Pied Piper Pics
I know a storytime delight when I see one and Banana! is just that! This book consists of only two simple words, but includes such a plethora of emotions and expressions that it is impossible to resist. Share this one with your children when you are working on “the magic word,” share it with your storytime group when you feel like going bananas, share it with your coworkers when they need a laugh or are looking for something to read. Just share it, because it is just that good!
*Be advised that some over the top dramatics might be required for the correct reading of this book.*
Check the WRL catalog for Banana!
I greatly enjoy “interactive” stories and Taeeun Yoo has hit this one out of the park. You Are a Lion! invites the children to participate in yoga by walking them through a series of simple and fun yoga poses. The combination of clear and bright illustrations with sparse text makes it easy for both the children and presenter to follow the instructions to assume the yoga position. Once in the position the illustrations become more luxurious and evoke the imagination. The combination makes this book perfect for storytime. The sequence of instructions also lend themselves to a great guessing game and you can have the children shout out their guesses.
I have used this book in several storytimes, with children ranging in age from 2 to 5 with great success. A fun, extremely well thought out book that works with groups and in one-on-one situations.
Check the WRL catalog for You Are a Lion!: And Other Fun Yoga Poses.
Margaret Read MacDonald is an acclaimed storyteller and author. I love how I can hear her storytelling voice echoing in her lively picture book adaptations of tales from around the world. In Conejito: A Folktale from Panama, MacDonald and illustrator Geraldo Valério retell a trickster tale by combining two languages with bright, energetic pictures. Their Conejito (Little Bunny) dances his way up the mountain to visit his aunt, Tía Mónica. Along the way he encounters Señor Zorro (Mr. Fox), Señor Tigre (Mr. Tiger), and Señor León (Mr. Lion), all of whom want to eat Conejito for lunch. Conejito uses his wits to escape, but it is Tía Mónica who thinks of way for him to try to evade his enemies on his trip home.
Valério’s bold acrylic illustrations will delight young readers. Since many of his colorful pictures stretch across two pages, the characters are drawn in an elongated style that gives them great energy. The bunnies’ lengthy ears flop around the pages, and saliva drips from the long tongues of the predatory animals. I love how MacDonald gracefully works Spanish words into her bouncy text. She pairs them with their English equivalents to make their definitions clear, and provides a pronunciation guide at the end of the book. The story is filled with repetition of phrases and plot events, so young readers will find it easy to follow along and guess what will happen next. Conejito: A Folktale from Panama is meant to be read aloud. This tale would be ideal for sharing in an elementary classroom during a unit on world folklore or Central American cultures. It would also be a fun story to chant and sing during a family read-aloud session.
Check the WRL catalog for Conejito: A Folktale from Panama.
Bijou Le Tord’s A Blue Butterfly: A Story About Claude Monet is a lovely book about an artist she describes as someone who “could see things in a way no one else could.” The text is written in spare free verse that runs along the edges of the large illustrations. Le Tord juxtaposes short lines and small stanzas with rich vocabulary and graceful similes.
For example, some of the text on the first page reads,
Since this book’s text is poetry, it begs to be read aloud. Though children may not appreciate the figurative language the way adults will, young listeners can benefit from hearing different kinds of poetry. The free verse in this book contrasts with the rhyming poems many children are used to hearing.
The illustrations in this book are special. Before she created this book, Bijou Le Tord visited France to see Monet’s garden in Giverny and some of his paintings in Paris. The illustrations in A Blue Butterfly: A Story About Claude Monet are painted in an Impressionist style that mimics the artist’s. Some pages replicate his best-known works, including his paintings of the Japanese footbridge in his garden and the Water Lilies paintings. Le Tord created her illustrations with the same eight paint colors Monet used almost exclusively late in his life. These colors have names like cadmium yellow dark and vermilion. She also incorporated a few other colors, including some that Monet used earlier in his life (burnt sienna and cobalt blue). Adults could help children understand Impressionist painting technique by having them look at the pictures in this book up close and then from farther away. It’s amazing that beautiful scenery can be made from lots of little blobs and smears of color. The poetry and paintings work together to create a picture book that is itself a work of art. A Blue Butterfly: A Story About Claude Monet is ideal for quiet sharing during a family read-aloud session.
Check the WRL catalog for A Blue Butterfly: A Story About Claude Monet
Polar bears are my favorite animal, so I was delighted to discover Bear Play by Miela Ford. This book features large, engaging photographs of two polar bears enjoying each other’s company. The close-up photos allow the reader to see tooth marks on the bears’ ball and water dripping from their fur. The pictures are accompanied by simple captions written in the voice of one of the polar bears. For example, the words on one spread read, “We’ll play in the water together.” Most pages have only three or four simple words, making this book an excellent choice for sharing with young children with short attention spans.
Children will be able to relate to the straightforward story of two friends meeting, playing together, and saying goodbye until the next day. While the captions are a charming addition to the photographs, they are not necessary for following the plot. Instead of reading the text, children could look at the pictures and tell the story in their own words. Bear Play is fun to share with a group. When I read it aloud in storytime, I enjoyed using my voice to play up the drama of the ball flying through the air. Miela Ford’s other books that feature animal photographs include Follow the Leader (which is also about polar bears) and Little Elephant.
Check the WRL catalog for Bear Play
My New Granny by Elisabeth Steinkellner, illus. by Michael Roher, translated by Connie Stradling Morby
Fini loves spending time with her Granny. Granny fixes her hair, takes her to the park to feed the ducks, and sends her post cards from exotic places. Granny cooks great meals that the whole family enjoys.
Then Granny goes to the hospital and when she returns, she is not the same Granny. When Fini’s “new” Granny goes to the park, she eats the bread crumbs rather than giving them to the ducks.
Granny can no longer take trips, and ultimately she moves in with Fini’s family. Now Granny mostly spends her time telling Fini stories about her childhood. But one day Granny turns on the stove to warm her hands. Now everyone must watch over her to see that she stays safe. One day it is Fini’s job to look after Granny. Granny falls asleep and Fini goes into her room to color. Mom comes home and finds Granny asleep on the floor. Mom is angry. Fini is not really sure what she did wrong
A professional caretaker, Agatha, comes to aid the family. She comes several hours a day to watch Granny and to help her. The illustrations are stylized and done in sepia. They seem very appropriate for the tone of the story. As more and more families experience the need to care for aging families, books like My New Granny may help children to understand that life changes and that they can play a part in helping. Perhaps the most important message in the book is that children can love the new Granny as much as they loved her before age took its toll.
Check the WRL catalog for My New Granny.
The image of the family has changed. Who’s in My Family celebrates this diversity with a joyous montage of families. Many different adult/child combinations are here. What they all have in common is love. Good days, bad days, and special days are chronicled. The day to day activities are often ordinary but elevated by the loving bonds that make a group of people into a family. Differences in dress, diet, and religion are subtly indicated, but the common themes are emphasized and celebrated. Westcott has filled the space with lots of action and details to discover. Children can explore the illustrations to discover the life of each family. Encourage your audience to compare and contrast the family activities.
Harris celebrates the good things and includes the reality of the bad days. People get sick, scared, or unhappy. Things get lost, broken, or spilt. Harris puts these events in perspective. Bad things happen but the love of a family gives hope for better days to come.
The art is joyful. Children will enjoy looking at the pictures time after time and will discovering new ideas each time. This book should be in preschools, kindergartens and daycare centers as well as in the home. When young children learn about diversity and celebrate it, the future becomes a better place. My only question: in a going to bed scene the character mentions that he brushes his teeth but his dog doesn’t. In this day and age many dogs, including mine, get their teeth brushed every night. Sharing this activity with a dog could encourage children!
This book celebrates our future in a very positive way.
Check the WRL catalog for .Who’s in My Family? All about families
Bear and Mouse are back. It’s Bear’s birthday, but he doesn’t like birthdays. Bear is cleaning and fussing when Mouse arrives with a card. Bear tells Mouse it is not his birthday and sends him away. Mouse gets creative and tries many disguises but Bear is always able to spot Mouse and continues to send him away.
Mouse appears to have given up. Then Bear sees a package at his door. With no sign of Mouse, he takes the box and hurries to the kitchen. What does he find? It is a huge chocolate cake…his favorite. Bear scoops up a handful of icing and out pops Mouse. Mouse returns with all his gifts. A pair of red roller skates wins Bear over and they complete the celebration by eating the whole cake.
This is a fun filled story of a persistent friend who knows he is doing the right thing. Children will like the disguises Mouse uses and his insistence that his friend have a birthday. The illustrations are stylized and exaggerated, but children will enjoy them. There are lots of things to find and the expressions and actions of Bear will make them chuckle. The art is large and children will have fun finding all the objects in each room.
Use this book to celebrate a birthday or just to celebrate and explore friendship.
Check the WRL catalog for A Birthday for Bear.
Mole had everything—a home, a bed, a pillow, a shelf of books and a teacup. He loved adventures like spooking the birds, looking into caves, and sitting on his favorite rock to think. Then he invited his friend, Emerson, over for tea. Alas there was only one teacup.
Emerson takes Mole to see his home, where he has almost everything. Suddenly Mole feels that his home is inadequate. He digs a long tunnel in hope of finding everything he needs. Lo and behold everywhere he looks, he finds something for his house. When he feels he has everything, he drags it all back to his small house. The work of maintaining EVERYTHING is overwhelming. Mole has no time for his favorite activities. Finally Mole makes up his mind. He makes a sign: Almost Everything for Free. The whole town rushes over and when everybody has taken something, almost everything is gone. Now Mole has time to walk under the stars. Now Mole can revel in everything he does have: one home, one bed, one pillow, one shelf for books and two cups for tea.
The illustrations are charming and Mole and Emerson are slightly anthropomorphic. The books is fun to look at and a surprise fold out in the book will charm children as they look at what Mole has collected. The message is gentle and true. One of the most valuable things we can have is time to do what is important and joyful for us. Even young children will get the message. This could be a great storytime for younger children with a simple discussion about what is really important.
Check the WRL catalog for Mole Had Everything.
This book has it all, rhythm, rhyme, repetition, and colors. Our piggy is at the County Fair with a determined idea. He wants to be the winner of the blue ribbon. He starts off wallowing in brown, but it’s not for him. So he adds a rinse of red, which makes it too bright. And on he goes wallowing in color after color. He does take a quick break wallowing in the duck Pond. His final wallow in the blue water of the Dunk Tank blends everything together giving him the blue ribbon.
The rhyme is catchy, and the repetition will keep children involved. All of the backgrounds represent events at a county or state fair. Enjoy the illustrations crowded with details of people and objects to be explored from many perspectives. There is as much to see as there is to hear in this book.
Extend the experience by making color cards that match the colors in Piggy’s adventure. The younger children love to lift up their color card each time their color is named. I Know a Wee Piggy will work in a storytime, a classroom, and just one on one. Children will surely request re-reads of this book. It is the whole package wrapped up in fun, laughter, and a very lively, lovable main character.
Check the WRL catalog for I Know a Wee Piggy.
When I first read Nothing Like a Puffin by Sue Soltis, I loved it so much that I immediately added it to a storytime I was planning. Bob Kolar’s bright, bold illustrations caught my attention right away, and I was constantly grinning at the funny text. At the beginning of the book, the narrator declares, “There is nothing like a puffin.” To prove her point, she compares a puffin to everyday objects that seem as if they would have nothing in common with the bird. However, she finds that nearly everything shares a characteristic with a puffin. A newspaper and a puffin are both black and white, a pair of blue jeans and a puffin both have two legs, and a helicopter and a puffin can both fly. Toward the end of the story, she compares a puffin to a penguin, pointing out all their similarities and one important difference that means puffins really are unique after all.
Nothing Like a Puffin provides opportunities for fun interactions between the reader and listeners. Readers may enjoy playing up the narrator’s increasingly grumpy attitude as she discovers that a puffin is not as unique as she thought. For example, in response to realizing that a snake and a puffin both hatch from eggs, the narrator sighs, “That figures.” Many of the pages preview the next object that will be compared. When I read this book in storytime, I used these illustrations to play a guessing game. I invited kids to speculate on whether each new object would have something in common with a puffin. In addition to providing a variety of facts about puffins, this book teaches the concept of comparing different items in order to identify similarities and differences. The funny text and bright colors in Nothing Like a Puffin make reading it a very entertaining learning experience. This book is most suitable for preschool and up, and is a great read-aloud to share one-on-one or with a group. The humor, which appeals to adults as well as children, will keep the story fresh over many rereadings.
Check the WRL catalog for Nothing Like a Puffin.
What Puppies Do Best is an adorable picture book from bestselling author Laura Numeroff and illustrator Lynn Munsinger. Numeroff is best known for the classic If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and similar titles like PaIf You Give a Pig a pancake. This puppy book is also part of a series. Numeroff and Munsinger’s other books include What Mommies Do Best/What Daddies Do Best and What Aunts Do Best/What Uncles Do Best.
The illustrations are my favorite part of this book. The dogs are a variety of breeds and all bursting with personality. Their faces and body positions are very expressive. I especially like the illustration accompanying the words, “Puppies can go on walks.” A girl is twisted up in the leashes of two dachshund puppies that look very determined to run in opposite directions. The children in the book are different races and ages. Some have siblings, while others care for their puppies by themselves.
What Puppies Do Best is realistic about the joys and challenges of puppy ownership. These dogs wake people up with their howling, track mud into the house, and chew on pillows. However, they also give kisses, snuggle, and play outside with their owners. The responsibilities of dog owners are highlighted as well. Three sisters train their puppy to sit and shake hands, and a boy cleans up when his dog makes a mess of mud, feathers, and spilled milk in the living room. This sweet book is sure to be enjoyed by children who have a puppy or who just like dogs. It is a great read-aloud to share with a group or one-on-one. Since it has a simple text in a large font that usually appears on a white background, What Puppies Do Best is also an excellent practice book for children who are beginning to read by themselves.
Check the WRL catalog for What Puppies Do Best.
Miss Rumphius is a classic created by one of America’s most distinguished illustrators of children’s books. During her career of nearly sixty years, Barbara Cooney illustrated more than 100 books and won numerous awards, including the 1983 National Book Award for Miss Rumphius. She was known for traveling extensively to research the different settings in her books in order to make her illustrations as detailed and realistic as possible. About this book, Cooney said, “Miss Rumphius has been, perhaps, the closest to my heart. There are, of course, many dissimilarities between me and Alice Rumphius, but, as I worked, she gradually seemed to become my alter ego. Perhaps she had been that right from the start.”
This book tells the life story of Alice Rumphius, who wants to travel to faraway places, spend her old age living by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful. The illustrations in Miss Rumphius are lovely and charming. Cooney chose a horizontal format to allow plenty of space for her expansive landscapes. She used acrylic paints and colored pencils, and filled each page with tiny details. I can see little hairs on the neck of a camel, smoke rising from the chimneys of faraway houses, and black flecks representing lupine seeds. Reading this book transports me to a simpler time and to exotic locales around the world.
Cooney’s inspiring story is filled with rich vocabulary and graceful turns of phrase. Children will learn new words like conservatory and cockatoo by hearing them read aloud in context and by looking at the pictures. This book is best shared one-on-one to give children plenty of time to examine the illustrations. Its length and subject make it most likely to appeal to children in kindergarten and above. I remember reading Miss Rumphius when I was a child, and still think of it fondly every time I see a patch of lupines.
Check the WRL catalog for Miss Rumphius
This is a wonderful book to share at a toddler or pre-school story time after a storm or for a weather themed story time. The story is written and illustrated by Nancy Tafuri who won a Caldecott Honor award for Have you seen My Duckling? Her animals are delightfully detailed and realistic.
The Big Storm is indeed a very soggy counting book. One by one, animals try to escape from the dark black clouds. Bird flies to the hill hollow. He is number one. He is followed by Mouse who is number two. Lightning starts to crack and Rabbit runs for cover making three animals seeking refuge together. Thunder starts to rumble and grumble – Woodchuck, Raccoon, Opossum and Red Fox all run for cover. The children at story time enjoyed calling out the various animal names. Finally the number ten animal joins them. It is skunk!
“10 Critters huddled together” are escaping from the storm. Suddenly there is a different Rumble and Grumble and they all realize at once that some other creatures are in the cave with them. Can you guess what they are?
The story is great for a large group reading as are her other books including The Very Busy Little Squirrel and Spots, Feathers and Curly Tails. A good enrichment activity addition for this book would be a little flannel board of the hill hollow and figures of the ten animals. The flannel board could be demonstrated as the story is told or demonstrated after the story is told.
Move Over, Rover by Karen Beaumont has a similar storyline with a very different surprise ending. You might consider programming them a week apart. Encourage the children to identify things that are the same or different.
Check the WRL catalog for The Big Storm: A Very Soggy Counting Book.
Soggy Saturday is a very simple story that younger and older preschoolers really enjoy. Phyllis Root got the inspiration for this book when she was nearly washed off the road while driving during a torrential rainstorm. The heroine, Bonnie Bumble, lived on a farm. One Saturday, a soggy Saturday, it rained so hard the blue washed right out of the sky. It rained “blue” on all the farm animals – the chickens, the cow, the sheep, and the pig–the grass and trees too. Finally the rain stopped but now everything on the farm was blue! The chicken’s eggs had turned blue and even the cows’ milk was blue. Bonnie had to paint everything on the farm back to its original color – “the sheep all creamy and white and the pig all shiny and pink!”
This is a good addition to a weather-themed story time!
Bonnie Bumble is the star in these other humorous books by Phyllis Root: Meow Monday, Turnover Tuesday and One Windy Wednesday. They are all illustrated by Helen Craig with her playful, signature illustrations.
Check the WRL catalog for Soggy Saturday.
Here is a very fun “happy” book about rain. Split! Splat! encourages the reader to go out and embrace the rain. This book is ideal for a preschool or kindergarten audience. It features funny, rhythmic rhymes with lots of onomatopoeic words.
Pip Pip Pip Pip
Drippy drop drop drip
The well known illustrator, Steve Bjorkman draws large happy, smiling faces of children and dogs as they are running in puddles with raincoats and umbrellas and mud! The rain does not bother these kids.
A no-shoes, toes-ooze,
Oochy sploochy woochy woosh!
The kids will love this one and will recite the words back to you.
Check the WRL catalog for Split! Splat!
On the first page, we meet Mr. Putney, a balding, middle-aged guy with a mustache. He owns a veritable menagerie, whose names the reader is invited to guess. For instance, an armadillo stands on the bedside table next to a snoozing Mr. Putney. “Who wakes Mr. Putney up in the morning?” the book asks. The answer: An alarmadillo.
Mr. Putney holds a (somewhat worried) small boy next to a gorilla. “Who does Mr. Putney use to see how tall his nephew is?” A goruler.
You get the idea. Agee’s illustrations are huge and well-defined, so they are easy to see from the back of the room. And after the first few riddles, kids will be eager to guess the rest. I’ve used this with kindergarten through fourth grade, and it was a hit. And it’s a good one to slip between stories.
Check the WRL catalog for Mr. Putney’s Quacking Dog.
Last summer I brought this book to an outreach storytime where I would be reading to kindergarten through third grade students. When I arrived, I found out that the fourth and fifth graders would be joining us. “Uh oh,” I thought. But I needn’t have worried. Press Here saved the day.
Press Here is the pop-up book that isn’t a pop-up book. On the first page, readers are instructed to “Press here” on a painted yellow dot and then turn the page. On the next page, a second yellow dot has “magically” appeared. On ensuing pages, the reader is instructed to press dots, shake the book up and down or turn it sideways. In response, the dots change color, slide to the edge of the page, or change size. Pressing a whole row of dots “turns out the lights,” making the background turn black. Blow on the book and the black ink gradually (with more blowing), flows back off the page.
This book is particularly fun to share with a group of about 20, because you can carry it around and let the kids can take turns following the directions. If you have more children than pages, it’s okay, because a couple of the instructions—clapping and blowing—can be done by the whole group. You’ll get spit on when everybody blows, so maybe don’t try it during flu season.
Check the WRL catalog for Press Here.
“Is it Yellow?” he asks. “Yellow is the sand on the sunny beach.”
“Is it Red? Red is the rug where I snooze by the fire.” The simple text on these double-page spreads is always accompanied by the cheery cat and another sort of animal. A mouse naps next to the cat on the red rug. Crabs scoot along yellow sand. Bats swoop through a black night sky.
The book bounces along easily, with just enough going on to generate a conversation with toddlers. Cabrera’s illustrations are big and bright, so this is a great book for storytime. And the simple conclusion is satisfying and perfect for little ones.
Check the WRL catalog for Cat’s Colors.
Memoirs of a Goldfish is a book about a little fish who lived alone in his fish bowl happily swimming around all by himself. Then things started to be added to his fishy home, a bubbly man, plants, a cranky crab, a slime eating snail and even a pirate ship! What is a poor fish to do?
Devin Scillian and Tim Bowers have teamed up to make the book Memoirs of a Goldfish a keeper. This book is a fantastic read aloud for all ages. Anyone who has ever stood in the fish tank section at a store and thought “I need more stuff!” this book is for you.
Check the WRL catalog for Memoirs of a Goldfish.
This book is about the friends you find when you were not looking and how your life is richer for them, have fun.