Category Archives: picture books

Biodiversity, bad days, and you

life-9781481451628_hrLife can be amazing, even when it seems like you’re in a dark wilderness, right?  Maybe?

This book is sure beautiful, and it’s inspirational, too, in the best possible way.  We’re reminded that life starts small, but it grows – plants and animals and humans, too.  At our worst moments, can we think of the beauty and hope and remember what we need to care for and protect and be awed by?   It’s a lot for a child to commit to on a crappy day, but it could spark some interesting conversations about the power of nature to take us outside of ourselves and our bad moments.  It might not solve a big problem, but a trip outside to look at a tree or the clouds or a city-dwelling hawk circling in the sky might just give us a chance to breathe, regroup, start again.

Wonderful illustrations.

Life by Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel

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Just when you think it’s safe on the color wheel

bluevyBlue vs. Yellow?  Who would win?

This book is like a version of “Who would win in a fight – The Hulk or Wonder Woman?” but for colors.  Blue and Yellow are confident and brash and loud and extremely sure they are right about how wonderful they (and everything colored like them) are, but would they be better as a team?  And what happens when Red shows up?

It’s funny and ridiculous and you might even learn that blue and yellow make green.  What’s not to like?

Oh, and Wonder Woman.  Obviously.

Blue vs. Yellow by Tom Sullivan

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Where’s my stick when I need it?

bad mood stickI do actually have one – a big stick.  I acquired it years ago, when I was supposed to be supervising students in a college semester program.  I found it on a group retreat, cleaned it up a bit, brought it back to the dorm, and then leaned it against the makeshift bar several of the students had built in my “office.” I was the worst enforcer of rules ever.

I could have used that stick the other day at the library to poke a problematic patron – as Curly pokes her brother Napoleon in the book.  Unfortunately, my stick was at home, and you can’t really go around poking your patrons with a stick, even if they deserve it, can you?  Supervisors hate that kind of thing.

As it happens, though – much as in the book – the bad mood traveled right along with him when he left in a huff.  Those bad moods, they can really poison an otherwise nice enough day!  Fortunately, though, they don’t have to stay with YOU.

So this might be just the perfect book to talk about moods with kids.  Turn that smile around, people.  Let the bad mood travel on around the world.  Get some ice cream.  Poke your brother with a stick.  Spread the joy.

The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket and Matthew Forsythe

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I’m useless after 100 billion

hundred billionI admit it.  I have to count out zeroes to figure out billions and trillions, even in a book where they’re written in words below for me.

This does not make such a book any less cool, though, since it reminds my brain of how huge and amazing the world really is, kind of like the information in the book.  It’s perfect for lovers of numbers and math and people who like making connections between the big-ness of the world and the smallness of an individual and all of the things that tie us together.

The art is also vibrant and diverse and detailed when it needs to be and simple when that works better.  There won’t be only one of me reading it, though.  I might have to share it with a few people.

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman and Isabel Greenberg


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When S is the letter of the day

Sleep-Well-Siba-and-Saba-COVERSiba, Saba, sisters, sweaters, slippers, shillings.  There’s so much more to the letter S, but you’ll find a lot of it in this book, winding across sandy beaches and past seven speeding buses.  The sound of the words carries you along, so this would be a wonderful book to use while talking about the English language, alliteration, poetry….  And then you’ve got the joyful, colorful, comical pictures to look at.  And a chance to talk about things lost, found, and dreamed of.


Sleep Well, Siba & Saba by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl and Sandra van Doorn

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Humpty Dumpty self-help

AfterTheFall_JCKT_09a.inddHumpty’s life is shattered, much like his shell.

The freedom he felt at the top of the wall?  Gone!  The power of looking down on the city and seeing the birds fly?  Vanished!

Fortunately for Humpty, a serendipitous accident will bring him back to his true self and set him free.

After the Fall by Dan Santat

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snappsy 2Snappsy the Alligator is back, and Bert (a chicken) seems determined to have fun with him.

Snappsy does not seem too worried about Bert’s pressing issues:

  • the previously noted disco bonanza
  • a sleepover
  • pinochle
  • matching shirts

Have you ever had a friend who wants to be your friend way too much?  This would be Bert.  Eventually Bert leaves in a huff – “I’m sure I can find another best friend somewhere.”

I feel like Snappsy could have just let Bert go at this moment, reading in peace and living a quiet life.  But Snappsy is apparently not like me and misses Bert.  They might have to navigate some issues in their journey to best-friendship since they are so very different.  Like that moving truck in Snappsy’s driveway, for example.

Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably) by Julie Falatko and Tim Miller

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How all occasions do inform against me…preschool version

There’s nothing really mind-shattering or new going on in either of these books, but this should not matter to any of us.  It’s always good for kids to see things that can be connected to their real lives, right?  (Blah, blah, pontificate about themes, ramble on about character development, blah, blah.)

Here’s the thing.  Charlie (a rabbit) can’t get to sleep.  Other animals keep messing it up with noisy interruptions.  Charlie has a routine, darn it!  Why won’t they just cooperate?

Meanwhile in another book, someone is trying to get their shirt off.  It’s stuck.  How will we live our lives if we can’t get this darn shirt off?

So really, nothing is new or exciting here.  But kids will love these books.  Why?

The stories are simple but funny and perfectly illustrated to bring out even more smiles.  That is all.  That is all we need some days.  Today.  So, perfect for today.

Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake

Sleep Tight, Charlie by Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo


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These feet are made for walking…

her right footIf you are looking for fun facts about the Statue of Liberty and her history, it’s here.  If you’d like a reminder of our country’s diversity and ideals, that’s here, too.  If you’d like to know about one of her feet – also here.  Is it a beginning?  A reminder?  A call to action?

Never forget we are a people in motion.  Never forget we have a choice which direction we go and what we take with us.

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris

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Love your books. Love your friends. Together.

hoorayTurtle loves a book and must read it now.  Just that one book.  Why are our favorites never where we left them?  What happens?  Do we lend them?  Do they move off on their own?  Seriously, what’s the deal here?

The search begins, and along the way friends will mention their own favorites.  And somehow we’ll all end up reading together.  Always a good thing.

Hooray for Books by Brian Won


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