…storytime, books, and ideas

Posts tagged ‘wordless’

A pretty large pile

Ok #PictureBookPile fans, here we go!Book Cover: In the middle of the fall

In the Middle of the Fall by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek , Greenwillow Books

I always think of Kevin Henkes as an illustrator first, but then I remind myself that he is a fine writer as well.  His fiction books, such as Junonia  and Bird Lake Moon are well worth reading. So when I see a picture book written by Henkes and illustrated by someone else, my first thought is Why? This companion to When Spring Comes, also illustrated by Dronzek, makes perfect sense. The illustrations work so well, pacing the spare text and framing the season. Henkes has a way with words, and Dronzek has a way with illustrating those words.

Lines by Suzy Lee, Chronicle Books

A lone skater slides across the page, in straight, then loopy, then thick lines. She flies into the air, she twirls. She is perfection, until she falls, erasing her lines, and the artist crumples the page. But the page gets smoothed back out, and we realize that perfection is not necessary, that there are more kinds of lines, and Book cover: Linessometimes, the lines are more fun with others. A beautiful wordless book rendered in pencil, with signature Suzy Lee style.

Me and you and the red canoe by Jean E. Pendziwol, pictures by Phil . Groundwood Press

A poetic love-song to a morning on the lake is illustrated with paintings that feel like old postcards. Everything about this book shouts sentimental, yet it comes off feeling fresh. This would make a good mentor text for describing an event, and a lovely gift book that belongs in every cabin in Canada.Book cover: I wait

nipehon: I wait by Caitlin Dale Nicholson with Leona Morin Neilson, Groundwood Press

Three generations are ready to harvest herbs for winter tea. In Cree (two forms) and English, the simple text tells a story of tradition, working together, and respect. Illustrated with textured paintings, this is a book to share with many generations. Back matter includes a recipe for yarrow tea.

 On a magical do-nothing day by Beatrice Alemagna, Harper

A child accompanies Mom to a cabin n the forest. It is raining, there’s nothing to do other than play with an electronic alien game. Finally, Mom has had enough and insists the child go outside. When the game falls into the water, something occurs: a transformation. Now the child begins to be interested in the world around. Snails, mushrooms, and mud become interesting. The transformation is symbolic as well, it seems as though the child matures as nature becomes noticed. Mom looks prettier, and the child sees Dad in the mirror. Sometimes the child seems to look like a girl, sometimes like a boy, which adds another level to the story. The illustrations, done in dark colors, are detailed and lovely. A touch of the brightest orange draws our eye continually to the child. This is a beauty of a book, and it smells nice, too.Book cover: Smoot

Smoot: A rebellious shadow by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Sydney Smith. Tundra

Smoot the Shadow is really tired of his boring boy. He wants adventures. And so he removes himself and off he sets. Through Smith’s expert pen, ink, and watercolour illustrations, we see Smoot exploring and unwittingly encouraging other Shadow adventures, all the while being followed by the boy he belongs to. This is a nice story, and would make an interesting discussion book for older readers. Sydney Smith tuns it into a beautiful adventure: make sure you take a look at that central spread of Smoot racing across a wordless page of abstract watercolour flowers. Just fantastic.

Starring Carmen! By Anika Denise, illustrated by Lorena Alvarez Gomez. Abrams

Carmen is a one-girl sensation, what some might call “a handful”. She puts on plays, and her little brother gets to be… a rock. Or maybe a lamp. But when the family tires of Carmen’s always-on antics, she gets everyone involved and discovers her true calling- writing and directing. Illustrated in eye-catching colors, kids will be drawn to Carmen.

When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge, illustrated by Matt James. Tundra.

A group of kids wait for the moon to be full so they can go play hockey on the pond in the woods. The ice is magic, the moon gives them light. This slice of life gives us a reason to love winter, to remember the beauty of it. Rich acrylic and India ink on board illustrBook cover: Where Oliver Fitsation moves the story along through light and shadow.

Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson,Tundra.

A little puzzle piece can’t figure out where he fits. He tries several things, including changing himself to try to fit in. This does not work so well. Finally, he finds where he fits, which is just right for the story: he fits in the place where many different areas come together. Such a simple story with a big message that kids will get without being knocked over the head with a heavy lesson. The bright acrylic-looking art was actually created with puzzle pieces, glue, space unicorns, and Photoshop. Kids will love it.

For teachers

Tukuk Tundra Tale by Robin Currie, illustrated by Phyllis Saroff. Arbordale Publishing

Teachers looking for an easy book to share when teaching about the Arctic should make note of this one. With a simple story, plenty of information about Arctic weather, animals, and geology can be learned. There’s also Inuit vocabulary, and a short glossary at the end will help define any unfamiliar terms. “Animal Fun Facts” wrap up this useful book.

Storytime and books for teachers

After a visit with Erna Fraser at the AVRSB, I thought I’d add a new feature to the blog: Of Interest to Teachers. I know that teachers are interested in the storytime books, but I usually don’t mention books that are not the best for preschool storytime. Read on, teachers, and parents, and librarians, and everyone who loves picture books.

Picture Books


illustration from “Waiting” by Kevin Henkes

Waiting by Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow Books
Five toys are waiting on a windowsill. They wait for rain, snow, the wind, the moon. And one just likes to wait and watch. While this seems like an unusual subject for a picture book, Henkes knows that waiting is hard for young children, and in this book, he raises waiting into an art – something that we should all learn to do with calm. His fine sense of design and easy use of line to change the mood create a sense of peace. What are you waiting for? Read this book. Share the lovely illustrations with a child.

Zippo the Super Hippo– by Kes Gray, illustrated by Nikki Dyson, Pan Macmillan
Not only is there a character named Roxi the oxpecker, but the super-big hippo bottom will send kids at storytime into fits of giggles. The chance to say (several times, no less) “You got ‘em with your bottom” will result in a resounding cheer from your audience. Super-hero storytime just got funnier.

Fire Engine No. 9 by Mike Austin, Random Housefire engine
Onomatopoeia storytimes, here we come! This story is all told through sounds—and in the right hands, could be a rip-roaring fun addition to fire safety storytime, or maybe one all about sound. The illustrations are bright – lots of reds and yellows, and there’s plenty of action in the pictures, too. And there’s a diverse cast of firefighters, including a woman. Weooo! Weooo!

Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins, illus by Paul O. Zelinksy, Schwartz & Wade
Save this one for the first snowfall of the year. Bring it out and enjoy the story of three toys pals who go out for a snowy adventure. There are plenty of great words and ideas to get kids thinking about snow, and about the world in general. A sweet tale to share, indeed.Would make a nice pairing with Waiting.


illustration from "Everyone Loves Bacon"

illustration from “Everyone Loves Bacon”

Everyone Loves Bacon by Kelly DiPucchio, illus by Eric Wight, Farrar Straus Giroux
Everyone loves bacon, right? Of course, that goes to Bacon’s head, and he really gets it in the end. He gets eaten, that is. Some may think that the ending is harsh for young kids, so read it yourself and decide before you share it. If too much for your preschoolers, save it for class visits, because elementary students will love the humour.Look for the Canadian reference!

Music Class Today! By David Weinstone, illus. Vin Vogel, Farrar, Straus Giroux
Music class time, and one little child is too shy to participate. With a reassuring refrain, the class leader finally gets him up to dance. A fun addition to music storytimes, and the shy child in your group might just be comforted by this message. There’s a downloadable song, song you can sing the book, and an activity kit as well that shows you how to make some easy musical instruments. https://soundcloud.com/mackidsbooks/david-weinstone-music-class-today


Of interest to teachers:


illustration from “Float” by Daniel Miyares

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illus by Christian Robinson G.P. Putnam’s Sons
A young boy and his Grandma take a bus trip across town to help out in a soup kitchen. The boy asks questions along the way, and his grandmother points out the beauty in his surroundings. City kids can relate, and rural kids can get a glimpse into life in the larger world. There’s plenty to discuss here, and Robinson’s signature folk-art inspired paintings bring this vibrant neighborhood to life.

Float by Daniel Miyares, Simon & Schuster
In this wordless book, a paper boat goes on an adventure, gets very wet, and is then transformed into a paper airplane. What seems like a very simple story is made complex through the illustrations. Miyares uses a limited palette of greys and yellows to move the story along. Look for hidden messages and foreshadowing in this richly designed story.


Books without words?

I just love wordless books. And usually, when I tell people about them, and show them how much fun they are, they begin to love them, too. But I do have to “sell ” these books, as many parents or teachers will pick them up and think, “Well, there are no words in this book. How am I going to read that to my child?” Here’s how!

An easy exercise in a parent group is to get people into pairs, and hand out one wordless book to each pair. Tell them that they are going to read to each other– one starts, and halfway through, the other will take over and read. Then say, “GO!” and see what happens. Often you will hear silence at the beginning, and then, as they start to realize that they are now the storytellers, they get into the spirit. Children have no problem with this, being born storytellers. Wordless books are a great way to get children practising those early literacy concepts of talking and telling stories. They are using their imaginations and having an art experience as well. There are many uses for these books, so I am singing their praises today!

Here are a few of my favourites:

A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka. Not only did it win the Caldecott Medal in 2012, it is a fun story featuring a playful little dog. Open it up and start telling the story of what happens when your favourite toy is lost.

Another Caldecott winner is Jerry Pinkney’s The Lion and the Mouse. This familiar story is beautifully created in watercolor and sunshine. The Weston Woods film of the book is brilliant, too, with music that sets the tone of the story.

David Wiesner’s Flotsam was also noticed by the Caldecott committee, and for good reason. This amazing book tells the story of a camera found on a beach in gorgeous paintings that you can look at over and over. Robot Dreams by Sara Varon will enchant older readers with this story of a rusty robot.

For even more wordless books, try this link to our Wordless Books booklist. Enjoy the art and the story that you and your child tell together. Pick out a few of these and have your child “read” to you!

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