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Archive for the ‘Rhyme’ Category

The Circus Ship by ChCircus Ship Coverris Van Dusen is an engaging picture book filled with expressive animal illustrations and lilting rhyme.  Chris Van Dusen’s previous books include A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee and If I Built a Car.  About The Circus Ship, Van Dusen says, “I’ve focused on light sources and textures in the artwork for this story—on details like paint peeling off the clapboards of the houses.  This makes the book more complex and richer overall than my previous work.  Also, this is the first story I’ve written that has a villain, which was a lot of fun.”  In an author’s note, Van Dusen reveals that the idea for The Circus Ship came from a real-life event, the wreck of a circus ship called the Royal Tar in 1836.  He did not try to retell that story in his book, but instead wrote “a new adventure for children that [he hopes] still captures the spirit of the Royal Tar.”

The story begins with the wreck of a circus ship off the coast of Maine.  While the ill-tempered circus manager escapes in a lifeboat, the fifteen circus animals are left to fend for themselves.  They swim to an island and cause all sorts of trouble for the people who live in the village there.  At first the villagers are annoyed, but they change their tune after a tiger saves a little girl from a burning building.  When the angry circus manager comes to the island searching for his animal performers, the villagers hatch a plan to outwit him so the animals can continue living with them.

On nearly every spread, Van Dusen’s illustrations cover the entire page, leaving no white space.  Many of the pictures have parts of people or animals cut off by edge of the page, as if Van Dusen were holding a camera and couldn’t quite fit all the action in the frame.  This technique effectively immerses readers in each scene of the story.  The animals’ bodies and faces are very expressive.  A lion’s extended tongue and slumped shoulders convey exhaustion, while closed eyes and floppy “wrists” show that an alligator is very relaxed.  Most fascinating is the spread where the animals are hiding in plain sight to avoid discovery by the circus manager.  A camel’s humps look very much like the haystacks in the field around him, while a monkey is wearing a baby bonnet and being pushed in a stroller.  No reader will want to turn the page without finding all fifteen camouflaged creatures.

Van Dusen uses rhyming four-line stanzas, giving the story a nice rhythm.  He chooses strong verbs like “staggered” and evocative adjectives like “bedraggled.”  The Circus Ship is best shared one-on-one to give readers and listeners the opportunity to notice all the details in the illustrations.  However, this book can work with a small group, especially if the reader has time to pause on certain pages and show the illustrations to each child up-close.  This story was a big hit when I read it to a small group of elementary schoolers this spring.  It would also be appropriate for sharing with preschoolers.

Check the WRL catalog for The Circus Ship.

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Moo Baa La La La coverSandra Boynton’s very popular board books include Doggies, Horns to Toes and in Between, and But Not the HippopotamusMoo, Baa, La La La! is one of my favorites.  This book features bright colors, rhyme, and lots of animal sounds.  The first few pages set up the reader to expect a straightforward exploration of animal noises.  Drawings of a cow and sheep are accompanied by the words, “A cow says MOO.  A sheep says BAA.”  On the third page, however, Boynton’s humor arrives with an illustration of tap-dancing pigs in brightly-colored suits and the declaration, “Three singing pigs say LA LA LA!”  After correcting this silly mistake, the narrator moves on to the sounds of other animals, including dogs, cats, and not-so-familiar rhinoceroses.  The last spread shows all the animals quietly gathered together, waiting to hear what sound the reader makes.  When I read these final pages in storytime, I invited the participants to make their favorite animal sounds.

Many elements of Moo, Baa, La La La! make it just right for babies.  Hearing the bouncy, rhyming text will help children learn the sounds of the English language, preparing them to learn to speak and read.  Boynton’s text could easily be memorized and repeated like a nursery rhyme even without the book in hand.  In her book Reading Magic, literacy expert Mem Fox describes some of the ways grownups can share rhymes with young children.  She writes, “Songs and rhymes provide comforting rhythms in children’s early lives and also expose kids to gorgeous forms of language. […] They can be read, recited, chanted, or sung in a soft, low voice whenever a child is sleepy or fretful.  And they’re also fun to say and learn when children are wide awake and happy.”  Boynton’s illustrations are also well-suited for babies.  They are high-contrast and simple, which makes them easy to see.  Boynton’s animals, which are drawn with bold black outlines, appear on plain colored backgrounds.  The only spread that gets a little busier is the last one since it includes all the animals featured in the book.

The small size of this board book makes it most suitable for one-on-one sharing.  However, those who wish to share this title with a group may want to seek out a larger edition.  For those who have iPads, an interactive version of this book is available as an app.  Moo, Baa, La La La! also makes a fantastic baby gift!

Check the WRL catalog for Moo, Baa, La La La!

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I know a wee piggy This book has it all, rhythm, rhyme, repetition, and colors. Our piggy is at the County Fair with a determined idea. He wants to be the winner of the blue ribbon. He starts off wallowing in brown, but it’s not for him. So he adds a rinse of red, which makes it too bright. And on he goes wallowing in color after color. He does take a quick break wallowing in the duck Pond. His final wallow in the blue water of the Dunk Tank blends everything together giving him the blue ribbon.
The rhyme is catchy, and the repetition will keep children involved. All of the backgrounds represent events at a county or state fair. Enjoy the illustrations crowded with details of people and objects to be explored from many perspectives. There is as much to see as there is to hear in this book.
Extend the experience by making color cards that match the colors in Piggy’s adventure. The younger children love to lift up their color card each time their color is named. I Know a Wee Piggy will work in a storytime, a classroom, and just one on one. Children will surely request re-reads of this book. It is the whole package wrapped up in fun, laughter, and a very lively, lovable main character.

Check the WRL catalog for I Know a Wee Piggy.

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Hush

Hush Little Polar Bear is a very sweet bedtime book that you will just have to sing.

The artwork is big and little ones will have no trouble following the little polar bear as he travels all over the world until it’s time to settle down and sleep soundly in bed.

This is a great book for a bedtime storytime, Jeff Mack is the author and illustrator and he’s created a beautiful book.

Check the WRL catalog for Hush Little Polar Bear.

 

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Alison Jay has managed to start with a book about colors, a beautiful book about colors, and by combining that with Mother Goose rhymes has ended up with a spectacular book you will want to read over and over again.
“Little boy Blue’s asleep in the hay. His sheep and his cow have run away.” “Poor Humpty’s purple from his fall. These men will try to mend it all.” “The Owl and the Pussycat set to sea…in a beautiful boat as green as a pea.” Each page, like the examples above, will combine a rhyme and a color and give you the chance to search for the hidden character, recall and recite the rhyme and talk about all of the other colors on the beautifully illustrated pages.

Check the WRL catalog for Red Green Blue: A First Book of Colors.

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Kids will love this fun rhyming book about Bunion Burt who has feet that hurt. Everyone that Burt comes into contact with tries to help him feel better. They suggest home remedies like mud and ice and sun but absolutely nothing works. While most young readers won’t know about bunions, they most likely will be able to guess why it is that Burt’s feet hurt so badly.
The characters have silly rhyming names like Granny Gert, Mama Myrt, Cousin Kurt and Old Doc Smurt. The illustrations are big, bold, amusing and just plain goofy. The plot is engaging and will keep a kid’s attention right up until the end. Be sure to check this one out!

Check the WRL catalog for Bunion Burt.

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BearSaysThanksBear is back! This series by Karma Wilson is one of my favorites. Bear is bored and misses his friends. He decides to make a dinner and invite them over. But, when he goes to check his cupboards they are empty. Serendipitously, one by one, Bear’s friends stop by, bringing something to eat: huckleberry pie, muffins, fish, nuts, pears, and tea. Each time his woodland friends bring something, Bear says thanks. Bear gets depressed when he realizes that he has nothing to add to the feast. His friends reassure him that Bear does have something to share – his stories!
This is a great book for reading to a group. The rhyming text flows smoothly. The phrase, “and the bear says thanks,” is repeated throughout the story, giving young listeners a chance to respond. Jane Chapman does an excellent job with the illustrations, gently conveying the emotions and tone of the story through expressive facial features of the bear and all his friends. This story would be perfect for Thanksgiving, but also anytime of the year when thanks is given.

Check the WRL catalog for Bear Says Thanks

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If you have come to my storytimes or seen my previous blog posts you have probably come to realize I tend to choose “energetic” books.  I like books that are loud and colorful and get the crowd moving.  This book is a bit of a departure for me in that it is not so loud or colorful but my goodness…is it beautiful!  Ichikawa takes more subdued hues of brown, gold, green, and red and paints a serene, comfy world.   I also can’t imagine two protagonists more huggable then her two adorable teddy bears.  Cusimano’s words are a gentle refrain repeating through the story that shows the balance between parent and child.

“I am your calm face;

you are my giggle.

I am your wait;

you are my wiggle.”

 

While I choose a lot of rambunctious books for my storytimes sometimes the quite, gentle books are the ones that can really ensnare the children.  This is one of those!  I recommend this both for one-on-one sharing and for storytime.

 

Check the WRL catalog for You Are My I Love You.

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“Tilly was a silly goose, a daffy-down-and-dilly goose, who took her baths in apple juice.” That is, until the other animals on the farm had had enough of her silliness. They convince Tilly to stop being so silly, but they soon realize that no one can remember the last time they had a good laugh. So, having learned their lesson, they ask Tilly to reclaim her silly ways. The moral that people should accept others as they are is a good one, but it will probably be overlooked as children laugh at Tilly’s antics. After all, it’s hard to think seriously when Tilly “soaks her feet in mayonnaise”.

Tilly’s silly behavior is perfectly illustrated by Slonim with whimsy and color. Children really get a kick out of Silly Tilly and it comes highly recommended when you want a room full of laughing children at storytime.

Check the WRL catalog for Silly Tilly.

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In the real world, cows don’t do much. If you are on a cattle drive, you need to provide the cows with plenty of motivation to move. In Karma Wilson’s world, cows are key-snatching, joyriding cattle that can drive themselves to town. While these cows apparently can drive, they don’t seem to be as savvy when it comes to the rules of the road. They zoom through a stop sign (cows can’t read), don’t know what a police siren means (they think it could be noisy geese), and can’t find the car brakes. Much like humans, they are too busy criticizing the poor driving of others to notice they are running off the road. Things end happily enough, when the cow car is mistaken for a parade float and all the townspeople come to watch. But what will they do when the horse wants to drive home?

Karma Wilson is a great go-to author for storytime titles. She has another winner with this funny, zany cow car chase story. Firehammer’s illustrations are the perfect accompaniment, and the cows look more and more bewildered as their road trip goes on. “Sakes alive! They’re going on a cattle drive!”

Check the WRL catalog for Sakes Alive! A Cattle Drive.

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