February 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Great Books: A Library Lover’s Delights

These engaging offerings about reading, story sharing, and the imagination-unleashing power of books are perfect for nurturing budding young bibliophiles and empowering new readers.

reading1Chicken Story Time. By Sandy Asher. Illus. by Mark Fearing. Dial. Dec. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803739444.
PreS-Gr 2–Everyone takes it in stride when a literature-loving fowl squeezes through a library window and settles in for story time. The next week, even more children and chickens attend the program, and by week three, the place is overflowing with chuckling and clucking patrons. Outnumbered and overwhelmed, the librarian cannot get the over-excited group to settle down, until inspiration strikes, and the steadfast storyteller implements a plan to calm the hullabaloo and provide the best book-sharing experience for all. Simple, repetitive text and hijinks-packed artwork harmonize to convey story elements, heighten the comic tension, and reinforce the tale’s clarion refrain: “Everyone loves story time.”

reading2A Child of Books. By Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston. Candlewick. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763690779.
Gr 1 Up–Blending concise narrative, whimsical watercolor illustrations, and fanciful typographical scenarios constructed out of text excerpted from 40 literary classics, this accessible offering invites youngsters to unlock the incredible marvels nestled within books. The titular character, a smiling pigtailed girl, sails on a raft across a sea of words and persuades a boy to join her on an adventure. Together, they “travel over mountains of make-believe” (ingeniously wrought from the text of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan), “discover treasure in the darkness” (inside an arching cave formed from the phrases of Robert Louis Stevenson and other adventure-smiths), lose themselves in “forests of fairy tales” (with tree branches made from story quotes), and more. This alluring celebration of literature not only urges imaginations to soar, but might also inspire family read-alouds.

reading3Dragon Was Terrible. By Kelly Dipucchio. Illus. by Greg Pizzoli. FSG. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374300494.
PreS-Gr 2–“Terrible” is an understatement; the candy-corn-horned antagonist of this story has been menacing the kingdom with such jaw-droppingly horrendous acts as stomping on flowers, taking candy from baby unicorns, and TP-ing the castle. Despite the king’s offer of a reward, neither brawny knight nor fed-up villager is able to subdue the savage beast—until a clever boy tames the dragon by reading an audience-enthralling book aloud…and also makes a new friend. Droll text and entertaining illustrations pay humorous homage the power of storytelling.

reading4Make Way for Readers. By Judy Sierra. Illus. by G. Brian Karas. S & S. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481418515; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9781481418522.
Toddler-PreS–Traveling via skateboard, roller blades, and stroller, a flock of eager young animals arrives at a grassy nook for story time with a cheerful flamingo. Everyone is enjoying Miss Bingo’s Mother Goose verses and movement-packed songs until a crocodile accidentally tramples on the toe of a tiny mouse, and Annabelle’s subsequent outburst brings the action to a halt. Never fear, Rory, a shy fox, makes her giggle with a slightly revised rhyme, and the session ends with a new hero and smiles all around. A vivacious rhyming narrative, lovely colored-pencil artwork, and endearing characters make for a fun-to-share ode to story time.

reading5The Not So Quiet Library. By Zachariah OHora. Illus. by author. Dial. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803741409.
PreS-Gr 1–Oskar and his bear Theodore have just settled into cozy beanbag chairs for another serene Saturday at the library when the peace is shattered by a loud “BOOM! CRASH! GROWL!” A ravenous five-headed monster is on the loose, and when the beast discovers that books just don’t taste good (even those splattered with hot sauce or sprinkles), he threatens to devour Oskar and Theodore. Just at that moment, however, Ms. Watson announces story time, and the monster soon discovers a different kind of appetite for books. Cleverly comical text and bold acrylic artwork packed with personality and uproarious details make this tale a hoot for sharing aloud.

Rudas: Niño’s Horrendous Hermanitasreading6. By Yuyi Morales. Illus. by author. Roaring Brook. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722408.
PreS-Gr 2–The self-styled lucha libre champion from Niño Wrestles the World (Roaring Brook, 2013) returns for another match, but this time it’s his baby sisters who take center stage. When out-of-this-world challengers threaten, the girls are ready with such incredibly rude tandem exploits as the malodourous “Poopy Bomb Blowout,” the always-painful “Tag Team Teething,” and the sweetly sneaky “Twofer Tattle.”  There’s pandemonium in the ring, until ever-clever Niño pacifies the Lucha Queens with the best move of all—sharing aloud a book. Illustrated with effervescent collage artwork and told in tongue-tantalizing bi-lingual text, this irresistible adventure zings with humor, excitement, and imagination.

reading7The Storyteller. By Evan Turk. Illus. by author. Atheneum. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781481435185; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9781481435192.
Gr 1-5–Turk’s masterfully constructed allegory equates the life-nourishing properties of water with the soul-sustaining power of storytelling. The tale is set in the once-fertile Kingdom of Morocco, where the voices of storytellers have been all but drowned out and drought has made the fountains dry. While wandering the Great Square in search of a drink, a thirsty boy meets a withered old storyteller who shares a series of interconnected tales that nurture the youngster’s heart while also—miraculously—filling his cup with delicious water. When a djinn threatens to destroy the city, the boy knows how to unite the townspeople and save the day. Themes including the impact of creativity, cherishing precious resources, and the importance of hope are woven into a spellbinding narrative that expands with each and every reading, all graced by eye-catching and stunningly unique artwork.

reading8A Squiggly Story. By Andrew Larsen. Illus. by Mike Lowery. Kids Can Pr. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-77138-016-4; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-77138-741-5.
PreS-Gr 2–He may not be able to write page after page of text like his big sister, but a dedicated young boy soon discovers that the early writing skills he has already mastered—making letters, swirls, and squiggles—can be merged with a whole lot of imagination and hard work to craft a superb story. Captivating cartoon artwork and an inviting, easy-to-follow narrative demystify the story-making process and encourage self-expression, creativity, and literary adventuring.

reading9The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read. By Curtis Manley. Illus. by Kate Berube. S & S/Paula Wiseman. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481435697; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9781481435703.
PreS-Gr 2–Nick does everything with his beloved pets and is determined to teach them to read. It’s tough going, until he discovers that Verne has a particular interest in tales about cats and fish, and the perky tiger-striped tabby is soon learning the sounds of letters, practicing on his own, and reading stories by himself. Grouchy-looking Stevenson, however, remains a harder nut to crack, until his secret passion for drawing pirate adventures is revealed, and Nick redirects his efforts to better suit his student. Sweetly expressive artwork and a text that blends gentle humor with keen insight celebrate the wonder of books while showing youngsters that every developing reader follows his or her own path.

reading10This Is Not a Picture Book! By Sergio Ruzzier. Chronicle. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452129075.
PreS-Gr 2–A little duckling cannot wait to dive into a just-found book, until he realizes that the volume is completely devoid of illustrations, and disgustedly tosses it to the ground. Exasperation turns to empowerment, however, when the critter realizes that not only can he decode the text, but can also paint vivid images with his own imagination. Ruzzier’s straightforward narrative, charming watercolor paintings, and clever book design trumpet the transformative power of reading.


See also Joy Fleishhacker’s  “Great Books: Mini-Makers.


Joy Fleishhacker About Joy Fleishhacker

Joy Fleishhacker is a librarian, former SLJ staffer, and freelance editor and writer who works at the Pikes Peak Library District in southern Colorado.

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