Monday, February 29, 2016

Dinosaurs, And More Dinosaurs

Thursday ended our two-week rotation of "Dinosaurs" with the Storytime-To-Go program.  And not a day too soon, as my voice was getting hoarse from all the roaring!  As usual, we visited several different daycares and provided storytime for about 20 different groups.  I used 2 or 3 books and 1 or 2 songs/activities with each group, after starting with our letter of the day (Dd) and opening song.

The Books

Snappy Little Dinosaurs by Dugald Steer is probably my favorite of all the Snappy books.  Kids love the brightly-colored pop-ups and the rhyming text.  The name of each dinosaur (and pronunciation guide) are at the bottom of each page.  I first see if anyone knows the name of the dinosaur, then ask everyone to say it together.

I'm Big! by Kate and Jim McMullan is another favorite of mine, because it has action and lots of opportunities for interaction. Most kids will get caught up in helping the main character find his pack, and advising him whether to run, hide, or fight.

I'm Bad! is another fun book by the McMullan's, starring a fierce T. rex on the hunt for food, but not having much luck.  In the end, it turns out he's just a baby.  There are ways to make it interactive, by asking the audience to act out some of the actions, and to find dinosaurs camouflaged in the forest.

Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Stickland has very simple text with only 2 words on each page, showing contrasting terms, such as "Dinosaur fierce; Dinosaur meek" , and great illustrations.  This is a good choice for younger preschoolers, but may bore older ones.

I came across Rotten and Rascal by Paul Geraghty while shelf-reading one day and was instantly drawn to the dark humor and alliteration of the text.  The story can serve as a good anti-bickering lesson, but is probably better suited for older kids.  It's always interesting to see how long it takes the kids to figure out what happened.

Simms Taback's Dinosaurs is relatively short without a lot of text, and has fold-out pages that gradually reveal a potion of a picture of a dinosaur along with a clue to it's identity.  This is particularly good for kids who already know some dinosaur names, or following another book that teaches them the names.

Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones by Byron Barton is a very simplistic introduction to how dinosaur bones are dug up, taken to a museum, and assembled.  I think both the text and pictures are too simple for preschoolers and up, but I do like that it's a good way to introduce a discussion of paleontology and fossils.

In Bernard Most's If The Dinosaurs Came Back a young boy imagines what it would be like if the dinosaurs came back.  I like to preceed this book with a brief discussion about how the dinosaurs are extinct, and who would like it if they were still around.  At each scenario the boy imagines, you can ask the kids if they would like that or think it would work.

Shape By Shape by Suse MacDonald is a great little book that uses cut-outs to gradually build a dinosaur one shape/facial feature at a time.  While this is a great book for shapes, I decided I don't really like using it with a dinosaur theme, because it gives away the ending when you're already talking about dinosaurs.  I also don't like the inaccuracy of the teeth, which some kids will catch.  Brachiosaurus was a plant-eater, and did not have sharp, triangular-shaped teeth.

In Tyson The Terrible by Diane and Christyan Fox, three young dinosaurs are playing when they hear the pounding of large footsteps coming nearer.  Fearing it is the rumored "Tyson the Terrible", they hide, only to see a very small, young Tyrannosaurus crying because no one will play with him.  The three friends invite him to play, laughing that they were afraid of such small dinosaur, until they meet his brother.

The Activities
I had several different activities with this theme, including songs, rhymes, a flannel board, and comparing footprints.  The most popular was Laurie Berkner's "We Are The Dinosaurs":


"Ten Big Dinosaurs"
(Hold up fingers as you count)

One big, two big, three big dinosaurs,
Four big, five big, six big dinosaurs,
Seven big, eight big, nine big dinosaurs,
Ten big dinosaurs.

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 they are all gone.

Ten big, nine big, eight big dinosaurs,
Seven big, six big, five big dinosaurs,
Four big, three big, two big dinosaurs,
One big dinosaur.

"Dino Ditty"

Hungry dinosaur a stompin' with his feet, singing
Dino ditty, ditty dum, ditty doo.
Lookin' all around for something good to eat, singing
Dino ditty, ditty dum, ditty doo.
He's huge (He's huge), He's strong (He's strong),
He's huge, he's strong, won't be hungry very long.
Dino ditty, ditty dum, ditty doo

Hungry plesiosaur swimming in the sea....looking around for yummy fish to eat....
Hungry pterosaur flying in the air....looking for food, but he doesn't want to share....
*Source:  First verse modified from Perry Public Library, 2nd & 3rd verses are original by me.
"Five Little Dinosaurs"
(use with flannel board, sing to tune of "Five Little Ducks Went Out To Play")

One little dinosaur went out to play,
On a giant fern one day.
She had such enormous fun,
That she called for another dinosaur to come:

[Raise hands to mouth and loudly call "Oh, Diiiiiinosaur!"
Slap hand on thighs to sound like running footsteps.
Repeat, counting up to five.]

Five little dinosaurs went out to play,
One a giant fern one day.
They had such enormous fun,
That they played all day until the day was done!

If it's a small group, I let the kids put the pieces on the board.  At the end, we name each dinosaur.  I also had to explain what the fern frond pieces were before we started. [I inherited these pieces, but you could easily make your own using clip art or coloring pages as templates, then use a pen to add the details.]

"Dinosaurs Lived Long Ago"
(movement rhyme)

Dinosaurs lived long ago,
Some walked,  (walk in place)
Some swam,  (pretend to swim)
Some flew, you know!  (flap arms)

Some were big, (hold hand up about shoulder height)
Some were small, (hold hand about a foot above floor)
Some were GIGANTIC,  (hold arms out very wide)
And VERY tall!  (stretch and hold hand as high as possible)

Footprint Comparison Activity

Triceratops Footprint

I found a printable template for a life-size triceratops footprint on the website for Schleich, a company that sells action figures but also has several downloadable activities.  I printed out the 12 pages of the template, taped them together, then cut it out.  After that, I traced around it onto bulletin board paper and cut that out.  I laminated both the template and the final piece to help them last longer.  Then I cut out a bunch of footprints the size of the average 4-year old child's foot from craft foam.

First I would lay the dinosaur footprint out without telling the kids what it was and see if they could guess.  The green color would throw them off at first (which was not intentional, just what I had handy) and they would guess "leaf".  When I told them it wasn't a leaf, then some would usually say "footprint" and I would ask what kind and they would usually say "dinosaur footprint".  I would then ask what dinosaur they thought made it, and most would say "T. rex".  Then I would tell them it was a triceratops footprint, and ask how many of their footprints did they think would fit in a triceratops footprint.  After that, I would hand them each two of the foam footprints and let them come up and place their footprints in the triceratops footprint, and at the end we would count them  (I made 24 kid footprints, which fit with room for probably 6 more).

You could also let the kids stand on the dinosaur footprint to see how many would fit, but since I needed the footprint to last through many storytimes, I choose to use the foam cutouts to extend the life of the triceratops footprint.

How It Went
This theme was a lot of fun.  I would say the books that were the biggest hits were Snappy Little Dinosaurs, I'm Big!, and I'm Bad!  I also go a great compliment from one of the teachers at our newest preschool, who told me I had a "really nice reading voice."  Laurie Berkner's "We Are The Dinosaurs" was by far the biggest hit of the songs and activities, with groups often asking to do it 2 or 3 times.  I like using the simple "Ten Big Dinosaurs" as well, because it works on their fine motor dexterity and counting both up and down, which is more challenging.  They were all amazed at how many of their footprints could fit inside the dinosaur footprint.  One thing I was surprised by is the "Dino Ditty" kind of fell flat, though when I've used it before, the kids loved it.  Go figure.

I tried to work in some discussion of carnivore verses herbivore, different kinds of dinosaurs, and fossils and paleontology.  One thing that was kind of funny was that a couple of stories featured pteranodons and pterosaurs, and the kids would often try to correct me and argue that they were pterodactyls and I would have a hard time convincing them that there were other kinds of flying prehistoric reptiles besides the pterodactyls.  They also laughed and though I was joking when I said that some dinosaurs were the size of a chicken.  They just could not wrap their heads around the idea that not all dinosaurs were huge.  I also got a lot of giggles and "Ewww" when I told them that in addition to fossilized bones and eggs, that there is also fossilized dinosaur poop!  (It's called "coprolite," by the way). 

There were three days I ended up going to the daycares myself and going into the classroom rather than having the bus, and I was surprised at how some of the classes acted like they had never been to storytime before and had no clue how to act, just because we changed the location, while others were perfectly fine.  (Staff, too!  I had two aides sitting in the back playing cards at one daycare).  One day was because the bus was in the shop, and the kids were very concerned about it's well-being.  Once I assured them that it would be fine and we would have it the next time, one little boy asked me where my "husband" was, meaning our driver (who is easily old enough to be my father)!  He got a kick out of that when I told him.  I told him the kids assume we are a couple, like Santa and Mrs. Claus. :)

Now, I'm off to make some tea to sooth my throat.  I've got to remember to pace myself with the roaring!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Roar Like A Dinosaur!

I love dinosaurs, so this is one of my favorite themes.  I know a lot of fun activities to go with this that really can't be done in a regular storytime, so I really hope to someday get the chance to do a special dinosaur program in the library that would be longer and include some older kids as well.

We started with our usual welcome song, and then I prompted the kids to guess what kind of stories we were having by telling them that we were talking about something that lived a long, long time ago, and wasn't around anymore, and some of them were really big.  They had to think a minute, but after several wrong guesses someone got it.  Then we went into our "story song", and I included a verse with roaring like a dinosaur.

For our first story I chose to read Jane Yolen's classic How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight (illustrated by Mark Teague) because kids really seem to love that series, and I had not actually used any of them in my dinosaur storytimes before.  I like the illustrations, and how the name of the dinosaur shown is hidden somewhere in each picture.  These books have a nice rhythm and cadence, and they help kids recognize bad behavior.

Next, we looked at a bright, colorful non-fiction dinosaur board book, Dinosaurs At Your Fingertips by Judy Nayer and Grace Goldberg, that had pages with die-cut edges, so that when the book is closed, it looks like all the dinosaurs are peeking out of it.  We went through the book and I would name the dinosaur and have the kids repeat it, and I would point out 1 or 2 interesting facts about each one.  I think this book has a lot more visual interest than many other non-fiction books for this age, with relatively realistic but brightly colored illustrations that are not cluttered with too much detail or information.

After that, we marched along to Laurie Berkner's "We Are The Dinosaurs" song.  This is a great song with lots of movement.  Besides marching, there is pretending to eat food on the ground, resting in our nest, and of course roaring at the end.  They liked this so much we did it twice.

For our last story I chose I'm Bad! by Kate and Jim McMullan.  I like this book because it has a lot of action to help hold the kids' attention, and you can make it interactive by having the kids act out some of the movements, like showing claws and teeth, stomping feet, etc.  I also like the twist to the story, with the audience at first thinking he's a big, bad fierce Tyrannosaurus rex, but in the end he's really just a baby, which explains why he had so much trouble catching prey.  Then after he eats, he looks cute and harmless as he curls up and goes to sleep.
Then we sang a song I literally made up 5 minutes before I left to go to the daycare.  I wish I had thought of it the day before so I could have made some "dinos-on-a-stick" to go with it.

"The Dinosaurs Go..."
(to the tune of "The Wheels On The Bus")
Tyrannosaurus rex goes
Roar, roar, roar;
Roar, roar, roar;
Roar, roar, roar.
Tyrannosaurus rex goes
Roar, roar, roar,
All day long.

The pterosaur's wings go flap, flap, flap....

The velociraptor likes to run, run, run....

The brontosaurus' feet go stomp, stomp, stomp....

The mosasaurus' tail goes splash, splash, splash....
And by then our time was up and we sang our closing song and passed out stickers.

How It Went
I had a slightly smaller group of 12 today, which made things more manageable.  With a group that's this immature, the smaller the group the better.  Things overall went really well, they were all excited to see me and excited about the topic.  I'm still seeing a lot of fidgeting and moving around, but I think that's mostly a developmental issue.

Of the books they liked How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight the best, and were doing such a good job listening, I decided to try going straight into the second book, which didn't fare quite as well.  I'm not really surprised since it wasn't a story book, so some were not as interested as others.  Most of them seemed to like I'm Big! also, except for two little girls who just would not stop talking to each other.  They carried on their own little conversation the whole time, despite my attempts to correct and redirect.  So I decided it was best just to ignore them since the other kids were listening.

They LOVED Laurie Berkner's "We Are The Dinosaurs" and asked to do it again, which we did.  Some wanted to do it a third time, but I thought it was time to move it.  They also really enjoyed the song that I made up, since they got to do several different movements, but mostly the roaring.  Kids love to roar!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and Rafael Lopez

Drum Dream Girl, written by Margarita Engle & illustrated by Rafael Lopez.  March 31, 2015.  HMH Books for Young Readers.  48 pages.  Ages 4 - 7.
**Winner of 2016 Pura Belpre Award**

Long ago on a tropical island lived a young girl who dreamed of playing the drums.  Unfortunately, where she lived only men could play the drums, but she continued to dream of making her own music.

She dreamed of making her own music, and was asked to join her sisters' all-girl band as a drummer, but her father said "No."  But still she dreamed of playing the drums and making her own music, and practiced in secret on her own. 

Eventually, her father relented and agreed to take her to a drum teacher and let the teacher decide if she should be allowed to play.  The teacher was very impressed with how much she had already taught herself, and taught her even more.  She kept practicing and learning until finally her teacher arranged for her to play in public, at a café.  The people who heard her play enjoyed her music, and eventually it became accepted that girls could play the drums, and "both girls and boys should feel free to dream."

My Thoughts
This story was inspired the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a young Chinese-African-Cuban girl who successfully broke the cultural mores in Cuba against allowing girls to play drums in the 1930's and 40's.

The story is told in a simple, flowing, non-rhyming prose and the vibrant illustrations do an excellent job of evoking the tropical island setting.  This story presents such a positive message, about gender equality and especially about not giving up on your dreams, and that you can achieve your goals with patience, hard work, and perseverance.  I also like how it shows diversity in the illustrations, portraying people from the varied mix of ethnicities that are found in Cuba, once again just showing diversity and people of color in a normal, everyday setting, without being preachy. 

It is no surprise that this book won the 2016 Pura Belpre Award.

Margarita Engle also wrote The Surrender Tree, a 2009 Newbery Honor book, as well as several other Belpre award and honor books.

Rafael Lopez won the 2010 Belpre medal for Book Fiesta! and has had several Belpre honor books as well.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Funny Valentine

I actually did this storytime the other day, but had so many other posts to catch up on, I didn't get to it until tonight.  Unfortunately, once again my storytime fell on the day of a class party, so I tried to pull shorter books, and books that I thought would keep their attention with humor, and fit in with the holiday.  Though none were actually Valentine stories, they all had to do with love, hugs, and kisses.

We started with our welcome song, then a brief introduction, followed by our story song.  For the first story I chose Hugless Douglas by David Melling.  This is the story of a young bear who awakens in the spring in need of a hug.  He tries to hug different objects and animals, but none are quite right.  Finally, the rabbit leads him to a cave where he finally finds the perfect someone to hug him, his mother.  This story is a little longer, but it is cute and humorous, and this group did so well last time, I though they could handle it.

After that, we sang a song about loving our parents, to the tune of "My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean".
"Hugs and Kisses"
My mother says, "I love you."
My father says, "I love you," too.
I give them hugs and kisses,
Because I love them, too.

Hugs and kisses,
Hugs and kisses, I love you!
Hugs and kisses,
Hugs and kisses for you!
For our second story I stuck with something very short and simple, with simple, bold illustrations.  I used this on the Storytime Bus and found the kids really seemed to like it.  The Cuddle Book by Guido Van Genechten shows different parent/child pairs cuddling with a simple phrase, like "Cats cuddle playfully."  You can invite participation by asking the kids to name the animal, and asking questions, such as "would you want to cuddle a crab?" or "do you know what a baby kangaroo is called?".
Next, we did a couple of rhymes with a little movement since the kids were pretty restless.
"I Have A Little Heart"
I have a little heart    [place hand over heart]
It goes thump, thump, thump.     [pat chest 3X]
It beats even faster when I jump, jump, jump.     [jump 3X]
I get a special feeling when I look at you.     [point to eyes, then audience]
It makes me want to give you a hug or two!     [Hug yourself]

"Valentines, Valentines"
(count on fingers)

Valentines, valentines, how many do you see?
Valentines, valentines, count them with me.
One for mother, one for father, one for grandma, too.
One for sister, one for brother, and
Here is one for you!
[make heart with thumb and fingers]

Then we were ready for our last book, which I chose because it was short, funny, and had been a big hit with every other group I had used it with, Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein.  This is the story of Dinah, a newly hatched dinosaur who is exploring the world and trying new things.  She sees two other animals kiss, and decides to try that next, but finds it is more difficult than she thought.  This has some dark humor, with Dinah accidentally stomping on or eating the one she was trying to kiss, which some adults were a little shocked by, but all of the kids loved it.

We finished up with our closing song and stickers.

How It Went
I had high hopes after this class was so good last time, but I knew with it being the day of their class Valentine's Day party they were likely to be wound up, and of course they were.  They were all happy to see me, with lots of cries of "Miss Jennifer, Miss Jennifer" and hugs, but they really had a hard time settling down, especially one little group that kept bickering among themselves.

I was a little disappointed they didn't have more interest in Hugless Douglas, as I think it's a very cute story and other groups have loved it, but I think it was just too long for them on this particular day.  They didn't participate very well in the song, either, which surprised me since this group typically likes to sing.

They did better with The Cuddle Book and they loved Dinosaur Kisses, and participated much better in the two rhymes.  Overall, they did okay, and some of them listened very well, and if it had been a different day I'm sure they would've done even better.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Flannel Friday - Hearts!

I made a couple of quick and easy felt sets to use for my "Love"- themed storytime. 

First, I cut out 5 red felt hearts using an Ellison die cutter, then I printed out the letters to spell "HEART" in a large font to use as patterns and cut them out of pink felt.  I would first place the hearts on the board, having the audience count them as I did.  Next, I would put the letters up one by one.  I would see if the kids could tell me the beginning and ending letters by their sounds, and for the middle ones I would put them up and see if they could name them.  Then, we would sing a spelling song to the tune of "B-I-N-G-O".


I know a shape and it means "Love,"
and "Heart" is it's name-oh.
H - E - A - R - T
H - E - A - R - T
H - E - A - R - T
and "Heart" is it's name-oh!
Then for each successive verse, I would remove one letter and we would clap in it's place, leaving the blank heart as a place-holder, until all the letters were gone and we only clapped:
I know a shape and it means "Love,"
and "Heart" is it's name-oh.
[clap] - [clap] - A - R - T
[clap] - [clap] - A - R - T
[clap] - [clap] - A - R - T
and "Heart" is it's name-oh.
Then at the end, I would see if they could remember all the letters and put them back up.  One of my volunteers brilliantly pointed out how there were several other words hidden within the word "heart":  "hear," "ear," "art," and "he."
Then, since I like to multi-purpose, on the other side of the hearts I drew faces and added googly-eyes (because googly-eyes always make things better, of course), then cut out the numbers 1-5.  I used these with a couple of different rhymes.
"Five Little Hearts"
Five little hearts, all in a row.
(Hold up five fingers, point to row)
The first one said, "I love you so."
(Hold up 1 finger, put up number 1, make sign for love)
The second one said, "Will you be my valentine?"
(Hold up 2 fingers, put up number 2)
The third one said, "I will if you'll be mine."
(Hold up 3 fingers, put up number 3)
The fourth one said, "I will always be your friend."
(Hold up 4 fingers, put up number 4, make sign for friend)
The fifth one said, "We'll be friends until the end!"
(Hold up 5 fingers, put up number 5, make sign for friend)

"Valentines, Valentines"
Valentines, valentines, how many do you see?
(hold hands out, palms up)

Valentines, valentines, count them all with me.
(gesture to self)

One for father, one for mother
(Hold up first and second fingers, put hearts on board with or without numbers)

One for grandma, too.
(Hold up third finger, put another heart on board)

One for sister, one for brother,
(Hold up fourth and fifth fingers, put up remaining hearts)

And here is one for you!
(Make heart with thumbs & fingers)

Happy Valentine's Day!

To see more Flannel Friday posts from other bloggers, go to this week's Flannel Friday Round-Up hosted by Kathryn at ""Fun With Friends At Storytime"", or visit the Flannel Friday Pinterest board for tons of inspiration.  For more information about Flannel Friday and how to participate, visit the Flannel Friday site. 

Love - The Activities

These are the various songs, rhymes, and activities that I used during the two-week rotation of the "Love" theme for the Storytime-To-Go program.  See my previous post "Love - The Books" for all the books I used.

I made a set of felt hearts with the letters in the word "heart" and numbers 1 through 5, plain on one side, and with faces on the other.  These could be used in various ways with different songs and rhymes.

(to the tune of "Bingo")

I know a shape and it means love,
And "Heart" is it's name-oh.
H - E - A - R - T
H - E - A - R - T
H - E - A - R - T
And "Heart" is it's name-oh.

[After each verse, remove one letter and clap in it's place]

"Five Little Hearts"

Five little hearts, all in a row.
[hold up 5 fingers, gesture to hearts in a row]

The first one said, "I love you so."
[hold up 1 finger, make sign for "love"]

The second one said, "Will you be my valentine?"
[hold up 2 fingers, hold hands outstretched]

The third one said, "I will if you'll be mine"
[hold up 3 fingers, point to audience, then self]

The fourth one said, "I'll always be your friend."
[hold up 4 fingers, make sign for "friend"]

The fifth one said, "We'll be friends until the end"
[hold up 5 fingers, make sign for "friend"]

"I Have a Little Heart"

I have a little heart.
[put hand on chest]

It goes thump, thump, thump.
[pat chest 3X]

It beats even faster when I jump, jump jump!
[jump 3x]

I get a special feeling when I look at you.
 [point to eyes, gesture to audience]

It makes me want to give you a hug or two!
[hug yourself]

Matching Activity, or
"Healing Broken Hearts"

For this activity, I found a printable with 10 hearts with different patterns from "Preschool Printables".  You could simply print out two of each, but I decided to add a "puzzle" element to it by cutting each one in half in different ways so that each one would only fit together with it's mate.  [These are printed on cardstock, cut out, laminated, and magnets attached to the backs.] 

First, I handed out one half of each of the hearts to the audience and kept the other halves.  First I tried just putting one up on the board at a time, and calling for whoever had the matching piece to bring it up to place on the board, but this proved to be too challenging for several of my groups.  So then I tried putting all my halves up on the board at the same time, and calling the kids up one at a time to find the match for their piece and put it up.

This seemed to work much better.  I would start with one of the adults, since it is the most challenging at the beginning and all the pieces are available, and they could talk it out and model the problem-solving.  After the first match was made, I would ask the kids what shape it made, then at the end I would ask if they agreed that all were matched correctly and we would count them. 

Props to go along with the book The Day It Rained Hearts
These aren't really an activity, but props to accompany the book The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond.  It's a really cute story, but the book is small, and the illustrations don't even fill the page.  I cannot understand why on earth they chose to make the illustrations so tiny and hard to see.  So I made models of each of the valentines that the character in the book makes to hold up and show the kids so they can really see them, and see why they are perfect for each friend they were given to.

How It Went
I was a little disappointed in how the these activities went.  I've used them before and thought they worked well, but most of the groups I used the song and rhymes with did not get into them or participate very well.  I will have to try some others next year.

The matching activity did go over well, however.  Generally, the kids really respond to activities where they each get their own "piece" to do something with (though I did have one girl who was very shy and cried because she did not want to do it, so we let her choose a friend to bring hers up for her).  The only drawback was that I could only use it with groups of 10 or less since I only had 10 different hearts. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Love - The Books

This is a new storytime kit I'm developing for the Storytime-To-Go program with a "Love" theme.  I wanted it to be a nice mix of books, with a few about Valentine's Day, but with others that were just about love, hugs, and kisses in general, and showing different kinds of love (romantic, platonic, maternal, paternal, etc.) so that we wouldn't have to worry about where in our rotation Valentine's Day fell. 

So I pulled a bunch of books and gave them a test run to see what worked well before I ordered copies for my collection.  Since I used so many books, I'm going to once again divide it into two posts, with this one just about the books, and one to follow with the various songs, rhymes, and activities I used.

Froggy's First Kiss written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz is one of my favorite storytime books.  The kids love giggling at a lovesick Froggy bonking his head repeatedly and saying "Ewww" when Frogilina kisses him.  The audience can join his teacher in calling out "FROOOGGGGYY!" each time as well.

Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein is short and simple, with some dark humor as newly-hatched Dinah tries to figure out how to kiss, but accidentally whomps, chomps, stomps, and eats those she attempts to kiss.

The Cuddle Book by Guido Van Genechten is a nice short, simple book that is perfect for the younger, wigglier groups and shows how different animals cuddle, such as "cats cuddle playfully" and "porcupines cuddle carefully".  The illustrations are not too busy and are set off by a heavy outline.

Who Wants A Hug? by Jeff Mack is a very funny story about a bear who loves to hug and a grumpy skunk who finds him annoying and tries to ruin Bear's hugging by setting booby-traps to cover Bear in stink.  But all of Skunks traps backfire, leaving him even stinkier than usual.  This is a little longer,  so probably better for slightly older groups.

Poor little Love  Monster lives in a world of soft, cute, cuddly creatures and feels left out and decides to set off to find someone who will love him just the way he is.  At first it doesn't go well, but then, just as he loses hope, love finds him!  Very cute, bright illustrations and interesting fonts.  Written by Rachel Bright.

Felicia Bond's The Day It Rained Hearts is a cute story, with young Cornelia Augusta collecting hearts that rained from the sky and using them to make valentines for her friends.  Great little story, but the illustrations are way too small!  I made valentines like those described in the book to help with the visual, but I think next time I'm going to have to either print enlarged pictures, or turn it into a flannel board story.

In Mouse's First Valentine by Lauren Thompson and Buket Erdogan, Little Mouse spies big sister Minka scurrying around collecting an odd assortment of items.  What could Minka be doing?  This story is good for audience participation as they can try to guess what each item is Minka collects, and what she is doing with them.  I did find the kids didn't seem to know what lace is, so I would recommend having a piece to show them.

How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague is always guaranteed to get the kids attention with it's dinosaurs and rhyming text.  Just be sure you know what kind of dinosaurs they are and how to pronounce them correctly!

Laura Numeroff's Happy Valentine's Day, Mouse! is nice because it emphasizes giving valentine's to friends, and appreciating what makes each friend unique.  Many kids will recognize Mouse from If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.  Illustrated by Felicia Bond.

How Do I Love You? by Leslie Kimmelman and Lisa McCue shows the love of a mother alligator for her child, through all the things they do together.  I like that this book counts all the way up to 20, whereas most counting books just count to 5 or 10.

Be Mine, Be Mine, Sweet Valentine by Sarah Weeks and Fumi Kosaka shows various animals giving their significant other a Valentine treat.  The rhyming text gives a hint to what the treat is, which is revealed by lifting a flap.  This is a cute book, but most younger audiences won't be able to guess what the treats are, even with the contextual and rhyming clues, and the book is on the small side.

In Slug Needs A Hug by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross, poor Slug is sad that his mother doesn't ever hug him and thinks it must be because she doesn't love him.  All the other animals give him advice on how he needs to change his appearance, with ridiculous consequences.  A rhyming text helps the story flow, and the children will often point out that his mother can't hug him because she doesn't have any arms!

Mary Murphy's A Kiss Like This is a short and simple lift-a-flap book that shows different types of kisses, as illustrated by various animal parent-and-child pairs.  A lot of people like this book, but I think it's a little boring.

Hugless Douglas by David Melling has another creature in need of a hug.  Douglas tries several different hugs, but none work out quite right, until he finds a cave with someone special in it.  Kids find this book entertaining, and it's good for making the point that you shouldn't hug someone who doesn't want to be hugged.  The endpapers show illustrations of many different kinds of hugs.

Won't You Be My Hugaroo? by Joanne Ryder and Melissa Sweet also shows different kids of hugs, but for whatever reason does not seem to be as engaging to the kids as some of the other books.

How It Went
Overall, this assortment of books was pretty well received, and some of the volunteers commented on how much they liked it.  For the groups who can handle them, the longer, funny books were all big hits:  Froggy's First Kiss, Who Wants A Hug?, Hugless Douglas, and Love Monster.

Dinosaur Kisses was also a huge hit with everyone, and since it is so short and simple, it was perfect for the younger and more wiggly groups.  A couple of the adults were a little taken aback by the dark humor, but all of the kids thought it was funny.  Little Mouse's First Valentine was also well liked as the kids enjoyed guessing what each item was, and could relate to making Valentines for loved ones. 

The Day It Rained Hearts also worked pretty well with the props, but I still had to get up and take the book over to let each child look at the pictures because they are so small.  I would LOVE to have a "big book" version of this!  The Cuddle Book, while very short and simple, really seemed to engage the kids and was enjoyed by everyone.

Some books that didn't seem to capture the kids' interest were Be Mine, Be Mine, Sweet Valentine, Won't You Be My Hugaroo, and A Kiss Like This.

I will include all the songs, rhymes, and flannel boards I used with this theme in my next post, "Love - The Activities", in order to keep this from being an incredibly long post.

Monday, February 8, 2016

2016 Caldecott Winner and Honor Books

Now that I've gotten through the Newbery's (Last Stop On Market Street, Echo, The War That Saved My Life, Roller Girl), I am ready for the Caldecott's.  I put this category off, quite frankly, because I find I am never that excited about them and I often just don't get it.  I do have to say this year's choices make more sense the some of the previous ones, for example a graphic novel for teens chosen as an honor book last year.  (I guess one could argue that it did [barely] fall under the 14 and under age criterion, but really, I think that's really splitting hairs when the book was clearly intended for 14 and over.)

Anyway, on to this year's choices....

The Caldecott Medal Winner
I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised with this year's medal winner, Finding Winnie, written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 

I really liked this book, and found the story fascinating.  I always knew Christopher Robin was a real person, and that A. A. Milne had based his stories on his son and his stuffed bear, but I never knew there was also a real, live bear ultimately behind the character of Pooh.   Not only was the story fascinating, I loved the charming way it was told, with the author describing how she told the story to her young son at bedtime.  I could just imagine the scene playing out.  I found it even more special when I realized that the author is the great-granddaughter of the veterinarian who rescued and named the real Winnie. 

I had heard a couple of people mention Sophie Blackall before, but I was not really familiar with her work, other than the slightly strange and misogynistic children's story by Aldous Huxley (better known for A Brave New World) she illustrated called The Crows of Pear Blossom that I came across one day while shelf-reading.  Overall, I think her illustrations in Finding Winnie are very charming and detailed, and evoke the feeling of the time period.  I like that they are colorful, yet slightly softened and subdued, and I enjoyed some of the details, showing Stonehenge in the background on the way to London, for example.  I think the pictures did an excellent job of telling the story.  The only slight criticism I have is that a few of the faces, particularly ones in profile or partially turned, looked a little odd.  But overall, the illustrations were perfectly suited for the story.

This book is a little long for younger kids, but kids who have a long enough attention span would enjoy this as a one-on-one read, particularly if they are Winnie-the-Pooh fans.  Adults who enjoyed Pooh as children, or with their children/grandchildren, would also enjoy learning the story of the real bear behind the book character.

And now the honor books....

Waiting by Kevin Henkes just seems very blah to me.  It is a very simple story, with simple pictures.  I do like that the illustrations are simple and uncluttered, which works much better for the younger kids this book seems to be intended for.  However, I feel like the pictures are just too pale and pastel.  Part of that is personal preference, but also from a child development standpoint, younger children tend to prefer brighter colors and more contrast. 

It's an okay book, and I do like how it shows all the passing seasons and everything else the toys observe as they are waiting at the window.  I just wish there was a bit more color and more of a point to the story.  And I just know kids are going to ask why the rabbit pushed the ceramic elephant off the shelf!  It's not a bad book, but I'm just not seeing why it's noteworthy, either. 

Trombone Shorty is an autobiography by Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier, and tells the story of how Troy grew up in New Orleans, and while his family may not have had a lot, they always had music.  I think the story does a good job of encouraging kids to follow their interests and work hard.

The illustrations are a combination of watercolor and collage, using photographs.  Personally, I would have preferred just the watercolor pictures; the addition of cut-outs from photographs just looked out-of-place to me.  The watercolor pictures were very well-done, however, and helped tell the story.  If I hadn't read all the notes at the end, though, I would've totally missed the intended symbolism of the balloons, and I'm sure most kids would as well.  This book also won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hammer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement was written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes tells the story of Fannie Lou Hammer, who became a prominent figure in the civil rights movement.  The story is told in a series of short passages, each describing a point in her life.

The illustrations are beautiful and impressive, and do a wonderful job of conveying the story and events of the civil rights movement.  I noticed the predominant use of the color yellow, perhaps an homage to Fannie's birthplace, Sunflower County, Mississippi.  While this is a picture book, it is probably better suited for school-aged readers because of the large amount of text and information, and mature subject matter.  Younger kids might enjoy looking at the pictures while an adult who has already read the story tells them about it without trying to read the text in its entirety.

And finally that brings us to Last Stop On Market Street, written by Matt De La Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson, which also won the Newbery Award and was a Coretta Scott King Honor book. 

I think this book is a great choice for a Caldecott or Coretta Scott King award/honor book, with it's positive portrayal of urban life and the illustrations which portray a truly diverse population as part of everyday life.  However, I would not have given it the Newbery over books like Echo and The War That Saved My Life.  I just don't think you can compare picture books with novels.  For a more detailed review, see my previous post "My Thoughts On This Year's Newbery Medal Winner.  This is another book that is well-suited for young children.

Well, there you have it.  These are all decent books with some good or even great artwork, but Finding Winnie is the only one I would say I really loved.  I'd love to hear what some of you think!  Please leave your thoughts in the comments.