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Picture book reviews by librarians for everyone.
Updated: 11 min 9 sec ago

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

Wed, 2014-08-27 00:05

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 00:05

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 00:01

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 00:01

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 00:01

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 00:01

 

 

 

 

 

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 00:01

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

Sun, 2014-08-10 23:00

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 00:01

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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