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!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks!

There's bad and then there's BAD. Well-behaved prehistoric pals calmly color, paste, and build, but T-Rex can't seem to get with the program. Blocks topple, scissors fly, and artwork shreds amid Tyrannobully's reign of destruction. Classmates finally band together and ostracize the obstreperous miscreant. No fun! Even little thunder lizards can feel sad and lonely. Bit by bit, step by step, the repentant reptile makes amends and is welcomed back into the fold despite an inadvertent catastrophe. At long last peace prevails in "Dino-topia," or maybe not...

Zachariah Ohora's playful illustrations are boisterously paired with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen's sparse but cleverly rhymed text in Tyrannosaurus Wrecks! Children finding themselves adrift within the hierarchical confusion of classroom politics will take comfort in seeing that even misbehaving dinosaurs can get a second chance.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review: The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water

Picnics! Camping! Thunderstorms! Fireworks! Daisy chains! Swimming! These words all conjure up great summer memories! Well...maybe not so much swimming...if you're at all timid of the water.  Some of us take to the water like fish and others have to be coaxed, ever so gently.  And while we may all eventually learn how to swim, we don't all like the sport with the same enthusiasm.  Now crocodiles are born to the water and thrive in that environment. So what about The crocodile who didn't like water? Unlike his brothers and sisters this little crocodile does not like the water. He is really great at climbing trees, but everyone else would rather be in swim club.  He wants to play with his siblings. Afterall he can see they are having a great time splashing about. So he trys very hard to overcome his fear.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Book Review: Breathe by Scott Magoon

     Every so often a picture book crosses my path that I just fall in love with.  Breathe by Scott Magoon is definitely one of those books.  

     Breathe follows a day in the life of a baby white whale.  The book opens with an illustration of the mother whale lifting her baby up to the water's surface for a nice deep breath.  From there the baby whale goes on an exploration of his world where he plays, swims, makes new friends and, most importantly, always remembers to take a few moments to just breathe.