Pied Piper Pics
I thought that this 1985 title from Caldecott Medal winner Emily Arnold McCully might seem dated. But it worked beautifully with two classes of preschoolers recently. It has a simple narrative, but the wonderfully detailed illustrations allow the story to be shared and discussed almost like a wordless picture book. This book was in fact originally a wordless story; McCully added the brief text when First Snow was reissued in a larger format in 2003.
The mouse family treks up a big hill to go sledding, and children love shouting, “Wheeeee” as the mouse children swoosh down the hill. But Bitty, the smallest, lingers on the hilltop. McCully shows us the big hill from Bitty’s perspective, and that makes it easy for children to understand the problem: Bitty is scared.
It’s fun to ask children to call out encouragement to Bitty, and wonderful to show them when they have succeeded! Down she flies! “Did you see me? I did it!” she shouts. Bitty hikes up and zooms down that hill over and over until the sun goes down and it’s time for dinner.
Although I might not do this for a huge group, the illustrations are certainly large enough for a small class.
Check the WRL catalog for First Snow.
A soft, warm bear is snuggled up asleep in his cave. One by one a rabbit, a badger, a fox, a squirrel and a mouse peer inside. Each is so cold and that fuzzy bear looks so warm. “You may come in,” the hare tells each. “But don’t wake up the bear!”
This is a great group-participation story for preschool through kindergarten. In my effort to get kids to participate in a story, sometimes they end up shouting a repeated line. In this case, it’s fun to get the whole group whispering, “Don’t wake up the bear!” The story is nicely repetitive, and children enjoy the mayhem that ensues when the mouse, who has chosen to snooze in the bear’s ear, suddenly has to sneeze.
The illustrations are nice and big, so the book works well with a large or small group. I think the bear looks a bit scary, but the preschoolers with whom I’ve shared the book didn’t seem to mind.
Check the WRL catalog for Don’t Wake Up the Bear!
I’ve chosen to highlight another of Alison Murray’s books. You can see Murray’s instantly recognizable, simple illustrations in bright muted colors.
Little Mouse is the little girl in the story who is fighting against her timid image. She wants to be strong and fierce. She says, “I’m not timid like a little mouse. I’m very brave…and I can be scary too! Grrrrrrrr!” However when this little girl becomes timid, she is only too happy to be “Mommy’s Little Mouse…quiet and cosy, cuddly and dozy…”
This would be a wonderful, soothing, interactive bedtime story for the pre-school age group.
Check the WRL catalog for Little Mouse.
Scottish author-illustrator, Alison Murray has written another first class picture book. It is based on the old nursery rhyme Hickory Dickory Dock. This latest book was first published in the U.S. in 2014. It has Murray’s bright characteristically vivid colors and illustrations. Rufus is the goofy dog in the story. Rufus follows his owner, Zack, to school one day! “Hickory, Dickory, Dock. A dog, a boy, a clock! The day’s begun it’s time for fun! Hickory, Dickory, Dock.” Unlike the lamb in the nursery rhyme Mary had a Little Lamb, Rufus is allowed to stay in school. Rufus joins in at band practice, dress up time and painting time. “The clock strikes eleven. It’s make-a-mess heaven. Hickory, Dickory, Dock.” Rufus joins in for lunch at school and garden time and THEN he is taken home! “Higglety, pigglety, pup It’s time to clean you up! The clock strikes five Slip, slide, crash… dive! Higglety, pigglety, pup.” Then it’s time for the end of the rhyme and the reader sees Zack and Rufus fast asleep in bed. This is a great story for toddlers and pre-schoolers with simple, rhyming text.
Check the WRL catalog for Hickory Dickory Dog.
This is another story by Jane Cabrera inspired by a favorite nursery rhyme – this time the rhythmic, story of Row, Row, Row Your Boat! I read it aloud and also sang it to a very large group of toddlers at Williamsburg Library. The children enjoyed the rhythm and the very bright illustrations of the different animals. Jane Cabrera involves the different animals in the interactive story.
Row, row, row your boat
Splish! and Splash! and Splatter!
If you see the monkeys swing,
Don’t forget to chatter-
Row, row, row your boat
through the narrow gap.
If you see a crocodile!
Don’t forget to Snap! Snap! Snap!
This interactive and rhyming book has become a favorite book to share at story time especially for those times when you lose the toddlers’ attention.
Check the WRL catalog for Row, Row, Row Your Boat.
The simple story is about a child named Lucy who decides to draw a monster one night when she can’t sleep. She and the monster play and play, but when Lucy decides that it’s time for bed, the monster says, “No,” and proceeds to make every excuse that every child has ever used for staying up.
First, he’s hungry. So Lucy draws him a mountain of meatballs. “Chomp, Chomp, Chomp!” He eats them all. When he wails that he is thirsty, she draws him a bucket of water, which he drinks with a, “Glub, glub.” Lucy’s crayons get lots more work, as she draws him a bathroom, pajamas, a teddy bear and more.
Children enjoy guessing what Lucy will draw to satisfy her funny green friend. That makes it a fun interactive book for story time. For a child who is afraid of monsters under the bed, I think this book could encourage that child to draw the monster, and then draw the things that “their” monster wants in order to fall asleep. A monster that needs a teddy bear isn’t so scary, after all!
The sparing text makes this book suitable for a child as young as three. But it is engaging enough for a kindergartener. The illustrations are large enough to use with a group.
Check the WRL catalog for Go to Bed, Monster!
You get the same sort of fun without the calories with a read-aloud of Fortune Cookies. The little girl in the story eats one fortune cookie a day for a week. Inside each cookie illustration is a small tab that children can pull out to read that day’s fortune. The next day that fortune comes true!
This is one of my favorite interactive books to use with older children. Naturally, they love pulling out the fortunes and reading them. But they also enjoy guessing how that fortune will turn out. There are only a few words on each page, and the illustrations by Raschka, a Caldecott Medal winner, are simple and wonderfully expressive.
As long as I’ve gotten approval beforehand, I like to follow this story with a special treat—a fortune cookie for everyone.
Check the WRL catalog for Fortune Cookies.
In this simple, toddler-friendly story, Cookie knocks plants off the windowsill, gets stuck in a kitchen drawer, upsets the trash can and even falls in the toilet. Each disaster happens on a different day of the week, so the book can be used to teach the days of the week, although it’s too fun to save for just that purpose.
DePaola’s illustrations frequently only show bits of the rambunctious cat, such as one back foot and a tail poking out from under a wok. This provides opportunities for discussion. I also like to encourage storytime kids to say, “Silly Cookie!” with each mishap, though that isn’t part of the text.
It is simple enough for tiny ones, but I would even use this with kindergarteners as a break between longer stories. I’ve used a big book version of this in story time, but because the illustrations are clear and simple, I think the smaller sized book would work with a group.
Check the WRL catalog for Cookie’s Week.
The Ticky-Tacky Doll, by Cynthia Rylant, tells the story of a little girl and her best friend, Ticky-Tacky Doll. They have been inseparable ever since the little girl’s grandmother created Ticky-Tacky but now, the little girl is starting school and her doll cannot come with her.
This book is great for any child who has a special stuffed friend. It would also be good for any child starting Kindergarten. This book would be ideal for children grades K-3.
If your child enjoyed this book he/she can also try William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow or Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki.
Check the WRL catalog for The Ticky-Tacky Doll.
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.