…storytime, books, and ideas

Archive for May, 2016

A few for summer

Only a few to recommend this week, but they are all winners.

Picture booksthunder boy

Thunder Boy Jr. By Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales. Little, Brown Kids

What a power combo for a picture book! Alexie has a pitch-perfect voice for the main character, and Morales has a gorgeous palette & joyful line to match the tone. In this story of a boy who wants his own name, Alexie gives us a peek into a father-son relationship that just happens to be from a Native viewpoint. (Alexie is from the Spokane tribe, and so we may intuit that their naming traditions are portrayed here.) This book is a lovely look at how a child feels about his own selfhood; it just happens to contain a cast of diverse characters, beautifully portrayed in Morales’ cartoon-realism style. If you use it in a classroom, read this link.


gardenerThe Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers, Simon & Schuster

Terry & Eric Fan are Canadians – so if you are looking for some Canadian content, shout hooray, because this book is a real looker. I am hooked on the art- shades of green and blue and grey alternating with sepia-toned pages move the story along. And the story is a fine as the pictures. A sad, grubby street is suddenly brought to life by a man who creates topiary during the night. A young boy follows him, and learns the trade. The transformation lasts as the Night Gardener passes his secrets along to this small, lonely boy. A gorgeous book, at storytime or one-on-one.

For teachers….pinny

Pinny in Summer, by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant, Groundwood

In four short chapters, this little charmer follows Pinny and her three friends as they pick berries on a summer’s day. They meet a seagull, and Pinny teaches them (and the reader) a lesson in patience. Teachers could use this as a writing example—the whole book takes place in one day, with several events that tie together. Child-like illustrations add ambiance to the text, but do little to advance the story. Put it on your suggested Summer Reading list.

More picture books, and a novel

This week, I have more picture books, and also a middle-grade novel I think you should pay attention to! good night

Picture books

Good Night Like This– Mary Murphy ; Candlewick

This book is just right for babies and toddlers. The way baby animals go to sleep is revealed by half-pages. Rich night-time colours and thick lines create the mood. A good choice for bedtime storytimes at the library or at home.

Alan’s Big Scary Teeth –  Jarvis, Candlewick

Get a laugh in storytime when this big scary gator gets his dues—his false teeth will make kids roar with laughter. Bright, fun illustrations in a simple retro style fit well with this story of cooperation and getting along.

If I had a Gryphon
by Vikki VanSickle ; illustrated by Cale Atkinson. Tundra

You want a magical pet, but there are problems. This funny rhymed tale is filled with charmingly fantastical illustrations and great vocabulary. The practical heroine of the tale considers the many reasons to stick with a fairly normal pet.
hungryHungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals  by Lucy Ruth Cummins, Atheneum

If you have a group of storytimers who appreciate Jon Klassen-style humour, grab a copy of this book to share. What does a hungry lion do? Eat, of course! Or does he? This book is quite clever, and the illustrations match the tone perfectly. I’m keeping an eye on this book, which demands repeat readings.
Rock-a-bye romp  by Linda Ashman ; illustrated by Simona Mulazzani.; Nancy Paulsen Books

A new take on an old rhyme, accompanied by folk-art inspired illustrations. The illustrations are fun, colourful and playful, making them a great choice for toddler storytime. Add in the rhymes and new vocabulary and you have a solid storytime choice.

 For teachers

I want a monster by Elis Gravel, Harper Collins

Another “unusual pet” story, this would pair well with If I had A Gryphon reviewed above. After she’s convinced her father she can care for a pet monster, a girl uses her guidebook to do so. This is great for a writing exercise: it is a fun story with a “Would you like to Adopt a Monster” prompt at the end. Easy to read and engaging, lots of details in the illustraymierations. Have kids writing and drawing when you share this in the classroom.

 ….and a middle grade novel to recommend:

Raymie Nightingale by Kate Di Camillo ; Candlewick

I don’t usually recommend novels here, because this is a storytime-based blog. But when a book like this one is sitting on the shelf, I have to do what I can to get it into the hands of readers. If you know someone who likes good characters, a quirky plot with deeper issues underpinning, strong female characters, and a couple of heroes, this is just the ticket. You know you are in the hands of a great storyteller with Kate DiCamillo, and so you just dive in and let the story happen. This tale of three girls and a summer friendship is an easy read, and one that will stick with you. So what are you waiting for? Find out who Raymie Nightingale is. Find out why she wants to learn to twirl a baton. Meet her friends Beverly and Louisiana and find out why they want to break into Building 10. The book is chock full of humour and heartbreak, both in just the right measure.

Shiny new books…

Since Summer Reading Club looms large, and is taking up most of my time, this will be a quick recommendation list. But take a peek, there’s some great new books heading your way.

Have a Look, Says Book / by Richard Jacksonlook book

Short, rhymed, and chock-full of new vocabulary, this is a fun one to share. Love the illustrated words that help kids learn the meanings.

On the Farm & At the Market / by G. Brian Karas

Perfect to share before a trip to your local farmers’ market! Explores how the food gets to the market, and what happens once it is there.

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood / by F. Isabel Campoybeautiful

Art lovers, take note. This book sings, moves, swirls, and pops with colour and joy. Take a grey neighbourhood and add paint and you have something beautiful. Kids might want to paint their street once they see this, so you have been warned.

Brave Bear / by Sean Taylor

A little toddler bear is cautious, but with help from Dad, carries on. Illustrated by Emily Hughes, this one is a real charmer.

Twenty Yawns / by Jane Smiley

Looking for a bedtime counting book? Find all twenty of  the yawns and you’ll be on your way to sleepytown. But what you really want to look for in this book is the art by Lauren Castillo. Look for her use of light, and be impressed by her use of thick line.

tattooTell Me a Tattoo Story / by Alison McGhee

Finally, someone has written this book. So many children have tattooed parents, and now they have a book that shows us that a tattoo can be a story.



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