Sunday, May 31, 2015

Random Finds While Shelf-Reading

This is a handful of picture books that caught my interest when I came across them while shelf-reading, for various reasons.  Shelf-reading can be a little tedious, but I love getting the chance to see the whole collection and keep an eye out for overlooked gems.

Rotten and Rascal:  The Two Terrible Pterosaur Twins by Paul Geraghty.  Ages 4-8.  Barron's Educational Series, 2006.  32 pages.

Summary - Rotten and Rascal are twin pterosaurs who argue and bicker about *everything*.  Their loud bickering annoys the other dinosaurs and one day T. rex had had enough, so he asked them which one of them tasted the best.  They were so busy arguing, they failed to notice the gleam in T. rex's eye.  And guess what? *Spoiler Alert* They tasted exactly the same ;)

Review - I love this book!  I'm partial to dinosaur books anyway, and I enjoy dark humor.  I would be careful about reading it to younger or very sensitive kids who might be freaked out about the main characters being eaten, but it would be great for older kids who would appreciate the humor, especially if they've been bickering too much lately. 

Elizabite: Adventures of a Carnivorous Plant by H. A. Rey.  Ages 3-8.  HMH Books For Young Readers, 1999 (originally published in 1942).  32 pages.

Summary - Dr. White discovers a rare carnivorous plant and takes her back to his lab to study and obtain seeds.  However, Elizabite proves to be a bit more than he can handle and ends up biting off the poor scotty dog's tail and nipping the maid's posterior.  But in the end she saves the day by stopping a dastardly burglar.

Review - If this seems familiar, I mentioned it in a previous Garden-theme storytime post, and the author is very well known for his Curious George books.  I absolutely LOVE this book!  I have always been fascinated with carnivorous plants, and one can't help but fall in love with Elizabite's cheerful, happy face.  The rhyme and rhythm of the text is great and helps draw the listener in, and it includes some good scientific vocabulary to introduce, such as "carnivorous," "botanist," and "laboratory".  The wonderful illustrations really tell the story well, even without the text.  Pair it with a non-fiction book to show real carnivorous plants and you have the beginnings of a STEAM program. 

The Crows of Pear Blossom by Aldous Huxley (yes, that Aldous Huxley), illustrated by Sophie Blackall.  Ages 4-8.  Harry N. Abrams, 2011 (originally written in 1944). 40 pages.

Summary - Mr. and Mrs. Crow have yet to successfully raise any baby crows as a snake hiding at the base of the tree keeps sneaking into the nest and eating their eggs.  Finally, with the help of a wise, old owl, they come up with a plan to defeat the snake.

Review - When I caught the author's name, my first thought was, "The author of A Brave, New World wrote a children's book?!?", and I had to read it.  The story could have been good, but has some rather odd passages, and I found it to be very demeaning to women, with Mr. Crow's very Archie Bunker-esque demeanor to his mate.  Every time Mrs. Crow would try to suggest something, he would basically tell her she was just a stupid, silly woman and to shut up.  This was a huge turn-off for me.

Bugs In My Hair! by David Shannon.  Ages 4-8.  Blue Sky Press, 2013.  32 pages.

Summary - A kid-friendly, humorous but informational explanation of head lice and how to get rid of them. 

Review - First, let me apologize for the itchy, creepy-crawly feeling you are now experiencing ;)  I know this book will make most adults cringe, especially if you have been through the nightmare of a head lice infestation.  While I wouldn't use this book for my bug storytime, it would be good to help a child who is dealing with lice understand what is going on.  I think it would be great as a classroom read-aloud to introduce the topic and help reduce the stigma of having lice during a school epidemic.  It is simple enough that kids can understand, humorous enough to ease discomfort, yet factually accurate.  The drawings are kid-friendly and almost cute, but still pretty accurate and less icky than actual photographs.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

TBT Dinosaurs!

Like most kids, I was always fascinated with dinosaurs, and still am.  I had a serious interest in paleontology and briefly considered it as a career, but knew jobs would be very limited and realized that spending long hot days digging in the dirt would not be that much fun in reality.  But I still love dinosaurs and take pride in being able to say all the names.  Did you know there is one whose name was inspired by the Harry Potter books?  Dracorex hogwartsia.  

After our welcome song and lead-in song, we started off with Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Strickland.  This book has great illustrations with short, simple text showing contrasting characteristics, such as "Dinosaur big, dinosaur small" and is great for a younger audience with short attention spans.  Next, we sang a really fun action song to the tune of "Doo Wah Ditty" called "Dino Ditty":

          Hungry dinosaur a-stomping with his feet, singing           (stomp feet)
          "Dino ditty, ditty dum, ditty do."
          Searching all around for something good to eat, singing  (hold hand up & look around)
          "Dino ditty, ditty dum, ditty do."
          He's huge, (he's huge);                                                      (hold arms out wide)
          He's strong, (he's strong)                                                   (show muscles)
          He's huge, he's strong, won't be hungry very long.           (shake head)
          "Dino ditty, ditty dum, ditty do."
          "Dino ditty, ditty dum, ditty do."                                          (get progressively quieter)
          "Dino ditty, ditty dum, ditty do."                                          (end sitting down)
              *Source:  Perry Public Library

Next we read Kate and Jim McMullan's I'm Big!  This is a great interactive story about a supersaurus who overslept and got separated from his herd and is searching for them.  When the main character encounters predators, he asks the audience whether he should run, hide, or fight.  In the end he recognizes footprints like his own and the kids help him follow them to find his friends.  The pictures are engaging and the text just right for this age.  To transition to the following action rhyme, we briefly talked about the different types of dinosaurs show in the story and how some could swim or fly.  Then we were ready for the rhyme:  "Dinosaurs"

          Dinosaurs lived long ago.
          Some walked,              (walk heavily in place)
          Some swam,                (pretend to swim)
          Some flew, you know!  (flap arms at sides)
          Some were big,            (hold hands high)
          Some were small.         (hold hands low)
          Some were gigantic--   (stretch arms out wide)
          V-e-r-y tall!                   (stretch arm up high)
              *Source:  Perry Public Library

I followed that up with the song "Ten Big Dinosaurs" (to the tune of "Ten Little Indians"):

          One big, two big, three big dinosaurs;          (hold up 1, 2, then 3 fingers)
          Four big, five big, six big dinosaurs.             (hold up 4th, 5th, & 6th fingers)
          Seven big, eight big, nine big dinosaurs,      (hold up 7th, 8th, & 9th fingers)
          Ten big dinosaurs!                                        (hold up all 10 fingers)

          They all lived a long, long time ago.
          They all lived a long, long time ago.
          They all lived a long, long time ago.
          Now there are no more.                                (shake heads, hold hands up)
                *Source:  Canton Public Library

Then for a big finish, Snappy Little Dinosaurs by Dugald Steer.  This awesome pop-up book is guaranteed to be a big hit (unfortunately it is out of print).  The brightly-colored pop-ups are accompanied by a charming rhyming text describing each dinosaur, along with the dino's name and a pronunciation guide.  We ended with our usual closing song, and I gave them all a dino hand stamp.

How It Went
Predictably, the kids loved the dinosaur theme as much as I did.  They got a little rambunctious, but you can't do a topic like dinosaurs and expect them to sit still and be quiet :)  It was all in good fun, though, and they were totally engaged the whole time.  Dinosaur Roar! was probably a little too short and simple for them, but they still liked it.  They really liked I'm Big! and of course went crazy for the pop-ups in Snappy Little Dinosaurs!  They shrank back and screamed in mock terror as I turned the page and each new pop-up dinosaur appeared. After I read the text on each page, I told them the dinosaurs name and had them repeat it after me, and they did a great job.

"Dino Ditty" was a big hit  and we all had fun with it (except for one contrary little boy who said "No" when I commented "That was a fun song, wasn't it?").  They liked it so much that I had to ask a couple of them to stop singing it to themselves during the story following it.  Next time I will have to come up with at least one more verse for that song, since we all liked it so much and they obviously weren't quite finished with it.  They participated well with the "Dinosaurs" action rhyme and the "Ten Big Dinosaurs" song.  Of course the dinosaur hand stamp at the end was a HUGE hit.

The biggest compliment was when I noticed the teacher was gathering up stuff during storytime, and as we ended it became apparent that she had gotten out some dinosaur coloring sheets and a dinosaur memory game that they happened to have in order to extend the lesson I had started.  This was such a fun storytime and there are so many cute songs and rhymes it was hard to decide on just 3 to use.  I would LOVE to do a longer, all-out "Dinosaur Stomp" program someday with more songs and some dino activities and/or crafts as well.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

New Picture Books

I grabbed a handful of books off the new shelf to look over, somewhat at random, with mixed results:

Feet Go To Sleep by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Maggie Smith.  Ages 3-7.  Knopf Books for Young Readers, May, 2015.  32 pages.

Summary - It's bedtime for Fiona, but after an exciting day at the beach, she is not quite ready to settle down and go to sleep.  She begins to try to relax her body, starting with her toes, as she recounts all the fun she had.  Bit by bit, she relaxes until finally she is able to drift off to sleep.

Review - The illustrations are nice, and it would make a decent enough bedtime story or story about beach fun, but nothing really makes it standout to me.  A decent book, but not a must read.

Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman.  Ages 2-5.  Harry N Abrams, April, 2015.  30 pages.

Summary - Vegetables in underwear: big, small, old, new, dirty, clean, etc.  And that's it.

Review - First let me say I really do have a sense of humor and can enjoy a good underwear or poop joke with the best of them, but I'm just not feeling this book.  It seems like the author just decided "Oh, kids like underwear jokes, lets just throw together a book with the word underwear on each page.  Let's see, who should wear the underwear?  I know, vegetables!"  It just seems totally random and gratuitous.  There are much better books out there with underwear themes, in my opinion, such as Polar Bear's Underwear by Tupera Tupera, The Underpants Zoo by Brian Sendelbach, and Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman.

Bear and Duck by Katy Hudson.  Ages 4-8.  HarperCollins, May, 2015.  32 pages.

Summary - Bear was tired of being a bear.  He didn't like sleeping all winter, being stung by bees, and his fur was hot.  He spies a seemingly happy and carefree duck family and decides to be a duck instead.  Needless to say, this doesn't work out as he had hoped.  In the end his is still a bear, but has made a good friend.

Review - This is a cute story with lovely illustrations about trying to fit in and ultimately learning to be comfortable in your own skin that young kids will enjoy.  It also sends a subtle message about friendship and self-acceptance.  Sweet, with a little gently humor.

Under A Pig Tree by Margie Palatini, illustrated by Chuck Groenink.  Ages 4-8.  Harry N. Abrams, April, 2015. 40 pages.

Summary - The author has written a no-nonsense factual book about the history of the fig.  Unfortunately, the publisher made a small typo and "fig" has been replaced by "pig" throughout the entire book.  Even worse, the publisher doesn't feel such a small mistake (after all, it's only 1 letter) warrants correction and plans to publish as is.  This results in a hilarious exchange of notes between the two, supplemented by the author's hand-drawn corrections to the art-work.

Review - I thought this book was funny and clever, though I feel the suggested age range is a little low.  I doubt most 4 year olds would appreciate the sophisticated humor, plays on words, and sarcasm, but older kids and adults would.  My favorite part was the list of "Also available" books at the end, with such gems as:  The Apes of Wrath, A Clockwork Orangutan, Hamadeus, and A Tale of Two Piggies.  I think this would be a great read-aloud with older kids, maybe 1st-3rd graders.

Bear Counts by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman.  Ages 3-7.  Margaret K. McElderry Books, May, 2015.  32 pages.

Summary - Lovable Bear is back with his friends, counting from one to five.

Review - I love Karma Wilson's Bear books, and I was a little afraid this one would be a disappointing afterthought as sometimes happens when publishers try to milk everything they can out of a successful series, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Bear Counts has a similar rhythm and cadence as the other Bear books and Jane Chapman's illustrations are as charming as always.  A nice counting book for the younger kids, especially if they are already fans.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Alternative SRP Art For Librarians

I just have to pass along these links to Rebecca Brooks' site with some amazing alternative art for the "Every Story Has A Hero" summer reading theme. So much cuter than the other stuff!  She, and her artist-fiancĂ©, have generously made this available to all libraries to use!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


As the weather warms up and we get closer to summer, what do we see more of besides flowers?  Bugs!  Creepy, crawly, buzzy, fluttery bugs.   There are a number of cute books about bugs or starring buggy characters, and so many cute songs and rhymes it makes it hard to decide which ones to use.

As always I started with our welcome song, but since the kids have been extra wiggly lately with the warmer weather, I decided not to go straight into our "story song" after the introduction.  Instead, I added a fun song that fit today's theme and has lots of movement that I found at Sunflower Storytime:

         "Can You Move With Me"                   
          (to the tune of "Do Your Ears Hang Low")                    

          Can you wiggle like a worm?                         Can you flip, can you flop?
          Can you squiggle, can you squirm?              Can you give a little hop?
          Can you flutter, can you fly,                           Can you slither like a snake?
          Like a gentle butterfly?                                  Can you give a little shake?
          Can you crawl upon the ground                    Can you dance like a bee,
          Like a beetle that is round?                           Who is buzzing 'round the tree?
          Can you move with me?                                Can you move with me?

Below is a video of an adorable little boy demonstrating this song with all the movements:

I encouraged them to be sure and do lots of wiggling and get ALL their wiggles out.  Then we went on to our usual "story song" to which I added some bug-related verses, like flap your wings, wiggle your antennae, and ending with sitting down, then saying "Shhhhh".  Now we were ready for our first book, I Love Bugs! by Philemon Sturges.  I like this book because it is short and simple, with graphic illustrations and covers a number of different bugs.  I also like that it had pictures with the name and a short fact about each bug shown in the story in the endpapers.  Emma Dodd also has a great book with the same title, but I chose the Sturges one because it was a little shorter and had clearer illustrations.
To lead into the next book about a bee, I asked them which bugs help us by pollinating flowers and making honey.  After they said "Bees!" I told them I had a great little rhyme about bees and did the classic childhood fingerplay "Here Is The Beehive":

          Here is the beehive.                                       (make a fist)
          Where are the bees?                                     (hold hand up questioningly)
          Hidden away, where nobody sees.                (cover hand, shake head)
          Watch them as they come out of the hive.     (bring fingers out one by one)
          One, two, three, four, five!  BUZZZZZZZZ!    (pretend to buzzz kids)

I borrowed the idea and printable art for making a simple puppet with a glove and five clipart bees that I cut out & laminated, along with the beehive, to go along with this rhyme from Sunflower Storytime.  I couldn't find any gloves this time of year, so had to make due with one I found laying around the house.  I also couldn't get velcro dots in time, so made due with tape for the time being.  But this would be a great way to complement other "5 Little..." rhymes.
Then we read a funny story about The Very Greedy Bee by Steve Smallman.  I loved this story about the selfish, greedy bee who hogged all the pollen and nectar for himself and became so fat he couldn't fly and had to depend on the kindness of strangers to get home.  It was slightly on the longer side, but I thought the kids could handle it if I kept the other stories short, especially since the dialog is pretty animated and expressive.  The illustrations are cute, and it sneaks in a lesson about sharing and kindness as well.

Next we transitioned into talking about caterpillars and butterflies and did the action rhyme "Roly-Poly Caterpillar":

          Roly-poly caterpillar into a corner crept.     (creep fingers across palm)
          Spun himself a blanket,                              (cover finger)
          And for a long time slept.                           (lay head on hands, close eyes)
          Roly-poly caterpillar wakened by-and-by.  (wake up, yawn)
          Found himself with pretty wings,                (stretch wings)
          Changed into a butterfly.                            (flutter hands)
           *Source:  Little Hands Fingerplays & Action Songs by Emily Stetson & Vicky Congdon

After that we read Petr Horacek's Butterfly, Butterfly, which follows a young girl as she hunts for her friendly butterfly and discovers other creatures along the way, and ends with a lovely pop-up butterfly.  This would also be a good book to use with a color or summer themed storytime.  Then we ended with our usual closing song. 

How It Went

It went really well, other than me starting out a little flustered because there was a traffic accident on the way & I had to take a detour and was afraid I would be late.  I got there on time, but the distraction made me blank on one of the lines of the "Move With Me" song and I had to grab my cheat sheet.  That has never happened to me before!  The kids enjoyed the song, and incorporating some bug movements into our usual "story song", and the extra movement seemed to help them be more settled. They were really engaged today and did a great job listening without interrupting too much.  We are still working on the raising-hands to speak, without the accompanying "Me, me, me, me!" :)

At first they were all "Ewww" when I introduced the topic of bugs, but then I reminded them that not all bugs are creepy-crawly, and that some are beautiful and some are helpful and we talked about bugs that we like.  They thought the boy in the I Love Bugs! was a little weird for loving bugs, but they seemed to enjoy it and I liked the bit of factual information in the endpapers.  The Very Greedy Bee was a huge hit; they loved it as much as I do.  They laughed hysterically when I made the slurping and burping noises, were appalled at the bee's selfishness, and worried when he saw the glowing eyes of a monster that turned out to be friendly fireflies (or lightning bugs as we say around here).  They were glad he got home and learned to share and everyone had a party to celebrate.  They were not as excited by Butterfly, Butterfly, but still listened and named the colors and the bugs Lucy found as she looked for the friendly butterfly.

The kids absolutely loved the bee puppet, especially at the end when I "buzzed" all of them and they shrank back in feigned terror.  It really enhanced the rhyme and I plan to make an upgraded version soon, and try to think of other things I can use it with.  They did fine with the "Roly-Poly Caterpillar", but I wish now I had taken a little more time to talk about the whole metamorphosis process a little more.  I also wish I could have come up with a really good prop for this one; maybe next time!  At the end, one sweet little boy asked me if I could stay and go outside with them.  Sadly, I had to go straight to work.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What Makes A Great Storytime Book

What makes a great storytime book?  There is no one right answer to that question; it depends not only on the group of kids in the audience, but on the reader as well.

Some factors are probably obvious.  For example, with younger kids you would choose shorter books with fewer words per page.  Older kids are going to be able to pay attention longer and follow longer, more complex stories and get more subtleties.  Younger kids don't always get jokes, while older kids have a more sophisticated sense of humor.

Probably one of the most important factors that makes a great storytime book is that *you* like it.  If you, the presenter, are enthusiastic about the book, it will come through in your delivery and the kids will pick up on it and will more than likely like it, too.  Conversely, if the reader really isn't feeling it, then the audience probably won't either.  What works for one presenter or one group of kids won't necessarily work for another.  I have read books that I was cautioned might be a little long for my group, but I really liked and wanted to read, and lo and behold, they worked.  And I have sometimes looked at a book someone else has used with success, and just knew it wasn't for me.

One example would be Froggy's First Kiss by Jonathon London.  It was one of the books I was considering for my Valentine storytime for my 3 year-old daycare class, and my mentor felt it might be too long.  But I really liked it and thought it would be a fun read so I decided to give it a go and if it didn't work, then lesson learned.  And guess what, it worked!  When I told them the title and they all went "Ewwww", I knew I had them.  They laughed at Froggy staring at Frogilina and bumping his head repeatedly, guessed at what Frogilina's surprise for Froggy was going to be, and were totally grossed out by the kiss.  So don't be afraid to trust your instincts! 

Here is how *I* go about choosing my books for storytime.  Sometimes a particular book will catch my attention and inspire a theme, sometimes I just decide on a theme and then find books to go with it, or just do several unrelated books I've been dying to do.  First I screen for length, and look for bold, bright simple illustrations that are eye-catching (too much detail can result in way too many comments and interruptions).  I also look for books that have some type of interactive element:  questions to answer, sounds to make, objects to identify, colors to name, things to count, repeating lines the kids can join in saying, etc. 

I tend to prefer books with a good rhythm and cadence.  They seem to hold the kids' attention a little better, and they are easier for me to memorize.  Rhyming or alliteration are nice things to include sometimes, too.  If it also includes a concept, like counting, letters, colors, shapes, feelings, etc., that's a bonus.  Pop-up books are always a big hit, so much so that I almost feel like I'm cheating by using them.  I also tend to prefer cute, slightly funny books, though I have to be careful the humor is not too sophisticated or dark for this age.  Others may prefer more sweet stories or stories with a message; everyone has their own style. 

I generally start with 4-6 books and narrow down to the 3 I will use.  I may be able to rule 1 or 2 definitely out or in after looking over them again, then once I actually try reading them out loud I can usually rule out another one.  I can normally narrow it down to 4 pretty quickly, but sometimes have trouble making that last cut, and that's when you just have to go with your gut.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

TBT A Rainbow of Colors

This is a storytime I did back in February, when I had the winter "blahs" and was sick of everything being gray and white and thought we needed some cheery colors. 

We started with our usual welcome song, but this time I incorporated a warm-up activity during the introductions that I thought of the night before.  I cut out pictures of different things to represent each color (mine just happened to be mostly foods) and a rainbow (with the colors in proper "Roy G. Bv" order, of course).  I placed the rainbow inside a small colorful gift bag ahead of time.  Then, to introduce the theme, I told the kids we were going to do some color magic.  I held each object up and had the kids identify the color & object, then placed it in the bag.  Once all the items were in the bag, I closed it up, shook it, and had the kids say "Abra cadabra" and pulled out the rainbow that had "magically" appeared.

Then we sang our "story song" and read our first book, Pete the Cat - I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin.  I chose this book because it is short, simple and has repeating elements, and it is interactive as the kids can guess what color Pete's shoes will turn each time, and sing along with Pete's song.  I know kids love this simple song, because it is the one that kids always sing out loud with when we have it in our listening station at work.  Plus Pete is very cool cat. 

Next we did a simple, but fun song to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb", "If You're Wearing....":

          If you're wearing white shoes, white shoes, white shoes;
          If you're wearing white shoes, please stand up.
            *Source:  Sunflower Storytime

This song is great because you can use whatever colors, articles of clothing, or actions you want (stand up, sit down, turn around, clap hands, stand on one foot, etc.) to relate it to your stories or stretch it out as long as you need.  To tie in with the first book, I started with white shoes and did all the other shoe colors the kids had on until everyone was standing up.  Then I moved on to shirts and pants and ended with everyone sitting down again and ready for the next story, Bill Martin, Jr.'s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  This is a great book for younger kids with it's bold, bright illustrations by Eric Carle and simple, repeating text, and works for either color or animal themes.

Then on to an action song:  "Driving Around In My Little Red Car" (sung to the tune of "Ten Little Indians"):

          Driving around in my little red car
          Driving around in my little red car
          Driving around in my little red car
          Zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom

          (Repeat with other colors, actions, and sounds)
             *Source: Storytime Katie

And that brought us to our final book, Mouse Paint, by Ellen Stoll Walsh.  I chose this one because I like that it shows how you make the secondary colors by mixing primary colors, and in a cute way.  [There is a great activity that goes with this that my son did at Gymboree many years ago I would love to have been able to do.  You give each child a piece of paper and two different primary colors of fingerpaint in small paper plates.  Have them put one hand in one color, the other hand in the other color and make handprints on the paper.  Then, repeat, but this time rub hands together well to mix the colors first, and make two more handprints in the new color.] Then we finished with our regular closing song.

How It Went
This was such as awesome storytime!! :D One of those where everything works and leaves you feeling like a storytime master.  The kids loved my little bit of color magic; it is so great how preschoolers can be impressed so easily.  Of course that made me extra happy because that was something I actually came up with completely on my own :)

They loved Pete the Cat like I expected and got into guessing the colors and singing the song, and either they were already familiar with Brown Bear, Brown Bear or they just caught onto it really quickly because they chimed right in and "read" right along with me.  When it got to the page with the teacher, a couple of them said "That's you!" and then on the next page with all the children, they started pointing out each other.  It was so cute and fun to see them so engaged and enjoying everything.  I was a little surprised when we read Mouse Paint that a couple of them seemed to already know what the new colors would be.

They had fun with the songs, too, even if they had a little trouble following the directions with the first one.  For the second one, I let them take turns choosing colors, but they often went blank and would say the color we had just done, so I would make a suggestion or ask them what color their mom's car was.  At the end, I gave them all rainbow stickers, which totally made their day.  This was definitely one of my top storytime experiences, though they've all been pretty good.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Cake Wrecks Sunday Sweets: Storytime With Mom

I couldn't resist passing along this link to my favorite blog, "Cake Wrecks." Normally, she posts cakes that are, well, wrecks.  But on Sundays she posts gorgeously awesome cakes, and in honor of Children's Book Week and Mother's Day, today's theme is cakes inspired by classic children's books.  Enjoy!

Cake Wrecks Sunday Sweets: Storytime With Mom

Thursday, May 7, 2015

10 Upcoming Children’s Books to Get Excited About | Blog | TheReadingRoom

Just a quick post to pass along this article:

10 Upcoming Children’s Books to Get Excited About | Blog | TheReadingRoom

Like most everyone else, I'm looking forward to the sequel to Daywalt's adorable The Day the Crayons Quit and the new illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  I was planning on doing a pet-themed storytime sometime in the near future, so I'm eager to see if the new Dr. Seuss What Pet Should I Get? will be suitable for my group. Which ones sound most intriguing to you?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Cute, Cuddly Babies! (Baby-themed preschool storytime)

In the last year there have been no less than 7 babies born to people who work in the library where I work, so I thought a baby-themed storytime would be fun, especially with it being springtime and Mother's Day coming up.

We started with our usual opening song, followed by welcome and introduction, then our lead-in song.  We talked about babies and how the only way they can communicate something is wrong is by crying, which led to our first book, What Shall We Do With The Boo-Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell (of How To Train Your Dragon fame).  The kids got to suggest what the baby might need and guess whether what the animals tried would work.

Since the book ends with the baby needing a nap, we transitioned right into a fingerplay about "Baby's Nap":

          This is baby, ready for a nap.     (Hold up 1 finger)
          Lay him down in Mama's lap.     (Lay finger across palm of other hand)
          Cover him up so he won't peep. (Close fingers over)
          Rock him til he's fast asleep.      (Rock hands)
          *Source:  Perry Public Library

Since that one's so short, I followed up with modified version of "Rock-a-bye Baby":

          Rock-a-bye baby, in the tree tops.
          When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
          If the bow breaks, the cradle will fall.
          And Mama will catch you, cradle and all.

And of course once the baby's asleep, what does everyone say?  "Don't Wake the Baby!", which just happens to be the title of our second book, written by Jonathan Allen.  This funny pop-up book with sound affects shows what happens when Dad stays home with the sleeping baby while Mama goes out.  I chose this mostly because it's fun, but I also like that it shows Dad in the role of caretaker.  The book ends with the baby awake and giggling, which leads us into a counting rhyme with different things babies do, "Five Little Babies":

          One little baby rocking in a tree.                 (Hold up 1 finger, rock arms)
          Two little babies splashing in the sea.        (Hold up 2 fingers, pretend to splash)
          Three little babies crawling on the floor.     (Hold up 3 fingers, make crawling motion)
          Four little babies knocking on the door.      (Hold up 4 fingers, pretend to knock)
          Five little babies playing "hide and seek."   (Hold up 5 fingers, cover eyes)
          Keep your eyes closed now, until I say....PEEK!
          *Source:  Perry Public Library

Now to the cutest babies of all, animal babies!  There are a number of books with cute baby animals, but I chose Some Babies Are Wild by Marion Dan Bauer because it features wild animals native to North America.  It has beautiful photographs with a brief statement for each and the name of the animal shown.  I also like that it closes with saying that all babies love their mothers and mothers love their babies, "just as your mama loves you."  At the end of the book is a listing of all the animals featured with some interesting facts and representations of their tracks.  Who can resist baby animals?  After the book, we ended with our usual closing song.

How It Went
Today I was called "the library lady," "Miss Jennifer," and "Miss Story" and was greeted by several hugs  :)  I wasn't sure what the kids would think of the topic, and when I told them several of them replied "Babies?!?" and made a face.  But despite their initial reaction, they quickly got into it.  It turns out many of them had baby siblings at home, or were about to, so they already knew quite a bit about caring for babies and that crying is the only way babies have to communicate that something is wrong.  They liked trying to guess what would calm the Boo-Hoo Baby, and stayed really quiet for a while afterward, until the end of Don't Wake the Baby.  They really enjoyed seeing all the mishaps and hearing the sound affects, especially the cuckoo clock and giggling baby at the end, and laughed at the snoring dad.  As I led into Some Babies Are Wild, I asked what is the cutest kind of baby, and one little boy sweetly piped up "My baby brother!"  They really liked seeing all the cute baby animals.  I thought it was so sweet at the end, when I read the line about "all babies love mama" one little girl said "And I love my Mama!"  All in all, another great storytime.  I'm really going to miss these kids when they move up to the next class.