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Picture book reviews by librarians for everyone.
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This Monster Needs a Haircut by Bethany Barton

Fri, 2014-09-05 01:01

Barton is incredibly witty in this hilarious book about a stubborn monster named Stewart, who DOES NOT want a haircut! The vibrant colors and Stewart’s wild, messy hair make the book entertaining for little ones, but there are also small details that adults can appreciate. For example, at monster school, Stewart’s homework is to “Find human homework and eat it!”

Stewart’s parents try to convince him to get a haircut and promise that it will grow back, but it isn’t until his hair starts to interfere with his scaring abilities that he finally relents. This is a great book to read to any little monsters you know who are afraid to get a haircut!

Check the WRL catalog for This Monster Needs a Haircut.

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Panda-monium at Peek Zoo by Kevin Waldron

Wed, 2014-09-03 01:01

This sequel to Mr. Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo is a hilarious return to the zoo on a day that Mr. Peek wants to celebrate: the arrival of his new V.I.P. (“Very Important Panda”), Lulu. He wants to host an animal parade, but the zoo must be in perfect condition first. Unfortunately, Mr. Peek is nervous and does not get all of his chores done so perfectly. After letting out the penguins, covering the turtles in black shoe polish, and forgetting to feed the lion–catastrophe strikes! Lulu is missing! Will they find her and fix the zoo before all of his customers arrive? Luckily for Mr. Peek, his son Jimmy didn’t inherit his father’s bad luck.
The funny characters and mishaps in this story combined with the beautiful and colorful illustrations of all of the animals in Mr. Peek’s zoo make this a must-read book.

Check the WRL catalog for Panda-monium at Peek Zoo.

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When Giants Come to Play by Andrea Beaty, illus. by Kevin Hawkes

Mon, 2014-09-01 01:01

If you’re looking for a silly “tall” tale, then When Giants Come to Play is the book for you. Older children and parents will appreciate the lyrical and imaginative story, while anyone can enjoy the comical and well-drawn illustrations. “Sometimes, on a summer morning, when the sun shines just so/and the wind blows like this and like that/on its way to somewhere else, giants come to play,” writes Beaty.

Anna is a young blonde girl who is visited by two of these giants, and they play hide-and-seek (they’re much better at seeking than hiding), marbles (with soccer balls), catch (with Anna as the ball), dolls (with Anna’s sister dressed as a baby doll), and many other games. This is a fun book to read after a day of fun in the sun.

Check the WRL catalog for When Giants Come to Play.

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Alpha, Bravo, Charlie: The Military Alphabet, by Chris L. Demarest

Fri, 2014-08-29 01:05

Have you ever wished you could communicate more clearly on a bad cellphone line? Then maybe you need Alpha, Bravo, Charlie to learn about the phonetic military alphabet. Written as a children’s alphabet book Alpha, Bravo, Charlie is an informational book with plenty for children (and adults!) to learn, but is also very entertaining, especially for children who don’t like talking animals and prefer their picture books to be about real things. Each page, or double page spread features a letter of the alphabet along with its phonetic alphabet equivalent and naval signal flag. A military-related event or piece of military equipment is briefly described, often alliteratively. For example, S Sierra “Sailors Salute”, B Bravo “A battalion of brave soldiers get ready for battle” and F Foxtrot “Foot soldiers wear bulletproof flak jackets”. The illustrations are richly colored, active and detailed and help make a bright and attractive book including a bold blue cover and end papers decorated with navy signal flags. This is another book I used in the storytime for military families. Alpha, Bravo, Charlie is a great choice to be read aloud for military children to see pictures of what their military parent may do at work. I also recommend it for young readers who are fascinated by secret codes and love to read about construction equipment and other huge machines. There are few machines as impressive as a Navy destroyer, a Coast Guard icebreaker or a fighter plane!

Check the WRL catalog for Alpha, Bravo, Charlie.

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Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story, by Deborah Hopkinson

Wed, 2014-08-27 01:05

This month marks the centenary of the start of World War I. Such an important historical event is something children should know about, but most depictions are far too disturbing for small children. The library owns several picture books that introduce children to World War I in a more accessible, nonthreatening way, such as Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon, Fly, Cher Ami, Fly!: the Pigeon Who Saved the Lost Battalion by Robert Burleigh, or The Donkey of Gallipoli: a True Story of Courage in World War I, by Mark Greenwood. Knit Your Bit is even more suitable for small children as it has minimal depictions of the front line. It came out last year and is based on a real knitting competition in Central Park in July, 1918. As the book starts Mikey’s Pop goes off to war on a steam train and Mikey wants to do something BIG to help. His mother and sister suggest knitting for the soldiers but Mikey doesn’t want to do something so girlish. Then they hear about a knitting Bee in Central Park, so the boys in Mikey’s class are challenged into setting up the Boys’ Knitting Brigade and know that they will beat their rivals the Purl Girls. During World War I the “Knit for Sammy” program was so widespread that there were even sheep on the White House lawn! The cartoonish ink and watercolor illustrations warmly capture the characters’ emotions while the endpapers include historical photographs of children knitting during World War I. Try this book for small military children to reflect their experience of an absent parent, or for historical information about World War I or just a warmhearted and interesting story.

Check the WRL catalog for Knit Your Bit.


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Hero Dad, By Melinda Hardin

Mon, 2014-08-25 01:05

As I wrote last year over two million children have a parent serving in the United States military. The world is changing and the military is changing, but what is unlikely to change is that most military children are very young and are confused about why their parent has to go away and what they do when they are away. Hero Dad will help young military children with their confusion. It is a simple picture book with one sentence per page, to be read aloud to the youngest military children. The sentences are split into two parts, with the first part suggesting a super ability that a comic book hero might have and then the second part lists the equivalent military ability. So my dad “doesn’t wear rocket propelled boots” instead “he wears Army boots”. Or my dad “doesn’t wear a cloak that makes him invisible – he wears camouflage.” The illustrations are active and warm, showing the father using his super abilities in a far-off place. The book starts with the Hero Dad saying goodbye and ends with him returning and warmly embracing his son.
A new book in series, Hero Mom, came out in 2013. This one starts with seven different children saying. “Our moms are superheroes” and follows the same pattern, so for a mechanic it says “My mom can’t transform into a machine, but she can make airplanes fly, trucks run, and tanks roll.” Hero Mom shows a mom and daughter skyping – a common and important method of communication for military families. Again the book ends with a mom and child warmly embracing after she returns.
Many of the other books depicting children who have a parent in the military (click here for a list) are too complicated for the youngest children, so I highly recommend Hero Dan and Hero Mom for the smallest military children who have short attention spans and limited experience of the world. For other small children the books can show some of the many different things parents do when they leave for work.
This is a book I used in a storytime for military families at the Williamsburg Regional Library.

Check the WRL catalog for Hero Dad.



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Dot by Patricia Intriago

Fri, 2014-08-22 01:01

This is a book of opposites as demonstrated…by a dot. This is a very well done and cute concept book…one could even say it was spot on! This book is simple enough for the baby/toddler crowd but has enough inherent humor in it to attract the older crowd’s attention.






Extremely simple illustrations are perfect for viewing from a distance and yet also offer up some surprising detail for the more attuned visual observer. I have to admit, this book gave me a bit of a giggle! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


  • Storytime or lapsit appropriate
  • Easily viewed illustrations
  • Concept Book


Check the WRL catalog for Dot. 

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A Farmer’s Life for Me by Jan Dobbins, illus. by Laura Huliska-Beith

Wed, 2014-08-20 01:01

I am a librarian, and I love to sing! Not being good at it has never bothered me much and when I picked up A Farmer’s Life for Me I knew I had found another winner. The nice thing about this sing-able picture book is that it includes a repeated chorus of “1, 2, 3, it’s a farmer’s life for me” so not only do you get to sing, but the kids do too! The nice colorful illustrations can be seen easily from a distance and the book would work well for a farm themed storytime.


  • Storytime or lapsit appropriate
  • Easily viewed illustrations
  • Song


Check the WRL catalog for A Farmer’s Life for Me!


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Feelings! by Tad Carpenter

Mon, 2014-08-18 01:01

Lift-the-flap books are utterly delightful reads to share with kids. They love getting the chance to interact with the reader and make guesses about what might be hidden under the flap. Feelings! by Tad Carpenter is a very nice introduction to the topic of emotions. This is a subject that many children understand and relate to, and one that is rarely discussed in such a simple, appealing way. Filled with bright, expressive illustrations this book has high visual appeal for the very young.


  • Storytime or lapsit appropriate
  • Easily viewed illustrations
  • Lift-the-flap
















Check the WRL catalog for Feelings!

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Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi, illus. by Brendan Wenzel

Fri, 2014-08-15 01:01






Bugs! Every kid loves them! This fun, rhyming read-a-loud will have you loving them too. Lines such as “Some bugs STING. Some bugs BITE. Some bugs STINK. And some bugs FIGHT.” just beg to be read aloud to a group of children. The illustrations are warm and whimsical, with a slightly comical tilt. Those darn cute googily eyes make even spiders tolerable! Yet the illustrations are still detailed enough to lend themselves to a nice conversation if you happen to read it one-on-one with a child.

  • Storytime or lapsit appropriate
  • Easily viewed illustrations
  • Rhyming book


Check the WRL catalog for Some Bugs.

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Run, Dog! by Cécile Boyer

Wed, 2014-08-13 01:01

Wordless books are always an interesting addition to a storytime. The silence is somewhat intimidating to a storyteller who is used to using inflection to get a point across. But, if you brave it, I think you will realize their value and begin to enjoy sharing them with children. Wordless pictures allow the readers to put their own imagination and spin on the story. So, you don’t tell the story, the kids read it. Kinda neat, huh?


Run, Dog! is great because it combines wordlessness with a lift-the-flap format. The result is almost a “flip book” where the movement of the pages shows the animation of the illustrations.   The illustrations themselves are very simple and clear and while they can easily be seen from a distance, they also have enough detail to be interesting.


This seemingly simple book is superbly done and will be enjoyed both one-on-one and with groups.

  • Storytime or lapsit appropriate
  • Easily viewed illustrations


Check the WRL catalog for Run, Dog!

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Two Nests by Laurence Anholt, illus. by Jim Coplestone

Mon, 2014-08-11 00:00

Divorce is not a pleasant experience for anyone involved. However, if you must tackle this difficult topic, let me recommend Two Nests by Laurence Anholt. Presented in a very simple manner the story follows two birds as they build a nest together, hatch a baby bird, and then squabble in their too small nest. They build a new nest for daddy and everyone is sad, but baby bird learns that instead of only one home, he now has two!

A nice rhyming book with clear illustrations, this book will be helpful for any young child going through the confusion of divorce. Using birds to tell the tale makes the story accessible to children of every culture. Simple illustrations and rhyming text also make this a candidate for storytime.

  • Storytime or lapsit appropriate
  • Easily viewed illustrations
  • Rhyming book

Check the WRL catalog for Two Nests.

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Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

Fri, 2014-08-08 01:01

Goat is not having a good day! There’s a new unicorn in town and goat just can’t compare. Unicorn flies, he makes it rain cupcakes and he eats rainbows and glitter! Goat just gets grumpier. Until unicorn starts to point out all the flaws he thinks he has and how he thinks goat is so much better at everything he does. Can these two become friends? Bob Shea has written and illustrated Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great and it’s a winner. It helps children see and appreciate the differences in themselves and their friends. I always recommend this one to teachers looking for books at the beginning of school that will help the children accept everyone in the class. Goat and unicorn learn to work together to be an awesome team!

Check the WRL catalog for Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great.

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The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Swartz, illus. by Dan Santat

Wed, 2014-08-06 01:01

The Three Ninja Pigs is the classic “three little pigs” tale with a ninja twist! Our three piggy siblings [two boys and a girl] are tired of the wolf huffing and puffing all over the place. They decide to do something about it. NINJA SCHOOL! They work hard but the first two don’t complete their education and, of course, run to their sister who has all the skills to take care of the wolf with super cool ninja moves. The wolf is big and bad and gets scared out of town. Author Corey Rosen Schwartz tell the story in rhyme which adds to the drama. Have fun reading this one to the kids in your life and remember NINJAS RULE!

Check the WRL catalog for The Three Ninja Pigs.

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The Great Lollipop Caper by Dan Krall

Mon, 2014-08-04 01:01

The Great Lollipop Caper is a perfect book for the whole family. Adults admire Mr. Caper’s acidic earthiness and kids love lollipops that are sweet and tangy. What could go wrong? Dan Krall tells a very funny story of how Mr. Caper decides to get the children to love him instead of Lollipop. But it doesn’t work out quite the way he expects it to and Lollipop must save him. Share this one with your children and you will enjoy it as much as they do, I always read this at my school age story times and we brainstorm first about what a caper might taste like.

Check the WRL catalog for The Great Lollipop Caper.

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The Emperor’s Cool Clothes by Lee Harper

Fri, 2014-08-01 01:01

The Emperor’s Cool Clothes is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous tale but this one stands out as a new classic! First there is the vain emperor who just happens to be a penguin. Then we have the two rogues of the very cool, new store in town, Two Rogues Cool Clothing. The emperor wants to be the coolest dressed emperor so he hires the Rogue brothers to make him some cool clothes. The brothers decide to pull the traditional scam of invisible but really cool clothes. The emperor parades around town and realizes he is in fact naked but what’s an emperor to do but just go with it. The Emperor’s Cool Clothes has the best characters that stay true to their personalities. Lee Harper has brought the famous tale up to date and used polar animals to do it.

Check the WRL catalog for The Emperor’s Cool Clothes.

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Seriously, Cinderella is so Annoying! by Trisha Speed Shaskan

Wed, 2014-07-30 01:01

I love classic stories retold by the supposedly evil character! In Seriously, Cinderella Is So Annoying, the wicked stepmother gets her chance to tell what really happens. All the poor woman wants to do is get married and live happily ever after. But after the wedding, the new hubby leaves her with a dirty house and Cinderella. According to the stepmother, all Cinderella does, night and day, is talk, talk, talk. The house is a wreck and Cinderella talks to birds. The meals need cooking and Cinderella talks to squirrels. She tells stories about everything! Trisha Speed Shaskan does a great job with this book. It’s one that stays on my story time shelf.

Check the WRL catalog for Seriously, Cinderella is so Annoying.

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The Mystery of Eatum Hall by John Kelly and Cathy Tincknell

Mon, 2014-07-28 01:01

Horace and Glenda Pork-Fowler are off on an exciting free weekend at Eatum Hall! As they approach the hall through the forest, they are still clueless as to why they have been invited. Dr. Hunter is nowhere to be seen and the mystery of the weekend grows. But look very closely at the illustrations because they tell the real story of the weekend. Horace and Glenda have a grand time and leave well rested and still clueless but what has happened to Dr. Hunter? His friends are about to find out! The Mystery of Eatum Hall by John Kelly and Cathy Tincknell is so much fun and it stays on my story time shelf. I use it with school age children and it’s always great.

Check the WRL catalog for The Mystery of Eatum Hall.

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Milo’s Hat Trick by Jon Agee

Fri, 2014-07-25 01:01

Milo the Magnificent was not magnificent at all. In fact, his whole magic show was a disaster. Milo needed to clean up his act! On his quest for a better trick, Milo meets a talented and flexible bear who might just help him go from bad to brilliant!

I’ve read this book aloud at least a dozen times and it never gets old! Each time, my group is giggling and laughing right up to the very end. In typical Jon Agee fashion, this story is hilariously written with its clever and quick witted text and the illustrations are expressive and filled with subtle humor. A perfect book for school aged children in grades K-3.

Check the WRL catalog for Milo’s Hat Trick.

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Magic Box: A Magical Story by Katie Cleminson

Wed, 2014-07-23 01:01

It’s Eva’s birthday and she is given a very special present…a magic box! Eva climbs inside. With the wave of her wand she pulls rabbits from hats, makes things float in the air, throws a fantastic party complete with delicious food, entertaining musicians and lots of dancing. But for her best trick of all she wishes for a pet named Monty and gets more than she bargained for.
I love this book because it reminds me of how much enjoyment my children always got out of a seemingly ordinary box. This simple story is rich with whimsical illustrations and celebrates the power of imagination. It is a perfect book to use in a birthday story time with a toddler group or to share one on one with your children at home.

Check the WRL catalog for Magic Box: A Magical Story.

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