Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cleaning Out My Cubby

I'm cleaning out my cubby today of books I have used for storytimes and programs. These will be very short annotations, but to make up for my lack of reviews recently, I thought it would be fun to at least mention the ones I've recently used.

Musgrove, Margaret. The Spider Weaver: A Legend of Kente Cloth. New York: Blue Sky Press (imprint of Scholastic), 2001.

Basic synopsis: Ghanaian folktale about the creation of kente cloth.
Used for: Write Away club, February 2007
Why I used it: Every month, I introduce a country for the Write Away club. Since February is Black History Month, I wanted to feature an African country. I wanted to tell an Anansi tale and knew that I could find other Ghanaian folktales quite easily. Since we also did a kente weaving craft, this book was a perfect choice. The book is a fine read aloud with bright and bold illustrations that a crowd can easily see and appreciate.

Gliori, Deb. No Matter What. San Diego: Harcourt, 1999.

Basic synopsis: Small (fox) is in an ugly mood. But Large (mommy) loves him, even if he is grumpy.
Used for: Baby Animals toddler storytime
Why I used it: I have some barely 2s and some almost 4s in my toddler group, so I have to have a mix of read alouds available for storytime. This is a good read aloud for the younger ones. Although I normally shy away from reading books that are told in conversation for storytime, I used this one for its big illustrations, subject matter, and text that, in spite of being told in conversation, lends itself readily to reading aloud.

Waddell, Martin. Owl Babies. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 1992.

Basic synopsis: Mama Owl has gone away, and three baby owls nervously await her return.
Used for: Baby Animals toddler storytime (I also use it for my Mother's Day storytime)
Why I use it: Martin Waddell is one of my favorite picture book authors. He understands children's worries and fears. He can write about such issues without being cloying or obnoxious (When the Teddy Bears Came is a great gift for a new big brother or sister). And here I go again with making an exception to picture books with a significant amount of conversation! Owl Babies isn't told entirely in conversation, but there are three distinct baby owl voices for which you need to be aware. It is a great read aloud and invites the reader to use tons of expression. There's also a small element of suspense: where is Mother Owl and why has she left her owl babies? The illustrations of the baby owls huddling together and wondering where Mama is are adorable. I love this book.

McBratney, Sam. You're All My Favorites. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2004.

Basic synopsis: Three bear cubs wonder which is the favorite.
Used for: Baby Animals toddler storytime
Why I used it: Subject matter and illustrations. I like this book very much, but it would be great for a nighttime storytime with parent and child. It was a little too quiet and short on action for my morning toddler group.

Walsh, Ellen Stoll. Mouse Count. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991.

Basic synopsis: Snake sneaks up on sleeping mice. As you can guess, this is a counting book disguised as a story.
Used for: I Think Mice Are Rather Nice toddler storytime
Why I used it: A good in-between book for my group. It's not as short as Denise Fleming's books, but not too long. The reader can ham up the snake voice. If you have a very big crowd, keep in mind that this is a small-ish picture book. I had a small group that day, so I was able to use it (I always prepare more books than what I normally read.).

Wilson, Karma. A Frog in the Bog. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books (imprint of Simon Schuster), 2003.

Basic synopsis: A frog sits on a bog, eating like a piggie. Or is it really a bog?
Used for: Awesome Alligators toddler storytime
Why I used it: Actually, I didn't use it for my group, but I have used it for an Awesome Alligator preschool storytime very successfully. When I do a Fabulous Frogs storytime later in the spring, I may use it. The reader is presented with a lot of opportunities to ham it up, and it's always fun to have a little surprise at the end of a story. You can ask your group to chime in when you read, "And the frog grows a little big bigger..." One of my favorite read alouds.

Williams, Sue. Dinnertime! San Diego: Harcourt Inc, 2001.
Basic synopsis: Hungry fox stalks six rabbit brothers and sisters. But who is really yelling, "Dinnertime!"?

Used for: Counting toddler storytime
Why I used it: One of my favorites for a toddler storytime. Text is bold and big, making it easy when you have to hold up the book, read the text, and make eye contact with the group. This is a great choice if you are reading to small toddlers. There's repetition without it being boring. Illustrations are easily seen by a group. Lots of opportunities to ham it up, and your audience can chime in when "dinnertime!" is called. Another book with a funny surprise at the end.

Wood, Don and Audrey. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. New York: Child's Play International, 1999.

Basic synopsis: Little Mouse is just *dying* for that red ripe strawberry, but the big hungry bear loves red ripe strawberries as well.
Used for: I Think Mice Are Rather Nice storytime
Why I used it: One of my favorite read alouds. The book is told in the voice of the narrator (you), so there's no need to fuss over making a "mouse voice" or "bear voice." The illustrations will kill you with their expression and plain ol' cuteness. You may feel a little guilty making that poor little mouse sweat about THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR, but this book is irresistable.

Taback, Simms. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. New York: Scholastic Inc, 1997.

Used for: Seuss and Silly Songs program (in honor of Read Across America day)
Basic synopsis: This Caldecott Honor book is the song told in book form.
Why I used it: I didn't actually read it aloud. I needed it when I was creating song sheets for the parents and reading kids for the program, and to gather up the puppets I needed to present the song. I had kids volunteer to hold (and if they chose to, manipulate) the animal and old lady puppets while everyone else sang the song. Let me tell you something. This was a last minute decision-I needed a third silly song/activity between Seuss stories. It was a hit. I had parents taking pictures of their kid holding the puppet in front of everyone when we sang the song and I pointed to each kid/puppet when his/her animal (or old lady) was mentioned. The book is not merely the song in text; we see a dog and cat commenting on the story song as it progresses.

Waring, Richard. Hungry Hen. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

Basic synopsis: An increasingly fatter hen drives an increasingly skinnier fox crazy.
Used for: chickens and hens toddler storytime
Why I used it: Big text that lends itself readily for reading aloud. Big illustrations that a crowd can appreciate. There's an element of suspense, and cheering for the underdog (or is it the underhen?). This is a great read aloud for small toddlers who can appreciate a simple plot (but with a small element of suspense and drama), but aren't ready for more complex preschool picture books.

Grossman, Bill. My Little Sister Ate One Hare. New York: Crown Publishers, 1996.

Basic synopsis: Little Sister eats a worrying array of animals, until she eats something that's actually healthy for humans.
Used for: Counting storytime
Why I used it: As I said, I have some older children in my toddler storytime who aren't quite ready for our independent preschool storytime (parents remain outside the program room). I usually include one book that's geared for their appreciation level. This involves preschool humor (throwing up, as in "We'd thought she'd throw up then and there, but she didn't.), but not so gross that you can't present it in a morning storytime that ends before it's time to get ready for lunch. Preschoolers will get the most enjoyment out of this book.

Winthrop, Elizabeth. Dumpy La Rue. New York: Henry Holt, 2001.

Basic synopsis: Dumpy La Rue is a pig that likes to shake his pig tail, against the wishes of his parents and to the amusement of the other animals. At story's end, however, everyone is getting down on the farm.
Used for: Perfect and Precious Pigs toddler storytime. I've also used it for a I Like to Move It storytime (dance and movement storytime) for preschoolers.
Why I used it: My toddlers are getting old enough to enjoy longer stories. This involves rhyme and humor, which are always crowd-pleasers.

Numeroff, Laura. If You Give a Pig A Party. New York: Laura Garinger Books (imprint of HarperCollins), 2005.

Basic synopsis: You're familiar with the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie book. Same basic thing, except it's a pig and party. Think the idea has been stretched thin? Oh, well. Kids love them. They also fit in nicely for storytimes; not too long and not too short.
Used for: Perfect and Precious Pigs storytime (she also has If You Give a Pig a Pancake).

Miranda, Anne. To Market, To Market. San Diego: Harcourt, 2001.

Basic synopsis: An expansion of the nursery rhyme. The animals drive the poor woman batty.
Used for: Perfect and Precious Pigs toddler storytime (I needed a short read aloud for my pigs storytime, and this has a pig in it)
Why I used it: I usually open up my storytime (after our regular "Open, Shut Them" and "Shake My Sillies Out" music time) with a short picture book, then progress with the longer books. Others may start with the longer book first, but my method works best with my group. Bold and big text with BIG and bright illustrations make this a natural for a read aloud. It's a simple read, but lots of humor that toddlers can appreciate (when the animals are brought home from the market, much chaos ensues).

Most, Bernard. Z-Z-Zoink! San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1999.

Basic synopsis: A pig's snores causes her fellow pigs to oink her out of the pen, so she tries her luck with the cows, chickens, goats, and all the other animals on the farm, to no success. Finally, she finds a group of night owls who aren't bothered by her snores.
Used for: Perfect and Precious pigs toddler storytime (can also use for a farm storytime)
Why I used it: The text is simple, but there's a storyline that toddlers can understand and appreciate. There's also some suspense-where on earth will the pig sleep without causing distraction to others? You can also encourage the children to make the animal noises (no matter how many times I do this, they never tire of doing it).

There! My cubby is clear (except for tomorrow's storytime books), and I've told you about several fantastic choices for read alouds. I'll make this a regular feature: "What's In My Cubby?" Wednesdays, after my toddler storytime. Yes, I know today is Tuesday. Tomorrow, I'll do the same thing (but with only four books!).

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