Pied Piper Pics
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.
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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!
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If You Were Born a Kitten is a realistic book about the way baby animals look, feel, and behave once they are born. Many animals react in different ways once they are born. For example, baby seahorses “pop out of their father’s pouch and swim away with hundreds of sisters and brothers.” Also, bear cubs are actually born with no hair at all and they must cuddle up to their mother to keep warm. In the end, the reader discovers that the narrator of the book is actually the mother of the baby to whom she is referring. “Naked as a bear cub. Soft as a porcupette. Wrinkled as a deer mouse. Free as a kitten. You.”
The realistic illustrations engage the reader and show affectionate love between the different animals. The soft, pencil drawings are beautiful.
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Manny’s Cows: The Niagara Falls Tale features a boy named Manny who gets out of school for summer break. But since he lives on a farm with 500 cows he never gets to go on vacation, because the cows must be attended to multiple times a day. On the last day of school, Manny’s teacher suggests that he just takes his 500 cows with him on vacation. He ponders what vacation would be like with the cows and decides to leave the next morning for Niagara Falls. He packs the 500 cows into a bus, and they are off to The Falls.
Despite all of the commotion on the way, they make it there safe and sound. Unfortunately, once they are all finished with the boat tour, the cows go to the gift shop. Manny gets upset because he cannot pay for any of the souvenirs the cows pick out. One cow decides that she is going to make butter and then, “In no time at all, Manny’s cows were up to their udders in orders for butter!” With the cows’ help, Manny was able to pay off the cows’ gift shop mess and even have enough money to “ride home in style.” The illustrations in this book are phenomenal and hilarious. Readers of any age will love this book!
Check the WRL catalog for Manny’s Cows: the Niagara Falls Tale.
Everything Goes: On Land is a thrilling and informative book about every type of machinery that moves. For example, cars, trucks, RVs, bikes, and motorcycles come alive on the pages. The book begins with more familiar vehicles that go and proceeds into more complex vehicles like trains. It features a father and a son who are learning all about things that go on land! Everything is labeled, and this book really puts the reader in the middle of a busy city! The book has large illustrations that inform the reader of the different types of parts and functions of the different objects. In addition, each page if filled top to bottom with exciting and colorful illustrations!
Check the WRL catalog for Everything Goes: On Land.
The unrhymed poem that comprises the text of this book makes it unusual and refreshing. It is a toddler’s stream of consciousness narration of an outing in the stroller. It cleverly evokes toddlers’ energy, curiosity, and distractibility: “Mama unstraps my belt/I climb out/run behind/Mine/Mine!/My wheels pushing/Mama calls me/but I won’t bump/a baby/Hey baby!/Hi baby!” The watercolor and ink illustrations are appropriately imprecise. Many pictures are done from the toddler’s perspective. In one, grownup faces loom down toward the stroller. In the foreground, a pudgy hand reaches up: “I want to pinch their noses.” The toddler’s antics recall Little Mister and the Max and Ruby books. This is a must for toddler and preschool story times. The author is known primarily for her poetry for adults. The illustrator has said that she tries to sneak her cat into every book she illustrates. Can you find it in Baby Radar?
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Although the limited number of colors used in the illustrations gives this title a dated look, it is a delightful story with distinctively stylized, amusing pictures done in heavy pen and ink. The equally amusing rhyming text describes the activities of a little boy who is good friends with the king and queen. The royal couple is constantly inviting him to join them for special occasions. His first response each time is to ask if he may bring a friend. The king and queen always graciously assure him that his friends are welcome, and so are called upon to entertain a giraffe, monkeys, lions, and other zoo animals. A similar story is Rod Campbell’s Dear Zoo. For a silly story time about animals in unusual situations for preschool children, pair this with Mercer Mayer’s There’s an Alligator Under My Bed and sing “Down by the Bay.” The illustrator, Beni Montresor, was a renowned Italian artist who received a knighthood for his work.
Check the WRL catalog for May I Bring a Friend?
In this tale of trickery in the Outback, Dingo catches a wombat to put in a stew. Other animals (including a platypus, an emu, and a kookaburra) hear him exulting over his prize and set out to ruin the stew before the wombat can be put in. Dingo, gleeful and clueless, readily agrees to all the suggestions for ingredients: mud, flies, gumnuts, etc. The illustrations depict these animals (who are rarely seen in picture books) fairly realistically, except for their anthropomorphized facial expressions and body language, Platypus’ hat, and Emu’s long, curly eyelashes. For storytime teach the song that Dingo repeats throughout the story: “Wombat stew,/ Wombat stew,/Gooey, brewy,/Yummy, chewy,/Wombat stew!” The simple tune is included on the final page of the book. It’s a crowd pleaser for ages four to eight and could be used with a large group. Marcia Vaughan lives on an island in Puget Sound (Washington). Pamela Lofts, an Australian author and illustrator, lived in Alice Springs, in the midst of the Australian Outback.
Check the WRL catalog for Wombat Stew.
The family car; one day it’s clean and the next, the sparkle is gone. But isn’t that part of the fun? Ernst has created an entertaining tale about the family car and all that it experiences. The story starts with the father who has just finished cleaning the family van. And each following page introduces a new dynamic to the car and to the travels it takes. All too soon, the car is once again ready to be cleaned. Though, this time it is the kids turn to help.
The story is framed in a rhyme that builds on itself making each page a fun memory game. Children will be able to follow the story and repeat everything that has already happened. This allows for the reading dynamic to change into a fun sing-song activity. Those reading the story aloud are able to create a game out of the book to see what the listeners can remember, which means this book is perfect for large group reading. In a smaller setting, this book is wonderful as well. Families can read the book and enjoy parallels to their own lives and family car. Even better, children can learn how important it is to help clean up messes they make, the importance of working as a group, and most importantly how fun it can be to accomplish a goal and help their parents!
This is the Van that Dad Cleaned is great for lower elementary and preschool students who are ready for a humorous, charming, and very relatable rhyming tale.
Check the WRL catalog for This is the Van that Daddy Cleaned.