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New* Books we (the preschoolers and I) love

24 May

Each year around this time I round up all the awesome new* books I can find, and do a storytime with them. I am lucky enough, through my outreach program, to be able to give all almost 1400 kids I visit each month a brand new book (to keep!) in May, so I do only a short storytime before we get to handing out the books. These are the books we are sharing and loving this month:

*And by “new”, I mean “new to me.” Apparently some of these are more than a year old! But so what, I just found them!

  • Schmid, Paul. A Pet for Petunia. Petunia wants, WANTS, WANTS a pet skunk. But when her parents say no, she goes on a rant that librarians like me (i.e. extra goofy) LOVE to perform. “Stink? I’ll show you stink!”
  • Bardhan-Quallen, Sudipta. Chicks Run Wild. Apparently one group of preschoolers loved this so much they were still talking about it long after storytime. After mama puts the chicks to bed, and closes the door, they get up again and RUN WILD! But Mama finally figures out that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and manages to wear them out in the process!
  • Beaumont, Karen. No Sleep for Sheep! Continuing the sleep theme, sheep is trying to get some sleep. But various farm animals keep coming into the barn, making noise, and waking him up! Lots of repitition, and the illustrations of the extra-fluffy, and super-harried, sheep are wonderful.
  • Kemp, Anna. Dogs Don’t Do Ballet. Biff the bulldog dreams of his name in lights. But his person’s father says “Dogs Don’t Do  Ballet.” Biff has other plans, and they involve putting on his person’s tutu and following her to a performance of the Royal Ballet.
  • Dewdney, Anna. Roly Poly Pangolin.  “Roly Poly, very small, doesn’t like new things at all.” Not bugs for dinner, not monkeys who want to be friends. But Roly Poly finally discovers that not every new thing is scary.
  • Vere, Ed. Banana! A simple, but expressive book with only 2 words in it: Banana and please. A great narrative skills developer, as kids can help tell the story.
  • Foley, Greg. I Miss You, Mouse. A lovely new addition to the Bear books. Now with flaps to lift!
  • Gormley, Greg. Dog In Boots. After reading Puss in Boots, Dog decides he wants some boots as marvelous as those worn in the story. But the first pair he gets, while wonderful, are no good for digging. He goes back to the store several times trying to find the perfect pair of shoes in which to do ALL of his doggie activities. We especially loved the picture of dog in high heels, perfect for scratching!
  • Nesbitt, Kenn. More Bears! Hilariously meta. And the preschoolers had learned who an author and illustrator were, so were able to understand that concept (mostly). I pointed out the words “More Bears!” on each page and let the kids say them.”
  • Hillenbrand, Will Spring Is Here! Mole wakes up and discovers spring has arrived. He tries to wake bear, to no avail. What will he have to do?
  • Sayre, April Pulley. If You’re Hoppy and You Know It. A play on the song, offering words like “hoppy”, “sloppy”, “growly”, and “flappy” and the corresponding animals.

I’m looking forward to sharing (I have an ARC but not a hard copy yet):

  • Foley, Greg (geez, this guy’s talented!). Purple Little Bird Bird works very hard making his purple house perfect. But something’s missing. He travels around the world, meeting animals of every color, looking for the perfect place.

What are your new favorites?

Brand-new books the preschoolers (and I) like

16 Aug

In addition to Pete the Cat and Jump!, this summer I’ve been collecting fun newly-published (or just new to my library) books that I want to add to my storytimes this year.  It’s always fun to try out a new title on the preschoolers; sometimes (oftentimes) it works, and sometimes, to my surprise, it falls flat.  But I really enjoy sharing a book that I’ve just discovered and really love, and it makes it all the more sweet when the little guys like it too.  Here are some of my new faves:

  • Geringer, Laura.  Boom Boom Go Away. This one has a great refrain that the kids I read it to picked up on right away. They always came in on the “go away!”  Lots of sounds to make, which reinforces phonological awareness.
  • Hendra, Sue.  Barry, the Fish With Fingers. Okay, so maybe here in the U.S. we don’t call fish sticks “fish fingers”.  But that doesn’t make this book any less silly.  After you read it, you can talk about things we can do with our fingers.  And things we probably shouldn’t (*cough* sticking them in your nose *cough*).

    Wiggle those fish fingers!

  • Doodler, Todd H.  Animal Soup. Take a squirrel, cross it with a whale, and what do you get? A SQUALE, of course! This pictures are the best part of this book, although this book can be used for print awareness: I run my fingers under the words squirrel, whale, and squale to show the kids what I was reading.
  • Silly daddy!

    Shea, Bob. Oh, Daddy! Daddy can’t do anything himself, like get dressed, get in the car, or hug. His little hippo has to show him every time. Oh, daddy!  Can’t wait to see Shea’s Dinosaur vs. the Potty, too – it’s coming out in September!

  • Thomson, Bill.  Chalk. Okay, so I’m not yet sure how this is going to play in storytime as I haven’t used it yet. And it has NO WORDS. This will be a great one for narrative/storytelling kids as I hope to have the preschoolers tell me what’s happening rather than me reading the story.  I’ll let you know how it goes. I CAN say, for sure, that this one will be GREAT for one-on-one sharing.
  • Bloom, Suzanne.  What About Bear? Bear and Goose. Such good friends. In fact, you could say they are splendid friends, indeed.  But what happens when tiny Fox enters the scene, and deems bear too big, too grumpy, and too far away to play with? Will Goose abandon his old friend in favor of a new one? Read it and find out! And if the picture of little Fox hiding behind his tail doesn’t make you go “awwwww”, then, well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

    Mem Fox! Jan Thomas!

  • Fox, Mem. Let’s Count Goats. Okay, so I’m cheating a little here. I haven’t actually seen this one, so I don’t really know ifI like it yet. But, given the factors involved (Mem Fox, illustrator Jan Thomas, goats!?), I can predict that I will probably LOVE it.  And since the preschoolers have always reacted well to both Fox and Thomas (haven’t tested goats on them), I can be pretty sure they will love it too.

Which books are you looking forward to sharing? I polled some fellow librarians on twitter, and these are the titles they shared: How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills (looks cute to me!), Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie by Herman Parish,  City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, and Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis.

Sing a book! Jump! by Scott M. Fischer

11 Jun

Not the Van Halen version

Recently I chose a bunch of fun, recently-published books to share with the preschoolers. One of those was Jump!, by Scott M. Fischer.  When I read it silently, to myself, the first time, I heard it as a kind of twangy bluegrassy song.  It would be a perfect book to sing rather than read, and the children get to help out with the JUMP! refrain.

Singing in storytime (or anytime), whether you’re singing a book rather than reading it, or sharing an old favorite song, helps young children develop their phonological awareness.  Kids become better able to hear the smaller sounds that make up words, which is useful when sounding out words later.

After inventing my own tune for Jump!, I learned that Scott Fischer originally wrote it as a song.  Here, he performs it for a group of kids, and, oddly enough, it sounds very close to same song I heard in my head when I first read the book!

I especially love the Australian accent for the croc. After seeing this performance, I think Scott Fischer and I would be good friends.  Does anyone else think the cat looks like that little white kitty from the Aristocats?

One tiny quibble, though: on the “Sploosh!” page, if I hold it up so that the whale is at the bottom and the animals are splooshing up out of his blowhole, the word is upside down. The kids have noticed. But if I turn it over so the word is right-side up, it looks like the whale is upside down. Help!

The Sleepy Little Alphabet: A Bedtime Story from Alphabet Town by Judy Sierra

24 Nov

When planning an early literacy storytime, letter knowledge is the hardest skill match up with books that work in a group setting.  Alphabet books often lack a cohesive plot, and are better for one-on-one sharing than as storytime fare.  Enter Judy Sierra’s The Sleepy Little Alphabet.  This darling book, with energetic mixed-media illustrations by Melissa Sweet, tells the story of the lower-case letters of the alphabet (the upper case ones are the parents) getting ready for bed.  Each letter’s activities are described in rhyming sentences that include the letter sound at least once (and sometimes more often): “f is full of fidgety wiggles.  G has got the googly giggles.” The text is printed in a bright color that contrasts the background (making it easier to see and reinforcing print awareness), and the letters themselves are printed in a larger size than the rest of the text.  Every child can relate to the nighttime activities happening in this book, and will have tons of fun learning about letters and their sounds.  I, personally, am just so excited to have an alphabet book to add to my bedtime stories theme!  Judy Sierra, the amazing author of such wonderful book treats as Wild About Books and Preschool to the Rescue, gives us another reason to snuggle together and read!

The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster by David Conway

21 Aug

Miss Muffet is bored: bored of curds and whey, bored of the scary spider, bored of being in the same old nursery rhyme.  So what does she do?  She goes off to find another rhyme to try, of course!  She tries out “The Grand Old Duke of York”, but doesn’t like all the marching (and she completely messes up the rhythm of the rhyme).  Jumping into “Hey Diddle Diddle” is treacherous, as she greatly angers the dish when she tries to run away with the spoon herself.  She feels completely silly climbing up a clock in “Hickory Dickory Dock”.  Soon, the entire nursery rhyme world is in chaos.  Whatever will Miss Muffet do?  Melanie Williamson’s bright, silly, stylized illustrations create just the right chaotic tone. Reciting nursery rhymes is a great way to reinforce phonological skills (the ability to hear the little sounds that make up words, including rhyming sounds).  Little listeners can help the reader with the rhymes, and perhaps play at inserting Miss Muffet into other rhymes not in the story.  “Mary had a little Miss Muffet, its fleece was white as snow…?”  While the ending is a little abrupt and unsatisfying, this is, overall, a delightfully creative story.

Conway, David.  The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster.  Wilton, CT: Tiger Tales, 2009.  ISBN: 9781589250802

Tiny and Hercules by Amy Schwartz

20 Aug

Tiny (an elephant) and Hercules (a mouse, natch) are the best of friends.  In this collection of 5 short stories, Tiny and Hercules try new things, conquer fears, and solve problems in creative ways.  Tiny is invited to an ice-skating party, but doesn’t know how to skate (and Hercules lives up to his name).  Hercules’ Uncle Roy is turning 103 and so the mouse decides to throw him a party, complete with a large cake with 103 candles.  The friends set up a lemonade and cookie stand, but Tiny is discouraged when a customer complains.  Reader and listener might want to talk about how to solve the problem before turning to the last page of the story to see what Tiny and Hercules have done.  The ending of four of the stories is told by illustration only, providing another chance at conversation: “what did they do?”  “How does this solve the problem?”  These are delightful stories of a cooperative friendship, and I have already added this to my list of friends-themed storytime books.  My one quibble? An art teacher who declares: “Art is GRAND.  Art is BIG.  Art is STUPENDOUS.”  Says who?  Art is subjective.

Schwartz, Amy.  Tiny and Hercules.  New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2009.  ISBN: 9781596432536

Mouse Was Mad by Linda Urban

7 Aug

Mouse is mad.  Hopping mad, in fact.  But, according to rabbit, his hopping is ridiculous.  Rabbit shows him how to hop properly, and when mouse tries again, he lands in a mud puddle.  This makes him even madder.  STOMPING mad, in fact.  But bear has an opinion about mouse’s stomping ability.  One by one, the animals criticize mouse’s actions, making him more and more mad, until mouse finds a way to be mad that no one can top.  Of course, the admiration he receives from the other animals cures his bad mood.  This delightful book would be fun to follow up by talking about feelings, and what we do when we feel mad (and when it’s okay to stomp or scream), or sad, or happy.  Children can feel frustrated if they don’t yet have the words to express how they feel, so giving them that vocabulary, especially in a safe, loving situation like a one-on-one reading session, can really help ease their frustration.

Urban, Linda.  Mouse Was Mad.  Illus. by Henry Cole.  New York, Harcourt Children’s Books, 2009.  ISBN: 9780152053376

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