Saturday, February 5, 2011

Weekly Story Time Wrap-Up Volume 2

These are the books I read at my library story time sessions this week, 1/31 through 2/4.

This Place in the Snow by Rebecca Bond 
The Dinosaur Who Lived In My Backyard by B.G. Hennessy, illustrated by Susan Davis
The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Marla Frazee

I read these three books at Family Story Time on Monday afternoon. There weren't actually many families in attendance. In fact, I had one preschool group from a neighborhood school, and only a handful of moms with little ones. And these books could not have been worse choices for the age group.

I read only about half of This Place in the Snow before reading it to the kids, which is against my usual policy of previewing a book by reading it cover to cover. Because I didn't finish it, I didn't realize how strange it was until it was too late to recover. From what  I gathered, it's about a neighborhood coming together to build some sort of structure out of  the snow that falls on their streets. But it was very abstract and strange, and the kids were totally bored.

The Seven Silly Eaters was another mistake. I was looking for one long book and two short ones, and chose this to be the longer one, but it was way, way too long for preschoolers. I love Marla Frazee and could easily spend hours with her illustrations, finding new things to enjoy with each new viewing. But the rhyming text is just okay, and it was difficult to get the rhythm right while also maintaining good inflection. It just felt like it went on forever, and I didn't know the book well enough to skip any sections and fake my way to the end.

The Dinosaur Who Lived In My Backyard was the hit of the three, but it was a bit more like a non-fiction book than I remembered, and while the kids were engaged, I felt like they were waiting for a story. They did have a lot to say in response to the text, though, and they laughed at the size of the dinosaur in the illustrations compared with everyday things, such as a house and a school bus.

My Car by Byron Barton
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Eyes, Nose, Fingers, and Toes by Judy Hindley, illustrated by Brita Granstrom

These books are from my Tuesday morning story time. I read the same books for both sessions, since they were  pretty successful the first time around.

My Car was a big hit with the toddler boys, some of whom came up to touch the book while I was reading it. It was the first one to be checked out at the end of the second session, and probably  the one the kids were quietest for. It probably helped that it was the very first one we read. In simple sentences, the book introduces us to main character, Sam, who explains how he cleans his car, fills it with gasoline, and drives it to work. When he gets to work, though, he drives a bus. I love Byron Barton's style, and I wish more authors did such great books for the baby/toddler audience.

From Head to Toe was another good one, because of all the audience participation. Rather than sitting still and listening to a story, the kids were a part of an interactive experience where they turned their heads like penguins, swung their arms like chimpanzees, and imitated other animals. Thankfully, the parents and other caregivers in attendance weren't shy about looking silly, and  they participated as well. I don't know if you can ever go wrong with a book by Eric Carle.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee is not a favorite of mine. I feel kind of guilty saying that, since it's so beloved by so many people, and it won the Caldecott, but it just doesn't do anything for me. And I read it to the kids, almost rooting against it, hoping I'd have some validation for my "blah" feelings about it. Much to my chagrin, however, the kids really seemed to like the fanciful notion of animals wandering out of the zoo, and taking a bus to visit their sick caretaker, and this book, too, was snatched up quickly after session two.

I chose Eyes, Nose, Fingers and Toes only because I needed one more book, and I wanted it to feature babies. I've read most of our Helen Oxenbury, Karen Katz, and Mem Fox books to this group within the past few months, so I didn't want to repeat them just yet, but this seemed like a decent read-alike. It wasn't remarkable, or even particularly original, but it was another story that lent itself to physical movement, which is great when I'm reading to toddlers, and it was cute, which is a parent-pleasing characteristic, if nothing else.

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

I read The Little House to a group of second through fourth graders who came to the library for a tour and a story on Thursday. I wanted to choose a funny book, but ran out of time to track one down, so I  went with an old standby that I thought might appeal to older kids. One young girl in the group knew the book, which pleased me, and I didn't have a lot of rude outbursts or interruptions while I was reading, which either indicates very good manners, or just politeness born of boredom. I loved this story's illustrations, where everything changes but the little house, and I loved the sense of history, and the fact that the story comes full circle. Sadly, I'm not sure anyone else in the room enjoyed those things.

That was my story time week! How was yours?
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