Monday, April 11, 2011

Picture Book Roundup and Audiobook of the Week

This lunchtime picture book reading is working out really well. Since we're usually slow on the children's floor during lunch time, I don't feel very guilty about grabbing an armful of books from the new picture book collection. It's the easiest way to keep up with the new picture books so that I don't have to lug a bunch of picture books home.

Ant and Grasshopper

Aesop's fables don't easily lend themselves to the picture book format. They're too short and to the point for 32 pages or so, but every now and then, you find one that's completely satisfying. Ant and Grasshopper is one of them. Sure, it's jazzed up a bit from the original premise, but it doesn't distract from the original moral of the story. Ant learns to relax a bit about planning and preparing, and Grasshopper learns the consequences of not getting on the ball with winter preparations. This would also work well for a winter-themed or New Year-themed story time. Be ready for giggles when you sing Grasshopper's song at the end; it's quite funny.

The Best Birthday Ever By Me, Lana Kittie

Sure, it's pink and features a girly character, but this book about birthday manners would amuse boys who are coaxed to listen to it. Hamming up the right/wrong responses to birthday party situations (guests arriving, opening presents, what to serve at a birthday party) is definitely required. It's a charming and fun way to model birthday manners.

The Boy in the Garden

Allen Say returns to a familiar theme-Japanese culture-in this beautiful and sophisticated picture book. After hearing the folktale of the crane who turned into a human, only to return to her animal form after her husband discovered her true identity, a young boy dreams that he is visited by the crane wife. If you're not familiar with Say's work, I highly recommend reading his books. His divine Grandfather's Journey is a Caldecott Medal winning book.

Miss Lina's Ballerinas

Miss Lina's Ballerinas is a charming book ideal for ballet-obsessed preschoolers. Miss Lina's eight ballerinas spend their days dancing in four rows of two until a new student, Regina, is enrolled (every girl's name ends in 'ina).. The girls are befuddled until Miss Lina suggests that dancing in three rows of three is "divine." Sweet without being saccharine, this is also a clever study in multiplication as well as "change is good" lesson. The entire package is reminiscent (in a good way) of the Madeline stories.

Nini Lost and Found

A story of a pet yearning to explore the world beyond its home, yet finding that home is the best place after all, is not anything new, but Anita Lobel tells the tale of Nini so exquisitely that it doesn't really matter. This is a short picture book with a lot of heart and gorgeous illustrations. Don't miss this one.

I just finished Fallen Grace by the remarkable Mary Hooper, and started Chime last night. Chime has a lot of buzz about it (including a fistful of starred reviews), so I'm anxious to see what all the fuss is about. Liking it so far, but I've barely started it. Fallen Grace was awesome. More about that later.

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