Archive for the ‘Outstanding Picture Books to Enjoy at Home or at School’ Category

Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet

Posted on April 16th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at a stylish picture book, Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet

Storytime Standouts looks at picture book, Paul Thurlby's Alphabet.Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet
created by Paul Thurlby
Alphabet book published by Templar Books an imprint of Candlewick Press

Featuring bright, bold retro illustrations, Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet is a stylish tribute to graphic design and each of the letters of the alphabet. Young children will enjoy the dramatic and distinctive artwork while learning about letter shapes and sounds.

On the left side of each spread, we see a single letter in uppercase and lowercase form. The corresponding right side of each spread features an illustration that incorporates the shape of the uppercase letter and minimal text.

Older children and adults will particularly appreciate the aesthetics of Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet, possibly using his ideas as inspiration for their own graphic artwork. As well, removing the book jacket and opening it reveals a gorgeous poster that highlights each of the illustrations from the book. Lovely.

Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet at

Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet at

Paul Thurlby’s PhotoStream on Flickr

Note: When selecting illustrations for the vowels, Thurlby uses a mix of short and long vowel sounds: A = awesome, I = island

Me and You – A Fresh Look at Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Posted on December 7th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Me and You written and illustrated by Anthony Browne
Picture book published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Shortlisted for the 2011 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, Me and You is a thoughtful and thought-provoking look at the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

While on a rather boring outing with her mom, Goldilocks is distracted by a floating balloon. She follows the balloon but can’t quite catch it. Separated from her mother, she finds herself in a dark and dismal part of town, characterized by foreboding brick walls, cracked windows and narrow alleyways.

Meanwhile Baby Bear, Mummy Bear and Father Bear have decided to go for a walk while their morning porridge cools. They leave their sunny-yellow house and head to a nearby park.

“Daddy talked about his work and Mummy talked about her work. I just messed about.”

Beautifully illustrated,Me and You depicts Goldilocks’ experiences (wordlessly) in tones of gold and sepia. Baby Bear lives in a decidedly cheerier, more colourful world.

Highly recommended for children who are familiar with the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Me and You offers many opportunities to make comparisons and consider perspective.

Suggested visual literacy activity for Me and You from CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards site

Me and You at

Me and You at

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

Can You See What I See? Toyland Express from Walter Wick

Posted on December 4th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts writes about Toyland Express by Walter WickCan You See What I See? Toyland Express written and illustrated by Walter Wick
Picture book published by Cartwheel Books, an imprint of Scholastic

I have written previously of my younger son’s fascination with picture puzzles. When he was four or five, he would spend countless hours searching for objects and noticing small differences between pictures. He loved to have a picture puzzle book as one of his bedtime stories. He is still a fan of puzzles and is very attentive to small details.

Picture puzzle book are wonderful for small children, they encourage kids and adults to slow down and take time to enjoy illustration. They demand that readers pause to examine and appreciate illustrations rather than turn the pages quickly. They also encourage concentration and attention to detail.

I am a big fan of Walter Wick’s work and have shared many of his books with children. Can You See What I See? Toyland Express takes this genre to a new level as it introduces a picture-narrative to the usual puzzle format.

We begin in a woodwork shop and can almost smell the woodshavings and sawdust. It is clear that a skilled craftsman is at work, creating train parts and other intriguing toys made from wood. Turning the page, the woodworker’s creations have been shifted to a large paint shop where bright colours are added to an amazing array of toys and toy parts.

Once painted, assembled and boxed, the Toyland Express – a cheery toy train – is prominently displayed in a toy store window, hoping to entice a buyer. Sure enough, the train, track, bits of scenery and characters become a treasured birthday gift for a young child. One can almost imagine the squeal of delight when the gift is opened.
Storytime Standouts shares an illustration from Toyland Express by Walter Wick
Gorgeous spreads take us from woodshop to paintshop; toy store to birthday party, soon the bright wooden train joins other toys in a child’s bedroom and undergoes transformations as the child changes the backdrop, accessories and scenery. Each scenes includes a rhyming list of hidden objects to find:

Can you see what I see?
A rocking horse,
a rolling hoop, a birthday candle,
an ice-cream scoop,

Eventually, the well-used train set is stored, with other discarded toys, to gather dust. All is not lost, however. A yard sale and refurbishment are just around the corner for the Toyland Express. Before long, the train is happily chugging through a new, modern world, consisting of blocks, paper, dominos, cars, boats and other toys.

Sure to captivate puzzle-solvers as they search for hidden and disguised objects, Toyland Express encourages imaginative play and delivers a “green” message. It may send readers scrambling to discover treasures at a neighbourhood yard sale or encourage children to consider the steps involved in creating toys.

Can You See What I See? Toyland Express from

Can You See What I See? Toyland Express at

Ella May and the Wishing Stone – a picture book about wishes, friendship and imagination

Posted on November 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Ella May and the Wishing Stone written by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Geneviève Côté
Picture book about friendship, problem solving published by Tundra Books

While on a trip to the beach, Ella May is fortunate to find an extra special stone – a stone that has a white line all around it. Certain that her extra special stone has the power to grant wishes, Ella May decides that her first wish should be to show the stone to all of her friends. Before long, Ella May’s friends have gathered ’round her, hoping to touch the magical stone. When Ella May refuses to let them hold it, they decide to find their own special stones. Although the children find all sorts of interesting stones, none is equal to Ella May’s.

  • “You’re not nice,” Manuel said. He put his stone in his pocket and tromped down the sidewalk to his own house.
  • Ella May watched him go, “Hey,” she said, “I wanted Manuel to go home and he did. Thank you again, wishing stone.”
  • Unable to find their own wishing stones, Ella’s friends come up with a creative but short-lived solution to the problem. Unfortunately, nothing resolves the conflict amongst the children; Ella May wants to be the only person with a wishing stone and she wants to keep her friends. The other children are resentful of the stone and of Ella May.

    When Ella May finally realizes that having a wishing stone is not nearly as special as having friends, the stage is set for a happy and imaginative solution that reunites the group.

    A great choice for children aged four and up, Ella May and the Wishing Stone is a (32 page) story that invites readers to think about what it means to be a friend, how best to share treasured items and imaginative ways to solve problems.

    Note – illustrations and children’s names depict a racially diverse group of friends.

    Ella May and the Wishing Stone at

    Ella May and the Wishing Stone at

    I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen – A Surprisingly Dark Picture Book

    Posted on November 29th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts looks at I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen - A Surprisingly Dark Picture BookI Want My Hat Back written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
    Picture book published by Candlewick Press

    Poor Bear, he has lost his pointy, red hat. He searches the forest, politely asking, “Have you seen my hat?” He meets Fox, Frog, Rabbit, Turtle, and Snake. None has seen his hat. Bear is bereft and despondent. He frets that his hat is gone forever.

    When Deer finally asks, “What does your hat look like?” Bear remembers something important.

    Picture book, I Want My Hat Back is a breath of fresh air with a hint of mystery and a touch of revenge.

    Best suited to older readers, adults and children (aged five and up) will thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to “read between the lines” and enjoy Klassen’s gallows humor.

    Would I read it to a group of three year olds? “Maybe not.” Would I read it to a group of jaded six year olds who think they know all there is to know about picture books? “You betcha!”

    Storytime kit from Candlewick Press – includes I Want My Hat Back activities.

    I Want My Hat Back at

    I Want My Hat Back at

    Also check out my comments about Jon Klassen’s Cat’s Night Out

    Wordless Picture Book Fun – Hocus Pocus

    Posted on November 21st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Regular readers of Storytime Standouts will know that I am a fan of wordless and almost wordless picture books. When an adult shares a wordless picture book with a child, the adult loses the “reading advantage.” In a wordless picture book, there are almost no words to read. The story is told through the illustrations so both adult and child can partner to “read” the story and decide what it is all about.

    Wordless picture books are great for vocabulary development because they encourage co-readers to discuss the illustrations as they move through the story. Wordless picture books are terrific for multi-lingual families because they can be enjoyed in any language. Additionally, wordless picture books provide a non-reading child the opportunity to “read” the illustrations and retell a story. Learning to “read” illustrations and retell stories are valuable skills for pre-readers and beginning readers to develop.

    Hocus Pocus – story by Sylvie Desrosiers, illustrations by Rémy Simard
    Wordless picture book published by Kids Can Press

    When Mister Magic arrives home with his top hat, Dog and a bag full of groceries, he is ready to relax. He puts on headphones, sits in a comfortable chair and listens to music. Before long, Mister Magic and Dog are both fast asleep and Hocus Pocus, a mischievous rabbit is scrambling out of Mister Magic’s top hat. Hocus Pocus sees Mister Magic’s carrots peeking out of the grocery bag and wants one. He worries about awakening Dog and is soon plotting ways to avoid the canine and his sharp teeth.

    Retro illustrations (created with Adobe Illustrator) and the messy, farcical battle between Dog and Hocus Pocus give the story a cartoon-like feel. Hocus Pocus is great fun and will be enjoyed by children aged four and up.

    Hocus Pocus Printables from Kids Can Press

    Hocus Pocus at

    Hocus Pocus at

    Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

    A Fresh Look at a Frog Prince – Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince)

    Posted on November 13th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Kiss Me I'm a Prince written by Heather McLeod and illustrated by Brooke KerriganKiss Me! (I’m and Prince!) written by Heather McLeod and illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
    Picture book published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside

    When young Ella chances upon a talking frog, she is not altogether sure that kissing his puckered froggy lips is a good idea. For Ella, the idea of a talking frog is much more appealing than the prospect of kissing him and turning him into a boring frog prince. Ella is a fan of play – she likes basketball, swimming and Simon Says. Ella’s reluctance to kiss her new froggy friend means that he has a chance to enjoy traditional childhood games and to behave in some ways that are not at all royal. Eventually, representatives of the palace arrive. The royal frog is returned to a life of fencing and studying but not before Ella’s ideas have made a lasting impression. The frog negotiates with his parents for more playtime before returning to ask Ella for a magical kiss so he can join the neighbourhood baseball team.

    An enjoyable read aloud for children aged four and up, Kiss Me! (I’m and Prince!) provides many opportunities for children to make predictions and also invites comparisons with other versions of The Frog Prince.

    Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince) at

    Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince!) at

    Stimulating Language Development with Wordless Picture Books

    Posted on November 9th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Chicken and Cat Clean Up written and illustrated by Sara Varon
    Wordless Picture Book published by Scholastic

    If you have not yet enjoyed a wordless picture book with your child(ren), I would like to introduce you to this genre. “Reading” wordless picture books together with your child stimulates language development because the “reader” takes an active part in telling the story. Once you and your child have “read” the story from beginning to end hopefully your child will enjoy the opportunity to retell the tale – a key reading readiness skill.

    In Chicken and Cat Clean Up we follow the misadventures of two dissimilar friends who operate a housekeeping business. Chicken is an excellent housekeeper but Cat is repeatedly challenged by the job. The bright, cheerful illustrations provide a fun account of operating a small buiness, an enduring friendship and how an opportunity for heroism might be just around the corner. Really good fun!

    Chicken And Cat Clean Up at

    Chicken and Cat Clean Up at

    Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

    I’ll Always Love You – Helping Kids Cope With the Death of a Pet

    Posted on November 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    I'll Always Love You by Hans WilhelmI’ll Always Love You written and illustrated by Hans Wilhelm
    Picture book about the death of a pet published by Dragonfly Books, an imprint of Random House

    Books can be enormously helpful for both parents and children when they face difficult and emotional situations. In I’ll Always Love You we meet a young boy and his much loved dog, Elfie. Elfie and the boy share many experiences but as the boy grows up, Elfie grows old. This sweet tribute to a family pet explains the dog’s death respectfully and lovingly. In addition, I’ll Always Love You serves as a reminder that expressing our love to those around us can be of some comfort when we must deal with loss.

    32 pages, suitable for children aged four years and up

    I’ll Always Love You at

    I’ll Always Love You at

    Giving Voice to Willow’s Whispers

    Posted on November 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts recommends Willow's WhispersWillow’s Whispers by Lana Button, illustrated by Tania Howells
    Picture book about finding one’s voice published by Kids Can Press

    Willow is a lovely soft spoken girl with ideas, opinions and dreams. Unfortunately, her quiet voice is so soft that it is often overlooked. As a result, her teacher and her classmates miss hearing Willow’s thoughts and choices. For Willow, this means lost opportunities for companionship at lunchtime, being fiven orange juice instead of applie juice, disappointment at playtime and standing at the end of the line once again.

    Dad has very good advice for Willow. He tells her, “Your big, strong voice got stuck way inside you, Willow. That happens sometimes. But one day your voice will wiggle its way out.”Lana Button picture book Willow's Whispers

    Thinking about Dad’s words gives Willow an opportunity to devise a plan. The following morning, Willow gathers some materials together and designs her very own magic microphone. Initially, the microphone helps Willow to express herself but before long she must manage without it and does so very successfully.

    Willow’s Whispers is a charming story that will be enjoyed by boys and girls ages four and up.

    Note, although Willow’s Whispers invites discussion of finding one’s voice and having confidence when speaking, it does so very sensitively and without reference to “shyness.”

    Willow’s Whispers Facebook page

    Willow’s Whispers at

    Willow’s Whispers at

    You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.

    Canada’s Highway of Heroes – a picture book tribute by Kathy Stinson

    Posted on November 4th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts looks at Kathy Stinson's Highway of Heroes picture book.Highway of Heroes by Kathy Stinson
    Picture book published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside

    A solemn forward by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk affirms that Kathy Stinson’s Highway of Heroes is a fitting tribute to Canada’s fallen heroes and the route they travel from Canadian Forces Base Trenton to Toronto, Ontario.

    Highway of Heroes is a fictional account of one young boy’s trip as he and his mom accompany his father’s remains from the CFB Trenton tarmac to the coroner’s office in Toronto. The boy is surprised to discover, All the people – on all the bridges – are there because of his dad. A hero.

    Dramatic photos depict the journey of the convoy and the crowds standing and waiting to honour a fallen soldier.

    While dealing with a solemn topic, the text encourages young readers to appreciate and echo the respect shown by Canadians who choose to go to the Highway of Heroes and and honour those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

    32 pages, suitable for children aged five and up

    Endnotes include The Story of the Highway, Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan, Ways to Honour Those Who Are Killed or Wounded In Service to Their Country.

    Highway of Heroes Teachers’ Guide in PDF form

    Highway of Heroes at

    Highway of Heroes at

    Remembrance Day for Young Children – A Poppy Is to Remember

    Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Remembrance Day is observed annually in Canada, on November 11th. In the days leading up to November 11th, it is particularly important for adults to find ways to make Remembrance Day meaningful to young children so that they can join with all Canadians in honouring our Veterans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

    Storytime Standouts looks at a Remembrance Day resource for young children, A Poppy Is to Remember by Heather Patterson and Ron LightburnA Poppy Is to Remember written by Heather Patterson and illustrated by Ron Lightburn

    A Poppy Is to Remember is a wonderful picture book resource for Canadian families, classrooms and libraries.

    A Poppy Is to Remember explains, Once there was a long and terrible war – a war some called the Great War. Many young men went off to fight, and many did not return home to their families. As the battle raged, poppies grew in the battlefield and were seen by a Canadian army doctor, John McCrae. McCrae was inspired to write In Flanders Fields, a poem often read at Remembrance Day ceremonies.

    Beautifully illustrated, A Poppy Is to Remember salutes John McCrae and shows readers how poppies are used today when remembering the contributions of present day members of the armed forces as well as veterans, those who care for them and those who mourn their loss.

    32 pages, suitable for children aged four and up. Additional materials for older children or adults include The Story of the Poppy and Remembrance Day in Canada.

    Remembrance Day writing paper for children

    image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Remembrance Day Poppy

    Remembrance Day theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

    A Poppy Is to Remember at

    A Poppy is to Remember at

    Follow Remembrance Day – November 11th by Storytime Standouts on Pinterest

    Walter Wick Shares a Bounty of Riches for Treasure Seekers

    Posted on November 1st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts looks a puzzle book by Walter Wick, Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship created by Walter Wick
    Picture Puzzle Book published by Scholastic

    Picture puzzles can be entertaining, intriguing and sometimes frustrating. As well, for our children, they represent a marvelous opportunity for cognitive development – especially when enjoyed with a chatty adult.

    Apart from noticing very small details, the adult-child discussion that will accompany a book like Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship is not-to-be missed. image of a spread from Can You See What I See Treasure ShipAuthor/illustrator Walter Wick challenges his young readers to discover all sorts of wonderful words that they aren’t likely to encounter unless an adult is part of the experience.

    So, come aboard, explore the bounty of intriguing illustrations and share these vocabulary treasures with your child: saber, peacock, hourglass, tattered, bugle and more.

    Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship at

    Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship at

    Extend your child’s learning with these free pirate theme printables –

    image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Pirate

    Pirate theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

    image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Pirate Map

    Pirate theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

    Timmerman Was Here, 2010 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award Winner

    Posted on November 1st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Timmerman Was Here written by Colleen Sydor and illustrated by Nicolas Debon
    Picture book highlighting social responsibility published by Tundra Books

    Tuesday evening, November 9th, 2010, the winner of the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award was announced at The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s gala. Jury members’ comments about Timmerman Was Here were as follows, “This is a sublimely humanistic and memorable story about the way we discover the difference between truth and appearances… Dramatic pictures equally involve the reader, while the artistic use of dark and light further affect our emotional response… This intriguing tale with a twist delves exceptionally well into values and perceptions, the rational and the irrational, achieving a conclusion that is profoundly self-affirming for the child… This emotionally rich and suspenseful story is capped by an uplifting ending that will stir hearts from 8 to 80… A perfect pairing of text and illustration.”

    Timmerman Was Here is written from the perspective of a young girl. We share her nervousness as a stranger arrives at her home. The stranger moves into a bedroom, recently vacated by the girl’s grandfather who has gone to live in a residence for seniors. The young girl is not happy about the stranger’s arrival but as she watches and interacts with him, she discovers a gentle heart. When the stranger is discovered walking the neighbourhood at night (with a spade and a burlap sack), gossip abounds. The neighbours speculate that he could be a bank robber or responsible for the death of a cat.

    Timmerman Was Here is a lovely, thought-provoking picture book that encourages the reader to rethink assumptions and stereotypes. Highly recommended.

    Suggested for children 4 – 8

    Timmerman Was Here at

    Timmerman Was Here at

    Splinters is an Icy, Hard-Hitting Take on Cinderella

    Posted on October 31st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts looks at Splinters, a picture book with a modern day hockey take on the Cinderella storySplinters – written and illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
    Picture book published by Tundra Books

    Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

    Cindy loves to play hockey but it is an expensive sport to play and her family is poor.   Showing great determination and resourcefulness, Cindy is excited to finally earn enough money to join a neighbourhood team.  Unfortunately, at the rink, Cindy encounters three nasty Blister Sisters who make playing hockey very unpleasant. 

    At her very first practice, she met the Blister Sisters. They could tell she was one good hockey player, and they were jealous.

    They insulted her old equipment… Then they made her look bad on the ice… They could do this because their mom was the coach

    Thank goodness Cindy has a fairy goaltender watching out for her. The fairy’s magic provides Cindy with a dazzling new uniform, gleaming skates and a Zamboni – to transport her to the all-star team tryouts. Cindy rushes to the rink and does not disappoint – she is a star.

    Knowing that the magic spell will end once the final buzzer has sounded, Cindy rushes away from the rink, leaving a shiny skate behind.

    Coach Prince is determined to match the shiny skate to the player who wore it during the tryouts.

    Coach Prince went from locker room to locker room, trying the skate on every girl she could find. Finally she arrived at Cindy’s rink ensuring a happy ending for Cindy and her new team.

    Splinters will have greatest appeal for children who are familiar with Cinderella. We love the idea of taking a familiar story, like Cinderella and retelling it with new characters and a contemporary setting. In a primary classroom, we suggest using Splinters as a jumping off point, inspiring young writers to imagine other situations for Cinderella to encounter.

    Splinters at

    Splinters at

    Four Eye Popping Picture Books for Children

    Posted on October 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    I want to let you know about four picture books for children that are sure to appeal to both boys and girls. I sincerely hope you will make time to share special books with the children in your life each and every day.

    Welcome Winter
    Written by Jill Ackerman, illustrated by Nancy Davis

    This sturdy, fun board book caught my eye and will have great appeal for toddlers. The illustrations and text are simple and yet very engaging. I especially liked the description of “snow crunching under boots” and a matching slippery, noisy surface that begs to be touched. Very young children will thoroughly enjoy checking out a variety of textures as they learn about the season of swirling snowflakes, cold temperatures and wind.

    Welcome Winter at

    Welcome Winter at

    The Little Word Catcher Written by Danielle Simard, illustrated by Geneviève Côté
    Originally published in French, The Little Word Catcher won a Governor General’s Award for Illustration. It was written with Alzheimer patients and their families in mind but also illustrates the impact of aphasia (an acquired communication disorder that is often due to stroke). Elise’s grandmother is losing her words. When in conversation, she has difficulty coming up with the right word to use. The affliction is terribly difficult for her young granddaughter to understand. Eventually, Elise takes comfort in the thought that perhaps Grandma has given her the words to use. A lovely story about the special relationship between a grandparent and a child, The Little Word Catcher will have special poignancy for families dealing with aging and loss.

    The Little Word Catcher at

    The Little Word Catcher at

    Smart-Opedia Junior

    The Amazing Book About Everything from Maple Tree Press

    It is all too easy to get locked into the idea that bedtime stories or even picture books ought to be fictional. For many children, a good nonfiction book will have terrific appeal not to mention loads of valuable information. Smart-Opedia Junior is intended for children aged 5 through 8 and provides all manner of interesting facts. Generously illustrated, youngsters will learn about body science, inventions, plant and animal life, our universe and more.

    Smart-opedia Junior: The Amazing Book About Everything at

    Smart-Opedia Junior Smart-Opedia Junior: The Amazing Book about Everything at

    The 3 Bears and Goldilocks
    Written by Margaret Willey, illustrated by Heather M. Solomon

    I wonder how many different books tell the recognizable tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I expect there are dozens and dozens of interpretations but perhaps none quite as original or fascinating as this one. Here, a bold and daring Goldilocks discovers a small, cave-like cabin that is home to three extremely untidy creatures. Should we really be surprised that bear porridge is not at all like the oatmeal humans enjoy or that a bear’s bed is similarly unfamiliar? Children who know the traditional story well will thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to consider an alternate account of Goldilocks’ adventure.

    The 3 Bears and Goldilocks at

    The 3 Bears and Goldilocks at

    Three “Can’t Miss” Picture Books

    Posted on October 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Highlighting three special picture books for young children…

    Little By Little written by Amber Stewart, illustrated by Layn Marlow

    For young children who are attempting to learn a new skill, learning ‘little by little’ is a great approach to take. Here we follow Scramble, a young otter, as he learns to swim in spite of his own reluctance and unwelcome criticism from Bear and Beaver. Lovely, warm illustrations accompany a gentle story that will give confidence to toddlers and preschoolers as they take on new challenges.

    Little by Little at

    Little by Little at

    Snow written by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Lauren Stringer
    What could be more wonderful for a young child than waking up to freshly fallen snow? Ms Rylant’s evocative writing and Ms Stringer’s lovely paintings beautifully capture the wonder and delight of a snowy day. An exuberant young girl shares the special day with a friend and her grandmother. This beautiful book will surely leave you wishing for a magical snowy day to share with your youngster.

    Snow at

    Snow at

    The Jewel Box Ballerinas by Monique de Varennes, pictures by Ana Juan

    To an outside observer, Bibi Branchflower appears wealthy. She has many, many prize possessions but is terribly lonely; she does not have a single friend. One day she visits a small shop and purchases an exquisite jewel box. Upon opening the box, she is captivated by the two beautiful but sad ballerinas inside. Little does Bibi know that her purchase of the jewel box and the care she shows the ballerinas will result in an amazing transformation for herself and the dancers. This thought-provoking story is best-suited to children aged 4 and up.

    The Jewel Box Ballerinas at

    The Jewel Box Ballerinas at

    Three Remarkable Picture Books, Each One Magical

    Posted on October 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Owl Moon – written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr

    In 1988 the Caldecott Medal was awarded to Owl Moon. A special 20th anniversary edition is now available and provides an opportunity to discover the picture book’s wonderful, timeless magic.

    It is very late at night when a father and his young daughter venture into the cold. They are seeking a glimpse of a great horned owl. The companions walk together silently and eagerly under an Owl Moon.

    Beautifully illustrated, this is a remarkable book that will be enjoyed by the entire family. The depiction of the young girl’s excitement will no doubt inspire parents to bend their bedtime rules and enjoy a moonlit, late night walk.

    Owl Moon at

    Owl Moon at

    The Blue Hippopotamus – written by Phoebe Gilman, illustrated by Joanne Fitgerald

    A finalist for the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Awards, The Blue Hippopotamus is the story of a little hippo who falls in love with the Pharoah’s daughter. When he comes to the sad realization that the young girl will not love a hippo, he seeks the help of a magician and is changed into a clay toy. His love for the girl endures for many years and, when he observes her loneliness as a young woman, he unselfishly wishes for her happiness. His generosity is magically rewarded and he is once again transformed.

    Blue Hippopotamus at

    Blue Hippopotamus at

    The Magic Rabbit – written and illustrated by Annette LeBlanc Cate

    Ray and Bunny have a very special relationship: they live together, work together and are best friends. One day, while performing their magic show, Ray and Bunny are accidentally separated. The magician doesn’t see a yappy dog chase Bunny down the street and away from him. Both Ray and his friend are devastated. Tired and hungry, the lonely bunny wanders in the dark until the distinctive aroma of popcorn catches his attention.

    Truly enchanting, I hope Ms. Cate will continue to conjure charming picture books for youngsters.

    The Magic Rabbit at

    The Magic Rabbit at

    Favourite Stories Transformed Into Terrific Picture Books

    Posted on October 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Three familiar tales are given ingenious ‘make overs’ . Readers are sure to enjoy comparing these terrific picture books with the originals that inspired them.

    The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark written by Ken Geist and illustrated by Julia Gorton
    Picture book published by Cartwheel Books, an imprint of Scholastic

    When Mama Fish sends Jim, Tim and Kim off to make their homes in the deep blue sea, a Big, Bad Shark is watching. It is not long before he knocks at a door and roars, “Little Fish, Little Fish, let me come in.” A really delightful addition to a picture book collection, youngsters will enjoy chiming in when the Little Fish replies, “Not by the skin of my finny, fin, fin!” Bold, bright illustrations compliment this clever adaptation and ensure a very happy ending.

    The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark at

    The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark at

    Clancy With the Puck written and illustrated by Chris Mizzoni
    Picture book published by Raincoast Books

    Just as Casey could hit a baseball, Clancy is a star when it comes to hockey. When Clancy Cooke joins the Hogtown Maple Buds, hopes are raised for a Stanley Cup win. Alas, in the final moments of a playoff game, when Clancy takes a penalty shot, “The puck deflected off the post, like a comet to the sky. The Buds had lost the Stanley Cup – and the fans went home to cry.” A sure winner, especially for hockey fans and those familiar with the classic story of Casey at the Bat.

    Clancy with the Puck at

    Clancy with the Puck at

    The Three Snow Bears written and illustrated by Jan Brett
    Picture book published by Putnam Juvenile, an imprint of Penguin Books

    When Baby Bear’s soup is too hot and burns his mouth, he and his snow bear family leave their igloo and go for a stroll. Meanwhile, Aloo-ki is searching for her sled dogs. She happens upon the bear family’s igloo and is soon inside, tasting soup, trying on boots and sleeping in Baby Bear’s “just right” bed. Beautifully illustrated, this is a truly inspired adaption of Goldilocks’ story.

    The Three Snow Bears at

    The Three Snow Bears at

    A Look at How Paul Gauguin Discovered His Magic

    Posted on October 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Mr. Gauguin’s Heart written by Marie-Danielle Croteau, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault and translated by Susan Ouriou

    This thought-provoking picture book introduces a young Paul Gauguin. As a child, he sails with his family from Denmark to Peru. While onboard ship, his father dies and Paul feels lost. He does not mourn like his mother and sister do. He watches as the giant sun sinks below the horizon and imagines his father’s heart. When his ship arrives in Peru, Paul, with the help of an elderly man, discovers that one can bring things to life with a paintbrush.

    Best suited to children aged 6 to 9, Mr. Gauguin’s Heart in an insightful and reflective look at grief and passion.

    Mr. Gauguin’s Heart at

    Mr Gauguin’s Heart at

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