Saturday, November 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: October 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 11
Early Readers: 2

Library: 12

(Links tomorrow. The WorldCat site seems to be down. Boo.)
Writing: Here Comes Santa Cat! by Deborah Underwood
I'm a fan of books featuring protagonists unsure of their Christmas-morning fate, and desperately trying to tip the scales toward "nice." Blame Calvin and Hobbes. With snappy back-and-forth dialogue between the narrator and the cat (with signs), this one will be fun to read aloud.
Illustration: Up, Tall, and High by Ethan Long
Comparative measurements get the perfect visual treatment with fold-out pages that demonstrate how what's high to one bird might be low to another, and so on.
Overall: Gravity by Jason Chin
A picture book about one of the forces holding the universe together? Why yes, I've got one right here! In simple, accessible prose suitable for storytime (!), Chin explains gravity, how it works, and how it affects us, with bonus stunning visuals.

Because I Want To Awards
Oooo, the Gnashing of Teeth: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and John Klassen
The ending is sort of like a rug pulled out from underfoot, but the more I thought about it, the more it worked for me. Bonus: except a few polysyllabic words, this would work well for early readers.
Far Fetched? As Far as It Gets: Maya Makes a Mess by Rutu Modan
What else can you call a story in which a poorly-mannered preschooler gets randomly invited to dinner with the queen, and subsequently convinces said monarch to eat like . . . well, a preschooler? Oh, I enjoyed this. Can you tell?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: September 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 8
Early Readers: 2

Library: 10

Writing: Oliver and his Egg by Paul Schmid
Oliver is back, sans alligator. This time, he finds a stone and imagines a great future if it turns out to be a dinosaur egg. But playing pretend is more fun with friends!
Illustration: Firebird illustrated by Christopher Myers, written by Misty Copeland
Myers' artwork brings out the magic and power of an accomplished ballerina like Copeland, but also the uncertainty of a young girl just starting out in ballet.
Overall: If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin Stead, illustrated
If you want to see a whale, you have to be patient. You can't be distracted by all the other wonders of the natural world that surround you. But they're so wonderful, especially in Stead's delicate woodblock style.

Because I Want To Awards
More than Just Ribbit: Noisy Frog Sing-Along by John Himmelman
I discovered this one when doing a frog storytime. By the end, kids were making all manner of frog noises, from peeps to big booming bullfrog sounds. I can't wait to use it again.
A Sequel Doesn't Mean a Redux: Naughty Kitty! by Adam Stower
I loved last year's Silly Doggy!, in which a small child mistakes a giant bear for a doggy. This time, Lily knows a kitten is a kitten, and the hilarity comes from a tiger wandering around, causing mischief for which the hapless kitten gets blamed

Monday, September 1, 2014


Um. You guys. According to my LibraryThing, I didn't read any picture books or easy readers in August. Or if I did, I didn't record them.

I know. I can't believe it either.

I'll do better next month.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: July 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 8

Library: all

Writing: The Roller Coaster Kid by Mary Ann Rodman, illustrated by Roger Roth
Most of the books about death that I read focus on the child's grief. This one takes it a step further and weaves in the widowed grandfather's feelings about the loss of his wife. On the long side, so better for older kids, but lovely and sweet.
Illustration: Planet Kindergarten illustrated by Shane Prigmore, written by Sue Ganz-Schmitt
Prigmore had to walk a fine line here. His kindergarten classroom had to look as if it was populated by aliens and space paraphernalia, while simultaneously being recognizable as kids and classroom stuff. Nicely done.
Overall: If I Had a Raptor by George O'Connor
Bwaha! Vicious carnivorous dinosaur as cat. I seem to be finding a lot of these lately. With sly humor and much use of the raptor's big eyes, I can see myself using this in storytime.

Because I Want To Awards
Community Building FTW: Turtle Island by Kevin Sherry
When a crew is shipwrecked on a giant turtle, it will take everybody's efforts to make themselves a home, even the turtle's. How often do you see that?
Tale as Old as Time: Don't Copy Me! by Jonathan Allen
Anyone who has ever had, or been, an older sibling will  recognize the puffin's plight in this book.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Storytime Favorites: Way Up High in the Apple Tree

Have you got a go-to fingerplay? One that when you get the slightest opportunity to use, you do it? This is mine.

Way up high in the apple tree (stretch arms up high)
I saw two apples looking at me (hold up two fingers)
I shook that tree as hard as I could (shake your arms vigorously)
Down came the apples… (make a downward motion)
And mmm, they were good! (smile and rub stomach)

I've had it in my collection for such a long time that I forget where I got it from. For some reason, the arm-shaking thing really gets the kids grinning. Maybe it's because I really get into it, maybe it's because most of the other movements I do involve feet and legs and this is a chance to shake some wiggles out. I don't know. But I do enjoy it, and so do they.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book Review: Found by Salina Yoon

Book: Found
Author: Salina Yoon
Illustrator: Salina Yoon
Published: 2014
Source: Local Library

One day, Bear finds a lost toy bunny. He industriously sets about finding its owner, but while waiting for that person to come forward, he spends time with the bunny and finds himself growing attached. Of course, it’s at that very moment that the original owner comes along. What’s a bear to do?

While it’s filled with quirky jokes (my favorite spread was the forest’s “lost” board, filled with requests for help finding lost puzzle pieces, teeth, and marbles), this is a sweet story about the love we have for our toys, and the point at which we have to let them go. (Although not in the way that you’d expect.)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Storytime Favorites: Mouse Paint

Ellen Stoll Walsh's Mouse Paint, the tale of three little mice who find paint to play with and discover color combinations along the way, was one of my early favorite storytime books. I love the color combinations, I love the clean art, and I love hiding from the cat. As you might guess, our storytime kids had heard this as a book a number of times. I'd been thinking about creating a flannel board somehow, but there was a more exciting option.

One of my staff members had mentioned this kit, inherited from a prior children's librarian. I always thought we should dig it out and try it on our kids, but I never have. When we selected "colors" as a storytime theme, I decided to go ahead and just do it. And guys, it's genius.

What you need:
Six plastic cups
One large water bottle
Food Coloring
White tape (optional)
Mouse die-cuts (optional)
and of course a copy of the book.

To prep, wrap  a thin strip of tape around the base of the plastic cups and tape a mouse to the outside of the cup. (As you can see, I didn't get the chance to add mice. But I want to next time.)

Before storytime, put one or two drops of food coloring in three of the cups (red, yellow, or blue), and leave the other cups empty. Do not fill of the cups with water yet.

I set the whole thing up on a small moving table we're fortunate enough to have. I pushed it against the wall behind me until we were ready for this story, then pulled it out so the kids could see.

When the first mouse jumps into the red puddle, pour water from the bottle into the cup with red food coloring. Wow - magic! Kids see clear water suddenly transforming into red water.

As you read, do this with the other colors, so you have one cup each of red, yellow, and blue. But what about the three empty cups?

In the book, the red mouse jumps into the yellow puddle and dances around until he gets orange, of course. The other mice follow suit with different puddles, creating the other secondary colors.

You can recreate this by mixing your colored water in the empty cups. Get the kids to predict which color you'll get with each mixture. It's worth noting, too, that as long as you put enough food coloring in and have perfectly clear cups, the colors are beautiful and jewel-like. Love it.

Some things to note: It's a good idea to run through this a couple of times to work on timing and water amounts before doing it for real. Also, in storytime, I was juggling the book, the water, and the cups. If you're lucky enough to have an assistant (an intern, a volunteer, or even a helpful parent) they could take over the water and the cups as you read. Or you could type up the story on a piece of paper and read from that, but I do love Walsh's illustrations.

We have the whole kit (cups, water bottle, food coloring) saved in a bag for when we want to use it next. And we will be using it again.