Archive for the ‘Book Round-Up’ Category
Friday, March 8th, 2013
Just when we start to think springtime thoughts, Mother Nature reminds us that we live in unpredictable New England! While we enjoy these last snowy days of winter, we thought you might like some snow day reading recommendations. Sometimes it’s nice to remind yourself that even if you’re already thinking of tulips and budding trees, a snow day can be A LOT OF FUN too! Below are some picture books that you may have missed that perfectly capture the joy of a romp in the snow.
Red Sled by Lita Judge (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011)
“At night, a host of woodland creatures plays with a child’s red sled.”
Red Sled by Patricia Thomas illustrated by Chris L. Demarest (Boyds Mills Press, 2008)
“A boy and his father lift one another’s spirits by going sledding on a winter’s night.”
Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman, illustrated by Liza Woodruff (Sterling, 2010)
“Animals fall off a speeding sled one by one until only a lonely caribou is left, chasing a giant snowball that has engulfed the falling animals.”
This Place in the Snow by Rebecca Bond (Dutton Children’s Books, 2004)
“After a night of silent snowfall, people awaken to the sound of a plow making a huge snow mound, which they work together to transform into a very special place where they all can play.”
Snow Day! By Patricia Lakin, illustrated by Scott Nash (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2002)
“Four crocodile friends enjoy a snowy day of sledding.”
Snow! Snow! Snow! By Lee Harper (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009)
“A father and his two sons spend a perfect day sledding together.”
Snow Day for Mouse By Judy Cox, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler (Holiday House, 2012)
“On a snowy day, Mouse is swept outside where he plays in the snow, ice skates on a frozen puddle, and makes sure his friends the birds get something to eat.”
A Perfect Day by Carin Berger (Greenwillow Books, 2012)
“Young friends enjoy a day of sledding, snowball fights, and ice skating one snowy day in their hillside village.”
The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Rider Ever! By Rebecca Rule, illustrated by Jennifer Thermes (Islandport Press, 2012)
“Seven children work together to navigate their way up a steep, icy hill so that they can enjoy an exciting sled ride.”
Winter Eyes By Douglas Florian (Greenwillow Books, 1999)
“A collection of poems about winter, including “Sled,” “Icicles,” and “Ice Fishing.”.”
What are your favorite books about playing in the snow?
Friday, February 15th, 2013
A good fairy tale re-telling never goes out of style. Talented author and artists always seem to keep coming up with fresh ways to make a classic bedtime tale take on a whole new life. This week we’ll host the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School’s adaptation of Goldilocks and The Three Bears in our auditorium. We browsed our fairy tale section here in the Shop and found that we had quite the selection of Goldilocks picture books, ranging from classic, beloved editions to quirky and funny twists on the tale, each with their own distinctive illustrations. Here are a few of our favorites:
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems (Balzer + Bray, 2012)
Goldilocks by Ruth Sanderson (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009)
The Goldilocks Variations by Allan Ahlberg, illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg (Candlewick Press, 2009)
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by James Marshall (Penguin, 1998)
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jim Aylesworth, illustrated by Barbara McClintock (Scholastic Press, 2003)
Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson (Nosy Crow/Candlewick Press, 2012)
We’d love to have you come visit the museum and see the show this week. Maybe your kids are on school vacation and need a fun activity? Here’s your chance to win four tickets to the Goldilocks performance and a Family Pass (good for two adults and up to four children) to The Carle.
How to enter:
Use your creativity to adapt the Goldilocks fairytale by posting the title of your adaptation in a comment below: Goldilocks and the ____________. (Example: Goldilocks and the Three Elephants or Goldilocks and the Case of the Three Empty Bowls). Use your imagination! What kind of Goldilocks story would YOU like to read? Leave your comment BEFORE midnight EST Sunday, February 17, 2013. One winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday, February 18th.
We hope that the winner will be able to come and enjoy the show during one of their many performances next week, but even if you live far away, you can still enter to win for a free pass to visit The Carle sometime within the year. Here are the details about the performance.
Goldilocks & the Three Bears: An Epic
February 19 – February 22, 2013
11:00 am and 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm
$6 (Members $5)
So you think you know this tale? Think again! In this epic adaptation written by Jack Neary, there’s a lot more in store for Goldy, our little blond curiosity seeker, than three bears, some chairs, and bowls of breakfast food. Some annoying neighborhood kids, a pack of crazy Wolfettes, a fourth bear named Uncle Chester who may not be a bear at all, Little Red Riding Hood and even Rapunzel join forces to create an adventure for the ages! Poor Goldy! All she wanted was to take a nice little walk in the forest. Goldilocks & The Three Bears: An Epic is a show for the whole family to enjoy!
Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Museum Admissions Desk or by calling (413) 658-1126.
Comments now closed. Congratulations to the winner, Amanda! We’ll be in touch. Thanks everyone for playing. Such fun Goldilocks variations ideas!
Saturday, December 22nd, 2012
We asked our readers to share some of their all-time favorite picture books to read during the holiday season and loved reading all their responses. We thought you might like to see the list too. There are some I remember fondly from my childhood as well as some I don’t think I’ve ever seen!
Nothing gets me quite in the holiday spirit than snuggling up and sharing festive picture books with my family. Take a look at this wonderful list and let us know your own favorites in the comments below. Happy Holidays to all!
Becky’s Christmas by Tasha Tudor (1961, Viking Press)
Christmas Magic by Michael Garland (2001, Dutton Children’s Books)
The Clown of God by Tomi dePaola (1978, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
Cobweb Christmas by Shirley Climo, illustrations by Jane Manning (2001, HarperCollins)
December by Eve Bunting, illustrated by David Diaz (1997, Harcourt Brace)
Dream Snow by Eric Carle (2000, Philomel Books)
The Finest Christmas Tree by John and Ann Hassett (2005, Houghton Mifflin)
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett (1999, G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Hershel & the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by John Ed. Mayer and Trina Schart Hyman (1989, Holiday House)
Judy Moody and Stink: The Holly Joliday by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (2007, Candlewick Press)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (1957, Random House)
The Legend of Old Befana by Tomie dePaola (1980, Harcourt Children’s Books)
The Legend of Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola (1997, Puffin)
Little Tree poem by E.E. Cummings, story and paintings by Chris Raschka (2001, Hyperion Books For Children)
The Mitten by Jan Brett (1989, Putnam)
The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, illustrated by Jan Brett (2008, Putnam)
The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, illustrated by Will Moses (2006, Philomel)
The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, illustrated in papercut by Niroot Puttinapats (2007, Candlewick )
The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson (2006, HarperCollins)
The Nutcracker Doll by Mary Newell DePalma (2007, Arthur A. Levine Books )
Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh, illustrated by J.Otto Seibold (1997, Chronicle Books
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (1985, Houghton Mifflin)
Robert’s Snow by Grace Lin (2004, Viking)
Rocking Horse Christmas by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Ned Bittinger (1997, Scholastic)
Tomie’s Little Christmas Pageant by Tomie dePaola (2002, Putnam)
When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Funke, translated by Oliver G. Latsch, illustrated by Paul Howard (2006, Scholastic)
Santa Calls by William Joyce (1993, Harper Collins)
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett (1990, Putnam)
Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner, pictures by Mark Buehner (2005, Dial Books)
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1962, Viking)
The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jon J. Muth (2009, Scholastic)
Santa Claus: The World’s Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee (2005, Harcourt)
Christmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren and Ilon Wikland (1963, Viking, reprinted in 1981)
The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg (2001, Little, Brown)
The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger (2004, North-South Books)
Tell us your favorite holiday picture books!
Thursday, November 22nd, 2012
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all are enjoying some good food and nice company today.
Here’s a list of some of our favorite picture books for sharing on Thanksgiving
Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin (1971 and put back into print by the lovely folk at Purple House Press)
Pie in the Sky by Lois Ehlert (2004, Harcourt)
Strega Nona’s Harvest by Tomie dePaola (2009, Penguin Putnam)
The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jonathan Bean (2007, Simon & Schuster)
Gobble Gobble by Cathryn Falwell (2011, Dawn Publications)
In November by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Jill Kastner.
What books are you sharing with your families today?
Friday, January 13th, 2012
Bad days. We all have them. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep your cool when EVERYTHING seems to be going WRONG, even when you’re adult. And adults have had LOTS of practice with bad days, believe me. So imagine how hard it is for kids!
I often have customers come in the store looking for picture books that deal with anger, bad days and emotions in healthy, productive ways. They want books that not only offer suggestions for how their children can deal with their own emotions, but also to validate that it’s okay to feel mad sometimes. It’s okay to be angry. What’s important is knowing how to deal with those emotions so that you don’t let it ruin your day.
The first book I always think of is Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, illustrated by Ray Cruz (Simon & Schuster, 1972).
From the minute he wakes up to gum in his hair, Alexander’s day is on a downward spiral. With humor and uber-specific detail, Viorst depicts a very bad day, in terms kids will understand perfectly. “At school Mrs. Dickens liked Paul’s picture of the sailboat better than my picture of the invisible castle.” Alexander reacts to his bad day in fairly typical ways. He sulks, he shouts at his friends, he fights with his brothers, he cries and he threatens to move to Australia.
What I love about this book is that it’s not overhanded or preachy. Viorst isn’t saying, Look how naughty Alexander is. Don’t act like this, boys and girls. Instead, she validates his emotions by acknowledging that “some days are like that. Even in Australia.” Readers come away knowing that bad days happen everywhere to everyone, but tomorrow you get to start over fresh. The pacing, the illustrations and the repetition in the text all add to the humor, making it such a fun book to read aloud.
Mrs. Biddlebox: Her Bad Day…and What She Did About It! by Linda Smith, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Harcourt, 2002)
Mrs. Biddlebox woke up on the wrong side of the bed and starts her morning in a foul mood. But instead of dwelling on her bad day, she decides to do something about it. “I will cook this rotten morning! I will turn it into cake! I will fire up my oven! I will set the day to bake!”
She starts literally gathering up the day, starting with the lawn and dirt, right up to the sun and the sky, shoving it all into her cooking pot. Illustrator Marla Frazee adds to the delightful rhyming text as she plays with darkness and white space on the page. The book begins with dark full-bleed double-page spreads and with each page turn, the darkness recedes as Mrs. Biddlebox collects the bad day, until she stands alone on a white page. In a delightful release of pent-up bad energy, Mrs. Biddlebox whisks and beaks the dough and stomps it into a cake pan. She then proceeds to dance and sing around the stove as the bad-day-cake cooks. And when it’s done, the bad day has become something sweet, and well…delicious. This book gives a great example of positive thinking to turn something nasty into something nice, as well as acknowledging that the process won’t always be easy. You might need to stomp around and shout first, but pretty soon you might find yourself singing, dancing and laughing. A great book for storytime to encourage kids to get up and do the motions themselves. An extra bonus for readers: finding the adorable pet duck on every page.
Sometimes the answer to getting rid of a bad mood is right inside your imagination. Max in Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (HaperCollins, 1963) is making a lot of mischief, terrorizing the pet dog, nailing holes into the wall, and shouting at his mother. As punishment, Max is sent to bed without dinner. Max is angry at being locked up and takes delight in proving that he can escape to a place where he can do whatever he wants, make any kind of mischief and never get punished.
He escapes to where the Wild Things are, a place of monsters and wild rumpuses where he is the king and takes orders from no one. It isn’t until he gets lonely and wants “to be where someone loved him best of all,” that he decides to head back to his room. When he gets there he finds that his mother has brought him dinner after all, and that even though days and years seemed to have passed, “it was still hot.” This book, now a beloved classic, gives child readers the security that even if they act badly sometimes (and we know that we all do) that their parents won’t stop loving them. This Caldecott-winning book reminds us that we all get angry, and sometimes the best way to deal with our anger is to take a break and go somewhere in our imagination that only we can go, until we don’t feel so angry anymore and are ready to come back to reality. Our friends and loved ones will be waiting.
When Sophie Gets Angry — Really, Really Angry… by Molly Bang (Blue Sky Press, 1999)
Molly Bang’s Caldecott Honor book also shows a child using escape as a way to deal with anger. When Sophie’s sister steals her toy and their mother sides with her sister, Sophie gets angry. Really, really angry. She kicks and screams and and starts to throw a tantrum. But like, Mrs. Biddlebox and Max, she decides to take action. She goes outside to cool off, running into the backyard and woods behind her house to help get rid of her overpowering angry energy. Then she is able to release it by crying. Being in nature helps Sophie. The trees, the birds and the wind all remind her that she’s small part of a much bigger world and her problems don’t seem quite so large and daunting anymore. When she finally feels better, she heads home where she is welcomed by a loving family. I’ve heard this book criticized for promoting running away from home and for being dangerous as it shows Sophie alone in the woods, climbing trees without supervision. I think it’s important to remember that, like Where the Wild Things Are, Sophie’s journey is more symbolic. She needs to separate herself from the situation that caused her to get so angry, to get outside and be in nature to remind herself that things will be okay. And that is something that she needs to figure out how to do alone.
This book is a masterpiece of design. Molly Bang strategically uses color and proportion to show Sophie’s emotional journey. Happy characters are outlined in green, but when Sophie gets angry, her outline is red. Her red shadow grows to be a giant when “she wants to smash the world to smithereens.” Everything then becomes outlined in red, even the furniture in the house and the trees outside, as we see through Sophie’s angry eyes. From red, to purple to a calming blue, the outlines change as Sophie gradually calms herself down. Proportion on the page again changes as she becomes literally smaller as the “wide world comforts her.” Even the endpapers have changed from fire engine red to a bold blue at the end.
The Quarreling Book by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Arnold Lobel (HarperCollins, 1963)
Are bad moods contagious? They sure feel like that sometimes. On a rainy day, Mr. James forgets to kiss Mrs. James good-bye on his way to work. This one small action starts a chain reaction of bad moods for a whole slew of characters. Mrs. James snaps at her son, who in turn is mean to his sister, who then insults her friend, and so on.
It takes a good-natured dog (who doesn’t seem to understand the concept of “bad mood”) to get everyone one-by-one out of their funk. A little bit of play and laughter puts everything in perspective and Zolotow shows that even if you say something mean, things are always fixable with a heartfelt apology.
Mean Soup by Betsy Everitt (Harcourt, 1992)
Horace has had a bad day. He forgot the answer in school, was embarrassed by a friend, and had to get a ride home with crazy Miss Pearl instead of his mother picking him up after school. “Horace felt so mean he stepped on a flower.” He hisses and growls at his mother when he gets home. His mother knows that it’s time to make Mean Soup. They put a pot on the stove to boil. As the water heats up, they scream into the pot. They growl and make mean faces. They bang on the pot with a spoon. Horace even breathes “his best dragon breath” into the water until he realizes he’s feeling better.
This is an odd and silly book, with many hilarious details awaiting in the illustrations. I love that Everitt casually tosses in mentions of a “show-and-tell cow” and the fact that Miss Pearl nearly misses not one, not two, but three poodles on the drive home. This is a quirky and fun-loving kind of mom who seems to know exactly how to cheer everyone up. In the background of the illustrations, you can catch her making faces, doing headstands and even wearing the pot on her head. Best of all, she shows Horace how to get rid of his anger and frustration by letting it all out. Like Mrs. Biddlebox, they are able to turn their bad day into something physical that they can then stir and stir away.
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 1996)
When Lilly goes shopping with her Grammy, she gets a new pair of movie star sunglasses, three shiny quarters and a purple plastic purse that plays music when it opens. She’s so excited to show it to her classmates that she can’t seem to focus on school at all, which irritates her teacher, Mr. Slinger. Finally after Lilly’s outburst in class, Mr. Slinger confiscates her purse and glasses until after school. Lilly at first feels sad, but then she gets ANGRY. She decides to write a mean note to Mr. Slinger and slips it into his bag.
When Mr. Slinger returns her things at the end of the day, he includes a special understanding note and some snacks. “Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better.” Lilly immediately feels remorse for the note she wrote Mr. Slinger while she was angry. She even punishes herself by sitting in the uncooperative chair when she gets home. She writes Mr. Slinger an apology letter and asks her parents for help. Her mother writes Mr. Slinger a letter as well and Lilly’s father bakes Mr. Slinger some snacks. The next day, after her apology, all is forgiven. We’ve probably all done something we regretted because we were angry and rash at the time. Through great comic pacing, Henkes shows that everyone has flaws. It’s just important to find ways to fix mistakes made in the heat of anger and to learn from those mistakes.
Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Harcourt, 2000)
I love this book because it shows both sides of a bad day, a parent’s and a child’s, equally. Adults can relate to the mother getting increasingly more frustrated with Harriet as she constantly makes messes, while children will know what it’s like to be constantly reprimanded for things you aren’t doing on purpose.
Her mother didn’t like to yell, so instead she said,
“Harriet, my darling child. Harriet, you’ll drive me wild.
Harriet, sweetheart, what are we to do?
Harriet, Harris, I’m talking to you.”
“I’m sorry,” said Harriet, and she was.
Finally, after Harriet makes the biggest mess yet while Mom is trying to work, Mom loses her cool. She yells and yells and yells. And Harriet is sorry and she cries and cries and cries. Her mother takes a deep breath and then hugs Harriet tight and apologizes. “I’m sorry, too. I shouldn’t have yelled, and I wish I hadn’t. But sometimes it happens, just like that.” I like picture books that acknowledge and embrace flaws because that’s what makes us human. Kids will sometimes make a mess and moms will sometimes get mad and yell. Fox and Frazee show it’s how we handle these flaws, by hugging, apologizing and talking it out, that’s important.
We all have bad days, kids and adults alike, but it’s up to us to figure out how to get through them. Do you have any go-to books that help you talk about anger with kids? What do you do to get rid of a bad day?
Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Happy Thanksgiving! On this day of family, friends and delicious fall foods, I want to talk about one of my favorite Thanksgiving treats…pie! Lovely fall pies like apple, pumpkin, and pecan pie will be filling my family’s table this holiday season, but I’m a sucker for summer fruit pies as well. What about you? Do you have a favorite kind of pie?
Here are some picture books from our Shop’s shelves that highlight this favorite sweet treat.
Pie in the Sky by Lois Ehlert (Harcourt, 2004)
With her beautiful cut paper collage illustrations, Lois Ehlert shows how a cherry pie is made, starting from the tree that cherries grown on. With each turn of the page, the reader observes the natural world of this cherry tree through the seasons, waiting for the time to finally pick the cherries and make the pie. Look closely on each page for hidden details, including Ehlert’s own cherry pie recipe!
Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Putnam, 2010)
Everyone is excited about Mama having a new baby except Gia. She likes having Mama all to herself and sharing special moments between just the two of them like telling silly stories, snuggling in the morning, or sharing a piece of their favorite treat — pecan pie. But even now, before the baby is born, Gia has to share their love of pecan pie with the baby in Mama’s belly. “This baby sure loves itself some pie,” says Mama, giving in to her cravings. “Well,” says Gia, “I love pecan pie. And you love pecan pie. So that baby’s just being a copycat.” This book gracefully navigates the complexity of a child’s feelings about a new sibling and Gia’s mother is able to gently reassure Gia that the baby won’t ruin their special mother/daughter bond.
Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray (Hyperion, 2011)
A fresh take on the classic A Apple Apie alphabet book with bold retro-style illustrations.
A apple pie
B bake it
C cool it
D dish it out.
Told with great humor in the point of view of a very determined dog who wants a piece of that apple pie.
The Apple Pie that Papa Bakes by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jonathan Bean (Simon & Schuster, 2007)
A fun retelling of “The House that Jack Built” cumulative style tale. Instead it’s the pie that papa baked. With a nod to classic Virginia Burton illustration, the reader gets a bigger and bigger view of all the parts of the natural world that go into making one delicious apple pie from scratch. A wonderful read aloud.
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman (Knopf, 1994)
In Marjorie Priceman’s beautiful and whimsical style, readers are taken on a worldwide scavenger hunt for the ingredients to make an apple pie. To Italy to harvest the wheat, to France to gather the eggs, to Sri Lanka for some cinnamon and so on, until finally picking the apples close to home in a Vermont orchard. A wonderful reminder for all ages to know and appreciate all the places our food comes from.
For older readers, check out
Pie by Sarah Weeks (Scholastic, 2011)
This book is a wonderful and quick middle-grade novel, perfect for ages 9-12, about a girl named Alice, whose beloved Aunt Polly makes the town’s BEST pies. When Aunt Polly passes away, she leaves her famous piecrust recipe surprisingly to her cat, Lardo and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice. The town goes in a frenzy trying to get the recipe, even including a cat-napping and a suspicious stranger snoping around town, getting poor Alice caught up in the middle of it all. It’s up to Alice to show everyone that Polly’s pies were about bringing family and friends together. This funny and well-written book is interspersed with recipes (warning: don’t read on an empty stomach — it will make you hungry!) so you can try out the famous pies yourself.
On this day of giving thanks, we’re thankful for our food — and delicious pies — and for our family and friends like you who we can share our love of books with. Happy Thanksgiving!
Saturday, November 12th, 2011
This past Sunday editors of The Horn Book Magazine, Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano were here at The Carle to talk about their book, A Family of Readers.
While teachers, librarians and children’s book lovers look forward to the new issue of The Horn Book Magazine every two months, the magazine isn’t necessary as easily accessible to parents and families who are just learning about the world of children’s books. A Family of Readers acts as the perfect introduction to parents about how to pick books for their kids, giving not only helpful recommendations, but also providing them with the tools to confidently be able to select books themselves.
The book is divided into four basic sections:
1. Reading to Them (Books for Babies and Picture Books)
2. Reading with Them (Early Readers and Chapter Books)
3. Reading on Their Own (Includes genre fiction and nonfiction)
4. Leaving Them Along (Books for Teens)
Roger and Martha discussed the new books from 2011 that they found exceptional and wished they could add to their 2010 book as excellent examples each genre and reading level.
Below are the books from their recommended list.
Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow): ages 2-4
Martha described this one as a “perfect picture book.” The way it is masterfully structured with the right ratio of words and pictures to the page, the way the movement of the bunny propels page turns, and the simultaneous sense of adventure and quiet security make this a great example of a successful picture book.
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka (Schwartz and Wade): ages 3-6
This wordless book has excellent pacing and a great range of emotion in its vibrant illustrations.
Naamah and the Ark of Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Holly Meade (Candlewick): ages 2-5
A wonderful bedtime book. The tactile watercolor collage illustrations take on a 3-D look and the poetic text, with the soothing repetition of “at night,” creates the feeling of a lullaby. A wonderful example of inventive language and art.
A Little Bitty Man and Other Poems for the Very Young by Halfdan Rasmussen, translated by Marilyn Nelson and Pamela Espeland, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Candlewick): ages 3-6
This book of poems is reminiscent of A Hole is to Dig. It’s filled with bouncy rhythm and humor with nice short poems that you could read one at a time or all together.
Nonfiction Picture Books:
Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes (Houghton Mifflin): Ages 3-6
This book is a simple exploration of spirals in nature for very young children. The white space on the page makes the scratchboard details really pop in the illustrations without making it feel too busy. “The eye never does not know where to go,” said Martha.
Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach (Random House): ages 5-9
Reminiscent of classic Virginia Lee Burton, this story of a subway car turned into a reef is a fresh, innovative way to approach nonfiction. While the story is factual, the subway car talks with a personality of it own, creating an accessible and entertaining blend of fiction and nonfiction.
Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown): ages 4-7
This picture book biography is not a biography of adult Jane Goodall, but of her as a child discovering her vocation. The stunning combo of photography, reproductions of Jane Goodall’s actual documents and McDonnell’s art and simple text creates another unique approach to nonfiction.
Balloons over Broadway by Melissa Sweet (Houghton Mifflin): ages 4-8
This book about the creation of the balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade includes a colorful blend of actual toys, collage illustrations and straightforward text. The illustrations, including the fun dialogue and details in the pictures, allows readers to fill in all the background about puppeteer Tony Sarg on their own.
Roger described early readers, such as the I Can Read books as miniature masterpieces and lamented that they are not published as often as he would like. Books like Little Bear and Cat in the Hat provide a new reader with confidence. These books are designed to look just like a “grown-up book” with a substantial number of pages and chapters. Once one finishes reading one of these books all by themselves there is a feeling of accomplishment and pride.
Happy Pig Day! by Mo Willems (Hyperion): ages 4-8
This and all of the Elephant and Piggie series books work well for readers in kindergarten and first grade. The illustrations give supporting reading clues (such as the color of the word bubbles matching the color of the speaker) in ways that are not intrusive.
Benjamin Bear in “Fuzzy Thinking” by Philippe Coudray (Toon Books): ages 4-8
This book. like other Toon books, is told in a comic book format with a substantial number of words to read. Each page of the book contains its own complete episode or story so a child can get that sense of accomplishment with each finished page.
The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray, illustrated by Mike Lowery (Putnam): ages 4-8
This book contains brilliant rhyme and a balance between the comic book panels and surprise picture book spreads. It can be read aloud or read individually by new readers. Although it has the large picture book format, Roger observed that it was sophisticated enough that early readers won’t feel insulted.
Good Luck, Anna Hibiscus! by Atinuke (Kane Miller): ages 5-9
These chapter books take place in contemporary Africa and offer an honest confrontation with things like poverty without being heavy handed. “A real portrait of a real child.”
Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin (Holt): ages 8-12
This book, perfect for 3rd graders, is a successful adventure story on an unusual topic. The main character wants to be a loyal party member but discovers his parents are anti-Stalin. The book is formatted so that there is a lot of white page on the page among the text, as well as illustrations, making it an accessible chapter book for readers.
No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis (Groundwood): ages 9-12
This book’s topic may seem dark as it deals with leprosy in India, but has a wonderfully upbeat tone thanks to its young female main character. The book is not “wordy or message-y” and will be a good fit for 4th graders.
Secrets at Sea by Richard Peck (Dial): ages 8-12
This book benefits from being read aloud. Roger described it as “a family book” with a fun upstairs/downstairs vibe about mice set in Victorian America.
Roger describes “boy books” as a euphemism most associated with books for kids who don’t like to read. He’d rather describe “boy books” and “girl books” as books who display exemplary boy or girl characters.
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar): ages 10-14
Deep and funny, this autobiographical novel by Jack Gantos will make you think.
The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer Holm (Atheneum): ages 8-12
This historical fiction about a tomboy features both situational humor and a humorous voice.
Nonfiction for Older Readers:
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade): ages 8-12
This nonfiction adventure and biography is wonderfully written and completely compelling, taking an unique stance from the point of view of those searching for Amelia Earhart when her plane goes missing.
Drawing from Memory by Allen Say (Scholastic): ages 10+
Featuring drawings by Allen Say and photographs from his childhood, this autobiographical story of Allen Say’s beginnings as an artist is ultimately the same story as his earlier chapter book, The Ink Keeper’s Apprentice, made more accessible to a younger audience.
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson (Balzer and Bray): ages 10+
This book is a magisterial and unapologetic history of African Americans from colonial times to present day, told with amazing illustrations and an accessible voice of an African American woman talking frankly to the reader as if the reader is family.
America is Under Attack: September 11, 2011: The Day the Towers Fell by Don Brown (Flash Point/Roaring Brook): ages 8-12
A nonfiction account of September 11th for a new generation who did not live through it. It is not dishonest about how many lives were lost, but also includes positive uplifting stories about those that were saved. Respectful of its subject, the book maintains a good distance, keeping itself non-frightening to young readers.
We ran out of time for the presentation, so Roger and Martha didn’t get to share their thoughts about these books for teens, which oddly enough, seemed appropriate for the “leave them alone” mentality to approaching Young Adult book selection and reading.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic): ages 13+
Martha emphatically loved and endorsed this book. “Read it. It’s the best book of the year.” Enough said.
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (First Second): ages 12+
Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick (First Second): ages 14+
Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet (Candlewick): ages 14+
Lastly, they finished with a book that bridges all ages:
Press Here by Herve Tullet (Chronicle)
“Who needs an iPad?” asked Roger. Press Here is an interactive book that works BECAUSE you can turn the page. “The day we don’t have to turn the page is the day I will fall down and die,” he said. This simple, modern book will appeal to everyone as it belongs just as much in a crib as it does on the coffee table.
Click on the titles or images to be taken to The Carle’s online shop to purchase any of these recommended books, including signed copies of Roger and Martha’s A Family of Readers.
Saturday, October 22nd, 2011
Last night we hosted a wonderful event, A Day in the Life of an Infant Toddler Center and a Day in a Preschool in Reggio Emilia presented by Amelia Gambetti and Lella Gandini. The Carle’s Art Studio is very much inspired by the philosophy of the early childhood centers of Reggio Emilia, Italy and each year The Carle coordinates Reggio Emilia styled programming (even including trips to Italy to observe and learn from their classrooms) for educators.
These early educators are some of my favorite customers in our Shop because they are always so excited and eager to discover new books for their classrooms and centers. They always have lots of questions, looking for classic as well as contemporary picture books that use themes or concepts they would like to explore with children. Yesterday, there were lots of requests for picture books that explore art appreciation for pre-schoolers and so I’ll share with you some of our recommendations.
There are just so many picture books about art, and some of my favorites fall into distinct categories:
CATEGORY 1: The Mentor
These books, especially, strike a note with art educators because they are books that focus on a teacher/mentor or friend giving confidence and permission to the main character to make art and to see things in their own unique way. Some of my favorites from this category:
The Dot and Ish by Peter Reyolds
The Art Lesson and The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle
Eric Carle’s newest book is a tribute to one of his own favorite artists, Franz Marc. Marc’s surrealist art gave Eric (and so his book’s main character) the freedom and inspiration to make art his own way.
CATEGORY 2: Art & the Imagination
These books stress that art has the power to bring imagination to life and in that way empowers the child characters in other aspects in their life. Favorites from this category include:
Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson
Chalk by Bill Thomson
Lily Brown’s Paintings by Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis
CATEGORY 3: Art Concepts
There are so many wonderful books that touch on concepts of early art education, such as mixing colors and shapes. These are some of my favorites:
The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni
Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker
Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert
Many of Lois Ehlert books, like this one, work really well in the classroom because students can get inspired to play in similar ways with colors and shapes, making them into animals and objects.
CATEGORY 4: The Many Faces of Art
These books celebrate the breadth and expanse of different types and forms of art. In my experience this often includes a lot of puns, especially with using the character’s name as “Art”. Some favorites:
Art & Max by David Wiesner
Art by Patrick McDonnell
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
I love the way that Michael Hall explores and plays with textures and collage in this colorful book.
I’m sure this list can go on and on, but I’d love to hear some of your favorite suggestions! What are your favorite picture books that stress an appreciation of art?
Thursday, August 25th, 2011
Stormy weather can sometimes make kids feel anxious or even scared. With hurricane season upon us on the East Coast and natural storms and disasters unavoidable in the news, I’ve put together a few recommended picture books to share with your kids to help put them at ease on bad weather days.
Hurricane by David Wiesner (HoughtonMifflin, 1990)
When a weather report tells them that a hurricane is coming, David & George’s family secures anything that might blow away in the yard, makes sure their cat comes inside, and then waits out the storm from the safety of their living room. Even when the lights go out because the storm knocked down electric lines, the boys aren’t scared. “It felt safe with everybody together, even though there were creaks and groans and sometimes great roaring sounds from outside.”
The next day, after the storm has passed, the boys see the changes the hurricane has made. A big tree was knocked down in their neighbor’s yard. Instead of making the boys feel scared or sad, the fallen tree opens a whole new world of imaginative play. The tree is like a new playground – it’s a ship, a jungle or even outer space. “The tree was a private place, big enough for secret dreams, small enough for shared adventures.” I love that this book shows that hurricanes don’t have to be scary and even if it brings destruction and change, good things can also come.
Storm in the Night by Mary Stolz, illustrated by Pat Cummings (HarperCollins, 1988)
When a storm during the night knocks out the electricity, you can’t pass the time like you could on other nights. You can’t watch TV, can’t read a book, and it’s too early to go to bed. Instead, it’s a time you can spend together with your family, talking and telling stories. In the dark, your other senses come alive and you may notice things about the way the rain or winds that you didn’t notice before. Even the world smells different.
Grandfather and the boys watch the storm from the safety of the porch, while Grandfather tells them a story about how he once felt during a thunderstorm and how he overcame the fear. Even if the boys themselves aren’t scared of the storm, it helps to pass the time in the dark. At the same time, with her poetic text, Stolz is reassuring young readers that they, too, can overcome their fears of stormy weather and learn to even see the beauty in all that lightning, rain and wind.
Blackout by John Rocco (Hyperion Books, 2011)
This wonderful new picture book by John Rocco may not be about a hurricane, but it directly deals with the loss of electricity, one of the more shocking and scary things for young children that could happen during a storm. With comic book paneling reminiscent of Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen, and careful use of color and light, Rocco brings a city-wide blackout to life with skill and beauty.
On a hot summer night in the city, one girl’s family is much too busy to play a board game together. Dad’s making dinner, Sister’s on the phone and Mom’s on the computer, so the little girl decides to play a video game by herself. That is, until…the lights go out. Finally, with no electricity and no distractions, the family finds time to play together. And when it gets too hot inside, the family goes up on the roof, where they find other families had the same idea. “It was a block party in the sky.” With no city lights, for the first time they can all see the stars. The neighbors enjoy the night, allowing them to spend time differently than they usually do. But more importantly, when the lights come back on, they remember to spend that same kind of time together once in a while. What a like about this book, that makes it different than others, is that time without electricity doesn’t have to be “quiet” time. It just reminds readers that there’s different kinds of fun than the daily routines we all seem to get stuck in sometimes.
Thunder-Boomer! by Shutta Crum, illustraed by Carol Thompson (Clarion Books, 2009)
On a hot day, a thunder storm can feel like a release from the heat. It brings gusts of wind, chilly air and lots of cool rain. Instead of dreading a storm and feeling nervous when it arrives, the characters in this book book welcome it! The family prepares their farm, trying to take in laundry off the line and get all the animals inside where they’ll wait out the storm.
With humor in both the text and illustrations, full of great sound-effects and lots of antics from funny animals, the feeling during a thunderstorm is not one of fear, but of celebratory fun. Dad’s underwear was left on the laundry line and it goes whipping through the air past the window. When the dog seems to feel nervous and whines, the kids are the ones to comfort him. “‘Shhh, it’s all right.’ I tell him. ‘That’s just the thunder-boomer showing off.’” The sounds of the storm, the animals and bits of dialogue written in the illustration make this a wonderful book to read out loud. “Zzzzzt! Cr-a-a-ck! Zzzzzt! Rumble…. Swish-wack! Thump-wump!” The end of the thunder-boomer brings a wonderfully cute surprise ending to the book.
These picture books help readers see that not only do they not have to be scared of storms, but they can also learn to appreciate all the neat sounds and sights and changes that storms can bring. Do you have a favorite stormy weather picture book? Share it with us and other readers in the comments below!