Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reading Roundup: December 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 17

Library: all

Writing: Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
Seriously, you will regret it. You'll let all those monkeys out . . . and the toucans . . . and the crocodiles. You don't want to see what happens next. (You do? I despair of you.)
Illustration: Daisy Gets Lost by Chris Raschka
From what I heard, Raschka's publisher wanted him to continue Daisy's story. It was a good call. The plot is in the title, but the watercolor-and-gouache illustrations in this wordless book convey all the pathos and empathy that made A Ball for Daisy so special.
Overall: The Storm Whale by Benji Davies
A lonely little boy makes a friend, but he won't be able to keep him. With simple, gentle text and glorious seaside vistas, I kept wanting to re-read this.

Because I Want To Awards
The Minerva Louise Award: Christmas Wombat by Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
There is immense charm in a book where the reader knows more than the narrator, particularly if you're reading it aloud.
You Guys, There are Teeth in This Book: Cute and Cuter by Michael Townsend
You would think you'd get sugar poisoning from this book. You'd be right, up until the point where Lady Meow-Meow disrupts the happy and adorable home life of Sir Yips-a-Lot by getting all of Janie Jane's attention. Then it's seething resentment and underhanded plotting. Oh boy!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: November 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 9
Early Readers: 1

Library: 10

Writing: Little Nelly's Big Book by Pippa Goodhart
Hee! And hee! And hee again! Led astray by an encyclopedia without pictures, an elephant believes that she is a mouse and tries to move into a mousehole. Luckily, she finds sympathetic hosts, but it still makes life difficult.
Illustration: Beautiful Oops! by Barney Salzberg
I noted that I could see this as inspiration for an art program. Salzberg takes common mistakes and catastrophes that plague artists (torn paper, spilled coffee, blotched paint) and turns them into more art. It's very fun trying to guess what he will make of something.
Overall: Hide and Seek by Il Sung Na
A group of animals plays the title game. Who will be the winner? I'm not saying, but here's a hint: the chameleon's on every page, but just try and find him.

Because I Want To Awards
Almost Got Marked the Overall Standout: Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle
Flora is back, and at play with a penguin! They skate and dance together until penguin gets hungry, and Flora turns up her nose at his fish dinner. Uhoh. Can this friendship be saved? It's simple, spare, and lovely.
Are We There Yet?: A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse by Frank Viva
An impatient mouse, a very patient kid, and a trip to Antarctica. Because where else would you take a mouse?

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.

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

Library: 6

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.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Storytime Favorites: Color Pockets

Like most children's librarians, I inherited a treasure trove of odd things from past librarians. This prop is one that sat on the shelf in my storytime closet until one day I was poking around for a movement that would work with a "colors" theme.

My color pocket consists of five crayons on vari-colored cardstock, with a cardstock "pocket" made of two pieces taped together and a space at the top, and everything laminated for sturdiness. Surprisingly, all the crayons fit in the pocket quite nicely.

But how exactly to use them? A little Googling produced the idea of the "Color Pokey."

You put your purple in, you put your purple out
You put your purple in and you shake it all about. 
You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around
That's what it's all about!
 (continue on with all the other colors)

The webpage I found suggested colored streamers, but I liked this better. There was some lag time in between verses as kids found and fished out the next color, but they didn't mind. 

I want to use this again, and I also want to figure out other ways of using it. Thoughts?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: May 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 12

Library: all

Writing: Don't Play With Your Food! by Bob Shea
A monster intends to eat some bunnies, but for some reason he keeps getting distracted. Could the bunnies have anything to do with that? . . . Of course they do. Smart and funny, and dang those bunnies are cute.
Illustration: Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light
The intricacy of the pages (there are so many details to pore over!) are balanced by the simple pen-and-ink style, with one element that pops out in color. A visual treat of New York City, and all the places a dragon can hide therein.
Overall: Silly Doggy! by Adam Stower
When Lily finds a bear in her backyard, she immediately proclaims it her new doggy. I love the interplay between the words and the pictures, and the visual contrast between teeny-tiny Lily and that gigantic bear.

Because I Want To Awards
Read This After Watching Toy Story: Found by Salina Yoon
When a bear finds a stuffed bunny lost in the forest, he tries to do the right thing and get it back to its owner. But he's forming his own attachment. The end will make you awwwwwwwwww.
Naked Presidents and the Line of Succession, How Can You Lose?: President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Besides the gleeful fun of the various proposed methods for getting the POTUS out of his tub, there's actually a little educational content in all the various secretaries and such.
Ugly Duckling, with Teeth! And Fire!: The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water by Gemma Marino
Like it says. That lil' croc is just too cute for words, with his water wings and everything.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: April 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 13
Early Readers: 4

Library: 14

Writing: Living with Mom and Living with Dad by Melanie Walsh
The small narrator details life in two households. I loved that it didn't try to explain or fix divorce; it's just the way things are.
Illustration: Andrew Drew and Drew by Barney Saltzberg
A young artist lets his imagination take wing in all sorts of unexpected ways. Lift the flap to see where his line goes next!
Overall: Elephant's Story by Tracey Campbell Pearson
Elephant finds a book and accidentally snorfles all the words. Who on earth is going to help him get them back in proper order? Perhaps the book's original owner can help.

Because I Want To Awards
The Cycle of Life: Two Bunny Buddies by Kathryn O. Galbraith, illustrated by Joe Cepeda
Bunnies fight, bunnies make up. So it goes. The simple, three or four word sentences make this a great easy reader text as well as a sweet picture book.
Best Twist: The Monster Returns by Peter McCarty
Uhoh, Jeremy's monster is on his way back! Whatever will Jeremy do? The answer will surprise you.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: March 2014

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 14
Early Readers: 2

Library: 15

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

Library: 11

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.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Storytime Favorites: I'm a Frozen Icicle

I'm starting a new feature here on Ye Olde Blogge to share some of my favorite storytime things. These could be fingerplays, crafts, songs, and even some of the more out-there themes we hit on. (Yes, I am a theme-user. We have four separate weekly storytimes and up to five different storytime presenters where I work. If we didn't plan with themes, we'd be replicating an awful lot of work. I know other people don't use them, and that's cool too.)

About a year ago I started keeping these in Evernote so I could actually find them and use them when we get to a theme they work with, instead of going, "Awwww, man, I forgot about (insert here)!" on Saturday when all the storytimes for the week are done. Every so often, I'll be looking at my notes and think, "Man, that's a cool one. I should really share more."

So this is me, sharing. I'm a fan of full-body fingerplays (bodyplays?) like the one below.

(start by standing up straight)
I'm a frozen icicle hanging in the sun.
First I start to melt, then I start to run.
(Let your body droop slowly toward the floor)
Drip, drip, drip, drip.
Melting can be fun!!
(sink to floor)

Where I live, we're not subject to a lot of cold, so the whole notion of an icicle is a little alien to my kids, but they enjoy it anyway! We inevitably end up flopped all over the floor, and they beg to do it again and again.

I'm not sure where I found this; it's been in my arsenal for so long that I've forgotten. If anyone knows who originally wrote it, please let me know so I can credit them.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reading Roundup: 2013 plus New Year's Resolution

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 143
Early Readers: 3

Library: all

Writing (selected in August) Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Dan Santat
"Ahahahaha! Those poor carnivores; what are they to do? They like eating meat. Unfortunately, the meat has a distinct aversion to being eaten, and they're shunned. How can they change their ways? I love how this ends."
Illustration (selected in July) Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise by Tomie dePaola
"While it's not for everyone in its unabashed religiosity, the art in this one is top-notch. Flowers, animals, and people in the signature dePaola style (additionally influenced by native Mexican art) spill over the pages in washes of color."
Overall: (selected in April) The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
"A beautiful story about a universal childhood fear. This was absolutely amazing."

Since I did it for the bigger kids, I'm going to make a New Year's resolution over here. I want to read more early readers. Three? The whole year?! That just ain't right.