Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Program-a-Looza at ALA Annual 2015

This past weekend at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in San Francisco the first Program-a-Looza sessions were held. This open share session, brainchild of Danielle Jones, Kahla Gubanich, Mary Pearl, and yours truly, focused on cheap, easy children’s programming for public libraries. Inspired by grassroots sessions, such as Guerrilla Storytime and YA Smackdown, Program-a-Looza was created as a way for children’s library staff to take home tangible programming ideas, tips, and resources.

We held two sessions and participants were encouraged to brainstorm and bring their personal strengths and experiences to the table. First, each person shared a favorite easy to replicate program. Next, we picked a programming topic and spent 2 minutes brainstorming ideas using pens and sticky notes.

Wondering what we talked about? Check out the session notes.

We plan to hold more Program-a-Looza sessions at ALA Midwinter 2016 in Boston. Stay tuned for more info on dates/times

Thursday, June 11, 2015

May Round-Up

Image from RandomHouse.com
The Bus is for Us! by Michael Rosen, Illustrated by Gillian Tyler
Candlewick, 2015

The rhyming text of this book celebrates modes of transportation with the bus always coming out as number one. You could ride a bike, train, or plane. You could wish for a ride on a fish, take a trip on a ship, or even ride in a sleigh. “But the best is the bus. The bus is for us.” The soft watercolor illustrations feature a multicultural cast of kids as they imagine all the wonderful ways to travel. Short sentences and a large font make this a great choice for a toddler or preschool storytime. Try adding movements for each of mode of transportation and encourage your audience to shout, "The bus is for us!"

Image from HarperCollinsChildrens.com
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
HarperCollins, 2006

You might think that the rabbit in this book is just playing with a box, but the rabbit would be quick to remind you, “It’s not a box!” You might see the rabbit sitting in, standing on, or even wearing a box. But as you turn the pages you’ll find the rabbit is using its imagination to be sitting in a race car, standing on a mountain, and being a robot. The oft-repeated, “It’s not a box!” makes this a wonderful story for a preschool storytime or for independent readers in need of repetition. The thick lines of the illustrations stand out against the white background, while the brief text is set off by colorful backgrounds.

Image from LiszeBechtold.com
Sally and the Purple Socks by Lisze Bechtold
Philomel Books, 2008

Sally is very excited when her new purple socks arrive in the mail, but less excited when she learns that they have a tendency to change sizes! Good thing Sally is so practical. She uses the socks as hats, scarves, curtains, blankets, rugs, even a circus tent. The soft and warm illustrations were created with brushed ink line on top of gouache paint for a friendly, cartoonish atmosphere. The ever-changing socks make this book great for a preschool storytime focusing on narrative skills. The simple text balances narration and dialogue, making for a great read aloud. As the socks grow, Sally uses different words to describe the socks, “soft” “warm” “luxurious.” Take time before/during/after to talk about what each word means. What synonyms can the kids think of?

Image from GroundwoodBooks.com
Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson, Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Groundwood Books, 2015

A little red-hooded girl goes on a walk around the city with her very distracted father. He misses the details, but the little girl notices the flowers in the sidewalk cracks and vacant lots. She also sees people and animals that could use a little joy in the form of an urban flower. This wordless book has a quiet atmosphere, encouraging readers to look closer at the details of the illustrations. The pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations (with digital editing) play with shadows and light with well-placed splashes of color. This book is ideal for one-on-one reading that leaves plenty of time to discuss the action, objects, and people in the pictures.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

April Round-Up

Image from Ruzzier.com
Bear and Bee by Sergio Ruzzier
Disney/Hyperion, 2013
Bear is looking for some honey, but he’s terribly afraid of bees. Bees are monsters with claws and fangs. Worst of all they never share. So what will Bear do when he meets Bee? The illustrations, created with pen and ink and colored digitally, are whimsical and otherworldly. The text, just a sentence or two per page, is mostly dialogue. Many words are repeated throughout, making this a wonderful book for a beginning reader.

Image from ChronicleBooks.com
Chronicle Books, 2013
Falump, beep, and grrrakka along with machines at a construction site in this energetic and noisy board book. Colorful diggers created with mixed media share the extra long pages with the rhythmic and bold all-caps text. Set off against a crisp white background, the illustrations make create use of texture and thick, glossy black lines. If you like this one, check out Trains Go, Boats Go, Planes Go, and Trucks Go, all by Steve Light.

Image from SLJ.com
Mr. Squirrel and the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser
NorthSouth, 2015
Originally published in Germany, this is the story of Mr. Squirrel who wakes up one morning because the moon has fallen onto his tree. Mr. Squirrel is afraid. What if someone finds the moon, looking suspiciously like a wheel of cheese, in his tree and thinks he’s the thief! He’ll be sent to prison. This sets off a chain of hilarious events involving a prickly hedgehog, an angry billy goat, buzzing bees, and a gaggle of mice. The illustrations, which look to be color pencil, utilize color to highlight the action against the colorless backgrounds. Frequent flashes to Mr. Squirrel’s imaginings of life in jail are juxtaposed with the simple text.

Image from YuyiMorales.com
Nino Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
Roaring Brook Press, 2013
Here he is! The one, the only, the fantastic, the spectacular, Nino! He’s a pint-sized Lucha Libra champion ready to take on any and all contenders! Cabeza Olmeca, La Llorona, El Chamuco--None of them stand a chance. But what’s a wrestler to do when faced with the most horrid competitor of all, Las Hermanitas (his baby sisters)? The bright and cartoonish illustrations are a perfect match for the larger-than-life narration. Sprinkled liberally with Spanish words, use this multicultural story for your next preschool or early elementary read aloud. Check out the wrestler stats (and pronunciation guide) on the endpapers.


Friday, April 17, 2015

March Round-Up

Image from GroundwoodBooks.com
Mr. Frank by Irene Luxbacher
Groundwood Books, 2014
Mr. Frank has been cutting and stitching, sewing and mending for over 60 years. On the day he closes his tailor shop, he looks back on the many wonderful things he has sewn over the years--WWII uniforms, stylish suits, mod dresses, fluffy tutus. But today he is making something more wonderful, more perfect, more exciting than anything else he’s ever made. The graphite and mixed media illustrations of this quiet book use textures and patterns to bring Mr. Frank’s past to life. The text, written in third person, is conversational and direct. This is a lovely recommendation for a one-on-one reading session, especially with a grandparent.

Image from KirkusReviews.com
Surprise by Mies Van Hout
Lemniscaat, 2013
Using just one word per page, this striking book looks at the many emotions of bird parenting from yearning for a baby bird, marveling at a newborn, comforting a crying little one, to finally letting that baby go. Originally published in The Netherlands, the illustrations, featuring vibrant colors and textured lines against black backgrounds, are the highlight of this gorgeous book. The concepts in this book are at times abstract, making it a great book for one-on-one discussions about emotions between caregiver and child.

Image from TulikaBooks.com
What Should I Make? by Nandini Nayar, Illustrated by Proiti Roy
Tricycle Press, 2009
Neeraj’s mother gives him some chapati dough to play with while she cooks. “What should I make?” he wonders? His little ball of dough morphs into a snake, a mouse, a cat, and a lion, until it becomes the best thing of all--a big round chapati hot and puffy from cooking on the tava. Originally published in India, this simple story encourages readers to use their imaginations to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary. The cartoonish illustrations are set off against a white background and the concise text is printed in an easy-to-read font. A recipe for chapatis is included at the end of the book. You can use this book to demonstrate the ECRR2 practice of play.

Image from GeckoPress.co.nz
You Can Do It, Bert! by Ole Konnecke
Gecko Press, 2015
Originally published in Germany, this is a humorous story of encouragement.. It’s Bert’s big day to jump out of the tree. He’s ready! Or is he? He stalls. He eats a banana. He thinks. Can Bert do it? Using a minimalist style, the cartoonish illustrations focus on Bert’s internal struggle. The crisp white background sets of the short text. The story finishes with a delightful twist. This title is great for a preschool or kindergarten read aloud.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

February Round-Up

Image from RandomHouse.com
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall.
Schwartz & Wade, 2015
Starting in 1710 in England and moving through to California in 2010, this book looks at the way blackberry fool has been prepared and eaten over the years. Although the ingredients and the joy of licking the bowl stays the same, the kitchen tools used and the way the ingredients are harvested or bought changes over time. Readers will love the details in this book, from the meticulously researched fashions, to the dinners eaten by each family (Mushroom ketchup! Turtle soup!). The illustrations, rendered in Chinese ink, watercolor, and blackberry juice on paper, evoke the time period of each family, while also showing the similarities through composition and line. Back matter includes a recipe for blackberry fool, as well as fascinating notes from the author and the illustrator on the process of creating this book. Don’t miss the endpapers, stained with blackberry juice!

Image from Eerdmans.com
Roger is Reading a Book by Koen Van Beisen
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015
Roger is reading a book. That is until Emily starts playing a game, “BOING BOING.” And singing a song. And playing the drum. How will Roger be able to read with all this noise? First published in Belgium, this distinctive book features playful mixed media illustrations that utilize photographs and bright line work. The repetitive text paired with illustrations that reinforce the vocabulary make this a great book for beginning readers.

Image from MacMillan.com
This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne
Henry Holt and Company, 2014
At first, everything was fine on Bella’s stroll across the page with her dog. Suddenly--POOF!--her dog disappears into the gutter of the book! Bella calls for help, but everyone who arrives also disappears. Finally, Bella decides to take matters into her own hands. This interactive book is wonderful for a preschool storytime. It can be used to demonstrate print motivation. The bright and cartoonish illustrations are playful and the text is bold and easy to read. As one kid told me after storytime, “That book is tricky!”

Image from KidsCanPress.com
The Queen’s Shadow: A Story About How Animals See by Cybele Young
Kids Can Press, 2015
There are many illustrious guests at the Queen’s Ball including Captain Shark, Colossal Squid, Dr. Pigeon, and Sir Chameleon. All is going well until the moment the Queen realizes her shadow has gone missing. It’s up to Mantis Shrimp, the Royal Detective to interview the suspects and deduce the criminal. Within this mystery structure, information about how each animal sees is provided within the text, as well as in sidebar. The colorful and bold pen and ink, plus Photoshop illustrations not only tell the story, but also represent how each animal might view their world. The length of the text and the depth of information make this a wonderful story to share with an elementary aged group.