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Stanley’s Diner

Written and Illustrated by William Bee

What is Stanley up to now? Cooking for hungry customers and teaching youngsters about food and food preparation. Hattie writes the menu on the blackboard and takes the orders, while Stanley cooks meals in the well-stocked kitchen. Charlie, the customer enjoys putting lots of syrup on his pancakes. Later, Stanley goes to the store and makes a special cake for Little Woo’s birthday. Then he cleans up and goes home.

For the very young, this would be a great read aloud for discussion of components and the pictures. Kids can even count the number of slices of toast Stanley’s toaster makes (eight). And they can read the names on the ingredients, such as flour, sugar, and butter. First graders can practice the literacy skills they’re already gaining by spotting the many simple elements in the fun illustrations.

Who knows what Stanley will come up with next.

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  • Stanleys DinerTitle: Stanley’s Diner
  • Author/Illustrator: William Bee
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Food, Culture
  • ISBN: 978-156145-802-8

 

The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas

Written by Laura Murray
Illustrated by Mike Lowery

Good deeds and sweet treats for any neighbors you meet is the teacher’s plan. The gingerbread man, who is part of the class, sets out to do his own random deeds of kindness when the sudden snow storm sends the rest of the class back to school. The plot twist is fresh and unexpected. Characters are realistic and illustrations are detailed and entertaining.

Rhyming and rhythm, plus fun fonts and graphics will have grade two readers and grade one listeners wanting to start this new holiday book over and over again. Teachers, librarians and parents will enjoy this new holiday book capable of fulfilling literacy core curriculum standards while providing Gingerbread fun. Other books with the same main character are available: The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Firetruck, and The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School.

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  • Gingerbread ManTitle: The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas
  • Author: Laura Murray
  • Illustrator: Mike Lowery
  • Publisher: G.P.Putnam’s Sons, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-399-16866-6
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: 2

The Nonsense Show

Written and Illustrated by Eric Carle

Surrealism or nonsense? A little bit of both can be found in this new book by Eric Carle. Most nursery rhymes contain such nonsense and are actually what make them fun.

The nonsense show brings to mind the reality shows of today that point out some of the silliness of our lives. Each page says or shows something impossible, ridiculous, laughable, and silly. A snake who lost his tail? A bird coming out of a banana peel? An upside down man eating cake?

Eric Carle once again uses his specially made paper and collage with painting illustrations. Grade one readers will be able to read most of the book on their own, just being challenged with the array of multi-syllabic words on the last double-paged spread. Teachers, librarians and parents will most likely read this book aloud at least at the beginning.

Core curriculum standards in literacy can be met in the teaching of picture clues, fiction versus nonfiction, rhyming words as well as other isolated skills.

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  • Nonsense ShowTitle: The Nonsense Show
  • Author/Illustrator: Eric Carle
  • Publisher: Philomel Books, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-399-17687-6
  • Genre: picture book
  • Grade level: PreK to 2

I Am Henry Finch

Written by Alexis Deacon
Illustrated by Viviane Schwarz

Henry is a finch. And he acts like a finch. Up in the morning with the flock. Says “Good morning” with all the finches. “Good afternoon,” “Good evening,” and “Good night” too. The only change in the routine is when the Beast shows up. The finches fly to a tree. Then Henry has a thought about being great. A thought that gets him swallowed by the Beast. Eventually, he plants a thought in the Beast’s head. “Open.” The Beast opens its mouth and out flies Henry. Safe again, Henry invites the other finches to have thoughts.

The wonderful illustrations in this entertaining book make up a good deal of the story. When inside the Beast, where it’s dark, the pages are black and the images are jumbled.

The book may be silly, but first graders will learn a lot about following their talents and about being a leader. As a read aloud, it’s a great tool for teachers and parents to interact with the kids.

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  • Henry FinchTitle: I Am Henry Finch
  • Author: Alexis Deacon
  • Illustrator: Viviane Schwarz
  • Published: Candlewick, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 3
  • Genre: Picture book
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7812-8

Maple & Willow Apart

Written and Illustrated by Lori Nichols

Friends can be found just about anywhere, including your imagination. When Maple heads off to big girl school, Willow is lonely and bored for a little while. Then she makes up an imaginary friend based on the acorns she and Maple played with before school started. As Maple comes home with exciting stories about kindergarten, Willow has stories of her own about adventures with Pip.

The pencil drawn, digitally colored illustrations clearly show each emotion experienced by siblings as one heads off to school. Parents, librarians and teachers will find this text useful in helping the youngest students cope with the separation. First grade readers will recognize the signs of fall, and younger children will love the illustrations as this story is read aloud. Teachers can meet core standards of science while also addressing the feelings of those brothers and sisters left at home. Stories like this help us all understand each other a little bit better.

Art teachers of older students can use this as an excellent example of color blending, as well as the intricacies of showing emotion with the simplest of pencil strokes.

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  • Maple & WillowTitle: Maple & Willow Apart
  • Author/Illustrator: Lori Nichols
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen /Penguin, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-399-16753-9
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 1

The Best Parts of Christmas

Written and Illustrated by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Remember when you enjoyed the family Christmas tree so much that you hated to see the tree leave? Even when it had lost all the needles and turned into a fire hazard? This is the premise for this fun new book. The author follows Fritz and his dog as he and his parents select a tree at a farm. Fritz is a little confused, since rule #5 of the house rules is “No branches, sticks, or twigs allowed indoors.” But he doesn’t bring it up. He is in charge of the ornaments. The usual ornaments must be places close together so they can be close to their friends. Quickly, he notices anything can be an ornament, so the tree ends up beautifully decorated. And the decorating continues with cookies, candy canes, and many gifts. Fritz loves the tree so much, he wishes for it to always stay. Of course, it can’t stay, but Fritz can decorate one branch in his room. And that way, he can remember. The illustrations add to the fun by showing the personalities of Fritz, his dog, and his parents.

First graders can practice their literacy skills while learning about holiday traditions.

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  • Best Parts of ChristmasTitle: The Best Parts of Christmas
  • Author/Illustrator: Bethanie Deeney Murguia
  • Published: Candlewick, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Fiction, Holidays, Family
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7556-1

 

Clothesline Clues to Sports People Play

Written by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook
Illustrated by Andy Robert Davies

Kids love sports, riddles, and colorful pictures. This new book combines them all. Readers are given a four line, rhyming riddle about the pictures on the double page spread showing uniform pieces on a clothesline. The appropriate other pieces of sports equipment are on the ground. The following page gives the answer to the riddle and shows the particular game in progress.

Children will love guessing from picture clues and looking to see if the category of sports uniforms and equipment are complete. Core curriculum standards of literacy will be met using this book in preschool, kindergarten, first grade, or in ESL classes. Teachers, librarians and daycare providers will want to add this book to their collection. Surely, kids will return to this book time and time again. Second grade readers will enjoy reading these riddles to younger siblings at home.

The characters represent a diverse group of children and the sports represented include common, as well as uncommon, sports and will broaden children’s understandings of unfamiliar sports.

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  • ClotheslineTitle: Clothesline Clues to Sports People Play
  • Author: Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook
  • Illustrator: Andy Robert Davies
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-58089-602-4
  • Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 1

Mango, Abuela, and Me

Written by Meg Medina
Illustrated by Angela Daminguez

Grandma moves from a far-away island to join Mia’s family so she won’t be alone anymore. But she can’t read or speak English. And Mia can’t read or speak Spanish. With their beds lined up side by side in their shared room, it is supposed to be a chance to get to know each other. Instead it is a frustrated time of quiet.

As the story continues, Abuela waits for Mia to come home from school and takes her for walks to feed the birds even though they can’t visit. Abuela is sad. She misses her island home, her birds, her husband. Mia is sad. She wants to tell about her day at school.

One afternoon as she is making an after school snack, she says the name of each ingredient in English. Abuela says its name in Spanish. Then Mia gets the idea to label every item in the living room with its English name. Mia and her Mom get a parrot at the pet store.

By the end of this touching book, they are understanding each other and even sharing a bedtime storybook.

Teachers, librarians and parents will enjoy using this read aloud to young students, while second grade readers will read it independently. It is a basic introduction to bilingual families and will give some English students a touch of Spanish.

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  • MangoTitle: Mango, Abuela, and Me
  • Author: Meg Medina
  • Illustrator: Angela Daminguez
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 2

Can We Help? Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities

Written by George Ancona

“I want to help.” It’s something kids say often and they really mean it. But sometimes it is hard for them to think of real jobs they can accomplish on their own.

Full color photographs of actual kids doing worthwhile jobs will help students find realistic goals. This book lists several jobs often overlooked. Bagging fruits and vegetables, as well as going along to deliver meals to shut-ins are things children are very good at accomplishing.

Various clubs take on the responsibility of cleaning certain sections of roadsides, but maybe someone in your class never thought of it. Seeing the kids clean up trash in this book might spark an idea for your local community.

Crafts kids can do that have a useful future are highlighted here as kids are shown making hats and scarves to donate to homeless shelters.

This book will meet the literacy skills of distinguishing fact from fiction, as well as main idea and picture clues. School and public librarians will want to display this book in a high traffic area as there are so few books like it to help kids contribute to their own communities.

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  • Can We HelpTitle: Can We Help? Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities
  • Author: George Ancona
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7367-3
  • Genre: Non-fiction
  • Grade level: K to 3

Ladybug Girl and the Best Ever Playdate

Written by Jacky Davis
Illustrated by David Soman

Ladybug Girl’s friend, Finny, has the neatest toys! Especially, this new Rolly-Roo that is just the perfect ride on top, climb inside or pull along pudgy horse. So when Finny comes over to play, of course, Ladybug Girl is excited to play with him. She plays hard with him, so hard in fact that his wheel falls off!

Only after this disaster, does it become clear just how hurt Finny has been all afternoon. She feels left out.

The girls decide to fix Rolly together and then plan other fix-it jobs they can do together. The rest of the afternoon becomes more and more fun as Rolly gets parked and the girls find things to do together.

A wonderful read aloud for all of the little folks just learning about other children’s feelings. Discussions about sharing and thinking about playing nicely will follow under the direction of teachers, librarians and parents.

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  • Ladybug GirlTitle: Ladybug Girl and the Best Ever Playdate
  • Author: Jacky Davis
  • Illustrator: David Soman
  • Publisher: Dial Books, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-8037-4030-3
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 1
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