Friday, August 22, 2014

Little Puppy and the Big Green Monster by Mike Wohnoutka

Little Puppy and the Big Green Monster by Mike Wohnoutka is a classic tale of an unlikely friendship.

Judging by the cover illustration, things at first glance don't look so good for Little Puppy.  Big Green Monster, with his stegosaurus-like spine ridges and sharp, pointy teeth, is fixing a decidedly unfriendly expression on him.  In contrast, Little Puppy, (whose head is about the size of one of those pointy teeth), smiles expectantly up at Big Green Monster and wags his tail.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Irresistible Illustrations

Never judge a book by its cover, so they say.  Though I tend to agree with the literal and metaphorical implications of the all-too-familiar saying, I have to say that I can't help myself when it comes to picture books.  Some are just so stunningly illustrated that they are irresistible.  And, on the rare occasion when those gorgeous illustrations reveal a beautiful story, we have something quite remarkable in our hands.  Such books are truly works of art, to be read again and again for years to come.  Here are few titles that have recently ended up in my "wow" collection at the library:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Bus

My Bus, by Byron Barton is a fun little book that's sure to become a read aloud favorite.

Joe drives a bus.  He picks up and drops off a variety of brightly-colored chunky-sized cats and dogs all over town.  As the animals board the bus the count is dog gets on at stop number one, two cats get on at stop number two, etc, until the bus is full of cats and dogs.  When the animals get off the bus, however, they do so in random groupings -(two cats and one dog, one cat and two dogs, etc.),  and with varying purposes and destinations, (some board a boat, others take a plane...) and so it goes until only one dog is left on the bus with Joe.  This is Joe's own dog, as it turns out, and the two leave the bus at the station and head for home in Joe's little car.  

More than a good little story, this book introduces the concepts of ordinal and cardinal numbers as well as different forms of transportation, a variety of verbs to convey different kinds of action, and simple counting from one to ten.  It's perfect for toddlers and a good choice for preschoolers or even beginning readers. 

-Miss Meg

Friday, July 25, 2014

Kindergarten Jitter Busters

Helping to wrestle "First Day of School" panic to its knees a la Ready and Waiting For You, our last featured book, can make any child feel as brave as a superhero. With that in mind, here are three more new books that offer innovative, if unorthodox, game plans to make sure even the shyest child comes out on top.

Oliver and his Alligator by Paul Schmid introduces a painfully shy little boy who, on his first day of school, "...felt his brave wasn't nearly as big as he needed it to be." His solution? Why, to stop by the swamp of course--and pick up an alligator! Whenever he's asked a question or feeling overwhelmed, he mumbles, "Munch, Munch!" Oliver becomes calmer as his alligator mysteriously grows fatter...

Schmid's droll text and illustrations will tug grins from even the most wan-faced, quaking child.

If you were a T-Rex, would you be afraid of school? No, because dinosaurs always win! Bob Shea's unruly dino is ready to invade the hallowed halls of academia. Even glitter and glue haven't got a chance against a red, over-energized, toothy lizard.

 Reluctant scholars will embrace Dinosaur vs. School as the perfect book to sneak into a backpack for moral support.                                           

All right, there's no way out--You-have-to-go-to-school!!! Now what? Sarah Maizes' On My Way to School  gives kids plenty of options as to their modes of transportation: a pirate ship, kangaroo, covered wagon, and, yes, a tiger-filled school bus. There is nothing subtle about Michael Paraskevas' illustrations. Livi the reluctant, cowboy boot-wearing student is resplendent with her out-of-control pigtails and garish red and green pet frog. Going from an unidentifiable mound beneath the covers to queen of the classroom is as uncomplicated as turning a page for Livi and her revved up imagination.

Children will forget all about first day of school jitters as they excitedly point out the crazy pigtails on...a blue elephant?


Thursday, July 17, 2014

First Day of School Blues

In neighborhoods all over the country crowded hallways are filled with teary-eyed parents and wailing children. Ah, the trauma. Oh, the guilt. What if there were a way to bypass all this gut-wrenching "First Day of School" drama? In Ready and Waiting for You, everyone on the bus and in the school is waiting for your child. Page-sized "gate folds" invite little hands to open the "doors" to reveal friendly faces welcoming the anxious child to the exciting world of school. See? There's nothing to worry about!

The multiracial children and adults featured are cleverly created from colorful torn-paper. Illustrator Catherine Stock takes the reader on a cheery visual tour from the bright yellow school bus to the sunny classroom and everywhere in between.

Judi Moreillon's cheerful repetitive text practically begs the child to read along. The invitation at the book's end will help put most fears to rest while creating a mindset of hopeful expectation:

          "Come in. Come in.
          Come in through this door...
          We won't be a whole school till you do.
          Everyone's waiting for you!"


Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review: The Monkey Goes Bananas by C.P. Bloom

Sometimes you just need a good laugh.  When you and your preschooler run into one of those times, I suggest The Monkey Goes Bananas.  This new picture book by C. P. Bloom and illustrated by Peter Raymundo is laugh-out-loud funny.

This exuberant book gets the story started right away on the title page, where we see our hero deep in "The Thinker" style contemplation. Next, on the copyright page, we discover that The Monkey is trying to figure out how to get to a lovely bunch of bananas that are on the next island.  At first, he simply tries crossing The Water to get to the banana island, but soon he finds his situation complicated by The Shark.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book Review: Dot by Patricia Intriago

I've been seeing dots lately.  No, it's not a result of heat exhaustion; though I'd love to see some wet dots falling from the sky sometime soon.  Actually, I've been seeing dots in some lovely, well-rounded picture books.  The dot deluge all began with Dot by Patricia Intriago. The contrasting, simple imagery makes it great for babies, the clever wordplay makes it intriguing for preschoolers, and the minimalist design makes it thrilling for adults.  I especially love the juxtaposition of the hard dot and the soft dot, complete with a child's finger pressing down on the dot to test its flexibility.  Can you hear the loud and quite dots making different sounds?  How would a happy dot look? What about a sad dot?  Take this book home and you'll find out, along with a dab or two of other surprises!