Tag Archive for read aloud

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

Max the Brave

Written and Illustrated by Ed Vere

In this adorable picture book with equally adorable illustrations, first graders learn what it’s like to face your worst fears and to be brave in facing them. It all depends on what name you put on it.

For all his blustering, small kitten Max doesn’t know what he has gotten himself into by saying he will chase mice. He is young and cute and has never encountered a mouse. He’s so cute, he gets dressed up with bows. And he doesn’t want to be cute. He wants to be brave. He discovered: no mice in tin cans, flies are not mice, goldfish are not mice, birds are not mice, elephants are not mice, and even mice are not mice. At least, that’s what mice will tell you. Mice are monsters and monsters are mice. So, mice are scary and Max should chase monsters instead.

Whether read independently or as a read aloud bedtime book, kids will see that bravery (and chasing mice) is not always desirable. Assessing the situation, however, is always a good idea. Small kittens should avoid large teeth and even large sneezes. The illustrations, alone, are laugh out loud funny.

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  • Max the BraveTitle: Max the Brave
  • Author/Illustrator: Ed Vere
  • Published: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, September 1, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Fiction, Humor
  • ISBN: 978-1-4926-1651-1


The Jinni on the Roof: A Ramadan Story

Written by Natasha Rafi
Illustrated by Abdul Malik Channa

Complete with a recipe for parathas, this story about an eight-year-old enjoying the best parts of Ramadan is a great introduction to the people and culture surrounding Islam. The whimsical illustrations help make this a kid-friendly story.

Little Raza can’t wait to have parathas, a sort of pancake or flatbread, for sehri, the morning meal eaten before the daily fast begins. He climbs to the roof and plays a trick on his grandmother’s cook, Amina, who is already hard at work in the dark morning hours. He knows that if he calls down the chimney, she can hear him. He frightens her into thinking she is talking to a jinni, a fiery creature mentioned in the Quran. Raza is quite pleased with himself until Amina gets Grandmother involved. The jig is up. Raza must help Amina until the end of Ramadan.

First graders will want this read aloud the first time so they can master the terms introduced and learn about the traditions of Muslims and their religion. After that, they will be able to read this again and again. Rafi explains all the traditions surrounding Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan festival.

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  • JinniTitle: The Jinni on the Roof: A Ramadan Story
  • Author: Natasha Rafi
  • Illustrator: Abdul Malik Channa
  • Published: Pamir LLC, 2013
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: Pre-K to 3
  • Genre: Fiction, culture, family
  • ISBN: 9780988864900



Midnight: True Story of Loyalty in World War I

Written by Mark Greenwood
Illustrated by Frané Lessac

War brings many unexpected victims, including animals taken to war to do jobs humans are unable to do. In this true tale from World War I, the reader learns about a horse who went to war with her owner, Guy Haydon. She was born on a ranch in New South Wales, Australia. Of course, horses can’t go to all the places where battles rage, so Midnight was separated from her master for a time during the battle of Gallipoli. When they were reunited, they helped lead the Beersheba charge, part of the campaign to take Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire. When both Midnight and Guy go down from a single bullet, they stay together until help comes. Lessac’s lively and colorful illustrations add to the story and help give the feeling of being there.

First grade readers will learn about World War I, ranches in Australia, and the jobs that horses do. The book is a candidate for reading aloud to generate further discussion. Literacy skills will be enhanced when kids want to find out what happened to Midnight. The author includes notes about the Haydon ranch and about the charge at Beersheba for further learning.

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  • MidnightTitle: Midnight: A True Story of Loyalty in World War I
  • Author: Mark Greenwood
  • Illustrator: Frané Lessac
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: Pre-K to 3
  • Genre: Nonfiction, animals, war
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7466-3
  • Extras: Author’s Note, The Charge at Beersheba

Caterina and the Best Beach Day

Written and Illustrated by Erin Eitter Kono

Sunscreen, lunch, books, umbrellas, yep, planning for a beach day takes lots of preparation as readers will see in this new adventure about Caterina and Leo.  This contemporary, realistic story clearly shows how people go to the beach with differing expectations. Caterina has lots of plans. Poor Leo, only has one strong desire, to see a whale.

Colorful, busy illustrations provide plenty of clues for readers about what kinds of things to pack for a day at the beach while also providing lots of laughs.

While Caterina is busy getting situated, making lunch and later building a sand castle, Leo keeps looking and looking for his whale. He even heads off on his own to search.

The scant text is engaging and independently readable for grade two readers, however, younger children will love to have this book read aloud over and over. One particular literacy skill strengthened in this book is picture clues. Core curriculum standards will be met for elementary grades studying seasons, and the geography of the coastlines of the world.

Spending time with Caterina and Leo will leave a smile on a reader’s face and a daydream about days at the beach.

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  • CaterinaTitle:  Caterina and the Best Beach Day
  • Author/Illustrator: Erin Eitter Kono
  • Publisher: Dial/Penguin, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-8037-4131-7
  • Genre: Realistic Picture Book
  • Grade level: Pre-K to 3


Bunny Roo, I Love You

Written by Melissa Marr
Illustrated by Teagan White

Bunny Roo, I Love You, is a beautiful, non-rhyming picture book that reads like a series of riddles. It starts off, “when I met you,” and uses descriptive terms like small and trembling, but moves on to things like howling, whimpering, and yawning. The soft water-colored illustrations show an animal as it is guessed.

Each page offers an individualized cause and effect common with the particular animal. For instance, when the narrator thinks it might be a thirsty kitten, because of the whimper, milk is offered. The use of the second person throughout is a good ploy for involving even the youngest reader. Obviously, this is about identifying the baby. It is reminiscent of Eastman’s, Are You My Mother, but in the opposite direction.

It is a fantastic read aloud for parents, teachers of preschoolers and librarians, but also a great example of the literacy skills of cause and effect, parts to whole and sequence of events. Beginning readers will enjoy following the clues on their own as well as guessing each animal and then studying its habitat in the illustrations.

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  • Bunny RooTitle:  Bunny Roo, I Love You
  • Author: Melissa Marr
  • Illustrator: Teagan White
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulson, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-399-16742-3
  • Genre: fiction picture book
  • Grade level: PreK to 3

Peace is an Offering

Written by Annette LeBox
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

Peace might be a difficult concept to explain to the very young child. But not if you have this beautiful rhythmic, sometimes rhyming book. It is an explanation in poetry that meets children where they are every day. They will recognize the settings and characters. This book tells them what to do to make their friend or sibling feel better.

It is a calming book that still offers movement. The illustrations are colorful and show diversity of characters. They also offer dozens of details for children and adults to notice and discuss.

Timeless questions are included that will challenge the librarians, teachers and parents reading aloud to stop and think about their own busy lives.

Grade one students and younger will love hearing this book read aloud time and again.

Teachers can use this to fulfill core curriculum standards in the area of social studies, understanding others and solving problems with peers.

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  • Peace is an offeringTitle: Peace is an Offering
  • Author: Annette LeBox
  • Illustrator:  Stephanie Graegin
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-8037-4091-4
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: Preschool to 1

Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry

Written and illustrated by Vern Kousky

Children will love Otto’s great big eyes as he looks straight at them from his perch on the crescent moon. Otto doesn’t like to roost in trees or hunt at night like the other owls. So the others all make fun of him. He likes to read books, make friends and recite poetry.

When the other owls continue to tease him, Otto decides to run away. On his way, he sees the moon and makes up his own poem about the moon. What he doesn’t realize is that there were dozens of mice listening to him recite the poem. When he finished they all cried, “More, more!”

What Otto, and eventually the other owls, learn is that poetry is to be shared aloud with others to be best enjoyed.

First grade readers being introduced to poetry will enjoy hearing this read aloud and becoming able to read it themselves. The contrasting colors of art work make it a stunning book with font that is clear and easy to read.

This book can be used to meet the common core standards of literacy in the areas of poetry as well as discriminating between fact and fiction.

The fact that the owls pick on Otto for being different can open a discussion between parents, teachers or librarians and children about how we treat one another. It is also an interesting twist to realize that the part of Otto that is different, his love of poetry, becomes understandable to all the other owls by the end of the book.  It is a very good thing that Otto didn’t run away, but stayed long enough to share his poetry with the others.

This beautifully well done book is Vern Kousky’s first, but hopefully not his last.

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  • Otto the OwlTitle: Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry
  • Author/Illustrator:  Vern Kousky
  • Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-399-16440-8
  • Genre: Poetry
  • Grade level: K to 3
  • Extras: The famous poem excerpts are included in the back of the book along with their citations.

Noisy Bird: Sing Along

Written and Illustrated by John Himmelman

Different kinds of birds sing different songs. The sounds, habitats and diets of a few birds are told in simple direct sentences. The contrasting colors used by John Himmelman make each page an individual beauty. Correct details of each habitat and every bird described will provide young readers with things to find and study in each picture for a long time. This entertaining book will also draw teachers and librarians to seek out other books by the same author.

Second grade readers will be able to read the text independently, in many cases, but much younger children will enjoy having it read to them. Older children may use it for science reports or for ideas to use in building dioramas.

Children who love to draw or paint might be encouraged to try illustrating things from their own backyard after studying these realistic illustrations.

The sounds included provide teachers, parents and readers an opportunity to practice the literacy skill of onomatopoeia while learning about birds.  What fun it would be to have different children assigned to make the call of a particular bird.

This is a good introduction to reading nonfiction books and picking out important details. After reading it, students might write a nonfiction sentence of their own.

The activities and facts at the end of the book will encourage and aid young readers to broaden their knowledge of birds and birding.

This book will be a great addition to classroom, school, and home libraries for children ages 3 -8.

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  • Noisy BirdTitle: Noisy Bird: Sing Along
  • Author/Illustrator:  John Himmelman
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications, March 1, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-58469-514-1
  • Genre: Nonfiction, animals
  • Grade level: Preschool to 3
  • Extras: Fun facts, birding activities, resources and related information

My Grandfather’s Coat

Written by Jim Aylesworth
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock

This retold story based on the old Yiddish folksong, “I Had a Little Overcoat”, has been put into picture books numerous times in recent years. However, this compelling re-telling based on the notion of not wasting anything has added new dimensions. After the material is too small for even a tie, the Grandfather tailor makes it into a toy mouse. Even after that is worn out, it finds a charming new use.

The author and artist notes at the end provide the connection between the folk tale and reality as each of them have family ancestors who were both emigrants and thrifty, resourceful people.

The artist note will also be of help for teachers as Barbara tells readers how she chose where to set the book. She shares information regarding the wedding scene in the book. It was based on the synagogue in Hebron, Connecticut. Art teachers and parents can use this as an example that art comes from real life in many instances.

The short, clear text is rhythmic and will delight silent readers as well as those listening. Children will enjoy guessing what grandfather will make out of the coat each time it wears thin.

Teachers and librarians in the public schools will be able to meet core curriculum standards in reading, literacy, art, geography and history with this beautifully illustrated book. The water colors are soft and inviting. They make the reader comfortable enough to stay awhile to study each detail and still want to return again later to visit grandfather. Everything about the story and the art work speak, not only, about how much grandfather loved the coat; but about how much the little girl loved grandfather.

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  • Title:  My Grandfather’s Coat
  • Author: Jim Aylesworth
  • Illustrator: Barbara McClintock
  • Publisher: Scholastic, 2014
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-439-92545-7
  • Genre: Retold folktale, picture book
  • Grade level: Preschool to 3
  • Extras: Author’s Note, Illustrator’s Note. Both tell of their own connection with family immigrations. Also explained are the models for some of the illustrations, such as the synagogue in Hebron, Connecticut.
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