Friday, October 22, 2021

Picture Book Review: Time for Bed, Old House by Janet Costa Bates, illustrated by AG Ford

Quick Booktalk 

Isaac is nervous about spending the night at his grandfather's house, but Grandpop calms his nerves by taking Isaac around to say goodnight to every part of the old house. 

About the Illustrations 

Something about the pictures in this book doesn't really work for me. The items in the background of each illustration have a more straightforward feel to them, but the figures are more animated and cartoonish in a way that makes them feel at odds with the setting. Many of the pictures also place the figures at a distance from the reader, and it's almost hard to follow the action, even with the book right up close. The best illustrations are the ones where Isaac and Grandpop appear large and expressive, and there just aren't enough of those. 

Story Time Possibilities

Because so many of the illustrations are hard to pick out at any kind of distance, I wouldn't recommend this as a story time book. The onomatopoetic words used to convey the sounds the house makes do beg to be read aloud, however, and this could be a very satisfying bedtime story to read aloud one-on-one, especially with a grandfather. 

Readers Advisory

This book portrays a loving relationship between a black child and his grandfather, and that is sure to appeal to libraries looking to diversify their picture book collections. It also works well as a story for dispelling fears kids have about strange noises in their houses at bedtime, and for reinforcing the idea that a trusted adult will be there with the child all night long. 


I received a finished copy of Time for Bed, Old House from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Picture Book Review: Moose's Book Bus by Inga Moore (2021)

Quick Booktalk

Moose, the neighborhood storyteller, runs out of stories to tell, so he starts borrowing books from the library, eventually leading to a literary renaissance among his fellow creatures.

About the Illustrations

The pastel illustrations in this book are timeless and very cozy and gentle. The animals have all the features appropriate to their respective species, but they are also infused with sweet hints of personality in their facial expressions and body language. Their homes and the natural world surrounding them are very warm and homey, as is the environment in the library itself. The pictures are the perfect complement to this snug story about spreading literacy and the love of reading. 

Story Time Possibilities

This picture book is a children's librarian's dream! In a public library setting, I'd be taking this on every outreach visit for things like National Library Card Sign-Up Month, National Library Week, summer reading promotion and anything else even remotely related to literacy. It would also be a regular title in my story time rotation. Without preaching, and completely within the confines of a lovely close-knit animal community, this book communicates anything a book lover could ever want to pass onto children about the importance and joy of reading. I have a book-themed story time planned for the group that meets in my home, and I am excited to include this title. 

Readers Advisory

For families who prefer older, more traditional picture books, Moose's Book Bus will be an ideal read. It reads like a classic, and its illustrations have that feel as well. It reminds me a little bit of the Mr. Gumpy books by John Burningham, and the illustrations also made me think of artwork by David McPhail.  There is an earlier book about the same characters, called A House in the Woods (2011). Inga Moore is also author and illustrator of that old story time favorite, Six Dinner Sid (1990). This is one of the best picture books I have received for review in 2021. 


I received a finished copy of Moose's Book Bus from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Board Book Review: Nom Nom Nom by Jeffrey Burton, illustrated by Sarah Hwang (2021)

Quick Booktalk

On each spread of this lift-the-flap board book, an animal is presented with three food options (including one that is notably gross by human standards) and the reader is invited to choose one before the flap reveals the inside of the animal's mouth displaying the words, "Nom nom nom." 

About the Illustrations 

The animals in this book are comprised of simple lines, shapes, and dots that suggest their features. Each one has a set of teeth appropriate to its species that appears beneath the flap. The food options are similarly simplified, but they have slightly more detail to differentiate one meal from the next. 

Story Time Possibilities

Because the text addresses the reader with open-ended questions, this could work for a story time, but with preschoolers, not toddlers. The meals are drawn pretty small, so they would be difficult to see in a larger room, but because the text describes them, and because the animal and its mouth are larger and easier to see, it is still probably possible for a larger audience to enjoy the book. It's a little unclear whether the child reader is meant to choose a meal for the animal in question or for himself or herself - I would plan to decide that up front and let the listeners know how we are approaching the book. 

Readers Advisory

This book plays on kids' fascination with gross humor, but only as it pertains to food. (There is no bathroom humor in this book, thankfully.) The format of the book makes it look like it's for babies or toddlers, but the spine is extremely weak, and I know that my 19-month-old twins would destroy it in about 15 seconds flat. Gentler toddlers or those with heavy adult supervision might be okay with it, but personally I think the concept and the lack of durability make this a book that is best shared with preschoolers. 


I received a finished review copy of Nom Nom Nom from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Family Story Time, 10/6/21 (Farm Theme)

Two weeks ago, three families came to story time, but the one family that came to my first session couldn't make it, so I actually repeated some of the same material, and just changed a couple of books so my own kids wouldn't have to sit through the exact same thing a second time.  Here's what we did: 

Opening Song: Story Time is Starting, Clap Your Hands

Book: Early One Morning by Mem Fox, illustrated by Christine Davenier 
As I did in the first session, I explained the premise of this book ahead of time so that the kids basically understood that we were looking for eggs. A few of the bigger kids could have gotten it without that assistance, but there were 4 toddlers, so it seemed worth explaining.  

Song with puppets: When Cows Get Up in the Morning
We sang good morning to a cow, sheep, horse, and pig. I let the kids supply the animal sounds themselves.

Book: Catch That Chicken! by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank  
This was a fun one that I threw in for the four and five year olds, and they really enjoyed it. 

Song: 5 Little Chicks
Everyone knows this as 5 Little Ducks, and it was hard to remember not to sing ducks instead of chicks. Still a fun song for this theme, though. 

Book: Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
The kids chimed in beautifully on the refrain for this one. My son who loves pigs kept saying "piggy" on every page despite there not being any pigs. 

Song: Milkshake Song
My two big girls helped to lead this song, and the kids all got into it. 

Book: To Market To Market by Anne Miranda, illustrated by Janet Stevens
This book about animal misbehavior got a lot of good laughs. 

Song: Goodnight
We sang goodnight to all the animal puppets and put them to bed.

Closing Song (with ukulele): Story Time is Over, Clap Your Hands

After story time, the kids played with blocks and dress-up clothes. 

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