Thursday, June 15, 2017

Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin

Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin (2017)
This is a wordless story, so it won’t work for many storytimes, but those with smaller more intimate storytimes and who do programs with wordless books should be aware of this one. A brown-skinned girl takes her beloved fox stuffy to the park, where it is stolen by a real fox. The girl and her friend travel into the animal village to search for the toy. They eventually track it down to the fox’s house and the little fox’s mother makes it return the toy. The girl, seeing how sad the fox is, decides to let the little fox keep her beloved toy, and in return the fox gives her a unicorn toy to keep. With lots of emotion, and a large trim size with clear illustrations AND lots of detail, this is a wordless book that could work in a small storytime, or in a visual literacy bookclub.

Themes/topics: stuffed animals, sharing, foxes, wordless, show and tell

Monday, June 12, 2017

Gorilla Loves Vanilla by Chae Strathie and Nicola O’Byrne

Gorilla Loves Vanilla by Chae Strathie and Nicola O’Byrne (2016)
In a sugary sweet fantasy-land where humans and animals live side-by-side, Sam’s Sundaes serves up any kind of ice cream imaginable. A series of animals make special requests for ice cream—all of which horrify the others—but Sam serves them up their heart’s desire, from blue cheese ice cream for mouse to a worm sundae for chicken. The large format, silly premise, and length make this a fun read for storytime. Note that the final request from gorilla relies on British pronunciation (trying to rhyme filler with vanilla), so a little practice breaking the rhythm is wise.

Themes/topics: ice cream, food, sweets, treats, taste, trying new things, sharing, gorillas

Sample text from one spread:
The chicken said,
“I’ll have a cone full of worms
I like nothing more
than an ice cream that squirms.

“It’s funny the way that it wriggles and jiggles.
It tickles my beak and it gives me the giggles.”

It sounded
too squirmy,
but Sam didn’t blink
He rustled up wormy ice cream in a wink. 


Friday, June 9, 2017

Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel

Green Pants by Kenneth Kraegel (2017)
I really liked Kraegel’s earlier book, “The Song of Delphine” and just love “Green Pants.” My youngest brother actually refused to wear clothing that wasn’t green for a few years—adorable in retrospect, but a bit trying at the time. Jameson will only wear green pants, which allow him to dunk, dive and dance like no other. When he meets his cousin’s fiancĂ©e, he is smitten and agrees to be in their wedding—until his mother breaks the bad news: tuxedos have black pants. Jameson truly wrestles with what to do, and ends up solving the problem in a perfectly acceptable and authentic way. Utterly utterly charming

Themes/topics: weddings, clothing, pants, underwear, choices

Most spreads have just a few words or a single sentence. This sample is the spread with the most words:
The next morning, Jameson’s mother said, “You know, being in a wedding is a big deal. There will be a lot of standing.”
“No problem,” Jameson said.
“And you’ll have to smile nicely for all the photos”
“No problem.”
“And you’ll have to use your best manners at dinner.”
“No problem.”
“And one more thing,” his mother said slowly. “You will have to wear a tuxedo.”
“Okay.” Jameson nodded. “No problem!”
“Jameson, the tuxedo will be black.”
WHAT?” Jameson gasped. “BLACK pants? BLACK? Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m afraid so.”

Monday, June 5, 2017

One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree

One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom, pictures by Brendan Wenzel (2016) #ownvoices 

This is one of those books that just delights in words, sounds, and vocabulary. A boy strolls along, distracted by his pinwheel and is gobbled by a snake under the eponymous branches of the eucalyptus tree. The boy keeps convincing the snake that there’s room for the snake to keep eating—his belly isn’t full yet. Of course, eventually the snake reaches his limit, and, with an enormous belch, all the eaten creatures are freed. The snake slithers off with a tummy-ache, and the boy reclines happily in the shade of the tree—but a crocodile peeks around, hinting at more adventures. I love this one, and I think it’s a delight to read out loud, but do recommend practicing it because there are a couple of places where the rhymes take an unexpected rhythm.

Themes/topics: Jungle, snakes, trees, tricksters, flies, eating

Sample text from three spreads:
One day in the leaves of the eucalyptus tree hung a scare in the air where no eye could see, when along skipped a boy with a whirly-twirly toy, to the shade of the eucalyptus, eucalyptus tree.

Down, down slid the snake from the leaves of the tree and gobbled up the boy with his whirly-twirly toy, one day in the eucalyptus eucalyptus tree.

“I’ll bet,” said the boy, in the belly dark and deep, “that you’re still very hungry and there’s more that you can eat.”
“Do you think,” said the snake to the boy with the toy, “That there’s room for something yummy with you inside my tummy?”

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

More-igami by Dori Kleber and G. Brian Karas

More-igami by Dori Kleber, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (2016)
Joey loves loves loves things that fold—tacos, maps, the accordion, and his foldaway bed. One day his classmate’s mother demonstrates origami to his class at school, and Joey is enraptured. He begins folding everything he can get his hands on, from his homework to his mother’s recipe cards until, “This folding has to stop.” Demands his mother. Dejected, Joey wonders how he’ll be able to become a master folder if he can’t practice. Adorably, at the Mexican restaurant next door he finds both encouragement and the answer to his problem—folding napkins to decorate the tables.

Themes/topics: persistence, origami, art, practice, problem solving, restaurants

Sample text from three spreads:
One day, Sarah Takimoto’s mother came to school. She took a plain piece of paper. She folded it, and flipped it, and pulled it, until it became…

A crane.

Joey’s eyes popped. His jaw dropped. Mrs. Takimoto called it origami. “I want to make origami,” Joey told her. “Will you teach me?”
“I can show you the folds,” she said, “but if you want to be an origami master you’ll need practice and patience.”

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder

How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder (2016) #ownvoices

A plucky little adventurer sets out with backpack and camera in hand—determined to find a fox. The narrator explains the best way to go about finding a fox, while the illustrations show the girl stymied at every step and the sly fox always just out of her sight.  As soon as she gives up or turns away, there’s the fox doing just what she wanted it to. Highlights include the fox disguised as an owl and a raccoon. Frustrated, she wants to give up, but the narrator instructs her to take a deep breath and a mental break before going on. And, of course, the fox shows up in the end and the final spread is a bunch of snapshots of their time together. I love that the girl gets to explore nature on her own terms, and the way that the text provides a script for what to do when you’re frustrated and want to give up. Kids will love looking for the fox’s tricky antics.

Themes/topics: Adventure, persistence, nature, animals, searching, tricksters

Sample text from two spreads:

Tread slowly over the ground. Foxes have keen hearing. You don’t want to startle them. Be sure to look for fox tracks. They’re like dog tracks, but sneakier.

Take a picture of a family of raccoons. They have bushy tails kind of like foxes. Put out more bait. Wait longer this time. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mina’s White Canvas


Mina’s White Canvas by Heyeon-Ju Lee (2015) #ownvoices  


Mina feels gray and gloomy—just like the weather. Like her many literary predecessors, she begins to draw snowflakes, which quickly transform her world into a vast landscape to explore. She meets various animals, and solves their problems with her magic crayon, adding more and more color to her world. Mina sits comfortably next to Harold and his purple crayon, with a shorter story more suited to storytime that also has a focus on helping others.


Themes/topics: Helping, kindness, drawing, crayons, imagination, adventure


Sample text from two spreads:

The new friends walked through the forest. “Look!” Said Mina. “I see someone in that cave!”

It was Mr. Bear. He had grown so fat during the long winter that he was stuck in the cave opening. Mina and Grandfather Woodpecker pulled and tugged, but they could not get him out.

Mina took her crayon and drew a big blue door on the side of the cave. Hooray! It was just the right size for Mr. Bear!