Tag Archives: picture books

Booktalking Picture Books

Typically it seems that the books that I booktalk are chapter books or non-fiction titles. But any length of book can be promoted with a booktalk–I know I’ve caught more than one person’s interest with just a few words describing a picture book. Here are a few particularly compelling titles:

Monkey Truck Monkey Truck, Michael Slack. He’s a monkey and a truck, he races around doing adventurous things, rescuing people, and maybe even eating bananas. If your toddler enjoys animals, trucks, and running around, this is the book for you–plus it has sturdy pages!

Shark vs. Train Shark vs. Train, Chris Barton, Tom Lichtenheld. Who here likes sharks? How about trains? In an epic battle between Sharks and Trains, who do you think would win? How would they even fight? Who is stronger? Faster? Smellier? Find out who wins in this crazy match up by reading Shark vs. Train.

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything Elise Broach, David Small. Who here’s ever had to run errands with your parents? It can sometimes be boring. What if every time you went somewhere you got a special treat? And what if that treat was a free DINOSAUR!? Would your parents let you keep them? Where would they stay? What would they eat? Read all about what happens in When Dinosaurs Came with Everything.


Moms, Mommys, and Mothers: A Picture Book Round-Up

Turns out that after I imported my old blog posts, I discovered that I’ve actually posted a Mothers storytime. Well my mom is the best, so clearly there can be more then one storytime to celebrate the awesomeness of mothers everywhere. Plus the subject of mothers is a staple of children’s books every year, so in the two years since my last post new books have been published.

This week was not just Moms, but also Grandmas. This was nice, as we have lots of G’mas that bring the grandkids to storytime.

So here are some fun stories on moms and some on the mothers of our parents (kids liked to think about the mom’s of their mom’s or their dad’s mom.

A Mother for Choco (Paperstar) A Mother for Choco, Keiko Kasza. While I do like the “are you my mother” stories (and will include some here), this avoids the idea that a mother needs to be just like her kids.

Llama Llama Mad at Mama Llama Llama Mad at Mama, Anna Dewdney. Classic tantrum book, once saw a kid throw a tantrum because his Mama wouldn’t read this to him. The others in the series are also good choices.

Bedtime for Mommy Bedtime for Mommy, Amy Kraus Rosenthal. Funny role reversal.

Mommy Mine Mommy Mine, Tim Warnes. Very cute pictures and simple story.

Where's My Mommy? Where’s My Mommy? Jo Browne. Fun to do the actions and make crocodile noises.

My Mom My Mom, Anthony Browne. Classic, simple story, with great illustrations. I did have one kid tell me that a woman couldn’t be an astronaut. I told him about Sally Ride.

What's the Matter, Bunny Blue? What’s the Matter, Bunny Blue?, Nicola Smee. A story about a missing Grandma! Perfect for toddlers.

Sleepover at Gramma's House Sleepover at Gramma’s House, Barbara Joosse. A fun Grandma story!

Just What Mama Needs Just What Mama Needs, Sharlee Mullins Glenn, helping Mom around the house can be fun!

Most Loved Monster Most Loved Monster, Lynn Downey, another classic formula–who is the favorite child? Mommies can love a lot!

You're All My Favorites You’re All My Favorite, Sam McBratney, more sappy than the above title, but sweet.

I Love It When You Smile I Love It When You Smile, Sam McBratney. Another cute book about all the things moms do for their kids.

Flip, Flap, Fly!: A Book for Babies Everywhere Flip, Flap, Fly: A Book for Babies Everywhere, Phyllis Root, A little long, but fun!

Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?, Eric Carle, fun parade through different animals and babies.

Also see the non-fiction picture books I posted a couple weeks ago on Non-Fiction Monday, both feature Moms, Grandmas, and families.

Besides reading some fun stories, we did this fun song, it is to the tune of Frère Jacques, the kids really got into it, and ran to hug grandmas and mom’s

We love Grandmas, We love Grandmas
Yes we do! Yes we do!
Grandmas are for hugging!
Grandmas are for kissing!
We love you,
Yes we do!

We love Mommies, We love Mommies
Yes we do! Yes we do!
Mommies are for hugging!
Mommies are for kissing!
We love you,
Yes we do!

We also did Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee. I really wanted to use the version from Toddler’s on Parade, but I could only find the second verse, so we just did two verses, the bumblebee and the baby dinosaur.

Funny Ha-Ha: A Picture Book Round Up

In light of my last week’s post about planning ahead, I thought I’d start rounding up my favorite funny picture books for this week’s storytime. My problem with this theme is that there are SO many funny picture books that I like. It did help to have the books all pulled together before, but I did struggle with fingerplays and stuff to go along with it. We ended up doing “if you’re happy and you know it” and shaking our sillies out.

Humor is a relative thing, especially for little kids. Here are some funny (to me) picture books, some of which I shared in storytime this week:

Bark, George Bark George, Jules Feiffer. One of my favorite books to read aloud–I get the whole group to help tell the story.

What Will Fat Cat Sit On? What will Fat Cat Sit on?, Jan Thomas. Another favorite story, funny and fun to read.

Pigs to the Rescue Pigs to the Rescue, John Himmelman. Funny things happen when pigs try to help out around the farm.

Green Wilma (Puffin Pied Piper) Green Wilma, Tedd Arnold. What would happen if you woke up and you were a frog or went to sleep a girl and woke up a frog?

Chicken Big Chicken Big, Keith Graves. Hilarious story of an enormous chick, who is mistaken for a whole bunch of things. The kids really got into this one.

Chicken Cheeks Chicken Cheeks , Michael Ian Black. Very funny, and helps kids learn funny new vocabulary words.

Let's Count Goats! Let’s Count Goats, Mem Fox, Goats are silly, and the words and Jan Thomas’ illustrations are awesome.

My Lucky Day My Lucky Day, Keiko Kasza. When a pig shows up on a fox’s door step, it is someone’s lucky day, but whose?

Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothes, Judi Barret. I brought a bear in a wig and scarf to point out the humor of animals in clothes.

Children Make Terrible Pets Children Make Terrible Pets, Peter Brown, a bear finds a child in the woods and wants to keep it, humor ensues.

Interrupting Chicken Interrupting Chicken, David Ezra Stein. Very funny chicken, the kids can all relate.

My Cat, the Silliest Cat in the World My Cat, the Silliest Cat in the World Gilles Bachelet, Silly story, for cat lovers.

Dog BreathDog Breath, Dav Pilkey, funny story for dog lovers.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type Click, Clack Moo: Cows that Type, Doreen Cronin. Really funny, but most of the kids have heard it dozens of times.

A Girl and Her Gator A Girl and Her Gator Sean Bryan. This is a seriously underrated book, it is good for phonological awareness, plus it is funny. I’ve read it numerous times with a gator on my head.

I’d love to hear about other funny storytime staples, so please share!

Beginning Reader Adaptions

Books for beginning readers feature a wide range of topics, themes, and subjects. To entice kids to read, find something they love, and usually we can find a reader for them. Like superheroes, Barbie, Disney, horses, farm machines, legos, television shows, Star Wars? We got you covered. I emphasize over and over to parents that if they find a topic their kids enjoy, the kid is more likely to stick with reading, and be willing to challenge themselves to read more!

This year, I ordered the readers for my system, so I can tell you that there are a lot of adaptions of things in popular culture for the beginning reader. One thing I’ve noticed lately is the adaption of picture book characters to the reader format. These have been around for years, like with Arthur books and the Berenstain Bears books. Some are more successful than others. Here are four examples of some recent adaptions:

Ducks in a Row Ducks in a Row, adapted from characters written by Jackie Urbanovic. This is a silly story about a duck who wants to help, but isn’t sure where to pitch in, until his relatives come by and make him do everything for them, so he is happy to take a break once they leave. A nice adaption, but this is a more challenging level 1, and features longer sentences. It is really aimed at the child who is reading, maybe 1st grade.

Splat the Cat: Splat the Cat Sings Flat (I Can Read Book 1) Splat the Cat: Splat Sings Flat adapted from the books written by Rob Scotton. This book reveals some of the potential problems of adapting books–many of the names are WAY hard to read for a level 1. The book isn’t particularly funny, and is not leveled correctly. I’m also not sure how many Splat fans we have out there.

Pinkalicious: School Rules! Pinkalicious: School Rules, based on the characters created by Victoria Kann. I liked the first Pinkalicious book, but it was all downhill from there. That said, this book does appeal to girls who aren’t as jaded with the books. This is another mis-leveled book, more a level 2.

Fancy Nancy: My Family History (I Can Read Book 1) The Fancy Nancy readers are super popular and probably one of the better adaptions, but still more difficult for emerging readers to master.

Bunny Hop–Picture Book Round Up

A perfect spring time theme, bunnies are cute, funny, and have a lot of kid appeal. Cradling my bunny puppet in my arms, twitching it softly, all of the kids line up to give it a pet and ask if it is real, which of course it is. Where I live, rabbits are pets, and are almost never seen in the wild. The idea of a rabbit in the garden is one children are exposed to in books, not real life (true story, the only bunny I saw in the wild growing up here was someone’s pet, and it was followed by a group of kids trying to catch it). That said, bunnies are all kinds of fun!

This week was spring break so storytime was full of older siblings and grade school kids. My picture book round up thus has a few titles for older kids. Here are some bunny rabbit books for your enjoyment:

What's the Matter, Bunny Blue? What’s the Matter, Bunny Blue? Nicola Smee. Very cute story, particularly good for toddlers, I like to hide the missing family member and search. It doesn’t work in my room which is just a little cove, and opens to the main children’s room.

Knuffle Bunny:  A Cautionary Tale Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, Mo Willems A classic for a reason!

What Does Bunny See?: A Book of Colors and Flowers What Does Bunny See?: A Book of Colors and Flowers Linda Sue Park, cute and colorful!

Bunnies on the Go: Getting from Place to Place Bunnies on the Go: Getting from Place to Place, Rick Walton. There are a whole series of these bunny books.

Rescue Bunnies Rescue Bunnies, Doreen Cronin. Funny, but the humor is for the older kids.

Rhyming Dust Bunnies Rhyming Dust Bunnies, Jan Thomas a fun read aloud, and a bunny is a bunny, right?

The Bunnies' Picnic The Bunnies’ Picnic Lezlie Evans. Another cute rhyming book, plus spring is good for picnics–there are also other bunny books by this author.

Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa, Gerald McDermott. A relatively simple trickster tale, though cleverness/wisdom is something that even grade school kids don’t always get.

Hey, Rabbit! Hey, Rabbit!, Sergio Ruzzier. This bunny has a suitcase full of surprises for all of his friends–I like to imagine it is imagination, but it is fun!

Moon Rabbit, Natalie Russell. Beautiful illustrations, sweet story of friendship.

Duck! Rabbit! Duck! Rabbit!, Amy Krouse Rosenthal (one of my favorite authors ever) Whether or not it is it duck or a rabbit, it IS a lot of fun!

My Friend Rabbit My Friend Rabbit, Eric Rohmann, another simple story, yet fun, particularly for the littlest kids.

Little White Rabbit Little White Rabbit, Kevin Henkes. A new book, but super cute–can you imagine you are green, a rock, taller then a tree?

Lots of cute books this week–I was interested to notice in putting together this list that it has three of the four or so children’s authors I’ve actually met are on it. We did some fun finger plays, counted carrots, and jumped around like bunnies with our egg shakers. Then the kids made their own bunny puppets. It was lots of fun, and my niece came too, which made it the best!

Upcoming Storytime Themes

While I really love storytime, I’m not very good at planning ahead. I usually find myself the day of storytime looking at the kit and wishing I’d remembered to reserve that one favorite book I thought would be in there but isn’t. This is totally my fault because they give us the list of themes a long time in advance, but I never have the list with me when I’m thinking about it. No more! I’m going to post the themes here so I know what is when. It will also help me to get thinking of books. If anyone has any suggestions for titles that work well for pre-school storytime for these themes, suggest away!

April 7: Bunny Hop
April 14: Ha, Ha (I’m thinking funny stories)
April 21: Moms, Grandmas, and Aunts
April 28: Break Week–No Storytime!

May 5: Boo-hoo (I’m thinking sick days or injuries or crying or sad?)
May 12: Splish Splash (Bathtime? Water Fun?)
May 19: Letter G (things that start with G that sort of go together)
May 26: Far Away Places
June 2: Snakes
June 9: The Color Red
June 16: Dad’s, Grandpas, and Uncles

That takes us through the next eleven weeks of storytimes. Some of these themes leave a lot of wiggle room for interpretation, which is why it is hard sometimes to start thinking of them before the kit gets here. But it is a place to start! Any suggestions are welcome.

The Great Moon Hoax

Having studied history for many years I can tell you that even before newspapers were officially invented, people have found ways to spread sensational tales of mysterious creatures, moon beings, and fish falling from the sky. In fact modern newspapers developed, in my opinion, in the intersection between business correspondence, political doggerel, and sensational gossip and rumor. Only recently have concerns over truthfulness and integrity in journalism been particularly important, and the continuation of publications like the National Enquirer shows that the tradition of sensational journalism continues.

After reading so many early newspapers and broadsides, I was excited by the premise of Stephen Krensky’s The Great Moon Hoax, and hoped that it could communicate some of the wonder and excitement of a world where it could be true that a telescope had found people and beings on the moon. Based on a true series of events from the 1830’s, Krensky’s story focuses on two “newsies” who have a string of good luck selling papers when a series of news stories featuring marvelous discoveries from out of space before it is discovered it was all made up.

The Great Moon Hoax (Carolrhoda Picture Books) I loved the idea of this story, but found that some aspects of the story didn’t work for me, partially from a historical stand point, but particularly because of issues I had with the presentation for the intended audience. Historically, it is not likely that two homeless very young boys living on the streets in the early years of the 19th century would be reading well. Most likely they would have some one read the paper to them or only make out the rough details, not the rather large words used by the newspaper. The bigger issue, however, was the way this book presents this story as a ploy for the newspaper to make money. Things like this are more complicated than true or false. For example, stories of alien abductions are not about someone lying about their encounters, but rather about people who may have a range of degrees of belief that something happened to them. Similarly, speculation like this about the moon is more hypothetical then hoax. Centuries earlier, in England, pamphlets were published with discussions of people on the moon and whether or not they could be converted to Christianity. In a time period, when journalism was still being formalized, the imaginative, far-fetched reporting that places the speculation about what might be on the moon in the mouth of a famous astronomer is less a hoax than business as usual.

These little historical complains are not really important in the long run, the larger problem for me is that this book doesn’t seem to have an intended audience. Since some of the text is from the actual newspapers, the vocabulary used might go right over the heads of a picture book audience. Here’s a quote:

Unexpectedly, “four successive flocks of large winged creatures” appeared. “They averaged four feet in height, were covered except on the face, with short and glossy copper-covered hair, and had wings composed of a thin membrane, without hair, lying snugly upon their backs…”

This could be overcome if the illustrations could bring these descriptions to life, but Josee Bisaillon’s look like tissue paper ghosts and fail to bring life into the stilted text.

Overall, this book did not work for me, but still did leave a smile on my face as I thought of all the fantastic newspaper articles through the centuries.

Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum, and Some Other Treats!

Looking for something tasty to start the week? Here are three delicious non-fiction picture books to get you on the road!

Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan Mccarthy. This is a delightful confection of a book, with bright cheerful illustrations, and an interesting story that will keep kids interested. I don’t even LIKE gum and I loved this book. It would make a great read aloud or book talk for 2nd and 3rd graders.

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip George Crum and the Saratoga Chip by Gaylia Taylor. Potatoes are one of my favorite foods ever, and potato chips are a wonderful invention (says my taste buds, not my hips). Since much of America agrees with me, I have to assume that they will also agree that the story of how they came to be is good reading. Like the snack, there isn’t much substance to the story as little is known, but it still manages to provide a good reading experience. The idea that a demanding customer led a chef to make chips just seems right, especially after a long day working with the public. Another fun idea for 2nd and 3rd grades, who are looking for another great food story.

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman is a classic for a reason, it shows how the ingredients that go into a traditionally American treat really come from all over the world. This book is probably suitable for a younger audience, but when combined with the other two present an interesting look at the history of some of our favorite treats.

And because I couldn’t end with just an apple pie after traveling the world, I wanted to include one of my all time favorite non-fiction books: What the World Eats, by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio. Taking readers around the world, this book share’s profiles of families in different parts of the world. Each family is pictured with a week’s worth of food, with the quantities and prices listed out. The book also discusses where the food was obtained, how it was cooked, where it was stored, and includes stories for each family. There is something addictive about this book that just fascinates people, draws them in again and again. I once placed this book on display and everyday I’d see the same people reading through it. They were amazed they could check it out (it sounds strange, but it is a public library, so not the strangest thing I’ve heard).
What the World Eats What the World Eats

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by L.L. Owens today, head over to check out the awesome books reviewed today!

Circuses and Zoos

One of the downsides to having storytime kits is that sometimes a theme is selected that just doesn’t work. Most of the time it is just that it doesn’t work equally well for toddlers and prescholars, but a occasionally there is a theme that should just be retired never to surface again. Such is my opinion of having Circus as a theme. It didn’t help that I’ve had a cold this week, which made it hard to be as excited as usual. In order to make this work, I did circuses and zoos, or places you can go to see animals and have fun. Most of the finger plays were circus related and we talked about circuses, but I did read two books on zoos and two on circuses (I tried two different ones, changed for the second storytime).


Here are some zoo and circus stories, some of which I used for my circus/zoo storytime:

Circus Family Dog Circus Family Dog, by Andrew Clements, This was an ok story, but the ending falls flat. The kids didn’t seem to understand what was going on.

Olivia Saves the Circus Olivia Saves the Circus, by Ian Falconer, a better book, but not great for preschool storytime.

Circus Shapes (MathStart 1) Circus Shapes, by Stuart J Murphy. A nice toddler tale.

Where's Pup? Where’s Pup? Dayle Dodds, another toddler tale, lots of fun rhyme.

My Heart Is Like a Zoo My Heart is Like a Zoo, by Michael Hall. My heart could also be like a circus, lots of animals and we did different noises and made faces.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Phillip Stead. I LOVE this book, also I was sickish when I read it, so it made sense. Plus really this is a nice quiet book that has lots of lovey details.

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell, bring the zoo to you!

Animal Strike at the Zoo. It's True! Animal Strike at the Zoo, it’s True! by Karma Wilson, this has such a fun rhyme. I wish I’d had it for the storytime, because it does mention a circus.

Never, Ever Shout in a Zoo Never, Ever, Shout in a Zoo, Karma Wilson, another rhyming zoo story.

From Head to Toe From Head to Toe, Eric Carle I used this one recently, it is all kinds of animals and the actions they make and at the end there is a zookeeper.

Baby Tamer Baby Tamer, Marc Teague. I used this one from the Babysitter’s kit (another theme that should be retired), but it features a three ring circus.

So a whole circus of stories! We talked about animals you might see in the circus, what else you might see at the circus, and what you might eat. I found some awesome fingerplays in an old kit from my old job, both were circus/zoo related.

5 popcorns popping in a pan, (dance your fingers on your other hand)
one got hot and he went “BAM!” (clap hands)

4 popcorns popping in a pan…

3 popcorns popping in a pan…

2 popcorns popping in a pan…

1 popcorn popping in a pan…

No popcorns popping in the pan,
but the pan got hot and it went “BAM!”

For the first group, we did a circus parade and pretended to be different animals and creatures in the circus, but by the time I got to the second group I was wiped out! So we did this other finger play, which was also counting down, but still fun:

5 little monkeys swinging on a trapeze,
one fell off and skinned his knees (slap hands on your knees)
mommy called the doctor and the doctor said,
“no more monkeys on the trapeze!”

Just like 5 little monkeys on the bed it counts down until all the monkeys have fallen.

We had a really fun lion mask the kids made at the end, and all the kids went around ROARing.

Frogs, Frogs, Frogs: Picture Book Round Up

Storytime this week was actually all things beginning with the letter F, which is fun, fantastic, and frustrating. Mostly the later. Because so many things start with F, including four-letter things, I like to focus (which also starts with an f) on one thing from the kit. This week it was Frogs, which was perfect because it was a frog friendly day, rainy and cool. We did talk about the letter F and all my little friends (sorry I always try to use lots of words that start with the letter of the theme during the story time) would shout out when we used a word starting with that letter.

Some fun frog tales, a few of which I read in storytime:

Fine As We Are Fine As We Are, Algy Craig Hall. Frog Family of two, finds they can be fine as two or as many.

The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale, Yumi Heo. A Folktale about two disobedient frogs and their mother.

Jump, Frog, Jump! Jump, Frog, Jump! Robert Kalan, Fun cumulative story with refrain, “Jump, Frog, Jump!”

A Frog in the Bog A Frog in the Bog, Karma Wilson. Such a good read aloud, I just want to chant it!

Froggy Gets Dressed Froggy Gets Dressed Jonathon London. In my mind, the best of all the long Froggy series, plus underwear humor.

City Dog, Country Frog City Dog, Country Frog Mo Willems, Jon Muth. I wish I didn’t care about copyright and could swipe some images from this book for my blog. Dogs AND frogs!

A Place for Frogs A Place for Frogs Melissa Stewart, Higgins Bond. Amazing illustrations, simple text.

Down by the Cool of the Pool Down by the Cool of the Pool Tony Mitton. A great candidate for repetition, a frog leads off a dance.

Green Wilma (Puffin Pied Piper) Green Wilma, Tedd Arnold. What if you woke up one morning and were a frog?

The Wide-Mouthed Frog: A POP-UP BOOK The Wide-Mouthed Frog: A POP-UP BOOK, Keith Faulkner. A good book to have as an office/reference title, because it is great for storytime, but lousy as a circulating title.

And one title to have on hand to share the pictures, if not the text:
Frogs Frogs, Nic Bishop.

We also did a rousing rendition of Five Little Speckled Frogs, shoo fly don’t bother me with our egg shakers, and I did a fold and tell story of the rainhat. Lots of fun for a rainy day!