Anyway. All of that is just to say that life is life, and while I never seem to get a chance to pop over here to say much about it, it is chugging along. Books, of course, are always going strong here, too. Yesterday's library trip saw us bringing another full bag of picture books home, so our shelf is pretty stuffed again. Yay! Just how I like it!
1. Betty Goes Bananas written and illustrated by Steve Anthony
A young gorilla named Betty is not only dressed like an average toddler girl, but as readers will quickly discover, she knows how to act like one, too. The banana won't open easily... tantrum. A nice toucan comes along and shows her how to open the banana... tantrum. Frustration is something that toddlers and preschoolers can understand quite well, and thankfully, after each of her tantrums, Betty does indeed calm down. Mr. Toucan gets a boatload of props from me for staying so cool, calm, and collected each time Betty loses it, and his refrain of "There is no need for that," will certainly make the grown-up reading this aloud crack a smile.
2. Blown Away written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph
Penguin Blue unwraps his newly delivered kite and tries it out on a windy day. Sounds good, right? Well, perhaps he should have picked a slightly less windy day, because, as the cover image shows, Penguin Blue is soon swept up into the air, the beginning of an adventure that will bring him far, far from his icy, Antarctic home. The only upside to all this is that in an effort to save him, several of Penguin Blue's friends get caught up in the wind, too, so at least his travels are not lonely. When they eventually find themselves on a hot, tropical island, they've got to figure out a way to get home, but they should also probably watch out for one last surprise.
3. You Are Not My Friend, But I Miss You written and illustrate by Daniel Kirk
My library opted to remove the paper cover of this book, and the image on the hardcover itself is a huge close-up of a sock monkey's smiling face. The book was standing up, cover facing out, so how could my four year old friend NOT grab it immediately upon seeing it? I could see this being a good read aloud in a preschool class, actually, since the refrain "You're not my friend anymore!" is heard pretty regularly when four year olds get ticked off. The concept of sharing requires an ability to see a situation from another's perspective, which is still a bit tricky for your average preschooler. That's what the sock monkey begins to realize in this book about the trials of friendship.
4. Click, Clack, Peep! written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin
A quieter, gentler in the collection by this author/illustrator partnership, this is a book that will get many parents to remember back to those wild days and nights with newborns. Perhaps this will be one of those picture books that has more parent appeal than kid appeal, I don't know. I can picture this being a colorful read aloud, though, with the right amount of energy by the reader. Subtle bits of humor are there (sheep knitting a blanket, ha!), and it's fun to see our good old pal Duck getting into a new role in life. I haven't read this one with my young pals yet, but I predict they'll giggle a little. For me, it was trip back in time, almost 15 years ago, to our first round of parenthood!
5. Last Stop on Market Street written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson
Making magic out of the mundane, and seeing beauty in the everyday, that is at the heart of this gorgeous new picture book by the fantastic pairing of two amazing author/illustrators. Traveling across town with his grandmother, CJ comments on several things that could be seen as downsides of their day-- not having a car and instead needing to take a bus to get somewhere, not owning an iPod-like device, and walking around a tough neighborhood. CJ's grandmother, however, helps him to see the positive aspects of each of these experiences-- chatting with the other folks who ride the bus, listening to a man play his guitar, and looking for beauty all around. The best quote: "Sometimes when you're surrounded by dirt, CJ, you're a better witness for what's beautiful." I love everything about this book-- the inherent diversity that isn't the point of the story, but is simply a fact for the neighborhood in which the story takes place; the loving, but straight-talking, grandmother's way with CJ; and the urban beauty that is brought to gorgeous life in Robinson's illustrations. I was so excited to read this after hearing this story on NPR, and it was everything that I hoped for.
I hope you'll find some good matches here for your little ones' reading times!