January is National Puzzle Month, and the 29th is National Puzzle Day! If you would like a great book to help you celebrate before the month is out, try this visual feast, published by National Geographic Kids. It features a variety of photo puzzles: optical illusions, hidden pictures, “Spot the Difference” (on two-page spreads), and more! It’s full of fun facts about nature, including how animals use camouflage for safety, how humans use vision and the brain in concert to understand the world around them, and how our perceptions can be fooled by visual tricks. There
Another of my favorite seasonal picture books is this companion book to Baby Bear Sees Blue. In an autumn landscape, a curious bear cub asks Mama Bear questions about the sounds of animals around them, and then counts the animals as they make their preparations for the winter.
Among my very favorite picture books are those with the theme of changing seasons. This story by Wisconsin author Miller is at the top of the list. At a fall farm market with her mother and father, Sophie picks out a yellow squash. The squash is just the right size for Sophie to hold, and--it turns out—to love. “I’m glad we met,” says Sophie.
A wide-eyed spotted snake from the zoo wanders into “the wrong pit,” and wends its way among the instruments of an orchestra: brass, winds, strings, percussion. It is impressed by all the sights and sounds—and hiding places: charmed by the oboe, cozy in the tuba. The snake’s fascination is not returned by the musicians, however, and the zookeeper is summoned. Time to hide! As the musicians warm up their instruments, the snake likens the sounds to those of other animals in the zoo.
A tiny pumpkin seed has one goal in its life: to be SCARY! “Boo!” it cries, to leaf and snowflake, grub to grasshopper. They are not in the least frightened, but the wind encourages the seed: “It’s not time for scaring…not yet. Be patient. You’ll soon be scary enough.” As the seasons turn, the seed has some turning of its own to do: to spring sprout, to summer flower, to autumn pumpkin. Little Boo finds that, sometimes, we need to be patient and grow into our dreams in order for them to come true. For Little Boo, that long-awaited time is Halloween!
Who are the stars of this book? Colors or Shapes? With the help of three unusual judges (featured in Boldt’s 123 versus ABC), two teams vie for the honor. Team Color takes the stage to begin a talent contest, but Shapes soon crash it, and the game is on. Red, Blue and Yellow do some fancy mixing to create a variety of new colors--everything from purple to turquoise. But the shapes, including Circle, Triangle, and Square, show that they can change as well, adding side
“Storywoods” blog creator Rebecca Dudley uses her expert photography and multi-media diorama art in this beautiful wordless picture book story featuring Hank, a sweet little animal of the woods. While on a walk, Hank finds an egg on the ground beneath a bird’s nest. When he fails in his valiant attempts to return the egg to the nest before nightfall, Hank cares for the egg and keeps it warm until he can try again the next day. This time, he has some help, and makes new friends as a result.
This is a fab(ulous) and funny book about John, Paul, George and Ringo—four lads from Liverpool, England who together, achieved worldwide fame and admiration as the Beatles, rock music band extraordinaire.
“Yawns are sneaky. They can creep up on you when you least expect them.” And--yawns can lead to pajamas, bedtime stories, lullabies and tucking in—whether you’re ready or not! The book serves as a witty warning for all those readers who are definitely not ready for bed, with challenges to resist anything cozy, cuddly, sleepy or snuggly. But, also heed my warning: this book will make you yawn, not because it’s boring, but because--as author Hélène Boudreau knows all too well--yawns are contagious! This charming funny book with the lively, distinctive ca
Charlie Bumpers is sure he’s doomed! It’s bad enough he’s the middle kid between a smart-aleck brother and a (sometimes) pesky little sister. But he’s starting his 4th grade year with all-white back-to-school shoes, he and his best friend Tommy are in separate classes for the first time ever, and—worst of all—he’s stuck with Teacher of the Year Mrs. Burke, the strictest in the whole school! She’s the same teacher that Charlie accidentally beaned with a shoe the year before—and she hasn’t forgotten!
What’s a “wordle?” According to creators Rosenthal and Bloch, wordles are “groups of words that sound exactly the same but mean different things,” such as “I scream,” and “ice cream”; “Heroes,” and “He rows.” This setup is followed by a baker’s dozen of wordles. One of my favorites is a fellow shouting, while being chased by two deer with big antlers, “I scream! Two bucks!” followed by an ice cream vendor selling “Ice cream, two bucks!” Other favorites include characters from fairy tales, and a little plug for Rosenthal’s book
In this clever, Christmassy take on a beloved fairytale, Papa, Mama and Baby are polar bears; when they are out walking, waiting for their Christmas pudding to cool, a certain special visitor comes to call, hungry and tired after finishing most of his holiday rounds. Santa Claus thinks the pudding has been left for him, and thereby hangs the rest of the tale! Santa, the bears, and their cozy house and surroundings are charmingly detailed in soft watercolors by mother-daughter duo Jane and Brooke Dyer.
A traditional nursery rhyme is given a cute Christmas twist with a little help from Santa Claus, and a lot from de Las Casas and Stone-Barker. Based on “The House that Jack Built,” and similar to the team's Halloween version, The House that Witchy Built, The House that Santa Built is a rollicking romp of rhythm, with elves and reindeer and snow and—of course—children taking part of the arctic antics in and out of Santa’s castle. The cut-paper collage illustrations are fun and fanciful. There are plenty of sound effects that make this a p
Are you looking for a fun gift idea? Something new for “Where’s Waldo” fans? Or just a way to keep the kiddos busy while they wait for Christmas? Then bring a little “Christmas Chaos” into your life! It’s one of several books in the “Seek It Out” series by Picture Window Books, a division of Capstone Press. The book features 14 scenes, laid out in two-page spreads, which feature a different winter holiday experience: the center of a busy shopping mall, Santa’s workshop, ski slope, skating rink, a gingerbread village, a Kwanzaa celebration, among others
November has been designated National Native American Heritage Month. Even if it weren’t, I would still sing the praises of this wonderful book and its sequels. The Birchbark House introduces the reader to Omakayas (“Little Frog”), a young Ojibwa girl living on what is now known as Madeline Island, Wisconsin, on Lake Superior in the 1840’s.
If you believe that zombies are only in scary stories or movies…think again. If you are grossed out at the thought of creatures that take over the bodies and brains of other creatures, this review--let alone this book--is not for you. Just walk away.
No tricks, just treats! There are many great books with Halloween stories and poems, and many are currently on display at the library. One of my favorites is Alison McGhee’s Only a Witch Can Fly. The author uses a beautiful old form of poetry with a mesmerizing rhythm, to relate the feelings of a young girl who longs to fly on a chilly but enchanted Halloween night, even if it means leaving the warmth of home, familiar things, and doubts and fears behind.
This bilingual English/Spanish book celebrates the life of the great Latin Jazz musician Ernest “Tito” Puente (1923-2000). Readers learn about Tito in different stages of his life: as a baby (in New York City of Puerto Rican parents), banging out rhythms on pots and pans; as a kid drumming and dancing his way to talent show success (but still finding time to play baseball with the neighborhood kids); as a young man in the Navy serving his country while developing his gift of playing and writing music; and as a professional musician who wins fame, fortune, love and admiration by using
Binky is no ordinary cat; unbeknownst to his owners, he is a certified space cat, and their home is a space station! After several adventures featuring space travel (going outdoors), battles with aliens (bugs), a daring rescue of Binky’s beloved toy mouse, Ted, and a challenge from a superior officer (foster cat Gracie), Binky has been promoted to lieutenant by F.U.R.S.T.
From brats on the grill and festival fare to fresh farm market fruits and veggies, food is an essential part of summer fun in Wisconsin. Savor the flavors with this feast of fun facts, history and recipes by local food expert Allen and local history writer Malone.
I found this book on a table near the new book shelves at the library. I picked it up in order to put it back on the shelf, but the cover caught my eye. I peeked inside, and before I knew it, I was off on an adventure complete with danger, magic, aliens, robots, monsters, mutants, battles, humor, and a tiny bit of romance (but not too much).
These opposites, and other concepts, are delightfully explored in this wordless picture book by artist Lizi Boyd. The front cover depicts a boy, dog at his side, peering out the window of a cheery house, while birds and other creatures fly and frolic in the yard. On the title page, the boy is at the open door, inviting the reader/viewer into his peaceful, happy world of dreams, plans, projects and play. Inside, he contentedly makes preparations for spring planting, while out the windows, two snowmen are in view. Each subsequent page shows a scene from a room in
I love Jan Thomas’ silly, charming books with her bold, colorful comic-style illustrations, from Rhyming Dust Bunnies to Is Everyone Ready for Fun?Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy is her latest to date, and in my opinion, another hit. The cowboy of the title is actually not so brave; in his attempts to settle his cows down for the night, he interrupts his own lullaby with startled exclamations about what he imagines is lurking in the dark. The cows calm and reassure him--until, that is, something really IS in the shadows!
April is National Poetry Month! Celebrate it, the Fox Cities Book Festival, nature, too, with a sweet and simple poem by versatile author Marion Dane Bauer. Its lines provide the text for this beautiful picture book, with intimate portraits of various wild baby animals and animal families by renowned nature photographer Stan Tekiela (one of the featured authors at this year’s Fox Cities Book Festival). Tekiela captures on camera many young critters, from slow turtle hatchlings to a frisky cougar kitten; from a soft rabbit kit to prickly porcupettes; from little possums hit
“Line up every kind of plant and animal on Earth…and one of every four will be a beetle.” So begins the Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins, a treasure trove of fascinating facts about beetles the world over, including information about body structure, life cycles, communication, defenses, and other beetle behaviors.
Meet Wendell, Wilmer, Willy Woody and Walter—5 bird-like juggler brothers who perform together in a hilarious stage show, while demonstrating basic math concepts such as counting, addition, subtraction and comparison. The reader audience will learn as they laugh at the Wing Wing Brothers’ antics and comic appearance. Parents and teachers will appreciate that the book meets the Common Core Standards for kindergarten mathematics; kids will appreciate the goofiness and fun.
“Why do it?” I asked myself. “Just months ago, you reviewed a book about a dog with a second chance at a happy life (Saving Audie by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent), so why do another so soon?” “I can’t help it!” was my reply. “I’ve fallen in love, and people in love can do foolish things. So there!”
On August 28, 1963, almost 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his powerful and iconic “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. The “Dream” portion of the stirring speech provides the narrative for this picture book, illustrated with inspired and inspiring paintings by Caldecott Honor Award-winning artist Kadir Nelson. Nelson includes portraits of Dr.
We’re in the midst of a white winter wonderland in Wisconsin. But for those who long for something green, you’ll find it, in all its many shades, in this lovely picture book. Author/artist Seeger combines simple rhyming text, lush paint-on-canvas illustrations and with cleverly positioned cut out accents, inviting readers to explore and enjoy the presence (and sometimes absence) of green in nature and in everyday objects.
The state legislature has declared 12/12/12 “Aaron Rodgers Day” in Wisconsin, in honor of the Green Bay Packers star quarterback with the uniform number 12. Young readers can celebrate the success of this remarkable athlete with two books added to the library’s collections this past year.
With their bushy tails and acrobatic antics, squirrels are great fun to watch. They’ve also been the subject of stories and poems for children over the years. Back in 1871, Alexina B.White paid sweet tribute to those frisky, funny critters in her collection of poetry, Little Folk Songs. White’s ode to squirrels has been given new, vibrant life for new readers with adaptation and additional verses provided by Susan Lurie, perfectly matched with beautiful, naturalistic photographs by Murray Head. It’s been one of my new favorites for fall storytime, but can be enjoyed
The cover photo of the chocolate brown pit bull puppy with soulful amber eyes drew me to this book. Saving Audie is a straighforward but heartwarming true account of this dog, one of many rescued from almost certain death in an illegal dogfighting organization co-owned by NFL player Michael Vick. Kept for many months in shelters as evidence against the wrongdoers, with only numbers instead of names, the dogs faced an uncertain future. While many people thought the dogs were dangerous and damaged
This is a goofy book, a fast and fun read for young graphic novel fans. Ace and Bub are beaver brothers, who enjoy life on Beaver Island. While Ace prepares for the Beaver Island Surfboard Competition, his board is suddenly stolen by strange penguins, who escape to the deep waters offshore. In hot pursuit, Ace gets only a glimpse of their underwater hideout, but he knows that the penguins are up to something, and it doesn’t look good. Without his surfboard, he can’t hope to beat the island’s brawny hot shot, Bruce. So Ace and Bub decide to do some deep-se
Are you looking for games to play and music to listen to while on a car trip this summer?Or perhaps you want a new project while waiting for school to start again?OR are you a “Fancy Nancy” fan who longs to add some new words to your vocabulaire extraordinaireFrançais?Try these audiobooks, available on the Wisconsin Public Library Co
Cupcake’s life is full: he runs a bakery, plays drums in a band, and enjoys city living with his best friend, Eggplant. Even so, Cupcake is in a bit of a creative slump, and he longs for—well, something more. Meanwhile, Eggplant is invited to visit Aunt Aubergine in Turkey, who happens to work with baking celebrity Turkish Delight. Eggplant wants Cupcake to come along.
Everyone will find something to giggle about with this great CD, one of many produced in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the“Music for Little People” Company. From great action songs like Raffi’s “Shake Your Sillies Out,” and “Everyone Loves to Dance” by Aaron Nigel Smith; funny story songs like “I’m My Own Grandpa,” sung by the late great Chet Atkins, and “My Name is Cheech, the School Bus Driver” by comedian Cheech Marin; new treatments of old favorites such as Tom Glazer’s “On Top of Spaghetti,” sung by the Persuasions; and other great tracks by Buckwheat Zydeco,
Author/artist Loren Long’s sweet and spunky little tractor, Otis, is back for another adventure—and what an adventure it is! Otis spends many a summer day playing “Follow the Leader” with all the farm animals—all, that is, but the big, ornery bull that snorts and charges at anyone who comes near. One day, the sky suddenly turns stormy, dark, and green, and the farm-folk scramble for shelter, with no time to tend to the animals. The reason: a tornado is coming! Otis springs into action with a clever idea
Uh-oh! Little Owl has fallen from the nest and cannot find Mommy! With the help of a dizzy but well-meaning squirrel, Little Owl sees many animals with some of the same traits as Mommy Owl, but that are definitely not her. Whooo--I mean, who-- knows where she is? Originally published in Europe with the title A Bit Lost, this book features gentle humor, charming animal characters and simple landscapes in bright colors with contrasting earth tones. It's great for reading aloud, with enough of a pattern to make it good for beginning readers as well.
Tommy is not one of the cool kids in his school, but of all of his classmates, the weirdest has to be Dwight. When Dwight comes to school with a folded paper finger puppet resembling Yoda from “Star Wars,” it’s strange enough; but when he starts giving his classmates advice, tidbits of insight and wisdom--or correctly predicts happenings like pop quizzes--in screechy Yoda-speak, while holding the origami puppet, Tommy takes notice. Does Origami Yoda have mystical powers, or is he just a “paper wad” as his friend Harvey says? Is Dwight not as dorky as he appears to be?