…storytime, books, apps, and ideas

I raided the New Book cart and found a few treasures. If you want even more, follow me on Twitter @annavalley and search the #PictureBookPile hashtag. Here we go…..

Nanette's BaguetteNanette’s baguette / words and pictures by Mo Willems  Hyperion Books, 2016

Rhymes abound in this silly story of a wee froggie sent to fetch bread for the evening meal. Nanette forgets the baguette when she meets her friends (one of them has a clarinet).  Once she actually gets the bread, another mishap befalls the hunk of gluten. In expectedly humorous Mo Willems style, all is well in the end. Or is it? Perfect for learning new vocabulary and reinforcing phonological awareness.

Chirri & Chirra / Kaya Doi ; translated from the Japanese by Yuki Kaneko. Enchanted Lion Books, 2016

Twin girls travel through the woods, stopping for tea, lunch, and finally the forest hotel. With soft coloured pencil drawings that are reminiscent of  Virginia Lee Burton’s “The Little House”, this book is a fun romp with woodland creatures.

Tidy / Emily Gravett. Two Hoots, 2016Chirri & chirra

Nothing wrong with tidying up now and then, but when things get out of hand, this over-zealous cleaning badger has to rethink his obsession. Beautifully designed and illustrated, this one is a real charmer.

Daydreaming / Mark Tatulli. Roaring Brook Press, 2016.

Henry is a daydreamer. His fantasy life is rich, diving into boxes of cereal and sliding into the alphabet. A fun twist at the end of this book makes it all worth the wait. As this is mostly wordless, may not be a first choice for group storytimes, but makes a fine book to share one-on-one.

Have yTidyou seen my trumpet? / written by Michael Escoffier ; illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo. Enchanted Lion Books, 2016 

Fun word play and a fine little surprise at the end, combined with whimsical illustrations make this a great choice. Teachers will enjoy getting kids to look closely at the pages, which reveal the word clues in red ink. For example, “Who is playing Frisbee?” shows a bee riding on a Frisbee. (The word bee is in red.) There’s plenty of humour and great vocabulary for young readers.

cover- town is by the seaTown is by the Sea  by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Sydney Smith, Groundwood Books, 2017

Occasionally, I have to devote a spot to just one book. I was lucky to get an early copy of this one, and as I consider a new Sydney Smith book an occasion, here we go!

Open the sparkling ocean cover to coal-black end pages, and right away, you feel the dichotomy of this book. Town is by the Sea is at once a love-song and a heartbreaker. See that pensive young boy on the cover? He will be your guide through a day in a coal-mining town circa 1950’s. He will take you on a journey from dawn to sunset, in town and into the mines, via Schwartz’ nearly-pastoral poetry. And yet— how can life be idealized when your father goes under the sea each day to dig coal? And when you know you will grow up to do the same? So “Town” is not idealized, yet to this young boy, it is ideal, it is real, “that’s the way it goes”.

The book tugs at the heartstrings. Many a Nova Scotian will recognize this town, even if they did not grow up in coal country. They will recognize the small-town feel, the sparkle of the ocean, the slow pace of life, the neighbourly characters, the deep sense of family. Though it has a feel of nostalgia, children will be able to appreciate the story, and it will be a welcome addition to classrooms for historical fiction study. With the re-opening of the Donkin Mine in Cape Breton, this book is the perfect way to open discussions bound to arise around safety and environmental issues. The timing of the book’s release is spot-on. boy at window with curtain

Sydney Smith’s art brings it all home with a thick ink line and an amazing ability to transform watercolour into light. Somehow he is able to make a curtain flap in the breeze, flowers bend as a bicycle rides by, and the on the next page, take us deep underground in a coal tunnel. The bright sun of the town above is in stark contrast to the coal-mining pages, which are created by filling a double spread nearly all the way with dark swathes of grey and black. At the bottom of the page, Smith gives us a small line of air, a seam for the miners to hunch over and light with their headlamps. Just when you cannot take this oppressive dark, you turn the page and go back to ample white space, to boys running, swinging, looking out at the sea. And then, back underground.

coal mineThe pacing of this book is impeccable. The design includes full-bleed pages, panels, blocks of time passing, and wordless spreads. Both the text and the art breathe with life, and in sync with one another. The book is out on April 1, 2017  — book launch scheduled for March 25 in Halifax! Highly recommended.

February is African Heritage month, and a great time to celebrate diverse books! For your reading pleasure, I’ve put together a booklist HERE. 

Here are a few books you really should NOT miss:

radiantRadiant Child won the Caldecott Medal this year. The book is well named, as it is absolutely radiant. The art sings, jumps, and prances about as the book tells the story of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Young artists will be inspired by the story of this vibrant young man.

One of my favourites of this year was Freedom in Congo Square, which I wrote about in this blog post. It got some Caldecott love as well, winning a silver medal. up-home

Looking for something a little closer to home? Try Up Home, by Shauntay Grant, a story about the memories of beautiful summer visits to North Preston.

Get inspired by Misty Copeland, ballerina, in Firebird. The illustrations leap off the page and grab the reader, and the story of this young ballerina will make you want to dance.

If soccer (or poetry) is more your thing, try Kwame Alexander’s Booked, the lyrical, jaunty story of a boy who bookedloves soccer, but is forced to read the dictionary by his father.

My booklist has a whole whack of great books – learn some history, get to know a new character, or just find a good book to read as you celebrate the rich culture of African Heritage Month!

I’ve had the John Lennon /Yoko Ono song “Give Peace a Chance” song stuck in my head for days—and here’s why. In preparation for moving our Administrative Office, we are weeding. Weeding old files, and also the books we have to move. As I go through the shelves and pull books that are old and worn and not being used, I keep hearing that song, only I am singing ‘All we are saying, is give THESE a chance.” These referring to books. I see so many amazing books that are languishing on the shelves that have not been checked out in years. Sodahlia, instead of weeding those, I am asking you to give them a chance. If something here sounds good to you, place a hold on it! Borrow it and see what you think. Give it a chance. This is a great way to discover books—place a hold on a book that strikes your fancy. Just grab your library card, click on a book link below, and place a hold. We will transport it to your local branch for pick up, and you return it there, too. Easy peasy.  Here goes (these are in no particular order):

Dahlia by Barbara McClintock:

A story of a little girl who gets a doll, but she’d rather make mud pies and climb trees. She finds out that her doll enjoys these activities, too. I love the message that toys can be what you make them, and just because a doll has frills and lace, doesn’t mean she has to sit around looking pretty and nothing else. And what that message says in general.

may-i-bringMay I bring a Friend? By Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

This one was published in 1964, and won the Caldecott Medal.  It is a book I never tire of reading. The rhyme is jaunty and fun, and the illustrations are joyful. Invite this book over for tea.

Several of Wallace Edwards’ books are sitting on the shelf. A classroom could do a whole Wallace Edwards study with the books sitting there.  His books are so much fun to browse—and he has a way of really getting the reader to monkey-businessstop, think, and look carefully. Teachers, get your students excited about idioms with Monkey Business or The Cat’s Pajamas. Solve visual puzzles with The Painted Circus. There you go, lesson planned!

Need some writing prompts? If your children (or students) need some writing practise, borrow one of Doreen Cronin’s “Diary” books, such as Diary of a Fly or Diary of a Worm. Kids will chuckle as they read these, and then you can get them to write their own “diary” – find a bug or animal they would like to take on.

book-womanMaybe this is just a personal one, but That Book Woman by Heather Henson is just sitting there, waiting for some love. This book is about a librarian on a pack horse who travels through the Appalachian Mountains in the 1930’s to bring books to families. Now that is dedication. Kind of like the Bookmobile driving through the back roads of Nova Scotia.

deerHere’s one that makes me happy every time I look at it: Deer Dancer by Mary Lyn Ray. I love the art, the movement, the colours.  The story of a girl who is learning ballet, but loves nature and so learns more about dance from that is one that really pulls at my heart. Maybe you know someone who loves nature and dance as well. Share this little gem with them.

I could go on and on, and maybe I will in another post. My challenge to you is to find a book in our catalogue that looks interesting, Place a hold! Bring it to your library. Take it home and give it a chance.

snowt-dayAs the snow piles up, as winter peeks around the corner, I start to think of snowy days. A classic snow book is The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats. This book won the 1963 Caldecott Medal, and has been a childhood favourite for years. Not only is it a a universal snow experience, it has diverse characters and can be found in nearly every library. So, in homage to The Snowy Day, and the first day of Winter, let’s look at some more snowy books.

Beth Krommes won a Caldecott for her art in The House in the Night, and she could be noticed by the committee again this year for the art in her latest book, Before Morning. The book is a short poem, an invocation of snow. Anyone who has ever wished for a snow day will love this book. The poetry of Joyce Sidman is beautifully illustrated in scratchboard and watercolour. I always admire artists that can make white look so enticing, which is exactly what Krommes does in this little gem. before

If you’ve ever been snowed in for days, Blizzard by John Rocco will bring it all right back. From the joy of no school to the stir-crazy house to running out of milk, this book captures a snowstorm perfectly. Don’t miss the centerfold map of the boy on snowshoes around his neighbourhood.

How white is white? Explore the many colours of winter in Arctic White by Danna Smith. Illustrator Lee White does a fine job of capturing the many shades of white as well as the blues and greens of winter skies.

If you want something light and interactive, try Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda. Tilt the book so the rabbit can ski downhill, shake it to make snow fall. Fans of  Tap the Magic Tree and Press Here will enjoy this bunnywintery romp.

In Peter McCarty’s First Snow, cousin Pedro has to be convinced that snow is fun. He doesn’t like the cold! We all have a friend or relative like this, so it is fun to see how the snow (and his cousins) changes his attitude.

Enjoy the snow photography and learn some facts about the water cycle in Best in Snow, by April Pulley Sayre. Teachers, add this one to your classroom reading for the winter! best-snow

If adorable little woodland creatures are what you are looking for, you’ll love Waiting for Snow. Those little critters are just so dang cute that I had to mention this one.

A gentle song of winter settles over the lovely world in Hawksley Workman’s Almost a Full Moon. Grab a cup of cocoa and snuggle up while you pore over the illustrations by Jensine Eckwall.

full-moonHow does all that snow get moved? By a snowplow, of course, Get inside the head of Supertruck, the super hero that gets the streets cleared so the other trucks can do their jobs. Your truck-loving youngsters will be happy to see this in the pile of snow books.

Take a close look at snowflakes with Snowflake Bentley. This is the Caldecott Medal winner about the man who first photographed snowflake crystals. Not only is it a fascinating story, the artwork will wow you as well.shackleton

Explore the deep snowy winter in Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill. If your readers love poring over minutiae,  this book will thrill them. Diagrams of sleds, what the team packed to take with them, and how they planned for their long trip are all drawn in fine detail. This one is a beauty!

Any I missed? What are your favourite wintery books? Tell me in the comments!

 

The bests

bestAs the year winds to a close, the “BEST OF” lists start popping up all over. I’ve gathered some of my favourite Best Of lists here in one spot, for those who love lists, who want to read the best in children’s books, or who might be looking for ideas for gifts for the young people in your life. Here we go!

First off, here’s my list of books I think have a shot at winning the Caldecott.

And my list of the BEST OF 2016. I’ve compiled this from lots of lists, including some of my own personal favourites. It includes picture books, non-fiction, and chapter books.

Jbrary compiles a list of storytime favourites each year. These are actually tested by librarians. And they give you tips about the books. This list ROCKS.

Here’s a list from the Center for Study of Multicutural Literature: their Best Books of 2016.

School Library Journal has a great list, divided in handy sections for the age group or type of book you are looking for.

Looking for holiday books? Horn Book has an annual “Holiday High Notes” to guide you.

And there’s also the Horn Book Fanfare, with their choices for the best books of 2016.

It is always fun to look at what the New York Times chooses as the Best Illustrated books of the year. Here’s the 2016 list.

My favourite new list is the Undies: Case Cover Awards. There are two places to see all the winners, here at 100 Scope Notes, and here at Design of the Picture Book.

And here’s a really nice booklist from ALSC, the Association for Library Services to Children — a booklist about Unity, Kindness, and Peace.

In-depth exploration of the Best of 2016 from Brain Pickings.

Ok, one more, just in: The Curious City Besties, featuring some books you many not know but should.

I’ll admit, I keep finding great lists. Here’s the Fuse 8 “31 Days 31 Lists” lists. So. Many. Lists!

All these lists should keep you busy for a while. What are YOUR favourite lists?

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!