Cupcake by Charise Mericle Harper
Police Hurrying! Helping! Saving! by Patricia Hubbell, illustrated by Viviana Garofoli
Panda Kisses by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Kay Widdowson
One Mitten by Kristine O'Connell George, illustrated by Maggie Smith
I read Cupcake in the first session, and I realized halfway through that toddlers are not old enough to get the subtlety of its humor. We finished the book, the parents chuckled, and applauded, but I quickly crossed it off the list for the second session. It is a cute story, though. A plain white cupcake tries to find an exciting topping to spice her up and hopefully attract someone to eat her. When she teams up with a silly candle, the two brainstorm together, until finally, the candle stands atop the cake, and the cupcake realizes what a great team they make. The candle never quite catches on, providing the punchline of the joke. I love Charise Mericle Harper, as evidenced by my recent reviews of two of her Just Grace books, and I didn't really know her picture books before this. I think they're even more clever and fun than her chapter books!
I have a lot of boys in my Tuesday group who love cars and trucks, and after the success of My Car last week, I decided to try a different kind of vehicle - police cars. I knew I had a hit with Police: Hurrying! Helping! Saving! before story time even started, when one of the little boys came up to me, pointed at the book and said, "Police!" And though we had some chatty adults who drowned out parts of the story, the kids and I made up for it by making a loud siren noise every time the story called for it. It went over so well the first time around, I repeated it for the second session. It didn't get applause, but I'm discovering that this is because my endings lack enthusiasm, and my transitions from book to song to book suck. I'm working on it.
I had a tough time keeping the audience's attention in both sessions, so I was thankful that parts of One Mitten, a book about the many things you can do with one - and later two - mittens lent itself fairly well to audience participation. When in doubt, I've learned it's best to get the parents doing something, if for no other reason than it stops them from chatting with each other. So when the little girl in the story clapped, made mitten ears, and covered her eyes, we all did, too. I loved the warm colors of the illustrations, and even I was tickled by the moment when the little girl finds her second mitten hiding under her sleeping cat.
I loved the adorable Panda Kisses story, and thought it was perfect for Valentine's Day, but alas, it was a failure at story time. Too abstract, I guess. Or maybe it was just one book too many. I have a tendency to panic if I think I'm not doing enough books, and I think this one put me too far over the edge. I've decided to start planning out a month's worth of story times ahead of time, so that I have time to really consider the books, and maybe I'll stop worrying so much about filling the 30 minutes. In any case, this book is an easy reader by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, author of the beloved Biscuit series, about a little panda who tries to find the best kiss. After trying low kisses and high kisses, mom kisses and dad kisses, she discovers that the best kisses are the ones the whole family shares at the same time. So cute. I'm not sure what's with me this week, but I'm really into cuteness.
Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews
Pots and Pans by Patricia Hubbell, illustrated by Diane Degroat
Big and Little by Margaret Miller
I consider Donald Crews to be an extremely reliable author for toddler story time. But Ten Black Dots just didn't do it for me this week, when I read it to the second session group. I like the concept though - black dots increasing in number from one to ten are shown as parts of different images, from marbles to animal eyes. My group is getting younger and younger as our Friday preschool story time begins to attract the older kids, and I think I need to start adjusting my expectations to suit actual toddlers, under the age of 2, instead of the 2 and 3 year olds I used to get. Because this would have worked at the interim branch, and I was surprised when it didn't seem to appeal this time around.
I tried to turn Pots and Pans into a call and answer type thing, and I had one very helpful Mom, who made every sound and kept a smile on her face through the whole story, even though some other parents were talking. This was perfectly age-appropriate, and though I didn't realize it until after story time, it's by the same author as the aforementioned police book. I'm going to try some more Patricia Hubbell books, even if they do force me to make embarrassing sounds and look like an even bigger fool than usual. (This one is about a baby who takes out all the pots and pans in the house and plays them like drums. I can remember doing that, and it was so much fun. The book definitely lives up to the fun of the experience.)
Big and Little suffered, once again, from the "one book too many" syndrome. I also think the photos might have looked a little dated. It's a book of opposites, basically, showing real kids in real situations. Normally, toddlers like to look at other kids doing things, but this was tacked onto the end of the story time with no transition, and I just lost them. So we went back to singing songs after that, and called it a day.
Better books next week, I hope.