…storytime, books, apps, and ideas

Archive for the ‘picture books’ Category

Extra Info picture books

Maybe this is a trend– when I find 3 in one picture book pile, I deem it a trend. I’m talking about those picture books that include Extra Info at the end.  Like more about the animals, in this case. Here goes.

FiBook cover- kangaroorst up is If I Were a Kangaroo by Mylisa Larsen, illustrated by Anna Raff. In rhymed verse, animals of all sorts head off to bed, and then of course, the book ends with a child going to sleep. Not much new to this concept, but a gentle bedtime story is always appreciated, and the rhymes work pretty well. The ink-wash illustrations are gentle, too, in a night-time palette. What makes this story stand out is the Extra Info. The last few pages give young naturalists notes about how animals sleep. Some kids will just eat this stuff up.

After the animals are all asleep, we can call on Wake Up! , a poem by Helen Frost and illustrated with photographs by Rick Lieder. There’s not much text on each page, which Book cover with duckscould make this a good choice for beginner readers or toddler storytimes. The photographs are clear and engaging, close enough to see detail in each animal portrayed. And at the end, guess what? Extra Info! Just a little, just enough to intrigue a young nature lover.

Now that it is fully daytime, and the sun is out, let’s go on a beach walk with Ana and the Sea Star by R. Lynne Roelfs, illustrated by Jamie Hogan. Ana and her father find a sea star on the beach, and she wants to keep it. Her father teaches a short little lesson on ocean ecology when he describes for her book cover girl on beachwhere the sea star lives, and convinces her, and the reader, to let the star go back to the sea. Ana then describes the day to her mother, who is waiting for them at the beach house. This would be a good mentor text for description for young writers, and the Extra Info on the last two pages make it a good choice for ocean studies.

Do you have some favourite books that include this Extra Info? Tell me in the comments!

Want more books? Follow me on Twitter @annavalley for my #picturebookpile posts!

Advertisements

Review: They Say Blue

They Say Blue is Jillian Tamaki’s debut picture book, and I for one welcome her with open arms into the They Say Blue book coverworld she has joined. It will be released March 13, so place holds or get one ordered now.  I was lucky enough to get a preview copy from Jenny at Abrams (thanks Jenny!)

Let’s start with the case cover. Under the dust jacket that introduces us to the main character, there’s movement and birds. Black birds and white birds that nearly make a yin-yang of flight in the sky. Peek under there to see. On to the end case cover showing birdspages, which begin with a wash of yellows and close with night-time blues. I think these end-pages give us a hint of the passage of time in the book, which could be a day or a year.

We know Tamaki is a capable artist, as her Caldecott honor This One Summer proves. This book is, at first look, so completely different from that graphic novel for older readers. But is it? In They Say Blue,  Tamaki presents a child-view, wondering about the world. So does This One Summer, written by her cousin Mariko Tamaki. The poetic language of this picture book sings and dances along with the art.  As the little girl wonders about whales and crows and growing trees, the art burrows into our hearts and sticks there.

One spread really reminds me of my favourite spreads in This One Summer, where Windy is dancing around the kitchen table. The weather has finally warmed, and the girl is shedding her winter layers, running off to play in the sunshine. It demonstrates Tamaki’s fine handle on depicting movement. There’s more white space here, allowing the words to frame the movement, to give us time to think of what sunny warmth means after winter. She also uses colour to reveal warmth. Her use of line and colour in this picture book are swoon-worthy.

open book, girl is taking her coat off

from “They Say Blue”

open book, girl is dancing around

from “This One Summer”

 

There are so many spreads in this book that I love. There’s one showing the girl sitting “pretzel style” — the verso side is orange and the recto is red: the backgrounds swirl around, matching the text which talks of stillness and movement. Another shows the girl turning into a tree. There’s a spread where a blue whale can be seen under the speckles of paint that are water. I can’t decide which one I love the most. I may love them all the most.

One thing that always makes me realize that I am reading an excellent picture book is the pacing. The text here is sheer poetry, meant to be read aloud, rolled around in the mind. The text is surrounded by art that gives it a place to rest. But it also jumps around, like a child’s mind, then comes back to settle and quiet. Each page turn takes us further in and then brings us back. It truly is a work of art, this marriage of text and illustration. Jillian Tamaki has some secret alchemy going on here, and we get to experience it in this book. I can’t wait for the world to see this one.

Want more books? Follow me on Twitter @annavalley for my #picturebookpile posts!

Math, poetry, unreliable narrator

Cover of Grandma's Tiny HouseMy latest pile of picture books had a couple of math books in it. I’m not a big math person. I’ve been known to count on my fingers and I always use a calculator when it really matters. So when a picture book makes math seem like fun, I’m all for it.  Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood and illustrated by Priscilla Burris is one of those books.  Grandma lives n a small house, but she has a big family. Two turkeys and eight jugs of lemonade, twelve sweet potato pies… and fifteen grandchildren stuff the house to the gills. But the young child on the cover gets a grand idea– move the party to the backyard! The cartoon illustrations are filled with movement and joy.  Count the family, the food, and count on some fun when you read this.

In Sheep Won’t Sleep, by Judy Cox and illustrated by Nina Cuneo, the age-old problem of being able to fall asleep results in a young knitter counting sheep. The only problem is, well, when she starts counting, real sheep start appearing in her room. Then alpacas and llamas and yaks are Cover of Sheep Won't Sleepcounted. When her room is filled with woolly creatures, she has to find a solution. (Hint, it involves knitting). For counting by numbers, sets, patterns, and addition and subtraction all in one book, this will be fun for classrooms and for kids of knitters.

I found another one! Ants Rule, by Bob Barner, uses carpenter ants as the measuring unit. The flap copy says the book is a way to introduce “nonstandard measurement, comparison, and organizing and representing data.” There’s your fancy math terms! It is a fun little book which will have kids getting out their insect rulers.

I am a fan of poetry, and finding a really good poem written for kids is a gem of a moment. Add in fun art and a witchy theme, and I am all in. The Pomegranate Witch, by Denise Doyen and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, is loads of fun for older readers. There’s a huanted tree in town, with the best pomegranates, but it is guarded by a witch. One night a year she’s off galavanting with ghosts, so on Cover of Pomegranate WitchHalloween, her nice sister shows up and gives out treats. The book is written in a lively iambic pentameter, with a familiar rhyme scheme, and plenty of alliteration. It is a grand thing to read aloud! Don’t save it for October, though it will be a good choice to read in classrooms then.

And now, to our unreliable narrator. Start your fiction readers young and let them figure out if they should trust this girl trying to get rid of hiccups. In this import from Tara Books India & UK, Hic?,Cover of Hic? by Anushka Ravishankar and Christiane Pieper, a girl tries to rid herself of pesky hiccups through means of questionable suggestions. This could be used as a jumping-off point for talking about folklore, old-time traditions, and folk remedies. Just don’t try these cures at home! The illustrations are funny, done in nice lines and only a few colours. The book was hand-printed in soy-based inks, so also fun to see an international small-press book.

Want more books? Follow me on Twitter @annavalley for my #picturebookpile posts!

End of the year: Best Picture Books

wrapped gifts boxesNear the end of the year, the Lists start popping up. I’ve made an attempt to gather the picture book lists here. Some are from magazines, newspapers, and from librarians I trust. These lists ar perfect for gift shopping, or for placing holds. You know you’ll need a whole lot of books to get you through the school break! Here we go, in no particular order:

Just in! Tune in to the Fuse 8 blog for 31 days, 31 Lists, starting with Board Books

Publisher’s Weekly lists their favourites HERE

Here’s the Best of 2017 list from School Library Journal

Here’s Brian Wilson’s 25 Best Picture Books of 2017. Brian is a librarian in Illinois, and was on the Caldecott committee last year.

The New York Public Library lists their top 100 books for kids HERE

Kirkus magazine’s Best Picture Books of 2017

The New York Times’ Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2017

This is MY list of the best Picture Books of 2017

Here’s the TD Children’s Book Awards finalists for 2017

Chicago Public Library has their favourite Picture Books List

I’m sure there are more lists! If you have a favourite list, add it in the comments! And get out there and enjoy some picture books. As you can see, there are a whole lot of really good ones to choose from!

UPDATE! Here are a few more.

My friend Tess’s Mock Caldecott List

Curious City’s Besties

 

Picture Book Month, Week four

still stuck book coverIt has been a busy week, so I only have time for a quick post this time. I want to make sure that everyone has a look at this silly book, which gives me (and those I’ve shared it with) the giggles. The book is Still Stuck, by Shinsuke Yoshitake. It is a simple enough story, about a little boy who insists that he can undress himself. But he gets stuck. And he stays stuck, for a long time. He figures out how he can drink juice (straw), and pet the cat (sit the animal in the stuck shirt). But the real giggle-fest for me is when he decides to get unstuck, and take his pants off first. Now he’s really stuck and must accept Mom’s help. The image of that little kid on the floor, stuck in mid-disrobe, is just hilarious.

The simple line drawings, in cartoon-style, say so much about a child. Parents will laugh as much as the kids they share this book with. And a little laughter is always welcome, right?

Come back next week, when I’ll be putting together some lists of lists. (Yes, it is LIST time, folks!)

Picture Book Month: Week Three

It is time tCover of I am Bato look at the silly and the absurd. As an adult, I do love an absurd picture book. But you know what? Kids tend to love them as well. Not all kids, mind you, but I can usually count on these books getting a deep giggle from someone in the crowd. I’ve found a few new ones this year that fit the bill.

Perhaps my favourite absurd book so far is I am Bat by Morag Hood. A bat, portrayed in lino-cut prints and bright ink, loves cherries. Do NOT mess with his cherries. Or is it pears this bat most loves? Hard to tell, but the simplicity of the art and text are just right for me. And you may know a toddler or two who have similar characteristics as Bat. Or a few adults?Book cover: I love you like a pig

It is not difficult to find a bit of the absurd in a Mac Barnett book. This may be the sweetest absurd book of the year. I Love you Like a Pig is a silly, playful book that may leave you wondering what it is like to be a lucky as a window, but that’s ok. Because sometimes, being silly is just what we need. Playful cartoon illustrations fit the mood .

Two gorillas dare each other. The biggest dare results in the demise of one gorilla. I dare you to eat a tree. I dare you to read this book to a group of grade 2 kids. Funny, absurd, and that’s all I’m going to say. Read it and see. Oh Cover: I dare youyes, the title is I dare you, by Reece Wykes.

Two more books, both just plain silly, might fit into this category. Give me back my Book is a fun little jaunt with two um, things. A rabbit? A monster of some sort? They fight over a book but make up when a bookworm steals the book. Book lovers will have fun with this one. The other is There’s a Monster in Your Book — this one is what I call an “app book” — if this were an app, the book characters really would move when you tip the book to the left or wiggle it. But since it is paper, your imagination has to do the moving. Still, these are fun to play with in storytime. Just be sure the kids you share it with are old enough to know the monster doesn’t REALLY leave the book and hide in their room….

 

Picture Book Month 2017, Week 2

This week, I’m sharing a handful of comforting books. I’ve noticed a trend– books that promote peace, diversity, and comfort. The news of the world is not always pretty, and there’s a spate of books that can be shared with young children as a sort of bilbiotherapy. ALSC has made a list, Books of Comfort for Children, that has even more suggestions.

First up, there’s Salam Alaikum by Harris J. The subtitle, “A Message of Peace” is telling. The text is based on a song by a young British Muslim artist who is using music to spread the word of peace. Bright digital art accompanies the rhymed story.

I am Peace by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds is like a primer for mindfulness. Meant as a book to help teach children how to calm, it could also be a good reminder for adults. Reynolds’ line art is simple and calm, matching the tone of the text perfectly.

In your Hands, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Brian Pinkney is a mother’s love song to her son. It is part prayer that he will be safe, and part instructional life lessons. This book will be sure to generate conversation, especially when the end page of “Black lives matter, Your life matters” is read. Useful for classroom discussion and one-on-one sharing. The idea that the world is “in your hands” is seen in the fluid india ink and watercolour illustrations.

In What’s the Difference?, by Doyin Richards.  Friendship, diversity, and acceptance are portrayed through clear, engaging photographs. The book’s subtitle, “Being Different is Amazing” is fitting: the book leads us through simple questions about differences and repeats the refrain, What’s the difference? A good choice to share in classrooms or at home.

Even though it was written by the woman who ran for president of the US, It Takes a Village avoids becoming political. It is a comforting message to children and adults, that ideas can be shared, work can be shared, and together we can build something wonderful for everyone. Marla Frazee’s fine images show us a diverse world where kids and adults make a difference, together.