Pied Piper Pics
Have you ever been faced with that age old question of whether to squish or not to squish? What if you were just about to lay down the shoe and that poor little bug started talking to you? That’s exactly what happens in Hey, Little Ant when a boy is met by a pleading ant and the two begin a sing-song dialog between them offering different perspectives about how the story should end.
“I can see you’re big and strong,
Decide for yourself what’s right and wrong,
If you were me and I were you,
What would you want me to do?”
The father/daughter team of Phillip and Hannah Hoose bring us a thought provoking narrative that can be used in the classroom when talking about bullying or eco-systems. It’s not only educational, but entertaining, and leaves an open ending that puts the reader in the driver seat!
Check the WRL catalog for Hey, Little Ant.
Summer is upon us and it’s time to read some books about bugs! A butterfly book is always a favorite and this one is sure to please your younger listeners. I love it because, not only does it work great as a bug book, but it also fills the bill for a color story time, as well.
On a clear sunny day, Lucy sees a colorful butterfly. She gleefully chases it all around the garden. The next day, when she is unable to spot it again, she discovers a pink worm, a brown spider, a red ladybug, an orange snail, a blue dragonfly, and a yellow bee. But will that radiant butterfly appear again?
The simple text and bold colorful illustrations would be enough to engage those inquisitive toddlers but Petr Horacek also gives us some die cut “peek-a-boo” holes and a huge pop-up butterfly, too! All of these elements together result in a visually pleasing book that enhances early learning experiences.
Check the WRL catalog for Book of Colors–Butterfly, Butterfly.
When I read a story to a group, I sometimes miss the wonderful illustrations that accompany it. This book was no exception. My 6 year old son pointed out to me that the pictures in this book are drawn on graph paper! Something I had not ever noticed!
With her intricate paper cut illustrations, Lindsay Ward creates a whimsical story of two loveable characters, Blue and Egg. One cold winters day, Blue returns to his nest to find Egg. Desperate to help his little lost friend, Blue puts Egg in a bucket and sets off to find his mother. As winter passes and the days get warmer Blue is in for a big surprise when he (and the reader) discover that Egg is not an egg at all.
Take the time to bring in spring with this gem! Great for groups or one on one this heart felt story of friendship is sure to be a long time favorite. But be sure to take the time to savor the illustrations that make this one extra special!
Check the WRL catalog for When Blue Met Egg.
Wesley was an outcast. He had no friends, but plenty of tormentors. Once summer vacation arrived, he needed a project to keep him busy. Putting to use some of the things he learned in school, Wesley decided to build his own civilization which he called WESLANDIA! He planted a garden and with his staple crop he grew tall flowering plants that bore fruit which provided his nourishment. He devised a spinning wheel from the woody bark and wove himself clothing from the plants fibers. Soon, his classmates who once mocked him became interested in the project. Reluctantly, Wesley allowed them to help. Together they discovered games for entertainment. His parents noted an improvement in his morale. Wesley seemed happier and soon, he had no shortage of friends.
Author Paul Fleischman has created this wonderfully thought provoking story about how people fit into the world. Wesley’s character chooses not to accept rejection but to use his individuality to create something wonderful that can bring happiness to everyone. For ages 5-9, this book is perfect for the classroom and appeals to a large audience. It can be used for a variety of themes including Agriculture, Creativity and Imagination, Individuality, and Civilizations. The vocabulary used offers opportunities for students to advance their vocabulary skills by learning the meaning of words like myriad, scornful, tubers, bedlam, innovation, morale, and finale, as they’re used in text.
If this book is not already on your shelf, add it today! You won’t be sorry!
Check the WRL catalog for Weslandia.
But when he decides to trade Norman for a “good pet” he discovers that Norman is actually exactly what he’s looking for.
Author, Kelly Bennett, creates a straightforward story with simple language that begs this book to be read aloud. She brings Norman to life with language that shows the personality of this silly little goldfish and the relationship that forms between him and his owner. “Not Norman” is repeated over and over and gives young audiences a chance to “read along”. Noah K. Jones gives us lively artwork that enhances the story with his eye catching illustrations. This author/illustrator duo have given us a tale that is o-“fish”-ally one of my favorite story time gems for the summer.
Check the WRL catalog for Not Norman: a goldfish story.
The scariest bear in the forest heavily stomps through the woods, causing the ground to rumble and the daisies to shake. He roars that he has a great big jar of honey and that he is not going to share. But he is not the only animal in the forest who likes honey. Mouse, the Rabbit Brothers, and Mole also want some. They decide to quietly sneak after Bear, to get some of that delicious honey. Everyone is quiet, except for Mole. First, Mole snaps a twig. Then he trips over a root. Luckily for Mole, Bear is too busy smacking his lips with that scrumptious honey that he doesn’t hear Mole. That is, until Mole falls into a puddle. With a loud splash, Mole finally gets the attention of Bear. Bear angrily roars that the honey is only for him. While Bear is distracted with Mole, Mouse sneaks in and gets some honey. What will happen next? Is it the end for Mouse?
This is another great book to read aloud. Jane Chapman slowly builds suspense with her well written verse, while the illustrations by Tim Warnes expressively convey that excitement and suspense. Young listeners will delight in the surprise ending.
Check the WRL catalog for Hands Off My Honey!
Eddie is an imaginative boy who dreams of adventure. And those adventures are much more fun with a friend. Eddie meets a dog and soon the two of them are going on adventures together, hunting for crocodiles, sailing the seven seas, and exploring a distant jungle. When Eddie gets home, his mother tells him that there isn’t enough room for a dog and sends the dog away. Eddie misses the dog, but he need not worry. Somehow, the dog makes his way back repeatedly, by scooter, by snorkeling, and even by plane.
This would be a great book for a story time about friendship. The illustrations are perfect for conveying the scope of a boy’s imagination and the joys of having a true friend. Young listeners will be cheering for Eddie and the dog. Find out what clever innovation the dog comes up with so that he and Eddie can stay together. There is no obstacle too great that can keep true friends apart.
Check the WRL catalog for Eddie and Dog.
Every child should be encouraged to have dreams and be given the opportunity to achieve them. In this newest book by Lita Judge, Penguin declares that he has the “soul of an eagle” and is determined to learn how to fly. Although the instructors at the flight school are skeptical, they decide to give Penguin a chance. For weeks, Penguin practices with the other students. Finally, it is time for all the birdies to attempt their first flight. Penguin shouts “Geronimo” and leaps into the air. Unfortunately, Penguin sinks into the ocean. Penguin is disappointed, especially after the Teacher says, “Penguins just aren’t built to fly.” Dejected, Penguin starts to leave until one of the instructors has an idea. Will Penguin achieve his dreams and finally fly?
Lita Judge is one of my favorite children’s illustrators. Earlier books include red sled and red hat. Using watercolor and pencil, her illustrations are perfect for this amusing story and eloquently convey the enthusiasm and determination of Penguin. This is a great choice for anyone with a dream.
Check the WRL catalog for Flight School.
Dog has been enjoying his favorite book—Puss in Boots. And what does he want now? Of course, he wants his very own set of just-as-splendid boots. He even takes his book along to show the shopkeeper. But Dog discovers that his fine boots have drawbacks. In turn he tries rain boots, flippers, high heels, and skis. Just when it appears that there is nothing perfect for a dog’s activities, the shopkeeper points out something that Dog has had all along. Can you guess what that might be?
This is a large format book which is excellent for using with a group. I have successfully used this with several different kindergarten groups. The children enjoy the humor and the anticipation of Dog’s next difficulty. The acrylic illustrations capture Dog’s many moods as he explores different kinds of footwear.
And be ready to laugh at Dog’s next choice of reading material!
Check the WRL catalog for Dog in Boots.
A story, rhyming text, and a cute quiz are combined in Which Shoes Would You Choose? Young Sherman needs appropriate footwear for many activities. Riddles invite the reader to guess what shoes our hero will be wearing next.
This is a delightfully illustrated book. There is plenty to see in the backgrounds of each scene. Encourage your children to read the pictures and create their own stories.
You may need to explain galoshes to your audience. And the children and I expected Sherman to wear cleats for baseball. But these are minor drawbacks. They allow you to expand your group’s vocabulary.
Check the WRL catalog for Which Shoes Would You Choose?
Flip Flop Bop will have you and your audience ready to take off your shoes and head for the beach. School is out and the children trade school shoes for the footwear of summer–flip flops. The kids are joined by a dog, a cat, and a mouse as they bop into the new season of the year.
By the end of the book, folks of all ages are enjoying the freedom of summer shoes.
The illustrations are bright and busy. The text moves from “clippety clop” to “kazoobaloobadippy.” At this point, the dog remarks, “Now we’ve just gone too far.” I found my audience was ready to contribute their own nonsense words to the story. I used this book with All You Need for a Beach to book end an early summer story time. It would also fit with a shoe theme or a nonsense verse medley.
Check the WRL catalog for Flip Flop Bop.
Our final conflict for the week is between the illustrator and the reader. In An Undone Fairy Tale the illustrator is a character named Ned. He’s really more of a set painter, costumer, hair and makeup artist, and prop man who is creating the illustrations for a typical fairy tale out of “real” objects. His troubles arise because we are reading the book entirely too fast. Ned never has time to prepare the illustrations for the next page before we turn to it. The narrator repeatedly tries to convince us to slow down and not turn the page yet. We, of course, do anyway.
The typical fairy tale we were expecting becomes decidedly atypical as Ned attempts to cobble together characters and scenes quickly enough to match the reader’s speed. This results in some quirky substitutions. For example, the king’s crown ends up being a donut. The knight’s horses aren’t ready in time, so Ned must replace them with fish. The only costumes ready for the knights are tutus.
The fairy tale becomes stranger and stranger until, finally, the narrator offers up a plea. “This is your final warning. The next page won’t be ready for four or five weeks. So put the book down and come back then. Okay? Pretty please?” Somehow I get the feeling that even if we did as he asked, the book still wouldn’t be ready.
Check the WRL catalog for An Undone Fairy Tale.
In the book Wait! No Paint! author/illustrator Bruce Whatley takes the familiar story of The Three Little Pigs and throws a wrench in the works. Everything is chugging along as usual (the pigs move out, build their own homes, the wolf comes to visit) until the illustrator, referred to initially as “a Voice from nowhere in particular”, interrupts the action. While illustrating the book, he spills his orange juice on the page. His actions affect the course of the story, as the first little pig’s house is now “soggy and sticky”. Then the illustrator pops in to announce that he must redo the wolf’s nose and suddenly we see a paintbrush, pencil, and eraser enter the scene. These interruptions culminate with the announcement that he has run out of red paint. As we all know, red paint is used to make pink paint, and pigs are pink.
Whatley tries making the pigs green, but that makes them queasy, he makes them flower-patterned, but they blend into the chair cushions. All the while, the wolf is advancing on the third pig’s chimney. Children familiar with the original version of The Three Little Pigs will know that it is the fire in the fireplace that ultimately does the wolf in. Without red, the illustrator can’t make the fire. What can be done to save the pigs?! You’ll never guess what solution Whatley thinks up.
Children love to hear twists on familiar stories, and this one is fun and humorous with a great ending. Readers will enjoy the blurring of the wall between the pig’s story and the illustrator’s world.
Check the WRL catalog for Wait! No Paint!
This week’s theme is “illustrator conflicts”. In today’s title, we have a fictional conflict between the author and illustrator. In Chloe and the Lion author Mac Barnett is dissatisfied with the artistic license illustrator Adam Rex’s has taken with the titular lion’s depiction. Specifically, Rex thinks “a dragon would be cooler”. Their argument leads to some artistic shenanigans until Barnett finally fires Rex and replaces him with another illustrator. This illustrator is willing to draw a lion, only it still doesn’t look quite right. Barnett then attempts to draw his own illustrations for his story, with less than stellar results. On the verge of giving up, it is the book’s heroine, Chloe, who convinces Barnett to keep at it. But the problem still remains, who will be the illustrator?
Mac Barnett’s books are typically filled with humor, and Chloe and the Lion is no exception. This book takes a humorous look at the various ways different illustrators interpret the same text. It includes the simultaneous use of several illustrative techniques including clay sculpting, painting, model making, and photography.
Check the WRL catalog for Chloe and the Lion.
In Seen Art? a young boy’s quest to find his friend takes an unexpected turn. Standing on the corner of Fifth and Fifty-third in New York City, a boy waits for his friend, Art. When Art doesn’t arrive the boy begins asking people who pass by if they have “seen Art”. Everyone’s reply is the same: “MoMA?” Deciding this must be some kind of code word, the boy plays along and is directed to a building just down the street. Inside, people show him many works of art including van Gogh’s Starry Night, Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, and sculptures by Calder. While the boy finds all this very interesting, he isn’t any closer to finding his friend. His insistence that he must “find Art” is misinterpreted by the helpful museum-goers, as each tries to show him what art truly is. But none of their art is the Art he is looking for.
This is not your average picture book, and it is not one I would recommend for storytime. This is a great one-on-one book for older children with an interest in art. Scieszka’s story draws you in and showcases the works of art in a funny and whimsical fashion. Smith’s illustrations are built around images of the works I mentioned above as well as numerous others. Seen Art? would be especially enjoyable for a family preparing to visit an art museum like MoMA (aka the Museum of Modern Art).
Check the WRL catalog for Seen Art?
Percy the porcupine loves balloons more than anything. The problem is, “Happy little porcupines with balloons are soon SAD little porcupines.” Percy’s quills always get in the way, and the balloons pop. Unable to think of a solution by himself, Percy asks his big sister, Pearl, for advice. Her suggestion involves sticking a marshmallow on the end of each of Percy’s quills. They give it a try, but it’s not particularly effective. Still, Percy refuses to give up. There must be a way for him to play with his beloved balloons. He just needs to keep thinking.
Percy’s story is simple and sweet, and perfect for a preschool storytime. His perseverance teaches a great lesson and he’s an adorable character kids will relate to and find funny. Schmid’s illustrations are large and clearly drawn in colorful pastels. Perfectly Percy is a follow-up to Schmid’s Hugs from Pearl.
Check the WRL catalog for Perfectly Percy.
Duncan’s crayons have had enough. They’ve decided to quit. Some of them, like red, blue, and gray feel they are overworked. Others, like beige, white, and pink are underutilized. Black is tired of outlining things, and orange and yellow are in a head-to-head battle over which one should be the color of the sun. Purple is a bit of a neatnik and desperately wants Duncan to color inside the lines. Peach’s wrapper got peeled off and now he’s embarrassed to leave the box. Green is just upset that his friends are so upset. Who knew crayons were this disgruntled?
Each crayon expresses its concerns to Duncan in a letter written in their particular color, which makes up the text of the story. Oliver Jeffers’ illustrations serve to augment the crayon’s arguments while also perfectly representing what a young boy might draw. The crayons each have their own voice and their anthropomorphization is very funny. The thought of using a book of letters in storytime might seem a bit daunting, but the premise will keep your audience hooked. This would also be a great book for one-on-one use.
Check the WRL catalog for The Day the Crayons Quit.
Guess Again! is all about misdirection. Each page presents the reader with a rhyming clue and an image in silhouette or behind a lift-the-flap that seems to lead to an obvious answer. Only it isn’t really the answer. It only takes a couple of tries before readers realize that they need to “guess again” and not follow their instincts. Children will begin to see how they were tricked and will find the actual answers very humorous. An additional running gag leads to a great payoff at the end.
Expect your audience to want to linger over the illustrations when they discover what they thought they saw wasn’t really what they saw.
Check the WRL catalog for Guess Again!
You’d expect that a book titled Count the Monkeys would involve counting some monkeys, but no. Other animals (and people) keep getting in the way. With the turn of each page another creature bars the way between the reader and the monkeys. It is up to the reader to escape, chase away, or avoid each of them with the appropriate method of distraction. Crocodiles, for example, can be confused with the wave of your hand. Wolves, however, are harder to deter (although extremely effective in chasing away grannies). You must cover your eyes to avoid eye contact. Readers may choose to count these animals as they proceed from “one king cobra” to “ten polka-dotted rhinoceroses with bagpipes and bad breath” or they might simply want to count the monkeys, who have been relegated to the book’s end pages.
This is a great book if you are in need of some audience interaction and movement. Encourage children to follow the instructions given by the book’s narrator in order to shoo away each page’s troublesome creature.
Check the WRL catalog for Count the Monkeys.
What if Yankee Doodle didn’t want to go to town? Whose job would it be to get him there? His pony’s, of course! Tom Angleberger (of Origami Yoda-fame) has taken the traditional song “Yankee Doodle”, and put ol’ Yankee in a bad mood. He’s bored, and his pony’s suggestion that they go to town isn’t of interest to him. Yankee is still not swayed when offered the prospect of going shopping for a feather for his hat. How will pony convince him?
Children will learn that “macaroni” was once a term that meant “fancy”, but is also a word which rhymes with “pony” (fitting suspiciously well into the song’s rhyme scheme). This is perhaps the reason macaroni was chosen for the song rather than lasagna, which Yankee points out is fancier.
“Macaroni isn’t fancy. It’s macaroni. You know what’s fancy? Lasagna. Lasagna is fancy. Lasagna has all those ripples in it, and then it gets baked with cheese and tomatoes and vegetables. Then you eat it with some garlic bread. Now, that’s fancy!”
It may be helpful to read the author’s note at the end aloud to your audience before proceeding to read the book. It provides good background information on the song’s history and will also refresh the audience’s memory of the classic tune.
Check the WRL catalog for Crankee Doodle.