Pied Piper Pics
Read Amy Beth Bloom’s first book for young readers! Little Sweet Potato is the story about an endearing, little sweet potato that gets lost and learns to appreciate others and himself! When he gets lost, he needs to search for a new patch. However, he realizes that not all vegetables and flowers are so nice. However, he keeps his spirits up, and he continues to look for a new patch. School-aged children are sure to enjoy reading about Little Sweet Potato’s happy ending. Read Little Sweet Potato in order to find out how he finds his new home and new friends.
Additionally, one cannot help but smile at the bright, colorful illustrations by Noah Z. Jones. Jones considers himself an author, illustrator, and animator. Not only are the colors visually appealing, but he also does a great job evoking the expressions conveyed in this children’s book.
Check the WRL catalog for Little Sweet Potato.
Bunny days, written and illustrated by Tao Nyeu, is the tale of 6 endearing bunnies who run into mishaps in each of the stories. Luckily their neighbor, the bear, is always willing to help the bunnies. One of the unique features of this book is that Nyeu breaks the book up into three separate stories. Therefore, this is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers who prefer shorter stories as well as school aged children who prefer longer books. Read Bunny Days to find out what trouble these bunnies get into and how bear helps!
Additionally, Nyeu creates gorgeous illustrations using water-based ink. She uses mainly blues, oranges, browns, and greens in her illustrations. In her first book, Wonder Bear, her illustrations won the Founder’s Award from the Society of Illustrators. Using a similar type of illustration in Bunny Days, her award is one testament of her artistic ability.
Check the WRL catalog for Bunny Days.
Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always is a unique children’s book written and illustrated by Tao Nyeu. Squid and Octopus are friends for always! Even when the pair disagrees about whether they should wear mittens or socks on chilly days or they are feeling glum, they always cheer each other up. Nyeu writes about the friendship of Squid and Octopus as four short stories in one book. This makes it a great book to break up into short segments or to read all the stories at once. Given the structure of this book, it makes it a fine book for preschoolers and school-aged children.
Not only does Nyeu write four stories to celebrate Squid and Octopus’ friendship, but she also does beautiful, colorful illustrations with water-based ink and colored pencil that capture the Squid and Octopus’ endearing nature.
Read Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always to discover the tales of Squid and Octopus! You are sure to fall in love with this duo, too.
Check the WRL catalog for Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always.
Dinosaurs as pets?! Yessiree, the little boy in Natasha Wing’s How to Raise a Dinosaur convinces you that dinosaurs make great pets. In this fun to read children’s book, you can learn how to pick out the right size dinosaur and all the important things you need to take care of a dinosaur. For example, did you know that dinosaurs need to eat 10 times a day, and they need to be walked 5 times a day?
Find out what else you need to know in order to take care of a dinosaur by reading How to Raise a Dinosaur!
Preschoolers and school-aged children will love this interactive book as the author has included flaps for the children to lift. Illustrator Pablo Bernasconi does an incredible job with his colorful illustrations that are sure to keep children entertained and laughing.
Check the WRL catalog for How to Raise a Dinosaur.
“Hi, Pizza Man!” by Virginia Walter, with illustrations by Ponder Goembel, was inarguably the biggest hit of the pizza-themed toddler storytime I led last spring. My listeners loved the story’s humor and frequent opportunities for audience participation. Since then, I have read this book to a variety of groups, and it has never let me down. At the beginning of the story, young Vivian and her mother are waiting for a pizza to be delivered to their house. Every page spread in the book features a view of the same room in Vivian’s house, with her front door (sometimes closed, sometimes open) always appearing on the right-hand page. To pass the time while they wait, Vivian’s mother asks her what she’ll say when the doorbell rings and she opens the door. The girl’s answer is, “Hi, Pizza Man!” These words are accompanied by a picture of a man standing in the open doorway, holding a pizza box. On the next page, the door is closed again, and Vivian’s mother asks, “What if it’s not a pizza man? What if it’s a pizza woman? Then what will you say?” The answer, of course, is “Hi, Pizza Woman!” and is accompanied by an illustration of an elegant woman delivering a pizza. Vivian’s mother then invites her to imagine a variety of comically-dressed animals delivering the pizza. Vivian plans to greet each animal by making its sound. For example, to the cat wearing a top hat and cape, she’ll say, “Meow meow, Pizza Kitty!” This book offers listeners lots of opportunities to practice waving and making animal sounds to greet each imaginary pizza deliverer. At the end of the story, the doorbell rings. The pizza has arrived, and the reader finally gets to find out which person or animal is delivering Vivian’s dinner. This book’s silly humor appeals to young children. Animals don’t deliver pizza or wear fancy clothing, so it’s funny to see them doing these things in the story. “Hi, Pizza Man!” is a great read-aloud for toddlers and preschoolers, either in a group or one-on-one. I plan to read this sure-fire winner to many young listeners in 2014.
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Little Chicken & Little Fox by Brigitte Sidjanski, with lovely illustrations by Sarah Emmanuelle Burg, is a sweet story of compassion and friendship. When winter arrived this year, I was excited to pull this book off the shelf and add it to my stack of storytime selections. At the beginning of the story, Little Chicken is snuggled in her nest inside a warm chicken coop when she hears a tapping at the door. It is poor Little Fox, who is lost and freezing out in a snowstorm. The other chickens are afraid to let Little Fox enter the coop because foxes eat chickens, but Little Chicken decides to jump out the window and help him find shelter for the night. The next day the two friends set off to find Little Fox’s parents. Though the animals they meet along the way remind Little Chicken that it’s dangerous to spend time with a fox, she nonchalantly ignores these warnings, feeling she can’t abandon her companion. Readers will be very curious to find out whether Little Fox is a true friend, or whether he is leading Little Chicken into a trap.
Sidjanski keeps the story lively through the use of lots of dialogue and frequent setting changes. On their journey, Little Chicken and Little Fox meet a variety of animals, including wild pigs and a badger. When I read this book aloud to groups, I enjoy inviting my listeners to identify the more unusual animals. The tale isn’t especially humorous, but last time I read it aloud some of my listeners laughed at a few plot events, including Little Chicken jumping on top of a deer’s head. Little Chicken & Little Fox has some exciting parts, but overall it’s a quiet, heartwarming tale. This book could be effectively used for contrast during a read-aloud session filled with more boisterous stories. Burg’s soft illustrations were created using pencil and watercolors. The animals are very appealing and expressive. Burg’s fuzzy outlines and color choices make some of the illustrations quite low-contrast. This characteristic of the pictures means that they might be difficult for very young children to see clearly. I recommend this story as a group read-aloud for kindergarten and up. It could also work well with one preschooler, or with a group of preschoolers with abridgment of the wordier pages. Since it is set in a snowy landscape but does not mention any holidays, this sweet story is a great read-aloud all winter long.
Check the WRL catalog for Little Chicken & Little Fox.
Boo and Baa Have Company by Lena and Olof Landström is charming picture book filled with droll humor. The story is translated from Swedish, and stars Boo and Baa, a male and female sheep whose good intentions get them into sticky situations. Other books featuring these characters include Boo and Baa in Windy Weather, Boo and Baa at Sea, and Boo and Baa on a Cleaning Spree. In Boo and Baa Have Company, the two sheep are raking leaves when they notice a cat sitting on a high tree branch. Believing that the cat is afraid to climb down, Boo and Baa try various methods to tempt it from the tree. Their attempts to help go awry, leading to slapstick humor in the illustrations paired with deadpan humor in the text. Boo and Baa eventually decide that maybe the cat prefers to be in the tree, and they go inside and go to sleep. At the end of the story, only the reader sees that the cat has climbed in through the window and fallen asleep on the rug in the sheep’s bedroom.
Boo and Baa Have Company features colorful line drawings. Boo, Baa, and the cat are the only characters, and they all have very expressive faces and bodies. On some pages, the text describes exactly what is happening in the illustrations. For example, when Baa is greasing the axle of the wheelbarrow, the text reads, “She greases the axle.” This supportive relationship between image and text could be helpful for young readers who are unfamiliar with the concept of greasing an axle. On other pages, however, the spare text provides droll commentary on the action taking place. For example, one attempt to rescue the cat leaves Boo stranded in the tree. When Baa tries to use a rope to lower Boo to the ground, both sheep fly into the air and fall into a leaf pile. Instead of describing the action on these pages, the text simply reads, “Baa is lighter than Boo. She hasn’t eaten any sandwiches. It’s lucky there is a pile of leaves.” Text like this requires the reader to pay attention to the illustrations. When I read this book aloud to kindergarteners, I had several opportunities to invite the kids to describe what was happening in the story. These listeners especially enjoyed the spread where Baa is making a variety of “disgusting” sandwiches, including a cucumber sandwich and a sardine sandwich. I shared Boo and Baa Have Company at a fall-themed storytime. It was nice to have a book in which autumn is the setting but not the focus of the story. This funny book would work well year-round as a read-aloud for preschool and up.
Check the WRL catalog for Boo and Baa Have Company.
Bear Snores On features “a great brown bear” who sleeps on through winter while many of his animal friends visit, share food, and make a ruckus. Finally he wakes up with a loud sneeze and he complains that all his friends have been having fun without him! So the bear and company eat more food, tell stories, and have a good time. But soon his friends fall asleep and the bear is the only one left awake!
Karma Wilson’s Bear Snores On is a great storytime pick for ages 2-6 because it is fairly short and will easily grab their short attention spans with its witty rhymes. One feature of this book is the repetition of the phrase “and the bear snores on” which kids will love saying aloud with you. In addition, it has onomatopoeia, including many different animal noises (every kid’s favorite), on nearly every page which kids will love echoing during storytime. A prominent theme of sharing between friends is also noteworthy about Bear Snores On. Finally, Jane Chapman’s colorful illustrations perfectly complement the story and will help reinforce it for younger readers, and are large enough for kids to see even at bigger storytimes.
Check the WRL catalog for Bear Snores On.
Corduroy is a classic children’s book that some children may have read before but they are still enraptured by it every time. Corduroy is a teddy bear who lives in a department store and desperately wants someone to take him home. One day a young girl named Lisa comes in to the store and wants to buy Corduroy but her mother says no because he is missing a button. Corduroy searches the department store for a button because he thinks he needs one to get taken home by Lisa. Before he attaches the button, he is found by security and put back on his shelf. Luckily, Lisa comes in again to purchase Corduroy with her own money and tells him that she likes him just the way he is. Corduroy and Lisa become friends and Corduroy finally feels like he has found a home.
Corduroy is an adorable story that is perfect for storytime because it warms the hearts of children and adults alike. It is also a great storytime choice because of its large and colorful yet simple illustrations by the author Don Freeman. Corduroy also features onomatopoeia such as “POP” which kids will love sounding out at storytime. In addition, most children have a special stuffed animal in their lives so this book is especially relatable. Corduroy’s primary message of acceptance and being okay with who you are is one particularly important for children and further enhances the quality of this lovely book.
Check the WRL catalog for Corduroy.
This book is for anyone who has experienced a child’s consuming love of a favorite color. Little Annie love, love, loves purple. Her latest must have is a lovely purple hat. The emotional elements in this book make it an endearing story. It is perfect for children who are learning to understand longing and disappointment. The young reader will relate to Annie’s loss
and everyone’s desire to help her feel better. Of course the best emotion of all is Annie’s joy in the surprise ending of this sweet story.
Check the WRL catalog for The Purple Hat.
This story begins with one little bee minding its own business. When he discovers a brown bear is following him, he knows it will be trouble. I thought of the book Rosie’s Walk while enjoying the antics of brown bear. He soon has a following of animals with their own agendas. When yellow bee arrives home, things become very interesting for brown bear and company. Readers will enjoy the comical animal and nature pictures in this book. Young children will love the onomatopoeiac element as well.
Check the WRL catalog for Where There’s a Bear, There’s Trouble!
Neil Numberman does a terrific job with his debut picture book, Do Not Build a Frankenstein! In this tale, a new kid gathers up the local children to warn them of the perils of building a Frankenstein, and the largest peril is that the Frankenstein is “pretty annoying.” Once the Frankenstein says he is going away, the narrator hurries to a new town to warn his peers, but at the very end, someone big and green shows up to play monster tag.
Upper-elementary children will enjoy this silly story and bright illustrations. This is also a good book to read if they have a friend who wants to play all of the time, because they may be able to relate to the narrator. Numberman writes, “Even when you try to ignore him, he keeps bothering you. ‘Can we play now?’” This unique monster story does not need to be saved for Halloween, but should be enjoyed any time of year.
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This timeless story by the author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Give a Moose a Muffin, is all about chain reactions. Readers follow pig and the little girl narrating the story from a breakfast of pancakes and syrup to tap dancing and tree house building. The narrator grants the pig’s every request until they end up with the pig enjoying more pancakes and syrup and the little girl asleep at the table. Elementary-aged children will enjoy the circular story, and Felicia Bond’s illustrations are bright and playful.
Children will like inferring the ending. Laura Numeroff writes, “Feeling sticky will remind her of your favorite maple syrup. She’ll probably ask you for some. And chances are, if she asks you for some syrup, she’ll want a pancake to go with it.” If you like If You Give a Pig a Pancake, check out If You Give a Pig a Party for more of pig’s shenanigans.
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Woolbur is a delightful picture book that celebrates the joy of being unique. In this story Woolbur is a sheep that is not afraid to be different and likes to do things his own way. Woolbur likes to run with the dogs instead of staying with the herd. While the other sheep are getting sheared he runs away. Wool bur’s parents pull on their wool all night worrying. When they point out to Woolbur that he is different he replies, “I know… isn’t it great?” Woolbur’s grandpa tries to reassure his parents he will be fine. They insist Woolbur act like the other sheep. Woolbur thinks about this all night long and comes up with a perfect plan. He teaches all the other sheep to be just like him. Leslie Helakoski has written a humorous story with an important message … it’s okay to be different. Lee Harper’s illustrations are charming and capture the true spirit of Woolbur. Ideal read aloud for children ages 3 to 7.
Check the WRL catalog for Woolbur.
Tiddler is an energetic fish that is constantly in motion. One day his mom has had enough of his wiggling and jiggling and decides to send him out to sea to use up some of his energy. She tells him, “Go and swim till you’re tired, but watch out for the Big Fish!” Tiddler sets out to explore the sea. Diving, gliding and leaping all over the depths of the ocean he finds many interesting sea creatures. Tiddler tries to get a starfish and crab to play with him but they scuttle off. At last he discovers a big, dark cave and his curiosity gets the best of him. He swims in and …. “SNAP! Everything goes dark.” Tiddler finds himself trapped in the belly of a big fish. Can Tiddler fidget his way out? Readers will be surprised to find out how Tiddler’s adventure ends. Fidgety Fish is Ruth Galloway’s first children’s book and her message that we are all special just the way we are will resonate with parents and children. The bright, bold pictures and action words make this a great read aloud for preschool children.
Check the WRL catalog for Fidgety Fish.
When Stillwater, a giant panda carrying a red umbrella and speaking with a “slight panda accent,” moves into Addy, Michael, and Karl’s neighborhood, he comes offering friendship and enlightening stories in Jon J. Muth’s Zen Shorts, a 2006 Caldecott Honor Book.
As Zen Shorts unfolds, each child visits with Stillwater who tells the child a short story. Addy learns about Stillwater’s poor Uncle Ry who gives his only robe to a robber. Stillwater tells Michael the story of a farmer who knows that luck is not always good or bad. Finally, the youngest child Karl hears the story of a monk who carries a burden far too long. Muth concludes with an author’s note explaining the concept of Zen and the origins of the stories featured in the book.
Zen Shorts is an accessible introduction to Zen that includes a wonderful mix of watercolors and ink drawings. The illustrations showing Stillwater’s interaction with the children are bright and colorful watercolors, while the illustrations for Stillwater’s stories are black and white ink drawings. The illustrations are vivid and complement the contemplative nature of Stillwater’s stories.
Readers who enjoy Zen Shorts may want to check out Muth’s follow up books, Zen Ties and Zen Ghosts.
Check the WRL catalog for Zen Shorts.
The format is as simple as can be. “If you see a cuddly kitten . . . say, ‘Ahhh!’ . . . If you see some slimy slugs . . . say, ‘Yuck!’” You get the idea.
Children love making the sounds. And there are a couple of unusual animals, such as a peacock and a porcupine, so those are great learning opportunities. If you like this one, author John Butler has several other similar titles shelved in the picture books.
Check the WRL catalog for If You See a Kitten.
You’d think that life as a carousel animal would be all silliness and games, but the carousel Duck in this story has a dream. She longs to fly. At night, when the carousel is still, she walks around (with a hole in her back where the pole would go) and gazes at the sky. She lies on her back (this time you can see the hole in her stomach) and dreams of soaring with the stars.
But one spring day, Duck’s life changes. A tiny yellow duckling–a real one– walks up to her and says, “Quack.” The kindly carousel animal adopts the little creature and teaches him how to play in the water and hunt in the grass for bugs. They play together and they dream together under the starry sky.
But little ducks have to learn to fly. How can an earthbound carousel animal teach her little one to do that? Duck needs to find a flock of real ducks to help her little one get off the ground. When the time comes, duckling turns out to be a good flyer–and an even better friend. Come springtime, Duck is going to get the ride of her life!
Cecil’s illustrations are enchanting, but because some of the pictures are small, this book is best shared one-on-one, or with a small group. But get ready to hold back the tears at the end! And if you enjoy this one, check out Cecil’s Gator, about another one of the animals from the carousel.
This simple story is best for preschool through school-ages. It’s so nicely done that older children, and even adults, will enjoy it.
Check the WRL catalog for Duck.
Six little bunnies are out playing, but they’d better watch out! A hungry fox is hot on their trail. Dinnertime!
One by one the bunnies disappear. Is the fox going to have a tummy ache tonight? The illustrations of this book are nice and big, and children will enjoy pointing out a few other animals that are watching the action on each page. The fox looks a bit scary to me, but I’ve used this book with toddlers, and it doesn’t seem to worry the kids at all.
Everybody enjoys joining in on the word, “Dinnertime!” Try this one with toddlers and even kindergarteners. The older children will especially enjoy the surprise ending.
Check the WRL catalog for Dinnertime!
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce, illus. by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm
Morris Lessmore loves words, stories, and books, and in William Joyce’s poignant The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, Morris learns important lessons about the nurturing power of words, stories, and books.
Morris Lessmore lives a quiet, orderly life surrounded by his beloved books. Indeed, Morris’ own life is described as a “book of his own writing, one orderly page after another.” One day, his comfortable existence is disrupted by a violent storm that scatters everything familiar about his life, including the words of his book. Lost, Morris begins to wander until he comes across a woman being carried away by a group of flying books. She sends Morris a flying book and this book leads him to a building that houses countless flying books. Morris stays and becomes a loving caretaker to these books, filing them, repairing them, and sharing them with others. As the months and years pass, the books begin to take care of Morris the way he took care of them.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a lovely story highlighted by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm’s lavish illustrations. Books are the focus of nearly every picture, including a very animated version of Humpty Dumpty. The most visually striking sequence is a two-page illustration showing Morris lost in the pages of a book.
This story is also the basis for an animated short film, written and co-directed by William Joyce, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2012.
Whimsical and charming, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore will appeal to fans of Chris Van Allsburg’s books.
Check the WRL catalog for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.