Friday, October 20, 2017


Won't you be my neighbor friend? At first Bunny and Dog keep to themselves on opposite sides of the same fence, observing but never interacting with each other. But over the course of this sweet picture book, these neighbors who see one another every day but never speak eventually grow to be good friends. Bunny lives in a blue house with a cozy reading nook (and lots and lots of cocoa), but a sign on the mailbox says BUNNY HOUSE PRIVATE. Meanwhile, Dog lives in a red house with a comfy spot for eating biscuits and reading, but a sign on the mailbox says DOG HERE DO NOT DISTURB. They study each other through their mutual white picket fence, but neither one says hello, or hi, or nice to see you today. But one night--the night they both look up to see a wondrous shooting star--something changes, and the two come together to share their snacks and some good company.   

On the Night of the Shooting Star, written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Jenni Desmond, is a delightfully heartfelt tale of looking beyond our literal and metaphorical fences to find friendship and community in a sometimes lonely world--and is a wonderful match for preschool through second graders. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Determined to prove there is life on the red planet a young astronaut lands on Mars.  He carries with him a gift, wrapped with a red ribbon, to give to the aliens he is certain he will meet.

Alone, the young astronaut wanders the barren landscape.  The cold, silent darkness seems to stretch on forever in all directions as the astronaut climbs up and down the rocky terrain. 

Author-illustrator Jon Agee makes great use of color, using primarily black, gray, brown and red to help us feel a sense of emptiness in the landscape and to allow us to see what our young astronaut misses, a large friendly red-pink alien following behind him seemingly confused by the astronaut's presence. 

As the young astronaut’s excitement and certainty fade, making way for sadness and despair, he leaves his gift behind and continues his trek, soon discovering that he is lost. 

As he walks on in search of his space craft he is amazed to discover a flower growing among the rocks and decides that his trip was not a total waste.  As he crests another hill he finds his spacecraft along with the gift he discarded earlier. 

Aboard his ship, making the long journey home to Earth, he decides he deserves a treat for his hard work and discovery.  He opens the gift he had brought with him and discovers that the chocolate cupcake had been eaten.…

Get swept away with your little one in Life on Mars, perfect for children in preschool through third grade.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


As the title Frank the Seven-Legged Spider implies, our lovable protagonist faces a bit of an existential crisis in this spirited and rollicking picture book from author-illustrator Michaele Razi. Frank begins the story as an eight-legged spider (which immediately gave this reviewer some anxiety, of course, as we know by the title that things will inevitably go terribly awry!) who spins the most magnificent webs, but wakes up one morning to find one of his precious legs has mysteriously disappeared. Where could it be? If Frank can't find his lost limb, will he still be able to do all the things he loves? And, most importantly, is Frank still a spider if he only has seven legs? 

Young readers will follow Frank's search for his missing appendage--and ultimately his identity apart from physical attributes like the number of legs he has--with fascination, empathy, and more than a few laughs along the way. This silly yet sincere story of self discovery and finding your inner strength is perfect for sharing with preschoolers through second graders. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


The boy that Smoot, our titular fun-loving shadow, is attached to sadly leads a pretty humdrum existence--always sitting still, coloring within the lines, and never daring to do anything fun or extraordinary. Sigh. One day, when he just can't take the boredom anymore, the intrepid shadow decides to strike off on his own to have some real adventures--jumping rope in the park, climbing trees, riding the merry-go-round, and just going wild to his heart's content.  And unlike in Peter Pan, Smoot is not about to be captured and sewed back together with his person. But when the other shadows see what Smoot has done and all the fun he's having, they stage a rebellion of their own. From dandelions to dragonflies, other shadows start to run amok, creating confusion aplenty. But once all the shadows have their fun will they ever want to come back?

Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow, imaginatively written by Michelle Cuevas and brilliantly illustrated by Sydney Smith, is an inventive and jubilant picture book about a shadow gone AWOL and living life to its fullest, perfect for sharing with kindergartners through second graders. 

Thursday, October 05, 2017


Fuddles does not like the new visitor, a dog who drools and makes too much of a commotion.  He tells Puddles to go away--it's his house--but when Fuddles accidentally lands on top of the doghouse next door, unable to escape the ferocious dog, Puddles comes to Fuddle's rescue. Fuddles finally realizes what a true friend Puddles is and they happily share their home together.  

Fuddles and Puddles by local author Frans Vischer is another fun story for readers in preschool through 2nd grade.   

Tuesday, October 03, 2017


As a child, Temple Grandin felt different than everyone else, and didn't seem to fit in with the children around her--she hated loud sounds, crowded places, frilly dresses, and being hugged. It was hard for her to communicate in words instead of tantrums in school. But the thing that made her stand out the most was the way her brain worked--as the title reveals, Temple thought in pictures. And when she was later kicked out of school and sent to live on her aunt's farm, that's when she found her true calling--inventing and building machines to solve problems for the farmers and help the animals be more comfortable. 

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures, thoughtfully written by Julia Finley Mosca and lovingly illustrated by Daniel Rieley, is an inspiring picture book biography that tells the story of Temple Grandin's struggles and triumphs in simple verse and charming art. This book also works as wonderful read aloud about celebrating differences, overcoming adversity, and believing in yourself. Additional backmatter, including a timeline, biography, and fun facts from the author's interview with Dr. Grandin, help provide a more complete picture of her life and work. 

A good fit for students in kindergarten through second grade--or anyone who loves stories about the power of determination and perseverance.

Monday, October 02, 2017


Toddler whisperer/children's book creator Emma Garcia is back with another sure-fire hit in her new picture book, Chugga Chugga Choo Choo. Perfect for storytime as well as sharing individually, this bright and boldly illustrated book covers lots of concept territory--it's obviously a train book, first and foremost, but also includes numbers and animals. Though the text is appropriately brief for the toddler crowd, a story line takes shape between the multiple concepts being explored. As the train makes it's way from the seashore, through the forest, through the city, and past the farmyard, before it finally pulls into the station, picking up different numbers and types of birds along the way. 

A can't-miss book for young train enthusiasts and fan's of Garcia's other vehicle-laden titles, this book is also just the ticket for building multiple early literacy skills, including narrative skills, print awareness, and phonological awareness. Full steam ahead!

Thursday, September 28, 2017


In Charlotte the Scientist is Squished, Charlotte uses the scientific method to solve her problem ... not enough space in her large rabbit family.  Tired of not having enough space in the bathroom, or anywhere for that matter, Charlotte designs and builds a rocket to fly to the moon where there will be no crowding.  With plenty of room on the moon, she performs all the experiments she could want and take long leisurely baths.  Unfortunately Charlotte experiences an unexpected problem in space by herself and so she decides to tackle one final experiment.  

A fun book for preschoolers through second graders, written by Camille Andros and illustrated by Brianne Farley, about getting what you wish for.  

Monday, September 25, 2017


This is a story about a bad seed. I mean really bad. The baddest of all the seeds, the absolute worst. All the other seeds know it, too--just ask them. They whisper when then see him coming, "there goes a baaaad seed." But how bad can he really be? Well, he never puts things back where they belong, cuts in line, never listens to anyone, and tells long jokes with no punch lines, and that's just for starters. Like I said, bad.

The seed in question wasn't always this way, so how did he get to be so bad in the first place? Read this clever, hilarious, and surprisingly heartfelt picture book to hear the origin tale of the bad seed--and find out if there's any chance of redemption for our self-proclaimed antihero. 

The Bad Seed, artfully written by Jory John and charmingly illustrated by Pete Oswald, is a natural born read-aloud, sure to entertain and delight preschoolers through second graders. Not half bad--on the contrary, all good! 

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Sam comes to the construction site everyday to watch the workers at the construction site but on this particular day some older boys dare him to go inside the site itself.  To their horror, Sam begins to  behave unexpectedly.  He takes their dare and drives off in the cement mixer and then pour wet concrete all over the road.  He behaves in more seemingly crazy ways for a little boy.  Scared that they have egged Sam on and are in a heap of trouble, the boys run after him, but the chaos just continues.  

But Sam is observant and clever and his actions are very logical and reasonable.  Find out what Sam is up to as he drives different types of construction vehicles in this madcap romp through the city.
There's humor, tension and action for everyone who enjoy cars, construction and a good story in Sam and the Construction Site by Tjibbe Veldkamp and Alice Hoogstad.  

For preschool through second grade.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017


It’s been a superb year for picture book sequels, and I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t highlight Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown’s latest collaboration: a long-awaited follow up to the amazing Creepy Carrots! For those unfamiliar with the original (please rectify this situation ASAP), the spooky story centers around young Jasper Rabbit, who, after enjoying one too many tasty carrots from a nearby field, suddenly finds himself relentlessly and creepily pursued by the vegetables in question. Noir-styled black and white illustrations enhance the spook factor, while the premise (creepy... carrots, um really?) and text lend an air of ridiculousness to the whole affair. This book makes a fantastic read-aloud for grades 2-5, and was such a hit with Children’s Room staff, that we even dressed up as the titular characters one Halloween.

The sequel, Creepy Pair of Underwear!, shares the same combination of spooky + ridiculousness, as Jasper Rabbit, now a “big rabbit,” goes underwear shopping with his mother. Yielding to Jasper’s cajoling, mom agrees to purchase one pair of Creepy Underwear for him in addition to his standard Plain White. Unbeknownst to the no-longer-a-little-bunny, however, properties of the the new Creepy Underwear include: glowing a ghoulish green, alarmingly replacing other underpants on his body despite deliberate removal, and eerily reappearing everywhere after being thrown out and snipped into pieces. Will Jasper Rabbit ever succeed in ridding himself of unwanted Creepy Underwear?

Share Creepy Pair of Underwear! with one and all--you can be sure this children’s librarian will!

Grades 2+

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Drawn by the sweet sound of Hattie's singing, Hudson the lake "monster" pokes his head up to the surface to check it out, but then goes back into hiding when the other lake goers are frightened by him.  Determined to find the animal in the lake and confirm that it is just a curious thing, Hattie hatches a plan to get everyone to see Hudson as a friendly creature of the lake instead something to fear.

Hattie & Hudson, written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, is a sweet story of friendship with vibrant illustrations.  It is perfect read-aloud for all ages.

Thursday, September 07, 2017


The fun-loving fowl of Cockatoo, Too (reviewed here) are back with more lively language play, and this time they’re stirring things up with a new recipe. Yes, it’s a delicious toucan stew!

No, wait! Come back, toucans! I meant a “delicious two-can stew for toucans, too” not “toucan stew”! Oh, dear. (Or, perhaps, “old deer”?)

Full of wit and humor, author-illustrator Bethanie Deeney Murguia’s new picture book, Toucans, Too, follows a series of quite understandable misunderstandings involving cockatoos, toucans, two-can stews, canoes, gnus, and cuckoos, too. It’s a worthy sequel. (“See quail”? Maybe next time!)

Ages 2+

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


When enthusiastic Little E joins his fellow construction vehicles on a new neighborhood project, he tips and tumbles as he attempts to find a task fit for his diminutive size. Full of fun onomatopoeia and familiar big rigs that your budding construction expert will love, Little Excavator is a story about patience, acceptance, and honoring contributions big and small. This rhyming picture book for toddlers and preschoolers was written and illustrated by the late Anna Dewdney (1965-2016), who was best known for her Llama Llama series.

I read Little Excavator with a fluttering enjoyment and a sorrowful pang, knowing that this is Dewdney’s final fully completed work. More stories born of her ideas and sketches will be published in coming years, but she will never see them to completion. Little Excavator is small, but eager to contribute. In the end, what they’ve built together is a park: a community space for children and families to play in, to grow in, and to love. It’s a fitting metaphor for Anna Dewdney’s work as a whole: that which nurtured, guided, and grew a community of readers.

Ages 2+