Little Blue Truck
by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
I heard the Little Blue Truck was selling well, so I checked it out. A well written story done in perfect rhyme, with fun sounds, many animals, and a lot of heart. The little blue truck chugging down the road is a friend to all and beeps to everyone a ‘hi’. In contrast, a big yellow dump truck honks loudly at all to scatter everyone out his way as he does his ‘big important things’. When the yellow dump truck swerves a curve and his wheels get stuck, he is unable to move. He calls for help, but no one cares to help him because he had been so mean. The friendly little blue truck comes along and tries to push the big truck out, but he too gets stuck. He also calls for help, and everyone comes running. Everyone pushes and both trucks become free. The big yellow truck thanks his brother for his help and admits ‘Now I see/ a lot depends/ on a helping hand/ from a few good friends!’ While a predictable story, it’s a joy to read with lots of fun rhymes and comforting repetition. This book could be a part of every young child’s library.
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by Kwame Alexander
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
Newbery Award Winner
This fast-moving story, written in poem, you will dive you into a family of basketball. Twins, coached since they were three by their basketball winning father, “Da Man”, sizzle on the court. Josh and Jordan know every move, every line-up; they know how to play off other’s strengths, and into other’s blindspots; they rule the court. Coming into the final season games, headed for championship, Josh’s world starts to change. Jordan finds a girl friend and Josh becomes the outsider. Angry, he makes a dumb move, and is removed from all games, but must attend the games from the sidelines. During this growing up time, he asks that he not be called by his childhood name, Filthy McNasty. His father’s world is changing too, and we learn why the title fits the story.
by Peter H. Reynolds
Candlewick Press, 2004
This book is for all the perfectionists—or children of perfectionists!
Ramon is a drawer. He draws everywhere and all the time. One day his older brother laughs at his drawing of flowers in a vase, asking, “What is that!” So shamed, Ramon shoves his picture and pencils across the table. Trying to get his next drawing ‘right’, he tries again and again, and soon a pile of crumbled papers lie on the floor. Unable to make it perfect, he gives up. He barks at his little sister, but she picks up one of his drawings and runs to her room. He chases her to retrieve it and when he reaches her room, he’s stunned. His crumbled pictures are taped all over her walls. She points to her favorite and Ramon laments that it was supposed to be a vase of flowers, but it doesn’t look like one. His sister exclaims, “Well, it looks vase-ISH!” Ramon’s world returns and he begins to draw, naming his masterpieces: boat-ish, vase-ish, silly-ish.
This book opens the creative spark and freedom of expression and gives creators a new way to see their work. A book as important to the child as it is to the adult reading it.
by Candace Fleming, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Simon and Schuster, 2014
Mr. McGreely has bunny problems and decides to vacation at the ocean and leave the bunnies behind. But, of course, the “pesky pufftails” sneak aboard and join him. Mr. McGreely is about to enjoy himself, when the “wily twitchwhiskers” appear. Then, to make things worse, every time he partakes in a new activity, they do, too, and ‘outdo’ poor Mr. McGreely. Until they start a castle-building contest. Find out how Mr. McGreely makes the best of the situation.
That’s the plot, but the fun parts are the delightful repetitions and reading aloud all the funny onomatopoeia sounds, like “Crash Smash, Glub, Blub, Blub!”, “Tippy-flash” and “Tippy-Tippy-Tippy Dash.” A playful story and a fun read-aloud when the bunnies, just having fun, consistently outsmart Mr. McGreely.
To Dare Mighty Things, The Life of Theodore Roosevelt
by Doreen Rappaport ; illustrated by C.F. Payne
Disney*Hyperion Books, 2013
Doreen Rappaport writes an inspiring story of Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, our 26th president. The biography focuses on the personal side of Roosevelt, how he chose to deal with being sickly and getting himself stronger, how he chose to use his recovery time, how he prepared himself for college and how he chose to approach his life with a strong connection with his family and a thirst for a challenge. Roosevelt had many interests and became a colorful character. He entered politics to “help the people” and frequently went against the (sometimes corrupted) establishment to make things right. Leaving a position as secretary of Navy, he started America’s first Calvary to fight against the Spanish in Cuba. Returning a hero, he rose to running as vice president with McKinley, and became president when McKinley was assassinated.
Rappaport cleverly sprinkles Roosevelt’s more famous quotes to tell the story and C.F. Payne completes the telling with stunning illustrations. The illustrations alone invite you to open the book—so much so the title of the book is not even shown on the front cover, just an engaging illustration of Roosevelt.
by Henry Cole
Little Simon 2014
A delightful concept book on visual perspectives. The story begins with an up close view of a ladybug, then zooms out to little bug on a big leaf. It then zooms out to a small leaf near a big flower, and so on. We compare perspectives on houses, barns, and trees, until we end with an illustration of a sleeping, big dog. Brilliant story arc and wonderfully rendered illustrations will teach perspectives; it will particularly delight young artists and engineers. A book worth seeking out.
What Do You Do With An Idea?
by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom
Compendium Kids, 2015
Gold Independent Publisher’s Book Award
A young boy has an idea and wonders what to do with it. The new idea is kind of strange and he decides to leave it behind and walks away, but it follows him. The boy worries about what others might think and tries to hide the idea, but the boy feels happier when his idea is around. One day he shows it to others, and indeed they didn’t think much of it. But then he decides it was HIS idea and keeps it. He plays with it until one day his idea became its own, transforming the black-and-white illustrations into full living color. Brilliant! The tale speaks to a child’s inner self and imagination, and gives him or her permission to have, cultivate and grow from the ideas that come into his or her imagination. This tale stays with the reader, like the idea stays with the boy.
A compelling tale told visually with black and white drawings accented with an egg-shaped idea featuring its own brilliant colors. A powerful example of words and illustrations working together.
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When a Dad Says “I Love You”
by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, 2013
Traditional dads say “I Love You” in many ways to their child, without always using those three words. This book sheds light in a gentle way of some of the many ways some dads—and some moms!—say I love you to their children.
Some dads show their love by making pancakes, some by chasing their kids in the back yard for fun, some by helping their child learn to ride a bike, or taking them to watch a parade. If a dad, or other family member, doesn’t always use those three magic words, share with them this book and it will help them understand.
This is a wonderfully reassuring book for the child who doesn’t hear the spoken words, “I love you”.
Tracks Count/ A guide to Counting Animal Prints
by Steve Engel, illustrated by Alexander Petersen
Craigmore Creations, 2014
While it’s sold as a counting book—which it is—Tracks Count is so much more. Each number, beginning with zero, includes a few educational words about a different animal, 1-4 short sentences early readers can practice reading on their own, and a richly rendered illustration of the animals belonging to the foot prints. My favorite is the five baby raccoons peering out from a tree hollow—irresistible. It would be easy for a young reader to want to read/hear the story several times to spend time with the young animals.
While the book includes animals one would expect, like bears and wolves, it also introduces readers to lesser known animals like the tapir and coatimundi. The book includes an introduction, for the adults; a two-page spread showing the numbers 1-10 with their foot prints—for the kids; and a short description of each of the animals featured. The book can easily be used as a reference book.
A perfect book for early counters, children will have fun counting all the toes, claws and hooves of the animals—there’s a lot of counting going on in this book!
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