Pied Piper Pics
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.
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.
This Caldecott Honor Book is a choice pick for children and parents who have suffered feelings of longing when separated from their loved ones. Jacqueline Woodson’s sparse prose gives a lovely rhythm to this historical fiction tale about a young girl whose mother goes to Chicago for work during wartime. Woodson writes, “Mama’s hands are warm and soft. When she put her Sunday dress into the satchel, I held my breath. Tried hard not to cry. Ada Ruth, she said. They’re hiring colored women in Chicago since all the men are off fighting in the war.” Ada Ruth stays at home with her grandparents and a kitten she adopts. She waits for word from her mother as the family lives through tough economic times. The pain that enfolds the reader through most of the book is lifted with a happy ending for Ada Ruth and her mother. E. B. Lewis’ illustrations are incredible and bring the tale to life for readers. This would be a wonderful book for elementary-aged children who have a parent who is deployed or living apart from them for work, or for children with an interest in history.
Check the WRL catalog for Coming on Home Soon.
Nibbles and the other guinea pigs of Dandeville are back! This time Nibbles and friend Posie discover that caterpillars are eating their precious dandelion plants. Posie suggests that they keep the caterpillars as pets. The two guinea pigs make a list of things they might need to take care of the caterpillars. Things like ping pong balls so they can play soccer, little wooly socks and small hairbrushes. One day they discover that the jars containing the caterpillars are empty! After advertising their lost caterpillars, Mr. Rosetti asks them to bring the caterpillars’ jars to his café. When the lids are opened, out fly the newly transformed caterpillars. The guinea pigs find out that “when you lose a caterpillar, you find a butterfly”. Readers should pay close attention to the numerous details in the mixed media illustrations, especially the pictures hanging in the guinea pig art museum. This book is also a great fiction title to use when learning about the life cycle of a butterfly.
Check the WRL catalog for Nibbles’ Garden: Another Green Tale.
All of the guinea pigs in Dandeville love eating dandelion leaves. In fact, they like them so much that they begin to run out of them. Of course, they could still buy them on the Internet – “for a HUGE amount of money”. Forced to eat chewy cabbage instead, Nibbles the guinea pig saves the day. He finds the sole remaining dandelion growing right outside his bedroom window, and he knows that he absolutely must not eat it. After a trip to the library to borrow the book Everything You Need to Know About Dandelions, Nibbles takes care of his dandelion and lets it go to seed. (Grown-ups – be sure to pay attention to the titles in the library illustration if you want a chuckle.) After Nibbles scatters the seeds all over Dandeville, new dandelion plants sprout and grow. The story concludes with Nibbles realizing that he loves growing dandelions just as much as he loves eating them. The mixed media illustrations are the heart of the story and are worth examining closely.
Check the WRL catalog for Nibbles: A Green Tale.
If you enjoy trickster tales, then you will want to read Anansi and the Talking Melon. This is a cute story about a mischievous spider named Anansi who loves melons but is too lazy to grow his own. One day he drops into elephant’s melon patch and uses a thorn to poke a hole into a juicy melon. Anansi slips inside the melon and eats and eats until he is full. When Anansi tries to squeeze out, he discovers a big problem. He is too big and can’t get out. While trapped inside the melon he gets bored and decides to trick elephant into thinking the melon can talk. Elephant is so impressed with the talking melon he decides he must show the king. Along the way elephant meets up with various jungle animals who accompany him on his journey to show the king. Read this witty and wonderful West African folktale to find out what happens when Anansi finally meets the king. The simple plot and beautiful illustrations make this a great read aloud for early elementary children.
Eric Kimmel has other Anansi books, Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock , Anansi Goes Fishing, Anansi and the Magic Stick and Anansi’s Party Time. These books are also available from Williamsburg Regional Library.
Check the WRL catalog for Anansi and the Talking Melon.
Jack and the Giant Barbeque is a humorous retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk with a Wild West spin. In this story Jack loves to eat barbeque but his mother can’t make it any more after the tragedy that struck Jack’s daddy. Jack is surprised to learn his daddy once made the finest barbeque in West Texas. One day a giant stole his secret barbeque recipe book and Jack’s daddy died of a broken heart. Jack decides to set out to find the giant and steal back his daddy’s recipe book. Jack climbs Mount Pecos in search of the giant’s barbeque shack. Once there Jack finds a talking jukebox that offers to help him get the recipe book. Will Jack be able to outsmart the giant and get his daddy’s recipe book back? Check out this book to see what happens. Children ages 5 to 10 will enjoy the bold and colorful illustrations. A great read aloud and perfect tale for comparing and contrasting to Jack and the Beanstalk.
Check the WRL catalog for Jack and the Giant Barbecue.
The tragic tale of the Gingerbread Boy eaten by a fox is familiar to most kids. But in this sequel by Lisa Campbell Ernst a Gingerbread Girl has to face the same trials as her older brother. The difference is that she learned from her brother’s mistakes and is determined to not be eaten by any animal or person. She runs and she runs from those who try to eat her while chanting “You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Girl,” in a familiar nod to the original story. Eventually she is also stopped by the fox, but she uses her quick wit to outfox the fox who ate her brother. Not only does she save herself, she manages to train the fox to behave in this fantastic twist on the original story.
The Gingerbread Girl is a story best suitable for ages 4-8 because it features a lot of text that younger children may have a hard time sitting through at storytime. The book is oversized which makes it a great choice for storytime and also features repetition of the classic “You can’t catch me” rhyme which kids will love chanting. In addition, as this book is a sequel of sorts, talking about the original fable can be a great way to start a discussion with kids.
Check the WRL catalog for The Gingerbread Girl.
The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish is a hilarious book based upon the following remark that the author’s son made to him as a young boy; “I wish I didn’t have a dad! I wish I had goldfish!” In this book the son decides that his dad is too boring and so he trades him to his friend Nathan for two goldfish. Soon, however, the boy’s mother comes home and demands that he leave and not come back until his goldfish and his dad are swapped back. The boy brings along his little sister and tries to trade the goldfish back to Nathan but Nathan has already swapped his dad for something else! The brother and sister duo then go on a journey in which they keep swapping things in an effort to get their dad back, and afterwards the boy realizes that while his dad is not such a good pet, “He’s a very good daddy.”
This wonderfully frank tale by Neil Gaiman will appeal best to ages 6-8 as it is written in the form of a graphic novel and may be more difficult for younger kids to follow. Dave McKean’s illustrations are excellent but also quirky and abstract which is another reason why this book is more suitable for older kids. Kids will relate to the sibling rivalry between the main characters as well as to wishing that they could also swap their parents for cool toys. This is a great storytime choice because it is very suspenseful and kids will exclaim at every page that the siblings find another toy instead of their dad. Other questions to consider asking kids at storytime is whether or not they have ever tried to swap an item for something else and you can ask if their swaps went as badly as that of our protagonists!
Check the WRL catalog for The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish.
Snowmen at Night is a charming, wintertime tale the reveals the secret adventures of snowmen at night. In this story a boy builds a snowman and goes to bed. When he wakes up, he discovers his snowman doesn’t look quite the same. He wonders, “What do snowmen do at night?” He imagines snowmen sliding to the park, sipping ice-cold cocoa, ice skating, playing baseball, and much, much more. Finally after a night of action the snowmen are exhausted and slide down the hill to their yards. Caralyn and Mark Buehner combine their talents to offer a rhythmic text with bright, colorful illustrations for preschool and beginning readers. Eagle eyed readers will enjoy finding hidden shapes that have been painted in the wintertime scenes by the illustrator.
Check the WRL catalog for Snowmen at Night.
If you enjoy different versions of fairy tales, then you must read The Three Little Tamales by Eric Kimmel. It is a southwest version of The Three Little Pigs. The story begins in a restaurant owned by Tio Jose and Tia Lupe. Every morning they make the best tortillas and tamales in Texas. One day three little tamales were cooling by a window as a tortilla rolls by and warns them they are going to be eaten. The three little tamales decide to run away to avoid this terrible fate. The first little tamale runs to the prairie and builds a house out of sagebrush. The second little tamale runs to a cornfield and builds his house out of cornstalks. The third tamale runs to the desert and builds her house out of cactus. The tamales were happy for awhile until Senor Lobo aka…the big bad wolf… comes knocking on their doors. He threatens, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff like a Texas tornado and blow your casita from here to Laredo!” Can the three little tamales escape the big bad wolf? This is a great story to use to introduce children to the Spanish language. A glossary is located in the front of the book to help the reader understand the meaning and pronunciation of the Spanish words used in this tale. A great read aloud for elementary school children who will definitely enjoy the colorful cartoon illustrations.
Check the WRL catalog for The Three Little Tamales.