Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10+ Kids' Books Illustrated by Marc Brown

Marc Brown is best known as the author and illustrator of the Arthur books, but he has illustrated many more titles written by others as well. Below is a partial list of these works.

Picture Books by Judy Sierra


Marc Brown has illustrated several titles by author Judy Sierra. 

Wild About Books is a rhyming story in which a librarian introduces a love of reading to the animals living at her local zoo. In its companion story, Wild About You, an unhatched egg arrives at the zoo, and when the new baby arrives, it is readily adopted by the tree kangaroo and her friends.

Another zoo-themed story, ZooZical, tells what happens when a group of bored animals come together to put on a musical.

In Born to Read, a book loving boy named Sam  reads non-stop, leading him to experience many happy successes in life.

Other Picture Books

In 2007, Marc Brown teamed up with Rosemary Wells to create The Gulps. Brown's illustrations bring to life a family of rabbits with unhealthy eating habits. While on a family road trip, the  rabbits discover that their RV can't carry all the junk food they packed, and while stranded, a farmer helps them learn how to replace their favorite fast foods with healthier alternatives.

Marc Brown has also teamed up with author Lindsey Craig to produce two musically-oriented picture books: Dancing Feet and Farmyard Beat. In Dancing Feet, the text provides an onomatopoetic expression of the sound made by a particular animal's dancing feet, and the reader is invited to guess who it might be. In Farmyard Beat, the animals have a wild middle-of-the-night party in the barn, which wakes up Farmer Sue. Both of these books use a unique collage style which is different from Brown's typical illustrations.

Using the same style, Brown provides the pictures for Ten Tiny Toes by Todd Tarpley, which celebrates a variety of foot-related baby milestones.


Marc Brown's wife, Laurie Krasny Brown has written a series of Dino Life Guides for Families, which provide child-friendly information about important topics including divorce, death, safety, making friends, and going green. Marc Brown's dinosaurs help make the information more palatable to young readers and they share the same sweet faces as the well-known Arthur characters.

When I was in first grade, I loved to read the Little Witch series by Deborah Hautzig. It wasn't until years later that I made the connection between these books and Marc Brown's style, but it should have been obvious based on the color palette and characters' faces.  (Note: some of the later books are illustrated by a different artist in the style of Marc Brown.)



Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young is my favorite poetry collection to share with babies. Brown's sweet style contributes to the book's cheerful and enticing qualities and his plentiful pictures provide context to help young readers understand the poems more fully.

In the 1980s, Marc Brown collected and illustrated several popular books of children's  rhymes: Finger Rhymes, Hand Rhymes, Party Rhymes, and Play Rhymes. Many of the rhymes from these books were included in his 2013 collection, Marc Brown's Playtime Rhymes: A Treasury for Families to Learn and Play Together.

Brown is also the illustrator of  The Family Read-Aloud Christmas Treasury edited by Alice Low.

For more illustrator booklists, click here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Church Mothers Group Story Time, 9/17/14 (Noah's Ark Theme)

I decided that, since story time worked so well for my MOMS Club, it might also work nicely for my church mother's group. There were five moms in attendance including me, and six kids including mine. (The age range was 7 months to four years.) Because the group has a religious focus, I opted for a Noah's Ark theme.

Hello Song: Say Hello to Your Toes
Somehow I have lost affection for my old standby, Hello, How Are You?  This one is more fun because it's interactive, and it is better for small groups.

Song: If You'd Like to Read a Book
I had a couple of preschoolers in my audience, so I threw this in there. It was a hit! 

Book: On Noah's Ark by Jan Brett
The text in this book is just the right length for a mixed-ages story time. The illustrations aren't great for big groups, but we were all gathered so closely together that it was fine.

Rhymes: Two Little Animals
I used Two Little Blackbirds as my model and made up some new rhymes. (This was to tie in with the fact that the animals went onto the ark two by two.)

Two little rabbits munching lettuce leaves
One named Sally, the other named Steve.
Hop away, Sally. Hop away, Steve.
Come back, Sally. Come back, Steve.

Two little ducklings going for a swim
One named Jane, the other named Jim.
Swim away, Jane. Swim away, Jim.
Come back, Jane. Come back, Jim.

Two little monkeys playing in the zoo. 
One named Sam, the other named Sue. 
Peel a banana, Sam. Peel a banana, Sue.
Eat the banana, Sam. Eat the banana, Sue. 

These were fun. I have some others written but I'll save them until I can use them.

Song with ukulele: The Itsy Bitsy Spider
We sang this song to connect with the rain stopping after 40 days and 40 nights.

Book: Whose Nose and Toes? by John Butler
John Butler's Can You Cuddle Like a Koala? was a staple of my Toddler Lap Time during my time at the library, so I  was thrilled to find this simple guessing game book - and the kids were great about calling out each animal's name.

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
I had not planned to do this song, but I thought it connected well with the book. I was also losing the big kids at this point so wanted to grab  their attention. 

Book: All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir by Bill Staines, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Though this is a singable picture book, I opted to just read it. The illustrations are so eye catching, even the babies were enthralled!

Song: Old MacDonald Had a Farm
We finished up our animal theme by singing about Old MacDonald's farm. I let the kids choose the animals, so we wound up with a monkey on the farm and other silly ideas. 

This audience seemed like a tougher crowd, and I think the unfamiliar (to me) theme put me off my game.  I plan to do a story time for this group again near Thanksgiving and I think I'll avoid choosing overtly religious books. There are so few to choose from, and many of them tend not to be well-written.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Early Literacy in Everyday Places: The Park

Like many families with small children, mine spends a lot of time at the local park. Though the park is a lot more fun than the elevator, you can still make your time even more fulfilling by sharing some early literacy activities with your child.
  • Teach your child the words “stop” and “go.” Little Miss Muffet is still a bit young for most playground equipment, but she loves to swing. To make it an interactive experience, I stop the swing periodically, calling out, “Stop!” and then begin pushing again when I say “Go!” You can also play this game using the ASL signs for stop and go to reinforce their meaning.
  • Sing on the swings.  There is something about singing and swinging simultaneously that makes both activities more fun. Once you get your child started, don't be surprised if other kids join in and start suggesting songs to add to your repertoire.
  • Draw letters in the sandbox. Using your finger, or a stick, help your child practice recognizing letters by drawing them in the sand and asking your child to name them. Also encourage your child to write letters - or even his name - on his own. 
  • Read the playground’s posted rules. Most of the local parks I’ve visited have at least one sign about safe use of the playground. As you enter the park, take a look at this sign. Are there letters or words your child recognizes? Are there new words you might want to learn? Your child will delight in finding familiar pieces of print and may recognize them in other contexts later in the day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

8 Funny Middle School Series for Boys

Today's list is a collection of series books for middle school boys which are guaranteed to make them laugh. All of these titles are recommended for grades 5 to 9.

Kevin Spencer

by Gary Paulsen

Kevin Spencer is determined to win the affections of his classmate, Tina, even if he has to lie, steal, and run for office to accomplish his goal. Highlights of this series include a spot-on narrative voice, a hilarious four-year-old supporting character, and Kevin's relationship to his older brother and sister, and his aunt.

To date, there are five books in the Kevin Spencer series (links are to my reviews): 

Middle School 

by James Patterson

James Patterson is a prolific writer, and not all of his books are of high quality, but his Middle School series is a notable exception. This series follows Rafe Katchadorian (and in one volume, his sister) through some trying times as he struggles to acclimate to middle school and runs into some discipline problems. These books are great for visual learners, as much of each story is told in illustrations. Patterson seems to be publishing two of these a year, and there are six so far:

I Funny  

by James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein

The I Funny books are not  related to the Middle School series, but they share the same fast-paced, straightforward style of storytelling and the same theme of overcoming hardship through laughter. Jamie is confined to a wheelchair, but dreams of becoming a stand-up comic. In order to realize his dream, he must face his fear of bullies and perform on stage. There are only two books in this series:
  • I Funny (2012)
  • I Even Funnier (2013)

Origami Yoda 

 by Tom Angleberger

Dwight, who is probably the strangest kid in his class, claims that his origami version of Yoda can tell the future. Is it true? These case studies done by Dwight's classmates try to find out. Each book in this series introduces a different origami creation based on a Star Wars character, and instructions for folding each of these can be found on Tom Angleberger's website. These books are a great blend of day-to-day middle school social drama and imagination. There are currently seven titles in all.
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (2010)
  • Darth Paper Strikes Back (2011)
  • The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee (2012)
  • Art2-D2′s Guide to Folding and Doodling (2013)
  • The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett (2013)
  • Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue! (2014)
  • Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus (2014) 

Star Wars: Jedi Academy

by Jeffrey Brown

Jeffrey Brown has also latched onto the tween Star Wars craze with his new series about Roan, who wishes to become a pilot but is sent to jedi school instead. Unlike most readers, Roan is unfamiliar with the Star Wars universe, and he is constantly bewildered by everything from the force to Yoda to his Wookiee gym teacher. Since these books are told in diary format, they will appeal to Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans as well as Star Wars enthusiasts. There are two titles so far:


The Fourth Stall

by Chris Rylander

The Godfather meets middle school in this trilogy about two boys who run a mafia-like business out of the fourth stall in their school's bathroom. Mac and Vince have always been able to solve any problem brought their way, until a high school kid named Staples starts making more trouble than they know what to do with. Realizing that adolescence comes with a whole new set of problems, the two friends struggle to decide whether to keep their business going any longer. This series is complete, and three titles are as follows:

Odd Squad

by Michael Fry

Cartoonist Michael Fry brings together three outsiders to form an unlikely friendship in this set of illustrated novels. Nick, Molly, and Karl become allies when they are assigned to safety patrol together, and they eventually figure out how to overthrow the school's worst bully. These books poke fun at the everyday trials of middle school life while also providing hope for students who feel ostracized or powerless. There are three books in the series so far: 

The Classroom

by Robin Mellom

In this documentary-style series told in interview transcripts, Trevor finds himself completely unprepared for the transition to middle school, and things get worse when his best friend, Libby, unexpectedly stops speaking to him. These books are very much tween soap operas, with a large cast of characters and many unlikely events, which make them both easy and fun to read. The series so far consists of the following:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mommy Librarian's Story Time Secret #5: Sing Story Time Songs at Home

First I was a children’s librarian. Then I became a mom. As I attend story times with my daughter, I have started to make a list of hints that might be helpful to story time performers and/or story time attendees. Today’s hint is for the parents and caregivers who bring kids to story time: Sing story time songs at home!

Here's why you should sing story time songs at home:
  • Kids learn by repetition. Hearing the songs just a couple of times at story time is a good start, but they'll need to hear them again and again to fully absorb the tune, lyrics, and meaning.
  • Sometimes kids - especially babies - are distracted or overwhelmed by the unfamiliar environment and group of kids at story time, so they don't get a chance to participate fully. At home, in a comfortable and familiar place, they might react much differently to a song that didn't seem to interest them at all at the library. 
  • Singing is a great way to promote language skills, and especially to help your child hear the smaller sounds within words. 
  • You'll be able to participate better at story time. If you "practice" the songs at home, you can sing along with your librarian at the next story time session. (Trust me, she'll thank you!) 
  • It's fun! My daughter loves listening to me sing, and she makes it fun for me by dancing and giggling along. Even if you feel like you have a lousy singing voice, don't hesitate to share it with your child. He or she truly doesn't care whether you can carry a tune.
Do you sing story time songs with your kids at home? What are some of your favorites?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

7+ Kids' Books Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

Alexandra Boiger was born and raised in Munich, Germany, as the youngest of seven children. She studied graphic design and has worked for Dreamworks Animation. She is married to an Italian artist and they have one daughter. More information about Boiger and her work can be found on her website and in this interview with Mikela Prevost. Below is a list of selected works she has illustrated.

Novels & Chapter Books

  • In Roxie and the Hooligans by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, nine-year-old Roxie is victimized by bullies until a strange set of circumstances places their survival in her hands.
  • The Magic Half by Annie Barrows is a time travel story about two girls living in the same house in different time periods who must find a way to change history before one of them loses her life. (Boiger illustrated the cover.)
  • Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald is the first book in a whimsical series about a magical elderly neighbor who knows all the tricks for transforming kids' bad behavior. Boiger illustrated the 2006 edition of this book, as well as three other reprints of titles in the series: Hello, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Magic, and Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. (The books were originally illustrated by Hilary Knight of Eloise fame.)

Picture Books 

  • The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins encourages kids to look past "scary" appearances by imagining the possible hidden lives of the main character's interesting neighbors and family members.
  • In Thanks a Lot, Emily Post an historical picture book by etiquette book, but the kids want none of it.
  • Take Your Mama to Work Today by Amy Reichert follows a spirited little girl through a day at the office with her mom, during which she answers the phone, makes her own business cards, and uses the paper shredder.
  • Tallulah's Tutu by Marilyn Singer is the first of four books about a young aspiring ballerina who takes up dancing because she wants a tutu. The other books of the series are: Tallulah's Solo, Tallulah's Toe Shoes, and Tallulah's Nutcracker.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Great Books Not Yet Nominated for Cybils 2014

There are only a couple of days left in the nomination period for the 2014 Cybils, and there are a number of great titles that have surprisingly not been nominated yet! Below I have listed some of the books missing from the categories that I typically review. (Links are to Goodreads.)

This list was updated at 6 p.m. EDT on October 14.

Easy Readers

Early Chapter Books

Middle Grade Fiction 

Young Adult Fiction

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Learning Activities for Favorite Children's Books: Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are was published in 1963 and awarded the Caldecott Medal for "the most distinguished American picture book for children" in 1964. In the story, young Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief, prompting his mother to send him to bed without supper. That night, in Max's room a forest grows, and Max himself sails away to the land of the wild things, where he becomes their king. It's not long, however, before Max is ready to return home again, to the place where someone "loves him best of all." Below are four fun activities to accompany this beloved book.

Catch a Wild Thing Rhyming Game

Say the following chant: 

Eeny meenie miney moe
Catch a wild thing by the toe
If he hollers, let him go
Eeny meenie miney moe.

Pause before speaking the word "toe," and ask your child to fill in the blank with a body part rhyming with "moe." Repeat the rhyme, substituting for “moe” other sounds which rhyme with body parts (med, me, mere, etc.) For a more kinesthetic approach, have your child also put his hand on each part of the body as he calls out its name.

Go Wild! 

Have your own wild rumpus by roaring roars, gnashing teeth, showing claws, and rolling eyes just like the wild things do! Use the printable spinner below to determine which action your child should do. Play solo or take turns in a group.


Tame the Wild Things

Play a game of "Max Says." An adult or child can play the role of Max, who will call out a series of movements for the wild things to perform. If Max doesn't say, "Max says," the wild things should not do the action. Since Simon Says may be too difficult for many young children, another option is  to simply play follow the leader, where Max leads the wild things around the room, yard, or park, and the wild things must copy his moves.

M is for Max

Visit makinglearningfun.com, and print out two monsters - one sad, and one happy. Attach the monsters to popsicle sticks and hand them both to your child. Call out a series of words. Ask your child to hold up the smiling monster if the word you say begins with "M" as in Max and the frowning monster if it does not. This is a fun and simple way to practice listening to the sounds that begin words. For a greater challenge, ask your child to listen for the "M" sound at the end of the words, or anywhere within the words.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

7 Easy Reader Series by Cynthia Rylant (with Printable Reading Checklists)

 Cynthia Rylant is one of the most prolific authors of books for beginning readers. Today's post highlights seven of her popular series and provides links to printable checklists to help young readers keep track of which titles they have read and which they still need to find.

Brownie & Pearl

Illustrated by Brian Biggs (See some sample pages from the books on his website.)
Book 1: Brownie & Pearl Step Out
Download printable Brownie & Pearl Reading Checklist.

Brownie (a preschooler girl) and Pearl (her cat) experience many daily adventures together, including playing dress-up, attending a birthday party, and going to bed. Brownie is a bit of a girly girl, with her fashionable outfits and purses, and her cat has a sparkling personality all her own. The series was originally published in picture book format but many have now been repackaged as Pre-Level One Ready-to-Read books, making them ideal for kids who are just beginning to decode words, and for pre-reading preschoolers.

Puppy Mudge

Illustrated by Isidre Mones in the style of Sucie Stevenson
Book 1: Puppy Mudge Takes a Bath
Download printable Puppy Mudge Reading Checklist.

The Puppy Mudge books are another set of very easy Pre-Level One books. They show Mudge behaving like a puppy and Henry reacting accordingly, with humorous results.

High Rise Private Eyes

Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Book 1: The Case of the Missing Monkey
Download printable High Rise Private Eyes Reading Checklist.

A team of animal investigators solve crimes in the city in these humorous early reader mysteries. The crimes are always animal-themed and dialogue plays a major role in piecing the clues together. The I Can Read series designates these books as Level 2, for kids who are reading with help.

Henry and Mudge

Illustrated by Sucie Stevenson / Carolyn Bracken in the style of Sucie Stevenson
Book 1: Henry and Mudge
Download printable Henry and Mudge Reading Checklist.

Henry and Mudge is Rylant's longest and best known series. It stars a boy named Henry and his big mastiff dog, Mudge, who have many adventures together both inside and outside, on their own, and with friends and family.  The Henry and Mudge books are designated as Ready-to-Read Level 2, which is for "Superstar" readers who are reading independently.  Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas was awarded the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award in 2007 for being "the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year."

Annie and Snowball

Illustrated by Sucie Stevenson
Book 1: Annie and Snowball and the Dress-Up Birthday
Download printable Annie and Snowball Reading Checklist.

Annie and Snowball is a series spun off from the Henry and Mudge books. Annie is the cousin who comes to visit in Henry and Mudge and the Careful Cousin, and she has a rabbit named Snowball with whom she shares her own adventures. Annie likes to dress up, have tea parties, and also spend time with Henry, and she is a character who appeals to girls who like Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious. The Annie and Snowball books are also on Ready-to-Read Level 2.

Mr. Putter & Tabby

Illustrated by Arthur Howard
Book 1: Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea
Download printable Mr. Putter & Tabby Reading Checklist.

Mr. Putter is an elderly gentleman who has a cat named Tabby and a good friend named Mrs. Teaberry who has a dog named Zeke. The fun-loving Mrs. Teaberry is forever trying to draw the reserved Mr. Putter out of his shell. The publisher has not labeled this series with a specific level, but they are of comparable difficulty to the Henry and Mudge and Annie and Snowball books. 


Illustrated by Mark Teague
Book 1: Poppleton
Download printable Poppleton Reading Checklist.

Poppleton is a well-dressed anthropomorphic pig who moves from the city to a small town populated by colorful animal characters such as Cherry Sue the llama and Zacko the ferret. Each of the books in this series is a small collection of stories from Poppleton's life, which are told with a great sense of humor that is really enhanced by Mark Teague's amusing pictures. The Poppleton books are designated by Scholastic as Level 3, for Growing Readers who read for "inspiration and information."

Are you a Cynthia Rylant fan? Which is your favorite series?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

20 Literacy Activities for National Pizza Month

October is National Pizza Month! Incorporate this silly holiday into your child's reading efforts with these fun pizza-themed literacy activities.

Reading Material

Matching Games

  • Make an Opposites Pizza Matching Game like I did for Read-Along Story Time. Use posterboard for a large-scale set, or download the quick and easy printable version I made here
  • Match up different words that mean the same thing with Synonym Slices, a free printable from Classroom Freebies Too. 
  • Play Pizza Delivery, a gross motor reading game from No Time for Flashcards. Create simple houses, pizzas, and streets named for vocabulary words, then have your child practice reading as he delivers each pie to the right customer.

For the Flannel Board 

  • Repurpose a pizza box and use the printable patterns provided by Learning 4 Kids to create your pizza set, complete with imaginary cheese, olives, peppers, onions and more.
  • Tell the story of Hi, Pizza Man! on the flannel board, using Future Librarian Superhero's Flannel Friday post for inspiration. 
  • Use a flannel board to share the poem "Knock! Knock!" by Stephanie Calmenson, in which a family gathers for a surprise pizza party. 
  • Sing about pizza to the tune of Bingo like Jen in the Library did in this story time

Songs and Rhymes

  • Imagine your perfect pizza, then do the Pizza Chant from Virtual Vine which allows your child to name the different toppings she'd like to eat on her very own pizza.  (You'll need to scroll down a bit to find the chant - there are lots of other pizza activities on the site as well.)
  • Play the pizza-themed version of Pat-a-Cake shared by  SurLaLune Story Time.
  •  Sing Abby the Librarian's Baking Pizza song to the tune of Shortnin' Bread.

Letters & Writing

For Groups 

  • Set up a dramatic play station for Pizza Hut, based on the image shown at kidscount1234.com. This is a great way to learn how to spell different toppings and to understand the differences in size between small, medium, and large pies.
  • Play this Pizza Party Sight Word Review Game from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas. Each word a player reads correctly goes on the pizza - the winner is the one who reaches the target number of toppings first!
  • Play Mrs. Lee's Kindergarten's Pass the Pizza. Kids pass pizza slices printed with letters around a circle while singing a quick song. When "stop" is called, each child identifies the letter on the slice in his hand.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

First Grade CCD 2014-2015: Lesson 4: God Our Father is Holy (9/29/14)

This post has moved: http://ccdlessonplans.blogspot.com/2014/10/god-our-father-is-holy-first-grade.html

LibraryAdventure.com: Meet Shelley Harris, Children's Librarian, plus Cybils Nominations

Today I'm at The Library Adventure interviewing Shelley Harris, a children's librarian in Oak Park, Illinois.

Also, Cybils nominations are now open! Anyone can nominate, and each person is entitled to one nomination in each category. Visit cybils.com to throw your favorite titles into the ring!
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