Friday, January 16, 2015

December Round-Up

Image from
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Little, Brown and Company, 2014
Beekle was born on an island of imaginary friends. He waits and waits to be chosen by a child and to be given a special name, but it never happens. So Beekle decides to do the unimaginable--he leaves the island to seek the child who will be his friend. This satisfying story of friendship and hope combines narrative text with Santat’s signature slick and whimsical cartoonish illustrations. The vibrant, saturated colors add to the magical atmosphere. Don’t miss the fun endpapers showing a variety of kids and their imaginary friends. This is a wonderful read aloud for preschool or lower elementary kids.

Image from
Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi & Bethany Hegedus, Illustrated by Evan Turk
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014
When young Arun comes to live with his Grandfather Gandhi at Sevagram in India, he has a difficult time trying to live up to the Gandhi name, which leads to his anger and frustration. Through discussions with his grandfather, Arun comes to understand his anger and how he can use it in a positive, rather than a negative, way. The bright sun and intense heat of India are wonderfully depicted in the mixed medium illustrations, which use yarn, cotton fabric, pencil, tin foil, and even tea. Turk deftly manipulates shadows and proportions to convey Arun's emotions and perceptions. The text uses words deliberately, allowing this quiet story to speak volumes about anger, emotions, confidence, and peace. Although this book is not a biography of Mahatma Gandhi, it is a beautiful tribute to the man and his message for his grandson and the world. This book is an excellent choice for independent readers, as well as sharing with upper elementary classes.

Image from
Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts
Abrams, 2014
Madame Chapeau is a milliner known for making whimsically fantastic hats for people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and walks of life. Every year on her birthday she dresses up in her best frock and hat and treats herself to a luxurious dinner. But this year, on her way to dinner her hat tumbles off and is stolen by a mischievous crow. Many people offer to give Madame Chapeau their hats, but none of them hits the right note. At the last moment, Madame’s special day is saved by a little girl who creates the perfect hat. Inspired by the fashion editor Isabella Blow, the rhyming text of this sartorial romp features many a clever turn of phrase. The stylized illustrations feature intricate line work and details galore. This is a fantastic book to share with a lower elementary aged group.

Image from
Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads by Bob Shea, Illustrated by Lane Smith
Roaring Brook Press, 2014
The terrible Toads, three vile and disgusting criminals, have descended on the spicy town of Drywater Gulch. Thankfully, Kid Sheriff rides into town to save the day with his expert knowledge of dinosaurs. The terrible Toads might be gold stealin’, cattle kissin’, chili insultin’ vermits, but they’re no match for the clever and quick thinking Kid Sheriff. This tall tale uses cartoonish illustrations featuring a palette of browns, reds, and yellows. With humor as dry and crisp as Drywater Gulch, cinematic pacing and angles, and a Wild West font, this story evokes a classic western movie. Use this laugh out loud book for riotously funny read aloud for elementary aged kids.


Friday, December 12, 2014

November Round-Up

Image from
Goodnight Already! by Jory John, Illustrated by Benji Davies
HarperCollins, 2014
Bear is sleepy, incredibly sleepy. He could sleep for months! He's just about to settle into bed when his neighbor Duck knocks on the door. Duck is definitely not sleepy. Will Bear ever get to sleep? The humorous all dialogue text has a distinctive font for Bear and another for Duck, making this a fun preschool read aloud. The cartoonish illustrations are animated with exaggerated facial and body expressions that heighten the humor.

Image from
The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan, Illustrated by Hadley Hooper
Roaring Brook Press, 2014
 This vividly colored book invites the reader to imagine what it would be like to grow up like the painter Henri Matisse did. He grew up in a small, grey industrial town in France, but that didn't mean he wasn't surrounded by color. The simple "what if?" text combined with the relief printmaking and digital illustrations create a wonderful introduction and tribute to an important artist. An author's/illustrator's note at the end of the book include more information about Matisse, the inspirations for this book, and further reading suggestions. 

Image from
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant, Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
 Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2014
 Beginning with his birth in 1779, this picture book biography looks at the life of Peter Mark Roget-better known as the man who created Roget's thesaurus. The mixed media illustrations incorporate Roget's notebooks and original thesaurus. Synonyms seem to sprout all over the pages and the endpapers are especially intriguing. The straight forward text provides just enough -- but not an overwhelming amount -- of detail for young readers. Excellent back matter includes, a timeline of important events, an author's and illustrator's notes, as well as a selected bibliography, further reading, and sources. This is a great title for elementary aged kids, who will want to start a few lists of their own after reading this book. 

Image from
The World According to Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan, Illustrated by Matthew Myers 
Roaring Press Books, 2014
 The dynamic duo of zebra and musk ox from "A is for Musk Ox" and "Musk Ox Counts" are back for their third installment. This time their hilarious, pun-tastic adventures take them globe-trotting to all seven continents. The painterly illustrations match the humor of the back-and-forth banter between the two friends. Facts about each continents climate, landmarks, animals, and geography are woven into the story. Fun for independent or group reading, especially for elementary aged kids who are learning about their continents.

Friday, November 7, 2014

October Round-Up

Image from
The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water by Gemma Merino
NorthSouth Books, 2014

“Once upon a time, there was a little crocodile. And this little crocodile didn’t like water.” And that makes him so sad because his brothers and sisters love water so much. He tries really hard to like it, but each attempt is a failure. What’s a little crocodile to do? The soft colors and cartoonish lines of the illustrations compliment the concise, yet compelling text. Several sets of sequential panels allow for more detail and expression and the page turns are strategically placed for maximum effect. Read this book for a preschool storytime and enjoy the moment when the kids figure out the plot twist. 

Image from
Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki, Illustrated by Qin Ling
Kids Can Press, 2014

Little Hana Hashimoto longs to play the violin like her Ojiichan (grandfather). Hana is just a beginner, but she practices and practices for the upcoming school talent show. Her brother’s worry she will be an embarrassment, but Hana surprises them. Instead of playing classical music, she plucks out the sound of rain on a paper umbrella, lowing cows, squeaking mice, and croaking frogs. Set in Japan, the soft pencil and digital illustrations quietly compliment the descriptive, humble text. Use this book with elementary aged students to start a discussion about the musical sounds we hear in our everyday world.

Image from
Rex Wrecks It by Ben Clanton
Candlewick, 2014

Gizmo, Sprinkles, and Wild love to build towers out of blocks, but their friend Rex just loves to wreck them! No matter how big, strong or awesomerific the towers, Rex wrecks them all. What are the friends to do? With colorful and dynamic illustrations done in ink, pencil, watercolor, and “digital magic”, this story is great for a preschool or toddler storytime. The concise text is just the right length for a read aloud and it’s fun to get the audience to “RAWR!” along with Rex.

Image from
Telephone by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Jen Corace
Chronicle Books, 2014

Peter’s mom wants him to come home for dinner. So she passes the message down the bird covered telephone wire. Unfortunately, the birds get the message a little confused. Will Peter understand it when it finally gets to him? The playfully humorous all dialogue text is perfect for an elementary aged audience. Corace’s watercolor, ink, gouache, and pencil illustrations feature soft colors, precise edges, and visual humor galore. Follow up with your own game of telephone.


Friday, October 3, 2014

September Round-Up

Image from
Mix It Up by Hervé Tullet
Chronicle Books, 2014

In the spirit of his wildly popular Press Here, Tullet tackles colors in a highly interactive and playful manner. The cheerful text provides instructions that encourages readers to explore color mixing and to make predictions. The painted illustrations are vivid and textured as the colors splash and spatter about the pages. This is a great book for an all ages storytime or for one-on-one sharing. It also supports the ECRR2 practice of play.  

Image from
Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
Clarion Books, 2014

Nana lives in New York City. A place her small grandson finds busy, loud, and full of scary things. But then Nana makes him a cape to keep him brave and shows him all the things she loves about her city. Simple text paired with vibrant colors and bold black outlines give the illustrations a playful, cartoonish tone. Castillo has created wonderfully modern and vivacious grandmother. Share this with a child before visiting the city or visiting a grandparent.

Image from
Quest by Aaron Becker
Candlewick, 2014

The sequel to last year’s Journey, this wordless adventure turns a rainy day at the city park into a magical quest. The two friends from Journey, armed with their red and purple chalk sticks, use their imagination to follow the clues on a map and save the hidden kingdom. The detailed watercolor, pen and ink illustrations draw the reader into the story, searching for clues and anticipating the adventure on the next page. This book is fascinating and enjoyable as a standalone title, as well as a sequel. Try giving this book to a child on a rainy afternoon. Check out the tantalizing book trailer

Image from
Tiny Creatures: TheWorld of Microbes by Nicola Davies, Illustrated by Emily Sutton
Candlewick, 2014

This non-fiction title celebrates the microscopic, yet vitally important, world of microbes! Engaging and concise, the text compares and contrasts the size and number of microbes in an easily relatable fashion. The watercolor illustrations feature a red-headed pair of children and their cat who explore the world of microbes along with the reader. A vast variety of microbes are presented in visually stunning ways using the large trim size well. Although more indepth information on microbes would have been a nice addition to the back matter, this is still a wonderful title to recommend for an elementary classroom read aloud. It is a great introduction to microbes and it has a solid STEM connection.


Monday, September 1, 2014

August Round-Up

Image from
Hermelin: The Detective Mouse as told to Mini Grey
Alfred A. Knopf, 2013

There’s a lot of mysterious stuff happening on Offley Street. Good thing Hermelin’s around to use his mouse-y detective skills. He solves the mystery of the Lost Glasses of Dr. Parker and the Dramatic Rescue of Baby McMumbo. But how will the neighbors react when they realize their celebrated sleuth is a rodent?  This romp of a mystery is chockfull of humorous narration by Hermelin and delicious visuals clues hidden in the mixed media illustrations. Try leaving it lying around and let elementary school aged kids pour over the illustrations. Offley Street is populated by a whimsical set of neighbors and  Hermelin is a curious, goodhearted protagonist, much like Eve Titus’s Anatole. Although the ending is satisfying, Grey leaves the reader clues that could very well led to more adventures for Hermelin and his new friend Emily.

Image from
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014

Look out! Here comes the Hug Machine! Ready to give everyone a hug – young or old, short or tall! He might look like a boy, but he’s actually a Hug Machine that runs on pizza! No matter what the Hug Machine is always open for business! This expressive read aloud is a fun book for a Valentine’s Day themed toddler storytime. Written from the boy’s point of view, the text is energetic and humorous. The watercolor illustrations feature exaggerated characters, especially the long-armed Hug Machine. Don’t miss the whimsical endpapers!

Image from
I Feel Five! By Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Candlewick Press, 2014

Fritz wakes up knowing that today he’ll feel different because today he’s five! Except he doesn’t feel different. He still can’t tie his shoelaces and none of his teeth are even the tiniest bit loose! Will he ever feel five? The easy to read font plus bright, cartoonish pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations make this a fun title for preschool storytime. Try using it for a birthday themed storytime along with A Letter for Amy by Ezra Jack Keats.

Image from
Nancy Knows by Cybèle Young
Tundra Books, 2014

They say an elephant never forgets…but Nancy might have forgotten something important. So she tries to remember things she knows – things that are the same and things that are different, things with wheels, and places to relax. She remembers them backwards and forwards, this way and that. What is it that Nancy can’t remember? The highlight of this delightful book is the loose, yet precise artwork created with graphite pencil and sculptures made with Japanese papers. Simple text and delicate illustrations pair perfectly to illustrate concepts (messy vs. clean, backwards vs. forwards). The short text and the happy ending make this a great book for storytime.