Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Read: 12/1/2009
Pouch! by David Ezra Stein

A sweet little picture book...I always say that, don't I? Picture books are sweet and at 32 pages, they are little! Okay - a sweet little picture book by the author of Leaves. A little kangaroo emerges from his mother's pouch to explore the world which scares him every time he meets someone new. He keeps re-emerging and jumping back into his mother's pouch until he meets another little kangaroo and the two of them are much braver together!

David Ezra Stein's watercolor and crayon images are whimsical and fill the pages. The pictures are definitely as important as the words, which are few.

Due to the simplicity of the story and the young age of the protagonist, this would be an ideal book for toddlers and twos.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime

Read: 11/24/2009

Oh man, oh man! What a funky, fun book! This will be very big with the monster/dinosaur crowd - especially the 2-3 year old ones! A little dinosaur takes on some everyday challenges such as a pile of leaves and a bowl of spaghetti, handily beating them all! Then he must face his biggest challenge...BEDTIME! Does he win? Read the book! Don't worry, it will take you 2 minutes.

Features big, clear illustrations and GIGANTIC FONTS!

Higher! Higher!

Read: 11/23/2009

Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli

What a fun, simple book!
A little girl and her father go to a park where he pushes her on a swing. She wants to go higher and higher and indeed she does, going past a skyscraper, an airplane, a rocketship and even further! This book has a total of 6 words in it, so you can be sure that it would be a winner with the very youngest listeners.

The illustrations are acrylic paintings and are very simple and colorful.

I love this book!

El Barrio

Read: November 23, 2009

El Barrio by Debbie Chocolate, Illustrated by David Diaz

This colorful picture book serves as a very positive introduction to life in the barrio. He talks about different celebrations and experiences from first communion to his sister's quinceanera.
I love David Diaz's illustrations that seem to be a combination of woodcut or linoleum prints and collage.
This simple book would be a good one for the preschool set.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming

Read: Last Year

The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: a christmas story by Lemony Snicket; Illustrated by Lisa Brown

A very funny story for grown-ups in the guise of a children's book - basically an allegory for what it is like to Jewish at Christmas. My favorite line? "I AM NOT A HASH BROWN!"

Not for children under the age of 12. Definitely for teens and adults.

The Channukah Guest

Read: a long time ago

The Chanukkah Guest by Eric Kimmel; Illustrated by Giora Carmi

A hilarious story about a woman with failing eyesight who mistakes a bear for the Rabbi come to join her for her famous latkes.

Eric Kimmel has written a good number of Hanukkah books for the picture book set - and this one is my favorite.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sally and the Purple Socks

Read: 8/28/2009

Sally and the Purple Socks by Lisze Bechtold

A duck gets a pair of purple socks in the mail. They are incredibly small but come with a note saying they will get bigger in time. The socks grow and the Duck enjoys wearing them as socks. But a few hours later, they are so big, they can be used as a scarf, then a blanket, then a rug, then a circus tent!

The illustrations are bold and simple and the story of socks growing way out of proportion is just ridiculous enough to amuse any preschooler.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Read: August 24, 2009

Peanut by Lina Alsenas

A lonely old lady finds a "puppy" in the park and takes him home. Peanut is an unusual puppy - since he really is an elephant. Finally the ringmaster from the circus sees them at the park and takes Peanut home to the circus - where he really belongs.

The illustrations are cartoon-like but are clearly defined which makes for a good story time read.

When I Was King

Read: August 24, 2009

When I Was King by Linda Ashman, Illustrated by David McPhail

I love this story. All in rhyme, a little boy bemoans his younger brother who gets all the glory, when it used to be his...when he was King.

The illustrations are just what I'd expect from David McPhail - soft and whimsical. I love the crown the little boy wears throughout the story - reminding us that he used to be King...

Friday, July 31, 2009

I Will Surprise My Friend

Read: 7/31/2009

This easy reader is HILARIOUS! I was a little skeptical about all the buzz Mo Willems has been getting, then I read this book and another by him this afternoon. I laughed out loud at the ending. The combination of simple pictures of the Elephant and the Pig, their facial expressions and their thought bubbles made for a really fun read. There is a lot of repetition and the print is large and clear.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Little Hoot

Read: May 7, 2009
Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Illustrated by Jen Corace

Little Hoot is a baby owl with a problem. His parents won't let him go to bed at a reasonable hour. They make him stay up late, because that is what Owls do.

The illustrations by Jen Corace are charming and sweet with a large clear picture of the characters on each page. Though the format of the book is somewhat small overall, the simplicity would make this a good story time candidate.

Maybe a Bear Ate It!

Read: May 7, 2009
Maybe a Bear Ate It! by Robie H. Harris, Illustrated by Michael Emberley

A little monster? cat? creature? is reading a book in bed. When he loses it under his covers, he starts to panic and begins a string of assumptions about what may have happened to his book.

Michael Emberley's illustrations and large, clear and colorful. This lends the book towards easy use for story time and with younger readers. The Bear (who gets a bum rap and is featured on the cover) is scary and endearing at the same time. The main character - the cat/monster/creature has on a cool stripe-y pair of pajamas and I love the expressions he gets while in such a state of despair!

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Read: 4/28/2009

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Kathryn Otoshi packs a lot of meaningful content into a very simply written and illustrated picture book. This book introduces colors, numbers and standing up to bullies! Simple watercolor illustrations of simple circles of color make up the characters.

Red is a big bully who always puts Blue down. The other colors don't like that, but they don't stand up to Red. Finally, along comes a grey Number One who doesn't take Red's nonsense. All the other colors like that and become numbers able to stand up to Red too. Even Blue. I love this book!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tillie Lays An Egg

Tillie Lays An Egg
by Terry Golson, Photographs by Ben Fink

What a fun little book. Tillie is a little white hen who lives in a chicken coop with 6 other hens. She is adventurous and likes to go outside the barnyard to eat worms and lay eggs in odd places.

The photographs are of the author's actual home and chickens.

BONUS - check out the Hen Cam to see the author's chickens going about their day!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Read: March 11, 2009

Wave by Suzy Lee

Wave is a delightful wordless picture book. The book is illustrated with charcoal drawing and watercolor paint.

A little girl (drawn in charcoal) visits the beach with her mother (and some seagulls!) The interactions she has with the waves are priceless and hilarious.

A really great book to "read" with a preschooler. The format is a little small for a storytime though.


Read: March 11, 2009

Fleas! by Jeanne Steig, Illustrated by Britt Spencer

This is a Trading Up story with some great goofy colorful illustrations. The story is engaging but rather long - good for the 2nd or 3rd grader or to read aloud to a group of Kindergartners or older students.

A man meets a dog who he gives a good petting to. The dog in return gives him fleas! He manages to trade up to a talkative uncle, a pile of stinky cheese, a banjo, a wig, etc. until he ends up back where he started - with a bone which he gives to the same dog he got the fleas from.

Harry Hungry!

Read: 3/11/2009

Harry Hungry! by Steven Salerno

Harry is a baby who is very Very VERY HUNGRY! Before the title page, his tummy is rumbling. He begins by eating a snack, then a box of cookies, then the contents of the refridgerator, then the neighbor's house, etc. Just as he's about to eat the moon, he falls asleep and all is well...til he wakes up again!

A funny story, simple with lots of ridiculous illustrations. Preschoolers will love this one.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Smash! Crash!

Read: 2/4/2009

Smash! Crash! by Jon Scieszka, Illustrated by David Shannon, Loren Long and David Gordon

This is a book about two trucks who like to smash and crash. I do not understand the appeal of this book, but according to the endpapers, the book is part of a series called Trucktown which is supposed to be a "crazy and fun series for the youngest readers."
In fairness to this book, there is a lot of repetition of the smashing and crashing, the characters are anthropomorphized trucks, equally characterized as male and female.
This would be a good read for a very young child who is obsessed with trucks.

Friday, January 23, 2009

There Are Cats in This Book

Read: 1/20/2009
There Are Cats in this Book by Viviane Schwartz

What a delightful book to read aloud to the youngest of children. Three high maintenance cats set about telling you how to interact with the book. Turn the page, lift the flap, etc.

Kids really enjoy the whimsical, bossy cats and the use of die-cut pages is on a par with Go Away, Big Green Monster!

Seriously- I'm putting this at the top of the books I've read this year!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Turtle's Penguin Day

Read: 1/20/2009

Turtle's Penguin Day by Valerie Gorbachev

Turtle's dad reads him a book about penguins before bed. That night, Turtle dreams he is a penguin and has so much fun in his dream he decides to dress up like a penguin for school that day. He also takes the book to school with him. The teacher and his classmates all catch his penguin enthusiasm and they have a great day pretending to be Penguins at school. That night, his dad reads him a book about Monkeys...

The illustrations are sketchy and fun, the story is brief and engaging. This would be a great story to read to older preschoolers or kindergarteners.

The Twins

Read: 1/20/2009

The Twins by John Wallace

Nelly and Lil are twins who are as different as night and day. When they have an assignment at school to write about their likes and dislikes, Lil does hers right away, while Nelly goes outside to play. When she realizes her sister is finished with her assignment, she adds to it all about herself to create a joint project.

The characters are stereotyped to the N'th degree and the watercolor and pencil illustrations are very cute. I saw my childhood friend Kelly and myself in the two characters - and I am definitely Nelly and she was definitely Lil.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Do Unto Otters

Read: 1/7/2009

By the same person who wrote Scrambled States of America, this book is about manners. I actually liked this one, the animals depicted are anthropomorphized but the quirky style that Keller illustrates in is more attractive.

A Rabbit learns that some Otters are moving in next door. He is upset about this because he hasn't met an Otter before. The Owl advises him to "do unto Otters as you would have them do unto you." Okay, its a bad Golden Rule pun and the complete basis of the story.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken

Read: 1/5/2009

Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo, Illustrated by Harry Bliss

Louise is a chicken who longs for adventure and she goes on some very exciting adventures in this picture book which is almost a chapter book. In fact it is separated into four chapters. Because of the length and sophistication of the book, I'd say it is one of those elusive 3rd grade level books, though the large format is that of a picture book.

The illustrations by Harry Bliss (of Diary of a Worm fame) are lush and romantic. They look like a cross between a Winslow Homer painting and a cartoon. Don't believe me? Check out the cover!

Old Bear

Read: 1/5/2009

Old Bear by Kevin Henkes

Old Bear falls asleep for his winter hibernation and dreams about the seasons - spring, summer, winter, fall. Then he wakes up and it is Spring!
The very simplest of stories, this one would be great to use with the very youngest of children.
The pictures are simple and sweet, and in a much larger scale than Kevin Henkes' usual style.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Whopper Cake

Read: 1/2/2009

Whopper Cake by Karma Wilson, Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

Its Grandma's birthday and Grandpa decides to bake her gigantic chocolate cake - a Whopper Cake. The dogs seem to like to watch, and everyone comes to have some of this cake. The story is in rhyme and moves at a fast pace. There is a recipe for Whopper Cake at the end.

The illustrations by Will Hillenbrand are sketchy and sloppy but fun - kind of like Grandpa. Paint spatters become part of the whole picture - you can tell the mess making is an integral part of the story. Some of the details make it believable for me, like the cut up tennis balls on the legs of the stool Grandpa sits on and the garters holding up Grandpa's socks. I just had a revelation - Grandma and Grandpa are two old hippies.