…storytime, books, and ideas

Archive for the ‘storytime’ Category

Fun for storytime

Here’s a few books that are fun for storytime, plus a bonus book that’s just too pretty not to share. First up, the storytime books. Pssst…. If you have an AVRL library card, links are provided for titles so all you have to do is click and place your holds!

I love a book that gets kids shouting in the library. Some of my favourites include Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Is Everyone Ready for Fun? . Now, get ready for fun with Crunch the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli. Dunlap’s text involves kids right off by asking kids to say hello to this shy dinosaur.  (Of course they are going to scare away the shy dino.) The book teaches kids all about shyness in such a fun way they will never know they are being schooled. The story is expertly paired with Pizzoli’s chunky shapes and bright colours, which he can always pull off and turn into a fantastic work of art. Pizzoli even sneaks in a bit of gender-bending with the frilly flowered hat on a male dinosaur.   This book will be one of your favourites for Dinosaur Storytime. Go ahead an buy an extrbook cover: good day for a hata copy now.

Speaking of hats… hat stories are always fun, and A Good Day for a Hat by T. Nat Fuller, illustrated by Rob Hodgson, is no exception. This simple story of a bear who seems to have the right hat for every occasion will fit right in with your hat storytimes. Pair it with Hooray for Hat and Caps for Sale, and you’ve got a themed storytime all ready to go.

If you want to add some physical activity into storytime, pull out Everybunny Dance! Dancing, playing, running, cheering, these bunnies are having a rootin’ tootin’ good time, and so will your storytime kids. There’s another title featuring the same bunnies that will add some math into storytime, Everybunny Count!  These would be fine choices for the non-secular Easter season storytime theme — Bunnies!

book cover: i just ate my friendIf you have older kids or maybe an elementary school group visiting, you could try I Just Ate my Friend by Heidi McKinnon. This one falls into the “slightly absurd” group of storytime books, but I love using these with kids who will giggle uncontrollably. As a bonus, this book also could be used to teach about size comparison in math classes. It is funny and silly and would also be a fine choice for reading to adults.

If you want to add a bit of poetry and diversity into storytime, Seeing into Tomorrow, with haiku by Richard Wright and illustrations by Nina Crews is a fine choice. This book is also a really good introduction to poetry, and includes a short biography of Wright. Read it aloud and enjoy the beauty of the language and the imabook cover: seeing into tomorrowges evoked by the words that are illustrated by Crews’ photographs. Vocabulary bonanza!

This one may be only for those who can fit a longer book into storytime, or for classroom use. The cover right away makes you think this is a story you already know. There’s a wolf, there’s a little girl in a red dress, and they are in the woods. However, this is a different kind of wolf. Re-imagined by Metis writer book cover: girl and the wolfKatherena Vermette and illustrated by Julie Flett, The Girl and the Wolf turns Little Red Riding Hood into a nature study. It is fresh, well-told, and certainly should be in your collections!


And now, for the book that is just too pretty to leave out. It is called The Forest, by Riccardo Bozzi, illustrated by Violeta Lopiz and Valerio Vidali. It is translated from the Italian by Debbie Bibo, and published by Enchanted Lion Books. The book is a metaphor for life. Life is a forest, unexplored. Sometimes there are other explorers in the forest. Sometimes there are insects, and tigers. Occasionally there is a clearing, so that the explorers can rest. While the forest metaphor is well done, and the text is lyrical and gentle, the illustrations and design are where this book shines. The cover is a transparent book cover: the forestwatercolour wrapped around thick white paper. There are embossed figures, and paper cuts that suggest lines. You really have to see it to get the feel for this book. It probably won’t hold up terribly well to public library usage, but those who do get to experience it will be surprised and pleased. It would make a lovely gift book. Take a look at this one and immerse yourself in a very fine example of modern bookmaking.

That’s all for now! Follow me on Twitter @annavalley for more books and my #PictureBookPile tweets!

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.

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.

A large stack of books…

A large stack of books came home with me this week. Here are a few of them. More to come soon! duck dino

Picture Books

Duck, duck, dinosaur by Kallie George, illus. by  Oriol Vidal, Harper Collins

Siblings who find one another to be different will relate to this funny, bright version of the “ugly duckling” story. Dinosaurs are ever-popular, and this one will entertain your storytime crowd.

You Are One / by Sara O’Leary, illus. by Karen Klassen, Owlkids

Many different babies, who have just turned one year old, are depicted. O’Leary has a knack for capturing that one moment in a child’s life in just a few words. Parents will ooh and ahh over this one, and babies will love it too. This is baby storytime perfection.


Bringing the Outside In  by Mary Mckenna Siddals,  illus. By Patrice Barton, Random House

This simple nature poem will work well for toddler storytimes. The soft pencil sketches of a diverse group of young children help us enjoy the seasons. A gentle reminder to go outside and play, and keep playing when you come inside.


How to Grow a Friend  by Sara Gillingham,  Random House 

A lovely preschool metaphor – friendship as a garden. It must be planted, tended, nurtured. This may seem a lofty subject for a young child, but the retro-style illustrations will help young ones understand the simple concept. Easy to use in storytime, and a great choice for teaching, as well.


Daniel finds a poem by Micha Archer,   Penguin Random 

Rich collage illustrations are the perfect backdrop for the story of a young boy trying to figure out what a poem is. Animals give him an idea, and their literary responses help him “find”  a poem. Just right for storytime, and a great find for early elementary classrooms studying poetry.


For Teachers….

Ideas are all around by Phillip C. Stead, Roaring Brook Press 

Teachers looking for a book to start the writing process with their students will be happy to find this book. Take a walk on the page with Stead’s images – both in pictures and words. Help your students realize that ideas are all around, and that authors have to look to find their ideas.

Dreams of freedom: in words and pictures. – Amnesty International; Frances Lincoln

This “feast of visual stories – brave words and beautiful pictures” has something to inspire everyone. Quotes and illustrations from human rights champions and various artists make this a great browsing book. The images help make the quotes accessible to children. A wonderful choice for daily readings.

New books to enjoy

Here are a few new books that I think you will enjoy!bruce

Picture Books
Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins, Disney Hyperion

A hilarious case of mistaken identity – Bruce the bear loves eggs. When he buys some local, organic, free-range goose eggs, things go south, as it were. The eggs, instead of boiling, hatch. Now Bruce has children instead of dinner. Watch the grumpy bear change into a doting caregiver in this fun romp.

Red Yellow Blue and a dash of white, too by C. G. Esperanza, Sky Pony Press

A child paints an elephant, who then mixes paints and creates her own paintings. This fanciful book showcases colour mixing and art in such a delightful, bright manner. The action words make it pop just as much as the fun illustrations do. Add it to your artsy storytime and get the paints out and mix away!

be freind
Be a Friend by Salina Yoon, Bloomsbury

A boy, who does not speak, finds a friend in a Joy, a girl who is silent as well. Their friendship is made of similar interests and kindness. With sepia-toned illustrations that appeal to the senses, this book should get even the youngest thinking about what it means to be a friend.


For Teachers….
Flowers are calling by Rita Gray, Illustrated by Pak Kenard. Houghton Mifflin

This simple rhymed text will be a good addition to classrooms studying pollination. The flowers call to the pollinators, and the text gives a little extra information about how this happens. Nature studies will be enriched with these lovely watercolour illustrations that have the feel of lush landscapes. flower calling

New books for December

frog logHere are a few new books that crossed my path this month.

Frog on a Log? By Kes Gray, illustrated by Jim Field, Scholastic Press.

This book is jam-packed with rhymes, and would be a nice add to storytime. Bright cartoon-style illustrations will keep the attention of preschoolers, and they will get a phonemic awareness lesson while they laugh as the increasing silliness of animals sitting on things that rhyme with them. The ending will have them grinning, and some might even guess what is going to happen.

My Wild Family  by Laurent Moreau, Chronicle Bookswild fam

Does your family sometimes feel like a zoo? This retro-inspired French import takes us through the family of man and animal. Great vocabulary, fun illustrations, and a seek-and-find element to each picture will get kids involved in this story. And at the end, you can all answer the question, “What makes YOU special?”

Elephant in the dark  by Mina Javaherbin ; illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, Scholastic.

Based on a poem by Rumi, this can be a way to add a little culture to your book sharing. When the villagers try to figure out what the strange creature is that is in the dark barn, each feels a different part and describes a different animal. Similar to Ed Young’s Seven Blind Mice,  this one has a more folksy feel to it. Read the two books together for a comparative story session, and use a “feelie box” and let the kids figure out what is inside.

lizard park1Lizard from the Park by Mark Pett, Simon & Schuster

When a little boy finds an egg in the park, he takes it home and plays with it. The next morning it hatches—into a dinosaur. You can imagine that having a pet dinosaur is not the easiest thing, especially once it starts to grow large. A clever trip back to the park gets the dinosaur home, and the main character finds a friend. The secondary story of friendship is told through the pictures—and children will love looking for the friend once they see him. A pastel palette creates a soft world for this gentle story that will work well for storytimes for children who can sit for a longer story.

Gorillas in our Midst by Richard Fairgay, illustrated by Terry Jones. Sky Pony Press

If you can get away with absurd books in storytime, put this one on your list. Gorillas are everywhere, so make sure you keep a banana with you at all times. This is the basic premise of this import from New Zealand. Share it with kids who love a silly story, or give it to that reluctant reader who thinks picture books are for babies. Would pair well with Anthony Browne’s books.

beastly verse1
For teachers…
Beastly Verse by Joohee Yoon . Enchanted Lion Books

Looking for a good way to get your students interested in poetry? This book has retro-feeling, 3-color illustrations that really pop. Each poem is accompanied by electric-bright printmaking, and some have fold-out images that extend both the page and the poem. Follow a secondary story in the illustrations as you & your students explore a variety of poems featuring, you guessed it, beasts. From Blake’s famous “The Tiger”, to the very silly “Eletelphony”, there’s something in this collection to appeal to a wide age-range.

Picture Book Month!

There are few things that make me happier than a big pile of excellent picture books. Since November is Picture Book Month, I will attempt to post once a week this month with books I am loving. Here goes! P.S. Click the title link to place a hold! lenny

Beep Beep, Go to Sleep by Todd Tarpley, illus. By John Rocco. Little Brown Kids
If robots are popular with your storytime kids, this rhyming robot romp will be a hit. While it is a typical bedtime story, with the wild robots tamed by books, the robots are fun, and the short text (with some good vocabulary) makes it work for young storytimers.

Lenny & Lucy by Phillip C. Stead, Illustrated by Erin Stead, Roaring Brook Press
Peter and his father move to the country. Peter is scared of the woods, and so creates a guardian from a stack of pillows. Imagination is key here, as are the gentle illustrations which create the mood of the story. Might be more of a one-on-one book than for storytime, but it is certainly worth taking a look at this one. Look for thedrum dream use of line to evoke mood.

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle ; illustrations by Rafael López. Houghton Mifflin.
This is a poem based on a true story of a girl who wanted to play drums but was told that only boys play drums. Set in Cuba, the illustrations give us a tropical feel with lush, deep colors. The text has a beat, like a drum. Warm, sunny, and hopeful, with a positive message for girls.

Movi la mano/I moved my hand by Jorge Lujan. Illustrated by Mandana Sadat, Groundwood Press.
Imagination, beautiful design, poetry, two language—this book really delivers an experience. For a quiet storytime about using our imaginations, this one would make a splash.

The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein, Little Brown.
The absence of light—night. What happens when the light goes away? This book explores that idea. The text is soft and quiet, matching the illustrations nicely. Share this one for storytimes that need a little science in them, and maybemesmer play with turning the lights off. Shadows could be a fun storytime theme!

Of interest to teachers:
Mesmerized by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Iacapo Bruno. Candlewick Press
How Ben Franklin solved the mystery of Dr. Mesmer and started a scientific and medical “blind test” experiment is explored with lush, engaging illustrations. This is one of those non-fiction picture book lovelies that you just shouldn’t miss.

PS again! We are having a contest during Picture Book Month. Read our Feed Your Mind blog for details!


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