I have hosted a Little Free Library (LFL) outside my home for the past four years. My LFL is limited to children’s books. Recently, one of my neighbors has been adding brand new books(!) to it fairly often. Recently, he or she left a copy of hot-off-the-press Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth!
A terrific follow-up to Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie series, this is a book that will have great appeal for new readers. Bright, bold, graphic illustrations and fun, expressive text combine to tell the story of a search for a squirrel’s missing tooth.
When a team of enthusiastic squirrels needs to fact-check, Research Rodent adds background information about teeth to an otherwise silly story. Boys and girls who are at about a grade 1 or 2 level will enjoy the “inside” joke about a tooth that has been lost. The Table of Contents, irreverent endpapers that identify each of the squirrels by name and the antics of the furry-tailed characters make for a great fun.
In late August 2018, The Scottish Granny posted a Youtube video that has caught the world by storm. In the video, she is reading The Wonky Donkey aloud. Her wonderful Scottish accent and her infectious laugh are simply irresistible. We can’t imagine anyone watching the video without giggling. Sales of the book have shot up and a quick check of our local library shows that the book is “on order.”
Smith’s wonderful rhyming, repetitive and cumulative text is just so silly and fun!
He only had three legs, one eye and he liked to listen to country music and he was quite tall and slim and he smelt really bad and that morning he got up early and he hadn’t had any coffee
He was a cranky stinky dinky lanky honky tonky winky wonky donkey
Cranky stinky dinky lanky honky tonky winky wonky donkey
This is a simply fantastic book to share with children. The vocabulary is rich (lanky). The alliteration (winky wonky) and rhyming (stinky dinky) will support the development of phonemic awareness.
In the case of The Scottish Granny’s video, although her grandson doesn’t understand the humor of The Wondy Donkey, Granny does and her delivery has an unrehearsed feel to it. She is discovering the book for the very first time and her delight is simply thrilling. Who wouldn’t want to share The Wonky Donkey (or any great book) with a child? Here’s hoping this phenomenon inspires many moms, dads and grandparents to read aloud every single day!
Picture books to help a child understand and cope with anger
When my youngest son was very young, he was frequently impacted by the negative effects of artificial food dyes. Sadly, we did not realize what was happening with him for quite some time. For years, we were puzzled by apparently random bouts of anger that were, in fact, a result of eating or drinking a trigger food,beverage or even medication.
Thankfully, we did eventually figure out what was happening and the instances of uncontrolled anger pretty much disappeared. Along the way though, we used picture books to help our children understand anger and give them techniques for managing frustration and bad moods.
Please leave a comment and let me know about your favorite books for exploring this theme.
When my children were young, we had a wonderful collection of Red Fox Mini Treasures. These were small-format picture books from many well-known, accomplished children’s book authors and illustrators. One of our favorite Red Fox Mini Treasure books was Bad Mood Bear. If one of my sons had a rough day, reading this story was one way to help him understand and learn to manage strong emotions, including anger. In addition to depicting a tough day, Bad Mood Bear also shows that the opportunity to feel and behave better may be just a short nap away.
You may not be able to find a new copy of this picture book but I did not want to leave it off my list of children’s books about anger.
Bear mooched around, kicking stones and growling. A fly buzzed around his nose
‘Buzz off!’ screamed Bear, flapping his arms around in a temper.
Usually, Finn is happy and loving but when Finn is upset, everybody in the household suffers. Using thunder, lightning, flooding, hurricane winds, blizzard conditions and an earthquake to describe Finn’s outburst, Finn Throws a Fit! will delight young readers and their parents.
With no explanation given for the upset, there is a good opportunity for an adult to ask probing questions such as,
“Why do you think Finn was upset?”
“How did Finn’s parents and dog feel when Finn was upset?”
“What could Finn do next time he is upset?”
He was too grumpy to eat.
He was too grumpy to play.
In fact, he was too grumpy to fly.
“Looks like I’m walking today,” said Bird.
I arrived for each appointment with a briefcase filled with picture books, puzzles, games and other activities. More often than not, Grumpy Bird was selected by my student and we enjoyed reading about Grumpy Bird spending time with friends (even if he was not enthusiastic about their company) and, eventually finding himself transformed into a happy, social creature.
Part of the How Do Dinosaurs series of picture books, this story not only describes behaviours that might happen when a child is angry, it also suggests ways for a child (or dinosaur) to deal with angry feelings.
he counts up to ten,
then after a time out,
he cleans up his mess
Dinosaur fans will love the detailed endpapers and the notations within the book that identify the species of each of the dinosaurs.
Some readers have commented that it is unfortunate that the dinosaurs do begin by behaving badly. Their behavior includes ripping books, throwing a mug, kicking and defiance. We agree with these observations but, unlike several books about anger, grumpiness and bad moods, this book did include suggestions for managing strong emotions.
When young children feel anger, it can be a frightening experience for them. They may be completely overcome by frustration and may be unable to control their words.
Here we meet Leo, a little boy who has been told, “No” more times than he can count. His mommy doesn’t want him to roll tomatoes across the floor and she doesn’t want him to drop string beans into the fishbowl.
Leo announces that he hates “No.” Mommy calmly says that she understands his feelings but, “There are some things you just should not do.” Leo decides that his bedroom is the best place to be but, when he begins drawing on the wall, his mommy is certain to be annoyed and it is not long until he cannot contain his emotions any longer. He shouts, “I HATE YOU.”
Strong, bold Photoshop illustrations are sure to resonate with children who have felt overpowering emotions.
A valuable resource for families, The Day Leo Said I Hate You! is a reassuring story of enduring love – even when it has been a very long and extremely emotional day.
I’m So Grumpy! written and illustrated by Hans Wilhelm Beginning Reader Story About Being in a Bad Mood published by Scholastic
Beginning readers are sure to enjoy this simple story about Noodles’ bad mood. He doesn’t like his food, he doesn’t want to go for a walk. He wishes that everyone would leave him alone. Repetitive text and appealing illustrations will support young readers as they enjoy this fun story and the thrill of reading independently.
Halloween-Theme Stories and Printables for Homeschool and Classroom
As the days grow shorter and cooler weather arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, October is a wonderful month to share a variety of Halloween-theme picture books with children. Halloween is also a great time to enjoy concept books with children and more than one of our featured books highlights counting.
Here are some of our favorite stories exxploring themes of friendship, tolerance, learning about others while trick or treating, wearing costumes and enjoying the fun of Halloween.
Scroll down for our free Halloween-theme printables for children
A Very Brave Witch is the tale of a green-skinned, broomstick-flying, costume-loving witch. She thinks she knows all about humans and decides that Halloween night is the perfect opportunity to take a closer look. After a flying mishap, she meets three, costumed human trick-or-treaters including one girl who is dressed up as a witch. Together, the pair manages to shatter stereotypes as they discover friendship and celebrate Halloween together.
Young readers will enjoy investigating a recently-decorated haunted house and collection of costumes. The witches’ fear of humans is good fun.
Well-suited for a group read-aloud, the colorful watercolor illustrations nicely match the tone of the story.
Beautifully detailed, dark and creepy illustrations are a highlight of this Halloween-theme counting book. The rhyming text includes alliteration and guides readers as they count from one to ten and back down to one.
Five furry bats hanging upside down
Six skinny witches flying through the town
Recommended for children aged 5 and up. Illustrations are well-suited to a group setting and could be used to inspire young artists to work primarily in black.
Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt Halloween-theme picture book published by Kids Can Press
Scaredy Squirrel is a fun series of picture books written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt. In Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween, Scaredy has put together eight short chapters featuring panels with maps, lists, illustrations and diagrams intended to keep trick or treaters safe and happy. Best-suited to independent readers or a one-on-one read aloud, this is a fun book with rich vocabulary and detailed, engaging illustrations. Not great for a large group setting, this will be a very satisfying “chapter book” for a child in grade one or two and will produce lots of giggles when read by a parent to a child.
When a moving truck pulls up to a haunted house, the ten resident ghosts watch nervously. Before too long, a green-skinned witch is scaring the ghosts with a skeleton, a bat and various costumes. Ms. O’Connell provides fun clues for readers to notice including buttons that look like eyes, white face powder and a roll of toilet paper.
Repetitive, rhyming text adds to the fun in this counting book. Young children will love finding the ghosts in each of the illustrations.
It’s Halloween night and time to trick or treat in a ten-story apartment building. A young, wide-eyed boy goes from floor to floor, meeting all sorts of costumed neighbors with wonderful names like Wiggle Waggle and Limbler Lamber. When the boy reaches the top floor, Merlin answers the door and waves his magic wand and tells the boy that everything is “WackBards“, sending the boy back to each apartment for Belly Jeans and “Twicorice Lists”
Great use of alliteration and wordplay along with colorful, fun illustrations make this an excellent read aloud for kindergarten and older children. In a classroom setting, children could have fun illustrating a favorite candy WackBards.
Storytime Standouts interviews children’s book author Kelly Santana-Banks Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything is Darla Woodley’s first book. Darla is a self-proclaimed shutterbug, with her camera never far from arm’s reach and a goal of capturing the many activities of her two boys, she is always on the lookout for how to capture magical moments. Many of these special moments are recorded in this book.
Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
My book is entitled Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything. It is a Children’s Picture Book but I actually think it is a good read for all ages. Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything is based around our family tradition of wearing red socks as an unspoken method of support and encouragement for friends, family or anyone that may just need a lift in spirit. The story sees the character going through a number of “firsts” and intimidating moments and shows the reader that sometimes words are just not needed to show that someone is thinking of you or cheering you on. The main character’s gender is ambiguous on purpose so as to allow the reader to develop a more personal connection to the story.
I am most proud of the impact that the story has on its readers. I love hearing how someone is heading out to purchase a pair of red socks for themselves and/or their family members. I am especially thrilled when a reader tells me that they are looking forward to initiating their own unspoken method of support and tradition based around the idea of red socks.
Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?
I am not sure if I would say it was difficult to publish my first book. Challenging? Yes, definitely challenging. I chose the self-published route and being new to the book industry I found myself constantly on the computer or my phone doing research. I cannot tell you how many links I emailed myself to read and check on and how many tabs were open on my desktop at once on a regular basis. I was extremely fortunate to have a few connections that I could contact, bounce questions off of and verify information that I had found through research. The entire process can be a rather lengthy one when opting the self-published route as there are many services, options and research that should be done to ensure that you end up with an end product suitable to your standards.
To aspiring authors/illustrators I would suggest that they do their research regarding the publishing process and what it takes to ensure that you end up with a polished and very professional book. I would also explain how it is a never-ending process of promotion and self-promotion. For a new author it is a constant challenge to get your name out there in the literary world.
Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
I have such great memories and experiences of sharing Red Socks with children. They are such a wonderful and inspiring group to share the story with!
I have shared the story with children in grades 1 through to grade 6 and was very pleasantly surprised at the comments and discussions with the grade 6 individuals. I wasn’t sure if they were going to be too “big” for the story but they were an awesome group of kids with insightful questions and comments. With that particular group I have great memories:
– I had a couple of girls approach me and tell me about a book they are writing together and how they were inspired to keep their project going and not give up.
– One child came up and told me how great he thought the story was and then secretly handed me a piece of his favorite gum by way of a handshake. He then gave me a wink to confirm the passing of the forbidden gum. (we were all sitting in the library)
– Another child was so inspired by the story that he suggested that they have a wall in the school dedicated to Red Socks displaying the book’s lines “I feel strong. I am ready. I can do anything.” I am so proud of him as he later inspired so many others at a local track competition with his determination to run and finish in a relay match.
I always have fond memories of visiting and reading with the younger grades. I experienced my first “heckler” when I was reading to a grade 2 class and she was in the front row asking me why the socks were not blue. I love the little discussions (that sometimes turn into battles) when I ask the class if they think the protagonist is a boy or a girl. I enjoy the fact that we get off course during the reading as our discussions take a different direction at times when they all want to share their version of the character’s experience.
How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?
I use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a website) in an effort to stay connected with readers and those who might be interested in learning more about Red Socks. I have done a few book signings and look forward to doing more. (The book signings are something that I need to push myself to do as I am usually very much a “behind-the-scenes” type of person.) I do thoroughly enjoy visiting classrooms and look forward to those in the coming school year.
What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?
I am a first time author so it is so very thrilling to see the book displayed in a bookstore or to hear from someone else that they spotted Red Socks in a bookstore. My greatest pleasure is having someone tell me that they enjoyed the story and are looking forward to initiating their own tradition based on the idea of Red Socks. I have it set up so that when books are purchased an additional copy is printed and then donated to a local school, charity and/or organization that can benefit from the message within the story. I am so happy to say that books have been sent to Australia, Maui, England, Northern Ireland, Toronto, various States, Saskatchewan, BC and throughout Alberta so far.
What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?
Being a first time author and one that is self-published, the biggest challenge is actually getting the word out about the story. The entire experience is new to me and full of challenges and unknowns and I find myself constantly having to do research regarding the industry and push myself out of my comfort level at times in an effort to bring Red Socks to new readers. I am thankful though as this challenge offers me an opportunity to be an example to my two boys of how one should never give up and always be willing to put themselves out there.
OH! The good ol’ Hockey game, is the best game you can name.
And the best game you can name, is the good ol’ Hockey game.
An outdoor game of pick up hockey is the setting for this fun, energetic tribute to Stompin’ Tom Connors’ widely known anthem. The well-lit rink is in a city and it glistens beneath the stars on a wintry evening. It feels as though it would be the centerpiece of a community, drawing players from far and wide for a casual, drop in game.
Engaging illustrations show us the game from ice level and above, depicting players from various races who are young and old, petite and burly and male and female. It is fun to see more than one multi-generational family group; moms and dads enjoying the game with their children.
The game begins with just two players on the ice but soon swells and, by the end of the song, the rink is crowded with enthusiastic hockey players. Some wear familiar NHL-style jerseys while others are dressed less traditionally. Some wear hockey helmets and others have toques, headphones, pony tales and stocking caps. Young readers will enjoy playing eye spy and noticing all sorts of interesting details about the dozens of players who finish the game.
Very good fun for children aged four and up. The Hockey Song would be a great gift for a hockey-loving grandparent to share with a newcomer to the game.
From my perspective, wordless picture books are an under-appreciated genre. “Readable” in any language (or multiple languages), they help children to develop comprehension skills and they can be used to prompt discussion and encourage language development.
Last week, I had the pleasure to read two wordless picture books by Molly Idle. Floral and the Flamingo was published in 2013. Flora and the Peacocks was published this year. Flora and the Penguin was published in between.
Floral and the Flamingo begins when a young girl approaches a statuesque flamingo and takes her cues from the bird. Soon it appears that the flamingo is challenging the girl to match her posture and form. Floral is up to the task. She stands on one leg, she arches her back, she stretches and poses. Before too long, the flamingo and Flora are dancing together and loving every moment of the experience.
A truly lovely picture book that uses flaps beautifully, this will have special appeal for fans of ballet. Delightful illustrations are wonderfully expressive and will create an opportunity to talk about Flora’s emotions as she does her best to match the graceful flamingo’s movements.
Flora the Flamingo was a 2014 Caldecott Honor Book
The third book in Ms. Idle’s series, Flora and the Peacocks adds another dimension to her storytelling. In this wordless picture book, Flora introduces herself to two peacocks. One of the peacocks appears quite happy to have a new friend but the other is not keen at all. The trio struggles to find a way to find harmony and to be friends.
Dramatic illustrations highlight gorgeous blue, green and gold peacock feathers and the especially the facial expressions of the three characters. Young readers will want to talk about why it was difficult for Flora to join the two peacocks and how their behavior changed over the course of the story.
There’s no doubt about it, going to school for the very first time can be nerve-wracking. It is no wonder that Splat is wide awake bright and early.
When mom opens his bedroom door, his first instinct is to pull the covers over his head. When that doesn’t work, Splat tries all sorts of tactics to delay leaving for school. He can’t find socks and his hair is a mess. One thing he knows for sure, having a friend in his lunchbox is certain to help. Splat pops Seymour the Mouse into his lunchbox and sets out to meet his new teacher and classmates.
Mrs. Wimpydimple and Splat’s new classmates are very welcoming and soon Splat is full of questions. He is especially curious to know why cats chase mice! (A definite opportunity to introduce the concept of foreshadowing) When it is finally lunchtime, Splat opens his lunchbox and his small rodent friend, Seymour is suddenly the centre of attention – and not in a good way. Splat’s new classmates do exactly what readers will predict – the chase is on!
Engaging, playful illustrations provide many details for young children to notice and enjoy. A mostly grey and black color palette is highlighted with vibrant yellow and red details that pop off the page. Those who are able to read will love the signs in the storefront windows and Mrs. Wimpydimple’s blackboard illustrations.
When four friends, armed with three nets, set out to capture a beautiful, red-plumed bird, all goes well until the smallest friend alerts the the ruby bird that something is afoot. Giggles and laughter will accompany a read-aloud session of Shh! We Have a Plan. This is a book that will appeal to children – especially “youngest” children – as well as adults. The repetitive text will have youngsters ‘reading along’ quickly and repeated building of suspense will encourage children to make predictions about whats will happen next and the final outcome.
Bright, bold, dramatic illustrations are a highlight of this captivating, humorous picture book. A key to the storytelling, observant readers will note the eyes and the posture of the smallest friend in the cover art – he is definitely up to something!
Shh! We Have a Plan is the sort of story that parents and teachers will quite happily read again and again. It is great fun!
Chris Haughton won the 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for new illustrator with this picture book. The Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for Illustration was established in 2001 to recognize and encourage emerging talent in the field of children’s book illustration.
Whether planning a day at the beach or just back from some fun in the sun, these beach-theme picture books will be a wonderful addition to your summertime fun. Suitable for toddlers, preschool age children, kindergarten and older, these stories address important themes like fear of the water and getting outside one’s comfort zone. Whenever possible, it is very valuable to have children read books that match their experiences. These stories are perfect for introducing new concepts and extending learning. Have fun!
All You Need for a Beach written by Alice Shertle and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
Picture book about a day at the beach published by Harcourt, Inc.
A companion book to All You Need for a Snowman, this is an exuberant celebration of a group of children, playing together in sand and water. Bright, cheerful colours and a happy theme of exploration and cooperation highlight this picture book for toddlers and preschool-age children. Illustrations depict a racially diverse group of children.
Best suited to very young children, At the Beach is a lovely introduction to the joys of spending a day picnicking, playing in the sand, looking for treasures and swimming. Simple, clear text matches the colorful illustrations and creates an opportunity for learning new vocabulary.
The main characters are a Caucasian girl and her mother however the illustrations depict diverse skin tones among those playing at the shoreline.
Curious George Goes to the Beach based on the original character created by Margaret and H.A. Rey, illustrated in the style of H.A. Rey by Vipah Interactive Picture book about a day at the beach published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Fans of Curious George will not be disappointed with this fun story about a day at the beach. George and his friend Betsy enjoy playing at the sandy beach, making friends and feeding the sea gulls. Betsy’s reluctance to go into the water could be an opportunity to talk about fear of new experiences.
Betsy, her grandmother and the man with the yellow hat Caucasian however the illustrations depict diverse skin tones among those at the beach.
Duck is keen for adventure while Goose would much rather stay in familiar surroundings so it is only not surprising that Goose is not keen to go for a hike. The two friends leave their familiar meadow and eventually arrive at the beach. It is loud and wet and very, very sandy. Vibrant illustrations are a highlight of this engaging story about two friends leaving their comfort zone, enjoying a day out together and then returning to the comfort of home. Duck and Goose Go to the Beach is highly recommended for preschool- age children.
In this wordless picture book, we join a boy and his family as they spend a day at the beach. Clearly an enthusiastic scientist, he arrives equipped with binoculars, a magnifying glass and a microscope. As he searches for interesting ‘flotsam’, a huge wave crashes over him and leaves an old underwater camera just above the waterline. The boy races to a nearby shop and waits as the film is developed. When handed the photos, he can’t believe what they reveal. Flotsam is truly a ‘treasure chest’ of visual delights.
Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach written and illustrated by Melanie Watt Beach theme picture book published by Kids Can Press
Scaredy Orville Squirrel whose initials are S.O.S. is an immensely popular character in an equally popular series of picture books.
In Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach Scaredy the worrywart is very careful to avoid any sort of real or imagined danger. Rather than encounter pirates, jellyfish, seagulls and sea monsters, he decides to create his very own private backyard beach paradise. After carefully constructing his safe haven, Scaredy realizes that, although his beach “look” is great – his backyard just doesn’t sound like the real thing. The only solution is “Operation Seashell” – a carefully planned and executed mission in search of a seashell that will provide crystal clear ocean sound. Featuring detailed descriptions of Scaredy’s beachware and plans for his mission, Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach will be enjoyed best independently or in a small group or one-on-one read-aloud setting. Best-suited to children five and up.
In this endearing series of picture books, we meet confident and worldly Stella and her much less self-assured younger brother Sam. When the two children visit the seaside on a shimmery summer day, Sam is filled with questions that suggest not only curiosity but also a bit of fear,
“Do you think there are sharks in the sea?” asked Sam.
“Have you ever seen one?”
“Just a little one,” said Stella, “with an eyepatch.
Are you coming, Sam?”
“Not just this minute,” said Sam.
Gorgeous illustrations together with text that beautifully depicts the two siblings will have young children longing to visit the seashore and discover all the wonders of a leisurely summer day filled with digging in the sand, fishing, beach combing and, eventually, a swim.
Tip Tap Went the Crab written and illustrated by Tim Hopgood Counting book about sea creatures
Tip Tap Went the Crab features bright and colorful illustrations along with repetitious text that includes alliteration and onomatopoeia. When a crab decides to leave her small rock pool to explore the ocean she encounters one seagull, two sea lions and three starfish.
A great choice for toddlers and preschoolers, Tip Tap Went the Crab provides a great reminder that books for this age group can (and should) include rich language and fun, detailed and appealing illustrations. It is well-suited for a classroom or library read-aloud session.
When a young girl arrives at a beach, she is filled with enthusiasm and dashes forward, stopping just short of the beautiful, frothy blue water. She hesitates on the sand, pausing, leaning as she is drawn toward the ocean. Suddenly, the character of the water changes. Worried, she tentatively shifts backward, her steps mirrored by a group of friendly gulls. As the waves reverse and retreat, our young heroine stands on her tip toes and challenges the salty water. Before long, she leaps into the dancing waves, joyfully kicking and splashing until an enormous wave erupts. The powerful crest leaves her sodden but excited when it deposits a bounty of shells on the sandy beach.
Children and adults will revel in this playful, wordless celebration of a day at the beach.
Gorgeous illustrations were created with charcoal and watercolours. Suitable for all ages.
Wave was selected New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book 2008
Terrific fun for children aged five years and up, Jasper Rabbit is very fond of carrots and makes a trip to Crackenhopper Field whenever he fancies eating a few delicious treats but one day Jasper has an eerie feeling that Creepy Carrots are following him as he leaves the field. Soon Jasper is seeing Creepy Carrots everywhere: in his house, in the garden shed and on the street. Poor Jasper is petrified! He knows exactly what to do to solve this problem.
Preschool and kindergarten teachers will find all sorts of wonderful (and orange) ways to extend the learning with this delightful book. Whether designing their own carrots or a different solution to Jasper’s problem, this book is sure to inspire fun. Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! would be an excellent companion story.
Extra Yarn written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen is the first in our series of posts looking at the 2013 Caldecott Medal and Honor Books
Extra Yarn written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen 2013 Caldecott Honor Book published by Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
When young Annabelle finds a box of yarn and knitting needles, she begins by knitting herself a colorful sweater. Once the sweater is finished, she looks for friends and neighbors to outfit in warm wool creations. It is not long before she transforms her dreary, wintry grey town into a cheery, cozy world using the apparently endless supply of yarn. When an archduke arrives and offers to buy the magical box and its contents, Annabelle refuses him. He decides that he must have it and sends robbers to get the box from her.
A fascinating fairy tale that explores generosity and community, Extra Yarn is best suited to children aged four years and up. Fans of Jon Klassen will enjoy spotting some of his trademark characters wearing Annabelle’s cozy gifts.
Ball written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan Picture book for beginning readers published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
There is little doubt that this dog loves his small, red ball. From the moment he wakes up, he is focused on only one thing: playing with the ball. He especially loves when the ball is thrown by a young girl but when she leaves for school there is no one available to throw it.
This is a terrific picture book that relies heavily on the illustrations for the narrative. Apart from one repeated word (ball) it could be classified as a wordless picture book.
It will be thoroughly enjoyed by dog lovers and young children – especially those who are eager for an opportunity to read independently.
A Big Guy Took My Ball written and illustrated by Mo Willems Series for beginning readers published by Hyperion Books for Children
This charming story will remind readers that appearances can be deceiving and perspective is everything! Gerald and Piggie’s friendship is solid and Gerald is more than willing to stand up for Piggie when her ball is taken by a big guy.
Delightful illustrations will appeal to young readers as they effectively portray a range of emotions. The text is perfect for children who are beginning to read – lots of repetition and very few long vowel words.
It truly is a treat to read such a beautifully-written chapter book for beginning readers. Kevin Henkes has created a new character: Penny. She is a young mouse with a sense of right and wrong. In this book, she is out with her sister when she “finds” a beautiful blue marble. She excitedly puts it into her pocket and later wonders if she did the right thing.
Lovely, full color illustrations and a thought-provoking dilemma make this a great choice for newly independent readers.
Bold colors and clever die cuts highlight this simple, classic picture book for children aged three years and up. When we first meet Big Green Monster, we see only his large yellow eyes. A turn-of-the-page later and we are staring at his large nose and his eyes. Enthusiastic children will “read” along as white teeth, small ears, purple hair, and green face are added to the monster’s visage.
But… YOU DON’T SCARE ME!
So, GO AWAY, scraggly purple hair….
A happy conclusion allows youngsters to ensure the monster disappears as quickly as he arrived. Great fun for all and a good opportunity to extend the learning by exploring colors and descriptive words.
Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences.
– Robert Louis Stevenson
When I reflect on the picture books we shared with our young sons, Strega Nona is one that I recall with special affection. It is a story that can be enjoyed by a wide range of children (and their adult caregivers). Preschoolers who are accustomed to hearing stories read aloud will enjoy the humor, kindergarten-age and primary grade students will also be engaged by the matronly and generous “Grandma Witch” and her well-meaning but accident-prone assistant.
Strega Nona was getting old, and she needed someone to help her keep her little house and garden, so she put up a sign in the town square.
And Big Anthony, who didn’t pay attention, went to see her.
“Anthony,” said Strega Nona, “you must sweep the house and wash the dishes. You must weed the garden and pick the vegetables. You must feed the goat and milk her. And you must fetch the water….
The one thing you must never do… is touch the pasta pot. It is very valuable and I don’t let anyone touch it!”
Little Jimmy Says, “Same Is Lame” written by Jimmy Vee and illustrated by Mike Motz Antibullying picture book about embracing differences published by Atlas Press
“What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity? Our attitude toward it. Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity.”
― J. Sidlow Baxter
in this semi-autobiographical new picture book, marketing expert, magician, author and ventriloquist Jimmy Vee explains why being different is much more interesting than living an ordinary existence.
Because I am different, it makes me feel proud. I’d rather stand out than blend in with the crowd.
Citing many examples of physical features, Vee encourages young readers to celebrate their appearance and abilities while acknowledging the fact that they are not like everybody else.
Upbeat, rhyming text and bright, colorful cartoonish illustrations depict wearing glasses, baldness, wearing braces, having a large nose, freckles, an unusual voice, being a different height than your peers and having a facial scar. Young readers, especially with encouragement from adults, are invited to think about ways differences can be exploited and can ultimately be perceived as assets.
One of my favorite picture books, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds will strike a chord with children, teens and adults who lack confidence in their ability to ‘make art.’ Vashti doesn’t believe she can draw or does not want to draw. She sits through an entire art class but does not make a mark on her sheet of paper. Vashti’s teacher is understanding and she encourage’s Vashti,
“Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”
Vashti grabbed a marker and gave the paper a good, strong jab. “There!”
Undeterred by Vashti’s reluctance, her teacher asks her to sign the page. She does sign the paper and leaves the classroom. When she returns a week later, her ‘artwork’ has been framed and is hanging near to her teacher’s desk. Upon reflection, Vashti decides that she is quite capable of improving on her first dot.
Before long, she is confidently experimenting with watercolors and larger sheets of paper. She creates an entire collection of artistic dots – every size and color.
A wonderful resource for children and adults who are reluctant to “make their mark.” The Dot and Mr. Reynold’s inspiring illustrations should not be missed.
I have shared No, David! with dozens of preschool age children and, without exception, this is a picture book that they understand, appreciate and relate to. David is a child who can’t seem to do anything right. Whether reaching for a cookie jar, eating dinner, taking a bath or practicing his baseball swing, David finds himself in trouble. Parenting this boy must be quite a challenge for his ever-patient mom.
For a child who has had a rough day, David is the perfect antidote – another child who gets into trouble more often than he does. For parents, there is a reminder that mistakes happen and forgiveness is divine.
A wonderful starting point for discussions about rules and good behavior, No, David! is also an opportunity for young readers to make inferences and predictions. Most children will benefit from the opportunity to witness David making poor choices and yet still sharing an affectionate hug with his mom at the end of a tough day. Beginning readers will enjoy the predictable text and the repetition.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar written and illustrated by Eric Carle Classic picture book first published by the World Publishing Company and subsequently published by Penguin Putnam
Beautiful, bright collage illustrations and intriguing die-cut pages complement this timeless story of a caterpillar’s remarkable transformation into a beautiful butterfly. Young children love the opportunity to poke tiny fingers through small holes as they follow the path of the caterpillar as he tries to satisfy his need for food.
Initially the caterpillar eats gorgeous, fresh fruit (apple, strawberries, pears, plums, oranges). He later turns to a pickle, salami, cheese and cake. Is it really a wonder that he eventually returns to a healthier choice, a dark green leaf?
Teachers find many ways to extend the learning with this classic picture book. Apart from talking about fresh fruit, there are opportunities to count and to learn about the days of the week. Children will thoroughly enjoy creating their own caterpillars and sampling the foods he enjoyed.
Available in many formats, my copy is a sturdy board book. A great story for children aged two years and up.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz Classic Picture Book published by Simon & Schuster
Written in 1972, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is available in several formats (including board book). The copy that I have is a special limited edition that includes some color.
From the moment Alexander awakens until he finally falls asleep, things go wrong for him.
At home, before school, carpooling to school and while at school, it seems as though there is a conspiracy afoot: Make Alexander’s day as unpleasant as possible. Whether squished into the middle of the backseat enroute to school or comparing his lunch with those of his classmates, Alexander feels awful.
On the way downstairs the elevator door closed on my foot and while we were waiting for my mom to go get the car Anthony made me fall where it was muddy and then when I started crying because of the mud Nick said I was a crybaby and while I was punching Nick for saying crybaby my mom came back with the car and scolded me for being muddy and fighting.
I am having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I told everybody. No one even answered.
A great choice for older children, this is a classic picture book that will encourage reflection. Some of Alexander’s problems can be blamed on bad luck, others are due to poor choices. In any event, it is an opportunity for children and adults to reflect on the fact that we all experience some days that are terrible and horrible.
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