Posts tagged ‘Picture Books’

Pirate’s Lullaby

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Pirate's LullabyTitle: Pirate’s Lullaby
Author: Marcie Wessels
Illustrator: Tim Bowers
ISBN: 9780375973529
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, c2015.

”Yo, ho, ho! Me lad, heave ho! It’s time to go to bed,”
Papa Pirate told his first mate, not-so-sleepy Ned.
“But me mates are weighin’ anchor, sailin’ for the Seven Seas!
Can’t I play a little longer? Ten more minutes, please?”

Author Marcie Wessels weaves a surprising amount of pirate lingo into this story of a boy named Ned and his father getting ready for bedtime. With lines ranging from thirteen to fifteen syllables, a sing-song cadence quickly develops and only gets stronger as the story progresses. The rosy-cheeked rascal pulls all the stops with a search for teddy, a drink, and a story are all implored upon by the fast fading Papa pirate, until at last one of them is asleep (hint, it’s not little Ned). Enjoy the equally delightful aquatic themed details in the drawings, like the octopus sippy cup, the peg-legged and eye-patched stuffed animal, and the titles of the books on the bookshelf. You might have your own mutiny on your hands as pint-sized pirates request a second retelling.

Penguin and Pumpkin

Penguin and PumpkinTitle: Penguin and Pumpkin
Author/Illustrator: Salina Yoon
ISBN: 9780802737335
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Walker Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc., c2014.

It was fall, and very white on the ice, as always—which made Penguin curious.
“I wonder what fall looks like off the ice.”
“Let’s go to the farm and find out!”

Penguin, Bootsy, and a posse of penguins set off on an ice flow to the farm to see what fall looks like. They pick pumpkins and Penguin gathers leaves to take home and share with his younger brother, who was too young to make the journey with them. A heartwarming story that is filled with sweet details in the bright and uncluttered digital illustrations. The penguins’ ice ship melts as they approach warmer weather, so they hollow out a pumpkin and use that as a boat on the way back! Each penguin, who can be told apart by their different accessories like glasses, hats and scarves, has a uniquely shaped pumpkin subtly proving there really isn’t one perfect pumpkin. Going slightly astray when showing Pumpkin’s imaginings when left behind, the pictures are still thematic, and don’t detract from the overall journey or goal of bringing fall to the ice. My first exposure to Yoon’s penguin series, I’ll be taking a peak at the rest of the series for future story time use.

Max and the Tag-Along Moon

Max and the Tag-Along MoonTitle: Max and the Tag-along Moon
Author/Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
ISBN: 9780399233425
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2013.

”That ol’ moon will always shine for you . . . on and on!”

On his drive home from visiting his grandfather, Max focuses on his grandfather’s promise and watches the moon follow him home. But when the moon disappears from sight behind some clouds, is this proof that his grandfather was wrong? While the plot can be found in numerous other stories, this version is filled with soothing hues, a comforting message, and a sweet and simple story about feeling a loved one’s presence even when they aren’t present. The close ups of Max and his grandfather are the most notable of Cooper’s paintings, and he has a solid understanding of poses, postures, and facial expressions, especially when Max’s eyes are drooped in disappointment, and then spring open wide when the moon appears again and floods his room with light.


Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

MoletownTitle: Moletown
Author/Illustrator: Torben Kuhlmann
Translator: Andrew Rushton
ISBN: 9780735842083
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: NorthSouth Books Inc., c2015 (originally copyright by NordSud Verlag AG)
Publication Date: October 1, 2015

The story of Moletown began many years ago. One day a mole moved under a lush green meadow. He was alone at first, but not for long. And over time, life underground changed . . .

Kuhlmann’s second foray into publication is more propaganda then inspiring plot. The detailed illustrations from his lovely first work are maintained, drawing upon iconic images such as Ellis Island travelers, the industrial revolution, and corporate America from the change of the century. But readers quickly lose track of that first mole mentioned in quoted narration blocks in these variant vignettes. One picture shows what looks like moles living in tightly compacted lockers, while another shows an office piled high with papers. The last lines of text allude to an environmental agenda, overlaying a dirty and smoky sea of mole hills and machines surrounding one spot of roped off grass with “Many generations later, the moles’ green meadow had completely disappeared. Almost.” A disappointing ending to what feels like a collection of editorialized cartoons. This will not keep the attention of a story time unless they are tired of the Lorax.

Can You Make a Scary Face?

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Can You Make a Scary FaceTitle: Can You Make a Scary Face?
Author/Illustrator: Jan Thomas
ISBN: 9781416985815
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2009.

A ladybug (with an unnaturally colored green body) encourages children to play pretend. The pretend bug wiggles on their nose, crawls into their mouth, then gets stuck on their shirt, necessitating that they call in the giant hungry frog. And that’s when things are no longer pretend, and the title question comes into play to scare away the frog before it eats the ladybug. The characters are the only thing the children have to focus on, as there are no backgrounds except for different solid colors. It’s a slight interactive story, but kids who enjoy Tullet’s work will happily respond to the prompts given by the picture book character that literally speaks directly to their imaginations. A parent said after a story time that she took that book home and her kids requested it over and over again, which means it’s a title I’ll have to use again.

I’m Trying to Love Spiders

I'm Trying to Love SpidersTitle: I’m Trying to Love Spiders
Author/Illustrator: Bethany Barton
ISBN: 9780670016938
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Viking, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2015.

Like this spider right here. I’m gonna try really hard to like him. Maybe if I study him for a while… I think it’s working… AHHHHHH!! It’s Moving!! Squish it!! Squish it!! Squish it!!

The author of this book realizes that it is not easy to love spiders, but it’s the thought that counts, right? After trying to focus on the many amazing features of spiders, such as having eight eyes, they are related to scorpions and ticks, and there are more than 40,000 different species. The only fact that proves helpful in seeing spiders in a new light is they’re ability to eat over 75 pounds of bugs in a year, which gets immediately tested when it tries to rid the pages of the book of other bugs. But by then, there are other problems, and they go by the name COCKROACH!

Nonfiction in the form of a picture book, this subgenre really is underutilized by the story time providers, including myself. So when I saw a coworker using this one for her story time, I just had to take a peak. The one tiny wish I have for this was that there was some indication of whether all the spiders drawn in the book were true to scale or not. That would have been most beneficial. Over a dozen spiders are identified on the end papers and inside the book which imparts bite-sized facts about these bugs. The interactive element is an added bonus, and one that certainly appeals to kids, as I had a story time child steal it from my table and was stomping on the bug pictures as I read the next book! So whether it promotes a love for bugs or just a love for smashing them, either way you are educated and can make an informed rather than instinctive decision. Right?

Grandparent’s Day with Grand Books

In honor of Grandparent’s Day last month, I compiled a list of picture books featuring grandparents. I then promptly got sicker than a dog for the entire month of September with allergies and assorted other ailments, missed three days of work, and completely forgot to post it. I thought about waiting and posting it next year, but there really isn’t any reason to do that. So here it is as a Friday Feature, a month late and a dollar short, isn’t that how the saying goes? Obviously this list isn’t all inclusive, so leave some of your favorite books featuring grandparents in the comments section below.

Nana in the CityTitle: Nana in the City
Author/Illustrator: Lauren Castillo
ISBN: 9780544104433
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, c2014

Lauren Castillo’s vibrant watercolor illustrations (recognized by the Caldecott Committee for an honor earlier this year) portray fall in the unnamed city with visual illusions to New York. A small boy visits his grandmother and spends the night, at first fearful of the sounds and sights surrounding him. Nana stays up knitting him a “fancy red cape” to wear on their walk as he realizes that the city isn’t so scary after all. In a touching scene, the boy bestows the cape to Nana, probably thinking she needs it more than he does. But Castillo’s pictures show an active and independent elder who relishes the loud and busy nature of the city. The phrases “The city is busy, the city is loud” repeat at the beginning and end of the story, but they take on new mean by the end. The tale of the city mouse and country mouse has been updated for modern times, with succinct and descriptive language perfect for story times involving fall, cities, knitting or nanas.

Last Stop on Market StreetTitle: Last Stop on Market Street
Author: Matt De La Pena
Illustrator: Christian Robinson
ISBN: 9780399257742
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, published by the Penguin Group, c2015.

Full review can be read here.

My ElephantTitle: My Elephant
Author/Illustrator: Petr Horacek
ISBN: 9780763645663
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2009

I asked Grandpa to play ball with me, but he was too busy.
I went to see Grandma, but she was too busy too.
So I asked my ELEPHANT if he wanted to play with me.

One read-headed boy occupies his time at his grandparents by playing with his elephant. It’s not his fault that the elephant messed up the flower bed and the hallway, splashed water all over the bathroom floor, knocked over the orange juice and ate all the cupcakes. Regardless of how imaginary the elephant might be, it a truth commonly ignored that not every visit to the grandparents goes off without a hitch. I love that the elephant is drawn in scribbled crayon, make his imaginary state all the more obvious alongside the more solidly colored (painted/collaged?) characters and setting.

Knuffle Bunny FreeTitle: Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion
Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems
ISBN: 9780061929571
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, c2010.

Trixie is visiting her “Oma” and “Opa” in Holland, which is far away. She’s bringing her trusty Knuffle Bunny with her, but if anyone has seen the previous two books, Knuffle Bunny typically has difficulty ending up staying with Trixie. Trixie is sad for a while, but realizes maybe she is growing up and Knuffle Bunny might make some other children happy. Then something unexpected happens that proves her right.
One really big plus with this book is that it’s not Grandma and Grandpa that Trixie visits, but Oma and Opa. Many children have their own names for their grandparents, and being able to find books that use different titles to compare and contrast and lead discussions can be difficult. The fold-out sequence featuring kids in different places is also a nice discussion prompt, but it does make it difficult to use for read-aloud, especially when sharing outdoors on a windy day which I did recently. (As a side note, I remarked that the wind was fighting me and one kid quipped in all seriousness that I should “fight back”.) It shows an all too common occurrence in a child’s life of outgrowing a beloved toy and that it’s okay to grow up and discover new things to enjoy. There is a note to Trixie that is included after the book says “the end” which I usually skip when doing story times, but I heard a couple of parents who have read the story sharing with parents who haven’t. Maybe I’ll start including it, since the parents who are familiar with it seem to get so much joy out of it. It shows Trixie growing up, starting a family and one day receiving a package with a special someone inside for her little toddler to enjoy. This may become one of those stories that, like Knuffle Bunny, gets passed around when the time is right to those who need it.

I'm Not Sleepy!Title: I’m Not Sleepy!
Author/Illustrator: Jane Chapman
ISBN: 9781561487653
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Good Books, c2012. (originally published in English by Little Tiger Press, c2012.)

Grandma Owl carries Mo up to the top of the tree and settles him in for bed. But Mo isn’t sleepy, and Grandma is pulled from her book time and again with requests for a snack, and tucking in, and maybe even playtime. Grandma tells Mo that since he isn’t sleepy and someone has to go to sleep at bedtime, maybe he should put her to bed. All that flying back and forth tuckers him out, just in time for bedtime. The large feathery faces never change, only the eyes and beak and body carry the weight of expressing the love and support the two show for each other. The repeating refrain of “Hop…Jump… Flutter… FLUMP!” as Grandma and eventually Mo ascend to the nest at the top of the tree grounds the story, and makes a nice chorus for read aloud groups. I was slightly disappointed in the illustrations, as although the words describe fading stars and retreating bats, the pictures are solely focused on Grandma and Mo and the end page shows a decidedly nighttime scene when everyone knows owls sleep during the day. It’s still a sweet bedtime story that should be shared with your own owlet.

Silas' Seven GrandparentsTitle: Silas’ Seven Grandparents
Author: Anita Horrocks
Illustrator: Helen Flock
ISBN: 9781551435619
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Orca Book Publishers, c2010

And when Silas’ mom and dad decided to go away for a few days on a business trip, seven grandparents invited Silas to stay with them.

Is there such a thing as too many grandparents? Silas is only one boy after all, and he doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by picking one over the other. Nana likes to look at stars, Oma and Opa like to work in the garden and feed the birds, Gamma and Papa like to swim and let him drive the golf cart, and Granny and Grandad took him fishing and canoeing. So instead, he invites all seven of his grandparents to come stay with him. Silas’s collection of multicultural grandparents give the impression of the elderly in all shapes and sizes leading active lifestyles in very different and unique settings. While not every grandparent is as energetic as the ones portrayed, it does spread an important message that you can never have too much love or too many memories of your times together.

Look Back!Title: Look Back!
Author: Trish Cooke
Illustrator: Caroline Binch
ISBN: 9781566569804
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Crocodile Books, an imprint of Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., c2014. (originally published in the United Kingdom by Paillote Press)

”Well,” Grannie said, “I have heard that Ti Bolom is short, short, short, his foot long, long, long and flat, flat, flat. He has a big head and two big, black eyes and when you walking alone at night, minding your own business, Ti Bolom walks behind you,
pattaps pattaps…
huh huh huh.
But when you turn around… he’s not there. He’s gone!” (unpaged)

After hearing the story of Grannie’s attempts to catch the illusive Ti Bolom when she was living in Dominica in a young child, Christopher attempts to do the same. For such a climatic and engaging story, Christopher’s shortened equivalent version falls flat and provides an anticlimactic ending. I feel like the whole tale would have been stronger if they had left out Christopher’s part, and ended with the uncertainty of where Ti Bolom could be. The drawings are filled with vibrant colors, lifelike down to the wrinkles and muscles and the individual braids and curls on the children’s heads. The dialect is also strong in the narration, mimicking that of an oral story-teller. If done properly, this might make a good story to tell instead of read, or break into a reader’s theatre opportunity. The call and response might have to be prefaced or explained to audiences unfamiliar with that story telling technique.

Tea Cakes for ToshTitle: Tea Cakes for Tosh
Author: Kelly Starling Lyons
Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
ISBN: 9780399252136
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2012.

Tosh loves when his grandma Honey bakes her golden tea cakes, from a recipe passed down from when his grandma’s grandma’s grandma was a slave cook on a plantation. But then grandma Honey starts forgetting things, like where she parked the car, a phone number, and even the ingredients for the beloved tea cakes. But luckily Tosh has already been taught how to make them, and helps Honey remember the story behind the tradition. An important lesson of learning traditions, recipes, and family history before you are no longer able to learn those stories, but also an introduction for young children to the concept of Alzheimer’s and memory loss. A recipe is included in the back if any readers feel inclined to taste a piece of history.


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