…storytime, books, and ideas

Posts tagged ‘rhymes’

Picture Book Month 2017, Week One

Happy Picture Book Month! Throughout the month of November AVRL will celebrate picture books.  We’ve got two Picture Book Paloozas scheduled, in Middleton and in Hantsport, so come to one of those to see a huge pile of great books. Our branches will be displaying picture books all month long. Our Book Club 150 featured storyteller is Sydney Smith, and you can enter to win a copy of his fabulous book, Town is by the Sea. Each week, I will publish a new post on this blog featuring some of my favourite new picture books. Let’s start off with a little piece of brilliance from Dan Santat.

cover of After the FallSantat’s latest book, After the Fall, is about a famous egg who fell off a wall. As we can expect, Mr. Santat takes it further, and twists the story into a tale of resilience, transformation, and getting back up to face your fears or anxieties.

First off, this a a masterful bit of bookmaking. On the case cover, it is all white space with Humpty falling, his binoculars tumbling along. The opening end pages show the egg sitting on the wall, in bright sunlight. The back end pages show the same scene, at dusk, with a bird flying away. The end pages give the whole story a big hug, and give the observant reader a clue to the story. Look here for the Asian coin standing atop a building: in fact, there are several images throughout the book that give a nod to Mr. Santat’s heritage. There are hidden, dare I say “Easter Eggs” for those who know more about Santat, who has been very open about sharing the story of how he wrote this book for his wife, who suffered from extreme anxiety.

Next, the Wall. Climbing up the wall are vines which remind me of the shapes oHumput Dumpty egg laying on the floorf mountains in Chinese watercolour scrolls. The wall is dark, and near the bottom we see those binoculars, hurtling down after our hero. Turn the page, and there he is, strolling out of Kings County Hospital. The king’s men! I love these little details.

One of my favourite pages is next — the image of our egg, lying on the floor below his bed, because he is too mentally broken to climb up the ladder to his bunk. His eyes guide the viewer up to that height he dare not climb, to the comfort he is afraid to seek. It is a heartbreaking scene and gives us a huge hint to the rest of the story.

Humpty Egg stands by boxes of cerealThe next page is just brilliant. Standing in front of a wall of cereal, Humpty is still frightened of heights— and the best cereals, of course, are up a ladder. This image does a few things: it shows us how his life is hampered by his fears. It shows us the bright glory of sugar on top, fading to grey at the bottom: visual metaphor for taking the dull, unwanted thing because the bright feels unattainable. And it shows us the clever sense of humour that Santat puts in for careful readers.

The book visually guides us through the story: page after page is expertly designed to show the eye where to go, to show isolation, to show triumph. In the image below, the big diagonal lines cut the page and show us what is important. Look for these sweeping diagonals throughout the book – they imply motion and tension and move the story along. flying paper airplane

As you can see, I am quite taken with this book. I would venture to say that it might even be a better book than Santat’s Caldecott winner, The Adventures of Beekle: the Unimaginary Friend. And if you read this blog or know me, you’ll know I have a big love for that book. So I’m going out on a limb, or shall I say, up a ladder, and saying this is my choice for the Caldecott this year. Now, I’ve not looked at the books the way the committee has, and I have not seen hundreds of books in the way they have. But so far, this is my choice. You heard it here, folks.

See you back here next week for more picture books!

Guerrilla Storytime in Truro

At the NSLA conference in Truro we had a small Guerrilla Storytime. Only about 7 people showed up, but we shared a lot of fun ideas and had a grand time. The participants asked that I put together the ideas that were shared. Here’s what we shared!

A get up and move song? Monster Pokey! (Claws in, fangs in, horns in, tails in) , reindeer pokey (antlers, red nose, hooves, etc) Can turn just about anything into a “pokey” great way to get them  up and moving.    (In this photo, you can see the Monster Pokey in action.)     monster pokey

Bubble song that Lynn made up:  (Sung to the tune of Frere Jacques) Lynn uses this at Baby Storytime.

Bubbles, bubbles
Bubbles, bubbles
Pop, pop, pop   (snap fingers, or clap hands)
Pop, pop, pop
Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles
Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles
Pop, pop, pop
Pop, pop, pop

 …and Lyn’s best Play Doh recipe:

2    cups flour
1/2  cup salt
2    pkg. kool aid (same flavour)
4    tsp. cream of tartar (optional)
2    cups water

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium
heat until right consistency.  When cool enough to handle,knead into 2 balls. Store in zip lock bags in the fridge.


 Rachel shared some great ideas on saying goodbye at storytime—wave goodbye with body parts (nose, eyes, chin, knees, etc., and finally hands)


Tara does this at toddler time  – yoga-like activity:

Tall as a Tree
Tall as a tree (Stretch arms overhead)
Wide as a house (Stretch arms out to side)
Thin as a pin (Arms tight against side)
Small as a mouse (Crouch small)
*Repeat a couple of times.

Sing  “The Ants go marching”  with little laminated ants to each child. They march their ants along as you sing.

Use felt pieces or clip art for sequencing after a cumulative story – read the book, then ask them what came first? Pieces all on the board so they can choose.


The participants asked that I share the “Challenges” — so they could use them at staff meetings, so here they are:

*Show us how you’d get kids involved in this book (I had a copy of Juba This Juba That)

*How do you introduce a book?

*Show us how you transition from one activity to the next

*What’s the most fun storytime activity?

*What happens after you read a book?

*Get up and get moving! Show us how.

*How do you use puppets at storytime? (had a bag of puppets ready)

*Show us an interactive song or rhyme

*Share your favourite storytime song

*How do you get parents involved?

*Share your favourite fingerplay

*Sing! Teach us a new song!

*How do you deal with the wiggles?

*Show us how you use shakers (or scarves or ribbons)

*How do you use early literacy ideas in storytime?

So many books!

For my first post in 2013, I have a huge stack of books to share. Here are some really fun books that just went out on our shelves!

Chu’s Daa chu'say by Neil Gaiman

A little panda with a big sneeze is the premise of this fun little book. Play-on-words and quirky illustrations make this one a delight to share at storytime.

Squeak Rumble Whomp Whomp Whomp: Sonic Adventure by Wynton Marsalis

A noisy romp through the sounds around us. Make lots of sounds while reading this music-inspired book. Get the kids to chime in with their own sounds; make some shakers, drums, etc.  and get moving around the room!

I am So Handsome by Mario Ramos

The Big Bad Wolf is so full of himself that he does not even realize that his usual targets are afraid of him. This twist on the old icon is filled with wonderful language and great new vocabulary. Share along with a Red Riding Hood and 3 Pigs story, or pair with Jon Scieszka’s True Story of the Three Little Pigs for a wild wolf romp.

I’m NOT Sleepy by Jane Chapman

Little owl wants to play, but Grandma insists it is time for bed. She gives him a snack, tucks him in, and still he is wide awake. There’s not much new here in the plot line, but the illustrations are cute and the repeated phrase of “Hop, jump, flutter,  flump” will be fun to say with the kids. Teach them this phrase beforehand and add some TALKing to your early literacy storytime.

Polar Bear Morning by Lauren Thompson

Two little polar bear cubs meet and become friends. Short enough for toddler storytimes, and the illustrations are large and friendly. Good vocabulary builder for little ones. See also Polar Bear Night by same author/illustrator.

All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep by Crescent Dragonwagon aa all the awake

Not only do I love this author’s name, I love the alliteration in this book. It is a bedtime alphabet book chock full of letter sounds. Add in the big list of new vocabulary and David McPhail’s quiet illustrations, and you have a perfect addition to your next pajama storytime.  A big dose of early literacy!



The Reader by Amy Hest

A charming story of a boy, a dog, some snow, and a book. A gentle story to end storytime with.

Beach Feet by Kiyomi Knoagaya

Warm up your winter with a visit to this sunny beach. The illustrations are full of movement and, of course, feet.

Railroad Hank by Lisa Moser

Hank and his train are off to visit Granny Bett who is feeling blue. His misunderstandings send the whole gang up the mountain, along with some chickens, cows, apple trees and a pond. Of course Granny cheers up, and everyone has a grand time. The repeated refrain of “Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Woo Woo Woo” will get kids interacting with the story.aa mice

Mice  by Rose Fyleman

Lois Ehlert’s signature illustrations turn this slight poem into a fun picture book. The rhymes will reinforce phonological awareness, and the paper collage illustrations are just begging to be imitated. Would also make a great writing prompt book for early elementary classrooms.

About  a Bear by Holly Surplice

This simple ode to a bear is just right for baby and toddler storytimes, and would be a good book for those just learning to read. Bright, large pictures accompany this bouncy bear rhyme.


Ostrich and Lark by Marilyn Nelsonaa ostrich

An original tale illustrated by artists in Botswana. Two bird friends in the African veld spend their days and nights together. Lark sings, but ostrich is silent, until he finds his voice. Simple story with bright folk-art paintings to spice it up. Pair with an ostrich sound and some African folk tales. Lots of new vocabulary here, too!

A Kiss Like This by Mary Murphy

Perfect for Valentine’s Day or any day of the year. A sweet little book about… kisses! Smooch it up for storytime with babies and toddlers.

Let’s Sing a Lullaby with Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas

Not-so-brave cowboy gets distracted as he tries to serenade a couple of cows to sleep. As expected, Thomas delivers a fun romp, this time about bedtime.


Just in for storytime season!

We are getting loads of new books, just in time for planning those Fall Storytime sessions. Here’s a few of the best:

Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere-  A monster is coming to get you. Well, actually, he wants a big sloppy bedtime kiss!  A fun addition to Halloween storytimes, if you know your audience. The book could be scary for really young kids, so use wisely. Primary and Grade 1 will love it, especially if you ham it up! Lots of fun monster sounds to play with.

Eggs 123 by Janet Halfmann  – Counting and nature and lovely cut-paper illustrations combine for a fun guessing book. Add some numbers to storytime with this one!

The Baby that Roared by Simon Puttock – Fans of Bark George will find a similar story here. Mr. & Mrs. Deer find a baby something and all the animals that come to help seem to disappear, until there’s a big BURP! Kids will enjoy the silliness, and this one could be used for October storytimes with monsters as the theme.

My Dad! By Steve Smallman – Big bear dad can do all sorts of fun and useful things in this rhyming salute to fathers.  Great filler for Bear storytimes, or when Father’s Day rolls around.

Chico the Brave by Dave Horowitz-  A little chic is afraid of everything until he sets off to find the Golden Chicken, a fake superhero that his dad made up to help him conquer his fears. A fine little adventure for storytimes.

The Bear went Over the Mountain by Iza Trapani – As in her other books, Trapani takes a familiar song, expanding and illustrating it. Add music to your storytimes with this fun book.

Fire Engine Man & Train Man by Andrea Zimmerman – The story is slight, but the bright illustrations make these a good candidate for toddler storytimes.  Vehicle-obsessed children will cheer when you pull these out.

Don’t squish the Sasquatch! By Ken Redecker – Pretty much a one-joke book that goes on a bit too long, but the right person could turn this into a rousing storytime hit. Vocabulary & talking (well, maybe shouting) opportunities abound.

Simms Taback’ Farm Animals by Simms Taback – Fold outs show large farm animals, but to see them, you have to answer questions. A fun interactive book that will get kids talking.

A Giraffe Did One by Jerry Pallotta – If you are brave enough to read a story all about farts, this is the one to try! Without ever saying the F word, this book reassures little ones that everyone, some time or another, “does one”.

Where do diggers sleep at night? By Brianna Caplan Sayres – Fans of Yolen’s dinosaur series will recognize this rhymed format. While not as fun as the Yolen books, if you are looking for filler for vehicle storytimes, this will do.

I Like Old Clothes by Mary Ann Hoberman- Rhymes and recycling meet well in this paean to hand-me-downs. Pair this book with a dress-up activity for a fun time. A good excuse to hit the local Frenchies and let Kid Imaginations run wild.

Monkey’s Friends by Ruth Brown – Rhymes and guessing are the features that make this a good choice for storytime. Good filler for Jungle or Monkey themes.


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