Pied Piper Pics
As you open Grandpa Green, get ready to step into a secret garden, filled with treasured memories. Grandpa Green is the touching tale of a young boy’s adventures through his great-grandpa’s garden, where the topiary trees recreate memories and tell the story of his great-grandfather’s life – growing up on a farm, getting chicken pox, going to war, and building a family. It is a whimsical, unassuming little story that tugs at the heartstrings.
The book features delicate, line-drawing illustrations mixed with sponge paintings, all done in varying shades of verdant green. This color theme gives the book a classic, timeless feel and the sketches have a poignant, fairy-tale-like quality to them.
This elegant picture book explores themes of aging, memory, and family connections and would provide an excellent jumping-off point to discuss your own family history and that of the grandparents and great-grandparents in your family. It offers an intriguing glimpse into Smith’s softer side – many readers will be more familiar with his sly, witty creations with Jon Scieszka, or individual offerings, such as It’s a Book and The Happy Hocky Family.
There is a double-page fold-out at the end of the book, which acts as a concise summary of the story. This gives parents the opportunity to ask questions about the story, in order to test memory skills and comprehension. This Caldecott Honor Book is best read by, and to, children aged five to nine. The book rewards close and repeated reading, as you pore over the illustrations, talk about the story, and discover new visual connections.
Check the WRL catalog for Grandpa Green.
The Nights of the World tells the story of the days and nights of five children who live in five very different parts of the world. The book travels from North Africa, to sub-Saharan Africa, to the Caribbean, to Alaska, and finally Asia, This allows young readers to learn that although we are all very different, we share many similarities. It demonstrates how we all share similar rhythms of night and day, but we do so in very different ways.
The focal point of the book is the interactive illustrations with multicultural, albeit a simplistic multicultural, appeal. The Nights of the World includes window shutters with images of how each child spends their night on top. Their day-time activities are hidden underneath. This structure allows for discovery and will engage young readers. The illustrations are done in bright, bold, vibrant colors that help make this book stand out from so many similar stories.
This picture book is a perfect selection for bedtime reading. The rhythmic text and repetitions are soothing and the repetitive structural pattern – night and day, night and day – will calm and prepare children for their own bedtime.
The Nights of the World is ideal for children, who are able to read the text along with you, as well as those who have not yet begun to read, who will happily help you pull the tabs to reveal each new image. I would recommend this book for ages four and up.
Reading this book can facilitate discussion with your child about what they did during the day and what they do at night. (Hopefully you’ll get the right answer – “Sleep in my comfy bed!”)
Check the WRL catalog for Nights of the World.
This brief bath time tale is ideal for preschool through first grade readers. Little Dini Dinosaur loves to play and make messes. After dumping a bucket of mud on his head, it is time for Dini to hit the bathtub. However, poor little Dini just cannot remember to remove all of his clothes and take a bath the right way. After all, you can’t wear your socks if you want to scrub your feet! Mom has to keep reminding him that it is “back you go” so that Dini can “scrub-a-dub-dub” in the tub. The brightly colored illustrations are charming and the rhyming is fun. Young readers will relate to Dini’s struggles in the tub. Although Dini is eager to take a bath, this story could be used to help encourage those reluctant bathers out there.
Check the WRL catalog for Dini Dinosaur.
You can’t go wrong with this Caldecott Medal winning picture book. Officer Buckle helps keep the children of Napville Elementary School informed about safety, even though they do not appreciate his boring presentations. All of that changes when Gloria, an energetic police dog, becomes Officer Buckle’s new partner and goes with him on the school visits. Suddenly, the children are mesmerized by the safety assemblies. Officer Buckle thinks that they really love him, even though it is actually Gloria that steals the show with her hijinks. It turns out that Gloria can do all sorts of tricks and acts out safety tips and accidents behind Officer Buckle’s back. Thanks to a TV news team’s recording, Officer Buckle eventually finds out what Gloria is doing. He becomes very dispirited and poor Gloria is forced to unsuccessfully host the safety presentations on her own. Things take a turn for the worst when Napville Elementary has its biggest accident ever. The two partners are reunited when they understand that they work best together as a team to promote safety. The cartoon style pictures are a delight to examine and readers will notice many details throughout the illustrations. The book also includes a variety of humorously illustrated safety tips that readers both young and old will enjoy. Highly recommended for ages 4 through 8.
Check the WRL catalog for Officer Buckle and Gloria.
Popular illustrator Ed Young tries his hand at writing by creating a children’s version of the Chinese epic Journey to the West. This Chinese fable set in the 600s A.D. revolves around a monk who travels with the Monkey King and other animals on a quest to bring Buddhist scriptures from India back to China. Young’s version focuses on the creation story of the Monkey King and the events that lead up to him protecting and joining Monk Tang on his journey.
Older elementary-aged children and middle school children will have a better understanding of this complex tale, while younger children can enjoy Young’s bright and simplistic illustrations. The “Author’s Note” and “List of Characters” give a more complete picture of the story. The book ends with a moral: “By learning that there was strength in admitting weakness, Monkey had saved the day. Did Monkey’s humility last? That’s another story for another book.”
Check the WRL catalog for Monkey King.
For starters, it is simple enough that even your dog could read it. That’s because Rrralph is the story of a dog that can talk. The narrator asks Ralph his name, and he replies, “Ralph! Ralph!” He goes for a walk past a tree covered in, “Bark! Bark! Bark!” And later he encounters a scary, “Wolf! Wolf!”
You get the idea. Children love joining along with Ralph. And Ehlert’s dog, with button eyes, an aluminum pop-top nose and mouth made out of a zipper, is wonderful to watch romp across the page.
This story is perfect with a group or one-on-one. I’ve shared it many times with babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it with kindergarteners or first-graders.
Check the WRL catalog for Rrralph.
Junie, Jakie and the baby beg Papa to take them to the lake, but he’s worried about their rattletrap car, because “it doesn’t go fast and it doesn’t go far.” But they load it up anyway with a surfboard, toy boat, a beach ball and a giant tub of chocolate marshmallow fudge delight and off they go. But they don’t get far when, Boom—ssssss! A tire goes flat.
But remember that beach ball? It’s the perfect spare, and they glue it on with handfuls of chocolate marshmallow fudge delight. And off they go again, until . . . another part of the car dies or falls off. Along the way the car gets noisier and noisier, with sounds like wappity bappity, lumpety bumpety, clinkety clankety, bing bang pop!
And all those toys and the chocolate marshmallow fudge delight come in very handy!
This is a great read for preschoolers through kindergarten. The large illustrations are wonderful to use with a class.
Check the WRL catalog for Rattletrap Car.
I don’t generally use cumulative tales in story time, because they bore me. But The Napping House is one, glorious exception.
This is the story of how a wakeful flea disrupts the slumbering mouse, on the snoozing cat, on the dozing dog, on the dreaming child, on the snoring granny, on a cozy bed in a napping house where everyone is sleeping. It works so well because Audrey Wood’s text sounds so good, and her husband’s pictures are so big and funny.
Like all good illustrations, Wood’s images give observant children the chance to find more in the story. The next animal to climb on top of the bed is always waking up on the page before. And if you’re sharing the book one-on-one, you can even see the flea hopping closer to the bed page by page.
This is the perfect story to read and then share again as a flannel board. And if you go to the Woods’ web page, you’ll find printable coloring pages for the story. You’ll find that page here:
Check the WRL catalog for The Napping House.