Tuesday, April 12, 2016

March Round-Up

Image from HopeVestergaard.com
Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard, illustrated by David Slonim
Candlewick, 2013

Featuring sixteen different vehicles from cement mixers to snowplows, excavators to fire trucks, this collection of poetry is action-packed. The short poems have great rhythm and, often, rhyme. The vocabulary is impressive, yet always clearly explained in context. The acrylic and charcoal illustrations are cartoonish and feature three diverse kids and their devoted dog exploring each vehicle. I recently read several poems from this book in my preschool storytime with great success.

Image from BoydsMillPress.com
Fresh Delicious: Poems from the Farmers’ Market by Irene Latham, illustrated by Mique Moriuchi
WordSong, 2016

This collection of twenty-one poems celebrates the glorious sights, smells, and tastes of a farmers’ market. The short, lighthearted poems are arranged simply, yet attractively on the page pairing beautifully with the whimsical acrylic and collage illustrations showing a variety of animals extolling the virtues of their favorite fresh and delicious produce. Enjoy such bite-sized delicacies as a small rabbit contemplating the many flavors of lettuces, a pig and a skunk taking in the fuzzy sweetness of peaches, two mice having an okra duel, and a piratical hippo and giraffe discovering a treasure chest of farm-fresh eggs. Six recipes (to be completed with a grown-up helper) round out this delectable poetry collection. These are lovely poems to share with toddlers and preschoolers.

Image from AbramsBooks.com
McToad Mows Tiny Island by Tom Angleberger, illustrated by John Hendrix
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015

In this completely ridiculous, laugh-out-loud story hardworking McToad shares his love of Thursdays. Every other day of the week he mows Big Island, but on Thursdays he mows Tiny Island. Using every form of transportation imaginable from a truck to a forklift, a baggage buggy to a crane, McToad takes his riding mower to the oh-so-teeny island. The illustrations, rendered with pen and ink with fluid acrylic washes, make great use of lines and shading to create perspective. The drily serious text builds up to the hilarious climax. Read this book with a preschool or elementary aged audience and talk about the many decorative fonts used throughout the story.

Image from Macmillan.com
Stop Snoring, Bernard! By Zachariah Ohora
Henry Holt and Company, 2011

Bernard the otter loves living at the zoo. The food is tasty and his friends are awesome. Unfortunately, the other otters aren’t so happy with Bernard at naptime. Bernard just can’t sleep without snoring, really, really loudly! One day Grumpy Giles has enough and Bernard sets off to find a new place to nap. Will Bernard ever find a place where his snoring won’t disturb someone? The thick black outlines and bright colors of the acrylic illustrations make Bernard and his zoo friends pop off the page. The narration is simple, yet propels the story forward with urgency. Read this to a preschool storytime crowd and have them shout the oft-repeated words, “Stop snoring, Bernard!”


Thursday, March 10, 2016

February Round-Up

Image from HolidayHouse.com
Ballerina Gets Ready by Allegra Kent, illustrated by Catherine Stock
Holiday House, 2016
Young dancers will love following Iris the ballerina from morning until night in this slice of life picture book. Throughout Iris’s jampacked day (costume fittings, rehearsals, barre, performance) each bit of text is preceded by a time stamp. The sketchy, loose pen and ink and watercolor illustrations are detailed and full of movement. The text is concise with small touches that provide insight into the culture of ballet.

Image from BrittaTeckentrup.com
Find the Circle (also, Find the Line, Find the Square, and Find the Triangle) board book series by Britta Teckentrup
Sterling Children’s Books, 2015
Circle - 9781454917595
Line - 9781454917601
Square - 9781454917618
Triangle - 9781454917625
Originally published in Great Britain under slightly different names, these brightly colored board books visually reinforce shapes and lines for little ones. Each page includes three extremely short sentences. The final sentences is always a question prompting caregivers and young ones to explore the illustrations. Uncluttered layouts and easy to identify objects make it clear that these well-made board books were intentionally made for infants.  

Image from RandomHouse.com
Room for Bear by Ciara Gavin
Alfred A. Knopf, 2015
You might think that a bear and five ducks would make an odd family, but in fact they fit perfectly together. The only trouble is, where can they live? An extensive search for a bear- and duck-friendly home is horribly disappointing. Does this mean Bear can’t live with the ducks? The soft watercolor and pencil illustrations provide a comforting background for this gentle story. With it’s clear beginning, middle, and end, this book is a perfect choice for a preschool storytime focusing on narrative skills. The follow up, Bear is Not Tired, just came out in January, 2016.

Choo! Choo!: Guess the Vehicle  and Toot! Toot!: Guess the Instrument(What’s that Noise? series) by Child’s Play, illustrated by Cocorette
Child’s Play, 2015
Toot Toot - 978-1846437496
Choo Choo - 978-1846437465
These simple concept board books feature bold shapes and colors and sturdy flaps that reveal the source of each sound. The brief text, printed in a large font, invites adult and baby readers to interact throughout. The bright illustrations with cheerful animals make this a great book for even the youngest infant. There are other titles in this series, but I feel that these two are the strongest.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Looking Back on 2015 and Ahead to 2016

The Giant Harry Potter Cardboard Maze.
Photo courtesy of Will Forrester.


2015 was an incredibly busy year. I got married, went from part-time, to full-time, designed and built a giant cardboard maze, and we even bought a house! I was also serving on the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Committee and spent the last few months knee deep in notes and books prepping for intense book discussions at ALA Midwinter. It was a lot of hard work, but I am very proud of the winner and three honor books chosen our committee. 

I'll admit it, I didn't get as much blogging done as I would have liked. So instead of trying to catch up on my November and December round-ups, and because there are more great books published each year than I could ever hope to read, I give you a round-up of best/notable/fabulous book lists of 2015. 

ALSC's Notable Children's Book 2016 List
A great list of books for kids (0-14 years old). The list is divided into books for younger, middle, and older readers with nonfiction and fiction mixed together. 

Denver Public Library's 2015 Best & Brightest Book List - Every year a group of Denver Public Library librarians gets together to create our Best & Brightest Children's Book List. Divided into categories, this annotated list includes our favorite children's books for babies through middle schoolers published in 2015. It is our hope that there's something on this list for every child. We strive to make a list that reflects the wonderful diversity of the City of Denver. I have personally contributed titles to this list. 

Notable Books for a Global Society 2016 List
Each year The Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group of the International Literacy Association chooses 25 books for preK through 12th grade that reflect and celebrate diversity. 

School Library Journal's Best of 2015
Categories include books for babies through teens, as well as apps, audiobooks, and DVDs. 

We Need Diverse Books End of the Year Booklists
Divided by age range and presented in eye-catching flowcharts, these lists provide a variety of excellent and diverse recommendations for young readers. 


As I look at my work-life-blog balance, I realize that I will have less time to blog in 2016. I still plan on posting a round-up at the end of each month, but the reviews will probably be much shorter. More keywords (to help me when I'm doing reader's advisory on the fly) and less hyperlinks. I hope you'll still continue to stop by and that you'll find this blog helpful. 

*A duplicate of this post can also be found on my other blog: ChapterBookExplorer.Blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Program-a-Rama at ALA Midwinter 2016

Image by Dean Hochman via Flickr: 
Last weekend at ALA Midwinter 2016 in Boston the second Program-a-Rama session was held. Formerly known as Program-a-Looza (but changed to rhyme better), this grassroots session was created as a way for children's library staff to take home tangible programming ideas, tips, and resources.

After introductions, each person shared a favorite cheap, easy, and successful program. Next, we did some group brainstorming on programming topics using pens and sticky notes. Finally, we spent a few minutes discussing programming challenges and possible solutions.

This session was lead by Danielle Jones (Multnomah County Library) and myself (Denver Public Library) and we look forward to hosting another session at ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando.

Wondering what we talked about? Check out the Program-a-Rama Notes.

Want more programming ideas? Take a look at my posts about last year's Program-a-Looza, as well as a the notes from a recent passive programming brainstorming session.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

September Round-Up

Image from Amazon.com
Friends by Helme Heine
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015
Originally published in German, this is the story of Charlie Rooster, Johnny Mouse, and fat Percy Pig who are the very best of friends. Sundrenched and bright illustrations follow their adventures around the countryside. Simple, narrative text and large illustrations make this a great pick for a preschool storytime.

Image from HarperCollins.com
Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
HarperCollins, 2015
If the conditions are just right, “an imaginary friend might appear just when you need one.” In this case, his name was Fred. Imaginary friends usually fade when their real life friends cease to need them, but something different happened when Fred met another imaginary friend. Her name was Frieda. This magical and whimsical story is illustrated in ink with deftly placed spots of color. The longer text and more complex story make this book a wonderful choice for elementary school aged readers.

Image from SLJ.com
Moletown by Torben Kuhlmann
NorthSouth, 2015
Originally published in Switzerland, this mostly wordless picture book is a meditation on the environmental effects of single-minded progress. Moletown begins as a simple tunnel under a lush, green meadow, but the years pass and the moles expand and build. By the end of the book the lush green meadow is nothing but a dingy clump of grass. Don’t miss the detailed endpapers. Read this book with older kids (3rd grade+) along with John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s The Rabbits to start a discussion on the impact of humans on the environment.

Image from ChronicleBooks.com
Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec
Chronicle Books, 2015
Look at the pictures to find the clues to figure out “who done it?” The long trim size of this book allows for two rows of suspects, rendered in pencil and acrylic paint, on each two page spread. Can you guess who forgot their swimsuit? Who didn’t get enough sleep? Who ate all the jam? The final page of the book provides the answers.