Friday, December 13, 2013

November Round-Up


Image from BrianFloca.com
Locomotive by Brian Floca
This beautifully detailed non-fiction picture book examines and explores the way locomotives changed the country as a family takes a cross country trip from Omaha to San Francisco. The book is set in 1869, shortly after the railroad was completed. The rhythmic text, which incorporates sound effects, vividly conveys the motion, sights, sounds, and smells of traveling and working on a locomotive. Floca expertly utilizes a variety of fonts to convey emotion and motion. The evocative text and the lively illustrations combine to paint a detailed picture of train culture. This includes the ins and outs of traveling and working on a train, as well as the mechanical workings of steam trains. Use this book as a jumping off point for discussing geography, as Floca’s illustrations include place names as the train travels across the U.S. The detailed notes at the back of the book include information on how/why/who built the railroad and how it changed the country. Don’t miss the awesome endpapers!

Image from BenClanton.com
Mo’s Mustache by Ben Clanton
Mo Joe is super excited to get his brand new “big, black, beautiful” mustache in the mail and even more excited to show it off to his friends. Except then his friends start wearing mustaches, too! So Mo ditches his ‘stache and tries out a “long, lined, and lovely” scarf. But what is Mo to do when everyone copies him again? This humorous read aloud that starts with a mustache and ends with a fashion show, is an ode to being yourself and rocking it. Fun fonts and speech bubbles pair nicely with the watercolor and ink illustrations. This book is on my list to try out with elementary school aged kids.

Image from ChronicleBooks.com
On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky
This picture book biography focuses on Einstein's unique ability to question and think about new ideas. Rather than relating dates and facts, the text, along with the back matter, explores the major ideas and traits that made Einstein so remarkable. This allows the narrative to move along at a quick pace. Like the text, the loose, childlike illustrations also convey ideas rather than literal depictions of Einstein's world. Share this book with a group of elementary aged kids to inspire them to learn more about this fascinating man.

Image from MOMA.org
Young Frank Architect by Frank Viva
Young Frank is an architect who lives with his small dog Eddie and his grandfather, Old Frank. Young Frank loves to create architectural designs with anything and everything (even Eddie!), but he becomes discouraged when Old Frank tells him his designs aren’t anything like the ones real architects make. Real architects don’t make twisty towers or squiggly chairs. Or do they? After a trip to the Museum of Modern Art Old Frank thinks maybe he’s a little younger and a little wiser. Back matter includes more information on several prominent architects (many of them named Frank) whose work is featured in Viva’s striking illustrations. Read this book before or after going to a modern art museum.

-Amy

Friday, November 15, 2013

October Round-Up


Image from hmhco.com
Gus, the Dinosaur Bus by Julia Liu, Illustrated by Bei Lynn
Some kids walk to school, or ride in a car, or take an ordinary yellow bus, but not the kids in this book! They get to ride to school on Gus, the dinosaur bus. The whole town loves Gus, they even build a road just for him (so he won’t step on cars), but Gus is so tall he sometimes gets tangled in telephone wires and his tail is so long he puts holes in buildings. Gus loves his job as a dinosaur bus, what will he do when the school tells him he has to stop? Lynn’s watercolor and ink illustrations mimic colored crayons and Liu’s text rolls along at a quick pace. A great read aloud for preschoolers that opens the magical door to “what if…”

Image from Scholastic.com
Little One Step by Simon James
Three little birds get lost one day and have to find their way through the forest, across the meadow, and back home to Mama. The oldest and middle ducklings aren’t worried at all, but the littlest duckling doesn’t think he can do it! His legs are all wobbly and he wants his Mama! Luckily, his older siblings teach him how to do the One Step all the way home. The watercolor and ink illustrations compliment this sweet story that features a supportive and caring sibling relationship.

Image from us.PenguinGroup.com
Please Bring Balloons by Lindsay Ward
The unexpected adventure began at the zoo the day Emma found a note hidden on the Polar Bear on the carousel. The note said to bring balloons. So Emma did. And soon she and the polar bear are off on a grand journey up to the sky, above the city, into the stars, and through an icy landscape. This imaginative tale is accompanied by whimsical mixed media illustrations that utilize a variety textures and cut papers. A great bedtime story.

Image from AmeDyckman.com
        Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman, Illustrated by K. G. Campbell

          One day a little bear cub smells something delicious. So he follows his nose through the woods and finds a table all set for tea with mouthwatering cookies. He’s just about to take a bite, when a little girl comes out of the house. Poor Cub, he just wants those cookies, but the little girl has a lot of tea party rules! This hilarious book builds as each rule is more ridiculous in the last until Cub finally snaps in a humorous twist of an ending. Campbell’s detailed sepia marker and colored pencil illustrations are mischievous and lively. The text balances dialogue and narration and is just right for reading aloud. Check out the fun book trailer for a sneak peek.

-Amy

Monday, September 30, 2013

September Round-Up


Image from HachetteBookGroup.com
The First Drawing by Mordicai Gerstein
In 1994 cave drawings more than thirty thousand years old were discovered in southern France. And in the same cave the footprint of a small boy was also found. In this book Gerstein imagines what it might be like if an 8 year old boy invented drawing. Detailed acrylic, pen, and ink illustrations vividly bring to life a world where mammoths and bears, lions and elk roam free. Written from the perspective of an unseen narrator the text encourages readers to imagine they are the boy discovering the magic of art and self-expression. An author’s note at the back of the book provides more information on the actual cave drawings that inspired the story.

Image from PenguinChaCha.com
Penguin Cha-Cha by Kristi Valient
Julia loves to visit the Romping Chomping Park and Zoo. She climbs a tall tree and watches a group of dancers perform on the outdoor stage. At first she is mesmerized by the dancing, but soon she notices some sneaky flippers! Penguins were making off with hats and clothes, fans and bows! Julia knows those fishy penguins are up to something! Whimsical and sketchy, the colorful illustrations are full of movement. The text moves the story along quickly and there’s a fun rhythmic sequence as Julia teaches the toe-tapping penguins to cha-cha-cha. Check out the free storytime kit provided by Penguin.

Image from US.PenguinGroup.com
Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin, Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Pizza is all Raccoon wants in life. He loves everything about pizza, it’s “gooey chessy-ness, salty pepperoni-ness, sweet, sweet tomato-ness, and crispity, crunchity crust.” Of course, most people won’t share their pizza with Raccoon, instead they’ll chase him off with brooms. That’s why Raccoon plans a secret pizza party! This hilarious story, driven by a mischievous unseen narrator, has a twist of an ending. A great read aloud for elementary age children who will eat up the idea of a pizza loving raccoon.

Image from Scholastic.com
Tanka Tanka Skunk by Steve Webb
Tanka, an elephant, and his friend Skunk love to beat out a crazy rhythm using the names of all their friends, from llama to lemur, bear to cat-er-pil-lar. This is a great addition to a storytime about phonological awareness or vocabulary. Rhythmic text and a fun refrain make this a rollicking read aloud.





-Amy

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

August Round-Up

Image from ChronicleBooks.com
Inside Outside by Lizi  Boyd
This wordless book focuses on the adventures of a young boy inside and outside his house over the course of one year (winter to winter). Along with his dog, cat, turtle, and numerous birds, the black-haired boy revels in exploring his indoor and outdoor worlds. Inside he paints pictures, puts on puppet shows, reads, and does crafts. Outside he makes snowmen, plants seeds, splashes in puddles, and flies his homemade kite. Although there isn’t a plot, the changing of the seasons provides a through line. Additionally, die-cuts of different shapes and sizes tie elements from one scene into the next creating a continuous flow. The illustrations, gouache on brown kraft paper, use simple lines and shapes with just the right amount of color to bring life to the pages. A great one-on-one book that supports the Every Child Ready to Read practice of playing.

Image from SimonandSchuster.com
Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
In this movement oriented story a young girl and her stuffed monkey toy imitate their favorite zoo animals from elephants to kangaroos, penguins to bats, and of course, monkeys. The short, playful text uses a repeated chorus, “Monkey and me / Monkey and me / Monkey and me / we went to see / we went to see…” A great addition to a toddler storytime because Gravett’s text and realistic illustrations invite interaction. It would also be fun to use this for a yoga storytime. Pick out a few more books by Gravett for an author themed storytime. A few of my favorites, Orange Pear Apple Bear and Blue Chameleon.

Image from RandomHouse.com
Ribbit! By Rodrigo Folgueira, Illustrated by Poly Bernatene
One day the quiet of the pond is disturbed by a surprise visitor who announces his arrival with a loud, “Ribbit!” But the visitor isn’t a frog, it’s a pink pig! The frogs are outraged and soon all the other animals hurry to the pond. None of them can figure out what this strange pig is doing, so they consult the wise old beetle who says, “Maybe…he just wanted to make new friends.” And all of the animals are speechless, until they see the pig up in the trees talking with the birds! “Tweet!” The mixed-media illustrations are lively and humorous. Bernatene is especially adept at creating expressive facial features for the animals. This fable-like story is a fun read aloud for a preschoolers-early elementary aged kids, who will love to shout “Ribbit!” along with the pig. The message, that friends come in all shapes and sizes, is delivered with a touch of humor.

Image from HelenFrost.net
Step Gently Out by Helen Frost, Photographs by Rick Lieder
In this beautiful poem Frost urges the reader to observe more closely as she points out the wonder of the insect world. Lieder’s stunning close-up photography complements Frost’s quiet poem by capturing not only resting insects, but insects in motion, from the cricket that “leaps /and lands, / then sits back / and sings” to the moth that “flies / in and comes / to rest with / open wings.” Brief information about the featured insects (habitat, life cycle, etc.) is included at the back of the book. This ALA Notable Children’s Book is a nice poetry and non-fiction title for a preschool storytime. If you have the time, follow up by going on a nature walk.

-Amy

Friday, August 9, 2013

July Round-Up

Image from PublisherWeekly.com
Alphablock by Christopher Franceschelli, Illustrated by Peskimo
This sturdy board book is a visual alphabet delight. Page turns and cut outs encourage readers to guess the answer to, “A is for…”, "B is for....", etc. as you travel through the alphabet. Visual clues not only make the game more fun, but also create compelling compositions. The graphics have distinct edges and bold colors.

Animal Opposites by Petr Horacek
Image from Walker.co.uk
Utilizing flaps, pop-ups, and his signature mixed-media paintings Horacek uses pairs of animals to demonstrate opposites. The first animal is featured on the left hand page and then readers have a chance to guess the opposite animal hidden behind a flap. For instance, a short dog and a tall giraffe, a quiet rabbit and a loud lion. Minimal text and large illustrations make this a great fit for a toddler or preschool storytime.

Journey by Aaron Becker
Image from StoryBreathing.com

This wordless book follows the imaginative adventures of a young girl. Clad in shorts and a t-shirt and armed with a red piece of chalk the girl transforms a boring day into an extraordinary journey. Traveling by boat, hot air balloon, flying carpet, and more the girl escapes her life in the city and makes a friend in the process. Illustrated with watercolor, pen, and ink this book will have readers returning again and again to uncover more details in the intricate pictures. Check out the awesome book trailer.

My Blue is Happy by Jessica Young, Illustrated by Catia Chien
Image from RandomHouse.com

Differing emotions and perspectives on color are explored in this story about one girl’s exploration of color. Written in first person, the young girl points out that some people say blue is a sad color, like a lonely song, “but my blue is happy / like my favorite jeans / and a splash in the pool on a hot day.” Vibrant, textured acrylic illustrations allow readers to discover the many facets of a color. Use this for a storytime or unit on colors and feelings. Try pairing it with My Many Colored Days or poems from Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors.

This is Our House by Hyewon Yum
Image from HyewonBooks.com
In a series of candid illustrated snapshots paired with lively full page illustrations this story follows the lives of the family that lives in a brick house. A young girl tells us of the many events that have happened in and around the house, from the stoop her grandparents arrive on with just two suitcases to the sidewalk where two generations of children have learned to walk. Simple, repetitive text is paired beautifully with Yum’s soft watercolor illustrations. It’s great to see a book that shows an inter-generational, mixed race family.

-Amy

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

June Round-Up

Image from MacMillanUSA.com
Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman
The chickens on Farmer Greenstalk’s farm aren’t your everyday chickens. They’re helpful chickens! When the Greenstalk’s get into a bind, it’s “Chickens to the rescue!” Readers will learn the days of the week in this silly story. Kids will love to chime in with the frequent exclamation, “Chickens to the rescue!” If your kids like this book, try Pigs to the Rescue and Cows to the Rescue, which follow the same format and plot structure. 

Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas
Image from JanThomas.com
The Brave Cowboy is getting his cows all bedded down for the night by singing them a soothing lullaby. But each time he’s about to say goodnight, he gets scared by sinister looking shadows. Shadows that look like hairy spiders, slithering snakes, and lumbering bears. As with many of Thomas’ other books, this story ends with a humorous twist that will have readers of all ages giggling. The interactive nature of this book makes it a great fit for storytime. Make up your own tune for the lullaby of the title or try this fun tune also featured in the booktrailer.

The Secret Birthday Message by Eric Carle
Image from HarperCollinsChildrens.com
On the night before Tim’s birthday he finds a strange and secret message full of cryptic shapes. The message tells him to follow the directions in the letter to find his birthday present. Each of the successive pages features a line of the message that takes Tim closer to his present. Carle uses his signature illustration style along with layered pages to create an intriguing mystery. The final page shows a map of the route Tim takes. I like to read this book forward and then have the kids help me reverse the trip so that Tim gets back home.

Image from PublishersWeekly.com
Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary by Julie Larios, Illustrated by Julie Paschkis
This book is an illustrated collection of fourteen poems. Each poems features an animal of a different color from a red donkey to a turquoise lizard, a pink kitty to an orange giraffe. The non-rhyming poems use just enough words to bring each of these unique animals to life. Some poems are humorous, some thoughtful, some quiet, some joyful. Paschkis’ vivid and intricate illustrations are playful and bright. Use an individual poem for a single color storytime for younger kids or several poems for a broader color themed storytime. Ask elementary school aged kids to write a poem based on a color and an animal. For instance, a red horse or a purple spider.

-Amy

Saturday, June 1, 2013

May Round-Up



Image from BarbaraReid.ca
Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid 
In simple, yet evocative text Reid explores the many ways to picture a tree. You might think that a tree is a tree is a tree, but Reid urges readers to take a closer look. Trees can be “a high-rise home sweet home” or a “sun umbrella on the hot walk home.” The textured illustrations, created with Plasticine shaped and pressed onto illustration board with paint for special effects, present trees in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and species. Use this book for an Earth Day or nature-themed storytime. Try pairing it with All the Water in the World or Underground. Check out the book trailer to see more of the illustrations.

Image from KirkusReviews.com
Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt
In rhyming text, Sharratt’s story follows the adventures of a little boy named Timothy Pope who repeatedly thinks he sees a shark in the park! Each time Timothy looks through his telescope he sees a close up of something that could be a shark’s fin, but it turns out to be a cat’s ear or a crow’s wing. The repetitive text and the bright illustrations, make this a great book for storytime. This book reminds me a lot of It’s a Tiger and Maybe a Bear Ate It.

Image from slj.com
by Aaron Meshon 
The young baseball-loving boy in this book compares and contrasts elements of baseball culture in America and Japan. In America, his pop pop takes him to watch baseball, while in Japan, his ji ji takes him to watch Yakyu. Throughout the book the similarities and differences are shown in side-by-side illustrations. Meshon’s text is brief, yet full of cultural details that bring each baseball experience to life. The acrylic illustrations are bright and bold. Images that focus on American culture are predominantly blue, while those set in Japan utilize a red based color palette. Try pairing this book with Bats at the Ballgame or Roasted Peanuts for a sports or baseball themed storytime. It could also be used with Same Same, but Different for a unit on comparing and contrasting multiple cultures. Check out the book trailer for a peek at the illustrations and tone of the book.

Image from HarperCollinsChildrens.com
That is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems
If I were to recommend just one read aloud book this month, it would be Willems’ newest offering. The humorous story follows a fox as he tries to snare a seemingly sweet little goose for dinner. The illustrations are pure Willems (look for the hidden Pigeon!). The text alternates between silent movie-type white lettering on black pages and the increasingly frantic warnings of the little goslings, “That is NOT a good idea!” The book ends with a great twist that will have readers of all ages laughing. I’ve read this book with kids from K-5 and it never fails. Often the kids read the book along with me, which is a lot of fun.

-Amy

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Round-Up


Image from BarnesandNoble.com

This concept book draws comparisons between structures built by children and buildings designed by famous architects. Each two page spread features an illustration on the left-hand side of children and a structure they have built from everyday objects: cardboard boxes, sofa cushions, blankets and chairs, blocks, Legos, and more. On the right side is a photograph of a building that corresponds in shape, color, material, or aesthetic. The illustrations depict a variety of skin and hair colors and the photographs show buildings from all over the world. Each page has a few lines of rhyming text, like little poems, that celebrate buildings and builders, shapes and textures, lines and colors. Hale lays out her text like concrete poems to resemble the building or building material shown. Back matter includes more information on the buildings spotlighted in the book, short biographies of the architects, and meticulous source notes. Great for a construction or building themed display or program. This book is a wonderful tie into the CSLP Summer Reading Program theme for 2013, Dig into Reading. Try pairing this book with Iggy Peck, Architect.

Image from BarnesandNoble.com
It’s Monday, Mrs. Jolly Bones! by Warren Hanson, Illustrated by Tricia Tusa
Mrs. Jolly Bones has a lot of chores, so she does just one chore each day of the week. On Monday she works hard to get the laundry done. She washes and dries, irons and folds. Then she happily throws all the clothes out the window to brighten up the street! The rest of week is just as hilarious as Mrs. Jolly Bones tackles more chores, such as gardening, grocery shopping, and baking. At the end of the week Mrs. Jolly Bones goes to bed exhausted, but happy to have finished all her chores...just in time to wake up and do it all again on Monday morning! The rhyming text moves along at a quick rhythmic clip. Tusa’s illustrations are joyful and hilarious. A great book for kids who love Amelia Bedelia or Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up the Wash. A fun addition to a silly, nonsense, or topsy-turvy storytime. 

Image from BarnesandNoble.com
The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman, Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
In this beautifully conceived and illustration picture book a young girl visits her great-grandfather. He tells her to pick something from the study and he will tell her its story. The girl picks an old worn cigar box, which is neatly packed with little matchboxes. Inside each matchbox is an item that represents a part of her great-grandfather’s life. As a boy, her great-grandfather could not read or write, so instead he kept items – an olive pit, a bottle cap, a pen nib, a baseball game ticket stub – in matchboxes, like a diary. The story begins with his childhood in Italy, and follow his immigration to the US in the early 1900’s and his passion for words that leads to a career as a typesetter and bookstore owner. All of the text is dialogue between the two characters, with wonderful descriptions of the objects and their meaning. Ibatoulline’s illustrations are realistic and there is a clear separation of the past and present. The present day is vividly colored and sunlit, while past events are depicted in sepia tones, much like old photographs. Use this book with elementary school aged children and up. Give kids a matchbox and have them fill it with an item and then encourage them to write or tell the story of that object. If you could find all the objects mentioned in the story, it would be great to read this story with the props. Pass each matchbox around the room as it appears in the story.


Image from Powells.com
Whoo? Whoo? by David A. Carter
Using just a handful of words and another handful of question marks, this is a guessing game of a book. First, readers are presented with a solitary question mark on the left hand page and on the right a set of shapes cut out from the white paper. The color of the next page provides a tantalizing peek of the illustration on the next page. Turn the page and the shapes have been rearranged to create an animal. Kids will enjoy guessing the animals, from a sheep to a frog, an owl to a goose. The cut outs are tactile and fun to feel, providing a wonderful sensory connection. Use this book for a storytime on shapes for toddlers or preschoolers. Try pairing it with other shape books, like My Heart is Like a Zoo.

Note: This book was recommended to me by an 11 year old boy that I babysat earlier this year. We took a trip to the library and he made me check out this book and gave me strict instructions to read it and enjoy it. He’ll be happy to know that I’ve dutifully followed his orders.

Image from BarnesandNoble.com
World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of by J. Patrick Lewis, Illustrated by Anna Raff
This hilarious poetry collection features 26 poems about 22 real holidays, from World Rhino Day to National Sloth Day, from Limerick Day to Bulldogs Are Beautiful Day. Poems are presented in calendar order starting with Happy Mew Year for Cats on January 2 and ending with Chocolate-Covered Anything Day on December 16. The short poems vary in format, but nearly all poems end with a humorous twist. The wordplay is smart and funny and will appeal to poetry lovers and newbies alike. Poems are accompanied by humorous rat-filled illustrations that create a chaotically festive atmosphere. If you’re looking for ways to incorporate poetry into your classroom or storytime, try reading a poem from this book on or around the poem’s holiday. You could also have kids pick another lesser-known holiday as the theme for their own poem.

-Amy