Today’s #picturebook is Families Families Families! by Suzanne Lang & Max Lang via Random House Kids Books.
This adorably illustrated tour of the many types of families is a must-have for every library. We love the variety, diversity and inclusivity of families in this charming book and it’s beautiful closing message: if you love each other, than you are a family.
The world needs more beautiful books about love. Recommended for all ages.
Today’s #picturebook is Bedtime For Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. These two talents have many wonderful books under their belts all worth checking out–this is actually an older title of theirs I discovered and really love! Published via @raincoastbooks!
Bedtime for Mommy features roles reversed as a little girl prepares her mother for bed including bath and bedtime story! We loved the hilarious switcheroo here with Mommy asking for five more minutes and multiple books and leaping onto the bed in her jammies! My own small found this concept delightful! A sweet read with lovely laughs and a cute twist ending where the little girl goes to collect “daddy” for bed next.
A wonderful bedtime read for smalls 3+up. We would LOVE to see updated versions featuring diverse types of families, hint hint! :)
Today’s #picturebook is Hooray for Birds by beloved author Lucy Cousins (a house favourite) via Penguin Random House (Candlewick Press).
We love Lucy Cousin’s bright, cheerful illustration style (fans of the Maisy books should check out her Maisy site: http://www.maisyfun.com/forchildren/). Hooray for Birds is chalk full of fun movements and sounds for smalls to make as they spend a day being a bird! This book was an instant hit and is fabulous for bedtime as it helps get the wiggles out and ends with a snuggle in the nest with Mama!
Picture book out now, board book version coming this September! Recommended for smalls 2 & up and bird lovers everywhere.
This beautiful picture book is brimming with lively, painted images capturing the many colours and textures of summer. Gentle, rhythmic text follows two children on an adventure through the weather. Nature comes to life along with the rumbling power of a summer storm. A wondrous rainbow finishes this sweet tale.
We loved naming colours and spotting animals in this gorgeous, lap-sized picture book. A sweet read to cuddle up with at bedtime on summer nights. Recommended 2 & up.
Today’s #picturebook is The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall & illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault via @simonschusterca. This gorgeous book spares no details, brimming with yellow and black from end paper through every page! We love this friendly tour of a bee’s life with its simple, rhythmic text that inspires movement and onomatopoeia-like reading.
There’s never been a better time to get your smalls excited about our friendship with bees! This book follows a friendly bee from flower to hive and everything that happens in between.
We love the bright colours and especially bright orange of the pollen. Bees see the ultra violet spectrum so flowers look much, much different to them, infinitely more colourful and exciting–we thought the illustration style capture that feeling here!
This book comes with its own age recommendation (4-8) but we feel the smaller smalls can benefit from the beautiful colours and exciting, noisy word choices of the writing. Recommended 3+up from us! Buzz buzz!
Today’s #picturebook is Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill via @raincoastbooks. This gentle, preschool/kindergarten level story follows a young narrator asking “what does it mean to be kind?” after a classmate spills juice on herself and is laughed at by her peers.
Kindness and empathy are the work of parents with our smalls and they are large concepts for our busy little people. We enjoyed the format of this story where different kinds of “kindness” are illustrated in a simple way (noticing, listening, remembering names, helping, sharing, standing up for each other). And at the end the idea that acts of kindness join up to make a better world is quite lovely. The story begins and ends with the spilling of the purple juice and the offering a purple picture to cheer up a friend.
It’s early days with my own three year old, but I like talking about these important emotional concepts with him and the small things in the story make sense to him, so I shall recommend this for smalls 3+up if you’re an ambitious parent/caretaker willing to go slowly. Otherwise I’d say 4+up is your safest age for full understanding.
A very sweet story that illustrates a fundamental worth sharing.
We are big fans of Elly MacKay’s beautiful paper art books here at the blog so we are THRILLED to review her newest #picturebook: Red Sky at Night via @penguinrandomhouse via their imprint Tundra. This gorgeous tome is a collection of sayings about the weather, illustrated in Elly’s stunning paper art and following a little family and their boat. Some of these sayings reminded me so much of my east coast roots and my Grandfather who had a fishing boat and knew quite a few of these. I dug out some very old shells and stones for this photoshoot.
My three year old enjoyed finding the little boat in each spread, calling out colours, animals and hearing the different expressions about the weather and what they mean. (Ladybugs was his favourite!)
We love this book both because it is beautiful and because it has an old folklore feel that parents and grandparents will enjoy.
Recommended for smalls 2.5 & up, parents, granddies and weather lovers everywhere!
Bonus blog callout: Every weather saying has an “is it true?” Q&A in the back!
Today’s #picturebook is a literary nerd SQUEE favourite from our library: Edgar Gets Ready for Bed by Jennifer Adams & illustrated by Ron Stucki via @raincoastbooks. This is part of a “Babylit” series by Jennifer Adams wherein classic literature is made-over as children’s books and this one is Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven–featuring a tiny raven named Edgar who doesn’t want to get ready for bed.
There is a shriek-worthy Poe call-out on every page of this story! Edgar declaring “nevermore” when asked to eat vegetables, take a bath, put on pajamas, clean up! A jack-in-the-box of Poe’s head. Mama Raven reading “the Raven” as his bedtime book! THIS is the baby shower gift you must give to your English Major Mama friend or any booklover. My own small may not get the references but teaching him to declare ‘nevermore’ in our house has brought nerdy book joy to my life.
Recommended for all ages, birth and up. This comes in picture book and board book formats AND has two sequels, ready? Edgar and the Tattle Tale Heart, Edgar and the Treehouse of Usher. I die. The references.
Today’s #picturebook was an INSTANT hit at our house. Dinosaur vs School by Bob Shea via Disney Hyperion books. This is one of those rare gems truly written in the language of children. Dinosaur conquers the many parts of preschool one roar at time in this perfect read-aloud. The book is formatted in the pattern: Dinosaur vs ______ and Dinosaur wins each time, making friends, making snacks, playing instruments, playing crafts….until it’s time to clean up! Cleaning up is too much for just one dinosaur but when all his friends help out, everyone wins!
Our 3 year old small adores this book and it has led to us declaring “dinosaur vs “every task in our home” so that we roar through it all. Dinosaur vs brushing our teeth! Roar toothbrush! Roar toothpaste! Roooooooar!
This book is truly a treasure for the shelf AND bonus, there is a whole series of Dinosaur vs–including Dinosaur vs Potty! We shall be heading out to collect them all!
Recommended for 2+up, ROOOOOOOOARRRRRR!
Today’s #picturebook is Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal via Raincoast Books. This simple, sweetly illustrated book teaches smalls about their heart (the little bit inside of them that makes them, them!) and how powerful their words are at affecting the hearts of others.
We love the gentle lesson of empathy, awareness and community impact taught in this sweet, special book. A wonderful book about the heart, for the heart, and perfect for the small valentine in your life. A lovely book for teacher’s classrooms as well. Recommended for smalls 4+up & big hearts of all ages.
Book three in our “Week of Elly MacKay” is Shadow Chasers via @runningpress & Hachette Books Canada. This picture book is packed with dense forests, sunset colourscapes and the lush purples of shadows. It follows three children trying to capture shadows as night falls but shadows cannot be caught. They are however, always waiting for us again in the morning, ready to play and chase once more.
Light and shadow have never played more colourfully than in this wonderful lap book. A perfect bedtime read for smalls 3+up!
Today’s #picturebook in our “Week of Elly MacKay” is Butterfly Park via @runningpress & Hachette Books Canada. This gorgeous book is the story of a little girl moving from the country to the city. She will miss the greenery and flowers and butterflies of her old home. Next door to her new house however, is a tiny park called Butterfly Park! Excited, she heads in only to find there isn’t a single butterfly within. Soon she has her entire neighbourhood engaged in pursuing butterflies to find what they love–flowers! And when she brings flowers to Butterfly park, her neighbours join her to garden and create a lush, butterfly paradise making the little girls new house finally feel like home.
The beautiful colours and light play in this book capture the magic of childhood chases and the extraordinary magic of nature’s prettiest colours. The final garden is a gatefold so large it reached the very edges of my little studio to photograph and the inside cover comes off to reveal a poster of all the flowers needed to make your own “butterfly garden”.
A beautiful book to share with your smalls. Recommended 2+up. Stayed tuned for Friday when we’ve teamed up with the wonderful Elly MacKay for a giveaway!
Today’s #picturebook marks our “Week of Elly MacKay”. Elly MacKay is a talented paper artist and author of whom we at the blog are a longtime fan! We are very excited to feature one of her books every day this week AND even more excited that she agreed to an interview AND offered a giveaway (watch for it on Friday!).
First up is: If You Hold a Seed via @runningpress the heartwarming story of a seed and a little boy growing up together through the seasons that ends full circle with the grown boy sitting in that tree with his own son. The illustrations in Elly MacKay’s books are photographs of her wondrous, hand created paper sets. I was particularly moved to read that she created this book while pregnant with her son–it definitely captures many of the feelings we have for our smalls. A wonder-filled book, bright with colours and light and alive with nature and seasons. My small and I were inspired to head to the great big garden centre in town and choose a little plant to grow together (as seen in the photograph!) and I think you will be inspired to do the same after reading this very special book with your own smalls. Recommended 2+up.
Elly MacKay agreed to an interview with us & shared some “behind the scenes” photographs of her work. Thanks so much Elly! Readers, please enjoy seeing the magic that goes into her work:
1. Can you tell us a little about how you create the beautiful images in your books?
To make my illustrations I use paper, light and photography. I first do a sketch to work from. I then imagine the picture 3 dimensionally and draw each layer onto Yupo paper. I use ink to colour the layers, then cut them out. I set the layers up inside a little theatre, securing everything with wires and tape. Then, I light the scene. I often use backlighting and filters to create atmosphere. I use several different lenses on my camera, to create depth or distortion. I often take about 20-50 images, adjusting the lighting and playing with the different filters or moving the characters around. It is a lot of fun.
2. We read in your bio that you studied print making but also had an informal education in the paper arts via the Movable Book Society by train as a teenager? That sounds super exciting! What was it like?
It was great! My mom has an adventurous spirit. She is also an author of ‘how to’ books on paper art. When I was a kid, I was her ‘tester’. When I was 15, I told her that I wanted to be a paper artist so she thought she’d help me on my journey by introducing me to members of The Movable Book Society, a group of paper engineers and artists. We found a free pass to travel on Amtrack so off we went! We met wonderful people along the way who taught me about Victorian optical toys, paper theatre, artist books and simple mechanisms I could use in my dioramas. (Here is a picture of me looking quite serious with some of the dioramas I made back then.)
3. One of the many reasons we love your books is the sense of movement and play caught in the images. How important is play in your art making? And what would you like to say to kids and their parents about play as they read your books together?
Thank you! Yes, I think that is why I like printmaking too. I like surprise elements. With printmaking you don’t know quite what something is going to look like until you lift the paper from the press. I was never into making editions. I liked changing the printing plate as I worked. Working in my theatre is much the same. Sometimes working with something you can’t completely control, frees you. It takes away some sense of ownership, and makes things less precious. I like that.
I guess I see picture books as a sort of playground for parent and child. It is a place they can meet to discuss their feelings and ideas, make silly sounds and cuddle. My most recent book is a wordless book called Waltz of the Snowflakes. What I love about wordless books is that they invite play. They can be more challenging to approach but offer opportunities. Waltz of the Snowflakes is as much about The Nutcracker, as it is about emotion. My son likes to make the faces that the children are making as we read the story, while my daughter likes to give us a soundtrack and dance her arms around. I hope parents and children will bring their own sense of play to the story.
Thank you for answering all our questions Elly! Here are some amazing photographs of her work on the upcoming Red Sky At Night (via Tundra) out in Spring 2018 and a sketch from a fairy book she is currently working on called The Tallest Treehouse (releasing later in 2018).
Today’s picture book is Trains Don’t Sleep by Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum and Deidre Gill via @raincoastbooks a rhyming story about the power and majesty of trains. Filled with two page oil paintings this book is a wonderful read aloud.
For smalls soothed by rhyming text this is a gorgeous bedtime book. For inquisitive smalls who love trains and mechanics, this book features three kinds of trains with an information page filled with terminology at the back. Changes in weather, time of day and scenery allow for lots of “things to spot” in this detailed book and descriptive language teaches new “sound” words as well.
Recommended for smalls 2.5 and up this is a lovely gift book for train lovers and rhyme lovers alike.
Today’s #picturebook is Sir Lilypad, A Tall Tale of a Small Frog by Anna Kemp and Sarah Ogilvie via @simonschusterca. It’s the sequel to one of our FAVOURITE books: The Worst Princess (though you don’t need the first to enjoy the second).
This rhyming, whimsical, fairy tale adventure is a delight to hear & see, filled with endless chances for dramatics as it’s read aloud to smalls. This tale features a tiny frog with enormous aspirations: he wants to be a heroic knight, fighting for goodness and justice! When he reads the story of the frog prince he goes on a hunt to find a princess in distress he may rescue in exchange for that magical kiss. Hilary and hijinks ensue and Sir Lilypad learns that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.
Rhyme transcends age. My 2.5 year old will listen to this one again and again thanks to the smooth read punctuated with loud declarations and, of course, acting out the sword play!
This is best enjoyed by smalls 3+up but don’t be afraid to introduce rhyme early - especially if your have a busy small who doesn’t like to keep still. Rhyme can be magical.
We are partial to birds here at the blog so this one was a treat to review! One fine day at the library a chicken joins story time and life is never the same. After realizing how great story time is increasingly more chickens show up for the party. Chickens & children prove a daunting combination for our librarian until she comes up with an excellent solution.
Sparse text and busy drawings make this picture book ideal for smalls toddler aged and up–a rarity in picture books which are often too lengthy for those three and below. This one is filled with clever, hijinks-laden comedy for smalls to spot and loads of room for adult readers to add flourish while reading aloud.
Recommended for smalls 2.5 & up, librarians & of course, chickens everywhere.
Today’s picture book is Mighty Mighty Construction Site by Sherri Dusky Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld via @raincoastbooks & @chroniclebooks. This is a follow up to the NYT Bestselling Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site.
A lengthy, rhyming tale of construction vehicles and their exciting day filled with heavy loads, team work and everyone playing a special role, this beautifully illustrated picture book is great for smalls in the construction vehicle fandom! We love all the friendly details, cheerful expressions and catchy language in this tale.
It is a longer read so I recommend this for smalls 4+up unless you plan to abbreviate some pages as you go. Definitely a title they can grow with filled with charm, camaraderie and a gentle sense of day to night.
These were provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, after I saw the covers and squee’d & requested them to review because: ADORABLE DINOSAURS!
These sweet books totally lived up to their beautiful covers! The classic “Have you seen my Mama/Papa?” storyline featuring the cutest baby dinosaurs you will see this year. Gorgeous gift books for new parents and dinosaur loving smalls! Recommended for all ages, prehistoric + up!
This bright, beautiful book has a simple and important message of acceptance and joy. Todd Parr is a New York Times bestselling author whose signature style is recognizable and wonderfully accessible to children. This is one of those important books that comes along to remind us to celebrate the fundamentals with our smalls as they grow.
My favourite page in this book says “Wear everything you need to be who you are.” Teaching our children to look at difference and see it as a happy and natural expression of individuality, to feel comfortable exploring who they are too, is one of the great responsibilities of parenthood.
This colourful, loving book tells smalls to celebrate who they are, where they come from and who their family is.
Recommended for smalls aged 3+up.
Today’s picture book is The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilvie via Simon & Schuster Canada. A personal fave of the blogs, this rhyming tale is the Paperbag Princess grown up.
In hilarious rhyme Princess Sue awaits her Prince Charming only to be put in HIS tower, completely bored and miserable. When a fierce dragon appears Sue invites him to tea and the two overthrow her Prince, teaming up ever after to wreak havoc for “royal twits and naughty knights” everywhere.
A wonderful read-aloud for smalls aged 3 and up about forging your own path and teaming up with dragons, which as far as this blog is concerned, is always a good idea.