Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

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


First Day of School Jitters? Try Splat the Cat

Posted on July 22nd, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts reviews Splat the Cat by Rob ScottonSplat the Cat written and illustrated by Rob Scotton
Picture book about starting school published by Harper Collins Publishers

There’s no doubt about it, going to school for the very first time can be nerve-wracking. It is no wonder that Splat is wide awake bright and early.

When mom opens his bedroom door, his first instinct is to pull the covers over his head. When that doesn’t work, Splat tries all sorts of tactics to delay leaving for school. He can’t find socks and his hair is a mess. One thing he knows for sure, having a friend in his lunchbox is certain to help. Splat pops Seymour the Mouse into his lunchbox and sets out to meet his new teacher and classmates.Splat the Cat spread

Mrs. Wimpydimple and Splat’s new classmates are very welcoming and soon Splat is full of questions. He is especially curious to know why cats chase mice! (A definite opportunity to introduce the concept of foreshadowing) When it is finally lunchtime, Splat opens his lunchbox and his small rodent friend, Seymour is suddenly the centre of attention – and not in a good way. Splat’s new classmates do exactly what readers will predict – the chase is on!

Engaging, playful illustrations provide many details for young children to notice and enjoy. A mostly grey and black color palette is highlighted with vibrant yellow and red details that pop off the page. Those who are able to read will love the signs in the storefront windows and Mrs. Wimpydimple’s blackboard illustrations.


Harper Collins has some terrific Splat the Cat printables for children to enjoy.

Splat the Cat at Amazon.com

Splat the Cat at Amazon.ca


Isaac and his Amazing Asperger Superpowers! by Melanie Walsh

Posted on May 21st, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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Isaac and his Amazing Asperger Superpowers! by Melanie WalshIsaac and his Amazing Asperger Superpowers! written and illustrated by Melanie Walsh
Picture book about a child with Asperger’s Syndrome published by Candlewick Press

Written from the perspective of a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, Isaac and His Amazing Asperger Superpowers! is a cheerful, positive and reassuring picture book that explains how Isaac’s thoughts and behavior sometimes differ from those of his friends. Well-suited to preschool-age children or early primary classroom use, bright, bold illustrations are visually appealing and will be easily seen and interpreted in a group or classroom setting.

Friends, family members and classmates will discover that children with Asperger’s Syndrome may have different interests, energy levels and ways of interacting than others do. For example, they may like to bounce rather than play team sports or they may fidget with a toy in order to relax and listen in class. They may have difficulty understanding jokes or some in social situations. Insights are shared matter-of-factly, with respect for both the Asperger’s child and a child who does not have Asperger’s.

Isaac and his Amazing Asperger Superpowers! spreadUsing meaningful examples and fun illustrations, Walsh helps young readers to understand that children with Asperger’s Syndrome have strengths including a great memory for facts, curiosity and a heightened awareness of sounds. She also shows the special relationship an Asperger’s child can have with pets and family members.

A great addition to a personal or professional library, end papers include a list of Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome links.

Isaac and His Amazing Asperger Superpowers! at Amazon.com

Isaac and His Amazing Asperger Superpowers! at Amazon.ca

Read our reviews of other picture books about Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

Storytime Standouts Shares Asperger Syndrome and Autism Picture Books












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


If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – Classic Picture Book Fun

Posted on June 24th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Classic Picture Book Fun from Storytime StandoutsIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond
Classic Picture Book published by Harper Collins Publishers





When I explained to my family that I am writing a series of posts about classic picture books, my youngest son told me that I must include If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and my husband immediately added that he always enjoyed reading it aloud.

If you sit down outside your house to enjoy a chocolate chip cookie and if a mouse in blue coveralls should appear you will, of course, be tempted to share the treats. It won’t be long ’til you are headed into the house to satisfy your guest’s need for a glass of milk. It is almost impossible for a mouse to drink from a tall glass so he’ll ask for a straw and then a napkin (to eliminate a milk mustache).Storytime Standouts features Classic Picture Book,  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Delightful illustrations enhance this wonderful, circular story and add extra “inside jokes” that children will enjoy. Who could imagine that when the mouse decides to trim his hair he will find so much to cut and scatter around the otherwise neat and tidy bathroom? The young boy whose generosity led to an ongoing “make work project” is kept running as his small companion’s demands continue.

Great fun for children aged four years and up.

Mouse Cookie Books website

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie at Amazon.com

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie at Amazon.ca

Some related picture books that young readers will enjoy

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board If You Give a Mouse a Cookie on Pinterest.

The Busiest Street in Town – Community & Social Responsibility

Posted on June 6th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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The Busiest Street in Town - A Picture Book that Looks at Social Responsibility The Busiest Street in Town written by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Sarah McMenemy
A Picture Book that Looks at Community and Social Responsibility published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers





Agatha May Walker and Eulalie Scruggs have known each other for a very long time. Friends since infancy, they live across the street from each other and are now both gray-haired. Observant children will notice that their neighborhood has changed dramatically since their youth. Whereas their street was once a tree-lined place where children could play, it is now choked with relentless traffic. It is very difficult to cross – even when one is carrying gingersnaps for a neighbor.Building Community in The Busiest Street in Town

Agatha decides that it is time to take a stand – or more accurately – a seat. She moves her wingback chair into the middle of the noisy, smog-filled street and sits amid the trucks, motorcycles and cars. She begins to hand out gingersnaps. Soon Eulalie joins her. She brings her Parcheesi game and suddenly neighbors appear and Rushmore Boulevard is transformed into a place where children play and neighbors chat.

Beautiful flowers are planted, a street party is held and the neighbors create a vibrant small community.

Vivid water color illustrations highlight the dramatic changes on Rushmore Street. Instead of a sooty, grey thoroughfare, it is friendly, neighborhood that is crowded with pedestrians.

Recommended for children aged four and up. Take time to ‘read’ the endpapers. They tell part of the story.

An Indie Next Pick

The Busiest Street in Town at Amazon.com

The Busiest Street in Town at Amazon.ca

Me + cute book = really happy

Posted on May 24th, 2014 by Jody

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this plus that Life's Little Equations by Amy K. RosenthalThis plus That: Life’s Little Equations written by Amy K. Rosenthal and illustrated by Jen Corace
Picture book published by Harper Collins Children’s Books





One of the cutest picture books I’ve read, and now in my favorites pile, is This plus That: Life’s little equations . This adorable book was introduced to me by Adrienne Gear (who knows all the good books) at a workshop. My students (and my children) know that I have a serious love of picture books. I love the way they share morals and lessons in less words than you’d imagine possible. This book not only uses the combination of pictures and words to share a number of sweet life lessons it does so in the form of equations. An example of one is book + chair = cozy. That one is on the back of the book. In the opening of the book, before the story starts, she uses Amy+ Rosenthal= author. It’s just such a cute way to break down a number of things: how things work together to add up or take away from something. How adding things together makes them more. How the four operations are used in a completely different context than we’re used to. How, really, life is full of simple equations that either do or do not work. This is a great classroom read or at home read. It’s a book that offers many teaching opportunities. We created Mother’s Day cards that used equations to add up what made each student’s mom. Some of them were pretty funny. This plus that is an excellent example of how in life, and in books, sometimes, less is more.

This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations at Amazon.com

This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations at Amazon.ca

Read our post about Amy K. Rosenthal’s Exclamation Mark

Storytime Standouts looks at Exclamation Mark by  Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld




Spring Themed Picture Books Will Help Young Readers ‘Blossom’

Posted on March 26th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Spring theme picture books recommended by StorytimeStandouts

Engaging and fun, these three Spring themed picture books feature gorgeous illustrations and delightful wordplay. It is no wonder that each is part of a popular series of children’s books.






Bear Wants More - Spring Themed Picture BooksBear Wants More written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman
Spring Themed Picture Book published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster

Fans of Bear and his forest animal friends will enjoy reading about his springtime awakening. He is hungry and thin – eager for fresh berries, clover and fish but nothing seems to satisfy his enormous appetite. Bear Wants More is a read-aloud delight and features alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhyming and repetition.

They nibble on their lunch,
with a crunch, crunch, crunch!
But the bear wants more!

Rich, vibrant illustrations make this an ideal read aloud for groups. The story will be enjoyed by children aged three years and up.

Winner, 2003 National Parenting Publications Honors Award (NAPPA)
An ABC Best Book for Children and a New York Times Bestseller

Bear Wants More (Classic Board Books) at Amazon.com

Bear Wants More at Amazon.ca

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms Spring Themed Picture BooksFletcher and the Springtime Blossoms written by Julia Rawlinson and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
Spring Themed Picture Book published by Greenwillow Books, an Imprint of Harper Collins

Fletcher is relishing the sights and sounds of spring until he arrives in the orchard. When he sees the flakes falling amongst the fruit trees, he worries for his friends. He knows that the birds, Porcupine, Squirrel and the rabbits are ill-prepared for cold weather. He rushes to warn them. It is only when all of the friends are assembled that they realize that the ‘snowflakes’ are actually blossoms.

So the rabbits hoppity-roly-poly-plopped down the hill, through the woods.
They were chased by Squirrel, Porcupine,
the birds, and a bouncy, full-of-importance fox, all the way to the orchard,
where the ground was white with…

A sunny celebration of friendship and the seasons,Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms features onomatopoeia, alliteration and repetition. Delightful illustrations will engage readers, including in group situations. Great for children aged four years and up.

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms at Amazon.com

Fletcher And The Springtime Blossoms at Amazon.ca

Mouse's First Spring - Spring Themed Picture BooksMouse’s first Spring written by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Buket Erdogan
Spring Themed Picture Book published by Simon and Schuster

Rich with rhyming, onomatopoeia, alliteration and predictable text, Mouse’s First Spring is a happy look at the sights and sounds of springtime. Young Mouse and Momma venture outdoors on a windy spring day. Together they discover a butterfly, a snail, a bird, a frog, a flower and their love for each other.

There under a leaf,
Mouse found something
slithery and slimy.
What can it be?
wondered Mouse.

Luminous illustrations highlight the wonders waiting to be discovered in the out-of-doors. An excellent choice for babies and toddlers.

Mouse’s First Spring (Classic Board Books) at Amazon.com

Mouse’s First Spring at Amazon.ca

Follow this link to our Spring and Easter theme printables for preschool and kindergarten

Free Spring and Easter Theme Printables for Preschool and Kindergarten




The Runaway King

Posted on February 8th, 2014 by Jody

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The Runaway KingThe Runaway King written by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Chapter book for middle grade readers published by Scholastic




There are some books that change you. Some books that no matter how many books you read after, they will always stand out. The False Prince was one of these. When an artist– song writer, author, movie maker– puts out something incredible, there’s always the skepticism that the follow up cannot possibly surpass the greatness of the original. That’s why Oceans 11 is awesome and Oceans 13…not so much. This is completely not the case with Jennifer A Nielsen’s series. I read the False Prince because Carolyn recommended it so highly and I always want books that will engage the students, especially those reluctant readers. It was every bit as good as Carolyn had said. The students decided that we absolutely must read The Runaway King immediately after. I gave them other choices (all the while wanting them to choose The Runaway King) but it was a unanimous decision–we needed to know what happened to Sage/Jaron.

We fell into The Runaway King so far that we may or may not have skipped a few math lessons. When students are telling you: “We will work extra hard if you just read us one more chapter”, it is really difficult to say no. So I didn’t. And today we finished the book. We were all excited because yesterday we looked at the Scholastic order and saw that The Shadow Throne (the third in the trilogy) is now out. When we finished today, I immediately said, I will order the next one today. One of the students, who can often be hard to engage, said, “Can you order it right now so you don’t forget?” That– is what a book should do. It should make you forget that other things exist, keep you on the edge of your seat, root for, cry with, and grieve with the characters as though they are your friends.That’s what The Runaway King does.

At the end of The False Prince, Jaron has accepted his title as King of Carthya. We know more is coming but it was a good wrap up to the wonderful story of how Jaron made it back to the throne. The Runaway King not only showed a maturing of our main character, it expected the reader to mature as well. The stakes, the intrigue, the deception, the pace, and the connection deepened in this book to an amazing degree. I am always in complete awe of writers that can pull you this far into a story, write in a way that makes you think there is absolutely no way for the character to come out of the hole they are in, but then, in the most unexpected and beautiful ways, the story goes where it obviously meant to. Nielsen is an incredibly gifted story teller. She manages to show an understanding of the insecurity and uncertainty that a normal fourteen year old boy would feel after losing his family and compounds it with the immense weight that is put on Jaron’s shoulders. He must fight not only the people that want to take Carthya from him, but people that are supposed to be his loyal supporters and subjects. The very interesting thing to me is that the kids are usually wary of any love interest at this age (you get a lot of ‘ews’ from grade fives if there are any mushy scenes) but the friendship that forms between Imogen and Jaron is so much more than just your typical boy likes girl, girl likes boy, they can’t be together story. Imogen is Jaron’s person. So you root for him to be with her (or I did- the students probably enjoyed the dueling with pirates more than anything) but then there’s Araminda, the betrothed princess. In many stories, it’s easy to choose: I want the character to choose X. It’s not cut and dry for Jaron though because Nielsen does such a wonderful job creating likable characters that we can’t dislike Araminda any more than we can help like Imogen. She has the rare ability to make you like a character you were sure you hated.

This story has everything: friendship, heartbreak, action, bravery, suspense, love, betrayal. Sage/Jaron is one of the best characters I’ve ever known. He is funny, humble, frustrating, and honorable. He is the flawed protagonist that anyone who is a writer wishes they could write. He is a King but the kids can see themselves in him– in his choices and his hardships, in the loyalty he has to his friends and the loneliness that often swamps him. There are no dragons or wizards, underworlds, demigods, or alternate universes, but still, this book was completely magical.

The Runaway King: Book 2 of the Ascendance Trilogy at Amazon.com

The Runaway King: Book 2 of the Ascendance Trilogy Amazon.ca

SPOILER ALERT – do not watch unless you have already read The False Prince

Bluebird – Notable Wordless Picture Book Leaves Room for Discussion

Posted on January 6th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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We have a special affection for wordless picture books and books that explore bullying themes. Bluebird does both.

Check out our page about other Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

Bluebird wordless picture book by Bob StaakeBluebird created by Bob Staake
Wordless picture book published by Random House Children’s Books



A small bluebird flies through a city, past an apartment building and toward a school. The bird perches in a tree and watches as a young boy approaches the school. Unlike the other students, he walks alone with his eyes turned downward. Whereas other children chatter happily with their friends, he is slow to walk into his new classroom and take his place. Once he is seated, two classmates laugh and point. For some reason, he is a lonely outcast and the object of ridicule.

The hours tick by and, when the boy leaves school, he is surprised when the friendly bluebird initiates a friendship. The bird chirps at him and follows him through an urban neighborhood. They play hide and seek, they share a cookie, they watch as a group of children play soccer and they arrive at a park where the boy floats a sailboat in a pond. There is time for happy daydreaming and exploring before their adventure takes an ominous turn. The boy and the bird approach a wooded area and are soon met by three miserable bullies. One wants his toy sailboat and, to add force to his threats, he throws a stick, hitting the swooping bluebird. As the violent bullies run from the scene, the bereft boy stands, holding the injured bird.

Highlighted by light blue, grey and white Adobe Photoshop-rendered illustrations, Bluebird is best suited to children aged five and up. With an ending that is open to interpretation, the author-illustrator leaves many questions unanswered. The boy is very much a solitary figure, we don’t know why he is on his own in a large city. We also don’t know why he is ridiculed by his classmates and bullied by the children in the park. This is not a story that satisfactorily resolves bullying rather it is a celebration of friendship. Young readers will have questions and opinions. They will engage in the narrative and, with encouragement, will think about the impact of bullying behavior.

Bluebird at Amazon.com

Bluebird at Amazon.ca

Check out our page about other Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

Starred Reviews from
Booklist, April 15, 2013:
“Staake works out an impressive range of emotion… Without use of a single word, this book raises all kinds of simple profundities for kids to question, ponder, imagine, and discuss.”

Publishers Weekly, February 25, 2013:
“…believers and skeptics alike will find something deeply impressive and moving in this work of a singular, fully committed talent.”
Subsequently named a “Best Book 2013″ by Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2013:
“Like nothing you have seen before.”

Included in the Spring 2013 Great Reads from Indie Next List

Publisher’s Weekly interview with Bob Staake

Bluebird has been nominated for a 2013 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award

Willow Finds a Way, a picture book about dealing with a classroom bully

Posted on December 12th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Willow Finds a Way, an anti bullying picture bookWillow Finds a Way written by Lana Button and illustrated by Tania Howells
Anti-bullying Picture Book published by Kids Can Press


We originally met Willow in Willow’s Whispers. She is a soft spoken young girl and, in her first picture book, she finds a way to make herself heard.

In Willow Finds a Way she is facing a different challenge. Willow and her classmates are excited when Kristabelle invites them to her birthday party but the invitation has ‘strings attached.’

At snack time, Kristabelle waved the birthday list in the air and said, “If you want to stay on my birthday list, come sit at my table!”

Initially, complying with Kristabelle’s demands seems okay but before long Kristabelle is dictating outdoor play and who gets to stand at the front of the line. Eventually one of the party invitees dares to contradict Kristabelle. His name is crossed off the list of party guests. Willow thinks about standing up for her friend but she can’t quite bring herself to say the words. Before long she is worrying that her name will be crossed off the list too.

It is clear that Kristabelle’s threats and controlling behavior are a problem for Willow. She knows that Kristabells is treating her classmates badly. Eventually Willow finds a way to make her opinion known. She is no longer a bystander – she has taken a stand. When Willow’s classmates decide to take the same approach, Kristabelle rethinks her position.

Ms. Button’s depictions of Kristabelle, Willow and their classmates are pitch-perfect. We know children like these – those who make friendship conditional and who threaten exclusion (both forms of ‘relational bullying’) and those who know what is right but have difficulty speaking up. Simple, colorful illustrations are an excellent match for the text and feature a racially diverse classroom.

An excellent discussion-starter for preschool and kindergarten classrooms, highly recommended for children aged four and up.

Willow Finds a Way at Amazon.com

Willow Finds a Way at Amazon.ca

Read our review of Willow’s Whispers

Awards
2013 – Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
2012 – Publisher’s Weekly’s Selected Listing for Bullying Resources

Bad Astrid – Antibullying Picture Book

Posted on December 10th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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Bad Astrid antibullying picture bookBad Astrid written by Eileen Brennan and illustrated by Regan Dunnick
Antibullying picture book published by Random House


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

She came into town like five tons of bad luck.
She came into town in a big moving truck.

From the moment Astrid and her family move into a new neighborhood, she is unpleasant. She chases, teases and is destructive. Ignoring her and keeping busy seems to be the best solution until one day Astrid has a bad accident while riding her bike. She needs help. Her victim hesitates to step forward. She asks, “Why are you mean to me?”. Astrid’s explanation surprises her remarkably forgiving neighbor and the two girls discover a way to be friends.

When reviewing antibullying picture books, we prefer stories that resolve the bullying problem realistically. Although Astrid’s bike crash and her victim’s willingness to forgive her past deeds provide a somewhat’magical’ solution to a serious bullying problem, we think there is lots to appreciate about Bad Astrid. Fun cartoon-like illustrations, playful word art and rhyming text will have special appeal for older readers and may make this an excellent discussion-starter about bullying for primary-grade classrooms.

Bad Astrid at Amazon.com

Bad Astrid at Amazon.ca

Cozy Picture Book about Generosity and Gratitude – Bear Says Thanks

Posted on November 20th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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Bear Says Thanks picture book about generosity and gratitudeBear Says Thanks written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman
Picture book about generosity and gratitude published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster



Bear is bored. He misses his pals. He decides to hold a feast for his friends but when he looks in his cupboard, he finds that it is empty. When Mouse arrives with a delicious pie, Bear is happy to see his friend and he expresses thanks for the delicious treat. Moments later, Hare arrives with muffins and Badger brings fish. Soon all the forest friends are celebrating in Bear’s cozy den.
picture book about generosity and gratitude Bear Says Thanks spread
Bear mutters and he stutters and he wears a big frown. Bear sighs and he moans and he plops himself down.
“You have brought yummy treats! You are so nice to share. But me, I have nothing. My cupboards are bare!”

Bear’s many friends are not at all troubled by the fact he can’t contribute food to the meal, they know there are other ways he can share.

Part of a series of Bear books (Bear Feels Sick, Bear Stays Up for Christmas….) Bear Says Thanks is a lovely celebration of friendship, generosity and gratitude, well suited to preschool age children. Gorgeous illustrations beautifully depict Bear’s emotions and the animals’ sense of community.

Bear Says Thanks at Amazon.com

Bear Says Thanks at Amazon.ca

Interlined paper for Thanksgiving

image of PDF icon  Today I am Thankful for...

"Today I am Thankful for..." interlined writing paper - great for Thanksgiving.


Fabulous Fall Picture Books

Posted on September 21st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts shares Fabulous Fall Picture BooksIsn’t it wonderful to feel the subtle changes in the weather and once again welcome the gorgeous colours of autumn?


Today’s post highlights picture books that beautifully celebrate Fall and the changes it brings to the world around us. Lush green trees and fields gradually change to yellow, gold, orange and red. Pumpkins, squash and corn ripen while cooler breezes blow and the days shorten.

We hope you will enjoy these fabulous Fall picture books with young readers and inspire them to create their own beautiful autumn artwork.



Fall Picture Books By the Light of the Harvest MoonBy the Light of the Harvest Moon written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Mark Jones
Fall picture book, set on a farm published by Blue Apple Books

Highlighted by luminous illustrations of a beautiful moonlit autumn night, By the Light of the Harvest Moon begins as the farmers wearily carry their last loads of the day. The full moon illuminates the animals grazing nearby and the quiet farmyard. Suddenly, a breeze blows through the farm, picking up the colourful dry leaves and swirling them about.
A cloud of leaves settles in the pumpkin patch. When the gusts subside, leaf people emerge from the pile. First come grown-ups. Then come children… and then pets.
All through the night, the leaf people celebrate the beauty of Fall; bobbing for applies, stringing popcorn necklaces, stacking pumpkins and making wreaths. After play, it is time to savor delicious pies ~ pumpkin, apple, pear and pecan ~ before the wind blows the leaf people into the sky.

By the Light of the Harvest Moon lesson plan from Empowering Writers

By the Light of the Harvest Moon at Amazon.com

By the Light Of the Harvest Moon at Amazon.ca

Fall Picture Books Fletcher and the Falling LeavesFletcher and the Falling Leaves written by Julia Rawlinson and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
Fall picture book, set in a forest published by Harper Trophy

When the world around him changes from lush green to gold, Fletcher worries that something is terribly wrong. His mother explains that it is autumn but Fletcher continues to watch with alarm as the leaves on his favorite tree change color and then start to fall.
“Don’t worry, tree. “I’ve got your leaf. I’ll fix you.” Fletcher looked around, picked a piece of grass, and carefully tied the leaf to a branch.
As the tree’s transformation continues, Fletcher does his best to collect the leaves, despite reassurances from Squirrel and Porcupine. They want to use the leaves to stay warm and cozy.

Young readers, familiar with the changes that autumn brings, will enjoy watching Fletcher discover the wonders of the seasons. The gorgeous ice laden tree is certain to inspire artists to read for their pastels and some glitter.

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves lesson plan from Teacher Think Tank

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves at Amazon.com

Fletcher And The Falling Leaves at Amazon.ca

Kitten's Autumn written and illustrated by Eugenie FernandesKitten’s Autumn written and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Fall theme picture book for toddlers or preschoolers published by Kids Can Press

Beautifully vibrant and intriguing mixed media illustrations highlight this picture book for very young children. Written in rhyming couplets, the book is second in a series about Kitten. As the young cat explores the out-of-doors, young children will delight in the many animals that are encountered. Each is eating and preparing for winter.

Kitten’s Autumn at Amazon.com

Kitten’s Autumn at Amazon.ca

Fall Picture Books Leaf ManLeaf Man written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Fall picture book published by HMH Books for Young Readers

For Leaf Man, author illustrator Lois Ehlert used color copies of beautiful Fall leaves from many different trees (including maple, ash, oak, birch, elm, poplar, hawthorn, beach, fig, cottonwoood, sweet gum). She crafted the beautiful rich colours, textures and shapes into an inspired story that will encourage young readers to discover the possibilities in a pile of autumn leaves. Die cut pages show us a fascinating world of chickens, ducks, geese, mics, vegetables, orchards, cows grazing, turtles and fish, butterflies, birds, and forestland, all created using leaves, acorns, maple seeds and sweet gum fruit .

Leaf Man lesson plan from Harcourt Trade Publishers

Leaf Man at Amazon.com

Leaf Man at Amazon.ca

Fall Picture Books Mouse's First FallMouse’s First Fall written by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Buket Erdogan
Fall picture book published by Simon and Schuster

Mouse and Minka spend a joyous day celebrating the gorgeous rich colours of Fall.
Mouse saw round leaves and skinny leaves and pointy leaves and smooth leaves.
The two friends celebrate the many colors and shapes while happily playing together in an enormous pile of orange, brown and red leaves. Best suited to preschool-age children, extension activities could include classifying leaves by shape or color.

Mouse’s First Fall at Amazon.com

Mouse’s First Fall at Amazon.ca

Be sure to visit our Fall Printables Page

for Fall-theme writing paper, picture dictionaries, fingerplays, poems and songs.

Storytime Standouts Free Fall Theme Printables



Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Fall and Halloween for Preschool and Kindergarten on Pinterest.

Summer Reads for Tweens

Posted on August 5th, 2013 by Jody

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image of cover art for Dork Diaries Summer Reads for TweensThis summer, we brought home a stack of books to read but have moved rather slowly. My daughter has made her way through the sixth Harry Potter, reminding me that I should read the series again. She’s so immensely caught up in the story that she walks into a room spouting random facts as though we’d been having a long winded discussion. I’ve had to “make” her read other books with me because I like a little variety. A couple of surprises turned out to be Dork Diaries and Forever Four. I have seen Dork Diaries several times: in the classroom, the library, Scholastic, and the hands of students. I have even suggested it to students who prefer the graphic, comedic, preteen reads. However, I have not actually read them. I can’t read every book I recommend to students because I simply don’t have time (and I read slower than you can possibly imagine). In my attempts to persuade my oldest to try something other than the wizarding world, just briefly, I found that I was making quite an excellent recommendation.

Rachel Renee Russell‘s main character, Nikki, is adorable, self-depricating, authentic, and, I suppose, a bit dorky. She’s the kind of dorky that exists in all of us that weren’t into cliques and created from a mold of self-confidence. She’s the kind of kid, girl, pre-teen that is relatable. The best characters are the ones in which we see pieces of ourselves. This is definitely true of Nikki. Even at 37, I found myself charmed by her friendships, her crush on Brandon, and the karma that befalls the ever present ‘mean girl’.

I think that in the world of Hunger Games and Percy Jackson (admittedly excellent reads) it’s nice to remember that there’s some humor to be found in every day, real-life, situations that our kids face. As they move up through grades, they are going to have crushes, feel like dorks, be uncertain in social situations, have enemies and frenemies and Russell’s portrayal of this is lighthearted and fun but also something to which kids can connect.

I meant to do a joint post on Dork Diaries and Forever Four but it turns out I like each of them so much, I’ll have to do separate posts.

Dork Diaries website

Dork Diaries at Amazon.com

Dork Diaries at Amazon.ca

Bully by Patricia Polacco – A Terrific Anti Bullying Picture Book for Older Readers

Posted on August 2nd, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts recommends Bully by Patricia Polacco, a thoughtful examination of middle grade bullying and cyber bullying. Bully is an excellent anti bullying picture book for older readers and a valuable resource for middle grade classrooms.

image of Bully cover art an anti bullying picture book for older readersBully – written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco 
anti bullying picture book for older readers published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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 Lyla’s family moves house, she and her brother each switch to new schools. Lyla feels anxious about the transition but soon meets a new friend and is very happy to discover that he is in her homeroom class. Jamie and Lyla get along well so Lyla is not isolated but before long she discovers the many cliques at her new school: Geeks and Nerds, Toughs, Skateboarders, Athletes and the Celebrities.

As Lyla gains confidence at her new school, she starts to earn some very good grades and a spot on the cheerleading team. Jamie warns her, “That’s Gage, Maeve and Kenyon’s territory, Lyla. Be careful!”

Lyla settles in to her new class and appears content but she does notice that almost all of her classmates have cell phones. Jamie urges her to get a cell phone, a laptop and a Facebook account. Soon Lyla and her brother are trying to convince their parents to allow them to have phones. Their parents agree but warn that, if not used properly, the online privileges will be lost.image of Bully spread an anti bullying picture book for older readers

Jamie helps Lyla and her brother to set up their Facebook accounts and Lyla takes pride in their friendship and his position of trust at school.

Gage, Maeve and Kenyon were actually starting to be nice to me. I wasn’t good enough to sit at the celebrity table, though, until the Mid-Year Awards Assembly…Gage usually got this award, but she seemed really happy that I got it. That’s when she invited me to sit with them at the celebrity table at lunch..

Initially, Lyla finds the attention from the coolest girls exciting – she so wants to enjoy their popularity. The friendship sours, however, when the girls spend time surfing Facebook and commenting on classmates’ pages. They call this “scum dumping.” Lyla knows the bullying behavior is wrong and is especially upset when horrible comments are made on Jamie’s Facebook page. Lyla’s friendship with the Celebrities ends when she stands up for Jamie but the girls warn her, “No one dumps us, Lyla. We do the dumping.”

Sadly for Lyla the bullying does not end there. When an important test is compromised at school, Lyla is wrongly accused of stealing it and she becomes a victim of cyberbullying.

Bully is an excellent anti bullying picture book for older readers and a valuable resource for middle grade classrooms. Ms. Polacco’s depicts a racially diverse student population. As well, she presents a realistic and complex social situation without lecturing. She invites her readers to consider the question, “What would you do?”

Bully at Amazon.com

Bully at Amazon.ca

PDF Curriculum Guide to Ms. Polacco’s books (does not include Bully)

Pet-loving friends highlight generously illustrated chapter book: The Great Dog Disaster

Posted on June 24th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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image of cover art for generously illustrated chapter book, The Great Dog DisasterThe Great Dog Disaster written by Katie Davies and illustrated by Hannah Shaw
Generously illustrated chapter book published by Simon and Schuster

Suzanne and Anna are great friends who live next door to each other. The wall between their two homes is so thin that, if they try, they can hear each other’s family discussions. When Suzanne’s mom inherits Great-Aunt Deidra’s dog, the two girls are thrilled until they actually meet Beatrice. It seems Great-Aunt Deidra’s dog is old and slow and smelly. Undaunted, the girls are determined to make Beatrice behave like they believe a proper dog should before medical bills and incontinence cause Suzanne’s dad to do something drastic.image of a spread from The Great Dog Disaster, a generously illustrated chapter book

This generously illustrated chapter book will appeal to both boys and girls (aged 8-12), especially those with a fondness for dogs. At times, poignent, The Great Dog Disaster will encourage readers to consider the relationship between Great-Aunt Deidra and Beatrice, how neighbours and community can be important and how the girls’ determination to make a difference has far-reaching implications. Ms. Shaw’s charming illustrations and amply-spaced text will appeal to reluctant readers.

Note: Throughout the book, Anna refers to “Me and Suzanne.” If grammar mistakes are a problem for you, The Great Dog Disaster will not be a good choice.

Website for the Great Critter Capers series of generously illustrated chapter books.

The Great Dog Disaster at Amazon.com

The Great Dog Disaster at Amazon.ca

Bullies Never Win – an anti bullying picture book by Margery Cuyler

Posted on December 11th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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cover art for Bullies Never Win, an anti bullying picture book
Bullies Never Win written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Arthur Howard
Anti bullying picture book published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

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

Jessia and Brenda are in the same first-grade class. In Jessica’s eyes, Brenda is perfect. Her hair is perfect, her homework is perfect and her clothes are perfect. Jessica is a worrier. She is frustrated by her clothing, her knees, her barrettes and making mistakes at school but mostly she is frustrated by Brenda’s bullying.

If Jessica got all her homework right, Brenda would say, “I bet you cheated.” So Jessica hid her homework.
If Jessica wore a new skirt to school, Brenda would say, “Your legs look like toothpicks.” So Jessica started wearing pants.
If Jessica scored at kickball, Brenda would say, “You were just lucky.” So Jessica stopped playing kickball.

Finally Jessica reaches the breaking point and she tells her mom about the bullying she is enduring at school. Mom encourages Jessica to tell her teacher about the bullying. Jessica is not sure that is the solution. She spends a sleepless night, trying to decide on the best strategy. Finally, Jessica decides to tell Brenda that Bullies Never Win!”

At last, Jessica can stop worrying and relax. She has spoken her mind and silenced her bully.

Mr. Howard’s illustrations, especially those of the characters’ facial expressions are a highlight of this excellent anti bullying picture book.

Written from the perspective of the victim, this resource is recommended for kindergarten and older children.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

Bullies Never Win at Amazon.com

Bullies Never Win at Amazon.ca

Lesson plans for Bullies Never WIn

Literature unit from edHelper.com

Lesson plan from Spoken Arts Media

Bully vs Friend activity from Scholastic

Bullying Stopped by Tiny Katie Sue – Alexis O’Neill’s The Recess Queen

Posted on November 20th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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anti bullying picture book cover The Recess QueenThe Recess Queen written by Alexis O’Neill and illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
Anti bullying picture book published by Scholastic Canada

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

MEAN JEAN was Recess Queen and nobody said any different.
Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung.
Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked.
Nobody bounced until Mean Jean bounced.

Mean Jean is a playground bully. At recess, she commands all those around her. She controls the swings, the soccer ball and the basketball.

One day, a new girl arrives at school. Tiny Katie Sue is completely unaware of Mean Jean’s position of authority at the playground. Katie Sue does not wait to be told what to do. She swings and she kicks and she bounces. When challenged by Mean Jean, Katie Sue asks, “How DID you get so bossy?”

Before long, there is a showdown between Mean Jean and Katie Sue. When Katie Sue pulls a jump rope from her pocket, she invites Mean Jean to skip with her.

Repetitious text, delicious wordplay and bright, energetic illustrations highlight a terrific anti bullying book that begs to be read aloud. Recommended for children aged four and up.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

The Recess Queen at Amazon.com

The Recess Queen at Amazon.ca



The Cost of Being “In” – Two of a Kind by Jacqui Robbins

Posted on November 19th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Two of a Kind written by Jacqui Robbins and illustrated by Matt Phelan
Anti bullying picture book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon and Schuster

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

Kayla and Melanie love to work together on projects. They are very much alike and sometimes they dress the same way. At recess, they sit together on the jungle gym. They don’t want anyone else to join them.

Anna and Julisa also like to be partners at school. They both wear glasses and sometimes they laugh so hard that their glasses fall off. At recess, Anna and Julisa sit together. They are friendly and would be happy to have any of their classmates join them.

In class, Kayla and Melanie sometimes make fun of the other children and, one day, they make fun of Julisa and her glasses. When Anna is unexpectedly partnered with Melanie for a science project, she is able to share her knowledge.

Melanie says I am so smart. She says maybe I am cool after all…
“Hey,” she says, pulling my arm away from the mess. “Do you want to play with us?”

Like magic, Anna is invited to sit with Kayla and Melanie at recess. Anna’s two new companions laugh at Julisa and continue to exclude her.

Fortunately, Anna pauses to consider her relationship with Julisa and before long she realizes where true friendship and her loyalty lies.

Two of a Kind is a thought-provoking depiction of how easily children can be lured by the desire to be popular and how difficult it is to be outcast. Sure to prompt discussions about friendship, loyalty and standing up for what is right, it is best suited to readers aged five and up.

Readers will be interested to know that Matt Phelan also illustrated Susan Patron’s The Higher Power of Lucky and Betty G. Birney’s The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs – two of my favourite novels for middle grade readers.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

Two of a Kind at Amazon.com

Two of a Kind at Amazon.ca


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