Monday, September 1, 2014

Apologies

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

Sources
Library: all

Standouts
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.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Book Review: Silly Doggy! by Adam Stower

Book: Silly Doggy!
Author: Adam Stower
Illustrator: Adam Stower
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

When Lily finds a doggy in her backyard, she immediately adopts it. But mom objects, possibly because the dog is actually a bear, and makes Lily put up “found” posters. To Lily’s sadness, someone (a zookeeper) responds to them, and she’s forced to give her doggy up.

Luckily the next morning she finds something else in her backyard!

Haven’t we all known a kid that will take any animal that comes their way? The entertainment comes from the disconnect between Lily’s view of the world and what we can see on the page, as well as the visual contrast between tiny Lily and the bear that takes over the whole page, tamed only with a loosely tied scarf. For all that, it’s still a sweet story about a girl and her, um, bear.

Pair this with My Cat the Silliest Cat in the World for plentiful mistaken-identity laughs.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: June 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 6

Sources
Library: 6

Standouts
Writing: The Three Little Rigs by David Gordon
The classic fairy tale retold with machinery, and a surprisingly dark ending. Yeep.
Illustration: Tea Rex by Molly Idle
While the text is straight out of a manners treatise, the pictures provide all the laughs as the t-rex who attends a tea party presents every kind of challenge to the small hostess.
Overall: Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon
Two friends find each other, are parted, find each other again, and yet again must part. But friendship endures and they'll find each other again. The simple, gentle illustrations works just right.

Because I Want To Awards
Technology Yay!: Tea With Grandpa by Barney Saltzberg
I loved seeing modern technology coming into play in the classic grandparent/grandchild relationship and playtime. No more details because that spoils the ending.
The Return of the Big Imagination: On My Way to Bed by Sarah Maizes, illustrated by Michael Paraskevas
Livi is back, and just as reluctant to make her way to bed as she was to take a bath. So much for parents and kids to recognize.