March 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Picture Books that Make You Laugh Out Loud │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go

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Tall tales have all the earmarks for great read alouds: outlandish illustrations, hard-to-believe deeds, and larger-than-life heroes. These stories, selected by the editors at Junior Library Guild, beg to be read again and again. Resources abound for the titles, including genre lesson plans and Wonderopolis lessons.

In addition, I am pleased to announce that the JLG Booktalks to Go LiveBinder has been nominated as a LiveBinders Top Ten Contender. Voting has begun and will be announced June 19 in a live webinar at Classroom 2.0. Please take time to vote and check out the other wonderful resources.

President Taft is stuckBARNETT, Mac. President Taft is Stuck in the Bath. illus. by Chris Van Dusen. Candlewick. 2014. ISBN 9780763663179. JLG Level: HE : Humor Elementary (Grades 2-6).

President Taft has a problem―a big problem. He is stuck in the bath. Too late for a diet, too dangerous to break the tub, and greasing him with butter just don’t seem like the best ideas. Perhaps the heads of state and Mrs. Taft can pull together and get the President out of the bath.

Hilariously illustrated by Van Dusen and told by master storyteller Barnett, the oft-repeated anecdote of the too-small presidential tub will delight your readers. Included in the picture book is the original picture of the bath installers who sat in the new larger tub. Check out the author and follow him on Twitter. Learn more about the illustrator on his website and in an interview with Candlewick. Barnett references an article in the New York Tribune from 1915. You’ll find it along with pictures and other reference material about President Taft in the JLG BTG LiveBinder.

You might also share The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub by Susan Katz, with illustrations by Robert Neubecker. (Clarion, 2012) and Lives of the Presidents by Kathleen Krull with illustrations by Kathryn Hewitt (Houghton Harcourt, 2011).

Monkey Goes BananasBLOOM, C. P. The Monkey Goes Bananas. illus. by Peter Raymundo. Abrams. 2014. ISBN 9781419708855. JLG Level: K : Kindergarten (Grades PreK–K).

Determination is a powerful motivation and monkey refuses to give up. So what if the bananas are on another island? He can just swim across the water. So what if there’s a shark in the water? Laugh out loud as Monkey tries to outwit the shark who outsmarts his every move.

Mostly wordless, the creative team of Carly Dempsey and Ed Bloom, provide plenty of fodder for readers to discuss. Get a sneak peek from the book trailer. If your library is blocked from YouTube, you can also find it on the Abrams website. Check out the illustrator (who started his career as an animator for Walt Disney Studios) on his website. Combine the tale with the Wonderopolis lesson, Why Do Monkeys Love Bananas? Complete with supporting video, informational text, and vocabulary words, you’ll find extended activities for research.

I didn't do my homeworkCALI, Davide. I Didn’t Do My Homework Because… illus. by Benjamin Chaud. Chronicle. 2014. ISBN 9781452125510. JLG Level: HE : Humor Elementary (Grades 2-6).

The dog ate it. I left it at home. No homework? There are thousands of reasons why. How about: “Just when I started to do my homework, we were attacked by Vikings?” or “I had to help my uncle build a high-tech do-my-homework-for me machine, but when we finally finished, it didn’t work.” Shaking her head in dismay, the teacher gives a surprising answer as to why she doesn’t believe the child who doesn’t do his assignment.

Brilliant over-the-top illustrations extend the absurd text giving readers much to ponder and chuckle over. Follow the author and illustrator on Facebook. Peek inside the book on Chronicle’s detail page. Follow the Pinterest board inspired by the work. Teach the Wonderopolis lesson, Do Dogs Really Eat Homework? or redirect your students to do their homework with the tips and incentives found on the book tabs in the BTG LiveBinder.

Tall Tales to ReadHOBERMAN, Mary Ann. You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Tall Tales to Read Together. illus. by Michael Emberley. Little, Brown/Megan Tingley Bks. 2014. ISBN 9780316183291. JLG Level: E: Easy Reading (Grades 1–3).

Alfred Bulltop Stormalong, the biggest sailor on the sea, slept in a block-long hammock. The Great Don Jose Love-Mad Lopez rode on a flying tree to rescue ladies in distress. Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed retell their larger-than-life experiences. These tall tales of new and familiar heroes and heroines beg to be read aloud.

The sixth book in the award-winning series guides readers in reviving legends while discovering others. Visit Hoberman’s and Emberley’s websites and follow him on Facebook. Read an excerpt or browse the inside on Hatchette’s book page. Explore tall tale resources in the JLG BTG LiveBinder. Team the read-aloud with the Wonderopolis lesson, Why Do They Call it a Tall Tale? Be sure to use a document camera when you share the book so that everyone can read their part.

Meanwhile back at the ranchISAACS, Anne. Meanwhile Back at the Ranch. illus. by Kevin Hawkes. Random/Schwartz & Wade. 2014. ISBN 9780375967450. JLG Level: E+ : Easy Reading (Grades 1–3).

The Widow Jones was enjoying a peaceful life on her ranch in By-Golly Gully. That is, until word got out that there was widow with 35 million dollars in Texas. Before long, a mile of suitors lines up to offer their hand in marriage. She doesn’t want even one of them. Then the infamous Hole in the Pants Gang decides one of them will become her husband, grab her money, and run off to Mexico. Not about to be bamboozled, the wise widow has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Isaacs’s original folktale, dramatically illustrated by Hawkes, is perfect for your tall tale collection. Read more about the story on Tennessee librarian Jules Danielson’s blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Pair it with the Wonderopolis lesson, Why Do They Call it a Tall Tale?

Additional Resources

In an effort to organize these links, I have created a LiveBinder. All websites will be posted within the LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources will be added. Simply go to JLG Booktalks to Go where you will see LiveBinder main tabs. Each tab is a book title. Under each color-coded tab are gray subtabs with links to media, websites, and other related documents. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Please visit JLG’s new LiveBinder, JLG Booktalks to Go. Booktalks and resources are also included on JLG’s BTG Pinterest board.

For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc., SLJ’s parent company.)


Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.