Posts Tagged ‘watercolour illustrations’

Halloween Theme Picture Book Treats!

Posted on October 23rd, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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Fill your home with Halloween Fun from Storytime Standouts

Sharing some Wonderful Halloween Theme Picture Book Treats for Young Readers

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 featuring friendship, tolerance, learning about others all accomplished 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 WitchA Very Brave Witch written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Harry Bliss
Halloween theme picture book published by Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books

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

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

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

Suitable for preschool and older

Scare Factor = 1

A Very Brave Witch at Amazon.com

A Very Brave Witch at Amazon.ca

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

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

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

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

Scare Factor = 2

A Creepy Countdown at Amazon.com

A Creepy Countdown at Amazon.ca

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

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

Scare Factor = 1

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

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

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

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

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

Scare Factor = 1

Ten Timid Ghosts at Amazon.com

Ten Timid Ghosts at Amazon.ca

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

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

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

Scare Factor = 1

Trick or Treat? at Amazon.com

Trick or Treat? at Amazon.ca


Halloween Theme Printables for Kids

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Witch Hat

Halloween, Witch theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Pumpkin

Fall theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Halloween Picture Dictionary

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

image of PDF icon  Five Little Ghosts

Use as an action chant or a felt board story

image of PDF icon  Five Little Pumpkins

Use as a action chant or a felt board story

image of PDF icon  The Wheels on the Halloween Bus

image of PDF icon  Halloween Crossword Puzzle

image of PDF icon  Halloween Word Search


The Busiest Street in Town – Community & Social Responsibility

Posted on June 6th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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





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

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

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

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

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

An Indie Next Pick

The Busiest Street in Town at Amazon.com

The Busiest Street in Town at Amazon.ca

St. Patrick’s Day Picture Books

Posted on March 3rd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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

~Author Unknown

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

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



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



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

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

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

A Fine St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.com

A Fine St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.ca

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



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

Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day! at Amazon.com

Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day! at Amazon.ca

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



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

Lets Celebrate St Patrick’s Day at Amazon.com

Let’s Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.ca

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

~Irish Blessing

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



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

Suitable for children aged four years and up.

St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.com

St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.ca

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



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

St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.com

St. Patrick’s Day at Amazon.ca

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



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

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

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

St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning at Amazon.com

St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning at Amazon.ca

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

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



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

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

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

That’s What Leprechauns Do at Amazon.com

That’s What Leprechauns Do at Amazon.ca


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

Kid Lit Blog Hop

Journey is Wonderful!

Posted on January 29th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Wordless picture book JourneyJourney created by Aaron Becker
Wordless picture book published by Candlewick Press




Wondrous, beautiful, inspiring, magical

So many words could accurately describe Journey. A wordless picture book, Journey is the story of a city-dwelling girl whose family members are occupied with chores and technology. As she sits, bored and perhaps lonely, on the front stoop, a neighboorhood boy stands nearby, holding a purple crayon. She goes inside the house and tries to engage her family members in play but they are busy. Disappointed, she goes to her bedroom. Moments later, she notices a red crayon on the bedroom floor. She picks it up, draws a doorway on her bedroom wall and escapes her boring, sepia-toned environment. Soon she is surrounded by gorgeous, glowing colors. Her magical red crayon allows her to create a rowboat, a hot air balloon and a magic carpet as she explores a mystical word, filled with unusual people, intriguing buildings and fascinating machines.

In this wondrous world, she encounters the neighboorhood boy with the purple crayon, the circle is completed and she discovers a new friend.

Highly recommended, Journey will be appreciated most by children aged four years and up. As well, adults will be inspired by both the illustrations and the narrative.

Caldecott Honor Book 2014

Journey at Amazon.com

Journey at Amazon.ca

‘Journey’ Book Trailor

How ‘Journey’ Came to Be

Celebrate the Holidays with a Christmas Picture Book

Posted on December 23rd, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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


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

Pete the Cat website

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

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

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

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas at Amazon.com

Pete The Cat Saves Christmas at Amazon.ca

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

Llama Llama website

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

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

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

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

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

Llama Llama Holiday Drama at Amazon.com

Llama Llama Holiday Drama at Amazon.ca

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

Posted on November 26th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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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

Crouching Tiger highlights Tai Chi, Chinese New Year and Family

Posted on January 22nd, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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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


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

Posted on December 11th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

Bullies Never Win at Amazon.com

Bullies Never Win at Amazon.ca

Lesson plans for Bullies Never WIn

Literature unit from edHelper.com

Lesson plan from Spoken Arts Media

Bully vs Friend activity from Scholastic

Ian’s Walk, Autism Picture Book by Laurie Lears and Karen Ritz

Posted on November 27th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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cover art for Autism picture book Ian's WalkIan’s Walk: A Story About Autism Written by Laurie Lears and illustrated by Karen Ritz
Autism picture book published by Albert Whitman & Company

You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Ian’s mom is reluctant to have him go to the park with his sisters. She warns the two girls to keep a close eye on him. Enroute to the park, the children pass a diner. Ian is fascinated by the circling ceiling fan. He hardly notices the siren of a passing fire truck but seems to hear something else. Not interested in fragrant lilacs, Ian would rather put his face up to a brick wall.

Ian feels things differently … while Tara and I toss cereal to the ducks, Ian lies on the ground with his cheeks pressed against the hard stones.

Ian is non verbal and sometimes waves his hands. Aware of how Ian is different and conscious that other people watch him, his sister acknowledges that she sometimes feels angry.

When Ian wanders away while they are all at the park, his frantic sisters race to find him. Finally, Julie tries to think like her brother does. She remembers he likes a bell and, sure enough, finds him underneath it.

As the three siblings return home, they pause to enjoy the walk and especially the sights, sounds and smells that matter to Ian.

Ian’s Walk acknowledges the frustrations of loving a sibling who is autistic and encourages young readers to consider a different perspective.

Beautiful watercolour illustrations enhance the narrative and lovingly depict the children’s facial expressions.

Ian’s Walk is written from the perspective of a sibling.

Ian’s Walk: A Story about Autism at Amazon.com

Ian’s Walk: A Story About Autism at Amazon.ca


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

Posted on November 19th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

Two of a Kind at Amazon.com

Two of a Kind at Amazon.ca


Anti bullying book for beginning readers: Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl

Posted on November 4th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl written by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser and Ted Enik
Anti bullying book for beginning readers published by Harper Collins Children’s

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

Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl is part of Harper Collins Children’s I Can Read series. Ranked by Harper Collins as “Beginning Reading Level 1,” it is generously illustrated and includes words such as appetite, splendid, speechless and canceled.

Field Day is just around the corner. Most of Nancy’s classmates are excited about the upcoming races but Nancy is not. She is dreading Field Day because she is not good at running and last year, when her team lost, she was teased. When Nancy discovers that Grace is on her team, she is doubly concerned. Grace is sometimes mean.

Nancy trains hard for the relay race but her training is too little. too late. She decides a different tactic might work. She pretends she has injured her foot and she begins limping. Nancy’s dad is not convinced by her limp and he questions her about it. Finally, Nancy confides and explains why she is upset.

After a conversation with her dad, Nancy feels better and she approaches Field Day and Grace with a plan. She speaks to Grace

“I will run as fast as I can.
But if we lose,
don’t say mean stuff.
You are a good runner.
But you are not a good sport.”

Fans of the Fancy Nancy series are sure to enjoy this anti bullying book for beginning readers. The story is engaging. Both Nancy’s problem and the outcome are realistic. Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl could lead to discussions of teasing and bullying as well as sportsmanship and doing one’s best in a difficult situtation.

Recommended for children aged six and up.
Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl at Amazon.com

Fancy Nancy And The Mean Girl at Amazon.ca

Note – my copy of Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl is a (hardcover) First Edition, copyrighted 2011. There is a typo on page 16: “That’s means I’m not hungry”


A picture book about teasing and acceptance, Yoko by Rosemary Wells

Posted on October 31st, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Yoko written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells

Picture book about teasing and acceptance

published by Hyperion Books for Children

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

When Yoko’s mom packs her favourite things for lunch, Yoko happily boards the school bus and enjoys the morning with her classmates. At lunchtime,

Yoko opened the willow-covered cooler. Inside was her favourite sushi. Tucked in the rice rolls were the crispiest cucumber, the pinkest shrimp, the greenest seaweed, and the tastiest tuna.

When a classmate notices Yoko’s lunch, he remarks, “What’s in your lunch? … Ick! It’s green! It’s seaweed!”

Poor Yoko, before long all of her classmates are laughing about the food in her lunch and she is heartbroken. Fortunately, her teacher, Mrs. Jenkins is alert to the problem and she devises a solution. She announces there will be an International Food Day at Yoko’s school.

Sadly, on the day of the special event, all her classmates avoid Yoko’s sushi. Finally, Timothy gives it a try. He loves the delicious sushi and he’d like to eat it again the following day. Yoko has found a friend. The following day, they push their desks together and enjoy a lovely lunch.

Yoko is a heartwarming picture book about teasing and acceptance. It lends itself well to discussions about tolerance and celebrating our differences. Yoko will appeal to children in preschool and kindergarten.

For fans of this book, Yoko also appears in Yoko’s Show and Tell, Yoko Writes Her Name, Yoko’s Paper Cranes.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

Yoko at Amazon.com

Yoko at Amazon.ca

Watch Yoko


Jungle Bullies – anti bullying picture book for preschool

Posted on October 30th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Jungle Bullies written by Steven Kroll and illustrated by Vincent Nguyen
Anti bullying picture book published by Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books

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

One morning Elephant went down to the pond for his bath. But who was there first? Hippo, and he was taking up a lot of space.
Elephant glared at Hippo.
“Get out of the water, Hippo,” he said. “I want to bathe in peace.”

Jungle Bullies written by Steven Kroll and illustrated by Vincent Nguyen

Hippo leaves the pond, only to find Lion on the path. Since Hippo is bigger than Lion, he nudges Lion. The bullying behavior moves from animal to animal until it finally reaches Monkey. Monkey complains to his mama and she replies, “Son, you have to stand up to bullies. You go back to Leopard, and you tell him there’s enough room for two on that branch.” Mama accompanies Monkey as he nervously approaches Leopard. Monkey reminds Leopard to share and to stop being mean. Leopard is taken aback, he is suddently much less comfortable on his branch. He decides Monkey can stay on the branch and then he gets an idea. As Monkey’s message moves from animal to animal, friendships are restored and the former bullies discover it is much more fun to share.

An ideal introduction to the topics of bullying and sharing, Jungle Bullies features predictable recurring text. It is a beautifully illustrated anti bullying picture book and will be enjoyed by preschool age children.

Dusty The Dragon from the Lewisville Fire Department (TX) reads Jungle Bullies and sings “Don’t Be Cruel to the Kids at School”

Lesson plan from Teacher Think Tank

Jungle Bullies at Amazon.com

Jungle Bullies at Amazon.ca


The Lion and the Mouse, An Award Winning Almost Wordless Picturebook

Posted on July 9th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at an award-winning almost wordless picturebook, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Storytime Standouts looks at award winning almost wordless picturebook, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
The Lion and the Mouse created by Jerry Pinkney
Almost wordless picturebook published by Little, Brown Kids



Be sure to check out our page devoted to wordless picture books. As well, you will be interested in our page about anti-bullying picture books for children.

The story of the lion and the mouse is an Aesop’s fable that every child ought to know well. The lion, powerful and dangerous resists an opportunity for bullying and, instead, is kind to a small mouse. Later, when the lion is trapped in a hunter’s net, the grateful mouse has an opportunity to return the favour. He chews the rope net and eventually manages to free the lion.

Jerry Pinkney has created a masterful, almost wordless picturebook version of The Lion and the Mouse. From cover to cover, beautiful illustrations depict the African Savanna and the animals found there while telling the story of a compassionate lion and his small friend. Winner of the 2010 Randolph Caldecott Medal and also a New York Times 2010 Best Illustrated Book and a 2010 Horn Book Awards Honor Book, The Lion and the Mouse relies upon the illustrations to tell the story. Pinkney only uses words to describe animal sounds.

Highly recommended for both classroom and home libraries, The Lion and the Mouse could be used to explore many themes including anti-bullying, friendship and stereotying.

Educator’s Guide in PDF format

The Lion & the Mouse at Amazon.com

The Lion & the Mouse at Amazon.ca


Wordless Picture Book The Boys by Jeff Newman

Posted on June 8th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Jeff Newman’s wordless picture book, The Boys



Storytime Standouts looks at The Boys by Jeff Newman, a wordless picture book about social situations, baseball and joining in.The Boys created by Jeff Newman
Almost Wordless Picture Book published by Simon and Schuster



When a young lad moves houses with his family, he is anxious to find a baseball game in his new neighbourhood. He unpacks his baseball glove, bat and spikes and ventures out into the neighbourhood.

Once he arrives at the park, he hesitates, watching some children from afar. Rather than joining the kids’ game, he is dejected. He slowly approaches a park bench and sits down. Four aging men are already seated, feeding the pigeons.

The following day, the disappointed boy stores his baseball gear away and joins the men sitting on the bench. He helps to feed the pigeons.

The men take note of his appearance when he joins them on the bench a third time. He looks old – probably much older than they feel! It is time for action.

The men give up sitting on the park bench, instead playing on the playground monkey bars and the slide. They are smiling and laughing. They have been transformed. When a bike awaits the boy the following day, it is clear the men think it is time to get moving – they climb onto bikes, a scooter and a wagon, annoying the pigeons and our boy. He just wants to sit.

Little does he know, a plan is afoot. On Sunday the men will play a baseball game. They supply a batting helmet and a bat, and watch as their hesitant young friend hits one “out of the park.”

Confidence regained, the youngster approaches the boys and girls playing at the park and joins their baseball game. The cronies cheer from the stands.

There is much to love about The Boys . Boldly illustrated, the almost wordless picturebook introduces themes of social isolation, self confidence, ageism and the value of play. Readers will find it both thought-provoking and reassuring.

Suitable for children kindergarten age and older.

One of Kirkus Reviews’ 2010 Best Children’s Books

The Boys at Amazon.com

The Boys at Amazon.ca

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books


Wordless Picture Book Explores Friendship: South by Patrick McDonnell

Posted on June 6th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at an almost wordless picture book about friendship, South


Storytime Standouts looks at a wordless picture book about friendship, South by Patrick McDonnellSouth created by Patrick McDonnell
Almost wordless picture book published by Little, Brown






The Mutts comic strip appears in over 700 newspapers and Mooch the Cat is one member of a diverse “cast” of characters appearing in the cartoons. Whether you are a fan of the comic strip or not, South and Mooch are sure to charm you in this gentle story of friendship and acceptance.

As the last leaf detaches from a tree, a large flock of yellow songbirds lifts to the sky. It is time to head South for the winter. The golden leaf slowly drifts downward until it lands on a snoozing bird. Awakened suddenly by the intrusive leaf, the drowsy bird is shocked to discover an empty tree. Where is the flock? Agitated and suddenly very lonely, the bird seeks help from Mooch and is devastated to learn that the flock has left for warmer climes.

Mooch pauses, thinks and extends his paw. Mooch will help the errant bird find the flock. Together, the two unlikely friends travel through a busy city, into a forest and through a snowstorm as they search for the flock. At times, Mooch carries the tired bird on his back. The unexpected friendship between the two deepens. When the weary pair finally hear the sweet sounds of the songbirds, they share a tender moment before parting company. Satisfied, Mooch returns home and curls up by a welcoming fire. Winter has arrived and his job is done.

South themes include loneliness, kindness, friendship and social responsibility. Printed on recycled paper, the almost-sepia tones match the mood and a story set in Autumn beautifully. Well suited to children aged four and up, South will be equally enjoyed by adults.

South at Amazon.com

South at Amazon.ca

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books


Beaver is Lost – An Almost Wordless Picture Book

Posted on June 3rd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Elisha Cooper’s almost wordless picture book, Beaver is Lost

Storytime Standouts looks at Beaver is Lost by Elisha Cooper, an almost wordless picture book #kidlit #picturebook #wordless Beaver is Lost created by Elisha Cooper
An almost wordless picture book, published by Schwartz and Wade Books, an imprint of Random House



When beaver floats away from his dam and his three friends, he soon finds himself surrounded by hardworking people and their enormous machines. The workers are loading lumber onto a truck.

Beaver hops aboard a fully loaded truck and hitches a ride to the city. Once there, he scampers away from the truck. A snarling dog chases him through a hole in a fence and into a backyard. Leaving his new enemy behind, Beaver swims through an alligator-toy infested pool and is eager for further adventures. It is not long before he discovers the city zoo and some distant relatives. Escaping a surprised zookeeper, he dives into a duck pond on his way into the busy city.

Our ever-resourceful new friend is not one to shy away from drainpipes, crowds of people, stairways or bodies of water. Happily, as the sun sets, his exploits lead him to a familiar river and a welcome home. Readers are left to wonder whether Beaver was truly lost – perhaps he just possesses an adventurous spirit.

Beautiful watercolour cityscapes and waterscapes together with fast-paced frames and an engaging story highlight Beaver is Lost. Highly recommended for children aged four and up.

For older children, possible extension activities for this almost wordless picture book could include devising further exciting adventures downstream.

One of Kirkus Reviews’ 2010 Best Children’s Books

Beaver Is Lost at Amazon.com

Beaver Is Lost at Amazon.ca

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books



Wave – Wordless Picture Book

Posted on June 2nd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at a wordless picture book by Suzy Lee: Wave

Storytime Standouts looks at Wave, a wordless picture book by Suzy LeeWave – created by Suzy Lee
Wordless picture book published by Chronicle Books



It hardly seems right to attempt to capture the infectious spirit and joy of Suzy Lee’s Wave with mere words but I shall try.

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

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

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

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

Wave at Amazon.com

Wave at Amazon.ca

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books



Ruby’s Wish is a Gem With an Important Message for Girls

Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Ruby's Wish is a Gem With an Important Message for GirlsRuby’s Wish written by Shirin Yim Bridges and illustrated by Sockie Blackall
Picture book published by Chronicle Books



Many years ago, Ruby lived with her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in a huge house in a city in China. At that time, girls did not typically have a chance to go to school but Ruby was fortunate. In her household, because there were many children, a teacher came and taught all the boys. Unlike her girl cousins, Ruby did not want to be married; she wanted to go to university. Each day, Ruby worked hard to study with the boys in addition to learning all of the household skills expected of girls.

Ruby’s Wish is beautifully illustrated and lovingly told. Based on a true story, Ruby’s Wish will be enjoyed by children five years and up.

Ruby’s Wish at Amazon.com

Ruby’s Wish at Amazon.ca

You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.

Don’t miss our page of quotes about diversity.



Overscheduled? Make Time For So Few of Me By Peter Reynolds

Posted on August 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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It is rare to find a parent or child who does not feel overscheduled. Balancing (school)work, chores, sports activities and lessons seems to be a national pasttime. In our household we are enjoying a bit of a ‘breather’ from sports this week. Usually we are racing from school to gym to hockey rink to home. I always joke that my boys never ate in the car when they were toddlers or preschool age but these days I frequently load up a tray and wait to refuel one or both of them. If only I could clone myself… or my husband. Life would be so much better – or would it?

Overscheduled?  Make Time For So Few of Me By Peter ReynoldsSo Few of Me
Written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Picture book published by Candlewick Press





Orverscheduled Leo’s ‘To Do’ list is growing by the minute. One day it occurs to him that if there were two of him, all those jobs might be manageable. It is not long before one Leo becomes two and two becomes three. Soon there are nine extra Leos busily working, rushing, delivering, organizing, carrying and making To Do lists…

Leo awoke to nine other Leos ataring at him. “What were you doing?” they demanded.
I was dreaming.” Leo said softly.
“Dreaming was NOT on the list!” they roared.

Leo discovers that adding more Leos to his world doesn’t solve his problem. He learns that, even when one feels over scheduled, making time to dream can make all the difference. Leo decides to do less but do his best.

Peter H. Reynolds illustrations and message are a joy. Be sure to make time to enjoy this contemporary fable with your family and friends.

Peter H. Reynolds suggestions for sparking creativity

I would love to hear about your favorite Peter H Reynolds book. I am thinking The Dot but Ish is also an inspiration… oh my, I’m not sure I can pick just one.

So Few of Me at Amazon.com

So Few of Me at Amazon.ca



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