Posts Tagged ‘picture books’

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

Posted on November 26th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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


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

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

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

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

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

Link to The Quiltmaker’s Gift Website

image of PDF icon  Quilt Interlined Paper

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

The Quiltmaker’s Gift at Amazon.com

The Quiltmaker’s Gift at Amazon.ca

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

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

The Quiltmaker’s Journey at Amazon.com

The Quiltmaker’s Journey at Amazon.ca

Cozy Picture Book about Generosity and Gratitude – Bear Says Thanks

Posted on November 20th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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



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

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

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

Bear Says Thanks at Amazon.com

Bear Says Thanks at Amazon.ca

Interlined paper for Thanksgiving

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

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


Score a Winning Hockey Picture Book!

Posted on November 15th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Hockey Picture book

My youngest son has played hockey since he was five years old. For years, bedtime stories included books about playing hockey. Many of these stories include great messages about friendship, teamwork, bullying and working together toward a common goal.


hockey picture book Clancy with the Puck
Clancy With the Puck written and illustrated by Chris Mizzoni
Hockey picture book (adaptation of a traditional story) published by Raincoast Books

Just as Casey could hit a baseball, Clancy is a star when it comes to hockey. When Clancy Cooke joins the Hogtown Maple Buds, hopes are raised for a Stanley Cup win. Alas, in the final moments of a playoff game, when Clancy takes a penalty shot, “The puck deflected off the post, like a comet to the sky. The Buds had lost the Stanley Cup – and the fans went home to cry.” A sure winner, especially for hockey fans and those familiar with the classic story of Casey at the Bat.

Clancy with the Puck at Amazon.com

Clancy with the Puck at Amazon.ca

hockey picture book The Hockey CardThe Hockey Card Written by Jack Siemiatycki & Avi Slodovnick and illustrated by Doris Barrette
Hockey picture book published by Lobster Press

When Uncle Jack shares the story of the best hockey card he ever had, we take pleasure in a glimpse of the great Maurice Richard and a schoolyard duel against a tough hockey card shark. This is a book that made a lasting impression in our household – my youngest son is now a 13 year old bantam hockey player and just noticed me working on this post. He remarked, “Now that was a good book.”

The Hockey Card at Amazon.com

The Hockey Card at Amazon.ca

hockey picture book The Hockey TreeThe Hockey Tree written by David Ward and illustrated by Brian Deines
Hockey picture book published by Scholastic Canada Ltd.

This is a favourite wintertime picture book that beautifully captures a Canadian winter day. Set in Saskatchewan, Owen and Holly are excited because Humboldt Lake has finally frozen over and it is a perfect morning for a spirited game of pond hockey. The two children are excited to drive to the lake with their dad and before long their skates are laced and the three are laughing and playing together. Unfortunately, just as the family starts to talk about taking a break and enjoying a mug of steaming hot chocolate, Holly smacks at the puck and it flies across the frozen lake and disappears into an ice fishing hole.

The children are terribly disappointed that they’ve lost their puck and assume that the game will have to end. Dad is not quite so willing to concede. He helps Owen and Holly to find a fallen poplar tree near the lake. Once a suitable tree is found, dad saws a piece from the trunk to create a wooden puck and the hockey game resumes.

Brian Deines’ luminous illustrations include icy cold winter scenes that are made warm by his depiction of the joy of playing a favourite sport with friends and family.

A lovely book to share with young children, this is one of my favourite wintertime picture books.

The Hockey Tree at Amazon.com

The Hockey Tree at Amazon.ca

hockey picture book The Moccasin GoalieThe Moccasin Goalie written and illustrated by William Roy Brownridge
Hockey picture book published by Orca Book Publishers

Danny, Petou, Anita and Marcel live in a small, prairie town and they love to play hockey. They play road hockey when the weather is warm and ice hockey when the temperature cools and their outdoor rink is flooded. Everything changes when a new team is organized for their town. The four friends can’t wait to be part of the fun. They are devastated when only Marcel is selected to play for the Wolves. Anita is refused a spot because she is a girl, Petou is considered too small for the team and Danny is refused a place on the team because his disability means that he cannot wear skates.

All three children are terribly disappointed to be left out but, as the end of the hockey season approaches, the Wolves’ goalie is injured and the coach asks Danny to play.

The Moccasin Goalie is the first of a three book series. The Final Game is the second book. Victory at Paradise Hill is the third. Gorgeous illustrations – many using a pointillist technique – beautifully depict the joy of outdoor wintertime play. The story itself invites discussion of fairness, friendship and overcoming challenges.

Highly recommended for children five years and older.

The Moccasin Goalie at Amazon.com

The Moccasin Goalie at Amazon.ca

hockey picture book  Over at the RinkOver at the Rink – A Hockey Counting Book written by Stella Parthenhiou Grasso and illustrated by Scot Ritchie
Hockey picture book (adaptation of a familiar song) published by Scholastic Canada Ltd.

Exuberant fun awaits in this hockey-theme adaption of Over in the Meadow. Young hockey fans will enjoy discovering all the elements of a great game – anthem singing, on ice- officials, a close score, players defending and scoring, earnest coaching, an enthusiastic mascot and excited fans. The wintry outdoor rink setting adds to the festive atmosphere.

Good fun for children four years and older.

Over at the Rink: A Hockey Counting Book at Amazon.ca

hockey picture book SplintersSplinters – written and illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
Hockey Picture Book published by Tundra Books

Cindy loves to play hockey but it is an expensive sport to play and her family is poor.   Showing great determination and resourcefulness, Cindy is excited to finally earn enough money to join a neighbourhood team.  Unfortunately, at the rink, Cindy encounters three nasty Blister Sisters who make playing hockey very unpleasant. 

At her very first practice, she met the Blister Sisters. They could tell she was one good hockey player, and they were jealous.

They insulted her old equipment… Then they made her look bad on the ice… They could do this because their mom was the coach

Thank goodness Cindy has a fairy goaltender watching out for her. The fairy’s magic provides Cindy with a dazzling new uniform, gleaming skates and a Zamboni – to transport her to the all-star team tryouts. Cindy rushes to the rink and does not disappoint – she is a star.

Knowing that the magic spell will end once the final buzzer has sounded, Cindy rushes away from the rink, leaving a shiny skate behind.

Coach Prince is determined to match the shiny skate to the player who wore it during the tryouts.

Coach Prince went from locker room to locker room, trying the skate on every girl she could find. Finally she arrived at Cindy’s rink ensuring a happy ending for Cindy and her new team.

Splinters will have greatest appeal for children who are familiar with Cinderella. We love the idea of taking a familiar story, like Cinderella and retelling it with new characters and a contemporary setting. In a primary classroom, we suggest using Splinters as a jumping off point, inspiring young writers to imagine other situations for Cinderella to encounter.

Splinters at Amazon.com

Splinters at Amazon.ca

hockey picture book Z is For ZamboniZ is for Zamboni – A Hockey Alphabet Written by Matt Napier and illustrated by Melanie Rose
Hockey theme alphabet book published by Sleeping Bear Press

If hockey plays a part in your household, this enticing hockey alphabet book will appeal to the entire family. Young children will enjoy the simple rhymes while older children and adults will appreciate the more detailed information bordering the charming illustrations.

Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet at Amazon.com

Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet at Amazon.ca

Free Hockey Theme Printables for Kids

Hockey Theme Writing Paper

image of PDF icon  Hockey Theme Writing Paper for Kids

image of PDF icon  Ice Hockey Picture Dictionary


Picture Book About Divali – Lights for Gita

Posted on October 31st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Lights for Gita, a picture book about Divali and  adjusting to life as a new immigrant.Lights for Gita written by Rachna Gilmore and illustrated by Alice Priestley
Picture book about Divali and a child’s experience as a new immigrant published by Second Story Press



When Gita arrives home from school, she is excited to celebrate Divali. She fondly remembers how Divali was celebrated in New Delhi. She recalls large family celebrations that included glowing diyas, delicious sweets (perras and jallebies) and brilliant fireworks.

Gita has invited five friends from her class to celebrate Divali with her family but a sudden ice storm means that most of her friends are not able to come. Gita and her mother light the diyas just before the electricity in the apartment fails. Darkness envelopes the street and the apartment building except for the shining diyas. When Gita sees one of her friends arriving at the apartment building, she rushes outside to meet her. She is overjoyed to step outside into an icy wonderland.

Lights for Gita provides an explanation of many of the traditions associated with Divali. As well, it is a thoughtful look at the adjustments faced by new immigrants when living in a new country.

Rachna Gilmore’s Teacher’s Guide for Lights for Gita

Lights for Gita at Amazon.com

Lights for Gita at Amazon.ca

Lights for Gita by Michel Vo, National Film Board of Canada

Note – in Lights for Gita, the author refers to ‘Divali.’ The Festival of Lights is also called ‘Diwali.’

For additional information about Diwali…

Celebrations in my World Diwali picture book about DiwaliCelebrations in My World – Diwali written by Kate Torpie
Children’s book about Diwali published by Crabtree Publishing Company

Generously illustrated with photographs, Celebrations in my World – Diwali explores the Hindu holiday, also known as the ‘festival of lights.’ Photographs and text explain Diwali decorations (including rangoli), dancing (Garba), desserts (includes a recipe for Chocolate Barfi), symbols and clothing (dhoti kurta, henna tattoos). One two-page spread provides information about Hinduism and another explains Rama’s victory. Celebrations in my World – Diwali includes a table of contents and a glossary.

Diwali (Celebrations in My World) at Amazon.com

Diwali (Celebrations in My World) at Amazon.ca

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Diwali for Kids on Pinterest.


Discovering Diversity – Princesses in Picture Books

Posted on October 21st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Discovering Diversity and Examining Stereotypes - a Look at Princesses in Picture BooksIf you asked children in a preschool or kindergarten, ‘How does a princess behave?’ or ‘What does a princess look like?’ what sort of answers would you get? Would perceptions extend beyond Disney’s version of Cinderella, Ariel and Rapunzel?


How might children describe or draw a princess?

Is she helpless or is she capable?
Is she in danger and waiting for a brave prince to rescue her or is she resourceful and able to take care of herself?
Is she always physically beautiful? What is her hair color?
What sort of clothing does she wear?
Is she intelligent, quick-witted, wise, bold, courageous?
Is she kind to others?

Thoughts of a grade five student ~

A princess is a girl who has a dress and she’s very pretty. She’s the king’s daughter and he can choose someone to be the prince to marry her. Some books have princesses and some don’t have princesses. You might have seen movies about one or maybe you haven’t. Princesses often appear in fairy tales.

Here are some terrific picture books that depict princesses in unconventional ways

Discovering Diversity through Picture Books An African Princess An African Princess written by Lyra Edmonds and illustrated by Anne Wilson
Picture book about heritage and identity published by Random House Children’s House

Lyra’s mama tells her that she is an African Princess but she is not convinced. She and her family in a big city and she has freckles. Her schoolmates tease her and prompt her to question the story she has been told by her mama. One wintry day she learns that she and her family are going to travel to meet Taunte May, an African Princess. Lyra counts the days until the family boards a plane to the Caribbean. Once there, Lyra discovers and embraces her very rich heritage.

An African Princess at Amazon.com

An African Princess at Amazon.ca

Discovering Diversity Picture Books Not All Princesses Dress in PinkNot All Princesses Dress in Pink written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin
Rhyming picture book about individuality, stereotyping, gender roles published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Vivid illustrations and cheerful text highlight Not All Princesses Dress in Pink, a look at the many ways young princesses express themselves. Perhaps they play baseball or soccer or they roll on the ground. Whether working on a construction site, riding a bike or planting a large garden, these princesses challenge stereotypes and wear sparkly crowns.

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink at Amazon.com

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink at Amazon.ca

Discovering Diversity through Picture Books The Paper Bag PrincessThe Paper Bag Princess written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Picture book about problem solving, courage, self esteem, and gratitude published by Annick Press

When a nasty dragon smashes her castle, burns her clothes and carries away her betrothed, Princess Elizabeth decides she must rescue him. Elizabeth’s wardrobe is in ruins so wears a paper bag as she follows the path of destruction to the dragon’s cave. Once there, Elizabeth uses a series of clever tricks to rescue Ronald. He is not at all grateful for her efforts on his behalf and gets exactly what he deserves.

Read America! Classic
NEA’s Cat-a-List for Reading
– Greatest Canadian Books of the Century List, Vancouver Public Library
100 Best Books List, Toronto Public Library

The Paper Bag Princess at Amazon.com

The Paper Bag Princess at Amazon.ca

Discovering Diversity through Picture Books The Princess and the Pea The Princess and the Pea written and illustrated by Rachel Isadora
Traditional story set in Africa published by Puffin Books

The Princess and the Pea was originally published by Hans Christian Andersen in the nineteenth century. Rachel Isadora sets this version of the traditional story in Africa. A prince wants to meet and marry a ‘real’ princess. His travels take him all over the world but he fails to meet ‘the one.’

One evening there was a terrible storm. Suddenly a knocking was heard at the gate, and the old king went to open it. Sure enough, there is a sodden young woman outside the gate. She claims to be a princess but her appearance suggests otherwise. The queen decides to test her by putting a pea into her bed.

Beautiful collage illustrations nicely match the exotic African setting and costumes.

The Princess and the Pea at Amazon.com

The Princess and the Pea at Amazon.ca

Discovering Diversity The Silk PrincessThe Silk Princess written and illustrated by Charles Santore
The legend of the discovery of silk in ancient China published by Random House

Emperor Huang-Ti is very fond of his two sons but never speaks with his daughter, Princess Hsi-Ling Chi. One afternoon, she and her mother visit the royal gardens. When a cocoon falls from a tree and lands in her mother’s teacup, Hsi-Ling Chi notices the cocoon unraveling in the hot liquid and soon sees a long strand of thread. Not realizing the length of the thread, her mother agrees to let her attach one end of the thread to her waist and walk away. Hsi-Ling Chi is astonished as the long, silky thread permits her to travel through the royal gardens, leave the grounds of the royal palace and explore the world beyond its gates. She travels into the mountains, knowing that she must be cautious because there is a dangerous dragon lurking nearby. Despite being careful to cross a bridge quietly, the dragon awakens and frightens Hsi-Ling Chi. The thread is broken and Hsi-Ling Chi is lost. While searching for the thread, she meets an old man. He is weaving thread from silkworm cocoons into beautiful, shimmering fabric. Hsi-Ling Chi learns from him and eventually returns home to share her discovery with her mother. Her mother instructs the royal weavers to create a new robe using the new material. The Emperor is captivated by Hsi-Ling Chi’s discovery and she becomes known as the Silk Princess.

Painterly illustrations are a wonderful match for this story of adventure and discovery. Best suited to kindergarten age (and older) children, there is considerable text – some in white and some in black. The font choice may make this a difficult read-aloud in a large group setting.

The Silk Princess at Amazon.com

The Silk Princess at Amazon.ca

Free Printables – Crown Writing Paper and Royalty Picture Dictionary

image of PDF icon  Royalty / Fairy Tale Picture Dictionary

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

image of PDF icon  Crown interlined paper


picture books about grandparents and family diversityYou will also be interested in our post about grandparents and family diversity.




Celebrating Grandparents – Picture Books Featuring Grandpa and Grandma

Posted on October 7th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

picture books about grandparents and family diversity



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



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

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

An Alien In My House at Amazon.com

An Alien In My House at Amazon.ca

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

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

Bagels from Benny at Amazon.com

Bagels from Benny at Amazon.ca

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma’s Story at Amazon.com

Emma’s Story at Amazon.ca

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

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

Grand at Amazon.com

Grand at Amazon.ca

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

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

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

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

Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth at Amazon.com

Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth at Amazon.ca

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

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

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

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

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

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.com

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.ca

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

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

The Imaginary Garden at Amazon.com

The Imaginary Garden at Amazon.ca

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

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

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

Lessons from Mother Earth at Amazon.com

Lessons from Mother Earth at Amazon.ca

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

Originally published in French, The Little Word Catcher won a Governor General’s Award for Illustration. It was written with Alzheimer patients and their families in mind but also illustrates the impact of aphasia (an acquired communication disorder that is often due to stroke). Elise’s grandmother is losing her words. When in conversation, she has difficulty coming up with the right word to use. The affliction is terribly difficult for her young granddaughter to understand. Eventually, Elise takes comfort in the thought that perhaps Grandma has given her the words to use. A lovely story about the special relationship between a grandparent and a child, The Little Word Catcher will have special poignancy for families dealing with aging and loss.

The Little Word Catcher at Amazon.com

The Little Word Catcher at Amazon.ca

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

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

My Two Grannies at Amazon.com

My Two Grannies at Amazon.ca

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

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

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

Old Dog at Amazon.com

Old Dog at Amazon.ca

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

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

Oma’s Quilt at Amazon.com

Oma’s Quilt at Amazon.ca

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

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

Silas’ Seven Grandparents at Amazon.com

Silas’ Seven Grandparents at Amazon.ca

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

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

You Can’t Rush A Cat at Amazon.com

You Can’t Rush a Cat at Amazon.ca

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

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

38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents at Amazon.com

38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents at Amazon.ca


Chick-O-Saurus Rex Shines in Anti-bullying Picture Book

Posted on September 30th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

anti bullying picture book Chick O Saurus Rex by Lenore and Daniel JenneweinChick-O-Saurus Rex written by Lenore Appelhans and illustrated by Daniel Jennewein
Anti bullying picture book published by Simon and Schuster



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

Donkey, Pig and Sheep have formed an elite group and, to the disappointment of the smaller farm animals, they exclude all others from the tree house.

“This is a club for the brave and mighty. First you have to prove you belong.”

Little Chick does his best to gain entrance to the tree house but the bullies refuse to allow him inside. Little Chick asks his father for advice. He learns that his relatives “invented the chicken-dance craze and even… crossed the road.” Being seen as brave and mighty appears hopeless until Little Chick notices a picture of Grandpa Rooster studying a fossil. He is keen to leave the farmyard in search of evidence of his heritage. illustration from Chick O Saurus Rex  an anti bullying picture book

Before long, Little Chick is shocked to discover that Tyrannosaurus Rex is his distant relative and he rushes to share the news with the bullies. When he arrives at the clubhouse, he discovers a wolf is attacking Little Donkey, Little Sheep and Little Pig. Little Chick is quick to dispatch the wolf and, shortly thereafter, all of the farm animals are allowed to climb the ladder and enjoy the treehouse.

An author’s note explains that the chicken is the Tyrannosaurus’ closest living relative and explains how the determination was made by scientists.

Chick-O-Saurus Rex could be used to prompt a discussion about excluding children in social situations and other forms of bullying, it will be enjoyed by children aged four and up.

Chick-o-Saurus Rex at Amazon.com

Chick-o-Saurus Rex at Amazon.ca

Fabulous Fall Picture Books

Posted on September 21st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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


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

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



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

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

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

By the Light of the Harvest Moon at Amazon.com

By the Light Of the Harvest Moon at Amazon.ca

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

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

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

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves lesson plan from Teacher Think Tank

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves at Amazon.com

Fletcher And The Falling Leaves at Amazon.ca

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

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

Kitten’s Autumn at Amazon.com

Kitten’s Autumn at Amazon.ca

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

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

Leaf Man lesson plan from Harcourt Trade Publishers

Leaf Man at Amazon.com

Leaf Man at Amazon.ca

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

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

Mouse’s First Fall at Amazon.com

Mouse’s First Fall at Amazon.ca

Be sure to visit our Fall Printables Page

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

Storytime Standouts Free Fall Theme Printables



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

Discover Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Picture Books

Posted on September 10th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Thanking the Moon a picture book about the Mid-Autumn Moon FestivalThanking the Moon – Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival written and illustrated by Grace Lin
Picture book about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival published by Albert A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House

Beautiful, detailed illustrations highlight Thanking the Moon. We join a family of five as they enjoy a nighttime picnic and honor the moon. While the youngest girl plays, the older daughters help to set up a moon-honoring table, pretty lanterns and an enticing spread of traditional food: hot tea, moon cakes, steamed cakes, grapes and pomelo.image of spread Thanking the Moon a Mid-Autmn Moon Festival Picture Book

Extensive afternotes explain the significance of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and the traditions associated with it. Young readers will certainly want to enjoy the story a second time, once they understand the significance of the fruit, the tea cups and the delicious moon cakes.

Well suited to children aged three and up.

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival at Amazon.com

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival at Amazon.ca

A lovely complement to Thanking the Moon…

Mooncakes written by Loretta Seto and illustrated by Renne Benoit
Picture book about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival published by Orca Book Publishers

Narrated by a young girl, Mooncakes echos Thanking the Moon. We observe a family’s preparations for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival – the excitement about staying up late, anticipation of special treats to eat, glowing paper lanterns and a beautiful full moon.

Once the family is comfortably settled in a moonlit chair, we hear three stories. The stories are about Chang-E, the woman who lives on the moon in the Jade Palace, Wu-Gang, a woodcutter and Jade Rabbit who also reside on the moon.

The watercolour illustrations nicely portray the special celebration, bathing the landscape in silvery moonlight. When the traditional tales are shared, the colours are more vivid.

Afternotes are less detailed than those in Thanking the Moon but they do include a reminder, ‘Even relatives who are unable to be with their families can look up at the dark sky and know that their loved ones are watching the same moon.

Best suited to children aged four and up.

Mooncakes at Amazon.com

Mooncakes at Amazon.ca

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Mid-Autumn Moon Festival for Preschool and Kindergarten on Pinterest.


Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, shares a simple yet effective antibullying message

Posted on August 29th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

antibullying picture book Bully by Laura Vaccaro SeegerBully written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Antibullying picture book published by Roaring Brook Press


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

Before we reach the title page of Bully, we witness a large bull speaking harshly to a young bull. He tells him to, “GO AWAY”

The young bull does go away. He goes to a different part of the pen where three friends invite him to play. Rabbit, Chicken and Turtle are stunned when he loudly shouts, “NO. Their shock and disappointment is only made worse when the young bull starts name-calling. Spread from Bully an antibullying picture book by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Finally a brave billy goat speaks up and correctly labels the young bull a “Bully.” Bull is shocked to realize that he has been bullying the other farm animals. After pausing to reflect, he apologizes to his friends and asks if they will play with him.

There is much to notice and enjoy in Bully. Young readers will certainly note the young bull’s body language and size when bullying the other animals as opposed to when he realizes his mistakes. Ms. Vaccaro Seeger has depicted his blazing eyes and set jaw beautifully. His anger and frustration is clear.

We also see Bull’s remorse when he realizes his mistakes.

Bully invites discussion about what might cause bullying behavior as well as how the decision to speak up can make a difference. highly recommended for children aged four and up.

Bully at Amazon.com

Bully at Amazon.ca

King of the Playground – Problem Solving a Solution to Bullying

Posted on August 26th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

cover art for antibullying picture book King of the PlaygroundKing of the Playground written by Phyllis Renolds Naylor and illustrated by Nola Langner Malone
Antibullying picture book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers an imprint of Simon and Schuster


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

Kevin is hopeful. Each day he heads to the playground, wanting to go down the slide but knowing that if Sammy is there, he won’t be allowed to do so.

“You can’t come!” Sammy said. “I’m King of the Playground!” And he told Kevin what he would do if he saw him on the slide.

Disappointed, Kevin returns home and confides in his dad. His dad listens to the threat that Sammy has made and he encourages Kevin to ask himself, “And what would you be doing while Sammy was tying you up? Just sitting there?”

The following day, Kevin tries again and, again, Sammy is at the playground. When Kevin wants to use one of the swings, Sammy announces,

“You can’t play here!” yelled Sammy, running over. “I’m King of the Swings.” And he told Kevin what he would do if he saw him on the swings.

Once again Kevin shares his problem with his dad and once again his dad challenges him to problem solve.

Kevin’s dad’s approach to bullying is perfect. He remains calm, he doesn’t intervene, he encourages Kevin to think logically and he empowers Kevin to solve the bullying problem himself.

With Dad’s guidance, Kevin realizes that there may be a different way to deal with Sammy and his threats. On his next visit to the playground, Kevin is just a little bit braver. He uses his imagination to counter Sammy’s threats and together the boys find middle ground.

Recommended for children aged four years and up.

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor on reading aloud

King of the Playground at Amazon.com

King of the Playground at Amazon.ca

Back to School? Picture Books to Help Your Child Start the Year Right

Posted on August 13th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares Back to School picture books and free printables for kindergarten

Storytime Standouts highlights three special picture books for youngsters headed off to school and back to school in September and has a free printable picture dictionary and writing paper for a back to school theme.






For many adults, books are a great source of information as well as entertainment. Whether searching for a delicious recipe, researching an upcoming family vacation or deciding if a visit to the doctor is necessary, books can be inspiring, entertaining, informative and reassuring.

Just as adults seek information from books, children gain understanding and confidence as they explore new and unfamiliar situations through books. Whether beginning preschool or heading off to school in September, there are many delightful picture books available to help you and your child make the transition with relative ease.

Storytime Standouts shares Special Picture Books for Children Starting School and Going Back to School including Ready Set Preschool
Ready, Set, Preschool! – written by Anna Jane Hays, illustrated by True Kelley
Picture book about preschool published by Knopf Books for Young Readers an Imprint of Random House Children’s Books



Ready, Set, Preschool! features stories, poetry and detailed illustrations that will enable youngsters to explore a typical preschool classroom, experience a field trip, observe playground activities and more. As well, the illustrations and text offer opportunities to practice counting, identifying colors and shapes, recognize rhyming words, the alphabet and letter sounds.

Extensive notes for parents provide helpful suggestions of ways to extend learning and prepare young children for their very first school experience.

Ready, Set, Preschool!: Stories, Poems and Picture Games with an Educational Guide for Parents at Amazon.com

Ready, Set, Preschool!: Stories, Poems and Picture Games with an Educational Guide for Parents at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts shares Special Picture Books for Children Starting School and Going Back to School including Off to First Grade
Off to First Grade – written by Lousie Borden, illustrated by Joan Rankin
Picture book about starting first grade published by Margaret K. McElderry Books



I can still recall vividly a recommendation that was made when I attended my eldest son’s kindergarten orientation: make sure your child is not expecting to ride the school bus to school unless he actually is going to climb aboard)! It was great advice. In those days he was captivated by large vehicles. Discovering at the last minute that he would not be riding the bus off school could have been terribly disappointing. The transition from kindergarten to grade one is explored thoroughly and with thoughtfulness in Off to First Grade. The author tells the story from a variety of perspectives. We discover some children will ride the bus and others will walk. Some are eager to begin grade one and a few think they would rather stay in kindergarten. Mrs. Miller is hoping to remember everyone’s name, the school bus driver is excited and the principal wonders which book to read aloud to the new grade one students.

Off to First Grade at Amazon.com

Off to First Grade at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts shares Special Picture Books for Children Starting School and Going Back to School including How Do Dinosaurs Go to School How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? – written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague
Picture book about school life published by The Blue Sky Press an imprint of the Scholastic Trade Book Division.



For children heading off to school, the best How Do Dinosaurs title by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague is How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? Here the reader visits a conventional elementary school. The school, its staff and students appear quite unremarkable except for eight or ten extraordinary pupils. Enormous creatures from the Jurassic period demonstrate proper behavior enroute to school, on the stairs, in the classroom, during show-and-tell and at the playground. Lots of funosaurus for dino fans who are heading off to school soon.

How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? at Amazon.com

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? at Amazon.ca

Our Free Back to School Printables

image of our free printable school picture dictionary for children

image of PDF icon  School Picture Dictionary

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


image of our free printable back to school interlined paper for children

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Back to School

Back to school theme interlined paper for beginning writers.


My First Day of School Interlined Paper

image of PDF icon  My First Day of School 'Boom'


Read About Recycling – Terrific Picture Books Help Children Gain Environmental Awareness

Posted on August 12th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Today we highlight ten picture books about recycling. These are great picture books for Earth Day and learning to care for our environment

Let's help children gain environmental awareness! Storytime Standouts shares some terrific recycling picture books.



cover art for recycling picture book 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World10 Things I Can Do to Help My World written and illustrated by Melanie Walsh
Picture book about recycling, water conservation and energy efficiency
Published by Candlewick Press

Striking die-cuts and a fun format enhance to this delightful read-aloud. Big, bold illustrations – perfect for a group setting – show readers ten ways young children can help our world and be eco friendly. With reminders to turn off the light when leaving a room, turn off the tap off when brushing teeth, put out a birdfeeder in the winter, draw on both sides of the paper and walk to school rather than drive, youngsters will feel empowered to make a difference.

Additional notes such as Every time you do this, you save eighteen glasses of water. and Turning off lights and using more efficient lightbulbs saves valuable energy. will engage and inspire older readers.

Made from 100% recycled material 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World’s eco-friendly tips are great for preschool and kindergarten. For older children, 10 Things I Can Do demonstrates creative ways to deliver important messages using eye-catching illustrations, factual information and word art.

Possible extension activities could include identifying and illustrating five or ten more ways to “help” (at school or on the playground) using like techniques.

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World at Amazon.com

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World at Amazon.ca

image of cover art for recycling picture book The Adventures of a Plastic BottleThe Adventures of a Plastic Bottle – A Story About Recycling written by Alison Inches and illustrated by Pete Whitehead
Picture book (for older readers) about manufacturing and recycling published by Little Simon, a Division of Simon & Schuster

Written and illustrated “scrapbook-style.” The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle introduces a a thick, oozing blob of CRUDE OIL deep beneath the ocean floor. Our hero knows that one day destiny will call. Crude oil could eventually be refined into fuel, asphalt, wax or plastic. In this case, the oil is pumped from the ocean floor into a tanker and soon arrives at an Oil Refinery where it undergoes polymerization. It is transformed into plastic crumbs and sent to a manufacturing plant. At the plant, it is heated and molded into a shiny plastic bottle that oozes personality. Best suited to Early Primary students, The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle is an engaging story, enhanced by fun illustrations, interesting factoids and a glossary. It is part of Simon and Schuster’s series of “Little Green Books” and is printed on 100% postconsumer waste recycled paper.

The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling at Amazon.com

The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling from Amazon.ca

cover art for recycling picture book Bag in the WindBag in the Wind written by Ted Kooser and illustrated by Barry Root
Picture book (for older readers) about recycling, reusing resources, social responsibility published by Candlewick Press

Best suited to children in elementary school, Bag in the Wind is a thought-provoking story about an empty plastic bag. Although still usable, it has been discarded. It is subsequently unearthed at a landfill and is blown back into a world of plants, animals and people.

Beautifully written and illustrated, Bag in the Wind is a picture book that will challenge older readers to think about ways to reuse resources and be eco friendly.

Bag in the Wind at Amazon.com

Bag in the Wind at Amazon.ca

cover art for recycling picture book Big Earth Little MeBig Earth, Little Me
Picture book about recycling, reusing, planting a garden published by Scholastic

Featuring bright, bold collage illustrations, a ‘lift the flaps’ format and simple text, Big Earth, Little Me provides a great introduction to the idea of helping the earth and making eco friendly choices. Whether reminding youngsters to recycle, turn off the water when brushing their teeth, use a lunch box and draw on both sides of the paper or encouraging children to help in the garden, the message is simple, positive and clear.

Big Earth, Little Me at Amazon.com

Big Earth, Little Me at Amazon.ca

cover art for recycling picture book Don't Throw That AwayDon’t Throw That Away written by Lara Bergen and illustrated by Betsy Snyder
Picture book about recycling and reusing published by Simon and Schuster Canada

Don’t Throw That Away! has an upbeat, positive message for very young children: what looks like garbage may be recyclable. Discarded paper, plastic, metal and glass all belong in a recycling bin, an empty jam jar can be transformed into a vase and a plastic milk jug can become a bird feeder. Additional flaps reveal homemade musical instruments, costumes and a car made from a cardboard box.

Great for preschool-age children, the relatively small format (typical of many board books) makes it best-suited to an individual or small group setting. Would be an excellent introduction to an art or craft project reusing discarded materials.

Don’t throw That Away! screensaver

Simon and Schuster’s Circle the Items That Are Recyclable activity

Don’t Throw That Away! at Amazon.com (Little Green Books)

Don’t Throw That Away! at Amazon.ca (Little Green Books)cover art for recycling picture book Don't Throw That Away






cover art for recycling picture book How to Take Care of the Environment
Earth Smart How to Take Care of the Environment – written by Leslie Garrett
Early Reader about recycling, waste reduction, conserving energy, pollution published by Dorling Kindersley

Part of Dorling Kindersley’s DK Readers series, Earth Smart is appropriate for children aged 7 to 9. Generously illustrated with photographs, it is rated “Level 2, Beginning to Read Alone.” Introducing ways we can help to look after the environment, content touches on recycling, a look at a landfill, disposing of toxic substances, reducing energy consumption, dangers of pollution and global warming, the benefits of enjoying eco friendly local produce and ways trees help us.

Leslie Garrett’s Blog The Virtuous Consumer

Earth Smart at Amazon.com

Earth Smart at Amazon.ca

cover art for recycling picture book George Saves the World by LunchtimeGeorge Saves the World by Lunchtime
Written by Jo Readman and illustrated by Ley Honor Roberts

Picture book about recycling, reusing and reducing waste published by Random House

Wearing a makeshift superhero cape, George announces his plans for the day, “I’m going to save the world!” Grandpa and his sister are willing to help and it is not long before the trio is finding ways to reduce, reuse, repair and recycle. Large, colourful collage ilustrations include photos and drawings. Readers learn about reducing electrical consumption by hanging laundry to dry, minimizing fuel consumption by walking or riding a bicycle and the importance of turning lights off. Suggestions are also made for recycling, donating, repairing and buying locally produced eco friendly items.

This book was inspired by The Eden Project an educational charity in Cornwall, England. It is worth noting that a sidebar refers to most electrical energy being produced by burning coal. This may or may not be true, depending on where the book is read. In addition, a suggestion is made that animal waste can be added to compost. This suggestion should have included the proviso that the compost ought not to be used for fruit or vegetable crops.

Cheerfully making suggestions without sounding preachy or extreme, George Saves the World by Lunchtime will be a positive addition to an eco-friendly (preschool or kindergarten) classroom or a home library.

George Saves the World by Lunchtime at Amazon.com

George Saves the World By Lunchtime at Amazon.ca

cover art for recycling picture book I Can Save the EarthI Can Save the Earth! – written by Alison Inches and illustrated by Viviana Garofoli
Picture book about the environment published by Simon and Schuster

Max is a Little Monster in more ways than one. He not only looks like a monster, he behaves like one. He litters wherever he goes, he uses too much water and toilet paper in the bathroom and he forgets to turn the lights and tv off when he leaves the room. As well, he is greedy with his toys: even when he’s outgrown them, he keeps them all to himself. One evening, he is watching his favourite television show when there is a power failure. When Max goes outside, he surprised by what he sees and hears. In the moonlight, Max notices flowers blooming and he hears crickets and an owl. When Max sees a shooting star, the transformation to “green” is complete. and, even when the power is restored, Max notices the natural world and takes eco friendly steps to make it better. He collects litter at the beach and learns to compost garden refuse. His wasteful bathroom habits change and he remembers to turn off lights. He decides, “fresh air feels good on my fur!” and is committed to recycling, eating healthy foods and trading toys with his friends. End notes include a glossary of terms used in the story I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle is an introductory resource and is best suited to children aged four to six.
Note: This 8″x8″ paperback book is printed on 100% post-consumer waste (Forest Stewardship Council certified) recycled paper with soy-ink.

I Can Save the Earth at Amazon.com

I Can Save the Earth at Amazon.ca

cover art for recycling picture book Sandy's Incredible Shrinking FootprintSandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint
Picture book about one’s ecological footprint published by Second Story Press

Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint tells the story of a young girl who, while visiting her grandpa, happily runs to a nearby beach. She loves to explore the seashore and is shocked to find a pile of garbage others left near a fire pit. She is disgusted by the waste and works to collect the candy wrappers, pop cans and mustard bottles. Before long, she meets an old woman who roams the beach and collects the litter others have left behind. The woman encourages the girl to consider, “The footprint of your life – the mark you leave on the world.”

This breezy, empowering picture book includes colourful collage illustrations made from natural and recycled materials. Suitable for children aged six and up.

Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint at Amazon.com

Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint at Amazon.ca

cover art for recycling picture book Why Should I Recycle?Why Should I Recycle? written by Jen Green and illustrated by Mike Gordon
Picture book about recycling

Why Should I Recycle? is part of a series of books that includes Why Should I… Save Energy, Save Water, and Protect Nature. It explains that items typically tossed into the garbage often can be reused. On a field trip to a recycling center, Mr. Jones explains that bottles, cans, plastic, clothing and paper can all be used again. Additional suggestions include composting, donating used clothing, books and toys, reusing plastic bags and choosing to buy items made from recycled materials.

Endnotes for teachers and parents include suggestions for points to discuss as well as follow-up activities and a list of books about pollution, conserving energy and recycling.

Best for children aged 4 – 6, Why Should I Recycle? provides an introduction to this subject and is well-suited for use in a classroom library.

Why Should I Recycle? at Amazon.com

Why Should I Recycle? at Amazon.ca


Allergies in Picture Books

Posted on May 26th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

image of cover art for Aaron's Awful Allergies Aaron’s Awful Allergies written by Troon Harrison and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Picture book about allergies published by Kids Can Press


Aaron is an animal lover, through and through. He loves to sleep with Clancy curled up next to him on the bed. He loves Calico and her six kittens. He loves looking after the guinea pigs from his classroom and celebrates when four babies are born. Unfortunately, over the summer, Aaron starts to feel miserable. His head aches and his eyes are itchy. Sometimes he sneezes and he has trouble breathing.

Aaron is diagnosed with allergies and his doctor says that he should not play with cats, dogs or guinea pigs. Aaron is devastated to know that they will have to find new homes for his pets. He is very reluctant to show any enthusiasm for his new fish until…

One morning Aaron noticed how the fish’s scales flashed in the sunlight and how its tail fluttered through the water.

Aaron’s Awful Allergies deals sensitively with a difficult subject. Aaron’s parents make the tough decision to disperse the various pets and Aaron is lonely and sad as a result of their decision. It is difficult to know if the arrival of a fish could really help to resolve Aaron’s heartache but Aaron’s Awful Allergies will certainly prompt discussion and encourage problem solving.

Aaron’s Awful Allergies at Amazon.com

Aaron’s Awful Allergies at Amazon.ca

image of cover art for Horace and Morris Say Cheese a picture book about allergies
Horace and Morris Say Cheese (which makes Dolores sneeze!) written by James Howe and illustrated by Amy Walrod
Picture book about allergies published by Simon and Schuster Kids

Horace, Morris and Dolores love to eat cheese. Hardly a day goes by without them emjoying one cheese or another. One day, after trying a new recipe, Dolores develops itchy spots and she starts to sneeze. Dr. Ricotta does a thorough examination before she declares that Dolores is allergic to cheese. The very idea of giving up her favourite food is almost impossible to imagine especially because The 1st Annual Everything Cheese Festival is just around the corner. Suddenly Dolores is craving cheese more than ever. She dreams of cheese and finally decides that nothing else will do. She gives into temptation and shortly thereafter regrets her decision…

Horace and Morris Say Cheese (which makes Dolores sneeze!) is a fun look at cravings and food allergies. Young readers will share Dolores’ horror when she learns that cheese is the source of her problems and will cheer when she discovers life after cheese.

Horace and Morris Say Cheese (Which Makes Dolores Sneeze!) at Amazon.com

Horace and Morris Say Cheese (Which Makes Dolores Sneeze!) at Amazon.ca



Good Little Wolf will charm

Posted on April 6th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Good Little Wolf by Nadia ShireenGood Little Wolf written and illustrated by Nadia Shireen
Picture book published by Alfred A. Knopf, and imprint of Random House


“It is madness for a sheep to talk of peace with a wolf” ~ French Proverb

Rolf is happy to be a good little wolf. He’s helpful, he’s a vegetarian, he likes to bake and he’s a good friend to pigs and Mrs. Boggins.

Rolf hopes he won’t ever encounter a bad wolf but, one day, when he is out walking in the woods, he meets the renowned Big, Bad Wolf. Big, Bad Wolf is quite dismayed at Rolf and his good behavior. Big, Bad Wolf expects wolves to howl and destroy houses and eat people.spread from Good Little Wolf

Big Bad Wolf challenges Rolf to be a “Real Wolf” and the good little wolf decides to give it a try. After a couple of disasterous attempts, Rolf discovers his inner ‘badness’ and proudly demonstrates his newfound abilities to Big, Bad Wolf.

Success demands a celebration and before long Rolf, Mrs. Boggins and Big, Bad Wolf are enjoying a delicious meal together.

Alas, author/illustrator Nadia Shireen is not content with happy endings. Big, Bad Wolf has one last wicked trick to play…

Fans of I Want My Hat Back will delight in Good Little Wolf as will those who have enjoyed Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf and Tell the Truth, B.B. Wolf.

Good Little Wolf will be enjoyed most by children who know the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. It most certainly will prompt discussions about “good” versus “evil” and whether a leopard (or wolf) can change its spots.

Simple, charming illustrations are a perfect match for both Rolf’s loveable personality and Big Bad Wolf’s nastiness.

Good Little Wolf at Amazon.com

Good Little Wolf at Amazon.ca




Emma’s Story – a picture book about families, international adoption

Posted on April 4th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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

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

Sam had used raisins and strings of licorice to decorate the Emma cookie. Big tears rolled down Emma’s cheeks. “I want to look like everyone else,” she said.

Emma’s sadness prompts Grandma to cuddle with her in a comfortable chair. She opens a photo album and tells her granddaughter’s story.

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

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

Emma has heard her story “a million times” and she is reassured by Grandma’s words,

It’s not how we look that makes us a family, Emma. It’s how we love each other,” said Grandma.
“And we love each other a lot!” said Emma.

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

Detailed illustrations enhance Emma’s Story, especially when showing facial expressions.

Emma’s Story at Amazon.com

Emma’s Story at Amazon.ca


Picture book about Acceptance: My Princess Boy

Posted on April 3rd, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

A picture book about acceptance My Princess BoyMy Princess boy written by Cheryl Kilodavis and illustrated by Suzanne DeSimone
Picture book about acceptance, tolerance, bullying and gender identity published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon and Schuster

Please have a look at 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

My Princess Boy is a non fiction picture book about acceptance, written by Dyson Kildavis’ mom, Cheryl. Dyson is a young boy who likes to wear pink, sparkly clothing including dresses. He also likes to dance like a ballerina. Dyson’s mom worried that her four year old son would be teased and bullied by classmates and that he would encounter intolerant people who would not respect his preferences, so she wrote this book in an effort to encourage acceptance and compassion.
spread from My Princess Boy, a picture book about acceptance
After introducing us to “My Princess Boy” and his preference for pretty pink clothing, we meet his brother and his father. Both are very accepting of Princess Boy. We also learn that Princess Boy has playdates with both boys and girls. We discover that he especially enjoys playing dress up and he wears a tiera when he climbs a tree.

Not everything is rosy for Princess Boy, however. When he shops with his mom, if he buys something that would typically be worn by a girl, people around them notice and laugh. When Princess Boy dresses up for Halloween, a lady reacts badly to the princess dress he is wearing.

My Princess Boy shares a message of acceptance and encourages tolerance. The reader is reassured that if Princess Boy wears a dress to school, his classmates won’t laugh. Friends will play with him even when he wears “girl clothes.”

The book then encourages readers to consider their own behaviour –

If you see a Princess Boy…
Will you laugh at him?
Will you call him a name?
Will you play with him?
Will you like him for who he is?
Our Princess Boy is happy because we love him for who he is.

I must admit to having somewhat mixed emotions about My Princess Boy. At one time, my nephew wanted to dress up at preschool. He preferred the “feminine” costumes. He wanted to wear high heels. My sister was quite disappointed that the preschool teachers did not want him to put on the “feminine” clothes. They wanted him to choose “male” costumes – fire fighter jackets and police officer helmets. My nephew is now eighteen and, as far as I know, has outgrown his desire to wear “feminine” clothes. I don’t think it was just societal pressure that did this, my sense is that some things that are very appealing at age four, lose their luster as a child grows older. I can’t help but wonder, what might have happened if my sister had written a book about my nephew’s fondness for “feminine” clothing. How would he feel about it ten or fifteen years later? Might it seem to be an invasion of privacy? I support Cheryl Kilodavis’ unconditional love for her son but I wonder how he will feel about being a poster child for gender identity (possibly for the rest of his life) based on his preferences at age four.

As a picture book about acceptance, My Princess Boy “works” to some extent. It most certainly will encourage discussion about individuality and respecting differences. Having said that, when Princess Boy is laughed at, there is no attempt to problem solve or deal with the issue head on. Princess Boy is not provided any means of coping when people laugh at him other than asking, “Why did she laugh at me?My Princess Boy will only work as an antibullying resource if readers are encouraged to problem solve ways he might cope with the bullying that he is sure to encounter.

Finally, as evidenced by both the cover art and the spread from My Princess Boy, the illustrations for this book are somewhat unusual in that they are devoid of facial features. There are no eyes, noses, mouths or ears on any of the faces in the book. Some readers find this problematic, even creepy. It seems to me that seeing Princess Boy’s happiness ought to be a goal of the illustrator. Body language is one thing but, My Princess Boy is a book about emotions (happiness, contentedness, disappointment, hurt, joy and love), one would think that showing us those emotions would serve to enhance the message conveyed by the text.

My Princess Boy at Amazon.com

My Princess Boy at Amazon.ca

You may also be interested in our post about (chapter book) The Boy in the Dress.


Speech Delay and ESL – Making Progress

Posted on March 27th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

cover art for Breakfast for JackFor the past six weeks, I have been working with a four year old girl who is learning English as a second language and who has a speech delay. We meet once each week for one hour.

I have been using a variety of materials and techniques to support her learning. Today I thought I would highight a few of them.

Wordless Picture Books
During each of our sessions, we read one or two wordless picture books. These are books that have little or no text. Readers use picture clues to decide what is happening in the story. Wordless picture books invite discussion because, as you turn the pages, the story unfolds and there is plenty of opportunity for meaningful talk.

Although we have read several wordless picture books together, Breakfast for Jack has been our favourite. The book is a good size for sharing one on one. The story is relatively simple and yet the illustrator has included many interesting details. It is morning, the sun is rising. Jack wakes up and stretches. Soon Boy is awake. He and Jack go downstairs. Boy feeds the black and grey cat but, each time he starts to get Jack’s breakfast, he is distracted. Poor Jack is very hungry.

When my young student and I first started reading Breakfast for Jack together, she was only able to talk about small snippets of the story because of her speech delay and limited vocabulary. Now she explains that Jack is orange and white, the cat is black and grey, Boy wears purple pyjamas. We talk about the family’s breakfast of toast and cereal. We also talk about the cat enjoying a bowl of milk and then snoozing under the telephone table.

Breakfast for Jack is engaging. The illustrations ensure that the reader understands exactly what is happening. The story and illustrations draw young readers in and keep those same readers involved in telling the story.

Puppets
Since Breakfast for Jack has become a favourite, last week I added dog finger puppets to our session. You may be aware that hand puppets and finger puppets are frequently used for play therapy because children often feel safe using a puppet to express themselves. In working with a child with a speech delay, it seems very logical to include puppets and encourage her to play with them. On Thursday, our three little dogs played together, they talked and raced at the park.

Illustrated Vocabulary
Keeping in mind that my student is not only dealing with a speech delay, she is also learning English as a second language. Each week I prepare one page of vocabulary that is related to a theme. The page introdues nine words that are illustrated and related by theme. We have done ‘Weather Words,’ ‘Things Families Do,’ ‘Clothing Words,’ ‘In My Neighbourhood,’ ‘Valentine’s Day,’ etc. We review all of the vocabulary each week. As well, she reviews the vocabulary at home each week. Her progress with these words has been quite dramatic.

Rebus Poems
Each week we add a new rebus poem to our program. Usually the poem is related to the vocabulary we are learning. For example, when I introduced ‘Weather Words,’ I created a rebus version of ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider.’ When I introduced ‘Things Families Do,’ we learned ‘Grandma’s Glasses.’ I like using rebus poems with young children very much. We track the text with our fingers (reinforcing that we read left to right and top to bottom). When reading rebus poems, we use picture clues to help us remember the poem / chant, we hear rhyming and we learn new vocabulary.

My young student’s mom and I are thrilled with the progress she has made to date. She is an enthusiastic learner and she is happy to enjoy stories, chants and learning new words. Next week, I will write again about our session together.

Breakfast for Jack at Amazon.com

Breakfast for Jack at Amazon.ca

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

Posted on March 3rd, 2013 by Jody

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

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

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


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

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

9. Hooray for Diffendoofer Day

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

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

8. Green Eggs and Ham

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

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


7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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

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

6. There’s a Wocket in my Pocket

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

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


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

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

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

4. Horton Hatches the Egg

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

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

3. The Cat in the Hat

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

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

2. The Foot Book

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

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

1. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb

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

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

Add Dr. Seuss books to your bookshelf



Crouching Tiger highlights Tai Chi, Chinese New Year and Family

Posted on January 22nd, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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

Link to Chinese New Year writing paper for kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best suited to children aged five years and up.

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

Crouching Tiger at Amazon.com

Crouching Tiger at Amazon.ca


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