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.

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