Sunday, January 31, 2010

On Wheels

The Adventures of Taxi Dog by Debra Barracca, Sal Barracca, and Mark Buehner.

From the people who brought you the Escape of Marvin the Ape this is a heartfelt story about a stray dog who finds a new home with a New York taxi driver. The illustrations are full of little jokes and so is the heavily rhythmic text. One small thing, I always have to skip the page that says "to the hospital quick, my wife is quite sick" the wife in question is a pregnant woman, she's not sick, she's having a baby! But apart from that it's a fun book.

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk.

This little train goes chugs through a bedroom littered with toys. It has great colourful illustrations, very crisp and clear, which helps us all to understand that this is an imaginary journey. It also ends in a sleepy bedtime (always useful in a potential bedtime story).

Melvin Might by Jon Scieszka, David Shannon, David Gordon, and Loren Long.

The authors of this book read like the who's who of contemporary American children's books. It's one of the Trucktown books, a new series of picture books designed specifically to engage boys in reading. Melvin the Concrete Mixer is a worrier, but he's forced to stop worrying and start acting when his friend's little sister gets stuck in a hole. Some parents have been uncomfortable with the boistrous nature of this series. The little sister wouldn't have been stuck in the hole if they hadn't been playing a reckless game of jumping a half finished bridge and perhaps a more conservative book would have sent Melvin to get some help, not to jump into the hole after her. But if you can get over that, the core message about helping your friends is a good one and it certainly engages my son.

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon.

I never miss an opportunity to read this book. I think I've mentioned it previously on this blog, but I'll happily do so again. A duck rides a bike whilst his farmyard friends look on. What the animals say and what they think is cleverly different. Plus the action packed illustrations add a fast pace to the thoughtfulness. I also love how this book jumps in feet first to the story, it starts "One day duck thought to himself 'I bet I could ride a bike'" and then he does

Rescue Vehicles by Gill Davies.

This is a foil pop up book, not much to read, but the pop ups are fun to look at.

I'll be singing "This Train is Going to the City", "The Wheels on the Bus" and "Tractor". I think I'll do the William Carlos Williams poem about the red wheelbarrow, that should keep them on their toes.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Harry the Dirty Dog
by Gene Zion

Harry comes from a 1950's perfect household, which is probably why he's even more endearingly naughty. Harry runs away from home, just to avoid a bath, but when he returns he's too dirty for his family to recognise. He'll have to think fast. This book has been a favourite of mine ever since I was a child and I still love it now.

Dogfish by Gillian Shields

Sometimes, you find a book that reads like a child thinks. Where "we'll see" really means "no" and there's a chance that maybe, just maybe your hypnotising eyes will work on a grown up and you'll get what you want. What this little boy wants is a puppy, but it's the goldfish who has mastered the hypnosis, and more besides.

Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack

This book was written in America in the 1930s and tells the cautionary tale of a curious little dog who upsets a couple of ducks. It hasn't dated badly, although I'm not sure any "gentlemen" would wear "suspenders" any more.

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

"I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet, they sent me a..." so begins this classic board book with little flaps to open the packages from the zoo. None of the animals that come from the zoo are good pets, except for the last one. A puppy!

Hondo and Fabian by Peter McCarty

The illustrations in this book are subtle and beautiful. The story compares the day had by hondo the dog and Fabian the cat, as Hondo goes to the beach and Fabian tries to avoid playing with the baby.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I Am Me

Yes we will still be at Cover to Cover for storytime on Monday, even though it's MLK day.

Mama Do You Love Me?
by Barbara M Joose
Toddler's love to push their parents and test the limits of the love. In this charming book with an Innuit theme, the Mama in question calmly explains that Mama's love knows no limits, no matter what side of your personality you show and even if you turn into the meanest polar bear there ever was.

Quick as a Cricket
by Audrey Wood
A charming list of analogies with nature that all add together to make the fully rounded personality of one little boy. The illustrations are really vibrant and familiar. It's a great book to stop reading and talk about the pictures as there's a lot going on in there.

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper and Loren Long
This 1950s classic is seen throughout the world as a truly American tale. A struggle over adversity and a triumph for the little engine who wants to be helpful and try her best. I read from a version with the original text and modern illustrations by Loren Long, but I edit as I read. The idea of giving a child a "jack knife" now seems too odd to read aloud. I also edit the mean-spiritedness of the unhelpful trains, although mostly because my audience is normally 3 years and under and expecting them to sit still for the full length of the original text is a little unreasonable.

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
Gerald the Giraffe is a little different on the dancefloor and the other animals tease him about it. Then he learns something new about music and he ends up charming the whole jungle. This "dance to your own tune" story has some amazing illustrations that really kickstart your imagination, especially when "the lions danced a tango that was elegant and bold".

Big Sister Little Sister by LeUyen Pham
Told from the younger sister's perspective, this is a great younger sibling book exploring the concepts of the similarity between you and your family and the differences that make you who you are.
We'll be singing This is Me, If You're Happy and You Know It and This Train is Going to Grandmas


Noisy City Night
by Sara Anderson.
There are lots of good noises in this excellent board book, the weeeeee you of firetrucks the rumble of underground trains and the old man muttering. It's a delight to read aloud and always catches the toddler's attention. The book is also made of cityscape cut outs and has a number of jokes for the grown ups, take a look at the wording on the billboards, my favourite is "you never did like peas".

Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells
Nora is a mouse who's little brother and sister are (in her opinion) getting way too much attention. She bangs around the house, but eventually it goes quiet, then they really notice her. Rosemary Wells is the author/illustrator of Max and Ruby, this is one of her earlier books for younger children, although her distinctive style is still apparent.

Slinky Malinki by Lynley Dodd
A cat of dubious character spends his nights collecting interesting things from around the neighbourhood. It ends in disgrace. This book reads like a real action adventure story, lots of building tension and intrigue. And a huge CRASH!

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
A familiar tale of the little guy saving the day, set in a very noisy countryside. The illustrations (by Jill McElmurry) have a great American Naive feel to them and the rhyming text has a light touch.

Mama Don't Allow by Thacher Hurd
Miles gets a saxophone for his birthday but he makes such a noise with it that his parents send him out into the swamp. There he meets more musicians (also familiarly named) Al, Bert and Doc. They form a band, but the band need their wits about them when they play their first gig at the alligator ball, because those alligators are hungry!

We'll be singing Old Macdonald, Ants go Marching and Ole King Cole.

Friday, January 1, 2010


(Every time I do a colour based storytime, it always descends into chaos, but I'm always willing to try again).

What Makes a Rainbow? by Betty Ann Schwartz
A lovely little rainbow book, with coloured ribbons strung between the pages, this book is told from the point of view of a little bunny, who asks her colourful friends "What makes a rainbow?"

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni
A confused chameleon tries to find a sense of identity amongst his changing colours, instead he finds a friend with whom he can change colour and still know who he is.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle.
It's a classic for a reason and I've recently noticed that the fruits that the caterpillar eats are in the same order that you would use when weaning children onto solid food. This could be a coincidence. But it's a fun little observation nonetheless.

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater
"My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams." An early Daniel Pinkwater book about letting the colours of your personality shine through. It's a little longer than I'd normally read at storytime, but it's got such great colourful illustrations, it would be a shame to not read it.

Fortunately by Remy Charlip
A very strange little "good news/bad news" style book where our hero borrows an airplane, gets chased by tigers and ends up at a party. When something good happens to him the illustrations are in colour, when something bad happens, they're in black and white. It's utterly absurd in a way that children really appreciate. This book gets a lot of laughs.