Friday, December 16, 2016

Lost Socks, Tiny Toads, and Sleepy Bats

I want to share these before the holidays... because they're just plain fun to read.

Odd Socks
by Michelle Robinson; illus. by Rebecca Ashdown
32 pages; ages 3-6
Holiday House, 2016

If you've ever lost a favorite sock and spent hours or days searching for it, then this book is for you. Suki and Sosh are a sock couple - in human terms we'd call them a "pair". They have a good life playing in the park, on the beach, even drying on the clothesline.

"I love hanging out with you," says Sosh. At the end of the day they curl up together in the drawer. When Suki starts to unravel, her days are numbered - and one night she doesn't come back to the sock drawer. So Sosh sets out to find her.

Not only is this fun to read aloud - whoever thought a story could be told from a sock's point of view? - you might be inspired to gather unmatched socks and make some puppets.

Teeny Tiny Toady
by Jill Esbaum; illus. by Keika Yamaguchi
40 pages; ages 4-7
Sterling Children's Books, 2016

On a perfectly normal day, Teeny and her mom are minding their own business when, "Help!"
Mama is toad-napped and stuck inside a bucket. Teeny hops as fast as she can to get her brothers to help her. They are big and strong; surely they can rescue mama.

They try one thing, they try another... and then those great big toady brothers end up in the bucket with mama. Now it's up to Teeny, the tiniest toad of all, to figure out how to get them all out of that bucket. Fortunately, she is inspired by leaves swirling on the wind, and comes up with a plan!

Good Night, Bat! Good Morning, Squirrel!
by Paul Meisel
40 pages; ages 4-8
Boyds Mills Press, 2016

Bat needed a new home. There's no room in the barn (too crowded!) or in a hollow log (bats are too stinky, says skunk). Finally he finds a cozy home up in a tree - a clump of leaves with a small opening. There were even twigs he could hang from.

But when Squirrel wakes up she is not happy to find Bat. "This is my home," she says. But Bat isn't listening because he's fast asleep. Z-z-z-z-z-z. So Squirrel leaves a note. Bat misinterprets the note - and over the next few days Squirrel and Bat leave notes for each other. "Leave my house," writes Squirrel. OK, Bat thinks, and collects leaves to add to the house. Then he writes, "I leaved your house." It escalates until Squirrel tells Bat to get lost. And they each go their own way ... until they realize that they liked having a friend. A warm, satisfying ending that will make you wish you'd fixed a cuppa cocoa before reading this to your kid.

Review copies from the publishers.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Picture books you can sing

 Marianne Berkes has two more fun sing-along-while-you-read books. One features mother and baby animals found on the African Savanna: zebras, giraffes, hippopotamuses, lions, chimps, apes... and my favorite, meerkats.

The other features familiar barnyard animals: goats, cats, cows, horses, ducks and even owls. As in her other books, the text introduces the less familiar baby names - "kid" for goat, "poult" for turkey - and is structured as a counting book. There's also lots of action as the mothers and their babies gallop, swing, strut, stalk, yip, neigh... all things that the kids listening to the book will want to act out on their own.

What I love about these books is that at the end there's the music so you can sing along with the story ... which, if you grew up singing "Over in the meadow" you might do automatically.

There's also lots of "beyond the book" activities at the back of the book, including more information about each featured animal. Back matter in Over in the Grasslands includes a map of Africa showing where the animals live, a key to "hidden" animals (they show up in the book but you really have to take a second or third look to find them!), and some awesome tips from the illustrator, Jill Dubin, that might inspire you to try your own cut-paper art. More activities here.

Activities in Over on the Farm focus on math, science, language arts, music, movement, and art. Did you know you can grow a plant from the top of a carrot? There's also a section about food "from farm to table" with activities for making butter and "honey corn". More activities here.

Review copies from the publisher.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Two books celebrating snow!

Waiting for Snow
by Marsha Diane Arnold; illus. by Renata Liwska
32 pages; ages 4-7
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2016

themes: winter, friendship, humor

Hedgehog found Badger staring at the sky.
"What are you doing, Badger?"
"Waiting for snow..."

It's winter and not one single snowflake has fallen. Badger gets tired of waiting. He decides to wake up the sky. He tries dancing. He tries other things...

What I Like LOVE about this book: the illustrations that show some of the things badger and his friends do while waiting for snow: origami, scrabble... there are more, but I don't want to spoil the fun you'll have when you read this book.

Pizza-Pie Snowman
by Valeri Gorbachev
32 pages; ages 4 - 7
Holiday House, 2016

Pinky had a job to do for Mommy - to get a pizza with all their favorite toppings. He made a poem so he wouldn't forget...

Off he goes, through the snowy landscape to the Pizza shop. He doesn't stop when his friends try to entice him into a snowball fight. He doesn't stop when he gets covered with snow - in fact, he doesn't even notice. Because Pinky is on a mission.

What I like about this book: the humor! Pinky is so focused on remembering the list of toppings that he doesn't stop to investigate when he hears people talking about a walking snowman. He doesn't stop to find out about the talking snowman. Until later, after he's delivered the pizza to Mommy - then he wants to go see this wonderful, unusual sight.

Beyond the Books:

If you were waiting for snow, what kind of things would you do to wake up the sky? Would you sing a special snow song? Make noise to loosen up the clouds? Dance? Come up with some ideas for making it snow. Here's a video of the Northern Utes doing a snow dance.

Make up a game that you could play while waiting for snow.

Create a rhyme for things you have to remember. Like pizza toppings, or ingredients for cookies, or things you need to take to school, or....

Build a pizza pie snowman - if you've got snow. If you don't, then draw a picture of one. Or make one out of pizzas.... be creative!

Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies provided by publishers.