Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: March 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 14
Early Readers: 2

Sources
Library: 15

Standouts
Writing: Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match/Marisol McDonald No Combina by Monica Brown
As a kid who "didn't match" myself, I really appreciated this story of a little girl nimbly balancing between two cultures.
Illustration: Red Sled by Lita Judge
What does a bear do on a snowy night? Abscond with a sled left unwisely out. Duh. The glee on the faces of the animals made me smile all the way through.
Overall: Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
Who's most important, the author or the illustrator? Work out the answer for yourself.

Because I Want To Awards
Definitely Has Points Over "Because It'll Make Your Hair Curly": Tales for Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider
A father explains to his son all the myriad and hilarious reasons to eat the food he rejects.
Awwwww, the End: Laika: Astronaut Dog by Owen Davey
Because who didn't sob heartbrokenly when you found out what really happened to Laika? It's undeniably a fix-it ending, but that's okay.
Awwwww, the End, Part Deux: Duck, Death, and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch
It's not like Erlbruch doesn't telegraph the end from the beginning, but it turned out surprisingly sweet and satisfying.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Book Review: Cheese Belongs to You! by Alexis Deacon, illustrated by Viviane Schwarz

Book: Cheese Belongs to You!
Author: Alexis Deacon
Illustrator: Viviane Schwarz
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

By Rat Law, the cheese belongs to the first rat who finds it. Or the stronger rat, who can take it from him. Or the rat who can take it from him . . . or the one who can take it from her . . . Now the puzzle is, who really gets the cheese in the end?

When I first read this, I just smiled at the pile-on of rats taking the cheese, and Viviane Schwarz’s rats, who are astonishingly distinctive (and kinda scary) given how many of them there are. On my second read-through, I realized there’s a story about how things escalate in an everyone-for-himself society. When you get to the page with the rat free-for-all, it’s funny but also a little sad. The fight sprawls across two whole pages, with the disputed cheese (and the rat who found it first) off to one side, pretty much forgotten.

Of course, anybody who’s ever attended kindergarten knows there’s another way to deal with this situation, and the book ends with a rat feast stretching off into the distance. A great one for discussing sharing and getting along.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: January and February 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 9
Early Readers: 2

Sources
Library: 11

Standouts
Writing: Dodsworth in Rome by Tim Egan
How many early readers do you see about a character's adventures in a whole different country? And his troublesome duck companion? I want to see where else Dodsworth has gone.
Illustration: Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O'Keeffe Painted What She Pleased, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Amy Novesky
Did you know Georgia O'Keeffe went to Hawaii? I didn't either. Morales adopts some of the famous painter's style in her portrayal of the islands and the artist's adventures through the landscape.
Overall: Maria Tenia Una Llamita/Mary Had a Little Llama by Angela Dominguez
This was the book I carried around the library for a day like a four-year-old with a new favorite, forcing everyone to read it. Remaining mostly faithful to the traditional nursery rhyme, the pages burst with good cheer and adorable llamas. Not to mention that Peruvian landscape.

Because I Want To Awards
All of the Meta!: The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Poly Bernatene
With the refrain "It's the kind of thing that happens all the time in books" this story is commenting aplenty on fairy tale tropes, and it made me giggle.
Have Your Earplugs Ready: Trains Go by Steve Light AND And the Cars Go . . . by William Bee
Oh, the noise of these books! Honks and clangs and chugs . . . I can't wait to read them in storytime and see how cacophonous it gets.
Dare You Not to Smile: Underwater Dogs, Kids Edition by Seth Casteel
Okay, the text ain't much to write home about. But the soggy, exuberant doggies in the photographs make up for all of that.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review: When Lions Roar by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Chris Raschka

Book: When Lions Roar
Author: Robie H. Harris
Illustrator: Chris Raschka
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

The world is scary. This is fact. There are things like lions and thunderstorms and angry parents. But the young protagonist knows that these things will pass, and he has a can’t-fail technique for making them go.

Harris’s text is simple and reassuring, and Raschka’s distinctive watercolor style takes you from the anxious times into peace and quiet. A beautiful new book from two titans of children’s literature.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Storytime Favorites: Water Table

Every so often we'll do a "Senses" storytime, which I always explain to parents is the start of preschool science. Science always starts with observation, after all, and preschoolers are constantly observing their world.

I think we all have fond memories of bathtub fun, or water tables at various preschools and daycares. But what if you don't have an actual water table at your library? I know I don't.

I improvised this for the very first time we ever did "Senses," and it was such a treat that we bring it back every time that theme returns. There are all sorts of STEM experiences in this simple activity. Buoyancy, the behavior of liquid, the holding capacity of a tiny Tupperware container . . . possible experiments are endless.


That's a Rubbermaid tub, about six inches deep, with a lid. The lid is awfully important, since we have everything set up in the storytime room beforehand, and kids are inevitably curious. The toys inside are simple things we found around the library. Foam numbers or letters will float, and also stick to the plastic sides. Tiny cups lead to floating and pouring and sinking and all manner of fun. Try out all sorts of things - we did!

I filled the tub about halfway and set it on a child-level table with a plastic table cloth underneath. You can get about four to six kids around a table, depending on how well they play with others. Then at the end of storytime, we removed the lids and let the kids get splashy.

When everyone was finally dragged away, we removed the toys, dumped the water, then put tub and toys out in the sun to dry. Our arid climate and the presence of a staff patio helped with this; everything was ready to be put away within an hour or two.

One caveat: it's a great summer activity, not so marvelous in February, as the kids will get water all down their fronts.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Book Review: Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein

Book: Dinosaur Kisses
Author: David Ezra Stein
Illustrator: David Ezra Stein
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

A newborn dinosaur witnesses a kiss and wants to try it out. But she’s predisposed toward stomping and chomping, and the kisses don’t really go well. Actually, disaster is a more accurate description. Poor Dinah! Will she ever successfully kiss anybody?

Do you guys know how hard it is for me to find Valentine’s Day books that aren’t swimming in pink and twee adorableness? It’s hard, I tell you. Luckily, there’s a book like Dinosaur Kisses to fill the gap.

Even though the dry, funny text is a winner, the pictures really make this book. They’re simple and yet enormously expressive. At one point, Dinah goes back to her egg to think. The picture shows her plopped next to half of her eggshell, the other half perched on her head like a hat, a consternated expression on her face. It makes you laugh and feel for her at the same time.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

No Roundup This Month

It was such a light reading month for me that I don't really enough to round up. I'll combine January and February into one post next month.