sourcebooks Wonderland), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492656807

Ages 4-8

The Moon was so lonely, up in the night sky by herself. When she sees life developing on Earth, she patiently waits for someone to notice and visit her. It takes a while: the dinosaurs don’t notice; early people build pyramids and structures that just aren’t high enough. Eventually, though, she gets some visitors, and she is thrilled! She gives them presents of rocks and dust to take back to Earth, and they give her a beautiful flag and a plaque. Now, Moon is in the sky, happy and waiting for more visitors. Will you be her next guest?

This is the sweetest story I’ve read yet on the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. The Moon is illustrated as a softly shining, opalescent sphere with kind eyes, rosy cheeks, and a sweet smile; readers are treated to a quick history of Earth’s development as the Moon quietly observes, waiting for a friend to reach out – or up – and say hello. She even dances around the planet, showing off her phases! The actual Apollo mission takes up a brief part of the story, making this sweet book about a lonely satellite who just wants a friend an adorable storytime read for younger kids, and a fun book with solid facts for school-age kids. There’s a brief bibliography on the verso page, and back matter includes several pages dedicated to Mission Moon, the Apollo 11 voyage; moon facts, and moon phases, along with a running timeline of Earth’s formation and development. Endpapers are starry nights, where kids can imagine sailing through the stars to visit their favorite moon. Readers can also scan a QR code to hear Neil Armstrong’s historic first words from the 1969 moon landing. Gentle storytelling and adorable illustration make this a great Summer Reading addition! Display and booktalk with Stacey McAnulty’s Moon, Earth, and Sun trilogy.

 

There Was a Black Hole That Swallowed the Universe, by Chris Ferrie/Illustrated by Susan Batori, (Sept. 2019, Sourcebooks Explore), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492680772

Ages 3-8

You know if Chris Ferrie is writing a book, I’m reading it. This STEM-errific take on There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is about a giant black hole that swallows… well, everything. He starts with a universe… it couldn’t get worse! But oh, it does: the black hole swallows planets, stars, galaxies, and atoms, molecules, and quarks along with it. Yikes!

I read this to my first grader this morning and he immediately smiled and said, “This is like The Old Lady story!”, so kids familiar with the classic tale (and all of its spin-offs) will immediately jump in and know what’s coming; how the story will progress. With each chomping, the black hole gets bigger, and the planets and heavenly bodies look hilariously terrified as they try to get away from its maw. The storytelling is fun and loaded with humor; it’s cumulative and rhyming storytelling at its scientific funniest. The illustrations are goofy, with exaggerated facial expressions that make the storytelling more dramatic and humorous as you go. Bone up on your keyword knowledge for kids who will ask during the story (neutrons, atoms, quarks, oh my!). Scientific terms are highlighted in bold yellow, and capitalized to stand out and give your readers a nice working STEM vocabulary. Shine a blacklight on the pages from back to front, and you’ll reveal a super-cool, hidden history of the universe’s creation!

Absolute fun and a must-get for your storytime collections. Be a rock star at Science Storytime! Pair this with The Universe Ate My Homework by David Zelster for more black hole-related fun.

 

Barefoot Books Solar System, by Anne Jankéliowitch/Illustrated by Annabelle Buxton, Translated by Lisa Rosinsky, $19.99, ISBN: 9781782858232

Ages 8-12

Riding high on the post-Summer Reading wave, middle grade kids can go back school and check out Barefoot Books Solar System, a glow-in-the-dark, interactive guide to our Milky Way, complete with lift the flap booklets, a pull-out map, and beautiful artwork. Originally published in French, the book has been reviewed, edited, and updated by Dr. Carie Cardamone, professor of STEM education and Boston Museum of Science teacher and educator. The text is written with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor while delivering solid nonfiction goods to middle graders. The book covers each planet, with nicknames like :Saturn: The Space Diva”, and “Uranus and Neptune: The Icy Sisters”; the asteroid belt; differences between solid and gas planets; measuring the universe, and famous outer space voyages. The artwork is bright and bold, seeming to explode off the black pages to grab the reader’s attention.

In keeping with Barefoot’s mission of diversity and inclusivity, there is information about space exploration from around the world, making this a truly global effort. Back matter includes a comprehensive glossary of scientific terms and a note on the units of measurement used in the book. Don’t pass this one up; your 520s will shine a little brighter with Barefoot Books Solar System on your shelf.

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Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Two new Pout-Pout Fish adventures!

Pout-Pout Fish: Back to School, by Wes Adams/Illustrated by Isidre Monés, (May 2019, Farrar Straus Giroux), $5.99, ISBN: 9780374310479

Ages 3-6

The Pout-Pout Fish is off to school! This time, he’s a substitute teacher, subbing for his favorite teacher, Miss Hewitt, who’s down with a cold. On the way to school, he meets a nervous new student and helps him feel comfortable with his new school and new classmates. When Pout-Pout – Mr. Fish here – feels a little overwhelmed in front of his first class, the little fish is there to return the favor, giving Mr. Fish the confidence to carry the class. TAt the end of the day, Pout-Pout gets a sweet drawing from his new student and a warm reception from his new students. What a way to start a school year!

Pout-Pout Fish: Back to School is a Pout-Pout Fish story by Wes Adams and illustrator Isidre Monés. I admit I miss the rhyme scheme and repetition that Deborah Diesen traditionally uses, but the emphasis on kindness present in Pout-Pout Fish stories is here. Isidre Monés uses calming blues for Pout-Pout and bright primary colors for the classroom, all of which will appeal to readers. And there are stickers at the end of the book, making this a great back-to-school gift for kids (and if you’re putting this on your library shelves, hold onto those stickers, or your books won’t last the day – hand them out to your kiddos as welcome back gifts).

 

The Pout-Pout Fish Cleans Up the Ocean, by Deborah Diesen/Illustrated by Dan Hanna, $17.99, ISBN: 9780374309343

Ages 3-6

Pout-Pout and friends are cleaning up the ocean! Mr. Fish and his friends love the ocean’s beauty, but when he looks around and sees a giant mess, he and his friends investigate and find out that THEY are the cause of the mess! That simply won’t do, so the group team up to clean up in this rhyming story by original writer and illustrator Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna.

Kids (and grownups) familiar with Pout-Pout stories will fall right into the rhyme and repetition of the story. There’s always a phrase or two that sets the plot moving; here, it’s “There’s a problem that needs solving/And we don’t know what to do/But we’re going to find some answers/Would you like to join us, too?” Old boxes of junk, food waste, plastic bags, all of it has to go, because it’s “a big… BIG.. MESS!” The friends come together to pitch in and clean up; even sorting their recyclables from their garbage. Once they’ve cleaned the ocean floor, they feel good about themselves, and extend the invitation to the reader to join them! An author and illustrator note encourages readers to clean up and protect the ocean, encouraging everyone to take action and learn more. It’s a great way to introduce conservation to kids.

The Pout-Pout website has lots of printable activities, and the website is way too much fun! (There are floating bubbles and fish!)

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Babymoon celebrates that magical bonding time with a new baby

Babymoon, by Hayley Barrett/Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763688523

Ages 3-7

“We’ll invite the world in soon, but for now – we’re on our babymoon”.

When new parents bring home their little bundle for the first time, there’s usually a line of well-wishers waiting to get in the door and visit, cuddle, and gush over the new arrival(s), but those days are also a big adjustment, too. Sometimes, you just want – need – some more time in that intimate bubble; more time to cuddle, gaze, and enjoy your new family, before letting the outside world in. It’s a time many refer to as The Babymoon, and Hayley Barrett and Juana Martinez-Neal have come together to create a gorgeous book celebrating that magical time.

Told in a gentle rhyme, this story of a mom, dad, and new baby is just gorgeous. It’s a celebration of discovery as a family; of “delighting in each small surprise”; of cuddly naps; of nursing; of lullabies and yawns; of connecting and figuring out one another. I adore award-winning illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal’s artwork – her book, Alma, is a beautiful look at the origin of a child’s name, and here, she uses warmly colored, soft, acrylic, colored pencil, and graphite artwork on handmade textured paper to capture the sheer wonder – and sleepiness, and even confusion – of this exquisite moment in time. Ms. Martinez-Neal creates illustrations that speak to readers; reaching up through the page and drawing them in, heart-first, to the story.

Babymoon is a lovely read-aloud and gift to new siblings, and assures kids (and adults alike) that it’s okay to keep the world outside for just a little bit longer, as they navigate this new little person. It’s a perfect baby shower gift, inviting new parents and parents-to-be to relax and enjoy this new time: everyone else can, and will, wait.

Babymoon has a starred review from Booklist.

Posted in picture books

Year One with Type One works on demystifying Type 1 diabetes

Year One with Type One: A True Story of a Boy with Type 1 Diabetes, by Mike Suarez/Illustrated by Olsi Tola, (Dec. 2018, Independently published), $11.99, ISBN: 978-1730703492

Ages 4-7

Inspired by the author’s son, Andrew, this rhyming story takes some of the mystery out of Type 1 diabetes (T1D) for children and families. Beginning with the big symptoms: excessive thirst and bathroom use – Andrew’s parents take him to the doctor and discover that he has Type 1 diabetes. But what does that mean? Author Mike Suarez explains a big word in easier to understand language. He soothes parents’ potential worries, too – Andrew’s parents wonder if they allowed their son too many sweets, but the medical staff quickly lets them know that Type 1 diabetes is nobody’s fault: Andrew’s pancreas has stopped producing insulin, but there are ways to live a happy, healthy, active life. Andrew’s family gets on board with technology, using apps, alarms, and emails to keep up to date on his blood sugar and keep his medical staff notified. He has healthy food, labeled with nutritional info (10g sugar each or a juice box and for a yogurt) and an emergency kit for when his blood sugar drops (lollipops). Andrew and his family also learn about the supportive community they’ve become part of: there are T1D camps and events, where kids and families can come together.  Andrew says it best when he sums up his first year with Type 1: “Diabetes is work from shots to blood samples/But there’s still time for fun/There’s lots of examples”.

The cartoony artwork is kid-friendly and helps mitigate some of the scary feelings a diagnosis may come with. The hospital is depicted as a bright, friendly place, with silly roommates, visiting therapy dogs, and giant fish tanks to see. The page with Andrew’s foods is laid out clearly, so families can see, and perhaps emulate, packing lunchboxes, travel snacks, and emergency sweets. A handwritten thank you note from the real-life Andrew concludes the story.

I loved seeing Andrew active and having fun. My niece was diagnosed with T1D as a preschooler; she’s now a junior in high school and a competitive gymnast. Going to a T1D camp was a fantastic experience for her. I’m so proud of her, I could burst. She – and her family – have come a long way from those first scary days. Books like Year One with Type One go a long way in dispelling myths and giving families a starting point after a diagnosis. It’s important to read these stories to all kids, too, so there’s no unknown to fear.

There are some good T1D resources online for kids and families. The American Diabetes Association has links to information about food and fitness, advocacy, awareness programs, and a chat line. They also have education resources for grades K-6 and 7-12. Endocrine Web has information for parents of children’s with T1D, including how to manage sick days, meal planning, and working with schools. There are also a number of e-alerts available for subscription.

Posted in Family Storytimes, picture books, Preschool Reads, programs, Storytime, Toddler Reads, Toddler Storytime

Margaret Wise Brown storytime: The Diggers, Count to 10 with a Mouse, Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears

Last week, I decided to test drive three Margaret Wise Brown re-released books in my toddler storytime. Most of my kiddos and families know Ms. Brown as the “Goodnight Moon Lady”, or “The Runaway Bunny lady”, so I thought it would be fun to give them more choices when they’re looking for something to read. It went over pretty well. Before I get into that, though, I thought some background on these three books would be interesting – I know I found it fascinating.

In 1990, author Amy Gary discovered a trunk of unpublished manuscripts and songs in the attic of Margaret Wise Brown’s sister’s barn. These manuscripts provided the source material for many of the titles in a new line of classics by the beloved author. While I’d seen Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears pretty recently – Kohl’s had the book and a companion teddy bear as one of their Kohl’s Cares book/plush sets about a year or two ago, and my mom picked up a book and teddy for my little guy – The Diggers and Count to 10 With a Mouse are new to me.

The Diggers, by Margaret Wise Brown/Illustrated by Antoine Corbineau, (March 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684127429

Ages 3-7

Moles dig holes. So do dogs. Worms, rabbits, mice, and pirates all dig holes, too! Animals and people alike dig holes for different reasons, and The Diggers tells their stories. The kids loved the whole process of digging a hole for a subway system, and I favored the digger machine digging up “stones, and find dinosaur bones, and cavemen’s homes, and buried gnomes”. This is just an fun, rhyming story that has so much detail to enjoy: buried dinosaur bones and pottery; worm homes that curve to meet their owner’s bodies; a train running along the horizon as it goes down its track, a pirate’s trail of thievery. The kids really enjoyed this one, and so did I. Artist Antoine Corbineau (whose website features much of the artwork from The Diggers, and from where I sampled the interior art) makes bright, bold artwork with loads of things for kids to find. The black and grey-purple endpapers show a cityscape in progress, with pathways all dug out. This is an adorable choice for a construction or transportation storytime; two choices that always go over well with my storytime groups.

The verse is Margaret Wise Brown – you can’t go wrong. The repeated phrase, “Dig Dig Dig” allows kids to jump right in and interact with you during a reading, and there are so many chances to ask them questions: identify the animals, where do they live/what do they eat; what predictions can they make about what’s going to happen next?

Consider an author study with your school-age kids, to really expose them to Margaret Wise Brown’s body of work; The Diggers is such an active book compared to Runaway Bunny and Goodnight, Moon; it will give the kids so much to think about and discuss.

 

Count to 10 With a Mouse, by Margaret Wise Brown/Illustrated by Kirsten Richards, (March 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684127412

Ages 2-5

This book is a hit! I love a counting book that has a fun story to go along with it, and Count to 10 With a Mouse fits the bill perfectly! The endpapers are covered in mouse paw prints, and there are two holes, one of which has the cutest little mouse peeking out of it! This counting story has everything: rhyme, repetition, and concepts (counting). A little mouse lives in a hole, and teaches himself to count by looking at the things around him: one mouse, two holes, three fish; all things he discovers as he crawls through the holes to the next pages. The rhyme and repetition are sweet, and filled with discovery: Each page, each discovery, starts off with the repeated phrase, “And there, what does he see? And there, what does he see?” Each spread leads readers to the next with a tempting invitation: “Then the mouse ran through the book, the mouse ran through the book. He ran onto the next page to take a little look”. Kirsten Richards’ illustrations are soft, sweet, and fit perfectly with Margaret Wise Brown’s storytelling rhyme, creating a whole experience for readers. The end of the book suggests turning around and starting all over again – expect that at bedtime!

I loved Count to 10 With a Mouse, and this one is definitely going in my storytime collection. I’m tucking it into my Children’s Book Week book ideas.

 

Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears, by Margaret Wise Brown/Illustrated by Julie Clay, (Apr. 2019, Silver Dolphin), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684127603

Ages 2-6

What would a Margaret Wise Brown collection be without another cuddly bedtime story? Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears is perfect for bedtime cuddling. Pastel-colored endpapers look like a comfy quilt to snuggle down into, and the story – a big sleepy bear and a little sleep bear get ready for bed – teaches important lessons about modeling behavior. Everything big sleepy bear does, little sleepy bear does, from yawning, to stretching, to getting into bed and putting heads on the pillow. They each recite a sweet little rhyme (a variation of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep) and drift off to sleep. I’ve read this to my little guy when we’re both about to nod off, and it’s a wonderful way to ease into bedtime. The affection between big and little bear comes through as words and the soft art palette come together to send readers off to their own dreams.

The kids at storytime weren’t quite ready to go to bed when I finished this story, but it was a nice close to storytime. Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears is a new bedtime classic to add to your shelves.

 

The best news? Silver Dolphin is launching 15 more Margaret Wise Brown books this Spring and Summer, and will have two more in the fall!

 

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads, Toddler Storytime

Birds, Birds, Birds: Hello, I’m Here! A new bird greets the world, and Carme Lemniscrates’s Birds

Hello, I’m Here!, by Helen Frost/Photographs by Rick Lieder, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763698584

Ages 2-5

With rhyming text accompanying beautiful wildlife photos, Hello, I’m Here! is the story of an adorable sandhill crane chick hatching and exploring its new world. The hatchling and its sibling splash around in the water and enjoy some bugs and snails under the watchful guidance of their Mama and Papa, always nearby. The photographs are beautiful, allowing readers to enjoy the fuzzy, long-legged chicks and the stunning adult birds’ coloring. The photos have incredible texture; the birds’ feathers look like they’d ruffle under one’s hand, and the chicks look so fuzzy, you’ll want to run your finger across their heads. The photos of the birds in flight are stunning. The text is sweet and has a comforting cadence; the sentences are short and put readers in the chick’s place as it discovers the world around it. An author note about sandhill cranes has some great additional information for readers: did you know that parents and chicks communicate while the chicks are still in their eggs? That went over really well when I told the parents! I love being able to add little facts like that in a storytime. The endpapers have beautiful photos of a baby sandhill crane and its parent, and of four cranes flying across the sky at sunset. Absolutely breathtaking.

I tried Hello, I’m Here! out in a recent storytime, and the kids and parents alike loved it. The parents gestured to the pages quite often, impressed with the photos, and the little ones loved hearing about the little bird taking its first steps, flapping around with its sibling, and watching other cranes fly overhead. This is a great choice for a nature/discovery/science storytime, a spring storytime, and just a plain, good storytime for the little ones. I would also read Alex Latimer’s Am I Yours? as a companion to this one: it’s got dinosaurs, but the whole story of a baby dino in its egg talking to prospective parents is just too cute to pass up.

Hello, I’m Here! has a starred review from Kirkus. This is the fifth book that Helen Frost and Rick Lieder have collaborated on; all of which have received starred reviews from Kirkus.

 

 

Birds, by Carme Lemniscates, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536201789

Ages 2-5

Next up, I read Birds, by Carme Lemniscates. It’s a nonfiction book of a different sort, with bright, bold mixed media illustrations of various birds and two children enjoying their company. The text reads like a poetic ode to birds, starting first with descriptive sentences: “Some birds are really big/Others are tiny/Some like to show off, while others would rather watch”, moving into more illustrative musings: “A bird’s song is like the loving words of a friend/A happy song that greets us every morning/And our hearts sing, too, because birds are like good news coming”. Eagles, owls, peacocks, and hummingbirds all find a home here, as do parrots, toucans, and Canadian geese. It’s a celebration of birds, of spring, and of nature. The endpapers feature bright and bold feathers, some that you’ll recognize right away, like the peacock’s; some, you may have to guess at (is that black and white spotted one a woodpecker or a guinea fowl?). Let the kids color some feathers of their own as an after-storytime craft.

Birds went over nicely in storytime. The kids loved the bright colors and enjoyed calling out birds they recognized. We made some bird sounds (honking for the Canadian geese went over well, as did the parrot caws) and spread our arms to soar and flap like the birds do. It’s a nice addition to picture books where nature and birds are popular.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Customize your own outer space trip with You Choose in Space

You Choose in Space, by Pippa Goodhart/Illustrated by Nick Sharratt, (Feb. 2019, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781610678018

Ages 3-8

Originally published in the UK in 2017, the latest You Choose book from Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt takes kids on a trip into space where they have an array of choices to customize their journey: they can pick a job, an outfit, try some new alien food, even explore a cool new city on another planet! Led by a girl of color, a caucasian boy in a wheelchair, and a robot dog that looks similar to K-9 from Doctor Who (shout-out my Whovians out there!), the universe is there for every reader’s delight. The rhyming text invites readers to jump in and join the fun, and loads of details on every spread for kids to wander through: the giant cruiser has a gym, movie theatre, laundromat on board; a full-service wardrobe lets kids choose some wild new outfits and wigs; and an intergalactic zoo full of mixed-up animals give you the chance to create some wild new species of your own!

The bright, bold art is playful and kids will love having a new experience every time they pick up the book.  This series is a fun add to your collections and a good gift idea for kids who see reading as an adventure.