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

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 traditional stories that inspired them.


Favourite Stories Transformed Into Terrific Picture Books by Storytime Standouts includes Three Little Fish
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 complement this clever adaptation and ensure a very happy ending.

The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark at Amazon.com

The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark at Amazon.ca

Favourite Stories Transformed Into Terrific Picture Books by Storytime Standouts includes Clancy with the Puck
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 Amazon.com

Clancy with the Puck at Amazon.ca

Favourite Stories Transformed Into Terrific Picture Books by Storytime Standouts includes The Three Snow Bears
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 Amazon.com

The Three Snow Bears at Amazon.ca


A Look at How Paul Gauguin Discovered His Magic

Posted on October 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


A Look at How Paul Gauguin Discovered His Magic, picture book recommendation by Storytime StandoutsMr. 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 Amazon.com

Mr Gauguin’s Heart at Amazon.ca


The Painted Chest – Share this picture book for older children and let it speak to your heart

Posted on September 21st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Adults and young readers will enjoy this thought-provoking fable, The Painted Chest, a picture book for older children

The Painted Chest - Share this picture book for older children and let it speak to your heart
The Painted Chest written and illustrated by Judith Christine Mills
Picture book about the value of music and art published by Key Porter Books



The Painted Chest is a lovely fable that has an important message for both children and adults… In this picture book for older children, stars twinkle above and wildflowers bloom in the fields but life in Maddie’s village is barren and grey. A distant memory of famine casts a worrying shadow. The villagers toil day after day, focussed only on growing food.

One day, while clearing rocks from the fields, the villagers unearth a large object caked in mud.

The long-lost painted wooden chest has an important message for the townsfolk:

Days will all be long and cold, If you nourish body but not soul.

Once opened, the musical instruments and dancing shoes from the painted chest bring renewed joy to the small community.

Share this lovely, thought provoking story with a child and let it speak to your heart.

The Painted Chest at Amazon.com

The Painted Chest at Amazon.ca

A special concept book for preschool: Imagine by Ruth Brown

Posted on September 17th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Britain’s author-illustrator Ruth Brown has created many wonderful children’s books. I especially delight in One Stormy Night, wherein we follow the mystifying after-dark travels of a white dog.

Delight In Concept Book for Preschool: Imagine by Ruth BrownImagine written and illustrated by Ruth Brown
Concept book (opposites) published by Andersen Press





In Imagine Ms. Brown explores opposites and the power of imagination. Simple text and luminescent, painterly illustrations make for an exceptional concept book for preschool.

Imagine,
when you’re half asleep,
those big white clouds
look just like sheep…

A young boy gazes out his bedroom window, sleepily watching puffy white clouds drift by. Soon he is transported to a spring meadow where he sees a slow tortoise and a fast hare, finishing their race “first” and “last.”

Simple text and lovely illustrations contribute to a concept book for preschool that wholeheartedly celebrates the power of imagination.

Imagine at Amazon.com

Imagine at Amazon.ca


Mousse and Nut usually love to spend time together, a picture book about friendship

Posted on September 17th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Encouraging children to learn about getting along, a story about friendship

Mousse and Nut usually love to spend time together, a picture book about friendshipJane Simmons is a favourite author/illustrator for many youngsters. You may be familiar with ‘Daisy’ a charming young duck that appears in many of her books.

Together by Jane Simmons
Picture book about friendship published by Knopf Books for Young Readers






Together is the story of two very good friends; Mousse and Nut. Usually they love to spend time together but one day they can’t agree on anything. As dark clouds gather, they decide they are no longer best friends. In this story about friendship,it takes some time apart to remind each that differences are okay and friendship can endure even when pals are apart.

Together at Amazon.com

Together at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts looks at Concept Book, Tools by Taro Miura

Posted on September 12th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Looking at a concept book about tools and the people who use them by Taro Miura

Storytime Standouts looks at Tools by Taro MiuraTools by Taro Miura
Concept picture book published by Chronicle Books



At first peek this appears to be a book for very young children. It features bold illustrations and large text. I have shared it with a number of grade one and two children and found it very engaging. Showing us all sorts of equipment used by carpenters, tailors, mechanics, doctors, chef, gardener, etc. We first examine the implements and then are shown who might use them. This guess who format together with the extensive array of fascinating items makes the book entirely appropriate for early primary and a great resource for vocabulary building.

Tools at Amazon.com

Tools at Amazon.ca


Jeffrey and Sloth – Why not try doodling your way to a fun tale?

Posted on September 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Jeffrey and Sloth - Why not try doodling your way to a fun tale? Jeffrey and Sloth written by Kari-Lynn Winters and illustrated by Ben Hodson
Picture book about writing and drawing published by Orca Book Publishers



Staring at a blank sheet of paper (or computer screen) can be awfully daunting when you can’t find anything to write about (or blog about). For Jeffrey, the solution is to draw a shining sun, snow-capped mountains, space aliens and a round-bellied, long-armed sloth. Jeffrey’s sloth suggests that Jeffrey should make himself useful and sketch a chair. Before long, Jeffrey discovers that his drawing and words are magical – with them, he sends his creation digging, swimming, climbing and trekking.

A fun picture book – especially for a young writer seeking inspiration. Why not try doodling your way to your next tale?

Kari-Lynn Winters’ Website

Lesson plan for Jeffrey and Sloth (in PDF format) based on six traits of writing.

Jeffrey and Sloth at Amazon.com

Jeffrey and Sloth at Amazon.ca


Establishing a Sense of Community in My Split Grade Classroom

Posted on September 4th, 2011 by Jody


One of my favourite parts of the school year is the first few weeks. I love mapping things out and getting to know my students. I love choosing my first read aloud and getting them hooked. In the past I have done Tuck Everlasting (I just love this story), Zebra Wall, and Sixth Grade Secrets (one of the funniest books). This year I have decided, thanks to a great workshop I attended, to try something different.

I generally start with a novel as a way of introducing reading strategies, such as predicting, questioning, and summarizing. However, instead of a novel, I am going to start with a book called,  Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I. Campbell and  illustrated by Kim LaFave. It is actually a picture book recommended for ages 4-7. I am teaching grade 4/5 this year but I think that in addition to being able to introduce reading strategies, this story will allow me to establish a stronger sense of community right from the start.

Shi-shi-etko tells about a child’s experience with residential schools. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful. It will give me the opportunity to introduce themes of community, diversity, anxiety, family, and inclusion. These are all topics that need to be present in any classroom, but more so in a split grade classroom I think. In general, split classes are viewed negatively. Parents don’t want their child working below or beyond their capabilities and kids who have waited to experience certain things offered to their grade (like field trips) resent having to share these adventures. These thoughts seem at odds with the growing awareness of the need for differentiation in the classroom. Split grade or straight, more than one level of need is being met in all classrooms. It is important for teachers to find a way to motivate all learners and to do this, a community of acceptance needs to be established as quickly as possible. A classroom that students feel accepted, trusted, and safe in will promote positive learning experiences.

When my students come to my class this year, I want them to worry less about whether or not the work is really grade four work or grade five work. I want them to focus on contributing to a positive community atmosphere. I want them to feel safe to explore what kind of learning best suits them. I want them to accept the ideas, feelings, and beliefs of others and have this reciprocated. While I have grade level curriculum to teach, my hope is that we will go beyond that. I want them to be able to achieve academic success, but more importantly, I want them to acquire the tools that will help them become lifelong learners that accept and appreciate the unique backgrounds of others. I hope that in addition to powerful reading strategies, Shi-shi-etko will pave the way to a safe, strong sense of community in our class, built on trust, tolerance, and acceptance.

Shi-shi-etko at Amazon.com

Shi-shi-etko at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts recommends picture books that celebrate diversity

She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain – a wild west picture book for y’all

Posted on September 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at wild west picture book, She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain

Storytime Standouts recommends She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain by Jonathan Emmett and Deborah AllwrightShe’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain created by Jonathan Emmett and Deborah Allwright
Wild West picture book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon and Schuster’s Children’s Publishing Division



Every now and then a picture book crosses my desk that is impossible to resist. The cover art and/or the title draw my attention and I quickly make time to peak inside.

Earlier this week, She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain did just that. Bonnie Bandit, perched atop one of her six white horses, enthusiastically galloped to the fore. Playfully written by Jonathan Emmett and exuberantly illustrated by Deborah Allwright, this delightful rendition of the classic song is all one could hope for. With suggested actions for each verse, loads of extra details (Her pajamas are ‘flowery and frilly, and they make her look quite silly‘) and eye-popping illustrations, this gem will appeal to adults who fondly remember belting out the song while in the backseat of a car and youngsters who will love to ‘Slurp-slurp, Bish- Bosh, Toot-Toot‘ and ‘Yee-Ha

Perfect for bedtime or circle time, this is one bandit y’all should all go out to meet!

She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain at Amazon.com

She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain at Amazon.ca

She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain songsheet

image of PDF icon  She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain

Lyrics for the traditional song



Lois Ehlert’s Inspiring Illustrations – Wag a Tail is Doggone Great!

Posted on September 2nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Lois Ehlert’s Inspiring Illustrations - Wag a Tail is Doggone GreatWag A Tail written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Picture book published by Harcourt, Inc.





A first glance, one might assume that Lois Ehlert’s picture book, Wag A Tail is best suited for preschool-aged children. The brief rhyming text tells a tale of sixteen mostly well-behaved dogs. The graduates of the Bow Wow School meet at a farmers’ market and subsequently move on to a dog park for playtime.

Ms Ehlert’s bold, inspiring illustrations are constructed from handmade paper, scraps of fabric and buttons. They are truly fascinating for children (and adults) who are interested in creating art from odds and ends. This book would be a great jumping off point for teachers who are interested in inspiring primary-aged children to create art from paper, scissors and found objects.

At our house, we had a laugh when we read the descriptions of the Bow Wow School graduates. My nine-year old decided he is much like “Bebe… an Affenpinscher, Loyal, but difficult to train. Determined and fearless, sometimes snappy. This dog was born to run.”

I think I’m more like “Queenie” – especially since she’s “smart, loves children… and doesn’t need much exercise.” If only it were true!

Wag a Tail at Amazon.com

Wag a Tail at Amazon.ca

Fabulous Funny Picture Books – You’ll Love Reading These Aloud!

Posted on August 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart



Yesterday was tough around here and by bedtime my youngest son was very ready to enjoy some snuggle time and some new picture books. Because it had been a rough day, we wanted something fun. I reached for Duck’s Tale by Harmen van Straaten, Smelly Bill by Daniel Postgate and Grill Pan Eddy by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross. All three picture books had very appealing cover art and looked as though they would fit the bill.

Funny Picture Book You'll Love to Read including Duck's Tale
Duck’s Tale is a lovely story about the friendship between Toad and Duck. Duck finds a pen and takes it to Toad’s house. Toad is busy when Duck arrives. He is reading the newspaper while wearing his reading glasses. Duck concludes that Toad reads because he has glasses. Duck subsequently decides that possessing a pen should enable him to write.

He writes for an entire day and then invites Toad to ‘read’ his ‘story.’ Not one to disappoint his good friend, Toad ‘reads’ Duck’s Tale beautifully.

Recommended for children 3 and up. Older boys and girls will appreciate the subtleties and perhaps wonder whether Duck actually writes a story and if Toad is able read.

Duck’s Tale at Amazon.com

Duck’s Tale at Amazon.ca

Funny Picture Book You'll Love to Read including Smelly Bill
Oh yuk, Smelly Bill is one mucky dog. He loves to roll in mud and rubbish. He steadfastly resists his family’s attempts to de-reek him! When Great Aunt Bleach arrives, she brings her disinfectant and scrub brush. Before long the house is sparkling from top to uh-oh – what is that smell? After a merry chase, Bill endures his bathie-wathie, and makes a mess of poor Great Aunt Bleach. With wonderful rhyming text and fun illustrations, Smelly Bill will be enjoyed by children of all ages.

Smelly Bill at Amazon.com

Smelly Bill at Amazon.ca

Funny Picture Book You'll Love to Read including Grill Pan Eddy
Grill Pan Eddy is one smart and daring mouse. Apparently fearless, he taunts his host family and their cat:

“No matter what we tried to do
No matter what we saidy.
There was no way of getting rid
Of that darn Grill Pan Eddy

Eddy has a field day with the exterminator and makes regular appearances throughout the house. Finally beaten, the family grudgingly decides to let him stay.

Tony Ross’ great illustrations are perfect for this irreverent romp. Enjoy it with children 5 and up.

Grill Pan Eddy at Amazon.com

Grill Pan Eddy at Amazon.ca


I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! A practically perfect book for preschoolers

Posted on August 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


When it comes to rhyming picture books, I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! is a masterpiece

Storytime Standouts looks at an all-time favorite rhyming picture book for preschool: I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!



I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and I remember, with great fondness, listening to my dad play the piano. It was one of his favourite leisure activities and we’d often sing along. One of the tunes he played was It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More.

I suppose my nostalgia is part of my joy in discovering I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More, written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by David Catrow. Without hesitation, it makes my Top Ten list for preschool-aged children. It might even make my Top Five list.

With delightful, exuberant illustrations and equally fun text, you and your child will thoroughly enjoy this irresistible romp. Watch and sing along as a young child paints himself (and much of his home) from top to bottom.

If you’re not familiar with the tune, follow the link (above).

So I take some red
and I paint my…
Head!
Now I ain’t gonna paint no more.

Aw, what the heck!
Gonna paint my…
Neck!
Now I ain’t gonna paint no more.

The bonus with this terrific rhyming picture book is the wordplay; your youngster will be thinking of rhymes and anticipating the next word with no effort at all – just do yourself a favor and hide the paints and brushes in case your child is “inspired” to do a little painting herself!

Helping your child to gain phonemic awareness and preparing for formal reading instruction has never been more fun!

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More at Amazon.com

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! at Amazon.ca



Small Format Picture Books Make WONDERFUL Gifts for Kids!

Posted on August 25th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Whether heading off on a camping trip, a ski weekend or a family vacation, we recommend putting small format picture books at the top of the packing list. Wherever we’re going or whatever we’ll be doing while we’re away, we should be able to find reading material to share with children

.

Storytime Standouts recommends small format picture books to take on holidays or include in cardsKeep in mind that when you choose to read daytime or bedtime stories while on holiday, you are giving your child very positive messages about reading. You are saying, “Books are so special, we always make a place for them in our suitcase. We get to have extra stories when we’re on holiday because holidays are a time to enjoy treats like stories!”

If, on the other hand, we skip reading when we go on a holiday, our children might decide,‘reading is work’ and to be avoided when we are relaxing on a holiday.

My guess is, once you discover small format picture books, you will be as excited as I am about them. Most cost less than $5.00 and can be tucked into a birthday card, Christmas stocking or your own handbag or suitcase with ease.

We recommend Red Fox Mini Treasure Series, Annikins Series, Little Miss Books, Mr Men Books and Mole Sisters.

Storytime Standouts recommends small format Mr books including Mr HappyNow, back to thinking about vacations. My experience has been that the stories we share while on holiday become intertwined with the happy memories and part of a family history. I hope that this happens with you too.



Emergent Readers Captivated by Drama and Mystery

Posted on August 24th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


A fun book series for beginning readers: Read at Home

Check out this series for emergent readers

I spent a fair amount of time in a dentist’s chair today and was reflecting on my recent experience with a grade one student. I’ve been working with him for a while. His older brothers have had some difficulty with reading so I spend half an hour, once a week with this youngster. Yesterday he read from the Oxford University Press Read at Home series. He is familiar with these books and knows the characters; Floppy, Chip, Kipper and Biff.

During our session, I suggested he try one of the Level 4 stories. He eagerly selected, Trapped! text by Cynthia Rider, illustrations by Alex Brychta. It was delightful to hear him read confidently but what was even more special was his reaction to the book. Clearly, he saw this story as different from others he has read independently. There was more text – about three sentences per page. There were letters and hidden keys to locate within the illustrations. But, most surprising, there was drama – when Grandma was briefly trapped in a castle – and mystery – why was there face at the castle window?

My emergent reader was thrilled to read Trapped – he likened it to the kind of books his older brothers read. He felt competent, confident and intrigued. If only all books for young readers could replicate this winning combination.

The Oxford University Press Read at Home series is excellent from beginning to end and includes dozens of great titles for emergent readers.

Read at Home: More Level 4c: Trapped! at Amazon.com

Read at Home: More Level 4c Trapped! at Amazon.ca

Read at Home: Level 4, Pack of 6 at Amazon.ca

What is your favorite series for readers at this level? Please share your ideas and suggestions.


Overscheduled? Make Time For So Few of Me By Peter Reynolds

Posted on August 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

It is rare to find a parent or child who does not feel overscheduled. Balancing (school)work, chores, sports activities and lessons seems to be a national pasttime. In our household we are enjoying a bit of a ‘breather’ from sports this week. Usually we are racing from school to gym to hockey rink to home. I always joke that my boys never ate in the car when they were toddlers or preschool age but these days I frequently load up a tray and wait to refuel one or both of them. If only I could clone myself… or my husband. Life would be so much better – or would it?

Overscheduled?  Make Time For So Few of Me By Peter ReynoldsSo Few of Me
Written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Picture book published by Candlewick Press





Orverscheduled Leo’s ‘To Do’ list is growing by the minute. One day it occurs to him that if there were two of him, all those jobs might be manageable. It is not long before one Leo becomes two and two becomes three. Soon there are nine extra Leos busily working, rushing, delivering, organizing, carrying and making To Do lists…

Leo awoke to nine other Leos ataring at him. “What were you doing?” they demanded.
I was dreaming.” Leo said softly.
“Dreaming was NOT on the list!” they roared.

Leo discovers that adding more Leos to his world doesn’t solve his problem. He learns that, even when one feels over scheduled, making time to dream can make all the difference. Leo decides to do less but do his best.

Peter H. Reynolds illustrations and message are a joy. Be sure to make time to enjoy this contemporary fable with your family and friends.

Peter H. Reynolds suggestions for sparking creativity

I would love to hear about your favorite Peter H Reynolds book. I am thinking The Dot but Ish is also an inspiration… oh my, I’m not sure I can pick just one.

So Few of Me at Amazon.com

So Few of Me at Amazon.ca




This Picture Book is Full of Light: Sparkle and Spin

Posted on August 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


A retro picture book celebration of words and design

Storytime Standouts looks at Ann and Paul Rand's shimmering picture book about words: Sparkle and SpinSparkle and Spin
Written by Ann and Paul Rand
Picture book published by Chronicle Books





A picture book that was originally published in 1957, this new edition of Sparkle and Spin: A Book About Words is a great introduction to what words are. Combining bold, bright graphic illustrations with a text that begs to be read aloud:

Some words are gay and bright and full of light like tinsel and silver and sparkle.

Sparkle and Spin highlights rhyming, onomatopoeia and homonyms. Although the striking illustrations and wordplay will be enjoyed by very young children, there is much here for older children and adults to appreciate.

About Paul Rand, graphic designer

Sparkle and Spin at Amazon.com

Sparkle and Spin at Amazon.ca


Special Picture Books to Watch For

Posted on August 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Today we’ll look at three special picture books to enjoy with young children


Storytime Standouts recommends A Sack Full of FeathersA Sack Full of Feathers
Written by Debby Waldman and illustrated by Cindy Revell
Picture book that explores social responsibility published by Orca Book Publishers

Young Yankel is a storyteller. He overhears bits of news at his father’s store and excitedly shares the gossip throughout the village.

One day a wise rabbi gives Yankel a job; he is to put one feather on each doorstep in the village. Puzzled, Yankel willingly distributes the feathers even as gusts of wind send some flying.

When the rabbi subsequently asks Yankel to collect all the feathers and return them to the sack, Yankel comes to understand the danger of gossip.

A delightful folktale is retold in A Sack Full of Feathers with engaging illustrations and warmth.

A Sack Full of Feathers at Amazon.com

Sack Full of Feathers at Amazon.ca

Heave Ho!
Written by Heinz Janisch and illustrated by Carola Holland
Storytime Standouts recommends Heave HoImagine, a refreshing and surprising story told in just twelve sentences! Engaging illustrations introduce a cat, a dog and a trio of mice. Together, they take on a tricky job and discover they are ‘up’ to the challenge. Good fun.

Heave Ho! at Amazon.com

Heave Ho! at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts recommends Dooby Dooby Moo

Dooby Dooby Moo
Written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin

I hope you have discovered the not-to-be missed Caldecott Honor book, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type. In Dooby Dooby Moo we once again encounter Farmer Brown and his irrepressible animals. With good cause, Farmer Brown is suspicious that something is going on behind the barn door. In fact, Duck is determined to win a trampoline in the upcoming Talent Show. He is busy organizing rehearsals of “Home on the Range” and “Born to be Wild.” This book’s a sure ‘winner.’

Dooby Dooby Moo at Amazon.com

Dooby Dooby Moo at Amazon.ca


Special Wordless Picture Books to Enjoy with Your Child

Posted on August 19th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Wordless picture books are great for encouraging language development in young children. These books usually tell a story, clearly depicting a series of events. Before attempting to tell a ’story’, children should be encouraged to look through the entire book and get a sense of what is about to happen and how the story ends. Many children delight in the discovery that there are no words to ‘read.’ This can make for an exciting role reversal as young children have an opportunity to ‘read’ the pictures and ‘tell’ the story to an adult or another child.

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

I am happy to introduce two new special wordless picture books…
Special Wordless Picture Books to Enjoy with Your Child including Once Upon a Banana Once Upon a Banana written by Jennifer Armstrong and illustrated by David Small
Almost Wordless Picture Book published by Simon and Schuster

In this (almost) wordless picture book, hilarious events are set in motion when a small monkey tosses a banana peel onto a sidewalk. Before long it would appear that the entire town is upset – dogs break loose, a cyclist goes flying, a grocery cart is upended and, oh no, look at that baby carriage! Terrific fun.

Once Upon a Banana at Amazon.com

Once Upon a Banana at Amazon.ca

Special Wordless Picture Books to Enjoy with Your Child including Flotsam Flotsam created by David Wiesner
Wordless Picture Book published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Here, we join a boy and his family as they spend a day at the beach. Clearly an enthusiastic scientist, he arrives equipped with binoculars, a magnifying glass and a microscope. As he searches for interesting ‘flotsam’, a huge wave crashes over him and leaves an old underwater camera just above the waterline. The boy races to a nearby shop and waits as the film is developed. When handed the photos, he can’t believe what they reveal. Flotsam is truly a ‘treasure chest’ of visual delights.

Flotsam (Caldecott Medal Book)at Amazon.com

Flotsam at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts offers dozens of early literacy printables, All of the printables are in PDF format. Here is a sampling of our beach-related printables. Check the tab above for more resources.

image of PDF icon  Beach Picture Dictionary

Free printable picture dictionary for readers and writers in kindergarten and grade one.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Sandcastle

Beach theme interlined paper for beginning writers.


Chester’s Masterpiece – laughter is the best medicine for writer’s block

Posted on August 16th, 2011 by Jody


Storytime Standout's review of Chester's Masterpiece by Mélanie WattI don’t know if it’s typical for adults to love picture books as much as I do. Many of the adults in my life; my husband, best friend, and co-workers, love them, but we’re all teachers, so maybe it’s just us. However, I think that children’s books are one of the best stress releases ever. The best ones are those that literally make you laugh out loud.

Chester’s Masterpiece written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt
Picture book published by Kids Can Press






For me, this week, that laugh out loud book was Chester’s Masterpiece by Mélanie Watt. I’ve had writers block all week and just happened to read this to my girls and their two friends. I had read Chester, but not his Masterpiece. If you haven’t read either, Chester is a cat that thinks he is much more capable of writing a great book than his creator, Mélanie Watt.

In this particular book, Chester appears to be struggling with some writer’s block as well! His was much funnier than mine. He hides Mélanie’s writing tools so she cannot do her work. They have a witty back and forth through post it notes and sketches. Chester tries hard to create a Masterpiece with Mélanie trying to offer him helpful hints and strongly suggesting he return her tools so she can actually get to work.

This book is truly funny. I am in awe of authors that can create such rich characters without a lot of back story. I am working on a couple of children’s books myself and I always find myself adding in details that don’t need to be shared. Mélanie’s talent for jumping into the story and attracting you to the larger than life characters is inspiring. You can’t help but love Chester, or Scaredy Squirrel, another of her awesome characters. You jump into these books, laugh out loud, and feel better just for having read them.

So, if you need to laugh out loud this week, or just distract yourself from your own writer’s block, pick up a Mélanie Watt book and you won’t be disappointed.

Kids Can Press Chester’s Masterpiece Free PDF Download learn how to draw Chester plus storytime ideas and a wordsearch

Chester’s Masterpiece at Amazon.com

Chester’s Masterpiece at Amazon.ca


Choosing My Top Ten Picture Books is Next to Impossible!

Posted on August 5th, 2011 by Jody


While thinking about what to pack for a mini family vacation next week, it struck me that I should come up with a list of my TOP TEN picture books. As soon as I began trying to choose, it became my TOP TWELVE.  I thought it’d be a good exercise because whenever we go away, we have to be very firm with our youngest child about what she can and cannot pack. If you have ever read Robert Munsch’s Too Much Stuff (see how I snuck an extra book in there that’s great but won’t be on my top ten twelve?) you’d have great insight into how my five year old packs. I don’t like limiting how many books our girls can bring, but if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have enough room to bring our clothes! Hopefully it’ll be a while before they figure out that I have NO limit thanks to my Kindle. But if, like them, I was stuck picking ten stories for bedtime or any other time, I wondered which ones would make my list. These are not in order by favourite because that’s just asking too much of myself.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes OliviaOlivia written and illustrated by Ian Falconer

Olivia is the funniest pig ever! She’s determined, stubborn, and highly amusing. I love the simplicity and the truth of Olivia. She’s tiring, she’s demanding, but she’s so loved. I only wish that Ian Falconer and Kevin Henkes would write a book together so that Olivia could play with Lilly (see below).

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Lilly's Purple Plastic PurseLilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Lilly is perhaps my favorite storybook character. She perfectly encapsulates the egocentric child in such a charming, fun way. I love the way Henkes uses simple sentences in his writing to tell you so much. “Lilly loved school. She loved the pointy pencils. She loved the squeaky chalk”. I love Lilly.

The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen

I’m not sure what makes this story one of my favorite fairy tales, but it is. I love the queen piling on all of the mattresses and bedding and I love the version where the prince realizes he loves her, even if she isn’t a real princess.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Suki's KimonoSuki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki and Stephane Jorisch

This is a beautiful story about independence and confidence. It’s not easy for Suki to wear her kimono to school when even her sisters are wearing brand new clothes and all the kids stare at her. But she’s not afraid to be who she is and wear what she wants. I read this book, the first time, years ago and still enjoy it every time I read it to my daughters or to a class.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Paper Bag PrincessThe Paper Bag Princess written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko

My kids love this book because Elizabeth says Ronald is a “bum”. I love it because Elizabeth is clever and strong and not only defeats the dragon but gets her happily ever after by NOT getting her happily ever after.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Hand, Hand, Fingers, ThumbHand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb written by Al Perkins and illustrated by Eric Gurney

I love the simple rhyme and rhythm of this book. To this day, whenever I cross a street and say to my kids “Hand”, they both reply “hand, fingers, thumb”. It’s delightful.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes You Are SpecialYou are Special written by Max Lucado and illustrated by Sergio Martinez

This book makes me smile every time I read it. I love the message that believing in oneself comes from inside, not from the beliefs of others. The symbolism of the stickers falling off of the Wemmicks when they stop caring about how others see them is beautiful.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Seven Silly EatersThe Seven Silly Eaters written by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Marla Frazee

This book is adorable. The pictures are fantastic and I love the pickiness of the kids. The rhyme is awesome and the chaos and love projected in the words and the pictures are realistic and amusing.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Wmberly WorriedWemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Just so you understand how difficult it was for me to pick only 12 favorites, I should mention that I absolutely LOVE,  LOVE,  LOVE every Kevin Henkes book I’ve ever read, including Zebra Wall, which is a novel that I didn’t even know, until last year, that he had written. Wemberly is me. She is my oldest daughter. She is every kid who hates uncertainty and is comforted by the familiar.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes The Kissing HandThe Kissing Hand written by Audrey Penn with illustrations by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak

The first time I read this story, I cried a little. Our oldest daughter was almost three when I bought it and read it to her. It was exactly what I wanted and still want for my children- to know that wherever they go and whatever they do, I love them and I’m with them.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Goodnight MoonGoodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd

I can recite this book word for word. I love the line “Goodnight nobody”. When our youngest daughter was born, we decorated her bedroom as the ‘great green room’. We had all of the details; “the old lady whispering hush” drawn on the wall,” two kittens and a pair of mittens”. For a border, we wrote the words of the story.  It will forever be one of my favorites.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Guess How Much I Love YouGuess How Much I love you written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram

I loved this book even before I really understood it. I gave it to my mom before I had kids and she nodded as though she had some sage understanding of something I did not. Then I had kids and I really got it; because even though they love me to the moon, I love them to the moon and back.

There. I did it. I narrowed it down and chose twelve favorites. I’m so very proud of myself for not even mentioning Sleepy Bears by Mem Fox, Pocket Full of Kisses by Audrey Penn, every other Kevin Henkes book, or Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss. It’s probably safe to say that I, too, need strict guidelines for what I can and cannot pack.

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