Wednesday, May 20, 2015

April Round-Up

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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!”

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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.


Friday, February 13, 2015

January Round-Up

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Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn’t Fit by Catherine Rayner
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2009
“Ernest was a rather large moose.” So large that no matter what he does he can’t fit inside this book! He shimmies and squeezes, squidges and shuffles, but to no avail. What’s a moose to do? The mixed media illustrations in this short, but humorous book feature eager Ernest and his silent, but helpful chipmunk friend. Add this book to a size themed storytime and enjoy the oohs and ahhs when the final page unfolds...and unfolds...and unfolds!

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Jump! by Scott M. Fischer
Simon and Schuster, 2010
Starting with a small frog sitting on a log and moving along to a gigantic whale ready to set sail, this rhyming book is great for a toddler or preschool storytime. The cartoonish watercolor illustrations use saturated colors and bold lines, making the animals seem to jump off the page. The rhythmic text is easy to sing or chant. Kids will love to shout, “Jump!” as each animal tries to escape. Pair this book with your favorite version of the song, “Slippery Fish” (I like to use a flannel with this song. You can also play Charlotte Diamond’s version.).

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Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato
Henry Holt, 2014
Little Elliot loves living in the big city, but he doesn’t like being so small. He finds himself being trampled and overlooked. But one day he meets a mouse that’s even smaller than he is! The cartoonish, yet softly diffused illustrations make great use of light and shading. Short sentences and a linear plot make this a good choice for a toddler storytime. Kids will relate to Elliot’s powerlessness and cheer when he finds a way to be seen and heard. If you like Little Elliot, get ready for Little Elliot Big Family (Available Oct. 6, 2015).

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Wind by Carol Thompson
Child’s Play (International), 2014
This board book features a multicultural cast of toddlers as they experience a windy day. Part of the Whatever the Weather series (the other titles are Rain, Sun, Snow), the text includes sensory descriptions of wind from the way it feels to the way it sounds. The short, rhyming text and mixed media illustrations make this a wonderful choice for a baby storytime.


Friday, January 16, 2015

December Round-Up

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.