Wednesday, December 21, 2016

December '16 Round Up: Six New Racially Diverse Books for Storytime

All the book/title/author information is also listed at the end. Enjoy!

Can One Balloon Make and Elephant Fly? by Dan Richards and Jeff Newman (2016)
Visiting the zoo with his mother, Evan keeps asking if x amount of balloons will make each animal fly. Mom, thinking he’s referring to toys, confirms yes to each question—and doesn’t notice Evan handing balloons to the animals in the cages as she ties balloons to the small plastic toys. As mom releases the small plastic toys, Evan looks over her shoulder at the real life animals serenely taking flight as well. Both agree that it’s amazing, although mom is none the wiser.

Themes/topics: zoos, imagination, balloons, miscommunication, fantasy, flying

Sample text:
“Can two balloons make a hippopotamus fly?”
“For you, Evan, two balloons should be plenty to make a hippopotamus fly.”

Look Up! By Jung Jin-Ho (2016 US copyright) #ownvoices

A lonely young girl in a wheelchair looks down on the tiny people in the street below, wishing for someone to look up. Eventually, another child does look up, and after a shouted conversation he lays in the street so she can see more than the top of his head. Others follow suit, and the two new friends are shown in the end on street level, looking up with giant smiles. While this mostly wordless book is best suited for very small groups, it has so much potential for art programs, particularly when talking about perspective and seeing things differently. I think it would pair well with Wenzel’s They All Saw a Cat.

Themes/topics: friendship, perspective, seeing

Sample text from three spreads:
Come down! You can’t see well from up there.
You’re right! I can only see the tops of people’s heads!
[wordless spread with boy laying down]
[another person walks up to the boy] Why are you lying on the sidewalk?
So the girl up there can see me.

Marta! Big & Small by Jen Arena Illustrated by Angela Dominguez (2016) #ownvoices
Marta just might be the cutest human character of 2016. She’s open, delightful, and authentically childlike. The repetitive language and simple storyline teaches opposites while still providing dramatic tension, making this an excellent storytime choice. With her backpack and adventurous spirit, she may remind readers of another Latina explorer, but Marta stands tall on her own merits. Top notch!
Themes/topics: opposites, animals, snakes, exploring
Sample text from two spreads; the Spanish words are in a different color and font.
To a bug, Marta is grande. Big, very big.
To an elephant, Marta is pequeña. Small, very small.

A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen and Mike Lowery (2016)
This one might be hard to pull off in storytime, but it’s SUCH a delightful exploration and visual representation of the process of marks turning into letters turning into words turning into a story. There just has be a program in this book! The story is mostly told through dialogue, which can be difficult to pull off as a read aloud—but again, it’s just so clever, delightful and inspiring!
Themes/topics: writing, stories, siblings, imagination, reading

Sample text from one spread, which switches between text and dialogue bubbles.
“What are you doing?” I ask one day while we’re sitting at the kitchen table.
“I’m writing a story.” [answers his sister]
“I wish I could write a story”
“You CAN. It’s easy.”
“How? I know my letters but I don’t know man words.”
“Write what you know. Every story starts with a single word, and every word starts with a single letter. Why don’t you start there, with a letter?”

The Class by Boni Ashburn and Kimberly Gee (2016)
This rhyming text compares and contrasts the experiences of a group of kids as they get ready for school. Fun, funny, and poignant, this is a great fit for any “first day of school” storytime. The kids are both racially and economically diverse, and the illustrations avoid stereotypes between the two. Fun to read in a group, but extra rewarding to close readers who can track individual children throughout the book and follow their individual stories, this one is worth putting on your radar.
Themes/topics: school, getting dressed/getting ready, growing up
Sample text:
Ten have bed head. Nine use combs. One tries brushes…sprays…and foams…
Two put ribbons in their hair

Four wear day-old underwear. Five can’t find a matching sock.
One yells, “Don’t you ever knock?!” [baby sis opens bathroom door]

When Penny Met POTUS by Rachel Ruiz illustrated by Melissa Manwill (2016) #ownvoices?
Penny’s mother works at the White House. Penny hears the term “POTUS” a lot, and imagines that POTUS is a kind of monster—which leads to much confusion when she comes face-to-face with the real POTUS—who turns out to be a woman. Penny and her mother have dark hair and eyes, and may read as “white” to most viewers, but close readers will note that while Penny and the POTUS’ skin is a similar shade, Penny’s skin tone is more brown than the President’s, and considerably darker than some of the other White House staff, particularly the gardener.
Themes/topics: Presidents, The White House, voting, elections, women, empowerment, monsters

Sample text from three spreads:
“Penny looks at the woman. “You’re POTUS?”
The woman nods, smiling. “POTUS is a nickname people use for me,” she says. “It stands for President of the United States.”

“You’re the president?” Penny asks. “But you’re a—“
[the president is shown in a power pose with a word bubble that reads, “That’s right, I’m a—“]

“Human,” Penny says.
She feels a little disappointed.

Can One Balloon Make and Elephant Fly? by Dan Richards and Jeff Newman (2016)
Look Up! By Jung Jin-Ho (2016 US copyright) #ownvoices
Marta! Big & Small by Jen Arena Illustrated by Angela Dominguez (2016) #ownvoices
A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen and Mike Lowery (2016)
The Class by Boni Ashburn and Kimberly Gee (2016)
When Penny Met POTUS by Rachel Ruiz illustrated by Melissa Manwill (2016) #ownvoices?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November '16 Round Up: Six New Racially Diverse Books for Storytime

All titles are listed at the end of this post—enjoy!

The Girl with the Parrot on her Head by Daisy Hirst (US ed 2016)

Isabel, the girl with a parrot on her head, has a best friend who moves away. She rages and pouts, and decides to rely on herself—she doesn’t need friends. She and the parrot come up with a SYSTEM to organize things in cardboard boxes, but there’s a wolf too big to fit. One day she finds a large box, perfect for the wolf, but there’s already someone inside. Chester helps Isabel solve her wolf problem, and the two become friends. Quirky, but would work in storytime.

Themes/Topics: friendship, moving, imagination, boxes, wolves

Sample text on two spreads:
....So when she found the biggest box she’d ever seen, the girl with the parrot onher head called out, “Aha! This box is perfect for the wolf.”
However, SOMETHING was already inside. “Oh,”said Isabel. “Is this your box?”

A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts illustrated by Hyewon Yum (2016) #ownvoices

I can never get enough of Hyewon Yum’s expressive, endearing illustrations—they just burst with humor and warmth, and this book is no exception. Watt’s story of a family’s journey to emigrate from Korea is tender and satisfying. Even readers who haven’t experienced living in a different country will be able to relate to the universal feelings of loneliness, longing, and isolation—as well as the joy, pride, and camaraderie evinced through this story.  With longer text and a more in-depth story, this might not work for every storytime, but is one you shouldn’t miss.

Themes/Topics: belonging, home, friendship, family, fitting in

Sample text:
Days become weeks, and weeks become months. I learn “Bathroom” and “Please.” I am surprised that I can form words that make their meaning clear, though they still feel like stones, heavy in my mouth.

They work, though.
“Play with me,” like in Korea
“Pass it back,” like in Korea.

I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste it, Too!) by Rachel Isadora (2016) #ownvoices

 This is a longer book, separated into five sections—one for each of the senses. For each sense, there are three spreads with multiple examples. The examples include scenarios where you don’t experience the sense being highlighted—such as pointing out things that are too quiet to hear, or how you don’t smell anything with a stuffy nose. While there’s no story, the examples are thoughtfully chosen to evoke emotional connections. While the illustrations include children of a variety of races, the cover features a dark-skinned child with very curly hair. I would use this one in a shortened way, looking at one spread for each sense, or just focusing a whole storytime on one sense and including this title in my selection.

Themes/Topics: senses, opposites, sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch

Sample text from one spread, spot illustrations accompany each example, but the overall trim size is large:

I hear the rain.
[boom] I hear thunder.
I don’t hear the snow falling.
[Whack! Hooray! Yay!] I hear my hit. I hear cheering!

Mitzi Tulane Preschool Detective in: What’s that Smell? by Lauren McLaughlin illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (2016)

Mitzi is a dark skinned preschooler with curly brown hair. She and her white doll try to solve the mystery of the strange smell emanating from the kitchen. She spies on mama in the kitchen, discusses her findings with Baby Kevin, and discovers more clues. She cracks the case at the last second, and realizes that it’s her own birthday that everyone is gathered to celebrate, and the smell was her cake. Mitzi is clearly adopted into her all-white family, but the party scene shows a diverse cast of friends and family.

Themes/Topics: Mysteries, birthdays, cake, parties

Sample text from two spreads:
“Baby Kev,” she said, “Mommy’s up to something and it sure smells funny”
Baby Kev had suspected as much.
“It’s not breakfast or lunch,” said Mitzi. “And dinner’s a long way off. So what do you think is going on in that kitchen?”
Baby Kev didn’t say much, but he had a lot of time to think.

So Mitzi left him to mull the facts of the case white she want out to search for more clues.

Princess Cupcake Jones and the Queen’s Closet by Ylleya Fields illustrated by Michael LaDuca (2015) #ownvoices

 Princess Cupcake Jones and the Queen’s Closet is one of a series of books starring the title character. Cupcake, a girl whose fashion flair rivals Fancy Nancy, starts pulling out all the shoe boxes in her mother’s closet, trying them on and imagining stories for each shoe until she’s barricaded into the closet and must call for help. This one is a little longer, with rhyming text that mostly scans well, but Cupcake’s extravagant style and the Queen’s myriad lovely shoes will cause readers to happily overlook any slight flaws.

Themes/Topics: Clothing, shoes, dress up, growing up

Sample text from one page; typically six lines per spread.
The Queen’s closet was Cupcake’s favorite place,
Stacked high with shoes within each case.
Those shoes were amazing—the stories they told!—
A rainbow of colors from purple to gold.

Hiccups! By Holly Sterling (2016) #ownvoices

Who doesn’t love a good hiccup book in storytime? In this simple and sweet story, Ruby and her dog, Oscar, are playing a game when Oscar starts hiccupping. Ruby proposes several cures to no avail, but while they don’t cure Oscar’s hiccups, they provide the perfect opportunity for interaction in storytime—from jumpity jumping to waving a magic wand, little ones will stay engaged with this story that is the perfect blend of predictable and surprising.

Themes/Topics: pets, dogs, cats, games, bodies, health

Sample text--all the pages have about the same amount of text, here’s one spread:

“I know, why don’t we try dancy—dancing like this?” said Ruby. [hic!]
Oscar danced just like Ruby, but the hiccups did not stop.

“How about if we jumpity—jump like this?” said Ruby.
Oscar jumped just like Ruby, but the hiccups were still there. [hic!]

The Girl with the Parrot on her Head by Daisy Hirst (US ed 2016)
A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts illustrated by Hyewon Yum (2016) #ownvoices
I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste it, Too!) by Rachel Isadora (2016) #ownvoices
Mitzi Tulane Preschool Detective in: What’s that Smell? by Lauren McLaughlin illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (2016)
Princess Cupcake Jones and the Queen’s Closet by Ylleya Fields illustrated by Michael LaDuca (2015) #ownvoices
Hiccups! By Holly Sterling (2016) #ownvoices

Friday, October 21, 2016

October 2016: Spotlight on Julie Flett

We Sang you Home by Richard Van Camp illustrations by Julie Flett (2016) #ownvoices (board book)

I was overjoyed to get my hands on this much-anticipated new board book. Julie Flett is one of my favorite illustrators these days, and I loved this duo's previous collaboration, Little You. After getting my copy of We Sang You Home in the mail, I literally just ordered five more copies, because this is going to be my go-to baby gift book for the rest of my life. There are so few picture books by or with Native characters to begin with, and even fewer authentic/non-problematic ones, it can be really really hard to find anything to share in storytime. I will definitely share this one in my baby storytimes, and if I had smaller family storytimes I would share it there too.

We Sang You Home, like On the Night You Were Born (Tillman) before it, captures that mysterious juxtaposition we feel when we're celebrating a new life--the world is the same, the world is different.  The mundane occurrence of birth alongside the primal miracle of new life entering the world. One of my favorite things about this book is the respect and agency that the child is given. We Sang You Home celebrates the way that a family belongs to and has responsibility to and for each other.

We sang you from a wish. We sang you from a prayer / We sang you home and you sang back / 

My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith illustrations by Julie Flett (2016) #ownvoices (board book)

I reviewed this on for SLJ pre-publication*, and fell completely in love. I recently ordered a set of 16 copies "My Heart Fills with Happiness" to add to my library's selection of books to share during baby storytime, since we follow a one-to-one model of book sharing with babies. If you have a smaller storytime, this would definitely work with older ages as well.

 *You can read my review on Amazon here.

When We Were Alone by David Robertson illustrated by Julie Flett (2017) #ownvoices

Watch out for Flett's March 2017 collaboration with David Robertson, When We Were Alone. Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature has seen it and reviewed it well, so I'm really looking forward to taking a closer look when it comes


Saturday, October 1, 2016

September Round Up

All titles are listed at the end of this post--enjoy!

The Storm by Akiko Hiyakoshi (2016, English ed.) #ownvoices

This is a first person story about a child who is looking forward to a day at the beach with their family. Unfortunately, an impending storm threatens their plans. As the grownups prepare for the storm, the child mopes and complains, and their feelings turn to worry and fear as the storm hits. Safe in bed, the child begins to imagine/dream that they have a ship with big propellers to drive the storm away.  They navigate safely through the darkness of the storm, waking to face a bright beautiful day--perfect for the beach. The dark charcoal illustrations and and first person narrative make this title better suited to intimate storytimes or a classroom setting, but it's definitely a title to make available in your collection or available for browsing after a related storytime.

Themes/Topics: weather, patience, dreams, beach, worry

Sample text--all the pages have about the same amount of text:

I just mope. 
"If we can't go tomorrow, we'll go next week," my mother says. 
I don't want to go next week. I want to go tomorrow. 

I Want a Monster! by Elise Gravel (2016)

Winnie wants a monster more than anything. All her friends have monsters! She finally convinces Dad to take her to the Monsterium to pick out a monster-it's the best day of her LIFE!  Unsurprisingly, raising a baby monster is a bit more complicated than Winnie anticipated, but she's up to the task. This title is a super fun, energetic read, with lots of little asides that can be read or skipped depending on your audience (similar style to Bob Shea's Buddy and the Bunnies). Too long and detailed for toddler storytime, but a great fit for school visits and storytime groups that skew a little older. The silly monster names and zany illustrations combined with the tongue-in-cheek serious text really make this one a winner

Themes/Topics: monsters, pets, dads,

Sample text:

Papa has a crush on this little guy. Isn't he absolutely adorable? He's a baby Oogly-Wump. [illustration shows monster waving and saying, 'arf.'] 
According to my book, Oogly-Wumps are cuddly with red hair, and they smell a bit like pirate feet. 
"We'll name him Gus," says Papa. 

Kangaroo Kisses by Nandana Dev Sen illustrated by Pippa Curnick (2016) #ownvoices

'Can a frog stand on its head?' wonders the pig-tailed child standing on her head in her bedroom, stuffed frog on the floor nearby.  Mom comes in with news of bedtime, and "not yet" becomes the refrain as mom guides her through the nightly routine. Each new request from mom sparks rhyming flights of fancy taking the girl to the habitats of the animals seen in her home. This one is made for storytime, and is a welcome and natural addition to the bedtime book shelves.

Themes/Topics: bedtime, animals, imagination

Sample text from two spreads:
"See the clock? Hear it chime? You know it's bedtime!"
"But I must hug my pup!"
"And I must tuck you up!"
"I will kiss kangaroo!"
"NO, now I'll kiss you!
"Will you turn out the light, and hug me good night?"
"YES! I love you, I do!" 
"And I love you too! Night night!"

Leo Can Swim by Anna McQuinn illustrated by Ruth Hearson (2016)

The Leo books are all so perfect for baby and toddler storytimes, and this new one is no different.  First Leo is shown in the bathtub, and we're told that he loves water, like a little fish. Tomorrow Leo is going to swim class with Daddy. Simple text and endearing illustrations show children what to expect when they go swimming at a pool or to a swim class. I love the emphasis on family relationships these books always have, and although the text is straightforward,  it is still very warm, sweet, and useful.

Themes/Topics: swimming, water, dads, exercise

Sample text from two spreads describing the end of swim class:

Then Daddy is Daddy Fish, and Leo is Baby Fish. Leo loves that. /
Next it is off to the shower. They use sloshy soap...and sloppy lotion. 

Don't Call Me Grandma by Vaunda Micheaux Neson, illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon (2016) #ownvoices

A young girl tells readers about her relationship with her Great Grandmother Nell--never 'grandma'--who doesn't hug or kiss, and expects her granddaughter to behave just so. The girl loves her elegant and fierce relative and is fascinated by her despite her rather prickly demeanor. The girl tells readers all about her great-grandmother, and as we learn about her, we can't help but be charmed as the girl finds ways to relate to and love Great-Grandmother Nell on her own terms.

Themes/Topics: Grandparents, family,

Sample text:

"Here," she says and dabs me with something that smells like vanilla. Then she sniffs me hard and loud with her wide nostrils. 

Great-Grandmother Nell is stern, but she is glamourous. Her skin is chocolaty brown, and her lips are painted ruby red. After she puts on lipstick, she presses her mouth to a tissue. She colors my lips too, then shows me her tissue trick. "To make sure you are wearing just enough, but not too much," she explains. I pucker my lips and kiss the air. 

Great-Grandmother Nell never kisses. 

Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (2016)

Move over, Fancy Nancy, Mary has arrived! Following the cadence of the familiar rhyme, this Mary shepherds fashion rather than sheep. On her first day of school she is alarmed to find her nursery-rhyme classmates to be a fairly drab bunch, but jumps right in to educating her whole school in the art of natty dressing. But at recess, Mary and her elegant crew are faced with the realization that they are dressed all wrong for fun in the muddy playground. Never fear, Mary and her classmates waste no time abandoning their fancy dress for some good clean (messy!) fun. Ultimately, the message that Mary imparts on readers is that we can be complex people with many interests--even if those interests seem to be counter to each other.

Themes/Topics: clothing, first day of school, getting dressed, fancy, princess

 Sample text:

Mary had a little glam that grew into a LOT. And everywhere that Mary went, she wasn't hard to spot. 

But on the day she started school, she caught some by surprise. Sweet Mary shrugged and hugged her mom. I must accessorize!"

The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi (2016, English ed.) #ownvoices
I Want a Monster! by Elise Gravel (2016)
Kangaroo Kisses by Nandana Dev Sen illustrated by Pippa Curnick (2016) #ownvoices
Leo Can Swim by Anna McQuinn illustrated by Ruth Hearson (2016)
Don't Call Me Grandma by Vaunda Micheaux Neson, illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon (2016) #ownvoices
Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (2016)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

'I'm a Great Little Kid' Series Nonfiction

Although I don't buy nonfiction for my system, I recently noticed a few titles from the "I'm a Great Little Kid" series from Second Story Press. 

I've read Never Give Up: A Story About Self-Esteem and That Uh Oh Feeling: A Story About Touch, both by Kathryn Cole illustrated by Qin Leng. While I'm not reviewing them in a formal way here, I read through both of them and was favorably impressed with the way sensitive issues are handled, and the fact that the books are racially diverse in a way that doesn't resort to tokenism. I'm not sure having only read two of them, but I think it's the same group of kids in all the books, and each book features a different child as the main character. Never Give Up in particular could work with older kids in a storytime or classroom setting. I like that the main character is a hijabi girl who solves a bullying problem for someone else--a white boy who is being mocked for his inability to ride a bike. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

August Round Up Two

Blocks by Irene Dickson (2016)

This one has all the ingredients for a perfect storytime book, especially for toddlers and younger storytimes. Ruby, dressed in red, builds with her red blocks. Along comes Benji with his blue blocks, and all is well until he takes one of Ruby's red blocks. A tug-of-war ensues, and the blocks become mixed up. The two companionably start building together and all is well. But what happens when Guy shows up with his green blocks? Readers are left to draw their own conclusions, but the endpapers full of green, blue, and red structures offer a clue. With large, clear illustrations and simple language and lots of opportunities to engage listeners this is an excellent choice for storytime.

Themes/Topics: Colors, Sharing/Cooperation, Toys, Building, EmotionsFriendship

Each spread has just a few words, but the characters show a lot of emotion and there's a lot to engage with on each page; here is a sample from four spreads:

Benji takes one of Ruby's red blocks. /

Ruby wants her red block back. /

"Mine!" says Ruby. "Mine!" says Benji. /


Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael López (2016)

This one gets me in the feels. Talk about something beautiful! It's a fictional story based on the real transformation of the East Village in San Diego. A girl tries to bring color and beauty to her gray city by giving away paintings and drawings. Then one day she meets a muralist, and together they bring the whole community together to create something beautiful--a place and a community spirit. One of the things I love about this book is the way the act of creating art and bringing something to life with color are shown as a kinetic and powerful act. Readers can't help but see the beauty and feel the energy and joy this book brings.

Themes/Topics: Cities, Art, Community, Color, Social Change

Sample text:

Then, just like that he dipped a brush in the paint. BAM! POW! The shadows scurried away. Sky blue cut through the gloom. The man's laughter was like a rainbow spreading across the sky.

A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu illustrated by Christina Forshay (2016)

It seems rare to find an inter-generational book where everyone is portrayed with equal respect and agency, but this is one. Mei Mei finds her Gong Gong in the garden practicing Tai Chi. He shows her some of the forms, and although readers see that her interpretations aren't quite spot on, he assures her that she did well. When Mei Mei shows Gong Gong some of the Yoga poses she learned in school, it's his turn to struggle--but Mei Mei assures him that he's perfect too. Grandfather's patience, Mei Mei's boundless energy, and above all the love and respect for each other combined with Liu's lyrical descriptions rooted in nature and Forshay's vibrantly appealing illustrations make this a lovely morning indeed. This one is pretty wordy, but would be a good fit as a single story paired with a Yoga or movement event.

Themes/Topics: Family, Grandparents, Yoga, Tai Chi, Movement, Nature

Sample text--probably the wordiest spread:

"How about we try the Mermaid?" Mei Mei asked. She sat with one leg bent behind her and the other leg folded in front. One hand rested on her bakc foot, and the other hand lifted to the sky. 
Mei Mei was a creature of the deep sea guarding treasures. 

 "Are you sure it's not called the Pretzel?" asked Gong Gong. "That looks complicated."
"Try it," said Mei Mei. 

Gong Gong twisted his leg this way and that, and almost fell over. He was a fish in the water trying to escape the dangling hook.
"I'm not made for the sea," said Gong Gong. 

Life Without Nico by Andrea Maturana illustrated by Francisco Javier Olea (2016 English edition)

Separation is a hard topic for kids, whether it's being separated from parents or friends. In this story, Maia's best friend Nico is moves very far away for a while, leaving a hole in Maia's life. The symbolism used in the illustrations is elegant and powerful--Nico gives Maia a globe which throws a shadow over her heart, and in subsequent illustrations the shadows of other round objects represent the emptiness that Maia feels. But life goes on, and slowly the emptiness left by Nico's absence is filled. When it's time for Nico to return, Maia is worried that he won't have a place in her life anymore. But when they are reunited, Maia finds that Nico has a place in her heart, and nothing can change that. While this isn't a common topic for storytime, this book would work well in that setting if needed.

Themes/Topics: Moving, Friendship, Love, Feelings

Sample text from three spreads during the 'sad' part of the story:

Now time passes slowly, and the emptiness follows Maia everywhere she goes. It's boring. She can't play with it, and it won't let other children near. /

Sometimes the days feel dark to Maia. Other times everything feels far away. /

But as time goes on, Maia meets an unexpected companion... [Maia finds a kitten]. 

Catch a Kiss by Deborah Diesen illustrated by Kris Aro McLeod (2016)

Izzie asks Mama to blow her kisses and she catches them--on her nose, in the crook of her elbow, or the tip of her ear. But then Izzie misses one of the triple-decker kisses, and although she tries her best to chase after it, she is devastated to lose it. Mama pulls her close and shares a secret: Mama-kisses always come back to find you. Izzie tells Mama a secret in return: So do mine, she says, launching a kiss into the sky. This one is sugary sweet, but has some emotional depth and a narrative conflict, so it could add some variety when paired with some of the more 'list' type picture books on the topic of motherly love.

Themes/Topics: Love, Mothers, Kisses

Sample text:
"Another!" cried Izzie. Mama smooched again. She blew Izzie a zigzag kiss. It zipped back and forth. Zoom. Zip! Izzie caught the kiss in the crook of her elbow. She giggled at the tickly feel.

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer (2016)

"Poetry in the Park; Sunday at 6 o'clock" reads the new sign up in Daniel's beloved park. Daniel doesn't know what poetry is, but throughout the week he converses with the animals, and each animal points some natural beauty that they see as poetry. By the time Sunday at 6' o'clock rolls around, Daniel has a poem of his own to share. This is a really beautiful book--from the concept, to the gorgeous collage artwork, to the poetry of the text itself. It's well-suited to storytime, and could easily be shortened for younger groups by omitting a few of the animal interactions.

Themes/Topics: Poetry, Art, Parks, Nature

Sample text from two spreads near the end:
That night, moonlight fills Daniel's room. He hears a who. Leaning from his window, he calls to Owl, "Owl, what is poetry?" 

"Oh, poetry! Poetry is bright stars in the branches, moonlight on the grass, and silent wings to take me wherever I go. Good night, dear Daniel," she whispers, and flies off into the night. 

Blocks by Irene Dickson (2016)
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael López (2016)
A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu illustrated by Christina Forshay (2016)
Life Without Nico by Andrea Maturana illustrated by Francisco Javier Olea (2016 English ed.) 
Catch a Kiss by Deborah Diesen illustrated by Kris Aro McLeod (2016)
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer (2016)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

August Round Up

All the titles and authors are listed at the end of this post--enjoy!

City Shapes by Diana Murray illustrated by Bryan Collier

City Shapes by Diana Murray illustrated by Bryan Collier

Storytime gold! This is a nearly perfect storytime book--it has a pleasing rhyme scheme, gorgeous illustrations, isn't too wordy, and will work with a variety of themes. The way the text interacts with the pages turns is particularly savvy, creating just the right amount of space for audiences to practice predictive rhyming and shape recognition.

Themes/Topics: Shapes, City, Birds, Home, Community

Sample text from the first three spreads:
"A pigeon takes flight through the bright cityscape, exploring the scenery...SHAPE after SHAPE. 
The city is bursting with SHAPES of each kind. And if you look closely, who knows what you'll find!

A truck rumbling by to deliver the mail, a silvery cart with hot pretzels for sale, and stacks of brown packages hauled up the stairs...

Some SHAPES in the city are... on-the-go SQUARES."

Princess! Fairy! Ballerina! by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Princess! Fairy! Ballerina! by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Three friends, two white and one black, play together on a rainy day, but disagree on what to play, with each one advocating strongly for her preferred game--Princess, Fairy, or Ballerina. After the expected fight, the lure of puddle jumping unites them once again. A fairly typical friendship story, but all three girls are equals, and with charming illustrations and a glittery cover, this is an appealing take on the familiar plot.

Themes/Topics: Friendship, Behavior, Rain, Imagination

Each girl's speech is printed in her signature color to indicate who is speaking:
"We shall play princess! Because princesses are royal, and that means they get to survey their royal domains, / and make the royal rules, and of course, ride the royal unicorns. 
You always want to play princess. 
Please call me Your Majesty. 
Shh, I have two words for you--Fairy. Dust."

Mira Forecasts the Future by Kell Andrews illustrated by Lissy Marlin
Mira Forecasts the Future by Kell Andrews illustrated by Lissy Marlin

Mira, who has light brown skin, dark brown hair, and golden brown eyes, is the daughter of a famous fortune teller who works on the boardwalk. Unfortunately, Mira doesn't share her mother's talent for predicting the future--until she turns her attention to the science of forecasting the weather, that is. I was excited about this one from the cover, but was taken aback by the 'gypsy' attire worn by Mira's mother. I haven't seen any critical reviews, however, so am including this title with reservation. This is a longer story, but might be a fit for a STEM storytime working with older kids.

Themes/Topics: Weather, Science, STEM, Storms

"Mira was about to say she couldn't predict the future. But then.../ she saw the wind gently whirring the blades of her pinwheel and fluttering the streamers on her windsock. She felt the warm air and the hot sun on her skin. She studied the clouds that were whiter and fluffier than cotton candy." 

My Little Sister and Me story and pictures by Maple Lam

My Little Sister and Me story and pictures by Maple Lam

And older boy has the responsibility of walking his sister home from school for the first time. At first he is frustrated by her short-attention span and constant distractions, but when a thunderstorm develops scaring both of them and causing little sister to run and fall into a puddle, big brother comes to the rescue. In the end, they make it home to a proud mama, and both siblings have new appreciation for each other. This is a sweet sibling story with 'first day of school' tie-ins, making it a refreshingly different addition to school themed storytimes.

Themes/Topics: School, Storms, Siblings, Bravery

Sample of the first two pages of text:
For the very first time, Mom asks me to take my little sister home from the bus stop--all by myself!

She bounces and hops and sings a song she learned from school, "Take me roads..."
I don't even know the song. Maybe she is singing it wrong.

Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach

Utterly charming. Ed, the family dog, worries that he isn't excellent at anything, unlike the five kids in his family, who are all excellent at something. He worries that this is why he isn't allowed to do things the others are allowed to do, like eat at the table, ride in the van, sit in the couch, and use the indoor bathroom. He tries to figure out what he's excellent at, but is bested every time by one of the children. I don't want to ruin the delight of reading this book the first time, but I'll just say that Ed does indeed figure out what he's best at and how that ties into the things he's not allowed to do--well, most of them. I kind of can't even with how much I love this book.

Themes/Topics: Dogs, family, belonging, humor

Sample text:
Just then, Ernie dropped half of his peanut butter sandwich. Ed gobbled it up. "Wow, Ed! You are excellent at cleaning the floor," Ernie said.
'Yes, I am an excellent floor cleaner [thought Ed]. Maybe that's why I don't eat at the table'

A Beginner's Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson illustrated by David Robert

A Beginner's Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson illustrated by David Roberts

If you enjoy reading Bob Shea or Jon Klassen books in storytime, this is likely to be a good choice for you! The narrator is addressing a small child who is decked out for some serious hiking, trying to impress upon them the importance of taking bears seriously. The narrator gets carried away with bear facts that belie what is actually happening to our hapless hiker, who ends up needing to fend for themself when not one but TWO threatening bears show up. An underwear joke and the the opportunity to interpret an ambiguous ending round out this fun story.

Themes/Topics: Bears, Camping, Hiking, Outdoors, Humor, Stuffed Animals

Text sample from an interior spread:
Black bears are dangerous and BLACK. Brown bears are dangerous and BROWN. 
Although sometimes brown bears can be a little BLACK.  
...and black bears can be a little BROWN. 
Don't worry. 
Chances are you won't even SEE a bear. 

City Shapes by Diana Murray illustrated by Bryan Collier
Princess! Fairy! Ballerina! by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Mira Forecasts the Future by Kell Andrews illustrated by Lissy Marlin
My Little Sister and Me story and pictures by Maple Lam
Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
A Beginner's Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson illustrated by David Roberts

Friday, July 29, 2016

July Round Up: New Racially Diverse Picture Books for Storytime

[You can find a full list of all titles at the bottom of this post]

I Won a What? by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Robert Neubecker

I Won a What? by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Robert Neubecker
Desperate for a pet, a young child tries to win a goldfish at the fair. But instead of a goldfish the prize is Nuncio--a whale! This is a slightly surreal take on the "inconvenient pet becomes useful and beloved" storyline, but one that could certainly work in preschool storytime or early elementary classrooms.

 Themes/Topics: Friendship, Pets, Circus, Whales, Love

Here's a sample of the text. This is the most text that appears on any page:
"We fill our enormous swimming pool with salt water until it's just right for Nuncio. I've always wanted something I could take care of.  Something that loves me back. Maybe that was a lot to ask of a goldfish. But a whale! A whale seems capable of almost anything!"

Puddle by Hyewon Yum

Puddle by Hyewon Yum
A rainy day creates a disgruntled child determined not to be appeased by any activity mom suggests. When her suggestion to spend time drawing is rejected, she cheerfully announces that she'll just draw by herself. Of course, the child becomes intrigued and they draw themselves into a rainy day scene, creating a narrative as they draw. Mom gets upset when the child "splashes" in the puddle they drew by scribbling, and mom looks quite concerned when they go outside and a giant puddle appears ahead. Happily, though unsurprisingly, she throws caution to the wind and they jump and splash together.
Part of the book is told through dialogue, with the mother's words in red and the child's in black, so larger groups might get lost unless you're comfortable reading with voices, but it should definitely be part of your collection anyway. Yum's skilled and delightful illustrations are wonderful as always.

Themes/Topics: Rain, Drawing, Imagination, Mothers, Dogs, Weather

Red Yellow Blue (And a Dash of White Too!)  by C. G. Esperanza

Red Yellow Blue (And a Dash of White Too!)  by C. G. Esperanza
This one is a welcome addition to the color theory shelf. In a riot of color, wordplay, and imagination, a young child wrangles a paintbrush mixing colors and bringing different animals to life until things get a little out of control with a "Grayish--Brownish Mud monster," but ultimately the mud monster just wants to get in on the action too, and paints portraits of all the other animals.

Text sample--full of opportunities for wordplay and movement, here's the first spread:
"Splish Splash Sploosh! I painted an elephant BLUE 
with a splash of RED and YELLOW and a dash of WHITE, too.

Swoosh Swash Swish! She mixed BLUE and YELLOW 
Like a GREEN frog fellow.  

Themes/Topics: Color, Art, Imagination

Salad Pie written by Wendy BooydeGraaff illustrated by Bryan Langdo

Salad Pie written by Wendy BooydeGraaff illustrated by Bryan Langdo
An empty playground is the perfect setting for Maggie to make "Salad Pie" (a cleaner version of mud pie), but then Herbert shows up and--even worse--he wants to help. Maggie bossily rejects his attempts to help until she accidentally slips down the slide, dropping the salad into the air. Herbert saves the day by catching both her and the pie, and their friendship is solidified as they make plans to make "Sandwich Stew" tomorrow.

This one includes lots of places to add a little singing refrain, and isn't too wordy, making it a good storytime selection:
"Into the oven," said Maggie, and she closed the imaginary oven door with panache. Gently, ever so gently, Maggie danced her jig. Softly, ever so softly, she sang, "Salad Pie, oh Salad Pie! Soon you'll be ready, Salad Pie!

Themes/Topics: Friendship, Imagination, Playgrounds, Food

How to Find Gold by Viviane Schwarz

How to Find Gold by Viviane Schwarz
Anna and her best friend, Crocodile, decide to find gold even though it will be dangerous and difficult.

Several very wordy pages are followed by several wordless pages, which means this one is a better fit for very dialogic storytime groups who have practice reading and interpreting the pictures in a story.

One spread reads:
"Gold is always hidden. We need a map with an X where the gold is," said Crocodile. 
"That's easy, said Anna. "Draw a map of the whole world, to be sure." 
"It doesn't have an X," Said Crocodile when the map was finished. 
Anna drew one on. 
"The gold is in France!" said Anna. "How do we get to France?" 
"Hm," said Crocodile. "I don't know that bit."

Themes/Topics: Treasure, Ships/Sailing, Crocodiles, Pirates (not specifically, but it definitely works), Imagination, Bravery, Friendship, Travel

Emma and Julia Love Ballet by Barbara McClintock

Emma and Julia Love Ballet by Barbara McClintock
A day in the lives of two girls who love ballet are compared and contrasted. Emma, a young white girl, and Julia, an older black teen, both wake up early, both eat breakfast and both get dressed for a ballet lesson. But while Emma is excited to go the the city and watch a ballet later that night, Julia is in the performance. Most children reading this book will be able to relate to Emma as a beginning dancer, and will share her admiration and be inspired by Julia, who is an advanced dancer participating in live performances on stage.

Here's a sample of the text--the parallel stories and repetition make it a good fit for storytime:
"Some of Emma's friends take tap lessons. Some of Julia's friends take tap too. Some of Emma's friends take jazz lessons. Some of Julia's friends take jazz too. Some of Emma's friends dream of dancing on Broadway. Some of Julia's friends are dancing on Broadway. But Emma and Julia love ballet."

Themes/Topics: Dance, Ballet, Careers/Jobs people do, Practice

I Won a What? by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Robert Neubecker
Puddle by Hyewon Yum
Red Yellow Blue (And a Dash of White Too!)  by C. G. Esperanza
Salad Pie written by Wendy BooydeGraaff illustrated by Bryan Langdo
How to Find Gold by Viviane Schwarz
Emma and Julia Love Ballet by Barbara McClintock

Monday, February 29, 2016

Everyday Diversity: 100+ Representationally Diverse Picture Books

Everyday stories can be hard to find, since the stories are not about being from a marginalized group, they become invisible in searches--thus the need for this project! Some of the decisions are subjective; you may not consider a particular book to represent a marginalized group. I am open to feedback, but please know that this project is, by nature, pretty subjective and a lot of what we have to go off of is what is presented in the pictures. 

 This list is a work in progress; The plan is to write more in-depth about the books, and create tags that make them searchable in different ways. But for now, here's the list! Alphabetical by title, with suggested themes below.

A Day with No Crayons by Elizabeth Rusch
colors, behavior, imagination

A Vacation for Pooch by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
multiracial families, dogs, travel, grandparents

All of Me! A book of Thanks by Molly Bang
thankfulness, bodies, five senses

An Orange in January By Diana Hutts Aston
sharing, fruit, food, seasons

Anna Hibiscus’ Song by Atinuke
multiracial families, being yourself, happiness, singing

Baby Parade by Rebecca O’Connel
Colors, babies

Baby Ruby Bawled by Malaika Rose Stanley
multiracial families, new siblings, babies, singing

Besos for Baby by Jen Arena
multiracial families, kisses, love, babies, board books

Big Snow by Jonathan Bean
snow, waiting, imagination, weather

Blackout by John Rocco
multiracial families, family, community, neighborhoods

Can you Hear the Sea? By Judy Cumberbatch *set outside the US, but is still an every day story oceans, shells, grandparents

Can’t Sleep without Sheep by Susanna Leonard Hill
bedtime, sheep, sleeping

Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin
yoga, noisy, nature

Cook It by Child’s Play, illustrated by Georgie Birkett
cooking, food, shopping, vegetables, pizza, multiracial families

Do Like Kyla by Angela Johnson
siblings, copying, snow, families

Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
new siblings, families, multiracial families.

Drum City by Thea Guidone
music, communities

Fire engine No. 9 by Mike Austin
fire safety, heroes/superheroes, firefighters, community helpers

Fire! Fuego! Brave Bomberos by Susan Middleton Elya
community helpers, firefighters, heroes/superheroes, fire safety

Firebird by Misty Copeland
dance, ballet

Fireman Small by Wong Herbert Lee
community helpers, firefighters, heroes/superheroes, fire safety

First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming
snow, snowmen, winter

Gracias Thanks by Pat Mora

Green is a Chile Pepper by Rosanne Greenfield Thong

Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin
multiracial families, differences, being yourself

Here Comes Trouble by Corinne Demas
cats, dogs, behavior

Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin
heroes/superheroes, mothers,

How do you Wokka-Wokka? By Elizabeth Bluemle
cities, dance, movement, community

How to Share with a Bear by Eric Pinder
siblings, imagination, bears

I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison
dance, singing, music, neighborhoods, movement

I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn
clothing, growing up, sewing, creativity

I Know a Lot by Stephen Krensky
babies, growing up, board books

I See Kitty by Yasmine Surovec
clouds, imagination, pets, cats

If I Had a Raptor by George O’Connor
pets, dinosaurs, cats

Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd
in and out, houses, opposites

Job Site by Nathan Clement
construction, vehicles, trucks

Juba This, Juba That by Helaine Becker
rhymes, dance, cats, fantasy, imagination

Just the Two of Us by Will Smith
families, love, fathers

Keisha Ann Can! by Daniel Kirk
school, being yourself, growing up

Lemonade in Winter by Emily Jenkins
winter, money, lemonade

Lenny Has Lunch by Ken Wilson-Max
fathers, babies, food, board books

Leo Loves Baby Time by Anna McQuinn
libraries, babies, books, board books

Lily Brown’s Paintings by Angela Johnson
painting, art, imagination

Lion Lion by Miriam Busch
pets, lions, tricksters

Little Dump Truck by Margery Cuyler
trucks, construction, books to sing

Little Little Girl with the Big Big Voice by Kristen Balouch
jungle, noise, lions,

Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn
reading, libraries, books, imagination

Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn
gardens, plants, spring, sharing

Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn,
new sibling, reading, books.

Lottie Paris and the Best Place by Angela Johnson
friendship, books, reading, libraries, imagination

Lullaby for a Black Mother by Langston Hughes
babies, love, night

Marc Just Couldn’t Sleep by Gabriela Keselman
bedtime, night, noisy, being afraid

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
multiracial families, being yourself, individuality, school

Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper
night, moon, grandparents

Me and My Dragon by Biedrzycki
pets, dragons,

Messenger Messenger by Robert Burleigh
bikes, jobs, cities, communities

Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson
monsters, bedtime, problem solving, kisses, sleep

Moving day by Child’s Play illustrated by Jess Stockham
moving, helping, homes

My Friend Maya Loves to Dance by Cheryl Willis Hudson
dance, ballet, friends, abilities

My Teacher by James Ransome
teachers, school,

Never Ask a Dinosaur to Dinner by Gareth Edwards
bedtime, animals, stuffed animals

Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo by John Lithgow
multiracial families, music, zoos

New Red Bike by James Ransome
sharing, bicycles, friendship

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
wrestling, superheroes, imagination

Not Norman by Kelly Bennet
pets, fish

Oddly by Joyce Dunbar
home, love, being yourself, fantasy

On the Ball by Brian Pinkney
imagination, sports, soccer

One Hot Summer Day by Nina Crews
summer, weather, sun, cities

One Word From Sophia by Jim Averbeck
multiracial family, manners, birthdays, giraffes, pets, words/vocabulary

Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson
multiracial families, new siblings, jealousy

Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora
peekaboo, babies, seeing

Phoebe and Digger by Tricia Springstubb
new siblings, construction, trucks, bullies

Pickin’ Peas by MacDonald
gardens, rabbits, vegetables, tricksters

Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee
babies, manners, families

Please, Puppy, Please by Spike Lee
dogs, manners, pets

Princess and the Pea by Rachel Isadora
fairy tales, princesses

Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
multiracial families, horses, gifts, being yourself

Purrfect! By Sarah Nash
stuffed animals, bathtime

Roar! By Tammi Sauer
dragons, imagination, pretend, creativity, friends

Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Ruby’s Baby Brother by Kathryn White
new sibling, imagination

Say Hello by Rachel Isadora
greetings, languages, neighbors, community

Scaredy Kate by Jacob Grant
monsters, counting, fear, bravery,  dogs, ice cream

Senor Pancho Had a Rancho by René Colato Laínez
farms, books to sing

Shanna’s Ballerina Show by Jean Marzollo
dance, ballet

Splash, Anna Hibiscus! By Atinuke
multiracial families, family, beach, ocean, swimming

Stop Kissing Me, Mommy! By Nadine Chevolleau
growing up, kisses, mothers

Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Lee
seasons, day, night, picnics

Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom by John Rocco
superheroes, hair, friendship

Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon
sports, baseball, grandparents, difference

The Twin’s Little Sister by Hyewon Yum
sisters, twins, new siblings, sharing

The Twins Blanket by Hyewon Yum Sharing
twins, growing up, blankets

The Very Inappropriate Word  by Jim Tobin
multiracial families, vocabulary, words, libraries

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman
parades, celebration, summer

This is Our House by Hyewon Yum
multiracial families, family, houses, growing up

Tiger in my Soup by Kashmira Sheth
imagination, siblings, books, reading
Tummy Girl by Roseanne Thong
babies, growing up, being yourself

Uh-Oh! By Rachel Isadora
babies, messes, behavior

Virginnie’s Hat by Dori Chaconas
clothing, alligators, lost/missing

Wait by Portis
opposites, stop/go, waiting, rainbows

Wave by Suzy Lee
ocean, imagination, water

Where’s Lenny by Ken Wilson-Max
multiracial families, peek-a-boo, babies, board books

Yo, Jo by Rachel Isadora
greetings, grandparents, language

You Were the First by Patricia MacLachlan
multiracial families, new baby, growing up, families

Zoe and Beans: Pirate Treasure by Chloe and Mick Inkpen
beach, pirates, treasure

Zoe and Beans: How Many Pets by Inkpen
babies, pets, board books