Pied Piper Pics
I chose two books to highlight today. They each show a mother and baby polar bear interacting in their snowy home. The illustrations in both books are rendered in blues, grays, and whites. The animals are not photographic or cartoonish in style. Instead they are soft with rounded shapes against neutral backgrounds. These are excellent for preschool story time.
In Baby Polar, the little one sees snow falling and asks to go out and play. Mother says yes but warns him that a storm is coming. We enjoy the gentle play of the baby but he doesn’t listen to his mother tell him to come back. And then he can’t find his mother or the tracks he had made in the snow as he played. He is bewildered by the snow coming from all directions and stinging his nose. He digs a snow cave to find some protection from the storm. And guess who he finds in his cave. The theme of losing and then finding Mother is perfect for a preschooler. I would suggest this book for a very small group or a couple of children snuggling up with Mom or Dad.
Check the WRL catalog for Baby Polar.
In My Little Polar Bear, a cub wants proof that it is a polar bear. Mother describes things that identify a polar bear. The little one points out that there are some things that it can’t do. Mother tells him not to worry because she will teach him all he needs to be a polar bear. In the end, the little one announces that there is one thing that it already knows—that its mother loves him. The desire to belong to a group is as important to preschoolers as it is to baby polar bears. Parents may find that this book allows them to talk a little about what it means to be part of a family. I would also use this book only with a small group or in a family setting because the lovely illustrations do not have enough contrast to be visible from a distance.
Check the WRL catalog for My Little Polar Bear.
Road Work Ahead is a treat for any child who likes construction equipment. A road trip to Grandma’s house takes a little boy and his mother through a variety of road work situations including tree trimming and concrete pouring. There are male and female workers shown busily improving the streets and surrounding areas. The rhymed and rhythmic text is a pleasure to read.
Jannie Ho’s colorful illustrations add to the delight of the story. Spend some time with your child exploring the scenes to discover little stories within the story. Hint: Can you find the missing chicken?
I have used this successfully with small groups but the detailed illustrations will be better enjoyed by an adult and one or two children curled up on the couch.
Check the WRL catalog for Road Work Ahead.
Dog has just finished reading a very good book. And then he heads to the shoe store to find a pair of boots. Wonderful boots. But he finds that boots don’t really fit his lifestyle. The same goes for high heels, flippers, and skis. What does Dog really need for his feet? The large bright illustrations show the problem with each of Dog’s choices. Let your children guess what Dog finally decides to wear.
When Dog is happy with his feet, he begins to read a new book. Hmmm, could there be another clothing search in Dog’s future?
Check the WRL catalog for Dog in Boots.
It’s one of those days when Frankie and Sal feel like they’ve done it all. The only solution, “Let’s do nothing!” And they certainly make an attempt, pretending to be motionless statues, trees, and skyscrapers. Unfortunately, Frankie’s imagination is too active to do nothing. As a statue he attracts pigeons, as a tree he attracts a dog with a full bladder, and as a skyscraper he attracts King Kong. Each attempt at doing nothing fails, but Sal is undeterred. What will they do if they can’t do “nothing”?
The visuals in this book are highly entertaining and will have readers laughing out loud. This one is a crowd-pleaser perfect for an older storytime audience.
Check the WRL catalog for Let’s Do Nothing!
Interactive books are great for storytime. It’s even better when the book is both entertaining and educational. Let’s Count Goats will provide the necessary fun, as these anthropomorphized goats behave much like humans. This book will also give children a chance to practice their counting. And, as children love to point out, “It’s a rhyming book!”
“Here we see a show-off goat playing on the bars. But can we count the rowdy goats careering round in cars?”
Anything written by Mem Fox is a sure bet, and Jan Thomas’ pictures are perfect, as usual. The illustrations are cute, humorous, and flooded with color.
Check the WRL catalog for Let’s Count Goats!
Sometimes you just need a book of practical advice. Such as, “If an elephant stands on your foot, keep calm. Panicking will only startle it.” Unfortunately, our hero lets out a shriek anyway, and now must run from a startled elephant. The book’s next piece of advice: “Running my attract tigers.” You see where this is going.
What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot is a cumulative story in which the actions of a young boy on safari put him in one perilous situation after another. He can’t seem to follow the book’s advice, so he finds himself being chased by everything from the titular elephant to a family of snakes.
Children will enjoy watching the young hero get into and out of some sticky spots with the help of the narrator (and some helpful monkeys). This humorous story is sure to entertain.
Check the WRL catalog for What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot.
This is a beautifully written story by Elizabeth Laird, a specialist in African Folklore. Liz Pichon, the illustrator, has used a large vivid format ideal for group storytelling. I was reminded of Little Red Riding Hood. Only Beatrice is going through the African jungle to take bananas to her grandfather’s house. She is bringing him lovely, ripe bananas. However unlike Red Riding Hood, Beatrice meets careless but kindly animals throughout the jungle. Giraffe flicks the bananas out from Beatrice’s hand but picks her some flowers. The bees settle on the flowers and squash them but present her with a honeycomb to take to her grandfather. She continues to lose and receive various gifts. Finally, elephant picks another bunch of bananas for her and she eventually gets to grandfather’s house without further mishap. This book would make a good addition to a story time about jungle animals. My favorites are Who Is the Beast? by Keith Baker and Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman.
Check the WRL catalog for Beautiful Bananas.
This is a great story with a message for any child that is different! Award winning illustrator, Shane Evans enhances the simple story with his extremely large illustrations. These big illustrations make it ideal for a class reading for preschoolers, kindergartners or first graders too.The dark skinned little boy in the picture calls himself *Chocolate ME* and he laments to his mother that he wants to look like his light skinned friends. His mom shows him a spoon with chocolate on it.
“you have skin like velvet frosting mixed in a bowl (you can lick the bowl)
Cotton candy hair soft to the touch of my fingertips or braided like rows of corn with a twist.”
He begins to look at himself and likes what he sees. He shares delicious chocolate cupcakes with his friends-and finally comes to terms with the color of his beautiful skin. Chocolate Me! This is an excellent story about self esteem and acceptance.
Check the WRL catalog for Chocolate Me!
This is a story about grumpy animals! and how they get cheered up by their friends. Elephant awoke in a grumpy mood, but there was a present at his doorstep–a hat! It was difficult to stay grumpy now! Zebra was also grumpy that day, but got a hat from elephant. They cheered and smiled together. From there they came across Turtle who would not come out of his shell. He, too, was grumpy. So, Turtle got a hat and so did Owl. Lion did not want visitors because he was grumpy too! He loved the hat all the other animals offered him but said he was sad because Giraffe was sick. Together they all packed up a hat box for Giraffe and he felt better too!
“Hooray for friends.”
Let’s cheer up and cheer for hats. The brightly colored lettering and hats add a cheerful note to this invigorating story for toddlers and preschoolers.
Check the WRL catalog for Hooray for Hat!
Solid non-fiction content and simple, lyrical text make this book a super addition to a winter story time for preschoolers. The text asks and then answers where each animal goes in the winter. For example, “When the ground turns too cold to sleep on at night, where do the snakes go? Into a den till it’s warm again.”
The setting for each species varies. The snake slithers past sage and cactus on the way to his den. The bats’ cave lies beyond a forest of towering evergreens. And a couple of brown field mice snuggle up in a clump of hay on a farm set in a rolling countryside.
Children enjoy guessing where the animals will take shelter from the cold. And everyone knows the answer to the final question of where a couple of children are headed at the end of a day of sledding.
Check the WRL catalog for Winter Lullaby.
I thought that this 1985 title from Caldecott Medal winner Emily Arnold McCully might seem dated. But it worked beautifully with two classes of preschoolers recently. It has a simple narrative, but the wonderfully detailed illustrations allow the story to be shared and discussed almost like a wordless picture book. This book was in fact originally a wordless story; McCully added the brief text when First Snow was reissued in a larger format in 2003.
The mouse family treks up a big hill to go sledding, and children love shouting, “Wheeeee” as the mouse children swoosh down the hill. But Bitty, the smallest, lingers on the hilltop. McCully shows us the big hill from Bitty’s perspective, and that makes it easy for children to understand the problem: Bitty is scared.
It’s fun to ask children to call out encouragement to Bitty, and wonderful to show them when they have succeeded! Down she flies! “Did you see me? I did it!” she shouts. Bitty hikes up and zooms down that hill over and over until the sun goes down and it’s time for dinner.
Although I might not do this for a huge group, the illustrations are certainly large enough for a small class.
Check the WRL catalog for First Snow.
A soft, warm bear is snuggled up asleep in his cave. One by one a rabbit, a badger, a fox, a squirrel and a mouse peer inside. Each is so cold and that fuzzy bear looks so warm. “You may come in,” the hare tells each. “But don’t wake up the bear!”
This is a great group-participation story for preschool through kindergarten. In my effort to get kids to participate in a story, sometimes they end up shouting a repeated line. In this case, it’s fun to get the whole group whispering, “Don’t wake up the bear!” The story is nicely repetitive, and children enjoy the mayhem that ensues when the mouse, who has chosen to snooze in the bear’s ear, suddenly has to sneeze.
The illustrations are nice and big, so the book works well with a large or small group. I think the bear looks a bit scary, but the preschoolers with whom I’ve shared the book didn’t seem to mind.
Check the WRL catalog for Don’t Wake Up the Bear!
I’ve chosen to highlight another of Alison Murray’s books. You can see Murray’s instantly recognizable, simple illustrations in bright muted colors.
Little Mouse is the little girl in the story who is fighting against her timid image. She wants to be strong and fierce. She says, “I’m not timid like a little mouse. I’m very brave…and I can be scary too! Grrrrrrrr!” However when this little girl becomes timid, she is only too happy to be “Mommy’s Little Mouse…quiet and cosy, cuddly and dozy…”
This would be a wonderful, soothing, interactive bedtime story for the pre-school age group.
Check the WRL catalog for Little Mouse.
Scottish author-illustrator, Alison Murray has written another first class picture book. It is based on the old nursery rhyme Hickory Dickory Dock. This latest book was first published in the U.S. in 2014. It has Murray’s bright characteristically vivid colors and illustrations. Rufus is the goofy dog in the story. Rufus follows his owner, Zack, to school one day! “Hickory, Dickory, Dock. A dog, a boy, a clock! The day’s begun it’s time for fun! Hickory, Dickory, Dock.” Unlike the lamb in the nursery rhyme Mary had a Little Lamb, Rufus is allowed to stay in school. Rufus joins in at band practice, dress up time and painting time. “The clock strikes eleven. It’s make-a-mess heaven. Hickory, Dickory, Dock.” Rufus joins in for lunch at school and garden time and THEN he is taken home! “Higglety, pigglety, pup It’s time to clean you up! The clock strikes five Slip, slide, crash… dive! Higglety, pigglety, pup.” Then it’s time for the end of the rhyme and the reader sees Zack and Rufus fast asleep in bed. This is a great story for toddlers and pre-schoolers with simple, rhyming text.
Check the WRL catalog for Hickory Dickory Dog.
This is another story by Jane Cabrera inspired by a favorite nursery rhyme – this time the rhythmic, story of Row, Row, Row Your Boat! I read it aloud and also sang it to a very large group of toddlers at Williamsburg Library. The children enjoyed the rhythm and the very bright illustrations of the different animals. Jane Cabrera involves the different animals in the interactive story.
Row, row, row your boat
Splish! and Splash! and Splatter!
If you see the monkeys swing,
Don’t forget to chatter-
Row, row, row your boat
through the narrow gap.
If you see a crocodile!
Don’t forget to Snap! Snap! Snap!
This interactive and rhyming book has become a favorite book to share at story time especially for those times when you lose the toddlers’ attention.
Check the WRL catalog for Row, Row, Row Your Boat.
The simple story is about a child named Lucy who decides to draw a monster one night when she can’t sleep. She and the monster play and play, but when Lucy decides that it’s time for bed, the monster says, “No,” and proceeds to make every excuse that every child has ever used for staying up.
First, he’s hungry. So Lucy draws him a mountain of meatballs. “Chomp, Chomp, Chomp!” He eats them all. When he wails that he is thirsty, she draws him a bucket of water, which he drinks with a, “Glub, glub.” Lucy’s crayons get lots more work, as she draws him a bathroom, pajamas, a teddy bear and more.
Children enjoy guessing what Lucy will draw to satisfy her funny green friend. That makes it a fun interactive book for story time. For a child who is afraid of monsters under the bed, I think this book could encourage that child to draw the monster, and then draw the things that “their” monster wants in order to fall asleep. A monster that needs a teddy bear isn’t so scary, after all!
The sparing text makes this book suitable for a child as young as three. But it is engaging enough for a kindergartener. The illustrations are large enough to use with a group.
Check the WRL catalog for Go to Bed, Monster!
You get the same sort of fun without the calories with a read-aloud of Fortune Cookies. The little girl in the story eats one fortune cookie a day for a week. Inside each cookie illustration is a small tab that children can pull out to read that day’s fortune. The next day that fortune comes true!
This is one of my favorite interactive books to use with older children. Naturally, they love pulling out the fortunes and reading them. But they also enjoy guessing how that fortune will turn out. There are only a few words on each page, and the illustrations by Raschka, a Caldecott Medal winner, are simple and wonderfully expressive.
As long as I’ve gotten approval beforehand, I like to follow this story with a special treat—a fortune cookie for everyone.
Check the WRL catalog for Fortune Cookies.
In this simple, toddler-friendly story, Cookie knocks plants off the windowsill, gets stuck in a kitchen drawer, upsets the trash can and even falls in the toilet. Each disaster happens on a different day of the week, so the book can be used to teach the days of the week, although it’s too fun to save for just that purpose.
DePaola’s illustrations frequently only show bits of the rambunctious cat, such as one back foot and a tail poking out from under a wok. This provides opportunities for discussion. I also like to encourage storytime kids to say, “Silly Cookie!” with each mishap, though that isn’t part of the text.
It is simple enough for tiny ones, but I would even use this with kindergarteners as a break between longer stories. I’ve used a big book version of this in story time, but because the illustrations are clear and simple, I think the smaller sized book would work with a group.
Check the WRL catalog for Cookie’s Week.
The Ticky-Tacky Doll, by Cynthia Rylant, tells the story of a little girl and her best friend, Ticky-Tacky Doll. They have been inseparable ever since the little girl’s grandmother created Ticky-Tacky but now, the little girl is starting school and her doll cannot come with her.
This book is great for any child who has a special stuffed friend. It would also be good for any child starting Kindergarten. This book would be ideal for children grades K-3.
If your child enjoyed this book he/she can also try William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow or Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki.
Check the WRL catalog for The Ticky-Tacky Doll.
Coolies, by Yin, is a historical fiction picture book about the immigrants who left China for America in the mid-1800s as a result of widespread famine and the Taiping rebellion. These immigrants were hired by the Central Pacific Railroad Company to help build the transcontinental railroad. Coolies follows two brothers, Shek and Wong, as they join up to work on the railroad.
This book would be great for a child interested in history. This book would be ideal for children grades 3-6.
If your child enjoyed this book he/she can also try Only One Year by Andrea Cheng or The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps by Stephen Krensky.
Check the WRL catalog for Coolies.