Posts Tagged ‘picture books’

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? A Classic, Must-Read Picture Book

Posted on June 10th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Our goal with this new ‘Tuesday’ series is to introduce wonderful, classic picture books that are readily available in community libraries, in classrooms and in school libraries. We hope this on-going series will help families to discover outstanding stories and illustrations that have stood the test of time. We also hope that, through this series, young children and their caregivers will discover the joys of the read aloud experience.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? A Classic Must-Read Picture BookBrown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? written by Bill Martin Jr and illustrated by Eric Carle
Classic, Must-Read Picture Book published by Henry Holt and Company

Gorgeous, bold tissue paper collage illustrations and simple rhyming text will have broad appeal for infants, toddlers and preschool-age children. It will not be long before youngsters will know the text from beginning to (satisfying) end. For some children, this will be the first book they ‘read.’

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a picture book that provides opportunities for young children to learn about colors and animal names while gaining phonemic awareness. The repetitive and predictable text includes some alliteration.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was named one of School Library Journal’s Top 100 Picture Books.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? at

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? at

Some related picture books that young readers will enjoy

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – read by (author) Bill Martin Jr.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – with musical accompaniament

– lyrics refer to “a mother looking at us.”

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? on Pinterest.

The Busiest Street in Town – Community & Social Responsibility

Posted on June 6th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Indie Next Pick

The Busiest Street in Town at

The Busiest Street in Town at

Harry the Dirty Dog – A Classic Picture Book You Won’t Want to Miss

Posted on June 3rd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Harry the Dirty Dog - A Classic Picture Book Recommended by Storytime StandoutsHarry the Dirty Dog written by Gene Zion and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham

Harry the Dirty Dog was first published in 1956. It is the story of a strong-willed, adventurous dog who does not want to be bathed. He is so determined to avoid the bath that he takes the scrubbing brush and buries it in his backyard. Once the brush is hidden, he hits the road. Harry the Dirty Dog bathtub spread

Not one to shy away from dirt, this charming white dog with black spots is soon visiting a construction site, playing near a rail yard, romping through water pipes and climbing onto piles of dirt. Everywhere Harry goes, there are opportunities for him to get dirty and, when he arrives home, he is so dirty that his family does not recognize him. He has become a black dog with white spots. Fortunately, while roaming, Harry has had a change of heart. He is keen to jump into the bath and to be back home, surrounded by his loving family.

A classic picture book for preschool-age children, Harry the Dirty Dog is the first of four stories about this endearing pup. Children will also be happy to read Harry by the Sea, No Roses for Harry and Harry and the Lady Next Door.

The National Education Association named the book one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.”

Harry the Dirty Dog at

Harry The Dirty Dog at

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Harry the Dirty Dog on Pinterest.

Meet Author Frieda Wishinsky

Posted on May 29th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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

Author website
Author Facebook page

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

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

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

A History of Just About Everything at

A History of Just About Everything at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you do school or library presentations?

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

Me + cute book = really happy

Posted on May 24th, 2014 by Jody

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

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

This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations at

This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations at

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

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

Terrific Picture Books About Fathers and Fatherhood

Posted on May 23rd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts Recommends Picture Books About Fathers and Fatherhood

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

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

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

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

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

Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers at

Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers at

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

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

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

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

Daddy Hugs 123 at

Daddy Hugs 123 at

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

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

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

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

Every Friday at

Every Friday at

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d Know You Anywhere at

I’d Know You Anywhere at

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

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

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

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

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

Little Boy at

Little Boy at

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

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

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

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

My Father Knows the Names of Things at

My Father Knows the Names of Things at

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

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

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

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

Owl Moon at

Owl Moon at

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

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

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

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

Well suited to children aged two and up.

Some Dads… at

Some Dads… at

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

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

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

Great for children aged two years and up.

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

The Very Best Daddy of All at

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

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

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

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

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

What Does Daddy Do? at

What Does Daddy Do? at

Free printable Father's Day Writing Paper for Kids

Free Father’s Day Printables for Children

Step 1 – Make sure you have Adobe Reader. If you don’t have it, please click on the ‘Get Adobe Reader’ button to install it for free.image for Adobe Reader

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

image of PDF icon  Father's Day Word Search

image of PDF icon  Father's Day Interlined Paper

image of PDF icon  Father's Day Golf Interlined Paper

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

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

Meet Author Illustrator Patricia Storms

Posted on May 15th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts Profile of Patricia StormsPatricia Storms is an award-winning editorial cartoonist and author/illustrator of children’s books and humour books. Her cartoons have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers including Reader’s Digest, The Town Crier, The National Post, The London Times, The London Evening Standard, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Canadian Notes and Queries. Her newest picture book, Never Let You Go (Scholastic Canada, 2013) has been described as “profound” with “exuberant illustrations”, and has been published in numerous languages. She lives in Toronto, Ontario with her husband and two fat cats in a cozy old house full to the brim with books.

Author website
Author Facebook page
Author/illustrator Twitter Account: @stormsy

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

Storytime Standouts looks at Never Let You Go by Patricia StormsMy latest picture book is Never Let You Go, written and illustrated by myself, published by Scholastic Canada. A description of the book:
“ In this warm, funny book, an adorable penguin learns that Mom or Dad “will never let you go.” Safely assured by the steadfast love of a parent, the little penguin can begin to explore its world bit by bit — draw a picture, chase the stars, even throw a tantrum — secure in the knowledge that a doting parent is always waiting in the wings.

Tender but never cloying, Never Let You Go gives a great, warm hug, followed by an encouraging pat as it sets up young readers to take their first big steps on the path to growing up. This story is destined to be a favourite read-aloud for parents and children alike, as the simple but powerful message of enduring love and support is one little readers will take to heart.”

I think everyone should read it! I know young ones enjoy the bright funny pictures (and who can resist a cute purple penguin?); I also know that adults are very drawn to the story because it makes them think of their relationship with their child or grandchild. I’m quite proud of this book because it’s the first time I really ‘opened up my heart’ so to speak, in my professional work. I’m also very please with how the art turned out. I pushed myself to improve my colours, and I tried some new techniques, and I think it worked out quite well!

Read what Storytime Standouts said about Never Let You Go and see a video of Patricia sharing the book.

Never Let You Go at

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

I was probably most drawn to Maurice Sendak, but not ‘Where the Wild things Are’. I was totally in love with his Nustshell LibraryChicken Soup with Rice, One was Johnny, Alligators All Around and Pierre. The stories are very well-written and clever. And the art is so rich and warm. As an adult, I’ve discovered the early work of Sendak (titles like A Hole is to Dig, Kenny’s Window, The Moon Jumpers, Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present and Charlotte and the White Horse). I am totally in love with this period of his career. Dare I say it? I think his early work is much more appealing than Where the Wild Things Are.

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?
If I really think about it, it wasn’t that difficult for me initially getting published. I entered this bizarre world at a time when the internet & blogging was new. I was far too scared to show my art to an art director in person (who likes rejection? Nobody). It was much easier to just put one’s art online and get rejected in a less direct way. Fortunately for me, various art directors liked my work, and I was quite busy doing a variety of illustration – magazine gags, greeting cards, editorial cartoons, book cover illustration and yes, children’s book illustration.

Patricia Storms illustrated (humor book) Good Granny Bad GrannyI would suggest to aspiring authors/illustrators to persist, persist, persist. Work hard at figuring out who you are and what you like. Be careful who you listen to regarding your dreams. If you are near people who are mocking your desires, or being very harsh & cruel regarding your work, get away from them. Constructive criticism is worthwhile, but stay away from those who maliciously cut you down.

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?
The Pirate and the Penguin by Patricia StormsI had wanted to write & illustrate books ever since I was a teenager. But I had no clue back then how to make it a profession, and I struggled a great deal with confidence issues. When I was in my early 20s I was fortunate to encounter a very kind cartoonist by the name of Steven Toth who really encouraged me and helped me on my creative path. I’ll be forever grateful to him.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
Well, with my latest book, Never Let You Go, it’s not the response of children that has surprised me – it’s the response of adults. On numerous occasions when I’ve watched various adults read Never Let You Go for the first time, they have started to cry. Last year I put one of my pieces from the book (the page with the Southern Lights, known as Aurora Australis) in an art show, and I actually witnessed someone crying, just from looking at my art! I’ve never had that sort of response from my art before. It’s quite an odd and humbling feeling, I must say.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?
Creating something that comes from inside me, and seeing it become a real live book is a pretty amazing feeling, I must say. It does feel really great to be in alone in a room and drawing. It also feels pretty wonderful to see people young & not-so-young enjoying my books – seeing them laugh, ask questions, cry, and also seeing young kids being inspired to their own art once they encounter my books.

Do you do school or library presentations?
Yes, I do school presentations. I can present grades K-12. For Kindergarten I keep things simple – half hour session showing how to draw animals using basic shapes like circles, squares, triangles. I can also do a slide presentation of my new book, Never Let You Go, and then show the little ones how to draw penguins. Grades 1-5 I do an interactive ‘Create a Character’ gig, getting audience to give me ideas on how to draw eyes, nose, hair, etc for a character. After character is made I create a short story for the group to illustrate, introducing them to concepts like characters, setting & action. Grades 4-8 I do a slide presentation of my work, focusing mainly on creating a book cover for a publisher. Near the end of the presentation I provide the group with ideas for creating their own book cover. For grades 9-12 I present a picture book writing workshop, discussing trends in picture book publishing, and then near the end of the workshop I present some short writing exercise for the class to work on.

Outstanding Picture Books About Moms and Motherhood

Posted on May 10th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts Looks at Picture Books About Moms and Motherhood

So many ways to explore the special bond between a mother and child. Just like My Mum is playful, Mama, Do You Love Me? is informative, The Best Gifts is supportive, The Runaway Bunny is reassuring and Mom and Me is revealing…

Storytime Standouts looks at Picture Books About Moms including The Best GiftsThe Best Gifts written by Marsha Furchuk Skrypuch and illustrated by Elly MacKay
Picture book about family life including breastfeeding published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside

This circular story begins with a joyous celebration. Family and friends visit a couple and their newborn baby, bringing gifts and celebrating the baby’s arrival. Once the guests leave,

Sara’s mother opened her nightgown and drew her daughter near. Sara was wrapped in love and a light scent of sandalwood as the warmth of her mother’s milk swirled in her mouth and filled her tiny stomach. She fell into a happy sleep.

In the years that follow, there are many celebrations – Sara’s fifth birthday, her graduation and her wedding day. On each occasion, the reader is reminded that the best gifts are (like breastfeeding) those than cannot be bought and that quiet moments with family create very special bonds.

The Best Gifts is appropriate for children aged four years and up. Although it clearly shares a pro-breast feeding message, Ms Mackay’s illustrations also show us fathers who are very involved with child rearing and supportive of breast feeding.

Afternotes include breast feeding resources for families

The Best Gifts at

The Best Gifts at

Storytime Standouts features Picture Books About Moms including Just Like My Mum David Melling Just Like My Mum written and illustrated by David Melling
Picture book about a lion cub and his mum published by Hodder Children’s Books

An engaging, fun picture book about the similarities between a lion cub and his mum. Young children will relate to the cub and his experiences from morning until nighttime. Adults will appreciate mum’s occasional impatience and her preference for dry games.

“When I’m bored my mum doesn’t like it. She says, ‘Why don’t you do something?’ But when I do something… she says, ‘Just sit still for five minutes!”

Delightful illustration make this good fun for children aged three and up.

Just Like My Mum at

Just Like My Mum at

Storytime Standouts looks at picture books about Moms including Mama, Do You Love Me?Mama, Do You Love Me? written by Barbara M. Joosse and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
Picture book about a mother’s unconditional love published by Chronicle Books

In this best-selling, award winning picture book, a young girl asks ‘Mama, do you love me?’ Her mother promptly replies, ‘yes‘ but the girl is not satisfied. She wants to know ‘how much?’, ‘how long?’ and ‘what if?’ Gorgeous, rich illustrations of Arctic animals and features of Inuit culture contribute to this exceptional story of a mother’s love.

A detailed glossary provides additional background information that will be of interest to older children

ABC Choices for Children
American Bookseller, “Pick of the Lists”
Children’s Book of the Month Club, Main Selection
Golden Kite Award, Society of Writers and Illustrators
Parents, “Best Books of the Year”

Mama, Do You Love Me? at

Mama, Do You Love Me? at

Storytime Standouts looks at picture books about Moms including Mom and MeMom and Me by Marla Stewart Konrad
Picture book about moms, part of World Vision Early Readers series published by Tundra Books

The World Vision Early Readers series features minimal text and striking photographs from Romania, Uganda, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam. Mom and Me depicts young children being cared for by their mothers including mealtimes, bathing, going to school, doing chores and homework and sharing affectionate quiet time.

The simple text is intended for beginning readers but I imagine this used to inspire discussions about diversity and universality in a (preschool or kindergarten) classroom setting.

Mom and Me at

Mom and Me at

Storytime Standouts looks at picture books about Moms including The Runaway Bunny written by Margaret Wise BrownThe Runaway Bunny written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd

A classic picture book for very young children, The Runaway Bunny is the story of a little bunny who decides that he wants to run away from home. We don’t know what it is that has upset him but clearly he is seeking reassurance from his parent. His loving and steadfast Mother assures him that no matter where he might run and hide, she will follow and find him.

“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”

If you run after me,” said the little bunny, “I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you.”

Featuring colorful painterly sas well as pen and ink illustrations, this is a story that every young child should know.

The Runaway Bunny at

The Runaway Bunny at

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Meet Author Margriet Ruurs

Posted on May 8th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Margriet Ruurs Author Profile
Margriet Ruurs lives on Salt Spring Island (in British Columbia) and is the author of 30 books for children. With a Master of Education degree from Simon Fraser University, she teaches writing workshops at elementary schools across North America. Recipient of the Presidential Award for Reading & Technology of the International Reading Association, she has conducted writing workshops in Lahore, Pakistan and author visits to International Schools around the world.

Margriet writes a regular column for Canadian Teacher Magazine, as well as freelance articles for Reading Today, the magazine of IRA.

She is a popular speaker at conferences, including many State Reading Conferences, National Service Learning Conference, East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools, IRA National and Regional Conferences, Vancouver International Writers’ Festival and others. She conducts school visits throughout the school year, sharing her love of reading and writing with thousands of students and teachers. “I love to use my imagination,” she says, “but also to research and write nonfiction books.”

Emmas Eggs written by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by Barbara Spurll Several of her books have won awards, including the Storytellers World Award Honor Title for Emma’s Eggs and short listings for the Mr. Christie Award of Excellence, the Shining Willow and the Chocolate Lily, Blue Spruce, Utah Information Book Award and National Crown Award. My Librarian is a Camel was awarded Teacher’s Choice Award and named IRA’s Notable Book for Global Awareness.My Librarian is a Camel Margriet Ruurs

Many of Margriet’s books reflect her interest in the natural environment: A Mountain Alphabet, When We Go Camping, Wild Babies, Logan’s Lake and In My Backyard. She also likes humour as shown in Virtual Maniac, Silly & Serious Poems for Kids and Ms. Bee’s Magical Bookcase.

Margriet currently runs Between The Covers, a booklovers’ B & B on Salt Spring Island where the rooms are full of books. She also initiated and manages Kidswwwrite Magazine, an online magazine in which she publishes stories and poems written by kids. The ezine is used by young authors all over the world. In June, Margriet will be receiving an Honorary Fellowship of Okanagan University College for her work on this popular website.

Author website
Author Facebook Page
Author Twitter Account: @margrietruurs

Amazing Animals written by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by W. Allan HancockTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
Amazing Animals is a fun and interesting picture book for curious kids. It is full of mind blowing facts that made me say ‘wow’! I used all those wow factors to encourage kids to appreciate nature, and to conduct their own research into amazing animals. I love the art work done by Allan Hancock, whose paintings almost look like photos. I’m proud of the research I had to do to find so many interesting tidbits.

Amazing Animals: The Remarkable Things That Creatures Do at

Amazing Animals: The Remarkable Things That Creatures Do at

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?
I grew up in The Netherlands and immigrated to Canada as an adult, so I grew up on very different books. Many North American books don’t work in Europe when translated, and visa versa. I find it interesting how different books reflect different cultures. I grew up on the writing of Dutch author Annie M. G. Schmidt. Every child in Holland knew her name and her work. She wrote beautiful novels, but also hilarious picture books and engaging poetry. Her work was performed on radio and TV as musicals, movies, and TV shows. We sang her songs and quoted her stories. What intrigued me, even as a young child, was her power with words. I was enthralled with the fact that she could get us all to recite the same poems or sing the same words. I marveled at her play with language, puns, double meanings and the magic which she wove into her writing. She was so versatile. Roll into one our Canadian Robert Munsch, Pierre Berton and Leonard Cohen and you would get close to her skills. I loved her humor, her wicked way with words and her skills as a storyteller.

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?
I was so lucky in getting my first books published. The very first one was when I still lived in The Netherlands. I was working in a primate center, raising baby chimpanzees. Of course, their photos were adorable and the stories were interesting. I put them together and my very first book was accepted by the very first publisher to whom I showed it. Then I immigrated to Canada and had to learn speaking and writing in English. I lived in the Yukon when my own two children were growing up. I wrote a funny story for them about a purple cat called Fireweed. Again, the first Canadian publisher to whom I showed the story, decided to publish it. I had two books!

After that it got harder and I had my first rejections.

Now I have 30 books and realize that each one has to be able to stand on its own legs. Each one is still a challenge, none a given to be accepted. I am excited about my two upcoming books with Kids Can Press: one about Families Around the World, the next about Schooldays Around the World. Doing a lot of traveling, these global stories are close to my heart.

And I am especially excited about my new book with Pajama Press: A Brush Full of Colour will be the picture book biography of Canadian painter Ted Harrison. When we lived in the Yukon, Ted was a good friend and my children ‘painted’ with him. I am thrilled that I was able to write his interesting story. It promises to be a beautiful book.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
I conduct many author visits to schools around the world. I enjoy sharing my books but also stories on how I get ideas and how kids can be inspired to write their own stories and poems. Often I see that this works as an eye opener for kids. They realize that they can write about simple things and their own experiences. It’s fun to see how they get ideas to create their own stories. I also love talking to parents, who often don’t realize the importance of modeling the joy of reading and reading aloud to children even if those are old enough to read by themselves. I am passionate about the importance f promoting reading and sharing books with children. But having shared my books for many years, with thousands of kids, my biggest thrill is reading books with my own 2 and 4 year old grandsons. They devour books and it was very cool to see them select my stories as some of their favorites! A whole new reason to keep writing!

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from? and what are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?
I love being a storyteller on paper. I like to use my imagination to dream up stories, but I also love researching any topic in which I am interested. To tell you the truth, I think that I am still a kid at heart: curious and always saying ‘what if..’. I love the variety and being able to stay home to write. But I also love the days when I get to travel and talk to children in Ladysmith or Toronto or Shanghai.

At the same time, what I like most about being a writer is also what poses the biggest challenges: being able to afford being a writer because royalties don’t pay the bills. So I do lots of school visits and conference presentations in order to be able to stay home and write at other times. It is hard to be disciplined and to write all the time. I do a lot of rewriting and editing while I travel. And I have to make sure that I spend enough time at working on my writing when I really want to be outside, working in the garden or playing with my grandsons!

Supporting a Child With Delayed Speech or Language Development

Posted on April 1st, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Supporting a Child With Delayed Speech or Language Development

Since September 2013, I have been working twice a week with a four year old boy who has delayed speech. He lives in a bilingual household and he has one older sibling – a girl who also had delayed speech. It has been enormously rewarding to help this child find his voice. He is unfailingly happy and is always excited to welcome me and my “bag of tricks” into his home.

Here are some of the items that have been particularly helpful as we find ways to engage him verbally.

Alphabet by Matthew Van FleetAlphabet by Matthew Van Fleet has been our go-to alphabet book.

At almost every one of our sessions, my student has touched, lifted flaps and pulled the tabs of this cheerful and engaging alphabet book and accompanying (pop up) poster. Whether feeling the alligator’s scaly tail or the yak’s shaggy head, this is a book that children love to explore through touch.

Phonemic awareness is also supported as the author effectively uses alliteration, ‘Wet waddling Warthogs,’ rhyming and onomatopoeia, ‘Furry Lions roar, Whiskered Mice squeak, Hungry newborn Nightingales – cheep, cheep, cheep!‘ while introducing a variety of animals. Older children will notice that extra details have been added to the illustrations but not the text. Termed, Safari Sightings, these animals and plants are illustrated and listed in an afternote.

Alphabet won the following

2008 National Parenting Publications Gold Award
Parenting Favorite Book of the Month, April 2008
Top Ten Children’s Books of 2008,
A New York Times Children’s Bestseller (2008)

Alphabet at

Alphabet at

Ravensburger See Inside Puzzle

I can’t tell you how many times we have solved this Ravensburger See Inside Puzzle together. My young student happily turns the puzzle upside down, and together we turn all the puzzle pieces over. We chat as we start with the corners and work towards the middle of the puzzle. There are so many ways to enrich a child’s vocabulary, understanding and problem solving as we talk about the puzzle pieces and their attributes while noticing the plants, insects, animals, birds and structures featured in the puzzle itself.

Echo Mic Used With Delayed Speech or Language DevelopmentRather than focusing on the enunciation of specific sounds or words, I want to encourage playing with sound and making a variety of sounds. It is amazing how an inexpensive plastic toy ‘Echo’ microphone can encourage a child to sing, make sound effects and speak. I pick up an Echo Mic and put the other one on the table. Before long, we are both singing The Alphabet Song or The Wheels on the Bus or Happy Birthday. I hate to think what we sound like but progress is progress and the plastic ‘Echo” microphone has helped us along the way.

10″ Echo Mic (Colors may vary) at

Magic Mic Novelty Toy Echo Microphone-Pack of 2 at

As we work toward improved verbal communication, I want to ensure that my student has a rich listening or receptive vocabulary as well as a large speaking or expressive vocabulary so I want to provide him with repeated meaningful encounters with words. I want him to hear and know colors, numbers, positional words (over, under, beside, inside) and nouns (windows, doors, wheels, roof, trees, flowers, bricks, fences, house, car, truck, steering wheel). Of course, I turn to my favourite toy. Ever. Each day I arrive with a bucket of Lego . We build houses and towers, we look for small bricks and blue bricks and yellow, white, red, black and blue bricks. We add windows and doors, stairs and roofs. And I talk about everything we do. I chat constantly and now he chimes in.

From the start, we have played Tic Tac Toe. I made a laminated game board (that includes a letter of the alphabet in each square) and I use Xs and Os from a dollar store game. When we first played, his job was to say, “Your turn,” after he played his “O.” Now, he says the letter name in the box and a word that begins with the letter, “C is for Cat.” He also says, “Your turn, ” and “I win!” He has never tired of this simple game. When we first started, he said very little. Now, it is a constant exchange of short sentences and the joy of communicating about a shared activity.

Spot the Dot by David A CarterSpot the Dot created by David A. Carter
Novelty book published by Cartwheel Books, an Imprint of Scholastic

Spot the Dot is an appealing, brightly colored, interactive pop up book that includes flaps to lift, a wheel to turn and tabs to pull. Visual clues and predictable text encourage children – even those with delayed speech – to venture into ‘reading.’ My student thoroughly enjoys this book and now points to the words as he ‘reads’ each page and then pretends to ‘search’ for the dot.

Spot the Dot at

Spot the Dot at

Spring Themed Picture Books Will Help Young Readers ‘Blossom’

Posted on March 26th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Spring theme picture books recommended by StorytimeStandouts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bear Wants More (Classic Board Books) at

Bear Wants More at

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

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

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

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

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms at

Fletcher And The Springtime Blossoms at

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

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

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

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

Mouse’s First Spring (Classic Board Books) at

Mouse’s First Spring at

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

Free Spring and Easter Theme Printables for Preschool and Kindergarten

Seven Special St. Patrick’s Day Picture Books for Children

Posted on March 3rd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

For each petal on the shamrock this brings a wish your way –
Good health, good luck, and happiness for today and every day.

~Author Unknown

Link to our free St. Patrick’s Day Free Printables for Children ~

Explore all St. Patrick's Day Theme Printables and Picture Books

A Fine St. Patrick’s Day written by Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by Tom Curry
St. Patrick’s Day fable published by Dragonfly Books,Random House Kids

Each St. Patrick’s Day, rival towns, Trala and Tralee compete, and year after year Tralah wins the competition and is declared “Best Decorated.” When one young resident of Tralee proposes a way to win the upcoming event, her suggestion is embraced by the residents of the town. Everyone gets involved in the project until a small man arrives in the town and asks for help.

He crossed the field into Tralee. At the first house he came upon, he asked, “Beggin your pardon, can you help me? I was leading my cows across the river and, sure and begorra, they are stuck in the mud.”

Folk art style illustrations beautifully enhance a terrific story that explores themes of social responsibility, community and kindness. A Fine St. Patrick’s Day is highly recommended for children aged four years and up.

A Fine St. Patrick’s Day at

A Fine St. Patrick’s Day at

Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Paul Meisel
Rhyming lift-the-flap book published by Penguin Putnam

Best for very young children, Hooray for St Patrick’s Day shows a racially diverse group of children trying on costumes, playing with puppets, doing crafts, dancing, parading and snacking as they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day together. Just fifteen pages plus a glossary, it is a suitable introduction for children aged two years and up.

Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day! at

Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day! at

Let’s Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day written by Peter and Connie Roop, illustrated by Gwen Connelly
Non fiction picture book about St. Patrick’s Day published by Millbrook Press

Part of a series of “Let’s Celebrate” books, Let’s Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day answers questions children in the primary grades might ask. Who was Saint Patrick? Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in America? Why is everything green on St. Patrick’s Day? Young readers will have fun with the Irish-theme riddles featured on the end papers.

Lets Celebrate St Patrick’s Day at

Let’s Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go.

~Irish Blessing

St. Patrick’s Day written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons
Non fiction picture book about St. Patrick’s Day published by Holiday House

As one might expect from Gail Gibbons, St. Patrick’s Day is thorough look at traditions associated with Saint Patrick and ways people celebrate March 17th. Clear, bold illustrations are well suited to a read aloud setting and compliment the text nicely. The treatment of Saint Patrick and his life is more complete than in other comparable non fiction titles and legends association with him are briefly touched on.

Suitable for children aged four years and up.

St. Patrick’s Day at

St. Patrick’s Day at

St. Patrick’s Day written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell

Part of a series of “Mrs. Madoff” books, St. Patrick’s Day follows a young boy as he goes to school on St. Patrick’s Day. He and his racially diverse classmates are working on reports and they present their discoveries dramatically, musically, pictorially and in written form. Once the school day ends, Delicious soda bread awaits at home where the family’s Irish heritage is celebrated. Suggested for children aged five years and up.

St. Patrick’s Day at

St. Patrick’s Day at

St Patrick’s Day in the Morning written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Jan Brett
St. Patrick’s Day picture book published by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin

When Jamie is told that he is too young to walk in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, he takes matters into his own hands. He starts out before the rest of his family awakens. He dresses in his mother’s raincoat and his father’s hat. He takes his brother’s flute and the family sheepdog and, with great determination, heads to Acorn Hill.

They marched down the street. None of the chimneys was smoking yet. Milk bottles stood on front steps, waiting to be let in.

Encounters with neighbors are just one highlight of this gentle story of independence and growing up. Highly recommended for children aged four years and older.

St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning at

St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning at

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, May good luck pursue you each morning and night.
~Irish Blessing

That’s What Leprechauns Do written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
Picture book published by Sandpiper Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Boys and Girls will delight in this look at St. Patrick’s Day from the perspective of a trio of playful leprechauns. Boo, Col and Ari have important work to do but it is fun to make mischief and they can’t resist temptation.

Och, sure, but I couldn’t help myself. Mischief’s what leprechauns do,” Ari said. “Along with our more important duties.” He glanced up at the tatters of clouds in the sky. “And we better not delay, for we’ve delayed enough already.”

As rain clouds gather above gorgeous green fields, the leprechauns rush to place a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Great fun, That’s What Leprechauns Do includes some repetitive text and will appeal to children aged four years and up

That’s What Leprechauns Do at

That’s What Leprechauns Do at

Very glad to be part of this week’s Kid Lit Blog Hop ~

Kid Lit Blog Hop

Learning About Chinese New Year – Highlighting Picture Books

Posted on January 21st, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

My First Chinese New YearMy First Chinese New Year written and illustrated by Karen Katz
Chinese New Year Picture Book published by Henry Holt and Company

An excellent introduction to the traditions associated with the holiday, My First Chinese New Year will be enjoyed by children aged three years and up. Highlighting traditional decorations, clothing, food, a large family dinner and a boisterous parade, colorful illustrations and text depict a family’s preparations for the special day and their joy in celebrating with family and friends.

We appreciate the ease with which Ms. Katz conveys information to young readers,

My sister and I sweep away the bad luck from last year. Now we are ready to welcome in good luck for the new year.

Recommended for preschool age children, the size and format is well suited to a group storytime.

My First Chinese New Year at

My First Chinese New Year at

Happy Happy Chinese New YearHappy, Happy Chinese New Year written and illustrated by Demi
(Non Fiction) Chinese New Year Picture Book published by Crown Publishing, an imprint of Random House

Unlike Ms. Katz’s picture book, Happy, Happy Chinese New Year will be best appreciated when read by one or two children. It could be used by a child doing research into the traditions associated with Chinese New Year. Detailed illustrations include numerous small, labelled figures preparing for a community celebration. A tremendous banquet is shown and is enhanced by a key that provides the name of each food item, in English and Chinese, as well as the significance of each of the dishes.

Part of getting ready for the Chinese New Year is making sure your home is neat and clean before the new year arrives. Tidy up your house and your room. Sweep out the old and bring in the New Year!

A good non fiction resource for primary grade children, this picture book offers considerable insight into the traditions associated with this holiday.

Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! at

Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! at

Demi was a nominee for the 2013 NSK Neustadt Prize

In the Tree House a remarkable book by Andrew Larsen and Dušan Petričić

Posted on January 1st, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

In the Tree HouseIn the Tree House written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Picture Book published by Kids Can Press

One of my favorite parenting memories involves snuggling with my sons and watching the Perseid Meteor Showers. When they were young, we scheduled an annual camping trip with friends so that we would be away from city lights and able to watch for shooting stars. I will never forget the experience of sitting beachside in a folding chair with one of my sons on my lap. We would wrap a blanket around us and wait. Most years there were eight of us searching for the dramatic streaks of light across the night sky. Each time a meteor appeared, there would be squeals of delight, “Oh, did you see THAT one?”

Andrew Larsen’s In the Tree House tells of a young boy who is feeling the changes that time brings. He and his family move into a new house and, instead of sharing with an older brother, he has his own room. He misses having his brother in his room and he has trouble falling asleep. He uses his wakefulness to plan treehouses. He’s excited when his brother starts drawing treehouses and he’s thrilled when his dad agrees to make his dream a reality. It is not long before Dad and sons are perched up high, gazing at the night sky.Storytime Standouts looks at In the Tree House

“Why arent there any stars?” I asked between gulps of lemonade.

“They’re up there,” Dad said. “We just can’t see them,”

He explained how the lights from the city make the sky too bright for us to see the stars shine.

They boys love spending their summer in the tree house. They play cards and read comics and watch their neighborhood.

The following year, circumstances have changed. The older brother has new friends and they keep him busy. The tree house that was once magical now seems empty until a chance power outage transforms the neighborhood. In the darkness, the older brother returns to the tree house and the boys’ special relationship is revealed once again – just as the utter darkness reveals a sparkling night sky.

In the Tree House is a shining tribute to the special relationship between siblings and the small, meaningful moments that make a world of difference.

Nominated for a (Ontario Library Association) 2014 Blue Spruce Forest of Reading Award

In the Tree House has also been nominated for a 2013 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award.

In the Tree House at

In the Tree House at

Andrew Larsen on Reading and Writing Picture Book Dads from 49th Shelf

Celebrate the Holidays with a Christmas Picture Book

Posted on December 23rd, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Christmas is just a couple of days away. In this post we look at two Christmas picture books that feature characters from popular picture book series

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas picture bookPete the Cat Saves Christmas written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean
Christmas Picture Book published by Harper Collins Children’s Books

Pete the Cat website

The first Pete the Cat’s picture book was (self) published in 2008. Now, there are several best-selling picture books about Pete and more will be arriving in early 2014.

In Pete the Cat Saves Christmas Santa is sick and in bed. He doesn’t want to cancel Christmas so he calls Pete the Cat and asks him to take care of his Christmas Eve toy delivery. Pete decides that despite his small stature, he can take care of the monumental job. Pete climbs into his mini bus and heads for the North Pole. With the help of some very cat-like elves, Pete loads up his minibus, he hitches up Santa’s reindeer and takes off.

Fans of Pete the Cat will enjoy his can-do attitude, his signature song and his enthusiasm for getting an important job done right!

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas at

Pete The Cat Saves Christmas at

Llama Llama Holiday Drama Christmas picture bookLlama Llama Holiday Drama written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney
Christmas Picture Book published by Viking a Division of Penguin Young Readers Group

Llama Llama website

Poor Llama Llama. December seems to be all about waiting. The days just don’t pass quickly enough. There is shopping to do and there are choices to make. There are cookies to bake and presents to wrap. It is just too much!

To much music, too much fluff
Too much making, too much stuff!
Too much everything for Llama…”

Thankfully Mama Llama stops everything and reminds LLama that the best gift of all is spending time with someone we love.

Readers will infer that Llama Llama is excited about Christmas given the references to a December calendar and gift giving along with a tree, Santa and a Christmas stocking in the illustrations but the story itself does not refer to Christmas. In addition to Christmas references, we see a Menorah and Challah bread and Llama plays with a dreidel.

Young children and their parents will recognize that any celebration can be stress-inducing for adults and children. Llama Llama Holiday Drama is a reminder to slow things down and make lots of time for snuggles.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama at

Llama Llama Holiday Drama at

How To by Julie Morstad Celebrates Play and Self Discovery

Posted on December 20th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

How To by Julie MorstadHow To written and illustrated by Julie Morstad
Picture book published by Simply Read Books

“Play is the work of the child.” – Maria Montessori

There are shelves filled with how to books at my local library. How to change the oil in a car, how to sew a quilt, how to apply make up… These are all jobs for adults. When writing and illustrating a how to book for children, what should be the topic? What is there that children ought to do?

Julie Morstad’s How To is a celebration of play and self discovery. When a child wants to go fast, he might choose a scooter or a pair of stilts. When another child decides to go slow she may quietly lie in a grassy spot and enjoy the flowers and from how to by Julie Morstad

Beautifully drawn illustrations celebrate a diverse group of children at play – flying kites, drawing with sidewalk chalk, hiding, riding a bicycle, drumming on pots and pans and contemplating a steep, high slide. Minimal text and mostly white pages ‘leave space’ for thinking, appreciating the illustrations and imagining ways to enjoy more play.

Winner of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize

How To has been nominated for a 2013 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award.

How To at

How To at

Night Light – A Picture Book That Shines

Posted on December 17th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Night Light picture bookNight Light written and illustrated by Nicholas Blechman
Picture book with die cuts published by Orchard Books an imprint of Scholastic

When my sons were young, they loved picture books about vehicles. Whether reading Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go or Diane Siebert and Byron Barton’s Truck Song, my boys loved stories about emergency vehicles, trains, construction trucks and farm equipment. We would admire the interesting vehicles we saw while out on the road and check them out more closely when they were parked. On more than one occasion, I recall walking around big rigs – cement trucks and fire engines were especially appealing.

Night Light is a picture book my boys would have loved! Bright, colorful computer-generated illustrations include a zooming train, a hovering helicopter, a shiny taxi, a chugging tugboat, a hard-working loader and a gleaming firetruck. All have lights that shine in the dark. Youngsters will enjoy counting the lights, hearing clues and then speculating on what vehicle’s lights are glowing through the die cuts. As well, they will enjoy looking at the flip side of the die cuts and how Blechman incorporates the black circles they create into the left side of each spread.
Night Light picture book Nicholas Blechman

Do you know which vehicle has three lights shining late at night or what sort visits many sites?

Whether enjoyed as a counting book or as a part of a transportation theme, Night Lights is best-suited to preschool or kindergarten age children. It could also be used as inspiration for older children, prompting an exploration of art techniques that incorporate the magic of die cuts.

Some reviewers have commented about the final illustration of the book. It is printed on the end papers and, when the book jacket is in place, it is partially obscured. Similarly, at the front of the book, the book jacket covers the publishing details enhancing the look of the first pages. While perhaps not ideal, this does not detract from the appeal this story will have for transportation enthusiasts.

Night Light has been nominated for a 2013 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award.

Night Light at

Night Light at

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

Posted on December 12th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Willow Finds a Way at

Willow Finds a Way at

Read our review of Willow’s Whispers

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

Bad Astrid – Antibullying Picture Book

Posted on December 10th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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

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

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

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

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

Bad Astrid at

Bad Astrid at

The Night Before Christmas by Barbara Reid

Posted on December 9th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

The Night Before Christmas by Barbara ReidThe Night Before Christmas written by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Barbara Reid
Traditional Christmas poem published by North Winds Press an imprint of Scholastic Canada

Accomplished award-winning author-illustrator Barbara Reid rethinks Clement Moore’s traditional poem, imagining a large family of mice bedding down on Christmas Eve. Home is a snow-caovered hollow log, filled with small treasures including coins, buttons, wooden blocks, nails, popsicle sticks and spools. Youngsters will be captivated by the family’s repurposed home furnishings and the busy family. Poor Mama and Papa Mouse must be exhausted. As some their many children cavort in bunk beds, one reads a book under the covers and another hopes for a glass of water before going to sleep.

We like Ms. Reid’s choice to leave the traditional poem untouched but to replace an oft-seen illustration of Santa smoking a pipe with one of him enjoying yummy candy-cane.

Barbara Reid’s inventive take on The Night Before Christmas is one that will captivate children aged three and up. It will be enjoyed in a group read aloud setting but will be most appreciated by those who have a chance to carefully examine the wonderful illustrations created using Plasticine.

The Night Before Christmas at

The Night Before Christmas at

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