Trying New Things Can Be Equal Parts Spooky and Fun!

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Mama Witch is busy making a special treat for her Picky Little Witch. A witch’s brew filled with all kinds of awful ingredients, from eye of newt to hair of slug. The list goes on and on across several pages, each more disgusting than the last. The Picky Little Witch mimics the reader’s own thoughts, yuck, gross and even barf! She comes up with many different excuses why she can’t try the witch’s stew, but Mama Witch has a clever solution for each one. Eventually, the Picky Little Witch tries the stew and to her and our surprise, she actually loves it!

 

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Then it’s time for trick-or-treating! Mama Witch watches the Picky Little Witch collect all kinds of goodies. From candy apples to licorice snakes. As the Picky Little Witch’s excitement mounts so does Mama Witch’s disgust. The Picky Little Witch encourages her mom to try some of these delectable Halloween treats, and she refuses, much like her daughter earlier in the story.  She offers up many excuses, but her daughter refutes each one. Talk about role reversals. Mama Witch ends up loving the sweet treats as much as the Picky Little Witch loved the witch’s brew. In the end, they learn that trying new things isn’t all scary.

The Picky Little Witch by Elizabeth Brokamp is great for kids ages 5-8.

 

Hallo-What?

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Marceline is a young witch who wonders why all the witches are collecting pumpkins one day. She goes to her grandmother’s house to find out what is going on and sees that her grandma also has a pumpkin. Overwhelmed and confused, she begins to cry. Her grandmother tenderly reassures her that everything is okay and explains that the witches are preparing for Halloween!

Hallo-What? is a great introductory book that explains what Halloween is, including the origin of the different Halloween customs. It is a sweet story that is perfectly not scary for young children. Once she understands what Halloween is, Marceline and her friends dress up and go trick-or-treating. (With adult supervision, of course!)

Hallo-What is great for kids ages 5-8.

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Explaining Away the Spooky

Grace, the main character in Ella Bailey’s No Such Thing*, is a clever young girl who explains away anything that might be perceived as spooky. Without hesitation and with great confidence, she identifies the culprit when objects go missing or are moved around.

No Such Thing is the perfect book for young kids who enjoy uncovering mysteries. Not to mention the amazing vocabulary! From savy sleuth to  presumed, suspected and pilfered, this book is great for word work with young readers. Using context clues and sentence structure to help determine the meaning of unfamiliar words.

No Such Thing is a wonderful read for kids ages 3-7. The illustrations are colorful and engaging. Ella Bailey invites the reader to revisit the pages, jam packed with realistic details, to find the ghosts on each!

Click here to purchase a copy of No Such Thing (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of No Such Thing in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

Halloween is Coming!

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Peek-a-Boooo! Is an adorable lift the flap picture book that is perfect for getting kids into the Halloween spirit. This is a silly rather than scary read that is great for young children. Marie Torres Cimarusti’s text is simple and fun. Stephanie Peterson’s illustrations are large scale.  Kids will enjoy pulling each character’s hands away from his/her face to reveal a classic Halloween figure.

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What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen?  by Nick Sharratt is a clever take on a life the flap picture book. Take a closer look into the witch’s kitchen. Open the flap in one direction, find something ordinary and possibly delightful. Open the flap in the other direction to reveal something spooky and undesirable. This book is bound to leave young readers giggling.

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A Happy Merry Birthday to You!

When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano perfectly captures a child’s excitement for her birthday. It begins in an almost breathless way with, “when’s my birthday?/ where’s my birthday?/ how many days until my birthday?” The tone of urgency unique to a young child spills across the pages, too excited to even utilize proper capitalization!

This book explores the idea of being patient and having to wait for a fun event or celebration. In a way it reminds me of Kevin Henkes’ Waiting.

At first the narrator wonders when her birthday is, from specific date to season. Then she continues to wonder about the different activities, the menu and the guest list. The process of planning the party is not that different from my own train of thought when I am tasked with planning an event.

Illustrated by Christian Robinson, one of my all time favorite illustrators. His illustrations include beautiful collage work, combining photographs and painting with thick, expressive brush strokes.

The repetition of the text and the topic of birthdays, will make this a delightful addition to any home library as well as the perfect birthday or even pre-birthday gift.

Click here to purchase a copy of When’s My Birthday? (affiliate link)

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest and open review.

First Day of School Jitters

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex is a wonderful first day of school picture book read aloud for lower elementary school grades. The main character is Frederick Douglass Elementary School, a newly built school building that is experiencing first day jitters.

The school learns, through a conversation with the janitor, that children will soon be arriving and begins to feel nervous. Though the school observes all the students and their different interactions, it pays closest attention to one young girl in particular. A little girl with freckles who has to be carried into the school building by her mom. The school’s feelings are hurt when the children say they don’t like school or that they don’t want to be there.


The day goes on and slowly the different characters begin to relax and even have fun, including the school. At the end of the day when everyone has left except for the janitor, the school asks him to invite the children back the next day.

School’s First Day of School is the perfect book to read to young ones to get them ready for the first day of school. It captures and normalizes the nervousness that all kids, and even school staff and teachers experience each year as they prepare for the first day of school.

Click here to purchase a copy of School’s First Day of School (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest and open review.

 

A Stunning Take on a Norse Myth

Joe Todd-Stanton’s Brownstone’s Mythical Collection: Arthur and the Golden Rope is a remarkable blend between a graphic novel and a picture book. Here is the tale of young Arthur who joins forces with the Norse god Thor to take down Fenrir, a huge wolf who has terrorized his town and extinguished the great fire.

Though Arthur has had many adventures, the other townsfolk consider him a nuisance and doubt his ability to actually help them.

Instead of letting their harsh words get to him, Arthur decides to go find the god of storms.

It turns out that all of his previous adventures and experience collecting strange objects works in his favor. Arthur does not allow anyone or anything to get in his way, and when all seems hopeless conducts research and gets creative. A great lesson and skill for readers of all ages!

Arthur and the Golden Rope is an action-packed book with wonderful illustrations to accompany the text. The illustrations depict an ancient Viking land with magical objects and mythical dangers. It teaches that even the unlikeliest of characters can be the hero.

Click here to purchase a copy of Brownstone’s Mythical Collection: Arthur and the Golden Rope.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Ultimate Staring Contest

Don’t Blink written and illustrated by Tom Booth captures the excitement young children experience playing a game as simple as a staring contest. An adventurous and enthusiastic young girl climbs and balances on rocks, then sits down on an almost blank page and invites the reader to Go! Her eyes are wide open and she has a sweet smirk on her face.

One by one different, very well mannered, creatures join in on the staring contest them against you, the reader.

Young readers can guess what other animals will join in as the contest continues. They enter the scene from all directions, including a monkey who drops down from above.

The illustrations are delightful and colorful. Each animal and the young girl have a designated color text that indicates that they are speaking. The directions in of the animals’ eyes once the contest is over helps the reader determine to whom each one is speaking.

Finally a round of the contest ends and a winner is declared. The animals scurry off, all but the turtle who was slowly walking toward the young girl throughout the entire story. Even though many of the other animals passed the turtle to play the game, it did not give up. It maintained it’s slow and steady pace and even shouts out encouraging words to the others as they struggle to keep their eyes open.

Don’t Blink is a fun, interactive picture book that takes a simple childhood game and teaches the reader how to play together while including others. There are many different layers to this story that can be uncovered as you read and reread one.

Click here to purchase a copy of Don’t Blink! (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of Don’t Blink in exchange for my honest review.

A Fantastic Spin on a Childhood Classic

The Giant of Jum by Elli Woollard is a clever twist on the classic childhood tale Jack and the Beanstalk. The Giant of Jum is hungry. He sets out in search of a legendary snack, a boy named Jack. This storyline reminds me of one of my favorite books, The BFG by Roald Dahl, which I love reading to my upper elementary-aged students each year.

The Giant of Jum is presented as a horrific creature. He is grumpy and grouchy. He stomps all about and dreams about eating young children. Each time the Giant of Jum encounters young children, he ends up helping them rather than feasting on them. From fetching a ball from the top of a tall fountain to rescuing a skeptical looking cat.

When The Giant of Jum finally meets a young boy named Jack, will he fulfill his destiny or start to see himself in a different light?

The Giant of Jum is a funny and engaging book about a giant who sees himself one way and ends up learning a lot about himself on his journey to find the elusive snack, a boy named Jack. The story is beautifully written with hilarious rhymes woven throughout. The illustrations by Benji Davies complement the tone of the story perfectly. The Giant is large in comparison to the characters and objects that surround him, yet his features are exaggerated in a way that make him odd looking rather than scary.

Click here to purchase a copy of The Giant of Jum (affiliate link).

I received a complimentary copy of The Giant of Jum in exchange for my honest review.

 

An Autobiographical Account of a Penny

One of my most memorable experiences as a student teacher came from a regular math routine early in the school year in a second grade classroom. Each day the class came together for a morning meeting and part of that routine included tracking the number of days we’ve been in school. They kept track of this number by writing the number, collecting colored dots on the tens frame and also by collecting coins that equaled the total number of days. On the first day the teachers put a penny underneath the document camera for the class to see. They asked the students, “What do you notice about this coin?” A young boy named Jack raised his hand and instead of describing the shape of the coin or the color of the coin, as we’d all expected, he gave the lengthy history of the coin. This experience was so important to me as a future teacher, you never know what to expect from kids and what knowledge they bring with them into the classroom if you don’t ask.

One Proud Penny by Randy Siegel is an awesome picture book that presents historically accurate information about the penny. It is narrated as an autobiographical account by a penny. It begins with information about when this penny was “born” and where, in 1983 in Philadelphia. Then continues on to explore the different uses of a penny, from providing exact change to spinning and flipping out of boredom or for fun.

One Proud Penny hints at the argument of whether pennies should be banned, one we explore in my 4th grade classroom during our argument and persuasive writing unit. It also highlights some important change over time (pun intended). For example, a penny used to be enough to buy ice cream or a newspaper, but that’s no longer the case.

One Proud Penny even details the difference in the composition of pennies when they were originally minted and today.

One Proud Penny is a wonderful tribute to the penny. A small yet durable coin that at times is a nuisance in our pockets or taking up lots of space in our wallet, and other times, helping us make exact change. The illustrations by Serge Bloch blend simple line drawings with actual images of pennies, in a way that adds to the comedic tone of the text. Together they create an informative and exciting informational book.

This is a must have book for any classroom and school library as well as any home collection of a kid who loves facts and information about money and coins. Click here to purchase a copy of One Proud Penny (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.