Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

March picture book roundup

There are some adorable picture books publishing in March and April! Let’s take a look at some – there are some great storytime reads to be found!

A Fire Truck for Chuck, by Annika Dunklee/Illustrated by Cathon,
(March 2018, OwlKids), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771472852
Recommended for readers 3-6

A little boy named Chuck visits a yard sale with his mom, where he sees it: a fire truck! And it’s only a buck! What luck! Mom buys Chuck the truck, who proceeds to play with it everywhere. Including the mud. Yuck! Chuck is afraid his fire truck is lost forever, but joyfully finds out otherwise. Thanks, Mom! This adorable story of a boy and his truck is perfect for kids who love their vehicle stories – and there are many! You don’t need to be a car and truck fan to love this story, too – toddlers and preschoolers will all empathize and understand the love between a kid and his or her favorite toy. While not exactly a rhyming story, A Fire Truck for Chuck uses the easily rhyming word to weave humor and fun into the story. Cartoony illustrations are bold and bright and will get kids’ attention.

 

I’m a Duck, by Eve Bunting/Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand,
(March 2018, Candlewick Press), $15.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-8032-9
Recommended for readers 3-6
This adorable rhyming tale about overcoming fears is especially great for pre-K 3 and 4-year-olds. A little duck recounts the tale of falling into the lake as an egg; saved by his mother, he’s grown up too scared to go swimming, “…and that is bad. A landlocked duck is very sad”. With some encouragement from family and friends, and a little bit of practice in safe, shallow puddle, little Duck is ready to face his fears – and succeeds! I’m a Duck illustrates the importance of encouragement and positive reinforcement in addition to the power of facing one’s fears (and the emphasis on safety is a relief for caregivers). Mixed media illustrations give a snuggly, cuddly feel to the animals in the story. I love Eve Bunting’s books, and am thrilled to add this one to my shelves.

George is a happy old hound dog who just wants a nap. Farmer Fritz, his human, heads off to a retirement cabana and leaves George in charge: and that means helping the new family navigate life on the farm! Poor George; these folks are hapless, which means George is herding cows, finding lost siblings, and generally saving the day. Not only can he not get his nap in, he can’t get these folks to figure out his name, which goes through several name changes throughout the story. Full-panel artwork alternates with graphic novel-like panels to provide a fun romp. Short, concise sentences and farm animal shenanigans make this a fun read-aloud choice. Ask the kids what they’d like to call George – or how he could finally get his new family to figure out his name! A fun story for animal fans.
Not ‘Til Tomorrow, Phoebe, by Julie Zwillich,
(March 2018, OwlKids), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771471725
Recommended for readers 4-7
The second book in the Phoebe series (the first, Phoebe Sounds It Out, was published in March 2017) introduces kids to the concepts of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and just as importantly, patience. Phoebe’s day is full of “tomorrows”: Mama will make her pancakes tomorrow; she’ll get ice cream after her haircut tomorrow; musicians will visit her class – you guessed it – tomorrow. Frustrated, Phoebe turns to her grandmother, who bakes cookies and teaches Phoebe the best way to turn today into tomorrow: get a good night’s sleep. Kids will understand Phoebe’s frustration, for sure; you can even introduce the story by asking kids, “Who’s tired of hearing about all the good things that will happen TOMORROW?” As with Phoebe Sounds It Out, the illustrations are bold and expressive, with soothing colors to put kids in the mind to listen and learn. There’s a lovely relationship between grandparent and grandchild here. Phoebe is a child of color.
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Posted in Preschool Reads

Don’t Forget Dexter! is too much fun!

Don’t Forget Dexter!, by Lindsay Ward, (Jan. 2018, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542047272

Recommended for readers 4-7

Dexter T. Rexter is the friendliest, cutest toy dino you’ll ever meet, but he’s got a BIG problem: Jack, his best friend, has DISAPPEARED! They were playing in the doctor’s office just a second ago, but Dexter’s found himself all alone and needs your help! This adorable book is perfect for preschoolers and kindergartners , who will jump at the chance to calm Dexter down throughout the story, as he gets more and more shaken up at the thought of being lost, or – even worse – abandoned, for another toy.

Lindsay Ward writes books that just know kids. Her epic tale, Brobarians (2017), looked at siblings relationships through a child’s imagination at play. Dexter shows readers that she knows – just like our kids do – that toys have feelings, just like they do, that they love us as much as we love them, and that they’re just as afraid of being lost or left behind as the kids that play with them are.

I love this story, I love Lindsay Ward’s cut paper, pencil, and ink artwork – Dexter’s belly looks like a page out of a kid’s notebook, how cool is that? – and Dexter’s handmade toy look, and I love this adorable, fun story about the mutual love between a kid and his toy. This is already a huge hit for me at home, where my Kindergartner and I sing “the Dexter song” at the top of our lungs, and at my library, where I gave my storytime families a sneak preview read a few weeks ago. Storytime tip: Hand out some soft toys, if you have them, during the read-aloud, and watch the kids bond.

If you’ve ever had to run back into a restaurant, library, or store; or drive to another state to pick up a beloved friend that a tired kiddo left behind, you need to get this book.

Don’t forget to print out some Dexter coloring sheets, right here, from the author’s website! Want a shot at winning your own copy of Don’t Forget Dexter (U.S. addresses only, please)? Check out this Rafflecopter giveaway!
Lindsay Ward was inspired to write this book after her husband texted her a photo of a toy dinosaur abandoned at a doctor’s office. The caption read: “Well, they left me here.” Lindsay thought it was so funny that she sat down to write Dexter’s story immediately. She is also the author and illustrator of Brobarians, Henry Finds His Word, and When Blue Met Egg. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play.

Most days you can find Lindsay writing and sketching at her home in Peninsula, Ohio, where she lives with her family. Learn more about her online at www.LindsayMWard.com  or on Twitter: @lindsaymward.

 

Praise for  DON’T FORGET DEXTER!

★ “Ward’s ink, colored-pencil, and cut-paper illustrations give readers a toy’s view of the world and allow children to stomp in Dexter’s feet for a while, his facial expressions giving them lots of clues to his feelings. Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Ward (Brobarians) is as funny as ever as she chronicles her orange hero’s nervous, no-filter state of mind, and her cut-paper, pencil, and ink drawings—with their visual asides, annotations, and shifts in scale—are irrepressible. It’s high anxiety made highly adorable.” —Publishers Weekly

 

 

Posted in Preschool Reads

Set sail with two picture books in March!

Tough Tug, by Margaret Read MacDonald/Illustrated by Rob McClurkan, (March 2018, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1503950986

Recommended for readers 3-6

Tough Tug is a scrappy tugboat, newly built and ready for action! He’s got his first big job – to pull a barge to Alaska – and learns that being a tug isn’t all about racing and bravado, especially in arctic waters! Based on the true story of an Alaskan tug that cut loose its own barge to rescue a floundering tug, Tough Tug sends positive messages about responsibility and helping others. Repeated phrases on each spread – Slide and Splash, Swirld and Twirl – get exaggerated font sizes and and lend a fun rhythm to storytelling. The digital illustrations personify the boats, giving them wide eyes and facial features, like eyepatches and mustaches. Kids who love movies like Cars will enjoy this fun add to vehicle/transportation picture books. Get your readers up and moving to this story like you would for Helen Oxenbury’s classic, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: swirling and splashing, painting and priming, using their arms and legs to wade through the story. Endpaper maps illustrate Tough Tug’s journey from construction to Alaska.

 

Ready, Set, Sail!, by Meg Fleming/Illustrated by Luke Flowers, (March 2018, Little Bee), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0533-8

Recommended for readers 3-7

Are you ready for a day of fun on the high seas? Join this group of animal friends as they grab their life vests and head out onto open water in this adorable rhyming tale. The group rows out to their ship, sets sail, and drops anchor so everyone can have some island fun diving and exploring. At the end of the day, they head to town to tell their whale of a tale. Luke Fleming’s colorful art, with Meg Fleming’s jaunty rhyme and rhythm, make for rousing storytime reading. Pair this with some fun fish and marine tales, like Lucy Cousins’s Hooray for Fish, Kyle Westaway’s A Whale in the Bathtub, or Steve Light’s board book, Boats Go.

Meg Fleming’s book, Ready, Set, Build! is a rhyming tale about two friends who build a playhouse together; together, these two books could form a nice cooperative themed storytime.

Posted in Fantasy, Preschool Reads

Funk’s Fine Fractured Fairy Tale: It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk!

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk, by Josh Funk/Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor, (Sept. 2017, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542045650

Recommended for readers 4-10

Happy Book Birthday to It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk! I love fractured fairy tales: they let me get as silly as I want to be (need to be?) in a storytime, which lets the kids know they can be as silly as they want or need to be, too. After all, storytime is supposed to be fun, isn’t it?

The story starts out as usual: the fancy fairy tale font, the “Once upon a time” opening line… but wait. Jack is sleeping! The narrator nudges him, and demands that he put on pants (this is the part where every kid in the room is on board with Jack) and get into the story. That’s when we get the idea that this narrator is a little pushy, and that maybe Jack has different ideas about how this fairy tale is going to go. Poor Jack is badgered into trading his pet cow for beans that make him toot, climb a giant beanstalk, and face off against a giant that he really has no quarrel with. Jack takes the story into his own hands, and brings things to a more satisfying conclusion.

Loaded with fairytale references – keep a sharp eye and ask your readers to point them out as they see them – and fun, cartoony digital art, It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk! is an essential to fractured fairy tale collections. It’s not just for the little readers, either – you can get a heck of a reader’s theatre going on here, thanks to all the side conversations and the power struggle between the Narrator and Jack. Wanna see it in action? Check out Josh Funk’s website, where teachers and librarians stage their own reading. It’s also a nice way to talk to kids about believing everything they read: the Narrator likes to embellish a few areas, but Jack is quick to call out alternative facts where he finds them.

If you haven’t enjoyed Josh Funk’s books yet, you have got to start. I love Pirasaurs – because there are pirate dinosaurs – and Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast make me laugh out loud. He’s got a load of great stuff available on his website, including downloadable coloring books and activity sheets, character cards, and book songs.

Want a shot at winning your own copy of It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk? You know you do. Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance!

 

Josh Funk writes silly stories and somehow tricks people into publishing them as books – such as the Nerdy Book Club Award-winning DEAR DRAGON and LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST along with IT’S NOT JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, and the upcoming ALBIE NEWTON, HOW TO CODE A SANDCASTLE (in partnership with Girls Who Code), and more.

Josh is a board member of The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA. was the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conferences, and has written a free 12-Step Guide to Writing Picture Books. Josh grew up in New England and studied Computer Science in school. Today, he still lives in New England and when not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes manuscripts.

Find out more about Josh at www.joshfunkbooks.com and on Twitter @joshfunkbooks.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Duck & Hippo get lost and found!

Duck and Hippo: Lost and Found, by Jonathan London/Illustrated by Andrew Joyner, (Aug. 2017, Two Lions/Amazon), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542045629

Recommended for readers 3-7

Duck and Hippo: Lost and Found, the second book in Froggy author Jonathan London’s new buddy series is every bit as sweet as the first one, Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm. In this latest tale, the friends go on a picnic with their friends Turtle, Elephant, and Pig. Everyone’s brought something to share… except for Hippo, who forgot! Determined to make things right, he sets off into the forest in search of wild berries. As night falls, Duck and friends worry that Hippo’s gotten lost, but what should they do?

There are great themes at work here: friendship, the main plot point that drives the Duck and Hippo adventures; sharing and caring for one another emerge as the story progresses. Kids will appreciate Duck’s decision to search for her friend, and the decision to stay in a group and loudly call for Hippo will provide relief to parents, who likely give the same advice to kids in the event of a separation (I know I do). Repeated phrases provide kids with the chance to jump in and be part of the Hippo search party. I love Andrew Joyner’s cheerful art, and the colorful, emphasized fonts that add to a reading. Andrew Joyner offers free, downloadable activity pages on his website, too – the kids at my library love the coloring sheets, which have been a staple of my summer coloring club.

Jonathan London has written more than one hundred children’s books, including the bestselling Froggy series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. He is the author of the popular Duck and Hippo series, illustrated by Andrew Joyner. Many of his books explore nature, among them Flamingo Sunset, illustrated by Kristina Rodanas, and Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica, illustrated by Julie Olson. He is also author of the Aaron’s Wilderness middle-grade series, illustrated by his son Sean London. Jonathan lives in Graton, California. Learn more online at www.jonathan-london.net.

Andrew Joyner is an illustrator, author, and cartoonist based in South Australia. He has illustrated a number of picture books, and he wrote and illustrated a chapter book series about a warthog named Boris. He is the illustrator of the popular Duck and Hippo series, written by Jonathan London. He has also illustrated for newspapers and magazines, including the Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, and Rolling Stone magazine, among others. Learn more online at www.andrewjoyner.com.au.

Giveaway!

Two Lions is offering a set of the Duck and Hippo books–DUCK AND HIPPO IN THE RAINSTORM and DUCK AND HIPPO LOST AND FOUND–to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses only, please). Just enter this https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.jsecopter.com/rafl/display/bbc165de19/" rel="nofollow" data-raflid="bbc165de19" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_scf2jfhw">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a> https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js“>Rafflecopter giveaway!

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 Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and a Giveaway: I Am (Not) Scared

How many times have you heard (or said) that famous boast? Anna Kang and illustrator Christopher Weyant bring their fuzzy buddies back for a third installment of fun and friendship. This time, the friends are at an amusement park, psyching one another up to brave a ride on a roller coaster. What’s scarier than a roller coaster? Lots of things: Snakes, a tub of hairy spiders, or a pan of fried ants, for starters!

I Am (Not) Scared, by Anna Kang/Illustrated by Christopher Weyant,
(March 2017, Two Lions/Amazon), $17.99, ISBN: 978-150-3937-45-1

I Am (Not) Scared is perfect for preschoolers and young readers because kids will see themselves in the two friends who learn that there are fun ways to be scared – especially when you’re with a friend. The friends brave a roller coaster with a newfound friend, and let themselves admit to being scared, which brings a giggly kind of relief, doesn’t it? Once the group has conquered their fear, they’re ready to go back and enjoy the thrill of being scared all over again.

Christopher Weyant’s ink and watercolor illustrations are bold, expressive and sweet. The bears are cuddly and friendly, inviting kids to join them on their adventures. The art, along with the bold, black text, makes this a great read-aloud, too. Invite kids to tell you what they think is scarier than fried ants or snakes on roller coasters and watch the wacky responses roll on in. There’s a great activity kit available via Anna Kang’s website, complete with discussion questions, a roller coaster-y maze, courage bracelets to give out, and more!

Get in on the fun with an I Am (Not) Scared giveaway! One winner will receive an I Am (Not) Scared gift pack: a set of squeezable stress balls, two adorable plush characters, and a copy of I AM (NOT) SCARED courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance!

Wife and husband team Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of two other books featuring these characters: Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small and That’s (Not) Mine. Christopher’s work can be seen regularly in The New Yorker magazine and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and dog, Hudson. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.