Miss Rumphius is a classic created by one of America’s most distinguished illustrators of children’s books. During her career of nearly sixty years, Barbara Cooney illustrated more than 100 books and won numerous awards, including the 1983 National Book Award for Miss Rumphius. She was known for traveling extensively to research the different settings in her books in order to make her illustrations as detailed and realistic as possible. About this book, Cooney said, “Miss Rumphius has been, perhaps, the closest to my heart. There are, of course, many dissimilarities between me and Alice Rumphius, but, as I worked, she gradually seemed to become my alter ego. Perhaps she had been that right from the start.”
This book tells the life story of Alice Rumphius, who wants to travel to faraway places, spend her old age living by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful. The illustrations in Miss Rumphius are lovely and charming. Cooney chose a horizontal format to allow plenty of space for her expansive landscapes. She used acrylic paints and colored pencils, and filled each page with tiny details. I can see little hairs on the neck of a camel, smoke rising from the chimneys of faraway houses, and black flecks representing lupine seeds. Reading this book transports me to a simpler time and to exotic locales around the world.
Cooney’s inspiring story is filled with rich vocabulary and graceful turns of phrase. Children will learn new words like conservatory and cockatoo by hearing them read aloud in context and by looking at the pictures. This book is best shared one-on-one to give children plenty of time to examine the illustrations. Its length and subject make it most likely to appeal to children in kindergarten and above. I remember reading Miss Rumphius when I was a child, and still think of it fondly every time I see a patch of lupines.
Check the WRL catalog for Miss Rumphius
Posted in 4 to 6, 7 and Up, Fiction Book, Hannah's Picks | Leave a Comment »
This is a wonderful book to share at a toddler or pre-school story time after a storm or for a weather themed story time. The story is written and illustrated by Nancy Tafuri who won a Caldecott Honor award for Have you seen My Duckling? Her animals are delightfully detailed and realistic.
The Big Storm is indeed a very soggy counting book. One by one, animals try to escape from the dark black clouds. Bird flies to the hill hollow. He is number one. He is followed by Mouse who is number two. Lightning starts to crack and Rabbit runs for cover making three animals seeking refuge together. Thunder starts to rumble and grumble – Woodchuck, Raccoon, Opossum and Red Fox all run for cover. The children at story time enjoyed calling out the various animal names. Finally the number ten animal joins them. It is skunk!
“10 Critters huddled together” are escaping from the storm. Suddenly there is a different Rumble and Grumble and they all realize at once that some other creatures are in the cave with them. Can you guess what they are?
The story is great for a large group reading as are her other books including The Very Busy Little Squirrel and Spots, Feathers and Curly Tails. A good enrichment activity addition for this book would be a little flannel board of the hill hollow and figures of the ten animals. The flannel board could be demonstrated as the story is told or demonstrated after the story is told.
Move Over, Rover by Karen Beaumont has a similar storyline with a very different surprise ending. You might consider programming them a week apart. Encourage the children to identify things that are the same or different.
Check the WRL catalog for The Big Storm: A Very Soggy Counting Book.
Posted in 2 to 4, 4 to 6, Morag's Picks | Leave a Comment »
Soggy Saturday is a very simple story that younger and older preschoolers really enjoy. Phyllis Root got the inspiration for this book when she was nearly washed off the road while driving during a torrential rainstorm. The heroine, Bonnie Bumble, lived on a farm. One Saturday, a soggy Saturday, it rained so hard the blue washed right out of the sky. It rained “blue” on all the farm animals – the chickens, the cow, the sheep, and the pig–the grass and trees too. Finally the rain stopped but now everything on the farm was blue! The chicken’s eggs had turned blue and even the cows’ milk was blue. Bonnie had to paint everything on the farm back to its original color – “the sheep all creamy and white and the pig all shiny and pink!”
This is a good addition to a weather-themed story time!
Bonnie Bumble is the star in these other humorous books by Phyllis Root: Meow Monday, Turnover Tuesday and One Windy Wednesday. They are all illustrated by Helen Craig with her playful, signature illustrations.
Check the WRL catalog for Soggy Saturday.
Posted in 2 to 4, 4 to 6, Humor, Morag's Picks | Leave a Comment »
Here is a very fun “happy” book about rain. Split! Splat! encourages the reader to go out and embrace the rain. This book is ideal for a preschool or kindergarten audience. It features funny, rhythmic rhymes with lots of onomatopoeic words.
Pip Pip Pip Pip
Drippy drop drop drip
The well known illustrator, Steve Bjorkman draws large happy, smiling faces of children and dogs as they are running in puddles with raincoats and umbrellas and mud! The rain does not bother these kids.
A no-shoes, toes-ooze,
Oochy sploochy woochy woosh!
The kids will love this one and will recite the words back to you.
Check the WRL catalog for Split! Splat!
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Kids love joke and riddle books, and this one is great for a large group. It’s not so much a picture book as a “quipture book.”
On the first page, we meet Mr. Putney, a balding, middle-aged guy with a mustache. He owns a veritable menagerie, whose names the reader is invited to guess. For instance, an armadillo stands on the bedside table next to a snoozing Mr. Putney. “Who wakes Mr. Putney up in the morning?” the book asks. The answer: An alarmadillo.
Mr. Putney holds a (somewhat worried) small boy next to a gorilla. “Who does Mr. Putney use to see how tall his nephew is?” A goruler.
You get the idea. Agee’s illustrations are huge and well-defined, so they are easy to see from the back of the room. And after the first few riddles, kids will be eager to guess the rest. I’ve used this with kindergarten through fourth grade, and it was a hit. And it’s a good one to slip between stories.
Check the WRL catalog for Mr. Putney’s Quacking Dog.
Posted in 7 and Up, Humor, Laurie's Picks | Leave a Comment »
Last summer I brought this book to an outreach storytime where I would be reading to kindergarten through third grade students. When I arrived, I found out that the fourth and fifth graders would be joining us. “Uh oh,” I thought. But I needn’t have worried. Press Here saved the day.
Press Here is the pop-up book that isn’t a pop-up book. On the first page, readers are instructed to “Press here” on a painted yellow dot and then turn the page. On the next page, a second yellow dot has “magically” appeared. On ensuing pages, the reader is instructed to press dots, shake the book up and down or turn it sideways. In response, the dots change color, slide to the edge of the page, or change size. Pressing a whole row of dots “turns out the lights,” making the background turn black. Blow on the book and the black ink gradually (with more blowing), flows back off the page.
This book is particularly fun to share with a group of about 20, because you can carry it around and let the kids can take turns following the directions. If you have more children than pages, it’s okay, because a couple of the instructions—clapping and blowing—can be done by the whole group. You’ll get spit on when everybody blows, so maybe don’t try it during flu season.
Check the WRL catalog for Press Here.
Posted in 4 to 6, 7 and Up, Laurie's Picks | Leave a Comment »
An exuberant orange and black tabby invites kids to guess his favorite color in this super book for babies and toddlers.
“Is it Yellow?” he asks. “Yellow is the sand on the sunny beach.”
“Is it Red? Red is the rug where I snooze by the fire.” The simple text on these double-page spreads is always accompanied by the cheery cat and another sort of animal. A mouse naps next to the cat on the red rug. Crabs scoot along yellow sand. Bats swoop through a black night sky.
The book bounces along easily, with just enough going on to generate a conversation with toddlers. Cabrera’s illustrations are big and bright, so this is a great book for storytime. And the simple conclusion is satisfying and perfect for little ones.
Check the WRL catalog for Cat’s Colors.
Posted in 2 to 4, Concept Book, Laurie's Picks | Leave a Comment »