Posts Tagged ‘picture books’

Discover B.C.R. Fegan and his latest picture book!

Posted on November 15th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

B.C.R. Fegan is the author of The Day that A Ran AwayB.C.R. Fegan is a multi-award-winning author who has written a number of fairy tales and fantasies for children and young adults.

Raised on a small hobby farm only minutes from some of Australia’s greatest beaches, Fegan grew up inspired by the power of nature’s ambience. From the intensity of the frequent summer storms to the overwhelming serenity of a lonely beach in the early hours of the morning. His ravenous appetite for both reading and writing soon saw him drawing on the transformational influence of the world around him to craft short stories, poems and picture books.

As time wore on, Fegan also found inspiration in the magic and depth of authors and compositors like Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. He was mesmerized by the potency of small but beautiful phrases that were carefully carved from the minds of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Frost. He grew to appreciate the worlds meticulously created by David Eddings, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

Eventually, he began to forge his own complete works. Weaving his own magic, piecing together his own phrases and crafting his own worlds. Agonising over plots that would inspire, characters that would be loved and circumstances that would delight. In time, his efforts saw a number of children’s books and young adult fiction produced.

Twitter account – @bcrfegan

Website URL – https://www.bcrfegan.com/

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of? Storytime Standouts interviews the author of The Day that A Ran Away

My latest book is The Day That A Ran Away. It’s an alphabet book that follows the excuses of young Master Jet as he tries to wriggle out of not completing his homework.

My overriding focus for the story was to turn a traditional alphabet book into something that was a little more memorable and exciting for both the child and parent. I hope children who are beginning their journey into reading and writing will find the simple rhymes and colorful letters helpful in that journey. Older children and parents, on the other hand, may actually enjoy reading or listening to the story too, as there are a number of deeper layers that I hope will hold their interest.

I think what I’m most proud of about the book is that there is so much learning packed into it without it feeling overbearing. Of course, the primary learning concept is the alphabet, but it also introduces the concept of homework and every page contains a number of ‘Easter eggs’ for children to find. All of which has great learning value.

The Day That a Ran Away at Amazon.com

The Day That A Ran Away at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

It’s an interesting question because I read so many picture books as a child, but early on I didn’t really make the connection between the story and the writer behind it. To me, it was simply a great book! I probably had a number of favorite authors without realizing it.

When I eventually made the connection however, I was right into Graeme Base’s book ‘The Eleventh Hour’. Here was a book that wasn’t just a simple story, but was this spectacular maze of ideas and images to pour over and get lost in. It was actually a very clever book and as I soon found out, so were his others!

I think what I loved most about Base’s work (who is both an author and an illustrator), was that he built so much into the book. You could spend hours on each page – looking for clues, finding hidden objects and simply enjoying the artwork. I think his books really cemented for me two important things: Firstly, the connection between the text and the illustrations need to be more than complimentary, they have to elevate each other beyond anything they could do alone. Secondly, you want a narrative that pulls you along quickly, but with enough depth that you could just as happily dwell on a single page for hours.

When did you realize that you would be a writer? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

I think I realized early on in my life that I wanted to ‘write’. I may not have quite grasped the idea that I could turn it into a vocation, but for almost as long as I’ve been reading, I’ve been writing too.

When I eventually made the decision to begin publishing my manuscripts, I had incredible encouragement from my wife. She has continued to be an amazing pillar of support ever since, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am as an author without her.

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

There are so many! In fact, I enjoy almost every aspect of writing – from the possibilities of a blank page to the satisfaction of a completed manuscript.

However – without a doubt – the greatest pleasure comes from the feedback I receive from children and parents who have enjoyed the book. It’s a little bit surreal when you hear children dressing up as characters from your books for World Book Day; or hearing parents talk about your books as their child’s favorite. It’s also those moments you hold on to when the occasional bad review threatens to dampen your day.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author?

Only trying to swim in a surging ocean of marketing ideas and publicity essentials. I think I’m not the only author who wishes they could spend more time on writing and less time trying to gain exposure. Unfortunately, it’s simply a part of the business these days.

Does music play a part in your writing? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

It does sometimes. Given the choice, I’d prefer to listen to the rain or the wind outside while I write. Failing that, I might listen to recordings of storms to provide the right atmosphere (I know, sounds strange right?). However, I also don’t mind classical music on the odd occasion to play alongside the thoughts in my head while I furiously try to keep up with my pen.

Children’s Books about Anger, Grumpiness and Bad Moods

Posted on October 13th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares picture books about anger and bad moods


Picture books to help a child understand and cope with anger

When my youngest son was very young, he was frequently impacted by the negative effects of artificial food dyes. Sadly, we did not realize what was happening with him for quite some time. For years, we were puzzled by apparently random bouts of anger that were, in fact, a result of eating or drinking a trigger food,beverage or even medication.

Thankfully, we did eventually figure out what was happening and the instances of uncontrolled anger pretty much disappeared. Along the way though, we used picture books to help our children understand anger and give them techniques for managing frustration and bad moods.

Please leave a comment and let me know about your favorite books for exploring this theme.

Children's book about anger and being in a bad moodBad Mood Bear written by John Richardson
Small format picture book about feeling angry published by Red Fox a division of Random House

When my children were young, we had a wonderful collection of Red Fox Mini Treasures. These were small-format picture books from many well-known, accomplished children’s book authors and illustrators. One of our favorite Red Fox Mini Treasure books was Bad Mood Bear. If one of my sons had a rough day, reading this story was one way to help him understand and learn to manage strong emotions, including anger. In addition to depicting a tough day, Bad Mood Bear also shows that the opportunity to feel and behave better may be just a short nap away.

You may not be able to find a new copy of this picture book but I did not want to leave it off my list of children’s books about anger.

Bear mooched around, kicking stones and growling. A fly buzzed around his nose
‘Buzz off!’ screamed Bear, flapping his arms around in a temper.

Bad Mood Bear (Mini Treasure)

Bad Mood Bear (Mini Treasure) at Amazon.ca

Picture books about anger and bad moods including Finn Throws a FitFinn Throws a Fit! written by David Elliott and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
Picture book about a child’s temper tantrum published by Candlewick Press

Usually, Finn is happy and loving but when Finn is upset, everybody in the household suffers. Using thunder, lightning, flooding, hurricane winds, blizzard conditions and an earthquake to describe Finn’s outburst, Finn Throws a Fit! will delight young readers and their parents.

With no explanation given for the upset, there is a good opportunity for an adult to ask probing questions such as,
Why do you think Finn was upset?”
“How did Finn’s parents and dog feel when Finn was upset?”
“What could Finn do next time he is upset?”

Finn Throws a Fit! at Amazon.com

Finn Throws a Fit! at Amazon.ca

Children's Book About Anger and Feeling GrumpyGrumpy Bird written and illustrated by Jeremy Tankard
Children’s Book About Anger and Feeling Grumpy published by Scholastic

This is a picture book about anger and grumpiness that I have read dozens, if not hundreds of times. It is a book that I shared over and over again with a child that I helped to overcome a speech delay. The delightful, repetitious text was exactly what I needed to prompt dialogic reading

He was too grumpy to eat.
He was too grumpy to play.
In fact, he was too grumpy to fly.
“Looks like I’m walking today,” said Bird.

I arrived for each appointment with a briefcase filled with picture books, puzzles, games and other activities. More often than not, Grumpy Bird was selected by my student and we enjoyed reading about Grumpy Bird spending time with friends (even if he was not enthusiastic about their company) and, eventually finding himself transformed into a happy, social creature.

Grumpy Bird at Amazon.com

Grumpy Bird at Amazon.ca

Picture book about being angry How Do Dinosaurs Say I'M MAD?How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague
Picture book about expressing anger and frustration published by Blue Sky Press an imprint of Scholastic

Part of the How Do Dinosaurs series of picture books, this story not only describes behaviours that might happen when a child is angry, it also suggests ways for a child (or dinosaur) to deal with angry feelings.

he counts up to ten,
then after a time out,
breathes calmly…
and then…
he cleans up his mess

Dinosaur fans will love the detailed endpapers and the notations within the book that identify the species of each of the dinosaurs.

Some readers have commented that it is unfortunate that the dinosaurs do begin by behaving badly. Their behavior includes ripping books, throwing a mug, kicking and defiance. We agree with these observations but, unlike several books about anger, grumpiness and bad moods, this book did include suggestions for managing strong emotions.

How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? at Amazon.com

How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? at Amazon.ca

Childrens books about anger, The Day Leo Said I Hate You
The Day Leo Said I Hate You written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Molly Bang
Picture book about emotions and anger published by Little, Brown and Company

When young children feel anger, it can be a frightening experience for them. They may be completely overcome by frustration and may be unable to control their words.

Here we meet Leo, a little boy who has been told, “No” more times than he can count. His mommy doesn’t want him to roll tomatoes across the floor and she doesn’t want him to drop string beans into the fishbowl.

Leo announces that he hates “No.” Mommy calmly says that she understands his feelings but, “There are some things you just should not do.” Leo decides that his bedroom is the best place to be but, when he begins drawing on the wall, his mommy is certain to be annoyed and it is not long until he cannot contain his emotions any longer. He shouts, “I HATE YOU.”

Strong, bold Photoshop illustrations are sure to resonate with children who have felt overpowering emotions.

A valuable resource for families, The Day Leo Said I Hate You! is a reassuring story of enduring love – even when it has been a very long and extremely emotional day.

The Day Leo Said I Hate You! at Amazon.com

The Day Leo Said I Hate You! at Amazon.ca


I'm So Grumpy written and illustrated by Hans WilhelmI’m So Grumpy! written and illustrated by Hans Wilhelm
Beginning Reader Story About Being in a Bad Mood published by Scholastic

Beginning readers are sure to enjoy this simple story about Noodles’ bad mood. He doesn’t like his food, he doesn’t want to go for a walk. He wishes that everyone would leave him alone. Repetitive text and appealing illustrations will support young readers as they enjoy this fun story and the thrill of reading independently.

There are a total of 32 books about Noodles that are perfect for new readers. Check out this page of resources, including posters and a teacher’s guide.

I’m So Grumpy at Amazon.com

I’m So Grumpy at Amazon.ca



Tremendous Trees! We Recommend Picture Books Celebrating Trees

Posted on September 20th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

Picture books highlighting trees recommended by Storytime Standouts

Sharing a selection of picture books about trees has led to some wonderful discoveries. The books we write about are ones that were respectful of trees, some using them metaphorically. Often, they include references to the seasons and to the cycle of life.

Elsewhere on this site ~
Children’s books about the environment
Gardening Fun with Kids

Storytime Standouts highlights picture books about trees including The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionnithe alphabet tree written and illustrated by Leo Lionni
Picture book about letters, words and a remarkable tree published by Dragonfly Books

A lovely tribute to the idea that there is strength in numbers. the alphabet tree opens with individual letters living happily in a large tree. When a very strong windstorm hits, some letters are blown out of the tree. The remaining letters retreat and huddle together. It is a word-bug that encourages the letters to work together to form words. Feeling stronger and more confident together, a caterpillar suggests forming phrases and, eventually, creating an important message for the president. An outstanding resource for encouraging print awareness, this picture book could also be interpreted as encouraging social or political activism.

The Alphabet Tree at Amazon.com

The Alphabet Tree at Amazon.ca


Leo's Tree by Debora Pearson and Nora HilbLeo’s Tree written by Debora Pearson and illustrated by Nora Hilb
Picture book about trees, seasons and family published by Annick Press

A lovely picture book to share with preschool-age children, Leo’s Tree begins when Leo’s parents plant a tree just after Leo is born. We watch as both the tree and the baby grow, changing through the seasons. Lovely watercolor illustrations follow Baby Leo, Toddler Leo and, eventually Big Brother Leo, playing nearby as the tree grows tall and strong. Gentle rhymes, repetitive text, and alliteration all contribute to a rich text that will appeal to young children.

Leo’s Tree at Amazon.com

Leo’s Tree at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts highlights picture books about trees including The Magnificent Tree by Nick Bland and Stephen Michael KingThe Magnificent Tree written by Nick Bland and illustrated by Stephen Michael King
Picture book about problem solving and creativity published by Scholastic

Bonny and Pop love creating things. Bonny takes a simple, straightforward approach. Pop is less conventional. they would both love to have birds stop and stay for a while but, instead, they just fly past. Bonny and Pop agree that the solution is to make a tree. In keeping with their personalities, Bonny approaches the tree problem simply. By contrast, Pop makes an elaborate plan and works day and night. Finally, Pop’s creation is ready and, on the first day of Spring, dozens of birds check it out before landing in Bonny’s project.

An exuberant tribute to finding more than one way to approach a challenge. Fun illustrations have lots of details that will have a special appeal for tinkerers.

The Magnificent Tree at Amazon.com

The Magnificent Tree at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts highlights picture books about trees including The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree by Anne Shelby and Cor HavelaarThe Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree by Anne Shelby and Cor Hazelaar
Tall Tale about a man who decides to live in a tree published by Simon Says Kids

Beautifully illustrated and richly told in a storyteller’s voice, it is easy to imagine hearing this tall tale while sitting fireside on a winter evening. Harlan Burch lived in Appalachia long ago. He worked as a carpenter and spent time in the woods, choosing trees for his projects. Apart from cutting trees down, he also planted them – replacing each one that he cut with two saplings. One day, he came across a sycamore that was so large, there was room enough inside for Harlan to create a comfortable home.

Not long after moving into the sycamore, something strange happened. It was as though time had stopped and reversed. Harlan became more and more youthful. He soon married and had a family. The family thrived and grew, eventually populating all of Appalachia.

The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree at Amazon.com

The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts shares a selection of picture books about trees including Red Leaf, Yellow LeafRed Leaf, Yellow Leaf created by Lois Ehlert
Picture book about a Sugar Maple Tree published by HMH Books for Young Readers

Featuring dazzling collage illustrations, great for a group setting/read-aloud, Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf shows readers real maple tree seeds (samaras), burlap, twine, wire, plant tags, and tree roots. Beautiful Fall colors are highlighted in the cover art and elsewhere in the book. The main text is large and tells the story of the origins of a maple tree, from the moment a seed falls in a forest through transfer to a garden center and eventual planting in a garden. In addition to showing readers the tree growing from seed to sprout to sapling, the illustrations also include unobtrusively labeled creatures that might live in and around a tree (squirrels, birds, earthworms) as well as other details that will promote learning.

A four-page appendix provides background information that will be helpful to young scientists and inquisitive researchers. An outstanding resource for kindergarten and primary-grade classrooms or for homeschool.

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf at Amazon.com

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts highlights picture books about trees including Tess's Tree by Jess M. Brallier, pictures by Peter H. ReynoldsTess’s Tree written by Jess M. Brallier and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Children’s book about coming to terms with loss published by Harper Collins Children’s Books

Tess loves the tree in her yard. She loves to sit under it and read, she swings from it and, in Fall, she plays in the leaves beneath it. On dark, blowy night, two of the large branches are damaged and fall to the ground. There is no choice, the old tree must be taken down.

Tess’s emotions are strong. She is angry and sad. She knows that she must do something to honor the tree. She plans a funeral service to celebrate the life of her tree.

It is not long before Tess learns that the tree is not just hers. There are others for whom the tree was important.

Tess’s Tree provides an opportunity to explore important themes of love and loss with children. I have read some reviews that suggest that the story ought to have ended with Tess planting another tree. My personal perspective is that might be an obvious “solution” to Tess’s grief, in some ways, this particular tree was irreplaceable. Much like the loss of a friend, family member or pet, dealing with loss is not always as simple as finding a replacement.

Tess’s appears to be part of a single parent family.

Tess’s Tree at Amazon.com

Tess’s Tree at Amazon.ca


Free, Printable Tree-Theme Writing Paper for Home and Classroom

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Tree with bluebird

Tree theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Tree including roots

Tree theme interlined paper for beginning writers.


Picture Books About Worries and Fears

Posted on June 24th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

Explore these picture books with children who have worries and fears.

Help your child learn to manage worries and fears with these picture books

Some children deal with new experiences and people with relative ease. For other children, there are reasons to worry about meeting new people, trying unfamiliar activities and beginning school. Anxious children may anticipate all sorts of dreadful outcomes that parents, caregivers and teachers don’t even consider. They may anticipate problems and focus on them, certain that outcomes will be unpleasant or even dangerous.

Enjoying these picture books together will provide opportunities for children to watch as a picture book character successfully overcomes fear and worry and manages a first day in a new classroom, sleeping in a dark room or listening to a thunderstorm.

Picture books for children who have worries and fears including David and the Worry BeastDavid and the Worry Beast written by Anne Marie Guanci and illustrated by Caroline Attia
Bibliotherapy about anxiety published by New Horizon Press

David and the Worry Beast was written especially to help children cope with anxiety. David’s worry beast causes him to worry when he plays basketball, when he’s at home and when he is at school. His anxiety grows and grows until he learns specific steps to cope with his worries. In addition to providing tips for children, the authors also have suggestions for parents.

David and the Worry Beast: Helping Children Cope with Anxiety at Amazon.com

David and the Worry Beast: Helping Children Cope With Anxiety at Amazon.ca

Franklin's Blanket is a picture book about a child's security objectFranklin’s Blanket written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark
Picture book about a security object published by Kids Can Press

When Franklin’s favorite blue blanket goes missing just before bedtime, he is distressed and has trouble settling down to sleep. Franklin tries to remember where it might be. The following day, Franklin visits his friends and discovers that they also have comfort objects that help them to manage challenging situations.

Franklin’s Blanket features familiar characters and offers gentle reassurance about managing emotions, including fear, with a Teddy Bear or a cozy blanket.

Franklin’s Blanket at Amazon.com

Franklin’s Blanket at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts looks at Noni is Nervous, a picture book about dealing with fears and worries surrounding starting school.Noni Is Nervous Written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Genevieve Cote
Picture book about managing fears, especially with starting school published by Tundra Books

There are things that make Noni feel anxious, including her relationship with a friend and world events. When we meet Noni, she is particularly concerned about starting school. Her family members reassure her that all will be well but Noni likes the comfort of home and being near to her mama.

Noni imagines all sorts of things that could go wrong at school and is relieved when she doesn’t get lost, her teacher isn’t a monster and she is able to open her juice box.

Noni Is Nervous will comfort children who are contemplating a new experience. Suitable for boys and girls aged four and up, the cheerful illustrations depict a racially diverse classroom and enhance readers’ understanding of the emotions that Noni is experiencing.

Noni Is Nervous at Amazon.com

Noni Is Nervous At Amazon.ca

The I'M NOT SCARED Book can help children deal with fears and worries.The I’m Not Scared Book written and illustrated by Todd Parr
Picture book about dealing with worries and fears published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Todd Parr writes about and illustrates several typical childhood fears including fear of the dark, of dogs, of starting school and of getting lost. Illustrations show both boys and girls (and a bear) in a state of being afraid, encouraging readers to take a closer look and gain understanding.

Bright, bold illustrations are well-suited to a small group read aloud. Children are shown with a variety of skin colors including blue and purple.

A good choice for a preschool or kindergarten classroom.

The I’M NOT SCARED Book at Amazon.com

The I’M NOT SCARED Book at Amazon.ca

Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears is a story that can be used to explore themes of worries and fearsLittle Mouse’s Big Book of Fears written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
Award-Winning picture book about fears published by Macmillan Children’s Books

Little Mouse draws, writes and creates collages to express fear. A fascinating and engaging format that includes cutouts, a foldout, a flap to lift and nibbled pages, Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears is a relatively dark picture book that is best-suited to older children (aged 5 or 6 and up). Winner of the 2008 Kate Greenaway Medal for distinguished illustration, this is an inspiring book that could be used to encourage young readers to express emotions through artwork and writing.

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears at Amazon.com

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears at Amazon.ca

Wemberly Worried is a picture book that can help children deal with fears and worries.Wemberly Worried written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Picture book about worries and fears published by Greenwillow Books

Wemberly is a little mouse with big worries. All day long, she finds reasons to worry at home and away from home. Her family tells her not to worry but that is easier said than done. When it is time to start school, Wemberly’s fears seem to multiply. She worries all the way to school.

Fortunately, Wemberly’s new teacher introduces her to Jewel. Jewel has not joined all the other mice, she is standing off to one side, observing. Before too long, Wemberly and Jewel are sitting together and Wemberly’s worries have subsided.

Wemberly Worried is a thoughtful, reassuring story that will provide reassurance to young mice (and children!) who are concerned about starting school. illustrated thoughtfully, not only are skin tones (hair color) diverse, Mr. Henkes also includes a young mouse who uses a wheelchair.

Wemberly Worried at Amazon.com

Wemberly Worried at Amazon.ca

Picture Books About Worries and Fears are a great resource at home and in classrooms.


Books for Bedtime! Special Stories to Share with Children

Posted on May 20th, 2017 by Carolyn Hart

Great bedtime-theme children's recommended by Storytime Standouts



Finding the perfect bedtime story can make all the difference as toddlers and preschoolers settle down for the night. In this post, we have a look at some delightful bedtime-theme children’s books that will set the tone for a good night’s sleep. In the comments, we hope you’ll let us know about your favorite books for bedtime!







A picture book about going to bed, 10 Minutes to Bedtime written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann10 Minutes till Bedtime written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann
Mostly wordless picture book about bedtime published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers an imprint of Penguin

In this classic, fun picture book, Dad cautions his son that it is 10 minutes till bedtime. Within a moment, a pet hamster has summoned other neighborhood hamsters to stop by for ten minutes of fun. Preschool-aged (and older) children will enjoy the detailed and engaging illustrations that tell most of the story. Of course, the joke is on Dad as he has no idea what is happening behind his back, as his son gets ready for bed. Good fun and a great opportunity for language and comprehension development. Carefully ‘reading’ the illustrations and talking about what is happening is a big part of this bedtime story.

10 Minutes till Bedtime at Amazon.com

10 Minutes till Bedtime at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts shares picture books about going to bed including Baby Bedtime Baby Bedtime written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Emma Quay
Rhyming toddler picture book about bedtime published by Simon and Schuster

Soft tones and sparse, rhyming text are hallmarks of this gentle picture book about a baby elephant’s bedtime. Cuddling and smiling, an adult elephant takes a baby elephant through a bedtime routine (including a story!) before finally saying goodnight.

One of the really lovely aspects of this picture book is that the gender and age of the adult elephant is not specific. This could be a mom, dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle putting the youngster to bed.

Baby Bedtime at Amazon.com

Baby Bedtime at Amazon.ca

Rhyming picture book about bedtime Steam Train, Dream TrainSteam Train, Dream Train written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Rhyming children’s book about bedtime published by Chronicle Books

Wonderful rich vocabulary and onomatopoeia make this a wonderful bedtime story for preschool-age and older children. Children who are interested in trains, will enjoy hearing the names of the various cars (hopper, tender, reefer, gondolas etc.) and will hear the rhythmic text that echoes the sounds we associate with steam trains.

Set in moonlight, Mr. Lichtenheld’s illustrations, created with wax oil pastel are beautifully atmospheric. We especially liked the train’s arrival and the child’s moonlit bedroom.

Steam Train, Dream Train at Amazon.com

Steam Train, Dream Train at Amazon.ca

A picture book about bedtime How to Put Your Parents to BedHow to Put Your Parents to Bed written by Mylisa Larsen and illustrated by Babette Cole
Fun picture book about bedtime published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers

Preschool-age and older children will enjoy the humor as a young girls tries to get her parents to go to bed. Chores, a computer, games, television and even cell phones are delaying mom and dad’s bedtime but, with determination, it is possible for her to get them settled and off to sleep.

Older children, especially those who resist shut-eye, will see themselves in this fun role-reversal tale.

How to Put Your Parents to Bed at Amazon.com

How to Put Your Parents to Bed at Amazon.ca

Princess Baby Night-Night written and illustrated by Karen KatzPrincess Baby Night-Night written and illustrated by Karen Katz
Picture book about getting ready for bed published by Schwartz and Wade, an imprint of Random House

Getting ready for bed can be an exhausting proposition. Princess Baby has lots to do. She not only puts her own pajamas on, she dresses her six special friends for bed too. She also helps with washing up, brushing teeth and selecting stories.

Bright, beautiful collage illustrations make this a great story to share in a group setting. Fans of Princess Baby will want to explore Princess Baby and Princess Baby on the Go.

Princess Baby, Night-Night at Amazon.com

Princess Baby, Night-Night at Amazon.ca


Introducing children’s book illustrator François Thisdale

Posted on January 26th, 2017 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts interviews illustrator François Thisdale For nearly thirty years, François Thisdale’s has worked as an award-winning illustrator creating images for children’s books, news magazines, annual corporate reports, and book covers for several clients in Canada, United States, Korea, China, Colombia, Spain and France. His trademark multi-textured images are the product of a unique blend of traditional drawing, photography and richly textured painting techniques interwoven with digital imagery that creates particular atmospheres. He is the illustrator of Missing Nimama which recently won the TD Award and The Stamp Collector, which is on the International Board on Books for Young People’s Honor List. He has also won a Notable Books for a Global Society Award and the Crystal Kite Award; been a TD Children’s Book Award Finalist; an OLA Best Bet; an Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award finalist; and a Willow Awards finalist. François lives near Montreal, Quebec.

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

French Toast written by Kari-Lynn Winters and illustrated by François ThisdaleMy latest release is a picture book for age 4-7 entitled French Toast, a text from Kari-Lynn Winters published by Pajama Press.
This is a great story about difference, about color of skin, about identity. Phoebe—half Jamaican, half French-Canadian—hates her school nickname of “French Toast.” Her grandmother uses descriptions of favorite foods from both of Phoebe’s cultures to celebrate the varied skin tones of her family. This is a great book for all ages and all colors.

For that book, the challenge was inspiring. I’ve worked around different atmospheres to match color of food described in the story. I wanted to create poetic moods and incorporate food elements, like banana bread, tea, maple syrup or peach yogurt to build special images. I think I’ve succeeded to create a surreal world that helps to dive into this dialog between Phoebe and her grandmom. Each spread becomes a special place to observe these characters. I’m very proud of the result. I particularly like the tenderness of this little girl and the natural tones of the illustrations.

French Toast at Amazon.com

French Toast at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

As far as I remember, I’ve always been attracted by drawing and art in general. At the age of 4 or 5, my favorite series of books was Tintin and Snowy, by Hergé. I’ve been moved deeply by one of these books, Tintin and the Blue Lotus. All Tintin and Snowy books were very special to me but this specific book haunted me by the beauty of images, the strange architecture, its colourful exoticism. It was great to be able to follow the story without knowing how to read. I had the impression of traveling far, far away.This is the moment where I have started to draw for the rest of my life.Later on, I saw a photography of Hergé’s studio in a magazine for kids. I’ve been very impressed by that shot. I wanted to do that, to draw all day long!

When I left for China in 2003 to adopt our daughter, I admit that I’ve thought about my childhood, about that precious book and remembered how it inspired me as a kid. I didn’t know that China would give me the chance to become a father. I did lots of sketches in China and The Blue Lotus was still resonating inside of me.

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? THISDALE Studio

I’m working from home, an antique farmhouse, my studio is a luminous space with two large windows. Every single day starts almost the same, a good teapot of Oolong tea. I need lots of music and life is good!

When I work on a picture book or on a book cover, I’m very passionate.

A picture book project starts with the reading of the manuscript. That’s the moment where everything is possible. Each text brings different challenges to face. I need to understand characters, to learn from their stories and to find a link with my own life. I’m very grateful about authors, this is a real gift to share the world of other creators during months.

The work begins with pencil and watercolour sketches, far from a final illustration but enough to give a direction to the book. I love to work on a sketchbook. I feel the same as when I’m traveling.

From there, with comments from my editor, I start to work on images. First off, I build the skeleton of my illustrations with photographic references, part of painting textures, different details taken here and there, and I create a collage of photographies and paintings details, in Photoshop. I print that proof on my wide format printer and I paint over with acrylic and different mediums. Then, I scan this image to work it again in the computer. I add textures, collage, elements painted aside like skies, painted textures and adjust contrasts, levels, saturation. This is a long process, a kind of alchemy. And I love it!

Thisdale Bike Riding I usually take an hour or so during the day to keep the shape and get my head cleaned. From April to November, I’m cycling around 35 kilometers a day. I love the sensation of the wind and the contemplation of landscapes. I alway carry my cell phone to take pictures that could improve the quality of my illustrations.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?

My work, as a freelance illustrator, asks me to be well organized and disciplined. I see illustration as a language where I need to “say” things differently, regarding the text. When I’m doing a picture book, I want to create a dance between words and images and to enhanced some parts of the story by creating specific moods. This is a link, a bridge between the text and the reader. An illustrator must dive into the story and search to understand characters, to feel the story from his guts. Obviously, this is a great way to express myself and I think that I became an illustrator for that reason: the easiness to communicate that way, to “tell” things differently without having to say a single word, to understand and share someone’s world.

Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

Yes! I’m listening to music all day long. This is a great part of my inspiration. Music is something essential for me, something natural. As long as I remember, music has always been present in my life. My father was a pianist, I’ve played guitar a lot and composed music for shortfilms in a period of my life, music is an extension of my sensitivity. I like a wide variety of styles, depending of the moment. Today’ I’ve listened to Andy Stott, a londonian DJ, Yussef Kamaal, Ray Lamontagne and Radiohead and ended my working day with John Dowland solo lute music. Music is a great chance to discover different cultures and to admire creativity.

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

Hard to choose… Let me give you three names.

First, Eugene Delacroix simply for talking with him about his Moroccan sketchbooks. These sketches are still moving me. I visited Delacroix’ studio in Paris on place Furtenberg and had the chance to see some of these drawings.

I would have liked to meet Carl Beam, who died in 2005, an Ojibway painter who worked on large format paintings that incorporates photo-imagery. I love his work and his attachment to his roots. I would have liked, for sure, to discuss about his technique of blending photo and painting as well as knowing more about the true meaning of some pieces of art I love.

And finally Binette Schroeder, this wonderful German illustrator, to hear from this woman about her great career and to learn about this passionate person.


Meet Author Kelly Santana-Banks

Posted on October 27th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts interviews Kelly Santana-BanksKelly Santana-Banks is a writer of nonfiction and children’s books, and a former early childhood teacher and caregiver. When she was young, she loved to play teacher with her sister, cousins, and neighbors. As a young adult, she never considered teaching as a career, but little did she know that her childhood make-believe would pave the way to what would become her passion. With more than ten years of experience working with children—five of those years were dedicated to research in the area of child development as well as implementing best practices inside and outside of the classroom and a strong background in child development, she is an advocate for education, especially in early childhood. She writes fun stories to entertain and teach children as well as help parents find simple solutions for their little ones’ lives.

You can find more about her or connect on her website

You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter @ksantanabanks, Instagram and Pinterest.

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?Dinosaur Adventure a Field Trip to Remember by Kelly Santana Banks

My latest release is called Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember, the second book in the series Let’s Learn while Playing. Different from my first book, which was a short nursery rhyme geared towards two, threes, and fours, Dinosaur Adventure targets more the older group of children (3–7)—given its amount of text and the vocabulary explored. This book is a product of my working experiences with children inside and outside of the classroom, including fun field trips. And I’m happy to bring to life a subject that children love (dinosaurs) in an entertaining and educational way.

Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember at Amazon.com

Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Growing up, I loved the stories of Mauricio de Souza, a famous Brazilian cartoonist and creator of the children’s comic series, Turma da Monica. But at that point, writing or even thinking of becoming an author was never on my radar. Throughout my teenage years, I became an avid reader, devouring my mom’s library of books, including Sidney Sheldon’s novel, of whom I became a big fan. And later on, I also added Danielle Steele and Jenifer Weiner to my list. Every one of those authors left an impression on me. Either it is in the way I create the characters in my mind and get them to paper or how I develop the plot. This is only my second children’s book, so I cannot measure precisely their impact on my writing, but I can tell for sure that their work let me see my characters with more of a critical eye.

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

I have worked with children for more than ten years now. Here in the US, I started as a caregiver, but not too long, I realized my love and enjoyment working with the little ones. I went back to graduate school for early childhood education (I previously received a graduate degree in hospitality) and started working as a teacher. My desire for writing started to naturally blossom. The more engaged with children, their experiences, and teaching I became, the idea of writing children’s books emerged. But at that point, it seemed far fetched to me. Life went on with many surprises and changes of scenario, including professional ones. Three years ago, I saw an opportunity to help authors with their craft, at the same time learning about it myself, and I started writing reviews for Reader’s Favorite. From reviews, I moved to resume writing, content writing, and now, books. I need to add, though, that I’m thankful for the support from my parents, dear sister, and husband, as well as some close friends, who have been strong supporters of my work.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries, or bookstores?

I connect with my readers through social media, especially Twitter and Instagram, and my website. I have been planning some book tours, but I haven’t started that yet. As you know, it requires a lot of preparation with book release dates, websites logistics, and the readers’ needs as well. But I’m excited to start with this one. The same goes with libraries, schools, and bookstores. I haven’t explored those venues yet, but I would sure consider a children’s read aloud session.

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

There is no better satisfaction than to really bring your character to life. The creating process is one of my favorites. Besides having the pleasure of getting the character onto the paper, I love the back and forth with the illustrator, the discussion of ideas and experimenting with colors, materials, and senses to make the character relatable and loved by children.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author/illustrator?

To me, as an indie author—and I imagine that some fellow indies might relate—the real challenge comes with the marketing. In order for us to reach a broader readership, we need to put a lot of effort into marketing.

I constantly see myself on a tightrope trying to balance out writing with the marketing aspect. And for the most part, this is not easy.

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

This is a no-brainer: Sidney Sheldon. As I mentioned previously, I grew up reading his novels and became a super fan. I would love to learn about the thought process for his plots, his writing habits, and where he gets inspiration for his characters.

Halloween-Theme Picture Books and Free Printables for Kids!

Posted on October 23rd, 2016 by Carolyn Hart


Celebrate Halloween with our free homeschool, preschool and kindergarten printables and book suggestions

Halloween-Theme Stories and Printables for Homeschool and Classroom

As the days grow shorter and cooler weather arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, October is a wonderful month to share a variety of Halloween-theme picture books with children. Halloween is also a great time to enjoy concept books with children and more than one of our featured books highlights counting.

Here are some of our favorite stories exxploring themes of friendship, tolerance, learning about others while trick or treating, wearing costumes and enjoying the fun of Halloween.

Scroll down for our free Halloween-theme printables for children

Storytime Standouts recommends Halloween picture book A Very Brave WitchA Very Brave Witch written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Harry Bliss
Halloween-theme picture book published by Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books

A Very Brave Witch is the tale of a green-skinned, broomstick-flying, costume-loving witch. She thinks she knows all about humans and decides that Halloween night is the perfect opportunity to take a closer look. After a flying mishap, she meets three, costumed human trick-or-treaters including one girl who is dressed up as a witch. Together, the pair manages to shatter stereotypes as they discover friendship and celebrate Halloween together.

Young readers will enjoy investigating a recently-decorated haunted house and collection of costumes. The witches’ fear of humans is good fun.

Well-suited for a group read-aloud, the colorful watercolor illustrations nicely match the tone of the story.

Suitable for preschool and older

Scare Factor = 1

A Very Brave Witch at Amazon.com

A Very Brave Witch at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts recommends Halloween picture book A Creepy Countdown by Charlotte Huck and Jos. A. SmithA Creepy Countdown written by Charlotte Huck and Jos. A. Smith
Halloween-theme picture book published by Harper Trophy

Beautifully detailed, dark and creepy illustrations are a highlight of this Halloween-theme counting book. The rhyming text includes alliteration and guides readers as they count from one to ten and back down to one.

Five furry bats hanging upside down
Six skinny witches flying through the town

Recommended for children aged 5 and up. Illustrations are well-suited to a group setting and could be used to inspire young artists to work primarily in black.

Scare Factor = 2

A Creepy Countdown at Amazon.com

A Creepy Countdown at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts recommends Halloween picture book Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for HalloweenScaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt
Halloween-theme picture book published by Kids Can Press

Scaredy Squirrel is a fun series of picture books written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt. In Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween, Scaredy has put together eight short chapters featuring panels with maps, lists, illustrations and diagrams intended to keep trick or treaters safe and happy. Best-suited to independent readers or a one-on-one read aloud, this is a fun book with rich vocabulary and detailed, engaging illustrations. Not great for a large group setting, this will be a very satisfying “chapter book” for a child in grade one or two and will produce lots of giggles when read by a parent to a child.

Scare Factor = 1

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies at Amazon.com

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts looks at Halloween-theme picture books including Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O'ConnellTen Timid Ghosts written and illustrated by Jennifer O’Connell
Halloween-theme counting book published by Cartwheel Books, an imprint of Scholastic

When a moving truck pulls up to a haunted house, the ten resident ghosts watch nervously. Before too long, a green-skinned witch is scaring the ghosts with a skeleton, a bat and various costumes. Ms. O’Connell provides fun clues for readers to notice including buttons that look like eyes, white face powder and a roll of toilet paper.

Repetitive, rhyming text adds to the fun in this counting book. Young children will love finding the ghosts in each of the illustrations.

Scare Factor = 1

Ten Timid Ghosts at Amazon.com

Ten Timid Ghosts at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts looks at Halloween-theme picture books including Trick or Treat by Bill Martin and Michael Sampson, illustrated by Paul MeiselTrick or Treat written by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson, illustrated by Paul Meisel
Halloween-theme picture book published by Aladdin Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster

It’s Halloween night and time to trick or treat in a ten-story apartment building. A young, wide-eyed boy goes from floor to floor, meeting all sorts of costumed neighbors with wonderful names like Wiggle Waggle and Limbler Lamber. When the boy reaches the top floor, Merlin answers the door and waves his magic wand and tells the boy that everything is “WackBards“, sending the boy back to each apartment for Belly Jeans and “Twicorice Lists

Great use of alliteration and wordplay along with colorful, fun illustrations make this an excellent read aloud for kindergarten and older children. In a classroom setting, children could have fun illustrating a favorite candy WackBards.

Scare Factor = 1

Trick or Treat? at Amazon.com

Trick or Treat? at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts shares free Halloween printables including pumpkin-theme interlined printing paper

Halloween Theme Printables for Kids

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Witch Hat

Halloween, Witch theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Pumpkin

Fall theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Halloween Picture Dictionary

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

Storytime Standouts shares free Halloween printables including a picture dictionary, chants, writing paper and song

image of PDF icon  Five Little Ghosts

Use as an action chant or a felt board story

image of PDF icon  Five Little Pumpkins

Use as a action chant or a felt board story

image of PDF icon  The Wheels on the Halloween Bus

image of PDF icon  Halloween Crossword Puzzle

image of PDF icon  Halloween Word Search


Meet Author Darla Woodley

Posted on October 13th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts interviews children’s book author Kelly Santana-Banks
Storytime Standouts interviews D Woodley author of  Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything is Darla Woodley’s first book. Darla is a self-proclaimed shutterbug, with her camera never far from arm’s reach and a goal of capturing the many activities of her two boys, she is always on the lookout for how to capture magical moments. Many of these special moments are recorded in this book.

AuthorTwitter account @RedAnything

Instagram redsockswithanything

Facebook page www.facebook.com/RedSocksGoWithAbsolutelyAnything

Author Website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
My book is entitled Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything. It is a Children’s Picture Book but I actually think it is a good read for all ages. Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything is based around our family tradition of wearing red socks as an unspoken method of support and encouragement for friends, family or anyone that may just need a lift in spirit. The story sees the character going through a number of “firsts” and intimidating moments and shows the reader that sometimes words are just not needed to show that someone is thinking of you or cheering you on. The main character’s gender is ambiguous on purpose so as to allow the reader to develop a more personal connection to the story. Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything

I am most proud of the impact that the story has on its readers. I love hearing how someone is heading out to purchase a pair of red socks for themselves and/or their family members. I am especially thrilled when a reader tells me that they are looking forward to initiating their own unspoken method of support and tradition based around the idea of red socks.

Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything at Amazon.com

Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything at Amazon.ca

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?
I am not sure if I would say it was difficult to publish my first book. Challenging? Yes, definitely challenging. I chose the self-published route and being new to the book industry I found myself constantly on the computer or my phone doing research. I cannot tell you how many links I emailed myself to read and check on and how many tabs were open on my desktop at once on a regular basis. I was extremely fortunate to have a few connections that I could contact, bounce questions off of and verify information that I had found through research. The entire process can be a rather lengthy one when opting the self-published route as there are many services, options and research that should be done to ensure that you end up with an end product suitable to your standards.

To aspiring authors/illustrators I would suggest that they do their research regarding the publishing process and what it takes to ensure that you end up with a polished and very professional book. I would also explain how it is a never-ending process of promotion and self-promotion. For a new author it is a constant challenge to get your name out there in the literary world.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
I have such great memories and experiences of sharing Red Socks with children. They are such a wonderful and inspiring group to share the story with!

I have shared the story with children in grades 1 through to grade 6 and was very pleasantly surprised at the comments and discussions with the grade 6 individuals. I wasn’t sure if they were going to be too “big” for the story but they were an awesome group of kids with insightful questions and comments. With that particular group I have great memories:
– I had a couple of girls approach me and tell me about a book they are writing together and how they were inspired to keep their project going and not give up.
– One child came up and told me how great he thought the story was and then secretly handed me a piece of his favorite gum by way of a handshake. He then gave me a wink to confirm the passing of the forbidden gum. (we were all sitting in the library)
– Another child was so inspired by the story that he suggested that they have a wall in the school dedicated to Red Socks displaying the book’s lines “I feel strong. I am ready. I can do anything.” I am so proud of him as he later inspired so many others at a local track competition with his determination to run and finish in a relay match.

I always have fond memories of visiting and reading with the younger grades. I experienced my first “heckler” when I was reading to a grade 2 class and she was in the front row asking me why the socks were not blue. I love the little discussions (that sometimes turn into battles) when I ask the class if they think the protagonist is a boy or a girl. I enjoy the fact that we get off course during the reading as our discussions take a different direction at times when they all want to share their version of the character’s experience.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?
I use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a website) in an effort to stay connected with readers and those who might be interested in learning more about Red Socks. I have done a few book signings and look forward to doing more. (The book signings are something that I need to push myself to do as I am usually very much a “behind-the-scenes” type of person.) I do thoroughly enjoy visiting classrooms and look forward to those in the coming school year.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?
I am a first time author so it is so very thrilling to see the book displayed in a bookstore or to hear from someone else that they spotted Red Socks in a bookstore. My greatest pleasure is having someone tell me that they enjoyed the story and are looking forward to initiating their own tradition based on the idea of Red Socks. I have it set up so that when books are purchased an additional copy is printed and then donated to a local school, charity and/or organization that can benefit from the message within the story. I am so happy to say that books have been sent to Australia, Maui, England, Northern Ireland, Toronto, various States, Saskatchewan, BC and throughout Alberta so far.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?
Being a first time author and one that is self-published, the biggest challenge is actually getting the word out about the story. The entire experience is new to me and full of challenges and unknowns and I find myself constantly having to do research regarding the industry and push myself out of my comfort level at times in an effort to bring Red Socks to new readers. I am thankful though as this challenge offers me an opportunity to be an example to my two boys of how one should never give up and always be willing to put themselves out there.

Storytime Standouts Looks at a New Picture Book: The Hockey Song

Posted on October 9th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at The Hockey Song by Stompin' Tom Connors, published by Greystone BooksThe Hockey Song written by Stompin’ Tom Connors and illustrated by Gary Clement
Hockey-Theme Picture Book published by Greystone Books

OH! The good ol’ Hockey game, is the best game you can name.
And the best game you can name, is the good ol’ Hockey game.

An outdoor game of pick up hockey is the setting for this fun, energetic tribute to Stompin’ Tom Connors’ widely known anthem. The well-lit rink is in a city and it glistens beneath the stars on a wintry evening. It feels as though it would be the centerpiece of a community, drawing players from far and wide for a casual, drop in game.

Engaging illustrations show us the game from ice level and above, depicting players from various races who are young and old, petite and burly and male and female. It is fun to see more than one multi-generational family group; moms and dads enjoying the game with their children.

The game begins with just two players on the ice but soon swells and, by the end of the song, the rink is crowded with enthusiastic hockey players. Some wear familiar NHL-style jerseys while others are dressed less traditionally. Some wear hockey helmets and others have toques, headphones, pony tales and stocking caps. Young readers will enjoy playing eye spy and noticing all sorts of interesting details about the dozens of players who finish the game.

Very good fun for children aged four and up. The Hockey Song would be a great gift for a hockey-loving grandparent to share with a newcomer to the game.

The Hockey Song at Amazon.com

The Hockey Song at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts interviews author Michael Samulak

Posted on September 29th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts interviews Michael SamulakMichael Samulak has almost twenty years of experience teaching, mentoring, and engaging youth both in and outside of the classroom. Mr. Samulak visits schools, learning centers, and daycares to read and present his stories and world adventures. His goal is to inspire youth to dream big. Michael’s teaching and classroom experience help him to fill his award-winning picture books with fun opportunities for learning.

Michael resides in the City of Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and four children.

He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Michigan State University (’96) and finished his Master’s in Education at Cleveland State University (’12). He has been working as a full-time youth minister and educator for close to 20 years.

Author Facebook Page

Author website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

A Wonderful Day! is my latest picture book about going to the zoo. This is actually my first traditionally published title and I am so excited to be able to share it with everyone! It is an early reader, great for emerging readers, or those who are working toward fluency and need that extra support from a fun book that can reinforce those early sight words and phonics skills that they have been working on.A Wonderful Day! by Michael Samulak

I generally recommend a target audience to be 3-6 years old, but as many of the educators and parents will tell you, this totally depends on your reader. My nephew is 2 and he loves to make all the animal sounds as he flips excitedly through the pages. My brother sent me a picture of him sneaking a read after he had “thought” he put him to bed. He was “reading” under the covers, flashlight and all. I couldn’t have been more happy to see someone getting that kind of joy from one of my books.

I am probably most proud of the way the book has been put together with little learning moments laced throughout the manuscript. Besides being written with a gender-neutral text, you also have a good amount of questions and statements that can be thought-provoking and interactive. This kind of anticipatory exercise is very important for young readers as they are learning and beginning to understand that text has meaning. I love that the book helps young readers make text-to-self-reflections; putting their own experiences and prior knowledge front and center while reading in order to develop and expand the whole experience of reading. We all do this as accomplished readers, and generally forget that somewhere along the line we were helped to understand and realize that reading is so much more than decoding and applying the known rules of phonics.

A Wonderful Day! was recently Awarded the Gold Medal for Children’s Picture Books (Animals) by the Mom’s Choice Awards.

A Wonderful Day! at Amazon.com

A Wonderful Day! at Amazon.ca

When did you realize that you would be a writer? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

This would have to be when I would ask my mom if I could stay home from Jr. High school, maybe about 6th or 7th grade so I could keep working on my first chapter book.

I think that it is safe to say that I still consider myself to be a work-in-progress, and so it is crazy to think that my books can now be found in libraries, schools, and peoples’ homes.

For those still-aspiring writers I always have the same words, “Don’t ever give up!” That choice has a guaranteed outcome. Don’t stop. Keep going, keep writing, keep up the inquiring: There is story that you have that the world needs to read. Keep putting yourself and your work out there and it will happen, even if it seems that things are tough or impossible, as long as you are moving and working on your dream, something can happen.

A is for Africa by Michael Samulak

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 process look like?

Generally speaking, one of my five children climbing on my back or sitting in my lap. Don’t get me wrong; I love all of the kids. They are a big source of inspirations for many of my books, so I can’t complain, but finding that quality, uninterrupted time is tough.

I am always writing, or at least thinking about writing. My note app on my phone is filled with bits and pieces, lines, thoughts: unpublished titles, I’m always trying to think of what may be a good title for a book. I think that has replaced a lot of my early days of notebooks, scrap paper, napkins from a dinner table, whatever was there really: Crayon, pencil, that piece of fruit my daughter had finished with…whatever worked to get that word down before it was gone. I’m sure some out there can relate.

I suppose once it is time put all of those bits and pieces into something “final” that I then print out or send to an actual human being, my laptop and a local coffee shop are where I land. But, the process, yeah, that’s a lot messy for me.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?

What hasn’t happened? Tears, fears, in appropriate laughing; farting, burping, teasing, and a lot of smiles and wide-eye stares that keep me coming back for more.

I love reading my work and interacting with the children at schools and learning centers the most. I think it is the father and educator parts of me. I have come to expect the unexpected and it is this color and variety of the trip that make it so worthwhile.

If I had to pick one particular event I am particularly found of, it would be that one I often remember this one time when I visited one schools and one of the students in the sea of faces piped up matter-of-factly after I held up my book, “Hey! I have that book at home! I love that book! Oh Boy!, this is gonna be awesome.” I had to take a moment to hold back the tears on that one. It was one of the first times that I really felt accomplished as an author: Like my dreams of being able to write for children were coming true.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

Everything goes when it comes to connecting, networking, and staying engaged with readers. So, yes to all!

I love to network and feel that it is so important to staying relevant to my audience. I often will bring “finished” works to the schools and classrooms that I visit to get fresh feed back from the audience that I feel matters most – the one that I am writing for. I try to stay active on social media platforms, but since I write for a younger audience, like, they aren’t quite there yet when it comes to literacy fluency, let alone responding to a FaceBook post; I generally am reaching out and interacting with parents, other writers, educators, etc. on those platforms. With that in mind, I am generally looking for opportunities related to a visit or to network, or generally showing off my beautiful family and our recent life adventures together.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author?

Juggling work, family, wife, kids — oh yeah, and then there is writing. I would have to say time – quality time to get to the end part of that process of writing in order to cross that finished line where an actual tangible piece is produced that then can be reworked, critiqued, rejected, reworked again…really, do I need to go on.

I know others may have other struggles, and I’m not at all saying that those aren’t real or deep, but for myself it would have to be finding the time to “gett’er done”.

“Just keep swimming” often does become my own encouraging theme song on those days when I feel like throwing in the towel. And so I try to just keep moving, even if it is just one sentence or phrase that I can work on; not even finish per say, but to mark progress. Yes, seeing progress helps to keep me going and eventually cross that finish line.

When I go to schools or libraries I love to read my picture books and share my inspirations and experiences that they are based on. Generally speaking, this makes for great laughs as I share my adventures with my children. I also have brought back some native items from Africa and do a sort of “Show and Tell”. The kids love to see and feel these native artifacts. The African Drum is usually the biggest “hit”.

Wordless Picture Book Fun with Flora the Flamingo

Posted on August 14th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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 by Rob Scotton

Posted on July 22nd, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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


I wanted to love this book – The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Posted on July 18th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian RobinsonThe Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian Robinson
Antibullying Picture Book published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons: An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA)

You’ve really got to love a recording artist who has a very popular kids’ CD titled, Meltdown! and another called Not Naptime. The album titles alone are enough to bring a smile to a weary parent’s face. So, I wanted to think that The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade was terrific.

And, I do think it is a good book but, there are ways it could have been better.

Sally McCabe is both young and small. She is in the lowest grade at her school and she is the smallest child in the class. Kudos to the illustrator for depicting a racially diverse group of children in the classroom and at the playground. It would have been excellent to see similar diversity in terms of mobility (perhaps one child in a wheelchair or using crutches, for example).Illustration from The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Sally is unusually observant. She notices a kite that is tangled in a tree and she notices that the janitor’s ring has twenty-seven keys. Unfortunately, this is where my evaluation of the book begins to drop: one illustration of the janitor’s ring only shows seven keys and another shows five keys. I completely understand that twenty seven may have been essential to the rhyme BUT the illustrations should be true to the story. If the ring has twenty seven keys – the illustration of the ring should show us each one of them! Young children will pick up on this sort of disparity. They will want to know where the other twenty or twenty two keys are and the omission will detract from the important antibullying message the author is attempting to share.

When a bully pushes Sally’s classmate, the story tells us that he begins to cry but in the illustration, he is dry-eyed. These seemingly minor disparities really do make a difference and discerning young readers will notice them.

Adults may understand the (metaphorical) significance of wildflowers tipping toward light and cats meeting together in a parking lot but I doubt that, without guidance, young children will see any connection between the cats or the flowers and Sally’s story.

Essentially, Sally, observes bullying on the playground, in the hallway at school, in the classroom and in the school cafeteria. Eventually, she speaks up. She announces, “I’m tired of seeing this terrible stuff. Stop hurting each other! This is enough!”

This prompts all of Sally’s classmates and school staff members to point their fingers in the air in solidarity. Soon the school is a much more harmonious place. A somewhat “magical solution” to bullying? Yes, but, this is story that could be used to initiate discussions about bullying and social responsibility.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade at Amazon.com

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade at Amazon.ca


Fun with Shh! We Have a Plan written and illustrated by Chris Haughton

Posted on July 4th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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


Isaac and his Amazing Asperger Superpowers! by Melanie Walsh

Posted on May 21st, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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












Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam

Posted on April 30th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

Awake Beautiful Child written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal illustrated by Garcia LamAwake Beautiful Child written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam
Alphabet picture book published by McSweeny’s

In this fascinating picture book, Amy Krouse Rosenthal uses only words that begin with A, B or C to tell her story. The day begins as a young boy awakens and enjoys Apples, Bananas and Cantaloupe for breakfast before heading outside and finding Ants, Butterflies and Caterpillars. He later celebrates at a birthday party, explores a city and appreciates an artist. Older children will enjoy scouring debut picture book illustrator Gracia Lam’s detailed digital illustrations for an apron, bowling pins, binoculars, a castle, a cape, a church (and more!) that serve to broaden the appeal of the story and support the development of phonemic awareness and alphabet recognition.Awake Beautiful Child spread

It is worth mentioning that Ms. Rosenthal and Ms. Lam do not limit the story or illustrations to the phoneme /K/, they also challenge readers to recognize the use of ‘C’ in words beginning with the /ch/ and soft ‘C’ sounds, as in church and city. the ‘A’ words that we detected use the short vowel sound.

We envision this picture book as a wonderful inspiration to young illustrators and writers. Great for classroom use, the clever take on the alphabet book genre could certainly be a jumping off point for children to create their own stories and illustrations using only two or three letters.

This is a picture book that will be enjoyed by children aged 3 and up but that has great potential for exciting older children and adults.

Awake Beautiful Child at Amazon.com

Awake Beautiful Child at Amazon.ca


One Two That’s My Shoe by Alison Murray

Posted on January 17th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

One Two That's My Shoe by Alison Murray, reviewed by Storytime StandoutsOne Two That’s My Shoe written and illustrated by Alison Murray
Counting Picture Book published by Disney Hyperion Books

A delightful, cheery picture book, One Two That’s My Shoe by Alison Murray will have tremendous appeal for toddlers, preschoolers and older children. Beautiful illustrations feature a lovely palette and direct readers to notice numbers and what is to be counted in each two-page spread. Very well-suited to a classroom or a library read aloud session, the illustrations are bold and large enough for a group to enjoy.

One Two That's My Shoe spread

Georgie Dog picks up one of Grace’s shoes and within minutes a chase ensues. Georgie jumps over three teddy bears and races past four wooden blocks. Soon after, he rushes outside and into the garden. Grace chases after him. This is a playful pup with a winning personality. He is clearly having fun until he encounters ten upset chickens.

One Two That’s My Shoe is a special delight and highly recommended.

Young readers may recognize Georgie Dog and Grace from Apple Pie ABC

Cut and Colour Georgie Dog from Ms. Murray’s website

One Two That’s My Shoe! at Amazon.com

One, Two, That’s My Shoe! at Amazon.ca


Itty Bitty Wouldn’t Budge created by Victoria Martin and Caitlyn Knepka

Posted on November 22nd, 2015 by Carolyn Hart

Itty Bitty Wouldn't Budge a picture book written by Victoria Martin and illustrated by Caitlyn KnepkaItty Bitty Wouldn’t Budge written by Victoria Martin and illustrated by Caitlyn Knepka
Picture book published by Mascot Books



At the front of my suburban house, I have a Little Free Library. With an emphasis on children’s books, at any given time, the library has three or four board books, a dozen or so easy readers, twenty chapter books for middle grade readers and twenty five picture books. This is our second year in existence and the library has been a wonderful way to meet neighbors and celebrate community. Many people speak to my husband and me about the library and we have received many generous donations. Throughout the week, I rotate books in and out of the library as I try to keep the selection fresh.

This week, while my husband was working in our garden, someone stopped by to donate a new picture book to the library. She explained that her friend, who is an author, had sent it along and asked her to drop it off. This is a “first” for the library – an author-autographed picture book!

Itty Bitty Wouldn’t Budge

is a perfect match to the community spirit of a Little Free Library. Nana is a well-known and very popular elementary school teacher. She and her Newfoundland dog often walk through Maplewood Village. They pass local landmarks including a church, a park and the railroad station. Along the route, they see familiar faces and speak to friends.

One day, Itty Bitty decides stop partway along the route. She simply does not want to move. Nana does her best to persuade Itty Bitty to finish their walk but she’s a very large dog and quite stubborn. Passersby and community helpers ask Nana if she needs help but Nana knows her best and eventually solves the challenge.

I want to thank Victoria Martin and her friend (who lives not far from me) for this donation to our neighborhood library. I know it will be appreciated and enjoyed by many children.

Read about the author and the inspiration for this picture book here.

Itty Bitty Wouldn’t Budge at Amazon.com

Itty Bitty Wouldn’t Budge at Amazon.ca

Beach Fun! Beach theme picture books and printables for kids

Posted on June 30th, 2015 by Carolyn Hart


Extend your child's learning with Beach Theme picture books and printables from StorytimeStandouts

Whether planning a day at the beach or just back from some fun in the sun, these beach-theme picture books will be a wonderful addition to your summertime fun. Suitable for toddlers, preschool age children, kindergarten and older, these stories address important themes like fear of the water and getting outside one’s comfort zone. Whenever possible, it is very valuable to have children read books that match their experiences. These stories are perfect for introducing new concepts and extending learning. Have fun!


Beach theme picture books including All You Need for a Beach written by Alice Shertle and illustrated by Barbara LavalleeAll You Need for a Beach written by Alice Shertle and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
Picture book about a day at the beach published by Harcourt, Inc.

A companion book to All You Need for a Snowman, this is an exuberant celebration of a group of children, playing together in sand and water. Bright, cheerful colours and a happy theme of exploration and cooperation highlight this picture book for toddlers and preschool-age children. Illustrations depict a racially diverse group of children.

All You Need for a Beach at Amazon.com

All You Need for a Beach at Amazon.ca



Beach theme picture books including At the Beach by Anne and Harlow RockwellAt the Beach by Anne and Harlow Rockwell
Toddler book about a day at the beach published by Aladdin

Best suited to very young children, At the Beach is a lovely introduction to the joys of spending a day picnicking, playing in the sand, looking for treasures and swimming. Simple, clear text matches the colorful illustrations and creates an opportunity for learning new vocabulary.

The main characters are a Caucasian girl and her mother however the illustrations depict diverse skin tones among those playing at the shoreline.

At the Beach at Amazon.com

At the Beach at Amazon.ca

Beach theme picture books including Curious George Goes to the BeachCurious George Goes to the Beach based on the original character created by Margaret and H.A. Rey, illustrated in the style of H.A. Rey by Vipah Interactive
Picture book about a day at the beach published by HMH Books for Young Readers

Fans of Curious George will not be disappointed with this fun story about a day at the beach. George and his friend Betsy enjoy playing at the sandy beach, making friends and feeding the sea gulls. Betsy’s reluctance to go into the water could be an opportunity to talk about fear of new experiences.

Betsy, her grandmother and the man with the yellow hat Caucasian however the illustrations depict diverse skin tones among those at the beach.

Curious George Goes to the Beach at Amazon.com

Curious George Goes to the Beach at Amazon.ca

Beach theme picture books including Duck and Goose Go to the Beach written and illustrated by Tad HillsDuck and Goose Go to the Beach written and illustrated by Tad Hills
Picture book about friends who visit the beach published by Schwartz & Wade Books

Duck is keen for adventure while Goose would much rather stay in familiar surroundings so it is only not surprising that Goose is not keen to go for a hike. The two friends leave their familiar meadow and eventually arrive at the beach. It is loud and wet and very, very sandy. Vibrant illustrations are a highlight of this engaging story about two friends leaving their comfort zone, enjoying a day out together and then returning to the comfort of home. Duck and Goose Go to the Beach is highly recommended for preschool- age children.

Duck & Goose Go to the Beach at Amazon.com

Duck & Goose Go to the Beach at Amazon.ca

Beach Theme Picture Books including Flotsam Flotsam created by David Wiesner
Wordless beach-theme picture book published by Clarion Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A wonderful follow-up to a day at the seashore.

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

Flotsam at Amazon.com

Flotsam at Amazon.ca

Beach theme picture books including Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie WattScaredy Squirrel at the Beach written and illustrated by Melanie Watt
Beach theme picture book published by Kids Can Press

Scaredy Orville Squirrel whose initials are S.O.S. is an immensely popular character in an equally popular series of picture books.

In Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach Scaredy the worrywart is very careful to avoid any sort of real or imagined danger. Rather than encounter pirates, jellyfish, seagulls and sea monsters, he decides to create his very own private backyard beach paradise. After carefully constructing his safe haven, Scaredy realizes that, although his beach “look” is great – his backyard just doesn’t sound like the real thing. The only solution is “Operation Seashell” – a carefully planned and executed mission in search of a seashell that will provide crystal clear ocean sound. Featuring detailed descriptions of Scaredy’s beachware and plans for his mission, Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach will be enjoyed best independently or in a small group or one-on-one read-aloud setting. Best-suited to children five and up.

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach at Amazon.com

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach at Amazon.ca

Beach theme picture books including Stella Star of the Sea written and illustrated by Marie-Louise GayStella Star of the Sea written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Picture book about a summer day at the seashore published by Groundwood Books

In this endearing series of picture books, we meet confident and worldly Stella and her much less self-assured younger brother Sam. When the two children visit the seaside on a shimmery summer day, Sam is filled with questions that suggest not only curiosity but also a bit of fear,

Do you think there are sharks in the sea?” asked Sam.
“Have you ever seen one?”
“Just a little one,” said Stella, “with an eyepatch.
Are you coming, Sam?”
“Not just this minute,” said Sam.

Gorgeous illustrations together with text that beautifully depicts the two siblings will have young children longing to visit the seashore and discover all the wonders of a leisurely summer day filled with digging in the sand, fishing, beach combing and, eventually, a swim.

Winner of the 2000 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award

Stella, Star of the Sea at Amazon.com

Stella, Star of the Sea at Amazon.ca

Beach theme picture books including Tip Tap Went the Crab written and illustrated by Tim HopgoodTip Tap Went the Crab written and illustrated by Tim Hopgood
Counting book about sea creatures

Tip Tap Went the Crab features bright and colorful illustrations along with repetitious text that includes alliteration and onomatopoeia. When a crab decides to leave her small rock pool to explore the ocean she encounters one seagull, two sea lions and three starfish.

A great choice for toddlers and preschoolers, Tip Tap Went the Crab provides a great reminder that books for this age group can (and should) include rich language and fun, detailed and appealing illustrations. It is well-suited for a classroom or library read-aloud session.

Nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal 2010

Tip Tap Went the Crab at Amazon.com

Tip Tap Went The Crab at Amazon.ca

Summer, Camping and Beach Theme Picture Books including Wave Wordless picture book by Suzy LeeWave – created by Suzy Lee
Beach-theme wordless picture book published by Chronicle Books

When a young girl arrives at a beach, she is filled with enthusiasm and dashes forward, stopping just short of the beautiful, frothy blue water. She hesitates on the sand, pausing, leaning as she is drawn toward the ocean. Suddenly, the character of the water changes. Worried, she tentatively shifts backward, her steps mirrored by a group of friendly gulls. As the waves reverse and retreat, our young heroine stands on her tip toes and challenges the salty water. Before long, she leaps into the dancing waves, joyfully kicking and splashing until an enormous wave erupts. The powerful crest leaves her sodden but excited when it deposits a bounty of shells on the sandy beach.

Children and adults will revel in this playful, wordless celebration of a day at the beach.

Gorgeous illustrations were created with charcoal and watercolours. Suitable for all ages.

Wave was selected New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book 2008

Wave at Amazon.com

Wave at Amazon.ca

 Free Printable Beach Theme Early Learning Resources from Storytime Standouts



Free Beach Theme Printables for Preschool and Kindergarten

image of PDF icon  Beach Picture Dictionary

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

image of PDF icon  A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea

Free printable, fun action chant for preschool and kindergarten.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Sandcastle

Beach theme interlined paper for beginning writers.


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