Friday, October 9, 2015

10 Literacy Activities About Pumpkins

Pumpkins are a popular preschool theme this time of year! Check out these ten great activities to accompany your pumpkin lessons and story times.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Picture Book Review: Roar by Julie Bayless

by Julie Bayless
ISBN: 9780762457502

Quick Booktalk 

In the middle of the night, a restless lion cub wanders off looking for a friend, but all the animals save one boisterous rabbit are frightened by his roar.

About the Illustrations

This book is mostly wordless, and the bulk of the story is told visually using comic panels and speech bubbles to indicate the sounds the individual animals make. The deep blues and purples of the night-time scenes create a calm, serene backdrop that highlights the lion cub's contrasting high energy as he romps through the savanna. The various animals he encounters - the other lions in his family, groups of hippos and giraffes, and his new rabbit friend - are all infused with great personalities, which come across in the subtleties of their facial expressions and body language. Also very easy to read in the illustrations is the instant bond that forms between the lion and the rabbit, as the cub says, "Roar!" and the rabbit says, "More!" over and over again.

Read-Aloud Possibilities 

I am generally a proponent of sharing wordless and nearly-wordless books as read-alouds, and I have read this one to Little Miss Muffet many times, at her insistence. (She loves lions.) It works fairly well as a lap book, because I can point to each panel as we explore it, so she knows where I am in the story, and I can respond to any detail that Miss Muffet happens to want to talk about based on where she points. In a group setting, it would be less of a success because most of the pictures can't really be viewed easily from even a few feet away. This isn't a problem, though, as I think this book otherwise suits a wide range of readers, from toddlers like Miss Muffet, to beginning readers who are drawn to the graphic format and can only decode a few words.

Readers Advisory 

I like this book more with each re-reading. It reminds me somewhat of Goodnight, Gorilla, in that it chronicles an animal's night-time hi-jinks, and its playful tone also makes it ideal for readers who have liked Red Sled and Red Hat by Lita Judge. Roar! would also make an excellent addition to my list of picture books about lions and tigers.


I received a finished copy of Roar! from the publisher.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Great Books Not Yet Nominated for Cybils 2015

There is just over a week left in the nomination period for the 2015 Cybils, and there are a number of great titles that surprisingly  have  not been nominated yet! Below I have listed some of the books missing from the categories that I typically review.  

Easy Readers

  • A Pig a Fox and a Box by Jonathan Fenske 
  • Mr. Putter and Tabby Turn the Page by Cynthia Rylant 
  • Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers

Early Chapter Books

  • The Case of the Snack Snatcher by Liam O'Donnell 
  • Shelter Pet Squad: Merlin by Cynthia Lord  
  • The Not-So Itty-Bitty Spiders by Aimee Marie Stadelmann 
  • Izzy Barr, Running Star by Claudia Mills
  • Stink Moody in Master of Disaster by Megan McDonald
  • Lulu and the Hamster in the Night by Hilary McKay 

Fiction Picture Books

  • Roar! by Julie Bayless
  • In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van
  • Ask Me by Bernard Waber
  • Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle
  • A Wonderful Year by Nick Bruel 
  • Little Baby Buttercup by Linda Ashman 

Middle Grade Fiction 

  • Breaking the Ice by Gail Nall 
  • Cassidy's Guide to Everyday Etiquette (and Obfuscation) by Sue Stauffacher 
  • The Best Friend Battle by Lindsey Eyre 
  • Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill 

Young Adult Fiction 

  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Picture Book Review: Once Upon a Rainy Day by Édouard Manceau

Once Upon a Rainy Day
by Édouard Manceau
ISBN: 9781771471510

Quick Booktalk 

On a typical day, Mr. Warbler wakes up the Big Bad Wolf and both characters begin their mornings, but today it is raining, so the reader just has to imagine how things would ordinarily progress.

About the Illustrations

Like Manceau's other books, this one uses clear-cut shapes against a white background to create visually interesting scenes. Also like his other books, this one is somewhat experimental. As the illustrations depict the silence and inactivity of a rainy day, the text invites the reader to imagine what typically happens when the sun is shining. Because the illustrations show the various settings where the events of the story take place without revealing what the characters look like, the reader is heavily engaged in the process of telling the story, and the illustrations provide excellent scaffolding for the child's own imaginings.

Read-Aloud Possibilities

This book is ideal for elementary students, and could easily be the focus of its own story time, lesson plan, or library class visit. Because so much of the story is left open-ended, it is not enough to just read the book straight through. Instead, the reader will want to engage the listeners by asking them how they envision the characters, and the events of the sunny day narrated by the text, and also what they imagine the characters might be doing on the rainy day instead of their usual activities. It might take much longer to share this book with kids than it takes to read more traditional picture books, but it will be a worthwhile experience for both the adult and the child to work as slowly through the book as is necessary to appreciate it.

Readers Advisory 

This book has much in common with other meta-fictional and postmodern picture books, such as Chloe and the Lion, The Three Pigs by David Wiesner, and the works of Anthony Browne. It will not be every adult's cup of tea, but kids will be intrigued by the idea of a picture book that does not simply lay everything out for them. I would not suggest giving it to a child under the age of 6 or 7, as it is probably too esoteric for a reader still learning the conventions of story, but for kids who are beginning to appreciate things like fractured fairy tales, this will be a great addition to their to-read piles.


I received a review copy of Once Upon a Rainy Day from Owl Kids Books.
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