Posts Tagged ‘Canadian illustrator’

Introducing “Can I?” by Jessie Nagra and Kurt Hershey

Posted on October 9th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Can I by Jessie Nagra

Can I? written by Jessie Nagra and illustrated by Kurt Hershey

Generously illustrated late primary/middle-grade fiction that explores individuality, independence and acceptance published by Friesen Press

I think most parents hope their children will share (at least) some of their passions. Whether introducing kids to music, sports, books or hobbies, there is often an underlying desire to have your offspring share your enthusiasm for a band, an author, a team or an activity.

My youngest son loves team sports and we have watched him play competitive soccer, softball, basketball, volleyball and hockey. For quite some time, he played soccer and hockey concurrently. We held our breath to see what he would choose when he could no longer manage the demands of both.

Johnny’s facing a slightly different challenge. His dad eats, sleeps and breathes soccer. He is excited each and every time Johnny plays and he secretly hopes to coach the team. Ready with suggestions for improvement, Dad wears a team tracksuit and whistle to each of Johnny’s games.

Johnny’s soccer coach is loud and angry. The team is on a losing streak and the lopsided score is not helping his mood. Johnny’s not having fun either but is hesitant to tell his soccer-fan father.

“Dad….I don’t like soccer. I don’t want to play it anymore.”

Generously illustrated, with engaging illustrations and text, Can I? explores themes of independence, individuality and acceptance — especially within families. Sharing with a child or children will offer up a golden opportunity for thoughtful discussion about independence and freedom to pursue one’s interests and passions.

Available in paperback, hardcover and e-reader formats.

Can I? at Amazon.com

Can I? at Amazon.ca

We are thrilled to introduce author/illustrator Scot Ritchie

Posted on August 27th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Photo of author illustrator Scot Ritchie

Scot Ritchie is an award-winning illustrator and author with more than 65 books to his credit.

His books have been translated into French, Korean, Indonesian, Polish, Finnish, Arabic and Dutch. Scot has worked with the National Film Board of Canada and has had his illustrations exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Connect with Scot online –

Link to author/illustrator website

Author/illustrator Instagram: scot.ritchie

Check out Scot’s outstanding artwork here

Tell us about your latest published book

Lilliana and the Frogs by Scot Ritchie

Lilliana and the Frogs is published by Harbour Publishing. I wrote it for kids who love nature or kids who need more nature. So that pretty much includes everyone. I’m most proud that it conveys, in a playful way, a message of respecting and enjoying nature.

Lilliana and the Frogs at Amazon.com

Lilliana and the Frogs at Amazon.ca

Who is your favorite author now? Why do you connect with this particular author and his/her work?

Patricia Highsmith is my favourite author. She is a straightforward, clean writer – something that is a good fit for kids books. I have to include my favourite illustrator – Sempé. His work is very low key but always with a wry sense of humour.

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

After illustrating a number of books I decided to try writing my own stories. There were two motivations, one artistic and one practical. Artistically it felt natural to create the other half of a children’s book. But behind that publishing was going through some lean years and I knew I could increase my income by writing. It’s worth mentioning that being able to do both really is a gift because you are seeing what you are writing and, hopefully then, not over writing. The person who was the biggest influence on me was Sheila Barry. She was smart, kind, funny and reassuring.

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

The kernel of an idea can come from something I see. Sometimes I start with rough sketches. Or, as in the case of my newest book, Lilliana and the Frogs, the story comes first. This story developed from something I did as a little boy mixed in with my passion for nature. Writing is a combination of typing, having a coffee, going for a walk on the seawall, returning for a coffee and a sit… then doing it all again. Sometimes walking can be the most helpful. I don’t necessarily think about the story. In fact, I often park it in the back of my head and let that part of my mind do some sorting. Another vital part of the process is putting it away for a week or two so that it’s fresh when I look again. I have also recently discovered the joys of working with a good editor. It’s so useful to have an outside view, especially somebody who knows the world of kids books. Drawing for me is the most fun part and it usually comes after I’ve got a good grasp of the story. By then I know the characters and locations. Sometimes I will do thumbnails for the whole book beforehand but often not. After 60 some books I can pretty well map it out in my head.

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

Not to get too philosophical but I think being able to find things inside you and express them is a pretty nice gift. You’re left with a book that people can enjoy and you also discover aspects of yourself you may not have known were there. I love that ‘Lilliana and the Frogs’ just might excite some kids to get out to the pond and snoop around. And to top it all off, it seems to me that people in the children’s publishing business are pretty nice all round.

If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

I’ve been freelancing as an artist or writer for my whole life. I often joke it helps if you only have one skill, that way you sink or swim. If I was to do something else I’m a nature lover and especially fascinated by the amazing world of insects. Plus I’m an avid traveller so let’s say my ideal (alternate) job would be studying beetles in Greece.

Introducing Judy Hilgemann, author/illustrator of The Great Grizzlies Go Home

Posted on July 9th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts profiles author Judy Hilgemann.

Judy Hilgemann has always lived in coastal British Columbia. She grew up on northern Vancouver Island, studied and lived in various Canadian cities, then settled on Haida Gwaii. She paints in watercolour, acrylic, and encaustic.

The rugged west coast wilderness, the local character of coastal communities, and the details of the natural world, are her inspirations. Whenever possible, she creates plein-air watercolour paintings in nature, and then works up larger paintings from the studies, back in her studio.

Be sure to visit Judy Hilgemann’s website to view some of her illustrations, including murals for BC Children’s Hospital and for the Haida Gwaii Literacy Poster Project.

Follow Judy on Twitter @judyh615

Judy’s first illustrated children’s book, “B is for Basketball”, was published in the spring of 2011 and has since been used as a “Welcome To
Kindergarten” book across Canada
. Her latest book is “The Great Grizzlie Go Home”, a picture book about a true event, published by Harbour Publishing in April 2020.

The Great Grizzles Go Home is illustrated by Judy Hilgemann

Who do you think should read The Great Grizzlies Go Home? What are you most proud of? 

All ages! Am most proud of the illustrations.

The Great Grizzlies Go Home at Amazon.com

The Great Grizzlies Go Home at Amazon.ca

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

It was a bit difficult to get my first “trade” fiction publication. There are just so many great ideas and authors and illustrators out there – must be very hard for publishers to chose between them all. One of the encouraging things I was told, was not to give up too soon – that sometimes the book idea you are attempting is just not right for the publisher you approach. So keep trying many different publishers.

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

During my childhood I loved Maurice Sendak picture books the most. I loved the magical realism, the way humans interacted with animals, and the zany imaginative characters.

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

When I was a very small child (6) I knew I wanted to be an artist. By the time I was 10 or 12 I was illustrating books for myself as I read them, making little sketches of the images that the stories put in my head. My parents encouraged me all along, as did my friends and teachers. When I was 15, I worked for a potter, as a studio-helper. One day I overheard her describing me as having “talent dripping from her fingertips”. I have never forgotten that phrase, and I have striven to honour this gift ever since.

If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

I have worked in many other jobs along the way, but drawing, painting, and illustrating have always been my main goal. Graphic Design was an obvious choice for first-year college, although I learned it was hard to find enough work in small northern places in that field. So I got a teaching degree which would allow me to work almost anywhere. Then life and family happened, and it’s been a wonderful blur and mix of all those things ever since.

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

I would choose to dine at the home of turn-of-the-century Swedish artist, Carl Larsson because I love his work, his mastery of composition, the way he incorporated his children into his paintings, and also because I would love to go to Sweden where I have ancestors to visit!

5 Terrific Picture Books About Children Having Problems Learning to Read

Posted on July 19th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart


5 Picture Books About Characters Having Trouble Learning to Read

If you are supporting a child who is having difficulty learning to read, these are picture books that share an encouraging message. Reading well involves learning a variety of strategies and practising them with increasingly difficult text. For a child who has difficulty with letter recognition, dyslexia, phonemic awareness or comprehension, reading can be a terrible struggle. Hearing about the experiences of other children can be a help.

Here, we share five picture books that will be helpful for children who are having trouble learning to read.

“Learning to read and read well is already hard enough: it takes years of practice to make knowledge of reading automatic, transparent and fluid. When children practice reading in a context that’s kind– with books they love, teachers who understand reading, and systems devised to make a hard thing easier — they’re more inclined to practice, remember, make sense of, get better at, and love reading.”

Nancie Atwell in The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers

5 Terrific Picture Books About Children Having Problems Learning to Read Click To Tweet

I Don't Like to Ready by Nancy CarlsonI Don’t Like to Read! written and illustrate by Nancy Carlson
Picture book about Having Trouble Learning to Read published by Puffin

Henry likes first grade but he does not like reading. He avoids it at school and at home. One day, his teacher asks him what the problem is and he confides. His teacher offers extra help and before too long, when a babysitter is not available to read aloud to Henry and his sibling, Henry takes over, reading with increasing confidence and emerges with a love of reading at home and at school.

Ms Carson’s illustrations are a highlight of this engaging picture book. Henry’s body language, especially as a non-reader, is a terrific addition to her delightful story.

Level of Reading Intervention – Resource teacher at school, extra practice at home
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) – N/A

I Don’t Like to Read! at Amazon.com

I Don’t Like to Read! at Amazon.ca


Lily and the Mixed Up Letters is a story about difficulty learning to readLily and the Mixed Up Letters written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Fance Brassard
Picture Book about Having Trouble Learning to Read published by Tundra Books

Lily enjoys school and especially opportunities to create art. Unfortunately, grade two is not as much fun as kindergarten and grade one were. Reading aloud is especially worrisome for Lily and, when her teacher announces Parent Day will include having each student read out loud, Lily confides her lack of confidence reading to her mom,

I can’t do it,” she sobs. “I can’t read my page on Parent Day. It’s too hard. All the other kids can read their pages, but I can’t read mine.”

Lily’s mom is empathetic and requests that she receive extra help at school. Her teacher assigns a peer Reading Buddy and Lily also practices at home. By Parent Day, Lily is ready for the challenge.

Level of Reading Intervention – Peer reading buddy at school, extra practice at home
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) – N/A

Lily and the Mixed-Up Letters at Amazon.com

Lily and the Mixed-Up Letters at Amazon.ca


Children's books about learning disabilities, Miss Little's Gift
Miss Little’s Gift written by Douglas Wood and illustrated by Jim Burke
Autobiographical Picture Book about Living with ADHD and Difficulty Learning to Read published by Candlewick Press

Douglas is in grade two and he doesn’t like having to sit still. He interrupts his teacher; he has problems with reading and on the playground. He is very resistant to staying after school in order to get extra help with reading but Miss Little is firm and determined. She finds a book to match his interests, she encourages him and she gives him just enough help. Miss Little’s Gift is a celebration of the difference a wonderful, caring teacher can make.

Level of Reading Intervention – extra time with a classroom teacher
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) – ADHD in Author’s Note

Miss Little’s Gift at Amazon.com

Miss Little’s Gift at Amazon.ca


Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader BehindMiss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind written by Judy Finchler and Kevin O’Malley and illustrated by Kevin O’Malley
Picture book about a reluctant reader and a persistent teacher published by Bloomsbury USA

In Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind, we meet a student who is able to read but simply does not like reading. He much prefers playing video games with his friend. His very determined book-loving teacher spends the entire school year trying to find a book that will captivate him. One by one she wins over his classmates but it is not until the year is almost over that she finds the key to unlocking a love of reading and books.

This picture book would be a good read-aloud at the start of a school year, especially for teachers and librarians who have an extensive classroom library and a very good knowledge of books that will appeal to hard-to-reach students.

We also suggest reading our series, Journey of a Reluctant Reader

Level of Reading Intervention – Classroom teacher
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) – Reluctant reader

Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind at Amazon.com

Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind at Amazon.ca


Thank You, Storytime Standouts looks at picture books about children having difficulty learning to read including Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia PolaccoThank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
Picture book about Having Trouble Learning to Read published by The Penguin Group

Thank you, Mr. Falker is an autobiographical picture book about Ms. Polacco’s difficulty learning to read and the help she finally received in grade five. A detailed, thoughtful story for older children, Thank you, Mr. Falker explains that Trisha grew up in a family that loved reading and treasured books. After the loss of her grandparents, she moved to California with her mother and her brother. Trisha hoped it would be a fresh start and that reading would be easier but her struggles persisted and before too long she was being teased by bullies.

it is not until Trisha is in fifth grade, with a teacher who is new to the school, that the bullying is called out and Trisha receives extra instruction.

We’re going to change all that, girl. You’re going to read – I promise you that.”

This picture book is best-suited older children and highlights the fact that some children can hide their difficulties with reading for quite some time.

Level of Reading Intervention – Classroom teacher and reading resource teacher
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) -N/A

Thank You, Mr. Falker at Amazon.com

Thank You, Mr. Falker at Amazon.ca

The Girl Who Hated Books

An animated short from the National Film Board of Canada introduces us to Meena, a young girl who hates books.

We also wrote about Storytime Standouts writes about I Hate BooksI Hate Books by Kate Walker



BONUS BOOKS ABOUT CHILDREN FACING CHALLENGES LEARNING TO READ

Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don't) is a picture book about a girl who is reluctant to read.

Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t) written by Barbara Bottner and illustrated by Michael Emberley

Picture book about a reluctant reader published by Alfred A. Knopf

Booklovers will be enchanted by Miss Brooks and her enthusiasm for sharing picture books with her class. Missy doesn’t share the librarian’s enthusiasm for reading or for her book-related costumes.

” All year long, Miss Brooks reads us books. Books about dragons and Pilgrims and presidents. Books about love and leprechauns. Groundhogs, even! It’s vexing.”

It is not until Book Week that Missy decides that she wants to read a book that includes warts. Missy’s mom suggests Shrek and soon Missy and her mom have created an ogre costume and she is ready to present the story to her class.

Rich vocabulary and fun illustrations make this a great read aloud choice for kindergarten and early primary-age children.

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) at Amazon.com

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts shares Hooray for Reading Day!

Hooray for Reading Day! written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Arthur Howard

Picture Book about a (grade 1) child’s anxiety about reading aloud published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Jessica has other worries that have been explored in Stop Drop and Roll (A Book about Fire Safety) and 100th Day Worries.

In Hooray for Reading Day! Jessica already feels self-conscious when reading aloud in front of her classmates, her fears worsen when Mr. Martin announces plans for a parent event at school that will require her to wear a costume and read aloud in front of parents.

Anyone who feels anxious about reading aloud or public speaking will understand Jessica’s worries. Meanwhile, her mom and dad are enthusiastic and reassuring about the performance and offer to help with a costume.

When Jessica can’t sleep, she decides to practice her reading with Wiggles, the family dog listening. She discovers, to her delight, that reading to Wiggles is easy and that it helps her to become more successful and confident with her reading.

Hooray for Reading Day! is skillfully illustrated by Arthur Howard (Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea, Hoodwinked) and, apart from sharing a positive message about learning to read, the book presents an opportunity to discuss emotions and teasing. It would be a good pick to share at the start of the school year or whenever children need encouragement with reading.

Hooray for Reading Day! (Jessica Worries) at Amazon.com

Hooray for Reading Day at Amazon.ca

Introducing children’s book illustrator François Thisdale (Interview)

Posted on January 26th, 2017 by Carolyn Hart


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

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

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

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

French Toast at Amazon.com

French Toast at Amazon.ca

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hard to choose… Let me give you three names.

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

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

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


Halloween-Theme Picture Books and Free Printables for Kids!

Posted on October 23rd, 2016 by Carolyn Hart


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

Halloween-Theme Stories and Printables for Homeschool and Classroom

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

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




Scroll down for our free Halloween-theme printables for children



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

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

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

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

Suitable for preschool and older

Scare Factor = 1

A Very Brave Witch at Amazon.com

A Very Brave Witch at Amazon.ca


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

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

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

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

Scare Factor = 2

A Creepy Countdown at Amazon.com

A Creepy Countdown at Amazon.ca


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

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

Scare Factor = 1

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

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


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

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

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

Scare Factor = 1

Ten Timid Ghosts at Amazon.com

Ten Timid Ghosts at Amazon.ca


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

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

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

Scare Factor = 1

Trick or Treat? at Amazon.com

Trick or Treat? at Amazon.ca


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

Free Printable Halloween Theme Learning Resources 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 with pumpkins for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Halloween Picture Dictionary

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

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

image of PDF icon  Five Little Ghosts

Use as an action chant or a felt board story

image of PDF icon  Five Little Pumpkins

Use as a action chant or a felt board story

image of PDF icon  The Wheels on the Halloween Bus

image of PDF icon  Halloween Crossword Puzzle

image of PDF icon  Halloween Word Search


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

Posted on October 9th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hockey Song at Amazon.com

The Hockey Song at Amazon.ca

Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam

Posted on April 30th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

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

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

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

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

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

Awake Beautiful Child at Amazon.com

Awake Beautiful Child at Amazon.ca


Meet Children’s Book Author Illustrator Loraine Kemp

Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Meet Illustrator Loraine KempLoraine Kemp, born in Kelowna, B.C., grew up loving the outdoors on acreage with her horses. Her other favorite pastime was reading fantasy novels. After she graduated from high school, she took two years of Fine Arts. Later, she married an amazing man and had two sons. When her two sons were growing up, she discovered her passion for reading and telling children’s stories. Her sons have grown, but her passion remains.





Many writing courses later, her writing accomplishments include being selected by jury twice to attend the Literary Arts Program (Children’s Writing) of the British Columbia Festival of the Arts. Her short stories also won first place in the following contests: The Willamette Writers Society conference contest in Portland; Byline Magazine contest; Bard’s Ink Writing Contest; and The World Guild’s 2013 Fresh Ink writing contest.

Loraine has written two juvenile novels, and her children’s fantasy Orion’s Sword, won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ 2013 Genesis Contest.

Other accomplishments include illustrating three books. One of them called Tabasco the Saucy Raccoon, was written by Lyn Hancock and published by Sono Nis Press. She toured to schools and libraries with the Lyn doing illustrating workshops and presentations. The other two books will be published by Webb Publishing. Loraine has just been commissioned to illustrate a picture book called Growing Up in Wild Horse Canyon, written by good friend, Karen Autio, and published by Sono Nis Press. She now continues to write and illustrate, and enjoys giving illustrating presentations to schools.

Loraine is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Canscaip, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

Illustrator website

Illustrator Facebook page

Twitter Account @loraine_kemp

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

Tabasco the Saucy Raccoon written by Lyn Hancock and illustrated by Loraine KempTabasco the Saucy Raccoon is my latest published children’s book, aimed at kids, 9 – 12 years of age. It is a true story about a raccoon that was taken around by author Lyn Hancock on her writing tours. The crazy escapades Tabasco gets into will entertain kids of all ages. I am most proud of the fact the I engaged a whole school in the process of illustrating the book. I used Ann McClymont Elementary in Kelowna, B.C. as my home base for all my illustrations. I used the kids, teachers, secretary, principal and the vice principal as my models for the book. I had a blast and so did my models!

Tabasco the Saucy Raccoon at Amazon.com

Tabasco the Saucy Raccoon at Amazon.ca

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 visit schools and do illustrating workshops for now. When I’m published as a writer, I will do both writing and illustrating workshops. I have gone on book tours to B.C., and Ontario and had wonderful times with the author as we toured together to libraries and schools. Now I do them by myself, although in 2016 when my book Growing up in Wild Horse Canyon is published I will again tour with an author, Karen Autio, doing presentations and workshops. In my workshops, I entertain kids by demonstrating my drawing techniques when I draw popular animated characters. I also invite them to display their work on my website. I take copies of their drawings or ask them to send me more. They love to see their work and others on my website. There are many very talented kids out there!! Have a look on my website. You will be astounded!! I also engage on twitter, and would love to see more kids!

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

I derive the greatest pleasure when I engage the kids in the classrooms with my drawings and show them that they too can draw as I walk them through simple and fun drawings. Their presents of pictures they drew are my treasures!! My greatest pleasures of being an author is escaping into my fantasy worlds and playing with my characters on paper!

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

My biggest challenge is that I love both illustrating and writing and it is hard to be away from either for any period of time. Although both take a lot of time. I feel like I’m being split down the middle when I have to decide which to do in a day!

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

I would dine with Kenneth Oppel. He writes such amazing stories and has such a great imagination, that I would love to know him better!

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

Yes I do library and school presentations. I do presentations right now on illustrating to elementary and middle schools, but when my book is published, I will do both presentations and workshops for both as well. My topic for illustrating is discovering details around you, and incorporating them into your drawings. I show them how to use special techniques to be better drawers. I would be happy to go anywhere, although I live in B.C. Canada.

Meet Children’s Book Author and Illustrator Ruth Ohi

Posted on September 4th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


Meet Author illustrator Ruth Ohi (photo by AnnieT)Ruth Ohi is the illustrator of over 50 children’s picture books (17 of which she is also the author). She lives in Toronto, Canada and is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Her books have been selected for the Pennsylvania Centre for the Book’s “Bakers’ Dozen”, the Canadian Toy Testing Council’s “Great Books”, the Ontario Library Association’s “Best Bets” and the Toronto Public Library’s “First & Best”. They have been shortlisted for awards such as the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book, Amelia Francis Howard-Gibbons, Shining Willow, Blue Spruce and Rainforest of Reading awards.





Ruth Ohi’s Facebook page
Ruth Ohi’s website URL
Instagram: @RuthOhi
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ruthohi/

Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend created by Ruth OhiMs. Ohi’s latest published children’s book is Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend (Scholastic Canada/Sept 2014)
Genres:
Social Issues/Friendship
Social Issues/Emotions and Feelings

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it?

My hope would be that “Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend”(Fall 2014/Scholastic Canada) could be enjoyed by anyone who is a friend, would like a friend or wishes to be a friend. Fox and Squirrel’s first story, Fox and Squirrel (Scholastic Canada, Fall 2013) showed that despite their differences, the two could find enough in common to be friends. Their second story came from looking out my studio window and admiring how squirrels could hang out in the highest, teeniest tree branches and thinking, “Hm, Fox couldn’t go there.” And I wondered what if Squirrel met someone else way up high and forgot all about Fox for awhile and how that would make Fox feel.

Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend at Amazon.ca

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

For chapter books it was Lois Darling of the Beverley Cleary original releases. She drew Ramona and Beezus in a way that was so satisfying for me. I very much empathized with Ramona about apples and marshmallows. For picture books, there are too many to list. I think the combination of artists like Leo Lionni, Maurice Sendak, Ezra Jack Keats, Dr. Suess and Robert McCloskey resonated with me because their words and pictures made me want to linger on the pages. They made me care about their characters.

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?Storytime Standouts looks at Shh! My Brother's Napping by Ruth Ohi

Making stories with pictures has always been incredibly satisfying and I’ve always loved picture books, but it wasn’t until university that I seriously considered art as a career. It just took a little while for me to realize it could be an actual full time job! My family was amazingly supportive and that was huge for me. It still is. My sister, Deb (who writes and illustrates under the name of Debbie Ridpath-Ohi) is my guru for all things internet. Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend is dedicated to my first Great Nephew, Ian who is truly a bundle of joy.

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 do have a website where I post preliminary work sketches, my portfolio, and news that made me happy. It’s also where you can find a listing of my upcoming public events, info about booking visits, activity sheets and everything you will ever need to know about my books. Hm, except where to buy them, what their ISBNs are…okay, my website needs work! I’ve also just joined Instagram where I’ll be posting personal illustration and story projects.

Oh, and I’ve made two booktrailers for “Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend”! The first is only 21 seconds and is the result of my experimenting with stop motion photography. The Second is 56 seconds and includes a snippet of a live drawing demo. I’m the one filming the live demo—it’s truly tricky drawing and taping at the same time! Both trailers can be found on my website and YouTube.


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

Just doing the work—writing, revising, scribbling, painting. Finding the perfect balance between the words and the drawings. But I honestly don’t think a picture book really comes into being until a reader finds it. Seeing or hearing about someone who enjoys the book—that’s an incredible source of pleasure for me.

Seeing students use my books or brainstorming tips for their own stories and pictures is super awesome. One of the greatest letters I’ve ever received was after a presentation from a young child, which read:
“Now I love to right.”

Clara and the Bossy by Ruth OhiIf you weren’t an author / illustrator, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

In the summers, as a teen, I’ve worked as a florist, a daycamp counselor, a city special events co-ordinator. As an adult I’ve been fortunate enough to illustrate and write full time. If I wasn’t an author/illustrator, I’d very much love to work with young people in the creative arts.

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I have enjoyed presenting to many schools, libraries, conferences and family festivals across Canada. It’s definitely one of my favourite aspects of this job—sharing words and pictures with adults and kids. And my presentations are easily adapted to suit any age group.I'd Know You Anywhere

Presentations typically include a digital slideshow demonstrating where I get my ideas from. I show character sketches, storyboards and how I draw to brainstorm new ideas. Also included are Q&A, some original artwork and an interactive drawing demonstration. The last 10-15 minutes may be a hands on workshop where participants are very keen to try a brainstorming activity that I tailor especially for that audience. I enjoy speaking one on one to as many as possible about their work during this time. Typically a school or library visit is 45-60 minutes. A maximum audience size of 120 works well for JK/SK through Grade 8. Numbers may increase for older audiences.

Shh! My Brother’s Napping is a highlight of 2014

Posted on September 2nd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Shh! My Brother's Napping by Ruth OhiShh! My Brother’s Napping written and illustrated by Ruth Ohi
Picture book published by North Winds Press An Imprint of Scholastic Canada





Read our interview with Ruth Ohi

My two children were born about 2 1/2 years apart. My older boy was always a great sleeper – he slept through the night from six weeks and had very regular naps. My second son was a completely different story. It took months and months before he slept through the night and naps were never easy and rarely of a predictable duration. Sometimes he slept for thirty minutes, sometimes he slept for two hours. Sleep was an on-going challenge and source of frustration to his weary parents. Given my experience with children napping, I was intrigued to read Shh! My Brother’s Napping.

Ruth Ohi’s picture book Shh! My Brother’s Napping is a highlight of 2014.

From cover to cover the characters ooze personality. Poor mama, she struggles through a rainstorm, carrying groceries and pushing a stroller. She holds her umbrella so it will protect her youngest child. Her older child is walking ahead, filled with energy and enthusiasm for the day. By the time the family arrives home, the baby is asleep in the stroller and his older brother warns readers that it is time to be quiet.Shh! My Brother's Napping spread

Shh! My brother’s napping.
He really needs his sleep.
He was grumbly as a grouch,
and now lies in a heap.

What follows is a charming tale of mama’s wish to prolong the nap as long as possible despite older brother’s play. Children and adults will be charmed by the illustrations and will laugh at the older brother’s lack of sensitivity – he’d like to play some makeshift drums and paint his brother’s face.

Featuring many great opportunities for youngsters to infer and make predictions, Shh! My Brother’s Napping, will be thoroughly enjoyed by parents. It would be a great gift for those who are celebrating the arrival of a second, third or fourth child.

Free Shh! My Brother’s Napping printables from Scholastic Canada

Shh! My Brother’s Napping at Amazon.com

Shh! My Brother’s Napping at Amazon.ca

Wonderful Canadian Picture Books to Read to Your Child

Posted on June 28th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books

I couldn’t possibly create a list of Top Ten Canadian Picture Books or Even Favorite Canadian Picture Books – there are far too many wonderful Canadian picture books to consider.

For this list, I selected great Canadian picture books for a read aloud setting – perhaps circle time in a classroom or storytime in a library. All of the authors are Canadian. In a couple of instances the illustrators are not.

Many of these authors and illustrators have created several wonderful books for children. We invite you to use this list as an introduction to wonderful Canadian Picture Books



Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Bearcub and MamaBearcub and Mama written by Sharon Jennings and illustrated by Mélanie Watt
Canadian Picture Book about the relationship between mother and child published by Kids Can Press

Rich, warm, luminous illustrations enhance the story of a young cub and his mama. As the cub grows, he gains independence and gets separated from his loving, supportive and encouraging mother. Thankfully, he remembers the lessons she taught him and returns, through a snowstorm, to their cave. When he awakens in the morning, she is right there beside him. A lovely and reassuring story, best suited for preschool children.

Bearcub and Mama at Amazon.com

Bearcub and Mama at Amazon.ca

Also by Mélanie Watt – Scaredy Squirrel and Chester’s Masterpiece. Also by Sharon Jennings – No Monsters Here


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including The Blue Hippopotamus
The Blue Hippopotamus – written by Phoebe Gilman and illustrated by Joanne Fitgerald
Canadian picture book published by Scholastic Canada

A finalist for the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Awards, The Blue Hippopotamus is the story of a little hippo who falls in love with the Pharoah’s daughter. When he comes to the sad realization that the young girl will not love a hippo, he seeks the help of a magician and is changed into a clay toy. His love for the girl endures for many years and, when he observes her loneliness as a young woman, he unselfishly wishes for her happiness. His generosity is magically rewarded and he is once again transformed.

Blue Hippopotamus at Amazon.com

Blue Hippopotamus at Amazon.ca

Also by Phoebe Gilman – Jillian Jiggs and Something From Nothing. Also by Joanne Fitzgerald – Yum! Yum!!: Delicious Nursery Rhymes


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Ella  May and the Wishing StoneElla May and the Wishing Stone written by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Geneviève Côté
Canadian picture book about friendship, problem solving published by Tundra Books

While on a trip to the beach, Ella May is fortunate to find an extra special stone – a stone that has a white line all around it. Certain that her extra special stone has the power to grant wishes, Ella May decides that her first wish should be to show the stone to all of her friends. Before long, Ella May’s friends have gathered ’round her, hoping to touch the magical stone. When Ella May refuses to let them hold it, they decide to find their own special stones. Although the children find all sorts of interesting stones, none is equal to Ella May’s.

  • “You’re not nice,” Manuel said. He put his stone in his pocket and tromped down the sidewalk to his own house.
  • Ella May watched him go, “Hey,” she said, “I wanted Manuel to go home and he did. Thank you again, wishing stone.”

Unable to find their own wishing stones, Ella’s friends come up with a creative but short-lived solution to the problem. Unfortunately, nothing resolves the conflict amongst the children; Ella May wants to be the only person with a wishing stone and she wants to keep her friends. The other children are resentful of the stone and of Ella May.

When Ella May finally realizes that having a wishing stone is not nearly as special as having friends, the stage is set for a happy and imaginative solution that reunites the group.

A great choice for children aged four and up, Ella May and the Wishing Stone is a (32 page) story that invites readers to think about what it means to be a friend, how best to share treasured items and imaginative ways to solve problems.

Note – illustrations and children’s names depict a racially diverse group of friends.

Ella May and the Wishing Stone at Amazon.com

Ella May and the Wishing Stone at Amazon.ca

Also by Cary Fagan – Book of Big Brothers and My New Shirt. Also by Geneviève Côté – What Elephant?


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including The Hockey TreeThe Hockey Tree written by David Ward and illustrated by Brian Deines
Canadian picture book published by Scholastic Canada

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 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

Also by David Ward – One Hockey Night. Also by Brian Deines – Camping and Bear on the Train


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including I Want My Hat BackI Want My Hat Back written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
Canadian Picture Book published by Candlewick Press

Poor Bear, he has lost his pointy, red hat. He searches the forest, politely asking, “Have you seen my hat?” He meets Fox, Frog, Rabbit, Turtle, and Snake. None has seen his hat. Bear is bereft and despondent. He frets that his hat is gone forever.

When Deer finally asks, “What does your hat look like?” Bear remembers something important.

Picture book, I Want My Hat Back is a breath of fresh air with a hint of mystery and a touch of revenge.

Best suited to older readers, adults and children (aged five and up) will thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to “read between the lines” and enjoy Klassen’s gallows humor.

Would I read it to a group of three year olds? “Maybe not.” Would I read it to a group of jaded six year olds who think they know all there is to know about picture books? “You betcha!”

Storytime kit from Candlewick Press – includes I Want My Hat Back activities.

I Want My Hat Back at Amazon.com

I Want My Hat Back at Amazon.ca

Also by Jon Klassen – This is Not My Hat and Cat’s Night Out


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including The Imaginary GardenThe Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
Canadian Picture Book 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

Also by Andrew Larsen – In the Tree House


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including The Paper Bag Princess The Paperbag Princess written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Canadian picture book published by Annick Press

Princess Elizabeth is betrothed to Prince Ronald when a large dragon destroys her kingdom, including all of her clothing. Wearing nothing but a paper bag, the very resourceful Princess Elizabeth sets out to rescue her fiancé. When Elizabeth finds the dragon’s cave, she challenges the dragon to prove that he can burn up five forests with just one firey breath. The flattered dragon not only burns up forests, he also flies around the world until exhausted.

Once the dragon is well and truly asleep, Elizabeth finds Prince Ronald who is not nearly as grateful as he ought to be. He is unimpressed with her hair and unimpressed with her clothing and he’d rather she looked like a princess.

A delightful story that depicts the princess as rescuer and the prince as a shallow ingrate, The Paperbag Princess is a great resource for exploring stereotypes.

The Paper Bag Princess at Amazon.com

The Paper Bag Princess at Amazon.ca

Also by Robert Munsch – Love You Forever, We Share Everything and many other books. Also by Michael Matchenko – Mortimer and I Have to Go!


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Picture a TreePicture a Tree – written and illustrated by Barbara Reid
Canadian picture book published by North Winds Press, an imprint of Scholastic Canada

Marvelous Plasticine illustrations may initially distract young readers from the thought-provoking text in Picture a Tree. Using a combination of Plasticine and paint, Ms. Reid has created beautiful, richly detailed images of trees and the variety of people living, working and playing near them.

Readers are encouraged to notice how trees, whether enormous or freshly planted, change through the year, how various creatures dwell in trees and how the life cycle of a tree can be viewed metaphorically. A variety of perspectives are also shown as Ms. Reid illustrates shadows of trees, more than one reflection and the view from above a forest of trees.

You may see a drawing on the sky. A game of dress-up. The first drops of colour then all the art supplies at once.

Simply beautiful, Picture a Tree is sure to inspire young artists and encourage environmental awareness. It is suitable for children aged four and up.

Picture a Tree at Amazon.com

Picture a Tree at Amazon.ca

Also by Barbara Reid – The Subway Mouse, The Night Before Christmas, Perfect Snow, Sing a Song of Mother Goose


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Pink by Nan Gregory and Luc MelandsonPink – written by Nan Gregory and illustrated by Luc Melanson
Canadian Picture book published by Groundwood Books

We’ve all seen them, “The Pinks,” Vivi calls them, but not out loud. Every day at school they parade their glory – from hair bows to tippy toes, every shade of perfect pink.”

Poor Vivi would love to be just like “The Pinks.” Her rather ordinary world is not at all pink. She lives, with her blue collar parents and her baby brother, in a brown working class world that leaves her yearning. Her parents are not unaware of her desire to be a “Pink,” they have had their share of disappointments but they have found ways to accept and live within their means.

One day, when Vivi is running an errand for her mom, she discovers the ultimate pink treasure. She sees a beautiful doll, dressed in a cascading pink bridal gown. It is displayed prominently in the window of an exclusive neighbourhood shop. Vivi feels she must have it so she does chores and small jobs all winter to earn money. She saves and saves in order to buy the beautiful doll. She is certain that having the spectacular doll will enable her to live like the wealthy “Pink” girls she sees at school.

Pink is a marvelous story that is both poignant and thoughtful. Vivi wants so much to be a “Pink” and her young heart is filled to bursting with desire for the doll. When Vivi witnesses one of the “Pinks” leaving the store with “her” doll, she is heartbroken but ultimately enriched by the experience.

It would have been so easy to create a magical happy ending and have Vivi’s world become a pink one. Thankfully, Ms. Gregory understands that life is not always fair and that if we take time to look, beauty (and especially pink) is all around us. When sharing this thoughtful story with a child, be sure to take note of Mr. Melanson’s illustrations and especially his masterful depictions of Vivi’s emotions.

Very highly recommended, for children four and up.

Pink at Amazon.com

Pink at Amazon.ca

Also by Nan Gregory – How Smudge Came Also by Luc Melanson – Book of Big Brothers


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including The Pirates of Captain McKeeThe Pirates of Captain McKee! written by Julie Lawson and illustrated by Werner Zimmermann
Canadian Picture Book published by Scholastic Canada

Originally published as Whatever You Do, Don’t Go Near that Canoe, The Pirates of Captain McKee is a rollicking adventure story that will have broad appeal to young children, especially those who love pirates.

A nominee for The 1996 Canada Council for the Arts Governor General’s Literacy Award for illustration, The Pirates of Captain McKee tells the story of two children, a brother and sister, who are warned not to go near a canoe. The warning, given by Captain Kelsey McKee, is accompanied by a wink so the children are undeterred. They don lifejackets and climb into the canoe. Before long they find themselves well away from the dock.

Through fast-running currents, through slow-rolling tides,
Far into the fading light,
Through sun flecks and sunset, through dusk’s purple haze,
The canoe sped into the night.

Although returning to the safety of home seems a great idea, the children are not in control. The magical canoe is deciding their course. Just before dawn, the canoe and the children approach a pirate ship at anchor and many, many intimidating pirates onshore. The pirates recognize the canoe and decide to teach the children a lesson. Frightened about their predicament, the children fear the worst until they notice a “marvellous smell… There’s marshmallows roasting round here!”

Gorgeous illustrations and delightful rhyming text make this a wonderful read aloud for children aged four and up.

The Pirates of Captain McKee at Amazon.com

The Pirates of Captain McKee at Amazon.ca

Also by Julie Lawson – The Klondike Cat, Emma and the Silk Train Also by Werner Zimmerman – Pippin the Christmas Pig and Snow Day


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Stella Fairy of the ForestStella, Fairy of the Forest – written & illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Canadian Picture book published by Groundwood Books

Marie-Louise Gay’s picture books about Sam and Stella are marvelous. This, their third adventure, begins when Sam asks Stella about fairies. Stella knows just where to find some. She leads Sam on a pleasant walk through gorgeous meadows, across a sparkling stream and into a magical forest.

This Stella and Sam story is truly lovely especially in its treatment of the siblings’ relationship. Sam, who is nervous, clearly looks up to his confident older sister and Stella is more than happy to share her knowledge of the outdoors and all things magical with her younger brother.

Ms. Gay’s distinctive illustrations have a luminous quality, particularly her depictions of the delightful red-head heroine, Stella. Don’t miss it!

32 pages and suitable for children aged three and up. Stella, Fairy of the Forest is well- suited to circle time and could be used as part of a preschool or kindergarten Family or Forest theme.

Marie Louise Gay’s website includes printable stickers, colouring sheets, posters and bookmarks

Stella, Fairy of the Forest at Amazon.com

Stella, Fairy of the Forest at Amazon.ca

Also by Marie-Louise Gay – On My Island and Caramba


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including A Sack Full of FeathersA Sack Full of Feathers
Written by Debby Waldman and illustrated by Cindy Revell
Canadian Picture Book published by Orca Book Publishers

Young Yankel is a storyteller. He overhears bits of news at his father’s store and excitedly shares the gossip throughout the village.

One day a wise rabbi gives Yankel a job; he is to put one feather on each doorstep in the village. Puzzled, Yankel willingly distributes the feathers even as gusts of wind send some flying.

When the rabbi subsequently asks Yankel to collect all the feathers and return them to the sack, Yankel comes to understand the danger of gossip.

A delightful folktale is retold in A Sack Full of Feathers with engaging illustrations and warmth.

A Sack Full of Feathers at Amazon.com

Sack Full of Feathers at Amazon.ca

Also by Debby Waldman and Cindy Revell – Clever Rachel


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Timmerman was HereTimmerman Was Here written by Colleen Sydor and illustrated by Nicolas Debon
Canadian Picture Book published by Tundra Books

Timmerman Was Here is written from the perspective of a young girl. We share her nervousness as a stranger arrives at her home. The stranger moves into a bedroom, recently vacated by the girl’s grandfather who has gone to live in a residence for seniors. The young girl is not happy about the stranger’s arrival but as she watches and interacts with him, she discovers a gentle heart. When the stranger is discovered walking the neighbourhood at night (with a spade and a burlap sack), gossip abounds. The neighbours speculate that he could be a bank robber or responsible for the death of a cat.

Timmerman Was Here is a lovely, thought-provoking picture book that encourages the reader to rethink assumptions and stereotypes. Highly recommended.

Suggested for children 4 – 8

Timmerman Was Here at Amazon.com

Timmerman Was Here at Amazon.ca

Also by Nicolas Debon A Brave Soldier and Thing-Thing


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Under a Prairie SkyUnder a Prairie Sky written by Anne Laurel Carter and illustrated by Alan and Lea Daniel
Canadian picture book published by Orca Book Publishers

Under a Prairie Sky features detailed, striking watercolour illustrations and the equally dramatic text. A terrific Canadian picture book read aloud for four and five year olds, Under a Prairie Sky is the story of a farm boy who aspires to be a RCMP Officer when he grows up. While harvesting wheat with his father, he is sent to find his younger brother before a storm arrives at the farm. Knowing that this is a job that will demand the detective skills of a Mounted Police Officer, he quickly changes his clothes, dons a Stetson and mounts his trusty black horse. He follows young Will’s trail through the fields and into the wild, taking in flora and fauna native to the Canadian prairies.

Under a Prairie Sky at Amazon.com

Under a Prairie Sky at Amazon.ca

Also from Anne Laurel Carter – The F Team and Tall in the Saddle Also from Alan and Lea Daniel – The Best Figure Skater in the Whold Wide World


Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including You're Mean Lily JeanYou’re Mean, Lily Jean written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Canadian Picture Book published by North Winds Press, an imprint of Scholastic Canada

You’re Mean, Lily Jean tells the story of a new girl who moves into the neighbourhood. Lily Jean is the same age as Sandy and is domineering and a braggart. She joins Sandy and her younger sister Carly for a couple of playdates. Lily Jean does not want Carly to be a part of their imaginary games and each time the three girls play together, Lily Jean dictates what they will play and how they will play. She gives the younger sister, Carly, the less desirable “parts” in their imaginary world. Lily Jean and Sandy are the king and queen, Carly is told to be the dog. Lily and Sandy are cowgirls, Carly is told to be the cow. “She did not want to moo or eat grass, but Lily Jean said she had to if she wanted to play. So she did.”

Lily Jean’s smug appearance and Carly’s bitter disappointment are depicted beautifully by Ms. Denton. Readers will cheer for Carly when Sandy decides she would prefer to play with her younger sister than with an overbearing bully.

You’re Mean Lily Jean is best suited to children four and up. It offers many opportunities for children to consider each girl’s perspective and ways to resolve difficult social situations.

You’re Mean, Lily Jean at Amazon.com

You’re Mean, Lily Jean at Amazon.ca

Also from Frieda Wishinsky – Oonga Boonga, Give Maggie a Chance and Please, Louise!

Wonderful Canadian Picture Books

Meet Author Illustrator Patricia Storms

Posted on May 15th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

Never Let You Go at Amazon.ca

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

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

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

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

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?
The Pirate and the Penguin by Patricia StormsI had wanted to write & illustrate books ever since I was a teenager. But I had no clue back then how to make it a profession, and I struggled a great deal with confidence issues. When I was in my early 20s I was fortunate to encounter a very kind cartoonist by the name of Steven Toth who really encouraged me and helped me on my creative path. I’ll be forever grateful to him.

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

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

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

Never Let You Go by Patricia Storms Celebrates a Special Bond

Posted on May 6th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Never Let You Go by Patricia StormsNever Let You Go written and illustrated by Patricia Storms
Picture book celebrating love between an adult and a child published by Scholastic Canada





I’ll be honest, I completely underestimated Never Let You Go when I first viewed the cover art. I assumed (wrongly) that it would be a treacly story about a mother’s love for her child. When I took time to carefully read the story and appreciate the playful illustrations, I discovered that this is indeed a special picture book that will be treasured by children and their adult caregivers.

Readers may assume that Never Let You Go is about a mother’s love for her child but one could argue that it could also be interpreted as a portrayal of a father’s love or a grandparent’s love. The beauty of the author’s words is that the affection shared by the adult penguin and the young penguin makes no reference to gender or relationship. The story will ‘work’ for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. It will work for single parent families or families where the primary caregiver is not a parent.

Spread from Never Let You Go by Patricia Storms

Initially the adult penguin reassures the youngster, I will care for you, and treasure you always. And I will never let you go. But soon we discover, there will be times when the adult will give the child space to safely explore the world and gain independence. The adult won’t be there when nature calls or if the child is quietly working on a project. With humor, we discover that the adult prefers to grant space when the child has a tantrum and that the adult will visit with other adults while the boisterous young friends play together nearby.

Recommended for children aged three years and up, bright, bold illustrations and breezy, affirming text make this a great read aloud for small groups.

Never Let You Go at Amazon.ca

Kid Lit Blog Hop

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

Posted on January 1st, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts reviews Andrew Larsen's In the Tree HouseIn the Tree House written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Picture Book published by Kids Can Press



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Tree House at Amazon.com

In the Tree House at Amazon.ca

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

How To by Julie Morstad Celebrates Play and Self Discovery

Posted on December 20th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

How To by Julie Morstad celebrates play and discover, a review by Storytime StandoutsHow To written and illustrated by Julie Morstad
Picture book published by Simply Read Books


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

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

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

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

Winner of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize

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

How To at Amazon.com

How To at Amazon.ca


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

Posted on December 12th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Willow Finds a Way at Amazon.com

Willow Finds a Way at Amazon.ca

Read our review of Willow’s Whispers

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

The Night Before Christmas by Barbara Reid – Just Wow

Posted on December 9th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

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


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

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

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

The Night Before Christmas at Amazon.com

The Night Before Christmas at Amazon.ca

7 Winning Ice Hockey-Theme Picture Books with Free Printables

Posted on November 15th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares ice hockey-theme picture books for preschool and kindergarten

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 Theme Picture Books including Clancy with the Puck
Clancy With the Puck written and illustrated by Chris Mizzoni
Hockey-theme 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-Theme Picture Book The Hockey CardThe Hockey Card Written by Jack Siemiatycki & Avi Slodovnick and illustrated by Doris Barrette
Hockey-theme 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 Books including The Hockey TreeThe Hockey Tree written by David Ward and illustrated by Brian Deines
Hockey-theme 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-Theme Picture Books including The Moccasin GoalieThe Moccasin Goalie written and illustrated by William Roy Brownridge
Hockey-theme 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-Theme Picture Book  Over at the RinkOver at the Rink – A Hockey Counting Book written by Stella Parthenhiou Grasso and illustrated by Scot Ritchie
Hockey-theme 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


Splinters is a Hockey-Theme Picture Book Reviewed by Storytime StandoutsSplinters – written and illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
Hockey-theme 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-Theme 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

Free Printable Ice Hockey-Theme Writing Paper

image of PDF icon  Hockey Theme Writing Paper for Kids

Hockey-theme interlined writing paper for penmanship practice and story writing.

image of PDF icon  Ice Hockey Picture Dictionary

Free printable ice hockey theme picture dictionary for readers and writers in kindergarten and grade one. Also great for English Language Learners.


Picture Books About Divali Including 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

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.


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