Pied Piper Pics
Coolies, by Yin, is a historical fiction picture book about the immigrants who left China for America in the mid-1800s as a result of widespread famine and the Taiping rebellion. These immigrants were hired by the Central Pacific Railroad Company to help build the transcontinental railroad. Coolies follows two brothers, Shek and Wong, as they join up to work on the railroad.
This book would be great for a child interested in history. This book would be ideal for children grades 3-6.
If your child enjoyed this book he/she can also try Only One Year by Andrea Cheng or The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps by Stephen Krensky.
Check the WRL catalog for Coolies.
Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, by Joyce Sidman, is a Newbery Honor winner and a collection of poetry about the animals of the night and their lives after the sun goes down. Each animal is written in a different style of poetry and each animal gets its own informational blurb after the poem.
This book is a great way to expose children to the different varieties of poetry in an engaging way. Also, Rick Allen’s linoleum cut illustrations are a stunning companion to Sidman’s poems. This book would be ideal for children grades 3-6.
If your child enjoyed this book he/she can also try Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman or Lemonade & Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word by Bob Raczka.
Check the WRL catalog for Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night.
Pebbles is a very enthusiastic kitty when it comes to cooking. She cooks her owner breakfast all the time and even has her own signature dish; however, it is rare that the owner will not find a hair in her eggs. Also if she is late for breakfast, she will come to find that all of the bacon has been eaten by Pebbles. On particularly cold mornings, Pebbles bakes muffins for her and warms up the whole kitchen. But this book warns you to never let your cat make lunch for you. One time Pebbles makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for her owner who takes it with her to school. In the middle of a long school day, the girl begins to feel really hungry and is really looking forward to eating the sandwich.. Unfortunately, once she takes a huge bite out of the sandwich she realizes that something is very wrong with her sandwich. She finds that Pebbles put an anchovy in her sandwich! Pebbles has other interesting (and disgusting) lunch creations in this book that will keep readers giggling!
The illustrations in Never Let Your Cat Make Lunch for You are humorous and add to the comedy of the story.
Check the WRL catalog for Never Let Your Cat Make Lunch for You.
Milly Moo is a cow who lives on a large farm in the hot sun and she only wants one thing: to give the tastiest, creamiest milk; but she cannot. Milly Moo is really sad because it is so hot and when the farmer goes to milk Milly Moo, there is something wrong. Milly Moo cannot produce any milk at all! “You can’t stay here if you can’t make milk,” says the farmer. Milly Moo is ashamed as the other cows boast about their milk. Later that night Milly Moo dreams about what would happen to her if she could not stay at the farm. As she wakes from what seems to be a nightmare, she can feel that it is getting colder outside as a storm goes through. The following morning, it is freezing cold and the other cows are miserable! In contrast, Milly Moo thinks it is the most perfect weather ever! “This is your last chance, Milly Moo,” the farmer says. At first, the farmer tries and tries, but nothing happens. Then suddenly there is a huge explosion; but not the type of explosion anyone (or cow) could have imagined! It is the frostiest, chilliest ice cream and the farmer is thrilled! “I never thought a cow could do that!” he says. After that all of the other cows are so jealous, because they cannot make ice cream like Milly Moo. “Don’t be misery moos,” says Milly Moo, “We’re all special!”
The illustrations in this story are funny and can make any reader laugh! This book is recommended for all cow and ice cream lovers.
Check the WRL catalog for Chilly Milly Moo.
The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) is a comical story about a hardworking hen making a pizza and all the struggles she endures. It begins when the Little Red Hen wakes up from her nap and realizes that she is hungry and spies a can of tomato soup in her cupboard. The Little Red Hen decides she wants to make a pizza. First, she must find a pan; but she does not have a pan large enough to fit a whole pizza. So she calls out to her friends, Duck, Dog, and Cat, to ask if they have a pan for her to use and they all reply “Not I.” The Little Red Hen goes to the store to pick up some necessities for her pizza and once she gets back home she reopens her cupboard to see she does not have any flour to make the dough! “Cluck,” she said. “I need flour.” The Little Red Hen then calls out to her friends again to see who will go to the store with her and all of them respond once again with “Not I.” So she goes to the supermarket once again to come home to find that she does not have any mozzarella! She asks if any of her friends would like to go to the supermarket for her to buy her some mozzarella and they all refuse. The Little Red Hen finally comes home from the supermarket for good, and none of her friends wish to help her make the pizza dough and the toppings. Then, the Little Red Hen finishes the pizza and asks her friends, “Would anybody like some pizza?” and of course they respond “YES!” Once they are all finished and have their bellies full, the Little Red Hen asks Duck, Dog, and Cat, “Who will help me do the dishes?” They each respond, “I will.” “I will.” “I will.” And so, they do.
This story contains strikingly colorful illustrations along with realistic images. It teaches a great lesson of fairness and respect and will make any reader hungry for more! (Pizza, of course.)
Check the WRL catalog for The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza).
This heart wrenching Coretta Scott King Award winner can help young children who are trying to cope with absent fathers. The main character and his father like to play a Knock Knock Game where the boy pretends to sleep through his father’s knocking but then jumps up and tells him good morning and that he loves him. One day, the boy’s father vanishes, and the boy is left confused and saddened. Eventually, the boy leaves his father a letter asking him to come home. After two long months, the boy receives the father’s heartfelt reply. Beaty writes, “’For every lesson I will not be there to teach you, hear these words: […] Knock Knock down the doors that I could not. Knock Knock to open new doors to your dreams. Knock Knock for me, for as long as you become your best, the best of me still lives in you.”
Though the father doesn’t return, the boy grows into a successful young man with a family of his own.
The Author’s Note at the end explains that Beaty’s father was incarcerated when Beaty was a young boy and that growing up without his father at home had a profound effect on his life. He is now an educator and has seen the same thing happen to many of his students. The illustrations are brilliant and moving. The illustrator first heard the book performed as a monologue by Beaty.
Check the WRL catalog for Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me.
This book written by a father and son about a father and son takes “Go to Work with a Parent Day” to new extremes. Hayward’s dad, who looks startlingly like Gregory Peck, works for a tabloid, and Hayward believes that all of his father’s wild tales are false. Hayward’s skeptical nature is tested throughout the day: a dinosaur egg hatches at the Museum of Natural History, Big Foot is their taxi driver, and a giant chicken attacks a hot dog vendor. Hayward finally can’t explain away a huge metal octopus that begins attacking the city after landing in a flying tea cup, but can he save the day? Even if he does, will his classmates believe him?
The illustrations in this book steal the show with cameos by Elvis and the Queen. The text appears as though it is ripped from the headlines. This silly story will win over the most skeptical readers in your household.
Check the WRL catalog for The Daily Comet: Boy Saves Earth from Giant Octopus.
This beautifully illustrated book tells the true story of Edith Rosenbaum and her musical French pig, Maxixe. Rosenbaum was a fashion designer who was travelling from Paris to New York on board the doomed Titanic. When the ship begins to sink, Rosenbaum goes to the deck to help children into lifeboats. Crew writes, “Everyone was calling for help, especially the children. ‘Where is my mama?’ they cried. ‘Where is my papa?’” A sailor mistook Maxixe wrapped in a blanket as a baby and put the music box into the lifeboat. Rosenbaum hopped in and used the musical pig to comfort and entertain the children in the dark, cold hours on the ocean.
This upbeat book about survival and music is a good way to introduce a tough topic to younger children. The Author’s Note in the end gives many more details than the simple story, including that Maxixe is kept in a private collection in New York today.
Check the WRL catalog for Pig on the Titanic: A True Story!
ROAR! Watch out! It’s a velociraptor! Never fear – did you know that velociraptors were only as big as your family dog? Any budding paleontologist will love this fun take on dinosaurs that tells us a little more about the realities of what they looked like when they lived. Kids will read about comparisons to the modern day that really put these creatures into perspective.
Each page describes one specific dinosaur from the littlest Microraptor to the largest Argentinosaurus and everything in between. Readers will learn about how much they weighed, how big they really were and so much more. There is a great section of this book that tells the reader about the process archeologists use when they find new dinosaur bones and when they preserve them. To add to the wonderful information, there are two fold-out pages that open up to show each of the dinosaurs discussed in the book in comparison to one another and to the other present day animal comparisons. This holistic look at the end of the book ties together each of the previous pages.
Adults and children will enjoy going through this book in individual, small group or large group settings and hearing the reactions from the groups will surely be fun. Grab this book for a wonderful look at these ancient and mysterious animals.
Check the WRL catalog for How Big Were Dinosaurs?
Everyone knows the tale. A little girl adventures into the woods and finds herself in the home of three bears, but what would happen if the tables were turned? Leigh Hodgkinson has taken the traditional tale and flipped it on its head.
In this story, a lonely bear finds himself in the heart of a big city. Lost and confused, the bear goes to an apartment building and takes the elevator up to find a place to rest. The new version of the story has many parallels to the traditional one with finding a good snack, a place to sit, and a place to take a nap. However, there is a surprising twist at the end that will have readers smiling. Hodgkinson has tied the old and new together in a seamless way.
This story is perfect for group story time for children in lower elementary school or any lovers of the original Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It would also be a great partner book for the original story and could be read as a sequel. This version has modern and colorful illustrations that make reading the story even more entertaining. Children will love to look at the details of the book and see what happens to the bear on each page.
Check the WRL catalog for Goldilocks and Just One Bear.
Everyone makes mistakes. Kate Banks and Boris Kulikov have created a wonderful tale about how to turn mistakes into learning experiences and even see that mistakes we are afraid to make can be just what we need.
The Eraserheads features three unlikely friends, a crocodile, an owl, and a pig, who are all erasers. These three each have their special skills. One helps a little boy with his math, another with words and letters, and the last one with anything not involving big animals. They catch his mistakes and help him to correct them. One day, the little boy drew a picture of a road but ran out of space. Crocodile decided to help and began to erase to make more space, but Crocodile accidentally erases the whole picture and the three friends are stranded on a blank paper with nowhere to go. The little boy draws them into other adventures with giant waves, tropical islands, and exotic animals. Soon the animals are stuck in a precarious situation and they have to work together to find a solution. Ultimately, they accomplish their goal and make it back home to the tops of their pencils and are ready to help the boy again with more confidence than before.
This story is a beautifully illustrated book that would be best for lower elementary students. Students will be able to creatively think about the adventure the characters go on and gain the most from the moral of the story. Young students will be able to draw parallels to some mistakes they have made and see that mistakes are part of the learning process. Read this during one-on-one reading time or group story time. For a more interactive experience, encourage the children to come up with new adventures for the characters.
Check the WRL catalog for The Eraserheads.
The brash T-Rex in this imaginative story will be a big hit with story time listeners. He talks directly to the audience throughout, boasting of his powerful physique and hunting prowess, but his attempts to hunt fail again and again. The illustrations provide a clue as to the reason for this, which parents are more likely to pick up on than children: his two front teeth are too big for his mouth. Yes, this dinosaur is about seven years old, in T-Rex years. The full-bleed illustrations are done in bold strokes and psychedelic colors, and the text is laid out in an endless variety of configurations and colors. Another book with a child narrator who addresses the audience to charming effect is Juster’s Hello, Goodbye Window. The McMullans, who jointly wrote and illustrated the book, have done a series of books with unusual narrators, most of whom are vehicles: I Stink! stars a garbage truck; I’m Dirty! is about a backhoe loader; and the forthcoming I’m Brave! is told by a fire truck.
Check the WRL catalog for I’m Bad!
Lily Brown’s love of her world infuses her paintings. She paints things she knows, like fruit at the corner market and stars in the sky. But she also changes them, so the fruit laughs and sings and stars “come down to earth to hang around in sidewalk cafes and shine when the sun goes down.” And when she changes them, she makes new worlds. Her love of her family always brings her back to their world at the end of the day. The vibrant, full-bleed watercolor illustrations combine impressionistic but mature pictures of Lily Brown with the images from her own paintings. Pair this with The Hello, Goodbye Window to focus on children’s self-expression at story time. Invite the children to paint their families and favorite things during craft time. The author is perhaps best known for her young adult novel The First Part Last, which won the Michael L. Printz Award, the highest honor for young adult literature. The illustrator, E.B. Lewis, has won numerous Coretta Scott King awards and honors.
Check the WRL catalog for Lily Brown’s Paintings.
This Halloween tale starts off a little scary, but ends with humor that dispels the creepy mood. Skeletons, ghosts, zombies, a werewolf, and other monsters gather for a ball on Halloween night, but flee when the trick-or-treaters arrive: “The thing that monsters most abhor/Are human niños at the door!/Of all the horrors they have seen, /The worst are kids on Halloween!” The text includes a generous sprinkling of Spanish words, but most of the English equivalents appear nearby, so the meanings are clear. There is also a glossary provided at the back. This book is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, and shouldn’t be limited to bilingual storytime use only. The painterly illustrations, each a full-bleed double-page spread, evoke a haunted night with muted colors and slightly blurred outlines. Use for a Kindergarten storytime at Halloween. The author was born in Puerto Rico, but moved around a lot as a child because her father was in the military. In addition to English and Spanish, she also spoke French. The illustrator, Yuyi Morales, had many different dreams before she became an artist. She describes herself this way on her website, http://www.yuyimorales.com/me.htm: “I tried to be a psychic; I wanted to move things with my mind. I practiced to be an acrobat too—and broke many things at home. Then I grew and became an artist and a writer. Oh, well.”
Check the WRL catalog for Los Gatos Black on Halloween.
Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile, by Tomie de Paola, is the adventure of Bill, a crocodile, and his friend Pete, a bird, as they go on a field trip with their class down the Nile. In their adventure, they run into Mr. Bad Guy and have to try to thwart his plans to steal the The Sacred Eye of Isis.
This book is a fun additional adventure to de Paola’s Bill and Pete series. This book would be ideal for children grades K-3.
If your child enjoyed this book he/she can also try Cornelius: A Fable by Leo Lionni or the original Bill and Pete by Tomie de Paola
Check the WRL catalog for Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile.
The Elephant from Baghdad, by Mary Tavener Holmes and John Harris, tells the tale of Charlemagne and his white albino elephant Abu, who was a gift from the caliph of Baghdad. This book, “written” by Notker the Stammerer, Charlemagne’s real life biographer, tells of Charlemagne’s travels to and from Baghdad and his relationship with Abu. In addition to the illustrations, this book includes photographs of artifacts from Charlemagne’s era.
This would be a great book to read to a child who is interested in medieval history. It shows the similarities and differences between Germany and Baghdad during the medieval period. This book would be ideal for children grades K-3.
If your child enjoyed this book he/she can also try Twenty-one Elephants by Phil Bildner or Children and Games in the Middle Ages by Lynne Elliott.
Check the WRL catalog for The Elephant from Baghdad.
Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings, by Deborah Hopkinson, is based on the true story of Alta Weiss, one of the first female baseball players. Alta must overcome society’s obstacles in order to play the game she loves. She finally convinces a coach to let her play for his team and she is an instant hit. Because of Alta’s superior pitching skills she wins the game for her team.
This book is great to read to children because it transmits the message that you should follow your passions even when there are multiple obstacles standing in your way. This book would be ideal for children grades K-3.
If your child enjoyed this book he/she can also try Dirt on their Skirts: The Story of the Young WomenWho Won the World Championship by Doreen Rappaport or Casey Back at Bat by Dan Gutman.
Check the WRL catalog for Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings.
Award-winning author and illustrator Jerry Pinkney has crafted his own version of The Little Red Hen, the story of a hard-working hen whose mission is to make some homemade bread. Unfortunately, not one of her friends will help her, so the hen makes it herself. When she is finished, all of her friends suddenly want to help her eat it, but she keeps the fruits of her harvest all for herself!
Besides teaching an age-old lesson of cooperation and helpfulness, The Little Red Hen includes a colorful cast of characters presented to readers in beautiful illustrations that make this version of the classic story memorable and unique. The author has even color-coded the characters’ names so young readers can easily read along with this favorite tale. To share it with your own young readers, be sure to check out The Little Red Hen!
Check the WRL catalog for The Little Red Hen.
Award-winning author and illustrator Kevin Henkes has created a sweet story with A Good Day, a book that tells about the events that make a little yellow bird, little white dog, little red fox, and little brown squirrel have a bad day. However, with diligence and hope, the animals’ bad day turns into a good day after all!
As always, Henkes has crafted colorful, eye-catching pictures that are framed within each page. The story is readable for beginning readers and will make a fun shared reading for emergent readers just starting out! With its timeless message and beautiful, one-of-a-kind illustrations, A Good Day is a great book!
Check the WRL catalog for A Good Day.
Patricia Polacco is an author known for writing about events from her own childhood. The book Emma Kate is an homage to the imaginary elephant friend she had while growing up. It is a perfect read for young readers with large, pencil sketch illustrations and one-two sentences on each page.
Throughout Emma Kate, Polacco details what the young girl and elephant do together. They are best friends who eat pink ice-cream together, sit at lunch with each other, and ride bikes home from school. Sometimes, on school nights, Emma Kate even gets to sleep over! The only color in this book is the coloring of the little girl’s clothes, which is the same pattern Polacco uses on the end pages of her book. This color scheme was done intentionally, which readers will figure out when they see the sweet surprise “twist” at the end of the book.
Polacco reveals that friendship comes in all forms with her winning picture book, Emma and Kate!
Check the WRL catalog for Emma Kate.