Monday, November 27, 2017

Salam Alaikum by Harris J and Ward Jenkins (2017)

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Salam Alaikum by Harris J and Ward Jenkins (2017) #ownvoices

by AHK

A young boy spreads his message of peace, hope, and optimism, changing the world around him from drab and gray to full of life and color as small acts of kindness pass from person to person. Turning a song into a book is often tricky, as the lines scan differently when read than sung, but the pros outweigh the cons for this title, particularly with so few books representing any aspect of Muslim culture. The greeting, "Assalamu Alaikum" appears throughout the book as different people interact. It's a perfect fit for a "Hello/Goodbye" storytime or any other theme celebrating greetings.

Themes/Topics: peace, hope, kindness, greetings, hello, goodbye

Sample text from the first three spreads: 

"You can try to turn off the sun,

I'm still going to shine away

and tell everyone we're having some fun today."


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet by Sanae Ishida (2017)

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Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet by Sanae Ishida (2017) #ownvoices

by Anna HK

Little Kunoichi the Ninja Girl stars in her own book, and has the most amazing pet EVER (a stupendously, spectacularly super-duper ninja bunny!). Little Kunoichi's best friend, Chibi Samurai envies the special relationship they have, and decides to find a friend of his own. He travels all over trying out amazing pets real and imaginary, but none of them are the right fit. Just as he is about to give up, he realizes that the perfect pet has been with him all along--a stag beetle! This is a delightful little book, with lots of fun personality to read aloud in storytime. There are a couple of spreads that may need a little extra explanation, but the end of the story is clear and satisfying. I love this one!

Themes/Topics: pets, ninjas, Japan, mythical creatures, insects 

Sample text from three spreads: 

He starts at the tippy top of the island and greets a kindly monk. "Pet?"
"Check out back."
Lo and behold, Chibi finds a dazzling animal, and he can't wait to introduce his new pet. "Fantastic!"

"WOW!" [say his friends]
"So fierce! So strong! Meet Showstopper the giant salamander!"

"Too strong!"
"Oh no, the leash!"

Monday, November 20, 2017

Lily's Cat Mask by Julie Fortenberry (2017)

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Lily's Cat Mask by Julie Fortenberry (2017)

by Anna HK

Lily isn't really sure about the changes that are coming--mainly the fact that she's starting school soon. Her dad buys her a yellow cat mask, and Lily wears it everywhere. It becomes a bit of a problem when she starts school, and she's only allowed to wear it during recess--although Lily has a hard time adjusting to that restriction. One day the teacher announces that they are having a costume party and the children can wear whatever they want. Among the superheroes, monsters, and witches, Lily finds another cat and, hopefully, a lifelong friend.

Themes/Topics: costumes, masks, hiding, friendship

Sample text from two spreads:
"She like to hide her face when she felt mean and couldn't get nice. 

And she also made a very important wish wearing her mask. 

But when Lily started school, her teacher called the mask a distraction, and Lily was only allowed to wear it at recess."


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Quiet! by Kate Alizadeh (2017)

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Quiet! by Kate Alizadeh (2017)

 by Anna HK

A young child narrates her evening through sounds. From Dad preparing dinner, to playtime, to bath time, she notices all the small sounds in her environment until bedtime. The story is quiet, domestic and portrays a father as a gentle loving caretaker. This book is full of background text showing the onomatopoeia of everyday life, and there's enough plot to make it work as a read-aloud. Simple, sweet, and perfect for storytime.

Themes/Topics: sounds, senses, dads, bedtime

Sample text from two spreads:
"Sssh! Listen, what's that noise? 

It's the TV babbling, as I zoom zoom the car across teh rug and the cat purrs. 

And the dog snoring and the laptop whirring and the pitter patter of the rain against the window"

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza & Alyssa Bermudez

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Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza & Alyssa Bermudez (2017) #ownvoices

by Anna HK

Lucía's pretend superpowers on the playground are significant, but the boys she wants to play with ignore her and tell her that girls can't be superheroes. Lucía's Abuela introduces Lucía to a new kind of superhero--a masked luchadora who has moxie, bravery and heart, and is willing to fight for what is right without ever revealing her true identity. Lucía's new identity grabs lots of attention at the playground, and soon other kids are wearing lucha libre masks too. When a kid in a pink glittery lucha libre mask appears, the boys' start saying girls can't be superheroes again. Just as Lucía is about to intervene, there's an emergency on the slide; Lucía to the rescue! On behalf of the new girl, she reveals her identity to prove that girls CAN be superheroes. All the children unmask, and Lucía finds that many of the luchadores are actually lucadoras! This is a longer story, but it's themes will resonate for older children, making it a good choice for school visits or classroom read-alouds

Themes/topics: bullying, superheroes, luchadores, bravery, rescue, friendship

Sample text from three spreads: 

I zip through the playground in my red cape. I go POW. I go BAM. 
The boys zoom by with their own capes fluttering behind them. They go BOOM. They go CRASH

The boys try to jump off the monkey bars, but no one can do a high-flying leap from the top like I can. I dive. I spin. I nail my landing. Every! Single! Time! I dash up the dark, swirly slide that no one dares go near, but the boys pay no attention to me. 

They dart off when I try to play with them. Mighty Mick yells out to me, "Girls can't be superheroes!" Ninja Nick, his twin, adds, "Girls are just made of sugar and spice and everything nice!"
I don't feel very nice and sweet at that moment. I feel mad. Spice mad. KA-POW kind of mad!

Monday, November 6, 2017

We Love You, Rosie! by Cynthia Rylant illustrated by Linda Davick

image source: Indiebound

We Love You, Rosie! by Cynthia Rylant illustrated by Linda Davick (2017)

by Mary K

Opposites like up and down, day and night, and good and bad are introduced in a series of vignettes about Rosie the dog. Each mini story is ended with the phrase "we love you," demonstrating that no matter what she does, or where she is, Rosie is always loved by the two round-headed children who accompany her. This book would be fine in a toddler storytime, as the illustrations are in bright flat colors and certain words and phrases are repeated multiple times. As there are six stand-alone vignettes, storytime presenters could choose to share two, three, or all six depending on the attention span of the group. Because of the repetition and simple word choice, however, this book might also work as an early reader.

Themes/topics: dogs, pets, opposites, love

Sample text from three spreads:

Hello, Rosie. Do you want to go DOWN? Okay. DOWN go the front feet! DOWN go the back feet! DOWN goes the tail! Rosie is going DOWN!

But Rosie likes UP better. UP is better. UP is much better. 

Rosie, you are UP. And we love you. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Back Catalog Posts: Lenny Goes to Nursery School by Ken Wilson-Max

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Lenny Goes to Nursery School by Ken Wilson-Max #ownvoices (2013)

by Mary K.

In this British import Lenny goes to nursery school for the first time.  On the way, he sees another girl whose colorful dress he admires. She turns out to be a classmate, Lucy, and at school Lucy and Lenny sing songs, draw pictures, have juice, and enjoy tricycle races with their diverse classmates and teacher. Only a slight frown when mom leaves hints at Lenny's nervousness. The brightly-colored illustrations are just right for still-developing vision, and the simple plot will be relatable for most young children learning about what to expect when they begin school.

Themes/topics: school, preschool, separation, friends

Sample text from two spreads:

Mummy says, "Bye bye, Lenny. See you later." Lenny frowns and waves a little wave.

Lucy takes Lenny's hand. "Let's play," she says.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Too-Scary Story by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

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The Too-Scary Story by Bethanie Deeney Murguia (2017)

by AHK

When I used to ask my dad to tell me a story he'd say, "Once upon a time, the end." and then enjoy listening to us shriek at him to "tell it right." Papa in this story does a much more thorough job, though with a similar amount of editorializing from Walter and Grace. Grace wants a scary story, Walter not so much. Papa does a great job of introducing a scary element, which the illustrations echo with dark ominous colors, and then bringing back from scary into comforting--pleasing Walter and annoying Grace. This will be a delight to read in storytime--it reminds me of the fun of reading, "Snip Snap What's That" by Bergman, which hovers juuuust on the edge of too-scary.  For readers with a dramatic flair this is an excellent choice for storytime.

Themes/topics: night, scary, being scared, storytelling, bedtime, stories, owls

Sample text from two-and-a-half spreads:

Beyond the fireflies, deep in the bushes, crept all kinds of.../

"I can hear them all breathing." whispers Grace. 
"Too scary!" says Walter /

Don't worry. Those creatures were just settling into bed for the night.  
"Sleep tight." Walter whispers. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Forever Garden by Laurel Snyder & Samantha Cotterill

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The Forever Garden by Laurel Snyder & Samantha Cotterill (2017)

by AHK

Laurel loves her next-door neighbor Honey, who is an avid gardener. Honey teaches Laurel about the joys of fresh-grown food, and the love of growing and tending plants and animals. One day there's a "For Sale" sign outside Honey's house--Honey needs to move in order to take care of a sick parent. Laurel tries to warn Honey about potential dangers of her new home, but Honey correctly interprets these warnings as Laurel's way of saying, "don't go" and "I'll miss you." Laurel wonders why Honey bothers planting strawberries, since they won't be ready until after she's gone, and Honey tells her that the garden belongs to everyone, really. Just as she ate grapes planted by someone else, the strawberries will be enjoyed by the next owners of the home. Together, they plant a tree in Honey's yard, and say goodbye. Eventually a new family moves in and Laurel teaches them about the garden. This one is probably too long for toddlers, but would work for preschool storytime or a special-event type storytime or farmer's market outreach.

Themes/Topics: Gardens, friendship, moving, moving away, nature, food, vegetables

Sample text from the wordiest spread:

We walk to the porch for a cool glass of water. "When will the berries be ready?" I ask.
"Next summer," says Honey. 

"But won't be here to eat them." Honey takes off her gloves. 
"Nope," she says. "But someone will."
"That's not fair," I say. "It's your garden."
"This garden isn't really mine,' says Honey. "It belongs to everyone."
"But you did all the work," I say. 
Honey shakes her head. "I didn't plant the grapes. I only ate them."
"Then who did?"
Honey shrugs. "No way to know. But that's just fine. The new folks will enjoy these strawberries, the way I enjoyed the grapes. And if they add something, the garden will keep going...maybe forever." 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

My Good Morning! by Kim Crockett Corson & Jelena Brezovec

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My Good Morning! by Kim Crockett Corson & Jelena Brezovec (2017)

by AHK

A feisty preschooler narrates her version of a typical morning, in which she is independent and successful with all of her tasks. Mom and dad might tell a different version of events, but this isn't their story. Youngsters and anyone with a three year old will relate! Ultimately, the lively little girl's good morning sets her up to say goodbye to Daddy at daycare without tears or fuss, because she knows her good day will continue. A sweetly simple rhyming story that will fit perfectly into your storytime rotation.

Themes/Topics: daycare, first day of school, separation anxiety, toddler, behavior, independence

Sample text from first spread:

I wake up nice and early. 
I had a good sleep. 
Mommy and Daddy did not hear a peep. 
It's a new day and I'm ready to go!
But Mommy and Daddy are very slow.  

Thursday, October 5, 2017

If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams

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If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams (2017)

by AHK

Oof, this lovely book presents a pretty bleak future if we don't take care of our world. Using straightforward easy-to-understand yet scientific language, the narrator illustrates what would happen if we lost an apex predator like sharks and how that would impact all life on earth, including humans. The young girl on the cover appears throughout the book, often with her family, providing an emotional stand-in for readers as they process the facts presented. Fortunately, the book ends on a hopeful and positive note--for now. This is a great choice for classrooms and STEM programs.

Themes/topics: sharks, oceans, STEM, predators, ecosystems

Sample text from two spreads: 

Sharks are apex predators, which means they are at the top of the food chain in their ecosystem, the ocean. Losing an apex predator species can cause devastating effects in an environment. 

Today, roughly between one-fourth and one-third of shark species are vulnerable to extinction because of overfishing. What could happen if this continues and sharks disappear altogether? If sharks disappeared...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Twindergarten by Nikki Ehrlich illustrated by Zoey Abbott

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Twindergarten by Nikki Ehrlich illustrated by Zoey Abbott (2017)

by AHK

Twins Zoe and Dax go together like peanut butter and jelly. But for kindergarten they get assigned to separate classrooms. Before the big day, Zoe feels excited and takes the lead comforting Dax as he worries. However, when they arrive at school their roles reverse and suddenly it's Zoe who is not so sure about this whole kindergarten thing. They each make a new friend, but Zoe continues to miss Dax. They are reunited for recess, and Dax slips Zoe a special note which reminds her that no matter what, they have each other, which allows Zoe to settle in and enjoy her own experience. This is a good lesson on separation anxiety as well as a good introduction to the kinds of things kids do in kindergarten. Add it to your first-day rotation!

Themes/Topics: twins, separation anxiety, first day of school, kindergarten, worry, friendship

Sample text from the wordiest spread: 

On the night before school, the twins had the jitters. The just-about-to-start-school jitters. Tomorrow, they'd be in different classrooms. And they ABSOLUTELY couldn't imagine what that would feel like. The twins took out the pins and name tags their teachers had sent them. Zoe would be with the Awesome Alligators. Dax would be with the Cool Cats. But what they ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY wanted was to be together. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I Got a New Friend by Karl Newsom Edwards

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I Got a New Friend by Karl Newsom Edwards

by AHK

Another pet book! If you want to do an inclusive theme, pets is your best bet for the most options. This one is terribly sweet. There's not really a plot, just a sweet portrayal of what it's like to have a new friend--the twist at the end is that it's the puppy narrating and the girl is the new friend. For each line of text, both puppy and child mirror each other actions and emotions. Readers assume the girl is speaking until the end. Although it's slight, it's successful and would work perfectly for toddler storytime. I would even use this with babies after shortening it a tad.

Themes/Topics: pets, friendship

Sample text from three spreads: 

At first, [my new friend] was sort of scared. But she got used to me. 

My friend likes to play outside. 

She messes up the house and sleeps on the furniture. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Will You Help Doug Find His Dog? by Jane Caston and Carmen Saldaña

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Will You Help Doug Find His Dog? by Jane Caston illustrated by Carmen Saldaña (2017)


Ever since Press Here delighted storytime librarians and attendees everywhere, there have been many books that try to capture that magic. This one is a great addition to the interactive genre. Poor Doug has lost his dog, but we, the readers, are going to help him find his dog. Doug tells us his dog is scruffy, and we call all the scruffy dogs. Doug's dog has spots, so we can pat all the dogs who have spots. Next we're looking for the small dogs--let's give them each a tickle. Eventually we narrow things down and Doug and Dog are reunited. A joy for dog lovers, this is an excellent choice for storytime. It can be easily adapted to work with a group and the illustrations provide lots of opportunities for discussion and differentiation. Top notch!

Themes/topics: dogs, pets, interactive, kisses

Sample text from two spreads: 

Hey, will you help Doug find his dog?  
You will? Great!
I wonder what Doug's dog looks like. Let's ask Doug. 
 What does your dog look like? 
"My dog is scruffy."

So, Doug's dog is a scruffy dog. 
Call, "Here, Scruff!" to all the scruffy dogs. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari pictures by Patrice Barton

image credit

Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari pictures by Patrice Barton (2017)

Zara's dog, Moose, loves "Hello," Hello means all the good things in life. Moose hates "Goodbye," goodbye means all the bad things in life. So when Zara starts school, Moose just can't accept goodbye and being without Zara, even for a little while. Much the little lamb of nursery rhyme fame, Moose follows Zara to school, and each time it takes more and more people to get Moose home, and stronger (and sadder) measures are put in place to KEEP Moose home. Although Zara is in a wheelchair, Moose is not a service dog. But Moose loves being read to, and gives Zara an idea--she has Moose certified as a therapy dog so Moose can come to school with her. A perfect tie-in for any Reading Dog program at the library, discussions about service and therapy animals and a delightful read-aloud in it's own right. Say hello to this one.

Themes/topics: dogs, pets, first day of school, therapy dogs, service animals

Sample text from one spread. Moose has already escaped twice. 

Goodbye was being tied up in the backyard. 
Moose chewed through the rope. It was time to say, "Hello!"
"Hello, Moose!" cried Zara. 
Hello was having a book and someone to read it to you. 
"Dogs aren't allowed in the library," said Ms. Chen. 
"Moose will be quiet," said Zara. "She likes it when I read to her."
Zara read. 
Kids listened. 
Moose's tail swept circles on the rug. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Caring for Your Lion by Tammi Sauer illustrated by Troy Cummings

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Caring for Your Lion by Tammi Sauer illustrated by Troy Cummings (2017)

by AHK

When you've ordered a new pet kitten and a lion is delivered instead, surely some adjustments need to be made. Never fear, your new lion comes with some handy-dandy IKEA-inspired do-it-yourself instructions. In fourteen easy steps, learn to appreciate your ferocious new pet. This is a title where the illustrations add a great amount of subtext--sometimes adding to the text and other times subverting the text. Fortunately, it can be read to a group without needing a lot of interpretation, making it a good option for storytimes and class visits.

Themes/topics: Lions, pets, making do, funny, school visits

Sample text from two spreads: 

Step 10: At bath time, fill the tub with equal parts water and lion.  Then add a smidge of bubble bath. Be sure to have your camera ready for some adorable photos [illos. show boy and lion cooperating on getting the bath ready, then both in the bath with bubbles]

Step 11:  Post-bath, your lion is half his normal size. Do. Not. Panic. Simply grab a blow dryer and get busy. (Expect a teensy big of shedding). [illos. show lion going from small and bedgraggled to a huge "Fwoof!" of mane with fur shedding everywhere].

Thursday, September 14, 2017

We are Family by Patricia Hegarty illustrated by Ryan Wheatcroft

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We are Family by Patricia Hegarty illustrated by Ryan Wheatcroft (2017)

by AHK

There are lots of great books about families and family diversity, but this one is worthy of consideration for a couple of reasons. Although the rhyming verses are a little generic and scan better in British English than American English, the message is about reliance, love, and acceptance. One of the things I really respect about this book is the true diversity of family make-up. There's no tokenism, but a wide variety of types of families including a child in a wheelchair. Each spread deals with a different theme, and ten different families are shown dealing with that theme/situation. From poor health to playtime, it really runs the gamut of what it means to be a family. This one is probably best for one-on-one, though may have group use in the right situation. It is still worth having on-hand for display during a family-themed storytime and a good choice for most collections.

Themes/topics: family, love, diversity

Sample text from two spreads: 

When it's time for school, we dash out the door; 
Eager to find out what the day has in store. 
Our journeys are different, by bus, bike, or car, 
But family is with us wherever we are. 

When we feel sick, we stay in our beds, 
Family is there to soothe aching heads. 
They'll comfort and nurse and take special care, 
And we'll be so thankful our loved ones are there. 


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Fox Wish by Kimiko Aman illustrated by Komako Sakai

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The Fox Wish by Kimiko Aman illustrated by Komako Sakai #ownvoices (2017 US)

by AHK
Sweet and atmospheric, I love this intimate little story about sharing, kindness, and looking out for others. Roxie has forgotten her jump rope, so she and her brother Lukie head back out to find it. They discover a group of foxes playing with the jump rope and join in, playing together until dusk. As Roxie is about to grab her jump rope and head home, a little fox also named Roxie says that the jump rope belongs to her--she found it because of a wish. Instead of reclaiming her property, human Roxie lets the little fox keep the rope and her belief in her wish, simply saying that they should play together again soon. This title doesn't scream "storytime" but it has a straightforward first-person narration that older readers can follow without a lot guidance, and would be great for discussion with smaller PreK groups and classes. Definitely worth adding to your collection.

Themes/topics: foxes, sharing, giving, selflessness, toys, friendship, kindness

Sample text from two spreads: 

The foxes were not very good at jump rope. They were good jumpers, but their tails kept getting caught in the rope. It didn't seem polite to laugh at them, even though they looked so funny. But Lukie couldn't help it. 

At that, the foxes dropped the rope. "What was that?" asked the smallest one. It didn't seem polite to spy on them either, so we tiptoed out from the tree's shadow. "Hi," I said. "Oh, thank heavens!" said a fox. "by any chance might you be able to teach us how to jump rope without tripping?"

Friday, September 8, 2017

Bob, NOT Bob! by Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick illustrated by Matthew Cordell

image source:
By Mary K.
Bob, Not Bob! by Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick illustrated by Matthew Cordell (2017)

The cover and title page instruct those reading this sweet, silly tale out loud to read it “as though you have the worst cold ever” and therein lies the joke. When Louie catches a cold, all he really wants is his Mom. But how to you let Mom know you need her when your nose is all stuffed up and saying her name sounds like “Bob?” Oh, and it just so happens their pet dog’s name guessed it! Bob. Through several days of illness Louie gets more and more frustrated as he calls for him mom and instead of the snuggle he wants his dog comes running. This leaves everyone confused until, finally, his Mom just decides to lay down with Louie (and Bob). There are a few smaller vignettes in the illustrations that may make the book a bit more difficult to share with large groups, but smaller storytime crowds, especially older preschoolers and young elementary school students who’ve experienced feeling just like Louie, will enjoy this relatable tale. While the reader will really need to ham it up and make the effort to sound stuffy, the payoff in laughter and engaged listeners will be well worth it.

Themes/topics: family, illness, mothers, dogs, pets

Sample text from two spreads:

"The next day, Little Louie was even sicker. His lips chapped and his eyes gunked. As for his nose, you can’t even imagine. So he just lay there getting hot and sweaty, which sounded like “Hotten Smetty.” “Who’s Hotten Smetty?” asked his sister. “No. Not SMETTY, SMEDDY! And HODD!” Tessa didn’t know who Smeddy was. Hodd either.

Mom would understand. “BOB!” called Little Louie. His dog, Bob, came running. And slobbering. “NO! BOB! NOT BOB!” Tessa looked at him like he was cuckoo. So did Bob"

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Back Catalog Posts: Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler and Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

By Mary K. 
Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler and Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (2007

On the dedication page, we see daddy putting on a record while looking slyly over at baby’s crib. This begins a musical party where hands tap, fingers snap, momma and daddy sing while everyone dances - including baby! More and more family join in the good times, until the music quiets down and baby’s rocked to sleep with an “Oh, yeah!” Just try and read this story aloud without tapping your toe or clapping your hands! Christie’s illustrations move with the music in bodies with elongated curved limbs, and through it all, baby is the center of attention. Baby’s whole family bops to the beat in this surefire baby or toddler storytime hit.

Themes/topics: jazz, music, babies, family, stories with a beat, dance, noise

Sample text from two spreads:

"Cousins BOOM-BOOM. Neighbors hip-hop. Rompin’-stompin’ Baby goes BOP-BOP-BOP!

Mama swings high. Daddy swings low. Swingin’-singin’ Baby says, 'GO, MAN, GO!'''

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

New Contributor!

I'm so pleased to share that Mary Kuehner will be joining me in writing reviews for Everyday Diversity!

Mary and I became friends and colleagues way back in the days of organizing and launching Flannel Friday as an intentional community and website. She is an incredibly knowledgeable early literacy librarian, a fantastic storytime presenter, and writes a great blog of her own, Miss Mary Liberry as well as acting as a joint chief of Storytime Underground and doing amazing work with CLEL. We are lucky she has time for us over at Everyday Diversity.

For now, I'll be indicating who is writing the review at the top of the post, and Mary will *mostly* be focusing on pulling titles out of the back catalog so they are easier to find and search.

We'll try to focus on titles that are still in print, and will make sure to mention if a title has become hard to find.

As always, feedback is welcome and we'd love to hear if Everyday Diversity has been helpful to you in creating more inclusive storytimes and collections.


Back Catalog Posts: Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn

Image source:
Review by Mary K.
Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn and Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw (2012)

Lola loves to read (check out her earlier books Lola Loves Stories and Lola at the Library). So when she learns she is to have a new baby brother, naturally she wants to share her books with the boy. When Leo arrives, Lola helps out by reading to him: duck stories while he’s in the bath; potty stories while he’s having his diaper changed. She does other things too - helping with laundry and dishes while Leo is sleeping - but the family always ends their day with a story. The illustrations are colorful and large and Lola is depicted as a happy child who wants to help. This story of book love (and how books are great for sharing as a family) is perfect for toddler or preschool storytimes.

Themes/topics: family, new baby, siblings, reading, books

Sample text from two spreads:

“Leo cries a lot. Lola wants to cheer him up, so she tells him a story.

It turns out he is just hungry. Lola holds her best bear story while Mommy feeds him. She and Mommy read it together"

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rosie and Crayon

Rosie & Crayon by Deborah Marcero (2017)

Rosie and her pup Crayon are best friends. The short, poetic text tells readers how Crayon fills Rosie's world with color and happiness, and each spread beautifully highlights a different color. Of course, pets don't last forever, and Rosie is plunged into a sad gray world. One day a neighbor shows her a missing pet poster--he's lost his cat Inky. Rosie half-heartedly searches for the missing cat, and when she finds it she allows herself to remember Crayon and feel happy alongside her sadness. Instead of breaking, she finds her heart has grown. A grief/losing a pet story that isn't too intense for storytime fills a valuable gap, and this one fits the bill nicely.

Themes/Topics: pets, grief, loss of a pet, colors, friendship, dogs, cats

Sample text from three spreads:

Until one day, after a long and colorful life, Crayon was gone. 

The sky filled with clouds that pinched out the sun. 

Black became suitable. White worked like an eraser. And gray could mask almost anything. Rosie's heart zipped itself up, and the world became a cold, colorless place.  


Monday, August 14, 2017

Phoebe Sounds It Out

Phoebe Sounds It Out by Julie Zwillich illustrated by Denise Holmes (2017)

I love when a book surprises me. I expected this book to be a bit didactic, or at the very least follow the proscribed path of struggle, positive attitude, success/belief in self, but instead it allows Phoebe to It doesn't need to connect the dots for the readers, and I love that. Today at school the children are practicing writing their names, but Phoebe's name doesn't match the letters and sounds she has learned. After procrastinating and goofing off a bit, Phoebe gives it her best shot. Instead of telling readers what it should be, or having Phoebe learn a Lesson, her "Feeby" is simply accepted and praised by her teacher, "What a great start."  A perfectly encouraging and sweet story that makes a perfect tie-in for any name-writing activity.

Themes/topics: school, writing, names, individuality, phonics

Sample text from three spreads:

Phoebe had seen her name before. Mama had even stitched it on her ladybug backpack. But it started with a "P" and a had a whole lot of other letters that didn't make sense. Phoebe figured her mother had made a mistake. She didn't want Mama to feel bad about it, because everyone makes mistakes, even mamas. 

Phoebe put down her pencil and picked up another one. Then she held it under her nose and pretended it was a moustache. Ms. April was floating around the table singing quietly, "Just sound it out." 

Phoebe sounded out the first letter of her name. "Fffff." This was certainly not her her name began on her backpack. P was for popcorn and pencils. She knew the letter that made the right sound: one line and two sticks.  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Shawn Loves Sharks by Curtis Manley pictures by Tracy Subisak

Shawn Loves Sharks by Curtis Manley pictures by Tracy Subisak (2017)

Shawn loves sharks. No, he really loves sharks. But when the predator project at school is announced, Shawn gets...Leopard Seal. And Stacy, his favorite person to torment when pretending to be a shark at recess, gets Great White Shark. Sharks eat Seals. But Shawn learns to appreciate seals, and enjoys running from the Shark, er, Stacy during recess. Shawn goes from being a great shark, to a great seal, to a great friend. A sweet story about predators, open-mindedness, friendship and sharing, this would be a good fit for school visits, classroom read-alouds, and older storytimes.

Themes/Topics: sharks, friendship, sea, ocean, school visits, school stories

Sample text from two spreads:
At home, Shawn looked through his shark books hoping that what he remembered about sharks and seals was wrong. It wasn't wrong.
He hoped Stacy wouldn't find out. She found out.

Tuesday on the playground, Stacy leaned close and said, "Did you know that sharks eat seals?" Shawn nodded. "But not if they can't catch them!"
Stacy opened her mouth very wide and ran as fast as she could, but she couldn't catch Shawn. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwal

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall (2017)

Ooh, I love this one and can't wait to use it in storytime. Jabari has graduated from swimming lessons, and is ready to conquer a jump off the diving board...probably. At the beginning of the day, he oozes confidence, but as he approaches the diving board, his confidence wavers and he employs some stalling techniques to hide his fear. But with patient support from his loving dad...Jabari jumps. Not too wordy for storytime, with large clear illustrations and a simply told but relatable narrative, this is storytime perfection. 

Themes/topics: bravery, swimming fathers, dads, being scared, jumping

Sample text from the wordiest spread:
Jabari watched the other kids climb the long ladder. They walked all the way out to the end of the board, as bit as tiny bugs. Then they stood on the edge. They spread their amrs and bent their knees and sprang up! up! up! And then they dove down, down down. 


"Looks easy," Jabari said. But when his dad squeezed his hand, Jabari squeezed back.  


Monday, August 7, 2017

The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper

The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper (2017) #ownvoices

Weddings may not be the most common theme for storytime, but nervousness is universal. Jackson is very nervous about his role in his mama's wedding--he has to carry the rings! He's also nervous about calling Bill "Dad" and getting a new little sister, Sophie, who is the flower girl in the wedding. Grandpa helps get them ready to walk down the aisle--slow and steady--but Sophie forgets and is about to trip on a stair when Jackson catches her and saves the day. Jackson finds the confidence and comfort he needs within himself in this sweet read-aloud.

Themes/topics: weddings, nervousness, anxiety, siblings, family, remarriage, saving the day, blended families, #ownvoices

Sample text from two spreads:
Grandpop helps them practice, shows them how to walk down the aisle slow and steady. "That way you won't trip," Grandpop says like he knows just what's in Jackson's heart. But Jackson is worried anyway. 

The music starts and Sophie takes off. Grandpop nudges Jackson to get him going, too. Jackson walks slow and steady while Sophie skips ahead, ignoring Grandpop's advice. Mama's having a wedding, and Jackson has an important job to do, and no matter what Sophie does, he will not trip down the aisle!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story

Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story by Anna Forrester illustrated by Susan Detwiler

Jojo prepares a campfire, waiting for the rest of the family to come out for their loving evening ritual to watch and count the bats that emerge from their barn. Years ago, there were many bats, but the population has dwindled due to disease, and the family participates in 'citizen science,' counting and reporting the bat population numbers. Drama is introduced into the story since they are down to a single maternal bat, and they hope that they will see her with a baby, signaling growth in the population again.  The family relationship is warm and the story is well-told, making this a good tie-in for STEM programs, and older storytime groups.

Themes/topics: nature, bats, science, STEM

Sample text from opening spread--this is a longer story.
The sun is dropping behind the ridge and the red-winged blackbirds have quit their squalling, so I know it's almost time. Mom and Dad wash the dishes while I gather twigs. When my hands are full, I carry them down to the fire pit and pile them into a little teepee. I'm allowed to build fires on my own. "You know the way, Jojo," Mom says, "just keep and eye on our baby boys!" 


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Round by Joyce Sidman illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

Round by Joyce Sidman illustrated by Taeeun Yoo (2017) #ownvoices

Look around—what round things do you see? For a little girl who loves round things, this book explores the many places she sees her favorite shape, and the sensory delight she finds in roundness. This book doesn’t rhyme, but Sidman’s chops as a poet are on full display in the first-person narrative. The words, as smooth and rich as a ripe berry, burst in your mouth and beg to be read out loud. Yoo’s illustrations are soft and lovely, inviting readers to spend time looking. Just lovely!

Themes/topics: Shapes, outdoors, nature, friendship, the moon

Sample text from final three spreads:
I can be round, too…in a circle of friends with no one left out.
Or, I can curl by myself in a warm, round ball.
I love round things. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I’m Big Now by Anthea Simmons and Georgie Birkett

I’m Big Now by Anthea Simmons and Georgie Birkett (2017)
It’s always refreshing to find a new sibling book that is positive, and this one does a great job of honoring the feelings of the older sister, while still framing things in a positive helpful manner. To deal with her feelings of jealousy and displacement, she pretends to be a baby. In each case, a loving family member affirms her feelings and reminds her that she’s a big girl now in rhyming text.

Themes/topics: siblings, new baby, growing up, pretending

Sample text from two spreads:
The baby’s got his mushy food, he gets it in his hair. But I’ve got crunchy cereal and I sit on a chair.
“Would you like breakfast all mashed up?” Mummy teases me.
“No!” I can eat my big girl food with big girl teeth you see.

The baby’s on the changing mat and he’s not very happy.
I’m up on my potty. I don’t have to wear a nappy.
“This was you, once,” Daddy says.
“You hated diapers, too.”

“I’m a big girl, now,” I say. “I do what big girls do.”

Friday, July 21, 2017

Priscilla Gorilla by Barbara Bottner and Michael Emberley

Priscilla Gorilla by Barbara Bottner and Michael Emberley (2017)
Fans of “Miss Brooks Loves Books” won’t be disappointed with Priscilla, a similarly spirited youngster who clashes with her teacher over her exuberant love of gorillas. Certain that gorillas get their way, Priscilla resists following instructions in her class, and keeps ending up in the “Thinking corner.” A great read for class visits and older storytime groups, Priscilla learns her lesson, but inspires others as well.

Themes/topics: being yourself, behavior, school, gorillas

Sample text from one spread:
“Why do you love gorillas so much?” Her mother asked.
“They always get their way,” said Priscilla.
“Hmmm,” said her mother. “You already get your way a lot.”
“Not in Mr. Todd’s class. I was teaching lily my gorilla dance during nap time and Mr. Todd invited me to the Thinking Corner,” Priscilla explained.
“Did you do any thinking?”
“I was thinking how I don’t like the Thinking Corner.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed by Denis Vega and Zachariah Ohora

If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed by Denis Vega and Zachariah Ohora (2017)
When it comes to putting monsters to bed, don’t rely on parents—they’re no help with it comes to monsters. A series of tongue-in-cheek do’s and don’ts for getting your unruly monster off to bed include many asides and some body humor that will induce giggles with older listeners. Good for class visits and storytimes with older readers.

Themes/topics: monsters, bedtime, humor

Sample text from two spreads:
Step 6: In the key of screech, sing “Shock-a-Bye, Monster” and listen to those gigantic monster snores (along with the snores of your family and maybe even the whole block!).

Congratulations, you’ve done it! Your monster has officially gone to bed. You are the Master of Monsters, the Captain of Creatures, the Baron(ess) of Boogie Men! You’re so good, everyone in the neighborhood will start asking you to help with their monsters. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Love is a Truck words by Amy Novesky pictures by Sara Gillingham (2016)

This board book is a great choice for baby and toddler storytimes. The simple rhythmic text combines love of a favorite toy,  the love shared between siblings, and different kinds of vehicles--a winning combination that is just the right length to introduce some complex vocabulary and concepts without losing the audience. Sweet as pie, this is one your audience will love.

Themes/Topics: Trucks, love, siblings, bedtime, play time, vehicles, firetrucks, board books

Sample text from the first two spreads:

"Love is a truck, shiny and new.
Lights and sirens that go woo! woo! woo! 

Love is a fire engine, red as a heart. 
A ladder truck, spotted dog in the back" 

Friday, July 14, 2017

If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki Vansickle and Cale Atkinson

If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki Vansickle and Cale Atkinson (2016)

This is a fun confection of a storytime book. Our glum bespectacled protagonist is unhappy with her mundane pet hamster, and dreams of more exotic pets. She explains why each mythical creature would make a great choice but then remembers a flaw and moves on to her next choice. As the book goes on, each new creature seems less and less desirable, until she concludes that a hamster makes a pretty good pet after all. The final reveal shows the girl with her nose in a book and the hamster grinning out at readers with batwings and antlers. The verse flows well, pets are an ever-popular theme, and the main character is cute as a button--this one is a no-brainer to add to storytime.

Themes/topics: pets, contentment, wishing, mythical animals, unicorns

Sample text from two spreads:
"If I had a unicorn, 
I'd braid her silky mane. 
I'd make her silver horseshoes 
That tinkled in the rain. 

We'd prance through fields of posies
And nibble nectarines. 
I'd shine her horn with candy corn
To get a starry sheen. 

Unicorns are pretty, 
but they're also very shy. 

On second thought, 
I'd like to give a 
a try."