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Picture book reviews by librarians for everyone.
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Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always by Tao Nyeu

Wed, 2014-01-15 01:01

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.


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How to Raise a Dinosaur by Natasha Wing, illus. by Pablo Bernasconi

Mon, 2014-01-13 01:01

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.


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“Hi, Pizza Man!” by Virginia Walter, illus. by Ponder Goembel

Fri, 2014-01-10 01:01

“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.

Check the WRL catalog for “Hi, Pizza Man!”


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Little Chicken & Little Fox by Brigitte Sidjanski, illus. by Sarah Emmanuelle Burg

Wed, 2014-01-08 01:01

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.


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Boo and Baa Have Company by Lena and Olof Landström

Mon, 2014-01-06 01:01

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.


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Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, illus. by Jane Chapman

Fri, 2014-01-03 01:01

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.


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Corduroy by Don Freeman

Wed, 2014-01-01 01:01

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.


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The Purple Hat by Tracey Campbell Pearson

Mon, 2013-12-30 01:01

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.


Categories: Pied Piper Pics