…storytime, books, and ideas

Archive for January, 2016

New and pretty

Looking for some new picture books to share? Here are a few!
all yearAll Year Round by Emilie Ledue, Groundwood Books
A little boy and his cat romp through the seasons with active, un-rhymed poems. With soft, retro-style illustrations, this makes a good addition to seasonal storytimes. You could share part or all of it, it works both ways.


Where is Jumper? By Ellen Stoll Walsh Beach Lane Books
Walsh’s signature cut-paper mice cavort across the pages, looking for Jumper (a mouse). If you are looking for a simple way to teach directions – up, down, across, under – this fits the bill. There’s not a lot of story, but kids will enjoy looking for Jumper in the pictures, and get a quick lesson in prepositions while they do.

Goodnight, Good Dog by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Rebecca Malone Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
A little dog should go to sleep, but he does not want to. Finally, he settles down to drealittle bigm of the sun. Not much story, but those who love dogs will be drawn to this simple jaunt. With thick black lines filled with pastel colour, the illustrations are childlike and gentle. Add to pet storytimes.

Little Big by Jonathan Bentley Eerdmans Books
In this fanciful Australian import, a little brother wants to be big. But being big has its price, and this little guy explores that thought. With delightful watercolor and pencil illustrations featuring BIG animals (giraffe, gorilla, crocodile), this little story will be a fun addition to storytime or just right for a lap share. PS—I just love the cover of this one, with the giraffe’s neck as part of the text. Put it up on display and it will get grabbed right off the shelf.


wolfFor Teachers….
The Wolf-Birds by Willow Dawson Owlkids Books
This could work in storytime, but what a great classroom share this one is. I learned about the connection between ravens and wolves – something called mutualism – in this very readable picture book. When a picture book can teach an adult something new, teachers should take note! This story of ravens helping wolves find food in winter can work just as a story, but also makes a great jumping-off point for science and nature discussions. Illustrated in paintings reminiscent of aboriginal art, this ode to the natural world is one to share.

Bears in books

baby bearSome years you notice mini-trends in books. Ninjas. Water tanks of the New York skyline. Oceans. Yetis. And then there are the constants. Bedtime. Animals that say the wrong thing. Alphabet books. And BEARS. Always, there are bears.

Why bears? In some cultures, the bear signifies strength, courage, and power. A bear can seem very human-like, walking on two legs, catching food with those hand-like paws. In heraldry, the bear can mean strength, cunning, healing, and bravery. There’s mama bear, protecting her cub at all costs. Humans just seem to love and revere the bear.

This year, there are several bear books that made me take note. If you read this blog regularly, you already know my love for Finding Winnie. The Bear Ate your Sandwich is getting a lot of love, and I do like that surprise ending as well as the illustrations. There’s a little toy bear in Kevin Henkes’ Waiting, another of my favourites this year. These books are already winning some of the Mock Caldecott elections being held.

from "Bear & Bunny"

from “Bear & Bunny”

Have you seen Bear and Bunny, by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand? Pinkwater can certainly tell a fine story, and this one has just the right amount of absurdity for my tastes. Hillenbrand wryly extends the characters with a pastel palette of mixed-media, creating the perfect world for these fine friends. And in Lily and Bear, Lisa Stubbs brings child-like drawings to life with another friendship tale.

Want more bears? For the sheer “awwwww” factor, try Kadir Nelson’s Baby Bear. Those eyes get the crowd every time. I shared this book with older kids who just gushed over those giant baby bear eyes. Nelson also uses moonlight in the most amazing ways in this book. Because I am fascinated with Medieval manuscripts, I just adore Brother Hugo and the Bear. Try this one with older elementary aged kids who can appreciate a good story. A bear who eats books? Of course they will be intrigued.

three bearsIf you enjoy literary allusions in your picture books, test out the waters with Three Bears in a Boat, by David Soman. Find hints of Moby Dick, Huck Finn, and Where the Wild Things Are in this tale of three naughty bears who break their mother’s prized shell and adventure out to replace it.

What are your favourite bear books? This year has seen plenty of new bear books, I only named a few. Share your favs in the comments!

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