Tuesday, November 3, 2015

September Round-Up

Image from Amazon.com
Friends by Helme Heine
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015
Originally published in German, this is the story of Charlie Rooster, Johnny Mouse, and fat Percy Pig who are the very best of friends. Sundrenched and bright illustrations follow their adventures around the countryside. Simple, narrative text and large illustrations make this a great pick for a preschool storytime.

Image from HarperCollins.com
Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
HarperCollins, 2015
If the conditions are just right, “an imaginary friend might appear just when you need one.” In this case, his name was Fred. Imaginary friends usually fade when their real life friends cease to need them, but something different happened when Fred met another imaginary friend. Her name was Frieda. This magical and whimsical story is illustrated in ink with deftly placed spots of color. The longer text and more complex story make this book a wonderful choice for elementary school aged readers.

Image from SLJ.com
Moletown by Torben Kuhlmann
NorthSouth, 2015
Originally published in Switzerland, this mostly wordless picture book is a meditation on the environmental effects of single-minded progress. Moletown begins as a simple tunnel under a lush, green meadow, but the years pass and the moles expand and build. By the end of the book the lush green meadow is nothing but a dingy clump of grass. Don’t miss the detailed endpapers. Read this book with older kids (3rd grade+) along with John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s The Rabbits to start a discussion on the impact of humans on the environment.

Image from ChronicleBooks.com
Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec
Chronicle Books, 2015
Look at the pictures to find the clues to figure out “who done it?” The long trim size of this book allows for two rows of suspects, rendered in pencil and acrylic paint, on each two page spread. Can you guess who forgot their swimsuit? Who didn’t get enough sleep? Who ate all the jam? The final page of the book provides the answers.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Brainstorming - CALCON 2015

Recently, Kahla Gubanich, Warren Shanks and I presented at CALCON 2015. Our session was called Hands Off!: Passive Programming for Children. During the session we asked participants to help us brainstorm ideas for a passive Halloween program for children. They came up with some super rad ideas compiled in this Google Doc. You can also take a look at our Prezi.

Many thanks,

Friday, October 2, 2015

August Round-Up

Image from EricRohmann.com
Clara and Asha by Eric Rohmann
Roaring Brook Press, 2005
At night, Clara tries to go to bed, but she’s just not sleepy. Luckily, she opens her window and in floats Asha a giant striped fish. These two friends have many adventures together. Adventures that are only limited by their imaginations. The simple text is expanded in the fantastical painterly illustrations. The preschoolers I read this book to really enjoyed talking about the details in the pictures. They especially loved the last page and we had a great discussion about other animals that might be Clara’s friends.

Image from RandomHouse.com
Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do by Kathryn Heling & Deborah Hembrook, Illustrated by Andy Robert Davies
Charlesbridge, 2012
This guessing game book provides visual and textual clues for jobs from mail carrier to farmer, chef to astronaut. The rhyming text is bouncy and printed in a large, bold font. The illustrations are bright and colorful against a white background. Characters of both genders and various skin colors are included. This is a wonderful choice for a preschool storytime about jobs.

Image from Books.SimonandSchuster.com
Lily and Bear by Lisa Stubbs
Simon & Schuster, 2015
Lily loves to draw and draw and draw. She draws many wonderful things - teapots, hearts, house, and cats - but her best creation is Bear. Bear comes alive and he and Lily have many grand adventures. This story of friendship and imagination features vibrant mixed media illustrations that utilize texture and patterns. The sentences are short, but filled with lovely vocabulary words. Read this book in a preschool storytime and follow it with an ECRR parent tip about how drawing and scribbling prepare children to write.

Image from CiaraFlood.co.uk
Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood
Little Bee Books, 2015
Bear lives in a remote cottage in the woods and all he wants is to be left alone. So he’s more than a little annoyed when a bunch of very friendly rabbits build a house right next door. He’s even more annoyed when they knock on his door. What’s a bear to do? The bright illustrations contrast soft and round animals with the straight lines of houses and trees. In addition, light and shadow provide depth and atmosphere. The text is short, but descriptive, making this a great book for a friendship or kindness themed preschool storytime. -Amy

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Passive Programming Brainstorming Notes

Image from Torange.us
This week I co-lead a session on passive programming with my colleagues Warren Shanks and Kahla Gubanich. Although this wasn't an official Program-a-Looza session, we did a passive programming brainstorming activity and I'd like to share our results. The group of Denver Public Library staff came up with the brainstorming topics and then we all grabbed markers to jot down our ideas on big pieces of butcher paper. The three topics were a haunted house, LEGO, and Greek mythology. 

Check out the cool ideas: Passive Programming Brainstorming Notes

For more programming ideas, check out my post about our first Program-a-Looza sessions at ALA Annual 2015. 


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

July Round-Up

Image from MemFox.com
Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox, Illustrated by Patricia Mullins
Simon & Schuster, 1987
Hattie the hen is quite a bit more observant than the other animals on the farm. As she sees more and more of a stalking fox she tries to alert her friends who all pish-posh her warnings. The color and texture are important elements of the mixed media illustrations. Facial expressions and body language help to propel the plot forward. The repetitive text builds the suspense of the story making this a great choice for a preschool storytime focused on narrative skills.

Image from Candlewick.com
Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor, Illustrated by Jean Jullien
Candlewick, 2014
Hoot Owl is hungry and ready for a midnight snack! He uses many disguises, but his attempts at capturing a tasty lunch are failures. What’s a master of disguise to do?
The bold black outlines and saturated colors of the illustrations make it easy to share with a preschool storytime crowd. The humorous narrative, all from Hoot Owl’s perspective, is fast paced. Kids will enjoy Hoot Owl’s repeated refrain, “I am Hoot Owl. I am hungry. And here I come!", as well as the pizza-fueled ending.

Image from JaneenBrian.com
I’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian, Illustrated by Ann James
Kane Miller, 2014
The rhyming text of this lively story is wonderful to chant or sing for a toddler storytime. The text includes great action words to keep a young audience engaged and the delightfully mud-splashed illustrations pop against the white background. This fun story, which can be sung to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”, fits nicely for a dinosaur or opposites themed storytime.

Image from KevinHenkes.com
Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books, 2011
Little white rabbit hopped along through grass and trees, past silent rocks and fluttering butterflies. While he hopped he imagined what it might be like to be grass and trees, rocks and butterflies. The simple and quiet text pairs beautifully with the glowing pastel palette. Use this book for a toddler storytime and have the kids pretend along with little white rabbit. Follow up with a rabbit song/rhyme. My current fav is Sleeping Bunnies.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

June Round-Up

Image from IndieBound.com
Anton Can Do Magic by Ole Konnecke
Gecko Press, 2011
Anton has a magic hat that can make things disappear! Anton can’t wait to show his friend Luke. But what will Anton do when he makes Luke disappear? Originally published in Germany, this story uses third person narration to let readers in on the joke about Anton’s hat and it’s magical abilities. The cartoonish illustrations use a limited palette to create simple, but hilariously effective scenes and character interactions. This is a wonderful book to share one-on-one or with a group of preschool or lower elementary school kids.

Image from MichaelHallStudio.com
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Greenwillow Books, 2011
The perfect square was perfectly happy having four sides and four corners. But that all changes on Monday when it’s sliced into strips and poked full of holes. It’s not a perfect square anymore, but it is a very wonderful water fountain. Each day brings a new change for the square, it’s torn or snipped, shattered or crumpled, but no matter way the square always finds a way to make itself into something new. The super short text and large torn paper illustrations are well-suited for preschool storytime crowds. The kindergarteners I read with loved the final pages that show how all the square’s incarnations are connected.

Image from LindseyYankey.com
Sun and Moon by Lindsey Yankey
Simply Read Books, 2015
The moon thought that if he could have just one day as the sun that he would see so many wonderful things. The sun agreed to trade night for day, but only if the moon met two conditions. First, the swap would last forever, not just a day. Second, the moon would need to spend a night looking at the details of earth very carefully. The delicate mixed media illustrations utilize textures and patterns to create a soft, almost glowing, atmosphere. The fable-like text is concise, yet evocative and well-suited to reading aloud at bedtime.

Image from HarperCollins.com
Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman & David Clemesha, Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
HarperCollins, 1999
Mr. Gilly is a trashman and everyday he cleans up Trashy Town. At the school, the pizza parlor, the park, and even the fire station, he empties the trash cans into his truck, “Dump it in, smash it down, drive around the Trashy Town!” The repetitive text moves the story along at a nice clip and is easy to read on the page. Yaccarino’s cartoonish illustrations feature bold shapes and bright shapes, making this a great fit for a toddler storytime.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Program-a-Looza at ALA Annual 2015

This past weekend at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in San Francisco the first Program-a-Looza sessions were held. This open share session, brainchild of Danielle Jones, Kahla Gubanich, Mary Pearl, and yours truly, focused on cheap, easy children’s programming for public libraries. Inspired by grassroots sessions, such as Guerrilla Storytime and YA Smackdown, Program-a-Looza was created as a way for children’s library staff to take home tangible programming ideas, tips, and resources.

We held two sessions and participants were encouraged to brainstorm and bring their personal strengths and experiences to the table. First, each person shared a favorite easy to replicate program. Next, we picked a programming topic and spent 2 minutes brainstorming ideas using pens and sticky notes.

Wondering what we talked about? Check out the session notes.

We plan to hold more Program-a-Looza sessions at ALA Midwinter 2016 in Boston. Stay tuned for more info on dates/times

Thursday, June 11, 2015

May Round-Up

Image from RandomHouse.com
The Bus is for Us! by Michael Rosen, Illustrated by Gillian Tyler
Candlewick, 2015

The rhyming text of this book celebrates modes of transportation with the bus always coming out as number one. You could ride a bike, train, or plane. You could wish for a ride on a fish, take a trip on a ship, or even ride in a sleigh. “But the best is the bus. The bus is for us.” The soft watercolor illustrations feature a multicultural cast of kids as they imagine all the wonderful ways to travel. Short sentences and a large font make this a great choice for a toddler or preschool storytime. Try adding movements for each of mode of transportation and encourage your audience to shout, "The bus is for us!"

Image from HarperCollinsChildrens.com
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
HarperCollins, 2006

You might think that the rabbit in this book is just playing with a box, but the rabbit would be quick to remind you, “It’s not a box!” You might see the rabbit sitting in, standing on, or even wearing a box. But as you turn the pages you’ll find the rabbit is using its imagination to be sitting in a race car, standing on a mountain, and being a robot. The oft-repeated, “It’s not a box!” makes this a wonderful story for a preschool storytime or for independent readers in need of repetition. The thick lines of the illustrations stand out against the white background, while the brief text is set off by colorful backgrounds.

Image from LiszeBechtold.com
Sally and the Purple Socks by Lisze Bechtold
Philomel Books, 2008

Sally is very excited when her new purple socks arrive in the mail, but less excited when she learns that they have a tendency to change sizes! Good thing Sally is so practical. She uses the socks as hats, scarves, curtains, blankets, rugs, even a circus tent. The soft and warm illustrations were created with brushed ink line on top of gouache paint for a friendly, cartoonish atmosphere. The ever-changing socks make this book great for a preschool storytime focusing on narrative skills. The simple text balances narration and dialogue, making for a great read aloud. As the socks grow, Sally uses different words to describe the socks, “soft” “warm” “luxurious.” Take time before/during/after to talk about what each word means. What synonyms can the kids think of?

Image from GroundwoodBooks.com
Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson, Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Groundwood Books, 2015

A little red-hooded girl goes on a walk around the city with her very distracted father. He misses the details, but the little girl notices the flowers in the sidewalk cracks and vacant lots. She also sees people and animals that could use a little joy in the form of an urban flower. This wordless book has a quiet atmosphere, encouraging readers to look closer at the details of the illustrations. The pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations (with digital editing) play with shadows and light with well-placed splashes of color. This book is ideal for one-on-one reading that leaves plenty of time to discuss the action, objects, and people in the pictures.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

April Round-Up

Image from Ruzzier.com
Bear and Bee by Sergio Ruzzier
Disney/Hyperion, 2013
Bear is looking for some honey, but he’s terribly afraid of bees. Bees are monsters with claws and fangs. Worst of all they never share. So what will Bear do when he meets Bee? The illustrations, created with pen and ink and colored digitally, are whimsical and otherworldly. The text, just a sentence or two per page, is mostly dialogue. Many words are repeated throughout, making this a wonderful book for a beginning reader.

Image from ChronicleBooks.com
Chronicle Books, 2013
Falump, beep, and grrrakka along with machines at a construction site in this energetic and noisy board book. Colorful diggers created with mixed media share the extra long pages with the rhythmic and bold all-caps text. Set off against a crisp white background, the illustrations make create use of texture and thick, glossy black lines. If you like this one, check out Trains Go, Boats Go, Planes Go, and Trucks Go, all by Steve Light.

Image from SLJ.com
Mr. Squirrel and the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser
NorthSouth, 2015
Originally published in Germany, this is the story of Mr. Squirrel who wakes up one morning because the moon has fallen onto his tree. Mr. Squirrel is afraid. What if someone finds the moon, looking suspiciously like a wheel of cheese, in his tree and thinks he’s the thief! He’ll be sent to prison. This sets off a chain of hilarious events involving a prickly hedgehog, an angry billy goat, buzzing bees, and a gaggle of mice. The illustrations, which look to be color pencil, utilize color to highlight the action against the colorless backgrounds. Frequent flashes to Mr. Squirrel’s imaginings of life in jail are juxtaposed with the simple text.

Image from YuyiMorales.com
Nino Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
Roaring Brook Press, 2013
Here he is! The one, the only, the fantastic, the spectacular, Nino! He’s a pint-sized Lucha Libra champion ready to take on any and all contenders! Cabeza Olmeca, La Llorona, El Chamuco--None of them stand a chance. But what’s a wrestler to do when faced with the most horrid competitor of all, Las Hermanitas (his baby sisters)? The bright and cartoonish illustrations are a perfect match for the larger-than-life narration. Sprinkled liberally with Spanish words, use this multicultural story for your next preschool or early elementary read aloud. Check out the wrestler stats (and pronunciation guide) on the endpapers.


Friday, April 17, 2015

March Round-Up

Image from GroundwoodBooks.com
Mr. Frank by Irene Luxbacher
Groundwood Books, 2014
Mr. Frank has been cutting and stitching, sewing and mending for over 60 years. On the day he closes his tailor shop, he looks back on the many wonderful things he has sewn over the years--WWII uniforms, stylish suits, mod dresses, fluffy tutus. But today he is making something more wonderful, more perfect, more exciting than anything else he’s ever made. The graphite and mixed media illustrations of this quiet book use textures and patterns to bring Mr. Frank’s past to life. The text, written in third person, is conversational and direct. This is a lovely recommendation for a one-on-one reading session, especially with a grandparent.

Image from KirkusReviews.com
Surprise by Mies Van Hout
Lemniscaat, 2013
Using just one word per page, this striking book looks at the many emotions of bird parenting from yearning for a baby bird, marveling at a newborn, comforting a crying little one, to finally letting that baby go. Originally published in The Netherlands, the illustrations, featuring vibrant colors and textured lines against black backgrounds, are the highlight of this gorgeous book. The concepts in this book are at times abstract, making it a great book for one-on-one discussions about emotions between caregiver and child.

Image from TulikaBooks.com
What Should I Make? by Nandini Nayar, Illustrated by Proiti Roy
Tricycle Press, 2009
Neeraj’s mother gives him some chapati dough to play with while she cooks. “What should I make?” he wonders? His little ball of dough morphs into a snake, a mouse, a cat, and a lion, until it becomes the best thing of all--a big round chapati hot and puffy from cooking on the tava. Originally published in India, this simple story encourages readers to use their imaginations to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary. The cartoonish illustrations are set off against a white background and the concise text is printed in an easy-to-read font. A recipe for chapatis is included at the end of the book. You can use this book to demonstrate the ECRR2 practice of play.

Image from GeckoPress.co.nz
You Can Do It, Bert! by Ole Konnecke
Gecko Press, 2015
Originally published in Germany, this is a humorous story of encouragement.. It’s Bert’s big day to jump out of the tree. He’s ready! Or is he? He stalls. He eats a banana. He thinks. Can Bert do it? Using a minimalist style, the cartoonish illustrations focus on Bert’s internal struggle. The crisp white background sets of the short text. The story finishes with a delightful twist. This title is great for a preschool or kindergarten read aloud.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

February Round-Up

Image from Eerdmans.com
Roger is Reading a Book by Koen Van Beisen
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015
Roger is reading a book. That is until Emily starts playing a game, “BOING BOING.” And singing a song. And playing the drum. How will Roger be able to read with all this noise? First published in Belgium, this distinctive book features playful mixed media illustrations that utilize photographs and bright line work. The repetitive text paired with illustrations that reinforce the vocabulary make this a great book for beginning readers.

Image from MacMillan.com
This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne
Henry Holt and Company, 2014
At first, everything was fine on Bella’s stroll across the page with her dog. Suddenly--POOF!--her dog disappears into the gutter of the book! Bella calls for help, but everyone who arrives also disappears. Finally, Bella decides to take matters into her own hands. This interactive book is wonderful for a preschool storytime. It can be used to demonstrate print motivation. The bright and cartoonish illustrations are playful and the text is bold and easy to read. As one kid told me after storytime, “That book is tricky!”

Image from KidsCanPress.com
The Queen’s Shadow: A Story About How Animals See by Cybele Young
Kids Can Press, 2015
There are many illustrious guests at the Queen’s Ball including Captain Shark, Colossal Squid, Dr. Pigeon, and Sir Chameleon. All is going well until the moment the Queen realizes her shadow has gone missing. It’s up to Mantis Shrimp, the Royal Detective to interview the suspects and deduce the criminal. Within this mystery structure, information about how each animal sees is provided within the text, as well as in sidebar. The colorful and bold pen and ink, plus Photoshop illustrations not only tell the story, but also represent how each animal might view their world. The length of the text and the depth of information make this a wonderful story to share with an elementary aged group.


Friday, February 13, 2015

January Round-Up

Image from us.macmillan.com
Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn’t Fit by Catherine Rayner
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2009
“Ernest was a rather large moose.” So large that no matter what he does he can’t fit inside this book! He shimmies and squeezes, squidges and shuffles, but to no avail. What’s a moose to do? The mixed media illustrations in this short, but humorous book feature eager Ernest and his silent, but helpful chipmunk friend. Add this book to a size themed storytime and enjoy the oohs and ahhs when the final page unfolds...and unfolds...and unfolds!

Image from FischArt.com
Jump! by Scott M. Fischer
Simon and Schuster, 2010
Starting with a small frog sitting on a log and moving along to a gigantic whale ready to set sail, this rhyming book is great for a toddler or preschool storytime. The cartoonish watercolor illustrations use saturated colors and bold lines, making the animals seem to jump off the page. The rhythmic text is easy to sing or chant. Kids will love to shout, “Jump!” as each animal tries to escape. Pair this book with your favorite version of the song, “Slippery Fish” (I like to use a flannel with this song. You can also play Charlotte Diamond’s version.).

Image from MikeCurato.com
Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato
Henry Holt, 2014
Little Elliot loves living in the big city, but he doesn’t like being so small. He finds himself being trampled and overlooked. But one day he meets a mouse that’s even smaller than he is! The cartoonish, yet softly diffused illustrations make great use of light and shading. Short sentences and a linear plot make this a good choice for a toddler storytime. Kids will relate to Elliot’s powerlessness and cheer when he finds a way to be seen and heard. If you like Little Elliot, get ready for Little Elliot Big Family (Available Oct. 6, 2015).

Image from Waterstone.com
Wind by Carol Thompson
Child’s Play (International), 2014
This board book features a multicultural cast of toddlers as they experience a windy day. Part of the Whatever the Weather series (the other titles are Rain, Sun, Snow), the text includes sensory descriptions of wind from the way it feels to the way it sounds. The short, rhyming text and mixed media illustrations make this a wonderful choice for a baby storytime.