…storytime, books, apps, and ideas

hooray

Four more for the last of Picture Book Month! The first two books are fine pre-school storytime choices; the last two can be shared with older children and will certainly garner discussion.

Hooray for Today! by Brian Won

The story of an owl that is not sleepy at night and keeps all her friends awake is nothing new. But Won’s cheerful retro-style depiction of this story is one that will be welcomed for storytimes at the library and at home. Pair it with Won’s Hooray for Hat for a big Hooray party.

 

A Hop is Up by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Lori Richmondhop-up

Verbs and adjectives and thick lines — this easy-to-read romp with a friendly dog will be a fun addition for early-readers and for doggie-themed storytime. Grab this one for toddlers or your classroom and explore language and movement as you enjoy the ink & watercolour art.

 

Home at Last by Vera B. Williams, illustrated by Chris Raschka

This is one to share one-on-one or with a small group. Williams’ last book before shome-at-lasthe died will not disappoint her fans; this is another insightful, loving story of childhood. An orphaned boy is adopted by two dads. Life is good, but unsettled, until Wincka the dog saves the day. Raschka and Williams collaborated on this, and it shows in the warm watercolour art. There’s an audience waiting for this story, and those who find it will be moved.

Last, but certainly not least, is Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford and R. Gregory Christie. A seemingly simple poem about a very complex issue, this book is a history lesson about showslavery and oppression, yet also a paean to the human spirit. Christie’s folk-art inspired paintings set the tone, and show the backbreaking work that Louisiana slaves endured. One scene shows the slaves in their cabins, recalling drawings of slaves packed into ships. This is not a happy-go-lucky preschool storytime book. It addresses mature themes, as one would expect. But is also shows the joy experienced, ever so briefly, once a week:  look at this dancer, swaying to the rhythm of img_5596music. The first part of the book is all stiff shapes and hard lines. In Congo Square the lines become fluid, the movement changes, the art dances. The colours in this part of the book are yellows and oranges, warmth and light. The art in this book is amazing. It dredges up uncomfortable images, and then shows us joy. The Forward, Glossary, and Author’s Note extend the short text, making it a very teachable book. The paintings extend the story even further, putting unforgettable images into our minds and hearts. **Side note- -this one has taken the lead in my current favourite for Caldecott. It is scooting Ada’s Violin over to second place.

That’s it for this November… but there will be more picture books to come, and next November will once again be Picture Book Month!

 

 

Kid-lit tattoosimg_1951 are a Thing. I know, I have one. The Caldecott 2015 Committee has several tattoo stories. It is not unusual to spot a picture-book tattoo at ALA conferences. Last year in Orlando, at least 3 people at my table had tattoos from books, including this one from Miss Mary Daisycakes.  So, I started thinking about what might be the most tattooable books of 2016. I have my own favs, but I also thought I would ask the experts (aka, the other members of the 2015 Caldecott Committee who got tattoos).

Roger Kelly chose the little monkey from The Airport Book by Lisa Brown, Roaring Brook Press. I can definitely see this charismatic character as a tattoo, and I can see why Roger chose it. Besides being cute, this little monkey serves to move the story forward in a visual manner. Monkey provides tension and story, relevant to a young reader,  in a book that would otherwise just be about taking an airplane  trip. roger-airport

adrienne-hat-1Adrienne Furness chose the “shifty-eyed turtle” from Jon Klassen’s We Found A Hat;  Candlewick Press. She says “every single time I look at this book, which has been a lot, he makes me laugh.” I agree with Adrienne; those eyes do so much to tell the story and show us the complicated emotions of the turtle characters.

Sharon McKellar weighed in with a book I was not very familiar with, but have since come to appreciate. The art is something to pore over, and would certainly be lovely as a tattoo. Sharon chose the foxes from 123 Dream by Kim Krans; Random House. sharon-123-dreamI wonder if these two baby foxes appeal to her mother-of-twins heart. That mama fox is fiercely watching over those kits. Sharon says she’d put this on the back of her shoulder. If  you don’t know this book, take a look at it. Beautiful pen and ink renderings of flora and fauna.

Ok, now for my choices. I couldn’t pick just one. Good thing I don’t live near a tattoo shop like Black & Blue in San Francisco (where Roger, Sharon, Victoria Stapleton, and I got our Caldetatts). Because I’d likely have very little ink-free skin if I did! My first choice would be a large back piece of the tree dragon from The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers; Schuster Books for Young Readers. I love the detail and all the leaves. This tattoo would probably hurt like the dickens because in order for it to be effective, it would have to be a wholimg_4319e back piece, maybe with those tree trunks wrapping around the waist. This whole book is gorgeous, but this dragon really stopped me in my tracks.

Next up is a playful choice from Thunder Boy Jr., by Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Yuyi Morales; Little, Brown, and Company. The colours and movement in this book are soimg_5594 appealing, and there are so many little details to look at. This little alligator toy really makes me happy, though, and I would certainly be fine with having it permanently on my skin.

So, do tattooable books make award winners? We will just have to see, won’t we? I certainly think all of these books have amazing illustrations. They all speak to picture-book lovers for some reason. What do you think? Do YOU have a tattooable choice for a book published in 2016? Tell me in the comments!

 

If you just tuned in from Carpool Book Club, Episode Two, here’s the promised list of books we discussed. If you missed Carpool Book Club, quick, go watch the latest episode RIGHT HERE. I promise, I will give you the booklist, but first, a little about Carpool Book Club. The idea came about after an hour-long drive with a friend who loves picture books as much as I do. We spent the whole drive talking about books. And we thought it would be fun to turn that concept into a video. A img_5590year later, we’ve started to try it out — so far it has been Jai Soloy and myself, Angela Reynolds. But we hope to have guests in the future, and we hope to talk about all sorts of books. We are still working out technical and sound issues, but we are having fun with it.

The books! (if I have previously blogged about these, links go there – if not, links go to our library catalogue).

Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat

 

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

 

There’s a Part Two of this episode in the wings. Let us know in the comments if you want to see it!

Here are a few more books that crossed my path and made me take note.

king-birdsThe King of the Birds by Acree Graham Macam, illustrated by Natalie Nelson

Hand-drawn &  collage chickens, peacocks, and other fowl strut across the thick paper pages of this book based on Flannery O’Connor’s youth spent with birds. This book fits into the “absurd children’s books” category, but it works. An odd story about a girl who loves birds, and a bird who needs a bit of attention, this will likely appeal to any child growing up on a farm. City kids will be enchanted as well. The illustrations are really fun, and the story is a charmer.

 

Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol leave-me

A skeleton-faced granny with a big family has to go to the moon to get some time to knit. But on the moon, there are lots of curious aliens. The only quiet place is inside a wormhole. This is what might be described as a mashup of the Old Woman Who Lived in A Shoe and Star Trek, but as odd as it sounds, it works. The illustrations are funny and the cartoon style works perfectly – excellent pacing, white space, and layout. Anyone who has tried to find a quiet space to get away from the crowd of family, but then misses that companionship will relate. A fun discussion book for classrooms, and will work in storytimes, too.

 

mervinMervin the Sloth is about to do the Best Thing in the World by Colleen AF Venable, illustrated by Ruth Chan

Sometimes, simple IS better. The design of this book is what drew me to it. It uses text as part of the illustration – the text is repeated, but the story moves along with lively pacing — it feels like a wordless book, and yet it has words. Simple line changes and introduction of characters in the illustration tell the story – and you really do want to know what Mervin the Sloth is about to do. As the cast of characters increases, the story builds. The illustration takes the lead; the cartoon animals joyfully wait to see what Mervin is going to do, as will readers.

 

 

What are your current picture book favs? Tell us in the comments!

 

Fsor adasPicture Book Month, I will be posting new books each week. This week I want to feature one book that I am particularly fond of.  Last year my PBM favourite, Finding Winnie, happened to win the Caldecott Award. Just saying.

The book I am loving right now is Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport. First off, let’s talk about the story. This is based on the true story of a small town of Cateura, Paraguay, which is the location of the main garbage dump for the capital city of Asuncion. Garbage is the main employer of most of the town’s residents — they spend their time picking through looking for something of value to sell or recycle. As you can imagine, poverty is rampant, and life is hard. Ada, the main character, wants more than joining a gang. Her grandmother signs her up for music lessons, and when Ada and the other children arrive, the find there are only a few instruments and they all have to share. An enterprising man builds them instruments from garbage, and an orchestra is born. You may have seen this on YouTube or on social media, their story has been shared often. This book tells the story for a younger audience without talking down to them, and yet putting the social issues at the forefront.

The story is one that will grab readers of a wide age range.  The illustrations are what grabbed me. Comport uses light and shadow to visually draw our attention to important parts of the story. The text does not point this out, and so Comport’s illustration deadas1epens the story and extends the meaning for readers. In this spread, Ada notices the gangs of teens hanging out in alleys. She and her sister are in shadow as well, as though they are uncertain if their future is to be in the sunlight playing, like the middle of this spread, or like the teens in the alley.

Her use of yellow to denote light is seen throughout the book. A simple line of yellow paint shows light on a face, a drum, a violin. An she uses line to draw the eye along the page, using crisp triangles that remind us of tadas2he spotlights that later shine on the orchestra as they play onstage. This spread, of Ada playing her landfill violin, is a fine example of both light and line. You can also see the little bits of paper collage, with music notes on them. She’s used reclaimed materials in the art which remind us of the reclaimed materials used for the instruments.

Take a look at this one – you will be amazed at the art and the story. I would not be at all surprised if the Caldecott Committee is taking a look at it as well. Have you seen this book? Leave your observations in the comments.

Come back next week for more picture books!

 

 

 

Autumn bounty

It is Autumn, and the new books are falling in like leaves off a tree. Autumn is the height of publishing season, so here’s a batch of picture books to keep your reading pile stacked high.

I won a what?  – by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Robert Neubecker

A boy wins a whale at the circus. His parents have said no to anything with fur or feathers, so when he wins this they let him keep it. The whale, named Nuncio, starts to become a problem and Dad says it has to go, but the resourceful child finds ways to make Nuncio indispensable for the family. The illustrations playfully match the tone of the story, with bright swathes of primary colours. Added bonus, the family has dark skin, adding to the stack of books that do not feature blond-haired white kids.

city-shape City Shapes – by Diana Murray, illustrated by Bryan Collier

This jaunty rhyme makes this a good one for storytime sharing, and looking for shapes is always fun. Collier’s watercolour and collage art add depth to the rhyme, and he takes us inside a cityscape filled with circles, triangles, rectangles, diamonds, & ovals. Your next trip to the city may just be filled with shape sightings. Love the nearly-abstract cityscape end pages.

 

Princess! Fairy! Ballerina! by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

The sparkly cover will draw in many a young reader. The cast of characters includes a dark-skinned princess, so chalk up one more for diversity. And the story turns the typical sparkly girlie book upside down at the end when they cast off their wings, crowns, and tutus for mud boots. The story is spare, but the illustrations are fun and the message is full of girl power.

One Hundred Bones – Yuval Zommer

This British import will satisfy dog lovers and dinosaur fans in one fell swoop. The digital illustrations have a watercolour feel that reminds me somewhat of Chris Raschka’s work. The story of dogs finding dinosaur bones is nothing new, but there’s a little message about friendship that makes this one a bit more special. A fine choice for storytime.airport

The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

Definitely take a peek under the cover of this one to see the varied cast. The book begins on the end pages – in fact, the whole book is so well designed – the flow, and movement, the whole package is well done. The feel of an airport is so well captured the illustration as we follow this biracial family on their way to visit grandparents.  The airport is filled with people – punks, elderly folks, a man in a headscarf, people in wheelchairs, fancy folk, and families of all sorts. The action is a perfect capture of a trip to the airport and on the plane. A good storytime book and also a great one to recommend to families preparing to travel.

 Explowl-seesorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson

This simple story, which takes a lesson from Blueberries for Sal, will appeal to a wide audience. Tow explorers — a boy and a bear – finally run into each other and then become great pals. The illustrations make it fun — a dark-skinned boy and a little bear cub traipse through the woods in a nicely designed page-layout. For the first part of the book, there’s a big tree trunk separating the two explorers, but one they meet, the illustration becomes full-spread. The art features all the luck colours of the woods— greens and browns and oranges and yellows. A fun romp for lap sharing or storytime.

 Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin & Rob Dunlavey

In just a few words, a night-time owl adventure takes place. The pacing swooshes along as the baby owl explores the blue world of night. The watercolor, coloured pencils, and collage illustration fits and moves the story along.  Good choice for quiet toddler storytime and for young readers figuring out new words.

Oh, Canada!

A huge stack of books is sitting on my living room floor. At least half of them are from Canadian publishers, authors, or illustrators. I bet you can guess what this post is going to focus on. So, here we go!

darkestI’ve been waiting to get my hands on The Darkest Dark, by Chris Hadfield, illustrated by the Fan Brothers (Tundra Books).  Hadfield wowed me from space with his photos and songs, and the Fan Brothers wowed me with their book The Night Gardener , so I was really looking forward to this one. I was not disappointed. It is the story of a boy who loves everything about the moon, but is afraid of the dark. His love for outer-space helps him overcome his fear, and gives hope to all young dreamers. Based on Hadfield’s own life, this story will be a hit in classrooms and storytimes. And the illustrations! Oh, those pictures will grab the reader and have them looking at every detail. It is a beauty, so don’t miss it. Smells nice, too.

From Canadian publisher Second Story Press and Plan International comes As A Boy. We know that around the world, boys are treated differently than girls. This book explores that, and gives boys solutions to helping create equality for any gender. Full of beautiful photographs, this is an interesting way to explore gender.

Two new books from Sara O’Leary is cause to celebrate. First off is You are Two, illustrated by Karen Klassen. The bright collage and paint pictures will appeal to the newly two-year olds at your toddler storytimes, and they will relate to the gentle text that we expect from O’Leary’s child-view books. I’m really excited about A Family is a Family is a Family, illustrated by Qin Leng. The title says it all– O’Leary explores so many types of families – this book is geared to be uber-inclusive. Leng’s cartoon drawings are just right for the book’s tone. family

Go really local with Doretta Groenendyk’s new book, A Harbour Seal in Halifax, from Nimbus Publishing.  Based on a true story about a lost seal pup, and filled with the cool blues and whites of a winter night, this book by Valley resident Groenendyk will be a fun one to share.

Staying with the night theme, pick up Turn on the Night by Geraldo Valerio (Groundwood Books). A wordless night-time romp bounds across the pages as a little girl’s imagination is brought to life with acrylic paint.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not the sportsy type. I will admit it here in public: I’ve never been to a hockey gamturn-nighte (but I have watched curling, so that has to count for something, eh?) So it may surprise you to see me recommend The Hockey Song, a book based on the Stompin’ Tom Connors song, illustrated by Gary Clement (Greystone Books). Everyone is playing hockey in this book – boys, girls, moms, dads, all ages, all races. The illustrations made me look again and again. kulu

Sweetest Kulu, written by Celina Kalluk and illustrated by Alexandra Neonakis (Inhabit Media) is not new — it was published in 2014. But is is new to us, and it is time we owned this lovely little ode to a newborn. Set in the Arctic, it is filled with animals and plants that bring the region right into the lap you are sharing with this book. The paintings are full of light and movement, and fit the words just right.

For Teachers:

Staying with the First Nations theme, I have two longer books to recommend for teachers. First up is The Spirit of the Sea by Rebecca Hainnu, illustrated by Hwei Lim (Inhabit Media, 2014). This is an Inuktitut story of a proud girl who becomes a sea spirit. I would recommend it for orcaolder readers, maybe grades 3-5, as the story deals with deception, cowardice, and other issues that need maturity in order to appreciate. Full of lovely watercolour illustrations, and it even includes a helpful pronunciation guide.

 

And last, but not least, is Orca Chief by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd (Harbour Publishing, 2015). This British Columbia tale is illustrated with iconic paintings that evoke aboriginal art from the northwest. The story is one that teaches respect for nature and for our food sources. These two books would be perfect for a First Nations study.