Posts Tagged ‘award winners’

Wordless Picture Book Fun with Flora

Posted on August 14th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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Flora the Flamingo - wordless picture book by Molly IdleFlora the Flamingo created by Molly Idle
Wordless Picture Book published by Chronicle Kids

From my perspective, wordless picture books are an under-appreciated genre. “Readable” in any language (or multiple languages), they help children to develop comprehension skills and they can be used to prompt discussion and encourage language development.

Last week, I had the pleasure to read two wordless picture books by Molly Idle. Floral and the Flamingo was published in 2013. Flora and the Peacocks was published this year. Flora and the Penguin was published in between.Illustration from Flora and the Flamingo

Floral and the Flamingo begins when a young girl approaches a statuesque flamingo and takes her cues from the bird. Soon it appears that the flamingo is challenging the girl to match her posture and form. Floral is up to the task. She stands on one leg, she arches her back, she stretches and poses. Before too long, the flamingo and Flora are dancing together and loving every moment of the experience.

A truly lovely picture book that uses flaps beautifully, this will have special appeal for fans of ballet. Delightful illustrations are wonderfully expressive and will create an opportunity to talk about Flora’s emotions as she does her best to match the graceful flamingo’s movements.

Flora the Flamingo was a 2014 Caldecott Honor Book

Flora and the Flamingo at Amazon.com

Flora and the Flamingo at Amazon.ca

Flora and the PeacocksFlora and the Peacockscreated by Molly Idle
Wordless Picture Book published by Chronicle Kids

The third book in Ms. Idle’s series, Flora and the Peacocks adds another dimension to her storytelling. In this wordless picture book, Flora introduces herself to two peacocks. One of the peacocks appears quite happy to have a new friend but the other is not keen at all. The trio struggles to find a way to find harmony and to be friends.

Dramatic illustrations highlight gorgeous blue, green and gold peacock feathers and the especially the facial expressions of the three characters. Young readers will want to talk about why it was difficult for Flora to join the two peacocks and how their behavior changed over the course of the story.

An excellent choice for classroom and home use.

Flora and the Peacocks at Amazon.com

Flora and the Peacocks at Amazon.ca


Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

Posted on July 4th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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Shh! We Have a Plan written and illustrated by Chris HaughtonShh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton
Picture book published by Candlewick Press

When four friends, armed with three nets, set out to capture a beautiful, red-plumed bird, all goes well until the smallest friend alerts the the ruby bird that something is afoot. Giggles and laughter will accompany a read-aloud session of Shh! We Have a Plan. This is a book that will appeal to children – especially “youngest” children – as well as adults. The repetitive text will have youngsters ‘reading along’ quickly and repeated building of suspense will encourage children to make predictions about whats will happen next and the final outcome.

Bright, bold, dramatic illustrations are a highlight of this captivating, humorous picture book. A key to the storytelling, observant readers will note the eyes and the posture of the smallest friend in the cover art – he is definitely up to something!

Shh! We Have a Plan is the sort of story that parents and teachers will quite happily read again and again. It is great fun!

Chris Haughton won the 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for new illustrator with this picture book. The Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for Illustration was established in 2001 to recognize and encourage emerging talent in the field of children’s book illustration.

Shh! We Have a Plan at Amazon.com

Shh! We Have a Plan at Amazon.ca


Enjoy Some Picture book Fun with Creepy Carrots

Posted on January 10th, 2015 by Carolyn Hart

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Enjoy Some Picture book Fun with Creepy CarrotsCreepy Carrots written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown
Outstanding picture book published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers





Terrific fun for children aged five years and up, Jasper Rabbit is very fond of carrots and makes a trip to Crackenhopper Field whenever he fancies eating a few delicious treats but one day Jasper has an eerie feeling that Creepy Carrots are following him as he leaves the field. Soon Jasper is seeing Creepy Carrots everywhere: in his house, in the garden shed and on the street. Poor Jasper is petrified! He knows exactly what to do to solve this problem.

Preschool and kindergarten teachers will find all sorts of wonderful (and orange) ways to extend the learning with this delightful book. Whether designing their own carrots or a different solution to Jasper’s problem, this book is sure to inspire fun. Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! would be an excellent companion story.

2013 Randolph Caldecott Medal Honor Book
ALA Notable Book of 2013
2013 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Award Winner (Midwest)

Coloring pages (free PDF download) from Peter Brown’s webpage

Flannel Friday: Flannelboard and Template

Creepy Carrots! at Amazon.com

Creepy Carrots! at Amazon.ca

The Creepy Carrots Zone from Peter Brown on Vimeo.


A Look at the 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award Winner and Honor Books

Posted on October 16th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts Shares Wonderful Choices for Beginning Readers








The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli 2014  Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award WinnerThe Watermelon Seed written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
Picture book for beginning readers published by Disney Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group



When a charming and exuberant crocodile explains that he loves watermelon, we are utterly convinced,

Ever since I was a teeny, tiny baby cocodile, it’s been my favorite.
CHOMP! SLURP! CHOMP!

While enthusiastically devouring his favorite fruit, the crocodile accidentally ingests a seed, his imagination runs wild and he assumes a variety of terrible outcomes.

Repetitive text, limited use of long vowel words and very good supporting illustrations make this a great choice for beginning readers.

The Watermelon Seed at Amazon.com

The Watermelon Seed at Amazon.ca



Ball by Mary Sullivan a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookBall written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan
Picture book for beginning readers published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children



There is little doubt that this dog loves his small, red ball. From the moment he wakes up, he is focused on only one thing: playing with the ball. He especially loves when the ball is thrown by a young girl but when she leaves for school there is no one available to throw it.

This is a terrific picture book that relies heavily on the illustrations for the narrative. Apart from one repeated word (ball) it could be classified as a wordless picture book.

It will be thoroughly enjoyed by dog lovers and young children – especially those who are eager for an opportunity to read independently.

Ball at Amazon.com

Ball at Amazon.ca



A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookA Big Guy Took My Ball written and illustrated by Mo Willems
Series for beginning readers published by Hyperion Books for Children



This charming story will remind readers that appearances can be deceiving and perspective is everything! Gerald and Piggie’s friendship is solid and Gerald is more than willing to stand up for Piggie when her ball is taken by a big guy.

Delightful illustrations will appeal to young readers as they effectively portray a range of emotions. The text is perfect for children who are beginning to read – lots of repetition and very few long vowel words.

A Big Guy Took My Ball! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) at Amazon.com

A Big Guy Took My Ball! at Amazon.ca



Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookPenny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes
Generously illustrated chapter book series for beginning readers published by Greenwillow Books An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers



It truly is a treat to read such a beautifully-written chapter book for beginning readers. Kevin Henkes has created a new character: Penny. She is a young mouse with a sense of right and wrong. In this book, she is out with her sister when she “finds” a beautiful blue marble. She excitedly puts it into her pocket and later wonders if she did the right thing.

Lovely, full color illustrations and a thought-provoking dilemma make this a great choice for newly independent readers.

Penny and Her Marble at Amazon.com

Penny And Her Marble at Amazon.ca


Meet Author Frieda Wishinsky

Posted on May 29th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Frieda Wishinsky AuthorFrieda Wishinsky is the author of over sixty books. She writes picture books, chapter books, novels and non-fiction and is the author of the popular Canadian Flyer Adventures. Her books have been translated into many languages and have been nominated or won many awards internationally. JENNIFER JONES WON’T LEAVE ME ALONE won three English Children’s Choice awards and PLEASE, LOUISE! won the prestigious Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. EACH ONE SPECIAL was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award (Text) in 1998. Frieda loves speaking to kids and adults about the writing process and the joy of reading.





Author website
Author Facebook page

Ms. Wishinky’s latest book is A HISTORY OF JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING, non-fiction for grades 3 and up. She co-wrote it with Elizabeth MacLeod.
Published by Kids Can Press

A History of Just About Everything by Frieda Wishinsky and Elizabeth MacLeodTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

My latest book, A HISTORY OF JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING was the biggest project I ever worked on and I didn’t even write it alone. Elizabeth MacLeod and I co-wrote the book and luckily we had an excellent editor, Val Wyatt who helped us organize our huge topic. I think our approach is a dynamic way of presenting history. We show how everything is linked and how events from the past ripple forward. We wrote the book in a conversational, easy-to-understand and fast-paced style. Both kids and adults tell us they enjoy the book (and learn a lot along the way).

A History of Just About Everything at Amazon.com

A History of Just About Everything at Amazon.ca

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like?

I love writing in coffee shops. Maybe that’s because I grew up in New York City and like the hum and buzz behind me as I write. I also write at home in my office overlooking tall evergreens but I’m most creative when I’m out. I write by hand with a pencil (hooray for erasers) and then transfer the text to the computer. I revise by hand and then it’s back to the computer. I like to get feedback for my work and ask wise, honest yet supportive readers for their comments. Then I listen to what they say. I may not use everything, or change everything but I listen.Please, Louise! written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Marie Louise Gay

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

I love hearing, reading and making up stories. Stories keep us connected to each other, help us through tough times and let us know that we’re not alone. I enjoy writing in many genres, although I especially love picture books. It’s an exciting challenge to say so much in so few words. I believe that the best picture books are for readers of any age. (I read picture books all the time)

I also believe that non-fiction should be presented as a story. After all, history is the story of everyone’s past.

I have fun visiting schools, meeting teachers and librarians and my fellow authors. Book people are wonderful!

Have any of your books been published electronically? If so, what was that process like? What sort of feedback have you had from readers?

You're Mean, Lily Jean written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Kady MacDonald DentonA bunch of my books have been published electronically, especially my Orca titles. I find I still sell way more books the old fashioned paper way. Maybe it’s the genre I write in. I don’t know.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

Top of my list would be my dear friend, Phoebe Gilman. I wish she were here to talk to and share work with again. I miss her. She always had insightful yet supportive comments. And I would have loved to meet William Steig. I love that he began writing kids books late in life. His writing and art are funny and so “true”.

Our reviews of some of Ms. Wishinky’s books:
Canadian Flyer Adventure Series
You’re Mean, Lily JeanCanadian Flyer -  Beware Pirates Frieda Wishinsky

Do you do school or library presentations?

I do many school, library and conference presentations all over Canada and beyond. I love sharing writing ideas and books with kids and adults. My background in teaching and educational writing has been invaluable in connecting with kids, teachers and the curriculum. My talks are lively, interactive and curriculum-linked.
I’ve also taught writing workshops and courses for kids and adults and offer one-to-one manuscript evaluations.

Terrific Picture Books About Fathers and Fatherhood

Posted on May 23rd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts Recommends Picture Books About Fathers and Fatherhood



Some of our favorite picture books about fathers and fatherhood together with free printables and a link to our Father’s Day board on Pinterest.











Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and StepfathersDad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers written by Kelly Bennett and illustrated by Paul Meisel
Picture book about fathers published by Candlewick Press



Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers is the story of the two special men in a young girl’s life. Outwardly they are very different. They wear different clothes and they have different hobbies but, there are also similarities between the two men. Both teach the girl to how to cook and both enjoy music.

Pop is bald. Dad is not.
Dad is tall. Pop is not.
Dad wears suits. Pop wears boots.
Pop takes pictures. Dad takes naps.

This breezy, happy look at a family that includes both a ‘Dad’ and a ‘Pop’ celebrates differences and commonalities. A good choice for children aged four years and up.

Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers at Amazon.com

Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers at Amazon.ca

Daddy Hugs 123 is included in Storytime Standouts Terrific Picture Books About Fathers and FatherhoodDaddy Hugs 123 written and illustrated by Karen Katz
Counting book about an infant and her father published by Margaret K. McElderry Books



Bright, cheery illustrations depict a baby girl and her father. As the day unfolds, they share all sorts of affectionate, happy moments.

One “I’m so glad you’re my baby!” hug. Two teeny, tiny finger hugs. Three pat and burp the baby hugs.”

A great choice for infants and toddlers, Daddy Hugs 1 2 3 is all the more special because it shows a dad who takes responsibility for all aspects of his daughter’s care.

Daddy Hugs 123 at Amazon.com

Daddy Hugs 123 at Amazon.ca

Every Friday is included in Storytime Standouts Terrific Picture Books About Fathers and FatherhoodEvery Friday written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
Picture book about a boy’s relationship with his father published by Henry Holt and Company


Such a lovely story – an excellent choice for preschool storytime or a bedtime story. Each Friday, a young boy and his dad leave their city apartment and walk through the bustling streets. They walk past shops and building sites, people rushing to work and people who are already going about their business.

Everyone is rushing, but we’re taking our time. We get friendly waves and we give them right back.”

Eventually they arrive at a familiar diner. They sit together in a booth, enjoy breakfast, chat and watch the world go by. Their happy relationship and joy in being each other’s company is clear and very endearing.

Every Friday at Amazon.com

Every Friday at Amazon.ca

I’d Know You AnywhereI’d Know You Anywhere written by Hazel Hutchins and illustrated by Ruth Ohi
Picture book about a child’s relationship with his father published by Annick Press Ltd



This story is especially suitable for a Dad’s Day at preschool or for celebrating Father’s Day. Young Jeremy attempts to hide amongst the toys in his bedroom. Daddy finds Jeremy and reassures him that he would know him anywhere and in any form. The father-son game continues as Jeremy imagines wonderful hiding places and disguises. He could disguise himself and hide near a creek or in the ocean or up in the sky…

If I became a sheep
upon a mountainside,
one of many thousand sheep,
a woolly, moving tide-
If I became a sheep,
would you know me then?

Daddy reassures his son that no matter where Jeremy might hide, he would find him.

Reminiscent of The Runaway Bunny, I’d Know You Anywhere concludes with Daddy and Jeremy disguising themselves and sneeking up on mom.

Ruth Ohi’s illustrations do a lovely job of depicting the playful relationship between father and son. The story is best suited to very young children, aged two and up.

I’d Know You Anywhere at Amazon.com

I’d Know You Anywhere at Amazon.ca

Little Boy written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Peter H. ReynoldsLittle Boy written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Picture book about a father and his appreciation for his son published by Simon Says Kids


A lovely picture book, Little Boy is a celebration of play and a reminder – especially for adults – that small moments can have great meaning and impact. We watch from morning until night as a young boy plays with his dog, enjoys time in the out-of-doors, has fun with a large cardboard box, helps with cooking, plays with his toys and spends time with his dad.

Little boy, so much depends on a blue mixing bowl,
a ball in the goal,
the tree that fell,
that wet-dog smell, and…
your big cardboard box.

Note,although the adult male in the illustrations is not specifically named, we assume he is the boy’s father.

Little Boy is a great gift book for expectant parents and also dads. Do take time to enjoy Peter H. Reynolds’ illustrations. Each page tells a story and children will enjoy watching for the boy’s toy robot and his yellow cup as they accompany him throughout the day.

Little Boy at Amazon.com

Little Boy at Amazon.ca





My Father Knows the Names of Things written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Stephane JorischMy Father Knows the Names of Things written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
Picture book about a boy’s relationship with his father published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers



A happy celebration of the relationship between a boy and his father. It is clear that the pair enjoys spending time together and they have fun adventures – flying in a small airplane, snorkeling, riding bikes, painting and studying insects. All the while, the boy is learning from his father.

My father knows the names of things,
Each different sort of bell that rings,
And stones,
And knows the names of planets,
Stars,
And even human bones.

Mr. Jorisch’s joyful illustrations capture emotions and the the pair’s close relationship. Will be enjoyed by children aged four years and up.

My Father Knows the Names of Things at Amazon.com

My Father Knows the Names of Things at Amazon.ca

Owl Moon is included in Storytime Standouts Terrific Picture Books About Fathers and Fatherhood
Owl Moon – written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr
Picture book published by Philomel



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 Amazon.com

Owl Moon at Amazon.ca

Some Dads... written and illustrated by Nick BlandSome Dads… written and illustrated by Nick Bland
Picture book about fathers published by Scholastic



In his cheery tribute to fathers, Nick Bland depicts all sorts of animal parents exuberantly interacting with their offspring. We laugh at an over-protective elephant papa who fills a swimming pool with life rings and a mischievous sheep who can’t resist throwing a water balloon at his child.

Readers, both young and old, will enjoy the playful rhyming and the jubilant illustrations. Some Dads… is an excellent choice for Father’s Day or Dads’ Day at preschool, delivering a fun and affectionate message about diversity and unconditional love.

Some dads like strolling.
And some dads rock ‘n rolling.
And some dads just love the outdoors.

Well suited to children aged two and up.

Some Dads… at Amazon.com

Some Dads… at Amazon.ca

The Very Best Daddy of All written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Leslie WuThe Very Best Daddy of All written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Leslie Wu
Picture book about fathers published by Aladdin Paperbacks, Simon & Schuster



Beautiful pastel illustrations are the highlight of this tribute to animal fathers and their offspring. Children will enjoy looking at a variety of male mammals, amphibians and birds as they feed, groom, house, protect and play with their offspring.

Some tuck you in, safe and warm, when the sun’s about to go.
And my daddy… haven’t you guessed? From all of the daddies, tall or small, mine is the best, the very best, the very best daddy of all.

Great for children aged two years and up.

The Very Best Daddy of All (Classic Board Books) at Amazon.com

The Very Best Daddy of All at Amazon.ca

What Does Daddy Do? written and illustrated by Rachel BrightWhat Does Daddy Do? written and illustrated by Rachel Bright
Picture book about a girl’s questions about her father published by Puffin



An energetic, colorful and imaginative look at what Daisy’s dad does when he is at work and she is at school and playing with her friends.

“My daddy is an explorer!” said Daisy.
“Is he?” said Evie.
“Yes, he is!” said Daisy. “He climbs to highest of high-up places because he has mountains of paperwork to get on top of.”

Best suited to children aged four and up, older children will have fun with the author/illustrator’s treatment of Daisy’s interpretation of Daddy’s job description.

Note, onomatopoeia (Nee Nar, Nee Nar, Nee Nar / Boom Boom) is featured.

What Does Daddy Do? at Amazon.com

What Does Daddy Do? at Amazon.ca






Free printable Father's Day Writing Paper for Kids

Free Father’s Day Printables for Children

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Step 3 – Choose from any of our 250 free downloads, including these free Father’s Day printables.


image of PDF icon  Father's Day Word Search

image of PDF icon  Father's Day Interlined Paper

image of PDF icon  Father's Day Golf Interlined Paper

image of PDF icon  Father's Day #1 Dad Interlined Paper

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Father’s Day for Preschool and Kindergarten on Pinterest.

Journey is Wonderful!

Posted on January 29th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Wordless picture book JourneyJourney created by Aaron Becker
Wordless picture book published by Candlewick Press




Wondrous, beautiful, inspiring, magical

So many words could accurately describe Journey. A wordless picture book, Journey is the story of a city-dwelling girl whose family members are occupied with chores and technology. As she sits, bored and perhaps lonely, on the front stoop, a neighboorhood boy stands nearby, holding a purple crayon. She goes inside the house and tries to engage her family members in play but they are busy. Disappointed, she goes to her bedroom. Moments later, she notices a red crayon on the bedroom floor. She picks it up, draws a doorway on her bedroom wall and escapes her boring, sepia-toned environment. Soon she is surrounded by gorgeous, glowing colors. Her magical red crayon allows her to create a rowboat, a hot air balloon and a magic carpet as she explores a mystical word, filled with unusual people, intriguing buildings and fascinating machines.

In this wondrous world, she encounters the neighboorhood boy with the purple crayon, the circle is completed and she discovers a new friend.

Highly recommended, Journey will be appreciated most by children aged four years and up. As well, adults will be inspired by both the illustrations and the narrative.

Caldecott Honor Book 2014

Journey at Amazon.com

Journey at Amazon.ca

‘Journey’ Book Trailor

How ‘Journey’ Came to Be

A Non Smoking Twas the Night Before Christmas…

Posted on December 4th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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Non smoking Twas the Night Before ChristmasTwas the Night Before Christmas written by Clement C. Moore and illustrated by Elena Almazova and Vitaly Shvarov
Traditional Christmas poem (edited) [self] published by Grafton and Scratch Publishers

Wow – Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century may just be one of the most controversial picture books we’ve written about! Readers appear sharply divided on whether the famous poem by Clement C. Moore ought to be edited to remove references to smoking and a pipe.

In this recent adaptation of the classic poem, Pamela McColl has removed these stanzas from the poem we know so well.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

Is this censorship or is it a case of adapting a poem for 21st century sensibilities?

I am ‘mom’ to two boys and I share Ms. McColl’s aversion to smoking. Unlike her, I’ve never smoked a cigarette. In fact, despite reading Twas the Night Before Christmas dozens (if not hundreds) of times, I have never been tempted to try smoking tobacco or anything else. Smoking has never appealed to me and the fact that Clement Moore’s Santa Claus smokes a pipe has not influenced my opinion favorably or unfavorably about the habit.

For those who feel that Mr. Moore’s classic poem could sway an impressionable child, Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century may provide a solution. We suspect most children will not miss the lines from the poem, nor will they miss the pipe or the smoke – instead they will dream of sugar plums and a bounty of gifts delivered by an elf.

Disney-like illustrations will appeal to some children however others may ask why dozens of candles and a roaring fireplace are left burning while the family sleeps and a table lamp sits nearby. Those who look carefully will notice that some of the Christmas stockings change color.

This is a picture book that will appeal to some book buyers – simply because of the stance taken on smoking. Unfortunately, the illustrations are disappointing and lack artistry.

Visit the book’s website

Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century at Amazon.com

Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century at Amazon.ca

Gold Medal Winner 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Best Holiday Book (the best children’s books published each year for the North American market)

Benjamin Franklin Award – Independent Book Publishers Association

Santa quits smoking in edited version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ – transcript of The Current radio interview with Pamela McColl

The Quiltmaker’s Gift – a picture book about generosity and giving

Posted on November 26th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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picture book about generosity and giving The Quiltmakers GiftThe Quiltmaker’s Gift written by Jeff Brumbeau and illustrated by Gail de Marcken
Picture book about generosity and giving to those less fortunate published by Scholastic Inc.


“I give my quilts to those who are poor or homeless,” she told all who knocked on her door. “They are not for the rich.”

The quiltmaker lives high in the mountains and spends each day stitching beautiful quilts. Gorgeous richly coloured fabrics are carefully pieced and stitched into traditional designs. When the weather is cold, the woman visits a nearby town and searches for poor, homeless people. She wraps the beautiful quilts around those who are cold, sharing her love and compassion with those who are most needy.spread from a picture book about generosity and giving The Quiltmakers Gift

Not far away lives an unhappy, greedy king. He is never satisfied with the gifts he receives. Despite all of his riches, he always wants more. When the king hears about the quiltmaker and her beautiful quilts, he decides that he must have one of her marvelous creations. He is convinced that one of her quilts may be a key to happiness.

The quiltmaker is unwilling to give the king a quilt. She knows that he is very wealthy. She instructs him to give away all of his possessions and tells him that, once this is done, she will have a beautiful quilt for him. He is angered by her response and decides to punish her. He sends her away and later regrets the punishment only to discover that the quiltmaker’s compassion has kept her safe.

Beautiful, detailed watercolor illustrations highlight this thoughtful picture book about generosity and giving. Best-suited to children aged five years and up, The Quiltmaker’s Gift offers tremendous opportunities for quilting-related extension activities and discussions about social responsibility.

Link to The Quiltmaker’s Gift Website

image of PDF icon  Quilt Interlined Paper

Quilt theme interlined paper for children, could be used alongside The Quiltmaker's Gift

The Quiltmaker’s Gift at Amazon.com

The Quiltmaker’s Gift at Amazon.ca

Book Sense Children’s Book of the Year (2000)
Publishers Weekly “Cuffy” Award Favorite Picture Book of the Year (1999)

Subsequently published prequel -
picture book about generosity and giving The Quiltmakers Journey

The Quiltmaker’s Journey at Amazon.com

The Quiltmaker’s Journey at Amazon.ca

Celebrating Grandparents – Picture Books Featuring Grandpa and Grandma

Posted on October 7th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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picture books about grandparents and family diversity



Families come in all shapes and sizes and are more diverse than ever before. Taking a look at a variety of picture books that celebrate grandparents, we discover stories that depict wonderful relationships between grandchildren and their elders. We also find picture books that provide insight into mixed race families, second marriages, coping with aging and inter-generational conflict.



cover art An Alien in my HouseAn Alien in My House written by Shenaaz G. Nanji and ilustrated by Chum McLeod
Picture book about a boy and his grandfather as they adjust to living in the same house published by Second Story Press

When his grandfather moves into Ben’s house, it is as though an alien has invaded. Grandfather’s body comes apart like Lego; he wears a hearing aid and dentures. Conversely, Grandfather is appalled that Ben has hidden springs in his feet and his room is filled with stinky socks. Fortunately, the two gain admiration for each other and become best buddies. Humorous and lively while conveying a message of acceptance and respect.

An Alien In My House at Amazon.com

An Alien In My House at Amazon.ca

cover art for Bagels from BennyBagels from Benny written by Aubrey Davis and illustrated by Dusan Petricic
Picture book about a boy learning from his grandfather published by Kids Can Press

Benny delights in helping at grandfather’s busy bakery. When grandfather encourages Benny to thank God for the mouth-watering treats, Benny decides to leave a big bag of warm, delicious bagels in the synagogue each Friday. Much to Benny’s dismay, it is not God who is eating the bagels, but a poor unemployed man. Benny is heartbroken until he understands that his gift to the poor man is also a ‘thank you’ to God. Bagels from Benny shares an excellent message about social responsibility. It is both gentle and heartwarming.

Bagels from Benny at Amazon.com

Bagels from Benny at Amazon.ca

cover art for Emma's Story a picture book about families and international adoptionEmma’s Story written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Song Nan Zhang
Picture book about families and international adoption published by Tundra Books

Emma and her brother are baking cookies at Grandma’s house. They use cookie cutters to make a sweet cookie family and then decorate the tasty treats with candies and dried fruit. When Grandma lifts the cookie tray out of the oven, she admires the cookie family but Emma is surprised to see the cookie that Sam has decorated.

Sam had used raisins and strings of licorice to decorate the Emma cookie. Big tears rolled down Emma’s cheeks. “I want to look like everyone else,” she said. Emma’s sadness prompts Grandma to cuddle with her in a comfortable chair. She opens a photo album and tells her granddaughter’s story.

This is a story that Emma has heard before. In fact, she helps Grandma to tell the story properly. It seems that Mommy, Daddy, Sam and their dog Marley were very happy but they longed for a baby girl. They waited and waited for a little girl to arrive. Finally, they heard about a baby girl in China who needed a family.

Emma’s Story tells of the family’s excited preparations folowed by Mommy and Daddy’s long trip to meet Emma. We witness the new family’s first night and day together and their trip home to Canada. A large crowd meets the threesome at the airport and joyfully celebrate’s Emma’s arrival.

Emma has heard her story “a million times” and she is reassured by Grandma’s words, It’s not how we look that makes us a family, Emma. It’s how we love each other,” said Grandma.
“And we love each other a lot!” said Emma.

While perhaps not meant for every bookshelf, Emma’s Story offers a very reassuring message and one that bears repeating. Just as Emma likes to hear her story and be comforted by it, children who share the international adoption experience will be similarly reassured by this book.

Emma’s Story at Amazon.com

Emma’s Story at Amazon.ca

Grand photos of children with grandparentsGrand written by Marla Stewart Konrad
Picture book featuring photos of children and their grandparents from around the world published by Tundra Books

The World Vision Early Readers series features minimal text and striking photographs from Romania, Uganda, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam. Grand depicts children and their grandparents enjoying quiet moments together, working in gardens, doing chores, playing games. The message is clear: the special inter-generational bond is universal.

Grand at Amazon.com

Grand at Amazon.ca

cover art Grandads Prayers of the Earth
Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth – written by Douglas Wood, illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Picture book that highlights the relationship between a boy and his grandfather published by Candlewick Press

This lovely, award-winning book is a tribute to the natural world, the special relationship between a boy and his grandfather and the comfort of prayer.

While on a forest walk together, a young boy asks his grandfather about prayer. His grandfather pauses and then encourages the boy to look at the natural beauty around him and observe carefully, “These are all ways to pray, ” said Grandad, “but there are more…The tall grass prays as it waves its arms beneath the sky,and flowers pray as they breathe their sweetness into the air.”

A moving tribute to the love between a child and his grandparent, Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels. Best suited to children five and up.

Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth at Amazon.com

Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth at Amazon.ca

cover art Here Comes HortenseHere Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Georgia Graham
Picture book about jealousy, emotions and blended families, published by Tundra Books

When a six year old boy, his grandmother and her new husband go on vacation to a theme park, all is well until Hortense arrives. Hortense is Bob’s granddaughter and she is suddenly a threat. Nana shares her hotel room with Hortense, she sings “Lavender’s Blue” to her and she sits next to her for all the scary rides. To add insult to injury, Hortense even devises a special name for Nana!

Nana’s grandson is despondent. He can’t believe that Hortense has taken his special place with his grandmother.

It is not until Nana and Gramps take a ride in the Tunnel of Love that the two children are able to gain perspective and learn to like each other.

Note: Here Comes Hortense! is a follow up to Heather Hartt-Sussman and Georgia Graham’s picture book titled Nana’s Getting Married

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.com

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.ca

cover art The Imaginary GardenThe Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
Picture book about a girl and her relationship with her grandfather published by Kids Can Press

Theo is blessed to have a very special relationship with her grandfather, Poppa. When Poppa moves into an apartment, they decide to create an imaginary garden on his balcony. The first Saturday of spring is marked by the arrival of a giant, blank canvas. Before long, Poppa and Theo have created a long stone wall and beautiful blue sky. Soon they have added beautiful spring flowers to their masterpiece. When Poppa leaves for a holiday, Theo worries about tending their special garden by herself. With gentleness and love, Poppa assures her that she will know what will nurture their imaginary garden. This lovely picture book would be a great gift for a special Grandpa.

The Imaginary Garden at Amazon.com

The Imaginary Garden at Amazon.ca

cover art Lessons from Mother EarthLessons From Mother Earth written by Elaine McLeod and illustrated by Colleen Wood
Picture book about foods available in the wild published by Groundwood Books

Lessons from Mother Earth tells the story of a young girl who learns from her grandmother. They leave a small cabin and, with her grandmother’s guidance, the young girl discovers the bounty of fresh food provided by Mother Earth. Lamb’s-quarters, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, rosehips, dandelions and mushrooms are all part of the bounty.

Appropriate for children aged four and up, Lessons from Mother Earth encourages appreciation of our natural world and of the wisdom shared by our elders.

Lessons from Mother Earth at Amazon.com

Lessons from Mother Earth at Amazon.ca

cover art The Little Word CatcherThe Little Word Catcher Written by Danielle Simard, illustrated by Geneviève Côté
Picture book about a young girl and her relationship with her grandmother published by Second Story Press

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 Amazon.com

The Little Word Catcher at Amazon.ca

My Two Grannies story about two very different grandmothersMy Two Grannies written by Floelle Benjamin and illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain
Picture book about diversity within families published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Alvina’s two grandmas come from very different backgrounds. Her Granny Vero was born in Trinidad whereas Granny Rose was born in England. The grandmas both live nearby now and Alvina loves to spend time with each of them, listening to stories. She learns that Granny Vero loved swimming in the warm waters of the Caribbean while Granny Rose visited the beach near Blackpool but avoided the cold water. When Alvina’s parents take a trip to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary, Alvina works out a creative way for the three of them to enjoy time together and learn more about each grandma’s cultural traditions.

My Two Grannies at Amazon.com

My Two Grannies at Amazon.ca

Old Dog a picture book about Grandpa Old Dog written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross
Picture book about a grandpa who has some fun tricks up his sleeve published by Andersen Press

When the young pups are told that they will be visiting Grandpa, they whine, “He’s so boring. All he ever does is talk about the olden days.” “And he has dog breath,” they whimpered. “And he keeps scratching himself.” Mom insists and, before long, they arrive at Rose Kennel for a visit. After a chance remark by one of the pups, Grandpa disappears into the house. His grandkids are convinced that he’s gone for a nap. Moments later, Grandpa re-emerges in a clown costume. He’s more than ready for his detractors, ““Stand back!” he said. “Watch this, you young whippersnappers. You might learn something.”

Clever wordplay and delicious illustrations make Old Dog a delight for readers aged four and up.

Old Dog at Amazon.com

Old Dog at Amazon.ca

image of cover art for Oma's QuiltOma’s Quilt written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
Picture book about loss and problem solving published by Kids Can Press

It is time for Emily’s grandmother to move into a retirement home. This will be a difficult transition for Oma, Emily and Emily’s mom. Many happy memories are left behind as Oma’s possessions are boxed up and she moves away. As Emily and her mom sort through Oma’s belongings, Emily comes up with a wonderful idea. She and her mom will create a quilt stitched from the fabrics of Oma’s life. Highly recommended for children and their parents. This gentle picture book deals with a difficult life transition beautifully.

Oma’s Quilt at Amazon.com

Oma’s Quilt at Amazon.ca

Silas' Seven Grandparents picture book that depicts family diversitySilas’ Seven Grandparents written by Anita Horrocks and illustrated by Helen Flook
Picture book about family diversity published by Orca Book Publishers

Silas loves his seven grandparents and their enthusiasm for his activities and interests. Silas enjoys going on fun outings with his grandparents and appreciates their gifts. When his mom and dad go away on a business trip, Silas is invited to stay with his grandparents. His mom wants him to choose where to stay but it is not an easy decision. Lying awake on a moonlit night, Silas reaches a decision: he invites each of his grandparents to come and stay with him. Acrylic ink illustrations nicely match this happy story of life with seven grandparents.

Silas’ Seven Grandparents at Amazon.com

Silas’ Seven Grandparents at Amazon.ca

image of cover art for You Can't Rush a CatYou Can’t Rush a Cat written by Karleen Bradford and illustrated by Leslie Elizabeth Watts
Picture book about a girl and her grandfather assisting a stray cat published by Orca Book Publishers

Jessica and her grandfather have a special project during her visit; they hope to tame a stray cat. Jessica is patient and respectful of the cat and assures her grandfather that, ‘You can’t rush a cat.’ Early one morning, Jessica sits quietly on the kitchen floor and waits for the little cat to approach her. By day’s end, her plan succeeds and Grandfather has a new furry friend.

You Can’t Rush A Cat at Amazon.com

You Can’t Rush a Cat at Amazon.ca

cover art for 38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents written by Dette Hunter and illustrated by Deirdre Betteridge
Published by Annick Press

Sarah, Violet and Joe spend a busy weekend with Grandma and Grandpa. Together they enjoy many fun activities – everything from playing traditional card games to cooking Belly Button Soup. Written as a storybook, 38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents includes child-friendly recipes as well as step-by step instructions for crafts and games.

38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents at Amazon.com

38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents at Amazon.ca

The False Prince – Delivers Adventure, Mystery and Suspense

Posted on August 21st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen - terrific middle grade fiction



Storytime Standouts recommends terrific middle grade fiction including The False Prince

The False Prince written by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Juvenile fantasy/adventure novel, the first book in The Ascendance Trilogy published by Scholastic

There’s nothing better than enjoying a terrific book while on holidays and I had the good fortune to tuck The False Prince into my bag when we went away last month. We were headed camping and our beach site was gorgeous. It wasn’t long before I sat down on and entered the captivating world of The False Prince.

King Eckbert, Queen Erin and Crown Prince Darius all die under very mysterious circumstances and one of their noblemen initiates devious plan. His intention is to substitute an orphan for the king’s long lost son and only remaining heir. Conner envisions the orphan will impersonate Prince Jaron, return “home” and ascend to the throne. Once installed, he imagines the orphan will have no choice but to do his bidding.

Conner scoops up four orphans from the streets and takes them to his vast residence. Once there, they share a room as they learn to sword fight and ride horses. The boys are schooled in King Eckbert’s family history and are taught to read. In short, Conner will not be satisfied until each of the boys learns to behave as a prince should.

Sage is the most outspoken and defiant of the orphans. He challenges and annoys Conner whilst outwitting the other potential impostors. Sage moves about secret passageways while his rivals are sleeping and he is punished repeatedly for his misdeeds.

Connor lifted my face and inspected it for cuts and bruises. “You’re none the worse after a stay in my dungeons. I hope the experience humbled you.”

He took the blank expression on my face as an answer and continued, “You’re a difficult young man, Sage, but I suspect that comes from your lack of discipline and supervision, which means I can train it out of you.”

Well suited to middle grade readers, including reluctant readers, The False Prince is an exciting, accessible fantasy/adventure that will have special appeal for boys. Highly recommended.

The False Prince is available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook and ebook formats.

The False Prince: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy at Amazon.com

The False Prince: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy at Amazon.ca

The False Prince won a 2012 Cybil Award in the Fantasy & Science Fiction Category

All things Seussical – Jody’s Favorite Dr. Seuss Books

Posted on March 3rd, 2013 by Jody

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image of cover art for Dr. Seuss book Hand, Hand, Fingers, ThumbIt was Dr. Seuss’ birthday this week. No matter how many kids books I read, middle age, young adult, or adult fiction, I love Dr. Seuss. I love the silliness and the seriousness. I love the rhymes and the made up words. I feel an unwarranted sense of pride when I can get through a book like “Oh say, can you say?” without messing up.

I love reading it to my children and love listening to them read it back to me. He writes the kind of books that remind us that reading needs to be fun. When I write my children’s stories, I can’t help but rhyme them. I think that it’s a lingering affect of my ‘Seuss-induced’ childhood. My mom rhymed everything. Names, random words, phrases. My earliest memory of a favourite book is One Fish, Two Fish. That and Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. She must have read them to me endlessly, until I could read them myself. They were so ingrained that the first time I read Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb to my oldest daughter, I remembered all of the words.

Dr Seuss transends time. His books are timeless, enjoyable, and put together in a way that make you think they’d be easy to imitate but are actually quite the opposite. To be able to piece together rhyme, in a way that works, is a challenge of it’s own. To piece it together with non-sensical words and impart a moral? That’s impressive. So to celebrate my own love of rhyme and Dr. Seuss’ birthday (and because Top Tens are my thing this week), I’m going to share my Top Ten Favourite Seuss books. How many have you read?


10: Oh the Places You will Go
An impossible book to not like; it congratulates you for a job well done and tells you that you have so much more you can do, but to expect bumps along the way because that’s life.

(Quote) So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

9. Hooray for Diffendoofer Day

One of my very favourites, it was finished by Jack Pretlusky (who I consider amazing). As a teacher, I love that Miss Bonkers reminds the students of all the things they know and how well they learn.

(Quote) “We’ve taught you that the earth is round,
That red and white make pink.
And something else that matters more -
We’ve taught you how to think.

8. Green Eggs and Ham

This book makes me smile every time I read it, think about it, or hear my kids read it. It’s just this sweet, adorable book about withholding judgement until you’re sure. You may think you know, but sometimes, you just don’t.

(Quote) “Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.


7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I just realized, as I typed the title, that my list of ten cannot be in order of preference because I LOVE this book.

(Quote) “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

6. There’s a Wocket in my Pocket

I’ll be honest, I just really like the word Wocket. It’s fun.

(Quote) “All those Nupboards in the Cupboards they’re good fun to have about. But that Nooth gush on my tooth brush…..Him I could do without.”


5. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

A great entry level Seuss for beginners. It has an easy rhyme pattern and is fun to read together.

(Quote) “From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”

4. Horton Hatches the Egg

A book about doing what you say you will do, even if it’s inconvenient and someone has taken advantage.

(Quote) “I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”

3. The Cat in the Hat

It’s that wonderful, Seussical combination of rhyme, fun characters, and a moral. The moral being: use your imagination. That’s what it’s there for.

(Quote) “Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how.”

2. The Foot Book

It’s another good, entry level Seuss. It identifies opposites with its easy rhyme pattern.

(Quote) “Wet foot. Dry foot. Low foot. High foot.”

1. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb

While my list might not be in order, this one is my favourite. Sometimes, we don’t know what makes something our favourites. Maybe it’s the one my mom read to me the most or maybe I just like the rhyme, but I really adore this book. Every time I cross the street with my daughters, we say “Hand, hand, fingers, thumb”.

(Quote) “Dum, ditty, dum, ditty, dum, dum, dum.”

Add Dr. Seuss books to your bookshelf


Out of my Mind – Sharon Draper’ Compelling Young Adult Fiction

Posted on February 3rd, 2013 by Jody

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Storytime Standouts' Guest Contributor Writes About Out of My Mind by Sharon M. DraperOut of my Mind written by Sharon M. Draper
Young Adult Fiction published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Sharon Draper’s Out of my Mind is one of the best young adult fiction books I have read. For weeks, I have been reading blogs, websites, and articles about young adult fiction. The key words that keep popping up are ‘high stakes.’ In today’s fast-paced, socia media driven society, it is hard to capture attention. Your book has to be different; it has to stand out, or reach out and grab you. I thought I understood what was meant by the term ‘high stakes’ because I’ve read many YA novels and countless adult novels. It means you care about what happens next and you are connected to the characters.

When I got to the third to last chapter of this novel, that my class and I were already hooked on, I truly understood what high stakes means. It meant that, even though the bell had rang, even though they wanted lunch and so did I, even though everyone looks forward to the break in the school day, not one of us wanted to stop. We were frozen by the words on the page; we were so actively involved that no one wanted to move. But we had to. Kids had committments to help in classes, I had a meeting, and other kids were helping in the library. High stakes means that I was late for my meeting, because even though I couldn’t keep reading to them, neither could I walk away. I had to finish it. So I did.

This book already had the readers’ attention at page one. A young girl, Melody, talks about how she’s got all these words floating in her head and they’re this beautiful, abstract thing, that anchor her. She describes them as snowflakes, each one different and delicate. What a beautiful description. But the kicker, is when she says that, at 11 years old, she’s never said even one of those words. Melody has cerebral palsy. She cannot talk, walk, feed herself, or take herself to the bathroom. Sharon truly gets inside, not only the mind of this extremely, physically challenged girl, but the average grade five mind as well. Melody has all of the same challenges that regular grade fives have; what to wear, do I have friends? did I get the answer right? why don’t my parents understand? my little sister bugs me. What we see, in Out of my Mind, is how she connects with that world with extreme limitations. Her ability to do this connects us to her, it invests us in the story, and it makes us part of Melody’s world.

We spend a lot of time discussing bullying and how to treat others in elementary school. More and more, it has become a focus. We try to teach kids the different types of bullying, how to stop it, and how to recognize it. We try to make them empathetic by imagining how the victim feels, how the bystander feels, and even what the bully feels. This book gives us such a unique view of bullying. What if you could never respond to the bully? Never stand up for yourself? Never defend your friends? What if you were bullied and people didn’t even realize that you fully understood their cruelty? It’s one thing for a child to ‘not be seen’ but Melody’s circumstances take this to an entirely different level. It made my students more aware of the fact that how a person looks does not define who they are inside. The book stopped being about a girl in the same grade as they are with physical challenges; it became about Melody, this kid like them who was fighting not to get left out and fighting to be heard. She just had to fight harder than any of them have ever had to.

For me, it showed me what high stakes really mean. It means when you’re so invested in the character that you forget they’re not real. You see those characters in the people around you and the lessons you learn from them make you better. My students loved this book. I loved this book. What amazed me most was how, I started reading it to them, thinking it would never be okay for Melody because she was so physically and verbally limited. But in the end, that was not what mattered at all. I stopped seeing her limitations and was amazed by the strenth and courage and sense of character that she possessed. Sharon Draper was able to do all the things an author should do: she drew me in, she made me feel both Melody’s triumphs and heartaches. She made me part of Melody’s world and in turn, that beautiful strength of character, will hopefully, be part of my world and my students the next time any of us begin to judge a book by its cover.

Out of my Mind at Amazon.com

Out of my Mind at Amazon.ca

Sharon M. Draper’s website answers thirteen questions about Out of my Mind.

Out of my Mind was awared the Josette Frank Award by the Children’s Book Committee of the Bank Street College of Education and was chosen as a 2011 IRA Teachers’ Choice Book and a 2011 IRA Young Adult’s Choice. It was the Best Book of the Year from KIRKUS and an Outstanding Children’s book of 2011 by Bank Street College. It won the Buckeye Children’s Book Award from Ohio, the Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award in both the middle school and elementary categories, the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award from Maryland, the Beehive Book Award from Utah, and the Virginia Reader’s Choice Award. It received the SAKURA Medal - English Chapter Book category .

Crouching Tiger highlights Tai Chi, Chinese New Year and Family

Posted on January 22nd, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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image of cover art for Crouching TigerCrouching Tiger written by Ying Chang Compestine and illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
Picture book about Tai Chi, Chinese New Year and a child’s relationship with his grandfather published by Candlewick Press

Link to Chinese New Year writing paper for kids

When Vinson’s grandfather leaves China and arrives in America for a visit, Vinson is excited. But, from the moment his grandfather arrives, Vinson is surprised and confused. His grandfather persists in calling him “Ming Da” and he dances in the garden slowly and quietly. Vinson is familiar with kung fu and, curious about the new moves, he asks his grandfather to teach him tai chi.

Vinson and his grandfather meet in the yard after school and Grandpa teaches Vinson. The young boy is impatient, he prefers kung fu’s kicks and punches. Tai chi leaves his knees tired and his arms heavy. Vinson wonders why his grandfather insists on speaking Chinese with him despite the fact that he knows how to speak English well.

When Vinson’s mom says that Grandpa is going to accompany Vinson to school, he is embarrassed. He chooses to read while on the bus. He and his grandfather sit together, each stealing glances at the other. Similarly, Vinson chooses to wear his headphones rather than talk with his grandpa. It is only when Grandpa’s surprising and athletic intervention prevents a serious accident that Vinson pauses to reevaluate his perceptions.

As time passes, Vinson becomes more adept at tai chi and soon Grandpa adds a new twist to their work. Vinson carries a long bamboo pole and learns the cat walk.

On Chinese New Year’s Eve, Vinson’s hair is cut, the family cleans the house and enjoys a traditional meal. When Grandpa gives Vinson an embroidered red silk jacket, he asks him to wear it for the upcoming parade. Vinson is embarrassed. He worries that his friends will see him and he feels self conscious about the new jacket.

As Vinson and his grandfather approach the parade route, Vinson gains appreciation for how his grandfather is regarded in the community and the tremendous pride he has for his grandson. When the two of them arrive at the start of the parade, Vinson discovers that he will be responsible for carrying a long bamboo pole, teasing the parade lions by waving a dangling cabbage.

An Author’s Note at the conclusion of Crouching Tiger includes notes about tai chi and Chinese New Year as well as a small glossary.

Beautifully illustrated with pen and ink as well as watercolors, readers will notice small details such as Vinson’s untied shoelace and his body language when his father cuts his hair.

Crouching Tiger invites discussion about family relationships and respect for one’s heritage. In a classroom, it could be used as a Chinese New Year resource and will be particularly interesting to children who are learning about martial arts. On each two page spread there is a small illustration of a tai chi stance.

Best suited to children aged five years and up.

The Chinese American Librarians Association Best Book of 2011 and Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices List for 2012

Crouching Tiger at Amazon.com

Crouching Tiger at Amazon.ca


Teen fiction excellence: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Posted on January 6th, 2013 by Teen contributor

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Teen fiction excellence:  Where Things Come Back by John Corey WhaleyWhere Things Come Back written by John Corey Whalley
Young Adult Fiction published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, a division of Simon and Schuster

Before Cullen Witter’s final year of high school, everything he thinks and understands about his small and painfully dull hometown of Lilly Arkansas vanishes. His cousin overdoses, his town becomes obsessed with the reappearance of an extinct woodpecker, and, most disturbingly of all, his gifted younger brother disappears, leaving Cullen to hold his family together as he muddles his way into adulthood. On the other side of the world, a young missionary in Africa searches for meaning wherever he can find it. When their two stories collide, they, and the people whose lives they’ve touched, will be changed forever.

There are a lot of coming of age stories out there. This is probably why I don’t read them that often. After reading the backs of a bunch of them at the library or book store, they all start to blur together, and it is hard for one to stand out. Where Things Come Back does stand out, becoming one of the best books I’ve read this Winter Break.

For me, my favorite thing about this book was its characters. The characters were interesting, understandable, and relatable. I could feel their emotions clearly throughout the book, as they searched and lost and found. Almost every character had some sort of back story or development and they were the driving force behind the plot, their stories weaving together and connecting in ways I never saw coming. As the author gradually brought all their stories together, he creates a well constructed and creative narritive, leading up to a unexpected, heartbreaking, yet hopeful finale. The last few chapters were my favorite part of the story, as I got to watch all the threads of this story finally come together as one.

Where Things Come Back is my first read of 2013, and it has set the bar very high for the rest of the books I read this year. Thought-provoking and original  this book has become one of my favorites, and I would recommend it to anyone, no matter what they prefer to read.

Where Things Come Back at Amazon.com

Where Things Come Back at Amazon.ca

Where Things Come Back won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award and the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. As well, it was named an Indigo Books and Music Best Teen Books of 2011 Pick, a New Voices for Teens Selection -ABC Children’s Group at ABA and Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012 Nominee -American Library Association.

Remembering Harry Potter’s Magic

Posted on August 13th, 2012 by Jody

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Remembering Harry Potters Magic A Guest Post by @1prncs

Storytime Standouts’ guest contributor takes another look at Harry Potter and the magic delivered in J.K. Rowling’s wonderful series.





I am reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to my oldest daughter this summer. I have read the series once after a friend, who has read it, literally, dozens of times, insisted that I could not put it off any longer; I had to read it. So I did. And I absolutely loved it. I’m not sure why I didn’t read it when it originally came out. I remember listening to how much everyone loved it and the movies are among my favourites. Waiting did have one advantage, however; by the time I read the books, they were all published so I could read them all back to back.

Now, as I reread Harry Potter with my daughter, I’m remembering all of the things I loved about the books. I am completely absorbed in the story once again and so is she. Lately, all of her playing is geared around wizards and wizardry. All of their dolls are currently attending Hogwarts. As I’ve watched her get wrapped up in the story of Harry and his friends, I realized that only one of my students was reading Harry Potter this year. This could be because the kids have read it when they were younger, but it seems unlikely that they have read all seven books by grade four or five. I am hoping that with series such as Twilight, The Hunger Games, Warriors, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter is not being forgotten in this age group. I think grade four is a great age for the first book. I think I will have to poll my class in September to see how many have read the series or at least some of them.

Harry Potter came out 12 years ago. The Deathly Hallows came out in 2007. It’s entirely possible that with the hype of so many new books over the years, that Harry is not the most sought after character at the library. It would be a shame to forget how magical and amazing JK Rowling’s books are. Unlike the Twilight series or The Hunger Games, children get to grow and mature with Harry. As he becomes older, the conflicts and challenges he faces become more involved and difficult. The intensity builds with each book. Not that the intensity doesn’t increase with each of the books in the other series, but the intensity is there from the beginning. Katniss* is fighting for her life from chapter one. Bella and Edward** are drawn to each other immediately.

In Harry Potter, we meet a young boy poorly treated by relatives that do not want him. The first story captures our hearts and interest by letting us connect to him and feel the same amazement that he does as he learns about his wizarding background and accepts his future at Hogwarts. Harry has an innocence that Bella and Katniss do not. Of course, they are entirely different books, but I know that they were the central focus of my grade five classroom not that many years ago. Now, based on what I’ve seen my students borrowing from the library, that focus has shifted.

I don’t actually read Harry Potter in the classroom. But this year, I think I will make an effort to see how many kids have read it on their own or with their families. It will be interesting to see how many of this year’s class, who would have been born in between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Pheonix, are familiar with the novels. Since they became readers, the “Harry Potter Hype” has lessened, as all hype does. Regardless of which books are grabbing the most attention today, we need to remember that there are some books (many) that should always be on a person’s “Must Read” or “Have Read” list. The Harry Potter series should definitely on those lists.

*The Hunger Games
**Twilight


The Lion and the Mouse, An Award Winning Almost Wordless Picturebook

Posted on July 9th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at an award-winning almost wordless picturebook, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Storytime Standouts looks at award winning almost wordless picturebook, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
The Lion and the Mouse created by Jerry Pinkney
Almost wordless picturebook published by Little, Brown Kids



Be sure to check out our page devoted to wordless picture books. As well, you will be interested in our page about anti-bullying picture books for children.

The story of the lion and the mouse is an Aesop’s fable that every child ought to know well. The lion, powerful and dangerous resists an opportunity for bullying and, instead, is kind to a small mouse. Later, when the lion is trapped in a hunter’s net, the grateful mouse has an opportunity to return the favour. He chews the rope net and eventually manages to free the lion.

Jerry Pinkney has created a masterful, almost wordless picturebook version of The Lion and the Mouse. From cover to cover, beautiful illustrations depict the African Savanna and the animals found there while telling the story of a compassionate lion and his small friend. Winner of the 2010 Randolph Caldecott Medal and also a New York Times 2010 Best Illustrated Book and a 2010 Horn Book Awards Honor Book, The Lion and the Mouse relies upon the illustrations to tell the story. Pinkney only uses words to describe animal sounds.

Highly recommended for both classroom and home libraries, The Lion and the Mouse could be used to explore many themes including anti-bullying, friendship and stereotying.

Educator’s Guide in PDF format

The Lion & the Mouse at Amazon.com

The Lion & the Mouse at Amazon.ca


The Red Scarf, Award Winning Wordless Picture Book

Posted on June 7th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Anne Villeneuve's award winning wordless picture book, The Red ScarfThe Red Scarf – created by Anne Villeneuve
Almost Wordless Picture Book published by Tundra books





Turpin’s day is altogether too gray until an imposing figure climbs into his taxicab. Turpin delivers the gentleman to his destination and shortly thereafter discovers a bright red scarf on the seat of the cab.

Turpin chases after the mysterious man but is detained by a lizard on a unicycle. Once he explains his purpose, the lizard allows him to pass. Turpin soon finds himself surrounded by a bear on roller skates, and a ravenous lion. Fortunately, the lion tamer is not far away and rescues him before the worst can happen.

Now, surrounded by amazing colour and exotic creatures, Turpin’s day grows stranger and stranger until he finds himself in the middle of a brightly lit circus tent. A parading elephant, a fire breathing juggler, a playful monkey, a tightrope and a magic trick all add to the hijinks as Turpin struggles to return the scarf. The Red Scarf, Award Winning Wordless Picture Book

Originally published as L’echarpe rouge, this almost wordless picture book won the 2000 Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration.

Best suited to children kindergarten age and up.

The Red Scarf at Amazon.com

The Red Scarf at Amazon.ca

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books


Enemy Pie – Anti Bullying Picture Book

Posted on February 24th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying picture book, Enemy PieEnemy Pie written by Derek Munson and illustrated by Tara Calahan King
Published by Chronicle Books, LLG



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

When Jeremy Ross moves into the neighbourhood, it spoils an otherwise perfect summer. He joins the baseball team and laughs when another baseball player strikes out. He has a party but doesn’t invite everyone to enjoy his trampoline. Perhaps without realizing what he has done, Jeremy creates an enemy.

Fortunately, Dad knows exactly how to deal with enemies. He has special recipe for Enemy Pie. The recipe is secret “Enemy Pie is the fastest known way to get rid of enemies.”

Listening to Dad prepare the recipe is almost thrilling… “Enemy Pie was going to be awful. I tried to imagine how horrible it must smell, or worse yet, what it would look like.”

While the pie cools and anticipation mounts, it is time to take the next step: the enemies must spend a day together. They ride bikes, jump on a trampoline, eat lunch and play basketball together. As time passes, something rather unexpected happens: Jeremy Ross undergoes a transformation. Spending time with him is not really a bad experience! As their day together comes to an end, the two boys enjoy a macaroni and cheese dinner and then it is time to serve up Enemy Pie.

It was at this point that I panicked. I didn’t want Jeremy to eat Enemy Pie! He was my friend! I couldn’t let him eat it!

Enemy Pie is very well suited to a group setting. It invites extension activities (possibly including baking or cooking) and encourages discussion about ways people become friends and how first impressions may not be accurate. Enemy Pie also shows a very positive father/son relationship. The cheery illustrations enhance the story nicely.

Best suited to children aged four and up.

The Enemy Pie website includes anti-bullying lesson plans and writing activities.

Enemy Pie (Reading Rainbow book) at Amazon.com

Enemy Pie at Amazon.ca

If you love picture books, you’ll want to visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.


Christmas Picture Books – Carolyn’s List of Favourites

Posted on December 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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I can’t imagine the Christmas holidays without our special collection of Christmas picture books. Earlier this month, Jody shared her favourites. I have finally put together my own post. Jody and I both love The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore, illustrated by Christian Birmingham and read it on Christmas Eve. I decided to write about a different version of the poem and mention that reading the same text with different illustrations is great for youngsters. It encourages taking a thoughtful look at the illustrations and making comparisons.

Storytime Standouts has many free Christmas early learning printables – You will find all of our Christmas and Winter-themed printables grouped together here. You will find more posts about Christmas picture books here.

cover art for Jan Brett's The Night Before ChristmasThe Night Before Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett
Christmas picture book published by Putnam Juvenile

This version of the classic Christmas poem is filled to the brim with wonderful extras. Each beautiful two-page spread is framed with details that might otherwise never be seen. As reindeer are prancing and pawing on the roof, we get a glimpse of some special tree ornaments, Santa Claus appears in the fireplace and anxious Pa quickly descends the stairs.

Fans of Jan Brett’s work will want to visit her website and discover an abundance of printables including coloring sheets and cards.

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett at Amazon.com

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett at Amazon.ca


cover art for The Polar ExpressThe Polar Express written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg
Christmas picture book published by Houghton Mifflin

Long before The Polar Express was made into a movie, it was a Caldecott Award winning Christmas picture book. When a friend says, “There is no Santa,” a young boy hopes desperately that his friend is incorrect. On Christmas Eve, he goes to bed and listens intently for the sound of sleigh bells. He does not hear sleigh bells but rather hissing and clanging. He looks out his bedroom window and is amazed to see an enormous train, waiting outside his house.

A magical story, The Polar Express will encourage children and adults to believe in the magic of Christmas.

The Polar Express at Amazon.com

The Polar Express at Amazon.ca

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