Search Picture Book Palooza

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wonderful You

Wonderful You: An Adoption Story by Lauren McLaughlin, illustrated by Meilo So is a lovely, sweet story of adoption and love.  The birth mother looks for just the right couple for her child and the adoptive parents long for a child.  The parents come together to make the decision for adoption and it's a win-win situation. What child wouldn't want to be read this story of how they were born and became a family? 
I know as I grew up an adopted daughter I loved to be told how I was chosen and picked out and made to feel loved. This story will do the same for any child, adopted or not. I think what I like most is how the birth mother is portrayed as being thoughtful and carefully considering who will be the parents of her child. It's just not the "Oh, I have to give my child away," syndrome, it's a deliberate approach to a serious deed that will affect her precious child forever.  It gave me goosebumps and made me take a deep, tearful sigh.  Being adopted, I've thought of this many times and I know deep in my heart that consideration was heartbreaking for my birth mother. Even though I've never met her and don't know who she is, I know it.  It brought all the feelings. 
The art is watercolors mixed with drawing ink.  They are vibrant and warm and so luscious.  They match perfectly with the story. Thoughtful, calming blues as the birth mother contemplates her decision. Turning to brighter, joyful pinks and then rainbow hues as the family grows together.  We see them season after season, year after year with the birth mother looking on happy that her child is carefree and loved with her adopted parents. 
I'll use this in a Preschool Storytime and in Kindergarten to Second grade groups.  I'll recommend it to parents and children for its warmth and wonderful family vibe.
Wonderful You is will be published on April 25th by Random House Books for Young Readers. Their website is here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fun and New

5 Little Ducks by Denise Fleming gives a new twist on an old song.  Featuring her famous pulp paper painting, this new story follows the 5 little ducks as they wander around their neighborhood.
But pay close attention, Papa Duck is not far away.  Young ones will love to spy Papa as he keeps an eye on his precious little ones.
The eye-catching pictures spring to life with vibrant color.  The textures explode off the page.  When the ducklings hike through the woods you can almost touch the roughness of the bark of the trees; as they roam between the paddock and the fields you sense you should be able to smell the flowers blooming there; and when they are sloshing in that mud with the pigs it seems like you should be able to feel and smell the squishiness and earthiness for yourself.
Papa Duck calls the babies back at the end, but Mama Duck in her wisdom declares a day of rest on Sunday.  
For the Preschoolers and Kindergarten groups this is the perfect story to learn how to follow a narrative.  It follows the days of the week and maps out a neighborhood.  
Mama Duck fondly reminds me of McCloskey's Mama Duck.   There is a two page spread at the back that tells more information on a few featured animals that the 5 little ducks encounter along their adventure.  This encourages more non-fiction interaction with caregivers and children. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Double Duty

Under Water; Under Earth by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski is an amazing book about about underground exploring and under the water discoveries. You start on one side and read to the middle and flip it over and start on the other side.  It's amazingly fun and full of facts.
The illustrations begin on paper but are transferred to computer and color added.  The life that is depicted on the pages seem to jump off and explain themselves.  It's a wonderful expedition into the dirt and wet areas of the world to see what lies beneath.  There are charts and drawings, questions and explanations, diagrams and layers that unfurl with each page turn to reveal more information and tidbits of data.
These titles, or this book is fascinating and will bring your child or student back for more again and again to pour over another page to find one more bit of info that they may have missed.  It's oversized just right to fit on the top of a desk or lap and ready to draw you in. 
I'll use this book with all ages because of its appeal and ability to capture your interest.  I would just use less and smaller pieces with younger groups.  Leave plenty of time for kids to look at it themselves.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Fascinating Form

An Artist's Alphabet by Norman Messenger is engrossing.  Not your average alphabet book, this title draws you in and on a few pages grabs you by the throat.  Those are the spreads that leave me a little uncomfortable, but totally enthralled with what exactly is being represented.
Done with pencil and watercolors, the illustrations are fantastical and captivating.  
I especially love the letter C, M, N, and R, also depicted on the cover.  Some leave me utterly squinting my eyes and wondering what might the artist be thinking and what am I missing?
I would use this with Kindergarten and First grade students that might still be learning their alphabet.  But this would be a great book to use with older elementary students to stir the brain juices and get them thinking about perspective and looking at something from a different point of view.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Gingerbread Man

For outreach this month and for a special program at the library, I'm doing versions on the Gingerbread Man.  

I like to use Eric A. Kimmel's version as my traditional version, illustrated by Megan Lloyd.  It's clear and not so old-fashioned that kids get lost in the 16th century.
Then I read The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires, illustrated by Holly Berry.  I love the drastic change in setting and character for the kids to talk about how different a Midwest type farm is from a Southwest ranch. And the whole giddyup rendition is just too catchy.
I booktalked the Gingerbread Boy by Richard Egielski showing the pictures and discussing how New York City is the setting and in the middle of NYC is Central Park with a zoo and Ta-Da a zoo with a fox! But alas the Gingerbread Boy's fate is the same - a tasty snack.
By then I get to the Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst who learned from her horrible's brother's tragedy and didn't get eaten, but they'll have to read it for themselves to find out how she tricked the fox.

And lastly I read The Ninjabread Man by C. J. Leigh, pictures by Chris Gall.  And although this is a bit of along stretch of reading, the ninja always grabs them!  
They love the cookie sword, that the snake is a girl and that The Ninjabread Man is being baked again.
I also before and after, somewhere in a transition time used a "Little Mouse, Little Mouse" adapted rhyme.  I copied a clipart van in different colors and a small Gingerbread man and hid him behind a van.  Then we chanted, "Gingerbread Man, Gingerbread Man are you hiding behind the _____ van?" and had one child pick a color until we revealed the hidden Gingerbread Man. Loads of fun! 
And if you can, be sure to ice and decorate your own Gingerbread Man. There's nothing like biting off that leg or head or arm.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

New Red Riding Hoods

Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar, pictures by Troy Cummings is a splendid addition to the Red Riding Hood variants.  Little Red couldn't imagine no more visits to grandma's but with these worn-in worn-out skates she just might not make it down the frozen river one more time. Luckily for her there's a skating competition with brand-new skates as the prize! But Little Red needs a partner.
Cummings abbreviated version of his process is:
1. Quick thumbnail sketch in pencil.
2. Larger pencil sketch.
3. Then I move to digital — I block in the color in Adobe Illustrator, as a bunch of loose shapes.
4. I bring the shapes into photoshop, where I paint in all the details and textures.
I love the vibrant color palette he uses and all the different fairy tale and Mother Goose Characters in the story.
Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith is set in the African savanna. Little Red has a friendly goat that hangs around, she leaves to visit Auntie Rosie to bring her spot medicine and she out-wits this oh-not-so-terrifying lion quite easily. I am in love with the lion's new hair-do; drawn in by the humongous, disgusting mouth; and was brought to tears by the lovely pink-bowed dress that Little Red tricked the Lion into.  This version of Little Red Riding Hood is marvelous! The textures in the illustrations along with the colors are wonderfully warm and inviting.
I shared these two stories with First and Second graders last week and they loved them both!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


I started November Storytimes with a general 'family' theme.
 I began with  A Family is A Family is A Family by Sara O’ Leary, illustrated by Qin Leng.  This new book is wonderfully detailed in how different and how alike families can be.  It begins when a teacher asks her class to share and one student begins to worry that her family will be just too different.  Don't we all think our family is just too weird?  
After reading this I shared with my group that I was adopted and that felt extra strange sometimes too. 
We then read Cat on the Bus by Aram Kim. This book has few words but the children were quite attentive while I showed the pictures and read.  Children are empathetic towards what is going to happen to the cat.  We discussed at the end that now the cat has a new family.

Our last book was  Together by Emma Dodd, all the wonderful things this parent and child sea otter family do together throughout the day.  It's simple and shiny and a sweet read .  

Our Preschool Storytime focus was on reading together with the Early Literacy skill of reading.  We talked about finding a special place to share books, a special time, and being sure to talk with our children about what we read together and getting our children to discuss their ideas.
I like to share new books that show the world to our children with love and acceptance.  To help our children to learn about their world with playing, singing, writing, reading, and talking.