Posts Tagged ‘Canadian illustrator’

14 Outstanding Picture Books that Celebrate Grandparents and Kids

Posted on October 7th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts recommends picture books about grandparents and family diversity

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



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

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

An Alien In My House at Amazon.com

An Alien In My House at Amazon.ca


Bagels from Benny is a picture book about intergenerational relationships and learningBagels from Benny written by Aubrey Davis and illustrated by Dusan Petricic
Picture book about a boy learning from his grandfather published by Kids Can Press

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

Bagels from Benny at Amazon.com

Bagels from Benny at Amazon.ca


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma’s Story at Amazon.com

Emma’s Story at Amazon.ca


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

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

Grand at Amazon.com

Grand at Amazon.ca


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

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

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

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

Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth at Amazon.com

Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth at Amazon.ca


Here Comes Hortense is a picture book about blended families and grandparentsHere Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Georgia Graham
Picture book about jealousy, emotions and blended families, published by Tundra Books

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

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

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

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

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.com

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.ca


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

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

The Imaginary Garden at Amazon.com

The Imaginary Garden at Amazon.ca


The Little Word Catcher celebrates grandparents and family diversityThe Little Word Catcher Written by Danielle Simard, illustrated by Geneviève Côté
Picture book about a young girl and her relationship with her grandmother published by Second Story Press

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

The Little Word Catcher at Amazon.com

The Little Word Catcher at Amazon.ca


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

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

My Two Grannies at Amazon.com

My Two Grannies at Amazon.ca


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

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

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

Old Dog at Amazon.com

Old Dog at Amazon.ca


Oma's Quilt celebrates grandparents, ageing and lossOma’s Quilt written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
Picture book about loss and problem solving published by Kids Can Press

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

Oma’s Quilt at Amazon.com

Oma’s Quilt at Amazon.ca


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

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

Silas’ Seven Grandparents at Amazon.com

Silas’ Seven Grandparents at Amazon.ca


You Can't Rush a Cat is a story about a young girl and her grandfatherYou Can’t Rush a Cat written by Karleen Bradford and illustrated by Leslie Elizabeth Watts
Picture book about a girl and her grandfather assisting a stray cat published by Orca Book Publishers

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

You Can’t Rush A Cat at Amazon.com

You Can’t Rush a Cat at Amazon.ca


38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents includes fun ways for children to connect with grandparents38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents written by Dette Hunter and illustrated by Deirdre Betteridge
Published by Annick Press

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

38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents at Amazon.com

38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents at Amazon.ca



Discover Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Picture Books

Posted on September 10th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


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

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

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

Well suited to children aged three and up.

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

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


A lovely complement to Thanking the Moon…

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

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

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

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

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

Best suited to children aged four and up.

Mooncakes at Amazon.com

Mooncakes at Amazon.ca

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


Take a Look at Bully 101 – Asking Some Tough Questions

Posted on July 11th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at Bully 101 - Asking Some Tough QuestionsBully 101 written and illustrated by Doretta Groenendyk
Anti bullying picture book published by Acorn Press


Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children.

Want to ensure you get your way?
Just mess up another kid’s day.
Push them and shove them and give them a scare.
Our bullies love fear and thrive on a dare.

Students who attend a class called Bully 101 learn that the best solution to feeling poorly about themselves is to make another child feel terrible. Bullies steal notebooks on the school bus, damage clothing, ostracize good students, spread rumors and make jokes. Sometimes they even resort to physical violence. For those who feel badly about their ‘course selection,’ there is an alternative class: Kindness 202.

Suited to primary and middle grade students, Bully 101 includes rich language: demoralize, humiliate, thrive and striking collage illustrations that will appeal to older readers.

Best at identifying bullying behaviors, Bully 101 implies that Kindness 202 is a happier, more inclusive choice. It does not problem-solve suggestions for victims or bystanders. Essentially the story suggests that choosing kindness will have a happier outcome for all – including those who are currently making poor choices.

Bully 101 takes a simplistic approach to the terrible problem of bullying that will not be appropriate in every circumstance but there are good reasons to use it as a discussion-starter in a primary or middle grade classroom. As well, Ms. Groenendyk’s fascinating illustrations could be used as a jumping off point for exploring this timely theme with young artists.

Bully 101 at Amazon.com

Bully 101 at Amazon.ca


Art’s Supplies is a clever picturebook created by Chris Tougas

Posted on August 4th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Storyime Standouts looks at a clever picturebook created by Chris TougasArt’s Supplies written and illustrated by Chris Tougas
Picture book about artist supplies published by Orca Book Publishers





Clever, funny and inspiring, Art’s Supplies is exactly the sort of picture book I delight in. Budding artists will love this picture book

Trouble is just around the corner when Art’s paper invites everyone for a party at her “pad.” It doesn’t take long for the pencils to arrive. They are soon joined by crayons, markers, pastels, ink and many more colourful and creative guests.

“Next the crayons rolled in with some fun ideas.
Those guys sure know how to think outside the box.
The markers all agreed that they FELT great.
Then the pastels arrived. They blended in smoothly.”

With lots of bold visual appeal, enough puns to make you grown aloud and clever wordplay, the story and illustrations will be enjoyed by children, especially those who love to make art, aged 4 and up.

Art’s Supplies was honored with the following picture book awards –
2010 Chocolate Lily nominee
2009 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books
2008 Resource Links “The Year’s Best”

Art’s Supplies at Amazon.com

Art’s Supplies at Amazon.ca

School District 71 Lesson using Art’s Supplies – Writing Trait: organization

Show and Tell: Visual Literacy In Picture Books also reference’s this book.


Getting Ready to Read Plus – Community Centre Program Day Two

Posted on July 10th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Today was our second session of Getting Ready to Read Plus. Today’s theme was “Boats Afloat” and the letter of the day was “B.” The children were able to come up with all sorts of words that begin with the /b/ sound – bumblebee, bear, brown, blue, black, boat, boy, baby and more.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Rowboat

Boating theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Letter B - pictures and words

Our story today was The Deep Cold River Story, written by Tabatha Southey and illustrated by Sue Savor. This is a very good read aloud for four and five year olds. I like using it with the “boats afloat” theme because there are several rowboats in the illustrations.

The Deep Cold River story was part of our community centre literacy program todayThe Deep Cold River Story written by Tabatha Southey and illustrated by Sue Savor

Imagine a deep, cold river running through a small town. One day, for no apparent reason, the river overflows its banks and floods the entire community. Many possible solutions to the unrelenting flooding are proposed but it takes a little girl to solve the problem and save the town. The Deep Cold River Story features a positive message about bedtime stories and offers a great opportunity for children to propose their own creative solutions to the problem.

A charming story featuring a young heroine and appealing illustrations, The Deep Cold River Story is 28 pages and will be enjoyed by children aged 3 to 6.

The Deep Cold River Story at Amazon.com

The Deep Cold River Story at Amazon.ca

The Red Scarf, Award Winning Wordless Picture Book

Posted on June 7th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Anne Villeneuve's award winning wordless picture book, The Red ScarfThe Red Scarf – created by Anne Villeneuve
Almost Wordless Picture Book published by Tundra books





Turpin’s day is altogether too gray until an imposing figure climbs into his taxicab. Turpin delivers the gentleman to his destination and shortly thereafter discovers a bright red scarf on the seat of the cab.

Turpin chases after the mysterious man but is detained by a lizard on a unicycle. Once he explains his purpose, the lizard allows him to pass. Turpin soon finds himself surrounded by a bear on roller skates, and a ravenous lion. Fortunately, the lion tamer is not far away and rescues him before the worst can happen.

Now, surrounded by amazing colour and exotic creatures, Turpin’s day grows stranger and stranger until he finds himself in the middle of a brightly lit circus tent. A parading elephant, a fire breathing juggler, a playful monkey, a tightrope and a magic trick all add to the hijinks as Turpin struggles to return the scarf. The Red Scarf, Award Winning Wordless Picture Book

Originally published as L’echarpe rouge, this almost wordless picture book won the 2000 Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration.

Best suited to children kindergarten age and up.

The Red Scarf at Amazon.com

The Red Scarf at Amazon.ca

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books


Here Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-Sussman

Posted on April 18th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at a picture book about family life, emotions and social situations, Here Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-SussmanHere Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Georgia Graham
Picture book about jealousy, emotions and blended families, published by Tundra Books



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

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

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

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

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.com

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.ca



Seal Song by Andrea Spalding and Pascal Milelli ‘Enchants’

Posted on March 7th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at Seal Song, a picture book by Andrea Spalding and Pascal MilelliSeal Song written by Andrea Spalding and illustrated by Pascal Milelli
Picture book published by Orca Book Publishers



You will also be interested in our page highlighting picture books about caring for our environment, recycling, reducing our environmental footprint and more. Terrific resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day.


In folklore, selkies are mythological creatures that can change shape. Selkies live in the ocean as seals and on land as humans.

Each morning Finn helps his father fish but he is secretly anxious for the opportunity to slip away from the wharf and the cannery. He wants to swim with the seals.
“Sing to me.” said Finn. “Sing the seal song that brings good fortune.”
The seal blew a fish breath and disappeared below the waves.
But, despite Finn’s pleas, he does not hear the seals sing.

One afternoon, while enjoying his usual swim with seals, Finn notices a commotion in the waves, his favourite seal has been caught in an old fishing net. Finn dives into the ocean, rescues the seal, feeds it and nurses it back to health. He has made a new friend. Finally, his wish is granted; he hears the seals sing.

Father is not happy with Finn and does not believe that a seal song will bring good fortune. He is suspicious when a mysterious child appears near the wharf. The other fishermen warn, “That child will never let salt water touch her skin. If it does, she must return to the sea.”

Sheila becomes a good friend to Finn but she does not swim in the ocean with him nor does she allow salt water to touch her skin. Meanwhile, the salmon fishing is good, Finn and his father are especially lucky and the old fishermen attribute their good fortune to Finn’s new friend.

Richly illustrated with beautiful, evocative oil paintings, Seal Song is a thought provoking look at what it means to be a friend.

For older children, Seal Song could lead to an exploration of folklore, shapeshifting, friendship, sacrifice, social responsibility and/or salmon fishing.

Seal Song at Amazon.com

Seal Song at Amazon.ca

Updated June 19, 2012 — Seal Song has been nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award



Eddie Longpants – Anti Bullying Picturebook

Posted on February 25th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at anti-bullying picture book about teasing, coping with bullies, celebrating differences and self-acceptance

Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying picture book, Eddie Longpants by Mireille Levert.Eddie Longpants written by Mireille Levert
Anti bullying picture book published by House of Anansi Press Inc. | Groundwood Books



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

Eddie is much, much taller than his classmates and his teacher. He is far too big for his school. At recess time, he endures endless name-calling and teasing. He deals with the abuse by isolating himself, he stands near a tall tree and is visited by happy, chirping birds.

When Eddie’s mom arrives for a visit with the teacher, Miss Snowpear promptly climbs onto the roof.

Miss Snowpea and Mrs. Longpants talk. They look each other straight in the eye. They say nice things. They smile big smiles. They shake hands.”

The two adults model good behavior despite their differences in stature.

At recess time the following day, the teasing resumes but this time Pete makes comments about Eddie’s mom and this time Miss Snowpea overhears the insults,

She feels anger rising inside her, It makes her insides growl and her toes curl up. All this because Eddie is big!

Pete knows that he is in trouble. He wants to escape so he climbs up, up, up into a very tall tree. Suddenly, he realizes what he has done and he is frightened. He needs help to get back down from the tree.

Eddie Longpants is an anti bullying picture book that is best suited to children four and up. It delivers a lovely message about acceptance and is sure to prompt a discussion about teasing and ways to deal with it.

Ms. Levert’s illustrations are warm and engaging. She makes great use of each two-page spread to show us just how tall Eddie, his mom and his dad are.

Eddie Longpants at Amazon.com

Eddie Longpants at Amazon.ca

Walrus’s Gift – Anti Bullying Picture Book

Posted on February 23rd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at a picture book with an important anti bullying message…

Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying picture book, Walrus's Gift by H.E. StewartWalrus’s Gift written and illustrated by H.E. Stewart
Antibullying picture book published by Tudor House



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

When a young walrus notices a sad child sitting and looking out at the ocean, the walrus wonders why the boy is unhappy. He turns, first to his mother and then to his grandfather, for help. His grandfather gives the little walrus an important and unusual present… The gift allows the curious walrus to discover why the human boy is alone and unhappy.

The young walrus discovers that the boy is not like his peers; his hair is different and he is not interested in their games. The boy is being teased and bullied by the children around him. Armed with information about the problem facing the boy, Grandfather Walrus calls many sea creatures together, seeking their assistance and suggestions. Before long, a plan is made and the young walrus steps forward to help the boy. Over time, the young walrus suggests four possible ways the young boy could deal with bullying.

The Walrus’s Gift anti bullying suggestions match those recommended by the WITS program: Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out, Seek Help.

It is important to note that the young walrus’s actions to help the boy are not only successful, they are celebrated by the sea creatures. This exploration of what it means to notice a problem with another person, be concerned and to take action should encourage young readers to consider how, in a similar situation, they might help child in difficulty.

Gentle, soothing illustrations match the thoughtful, caring tone of Walrus’s Gift.

Best suited to children aged five and up, additional content outlines ways Walrus’s Gift is a story that echos the animal characters and wisdom typical of native legends.

Walrus’s Gift at Amazon.com

Walrus’s Gift at Amazon.ca

Anti Bullying Fiction – How to Tame a Bully

Posted on February 21st, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying chapter book, How to Tame a Bully

Storytime Standouts looks at anti bullying fiction for primary-aged children

How to Tame a Bully written by Nancy Wilcox Richards and illustrated by Drazen Kozjan
Anti bullying chapter book published by Scholastic



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

Lauren is excited to begin grade three. She is thrilled with her teacher and delighted to be in a class with her best friend. Lauren’s happiness dims quickly when she discovers that she is seated next to Bethany.

Bethany is a giant. She is almost as tall as Ms. MacArthur. And that’s when she’s sitting down… Her eyes are always moving. Watching everyone. I know what she is doing. She’s looking for her next victim. Someone she can force to do her homework. Someone she can beat up.

It is not long before Lauren and Bethany tangle. Bethany writes a message about Lauren on a washroom mirror and Lauren responds by giving Bethany a snack tainted with far too much salt and pepper. Bethany calls Lauren “Shrimp”, extorts recess snacks from her and splatters red paint on her new top.

When forced to work together on a school project, Lauren reachers her breaking point. She tells Bethany to stop calling her “Shrimp” and is surprised when Bethany agrees. They manage a temporary cease-fire while working together on their project but it is not until Lauren speaks up again that the relationship improves.

“Because you’re always bullying kids.”

Bethany stared back at me. Hard. Her eyes narrowed. But before she had a chance to say anything and before I ran out of courage, I continued. “You took some little grade one kid’s lunch money. You put gum on Rachael’s seat and she ruined her brand new pants. You threw a big rock through the gym window. And,” my voice started to get louder, “you keep taking my recess snack! That why you don’t have any friends. Bethany, you are just plain mean!”

Rather than resolving the bullying with an unrealistic “magical solution,” author Nancy Wilcox Richards has the girls work out a truce. Bethany’s bullying tactics subside and the girls learn to tolerate each other.

Last year, in our post titled Five Ways Young Children Can Say “No” to Bullying , we referred to Health Canada’s suggestion that one way to reduce bullying is to ask the bully to stop – a tactic that is used with success in How to Tame a Bully.

Suitable for readers in grades two or three, How to Tame a Bully is a 75 page, generously illustrated chapter book that encourages speaking up against bullying.

How to Tame a Bully at Amazon.com

How to Tame a Bully at Amazon.ca


Ella May and the Wishing Stone – wishes, friendship and imagination

Posted on November 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Ella May and the Wishing Stone - a picture book about wishes, friendship and imaginationElla May and the Wishing Stone written by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Geneviève Côté
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



    I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen – A Surprisingly Dark Picture Book

    Posted on November 29th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


    Storytime Standouts looks at I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen - A Surprisingly Dark Picture BookI Want My Hat Back written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
    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 check out my comments about Jon Klassen’s Cat’s Night Out


    A Fresh Look at a Frog Prince – Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince)

    Posted on November 13th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


    Kiss Me I'm a Prince written by Heather McLeod and illustrated by Brooke KerriganKiss Me! (I’m and Prince!) written by Heather McLeod and illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
    Picture book published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside





    When young Ella chances upon a talking frog, she is not altogether sure that kissing his puckered froggy lips is a good idea. For Ella, the idea of a talking frog is much more appealing than the prospect of kissing him and turning him into a boring frog prince. Ella is a fan of play – she likes basketball, swimming and Simon Says. Ella’s reluctance to kiss her new froggy friend means that he has a chance to enjoy traditional childhood games and to behave in some ways that are not at all royal. Eventually, representatives of the palace arrive. The royal frog is returned to a life of fencing and studying but not before Ella’s ideas have made a lasting impression. The frog negotiates with his parents for more playtime before returning to ask Ella for a magical kiss so he can join the neighbourhood baseball team.

    An enjoyable read aloud for children aged four and up, Kiss Me! (I’m and Prince!) provides many opportunities for children to make predictions and also invites comparisons with other versions of The Frog Prince.

    Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince) at Amazon.com

    Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince!) at Amazon.ca

    Willow’s Whispers – a charming story for boys and girls ages four and up

    Posted on November 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


    Storytime Standouts recommends Willow's WhispersWillow’s Whispers by Lana Button, illustrated by Tania Howells
    Picture book about finding one’s voice published by Kids Can Press



    Willow is a lovely soft spoken girl with ideas, opinions and dreams. Unfortunately, her quiet voice is so soft that it is often overlooked. As a result, her teacher and her classmates miss hearing Willow’s thoughts and choices. For Willow, this means lost opportunities for companionship at lunchtime, being fiven orange juice instead of applie juice, disappointment at playtime and standing at the end of the line once again.

    Dad has very good advice for Willow. He tells her, “Your big, strong voice got stuck way inside you, Willow. That happens sometimes. But one day your voice will wiggle its way out.”Lana Button picture book Willow's Whispers

    Thinking about Dad’s words gives Willow an opportunity to devise a plan. The following morning, Willow gathers some materials together and designs her very own magic microphone. Initially, the microphone helps Willow to express herself but before long she must manage without it and does so very successfully.

    Willow’s Whispers is a charming story that will be enjoyed by boys and girls ages four and up.

    Note, although Willow’s Whispers invites discussion of finding one’s voice and having confidence when speaking, it does so very sensitively and without reference to “shyness.”

    Willow’s Whispers Facebook page

    Willow’s Whispers at Amazon.com

    Willow’s Whispers at Amazon.ca

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



    Remembrance Day for Young Children – A Poppy Is to Remember

    Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


    Remembrance Day is observed annually in Canada, on November 11th. In the days leading up to November 11th, it is particularly important for adults to find ways to make Remembrance Day meaningful to young children so that they can join with all Canadians in honouring our Veterans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

    Storytime Standouts looks at a Remembrance Day resource for young children, A Poppy Is to Remember by Heather Patterson and Ron LightburnA Poppy Is to Remember written by Heather Patterson and illustrated by Ron Lightburn


    A Poppy Is to Remember is a wonderful picture book resource for Canadian families, classrooms and libraries.

    A Poppy Is to Remember explains, Once there was a long and terrible war – a war some called the Great War. Many young men went off to fight, and many did not return home to their families. As the battle raged, poppies grew in the battlefield and were seen by a Canadian army doctor, John McCrae. McCrae was inspired to write In Flanders Fields, a poem often read at Remembrance Day ceremonies.

    Beautifully illustrated, A Poppy Is to Remember salutes John McCrae and shows readers how poppies are used today when remembering the contributions of present day members of the armed forces as well as veterans, those who care for them and those who mourn their loss.

    32 pages, suitable for children aged four and up. Additional materials for older children or adults include The Story of the Poppy and Remembrance Day in Canada.

    Remembrance Day writing paper for children

    image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Remembrance Day Poppy

    Remembrance Day theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

    A Poppy Is to Remember at Amazon.com

    A Poppy is to Remember at Amazon.ca

    No Pets Allowed – Matthew and Fred Will Win You Over

    Posted on November 2nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


    Storytime Standouts writes about No Pets Allowed a generously illustrated chapter book for grade two readersNo Pets Allowed
    Written by Irene N. Watts and illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker
    Generously illustrated chapter book published by Tradewind Books



    When eight-year-old Matthew and his mom move from their rural home to the West End neighborhood of Vancouver, Matthew is forced to leave his beloved dog behind. Matthew’s grandparents will care for Lucky as he and his mom establish themselves in a downtown apartment building that does not allow pets. Matthew begins school and tries to adjust to city life but he misses his pet terribly. He is hopeful that, before long, they will move again and be reunited with Lucky.

    One night, after settling for sleep, Matthew hears a familiar sound; he is sure there is something under his bed. Moments later, he feels a rough tongue, licking his cheek. Some refer to ‘Fred’ as an imaginary dog but, for Matthew, he is very real indeed. It is not long before the apartment landlord is convinced that Matthew is hiding a pet in the apartment.

    This generously illustrated, eleven chapter book will be thoroughly enjoyed by boys and girls aged seven to nine. I particularly appreciated the realistic portrayal of the relationship between Matthew and his mother; Matthew wanting Lucky to live with the family, his mother unable to find an apartment that will allow the dog. Her nervousness in dealing with an wary apartment manager and the compassion of neighbors all contribute to making No Pets Allowed a good choice for young readers.

    No Pets Allowed at Amazon.com

    No Pets Allowed at Amazon.ca


    Splinters by Kevin Sylvester is an Icy, Hard-Hitting Take on Cinderella

    Posted on October 31st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


    Storytime Standouts looks at Splinters, a picture book with a modern day hockey take on the Cinderella storySplinters – written and illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
    Picture book published by Tundra Books



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

    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


    A Special Gem – Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time

    Posted on October 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    A Special Gem for Newly Independent Readers Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet TimeHoundsley and Catina and the Quiet Time written by James Howe and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
    Chapter book series for kindergarten – grade three published by Candlewick Press



    When Houndsley and Catina are unexpectedly snowed in, Houndsley is quite happy to relax and enjoy The Quiet Time. Catina is not nearly as content. She has things to do and places to go. Eventually the two settle in and spend an enjoyable day playing board games, baking cookies and writing poetry. In the evening, they join their friends for a snowy outdoor concert. The musicians

    began to play so softly that the notes fell on the listening ears like snowflakes on waiting tongues, gently, softly, there for a flicker before melting away.

    Beautiful language and equally special illustrations are terrific for newly independent readers, the Houndsley and Catina books are also a very good choice for younger children who are ready to enjoy a longer read-aloud book.

    Highly recommended.

    Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time at Amazon.com

    Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time on Amazon.ca


    Establishing a Sense of Community in My Split Grade Classroom

    Posted on September 4th, 2011 by Jody


    One of my favourite parts of the school year is the first few weeks. I love mapping things out and getting to know my students. I love choosing my first read aloud and getting them hooked. In the past I have done Tuck Everlasting (I just love this story), Zebra Wall, and Sixth Grade Secrets (one of the funniest books). This year I have decided, thanks to a great workshop I attended, to try something different.

    I generally start with a novel as a way of introducing reading strategies, such as predicting, questioning, and summarizing. However, instead of a novel, I am going to start with a book called,  Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I. Campbell and  illustrated by Kim LaFave. It is actually a picture book recommended for ages 4-7. I am teaching grade 4/5 this year but I think that in addition to being able to introduce reading strategies, this story will allow me to establish a stronger sense of community right from the start.

    Shi-shi-etko tells about a child’s experience with residential schools. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful. It will give me the opportunity to introduce themes of community, diversity, anxiety, family, and inclusion. These are all topics that need to be present in any classroom, but more so in a split grade classroom I think. In general, split classes are viewed negatively. Parents don’t want their child working below or beyond their capabilities and kids who have waited to experience certain things offered to their grade (like field trips) resent having to share these adventures. These thoughts seem at odds with the growing awareness of the need for differentiation in the classroom. Split grade or straight, more than one level of need is being met in all classrooms. It is important for teachers to find a way to motivate all learners and to do this, a community of acceptance needs to be established as quickly as possible. A classroom that students feel accepted, trusted, and safe in will promote positive learning experiences.

    When my students come to my class this year, I want them to worry less about whether or not the work is really grade four work or grade five work. I want them to focus on contributing to a positive community atmosphere. I want them to feel safe to explore what kind of learning best suits them. I want them to accept the ideas, feelings, and beliefs of others and have this reciprocated. While I have grade level curriculum to teach, my hope is that we will go beyond that. I want them to be able to achieve academic success, but more importantly, I want them to acquire the tools that will help them become lifelong learners that accept and appreciate the unique backgrounds of others. I hope that in addition to powerful reading strategies, Shi-shi-etko will pave the way to a safe, strong sense of community in our class, built on trust, tolerance, and acceptance.

    Shi-shi-etko at Amazon.com

    Shi-shi-etko at Amazon.ca

    Storytime Standouts recommends picture books that celebrate diversity

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