This book has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween and yet it perfectly captures the spirit of late October, when the light drains away and the dark starts to settle in earlier and earlier. Laszlo may be afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of Laszlo. Laszlo never visits the dark in the basement, where it lives. And he tries to avoid having the dark visit him by using his trusty flashlight and steadfast night light. But one night... the dark comes to his room. And things are never the same again. Great for introducing the concept of suspense. Or just instilling dread in your youngest listeners! A 2016 Monarch Award nominee.
Published by Hachette, 2013.
Very funny sequel to The Day the Crayons Quit. This time Duncan's crayons are marooned at various places around his house: under the sofa cushion, locked in the basement, stuck in the dryer with a sock. They send in their rescue pleas through a series of post cards, hoping Duncan will find them and return them to their beloved crayon box. This team has produced another great read aloud with fabulous illustrations, including vintage postcards.
Published by Philomel Books, 2015. Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.
If you built a house, what rooms would you include? Well, a kitchen and a living room and a bedroom and a bathroom, of course. But have you ever considered a Fish Tank Room where you can swim with the fish? Or a Flying Room, where you can turn off gravity by flipping a switch? Van Dusen has and he inspires his readers to imagine their own architectural fantasies. This was an immediate hit with my primary students, who ooohed and aaahed over the author's creations and then were eager to describe their own. Bright, bold illustrations and rhyming text meld into a colossal fun house of imagination. An Illinois Monarch Award nominee for 2014-15.
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012.
Everybody has a story, even the letters of the alphabet. And those 26 stories are featured in this delightful addition to the extensive alphabet bookshelf. From an Astronaut who's afraid of heights, to a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, to a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom, Once Upon an Alphabet trips crazily and creatively from A through Z. From the clever text to the gentle, old-school, ink and paper illustrations, this will entertain kids and adults and could provide a springboard for young writers to come up with their own unique tales of the alphabet.
Published by Philomel, 2014. 112 pp.
After the winter we've had in the Midwest -- and across much of the rest of the country -- we could all use a little spring. And this book captures the mood of anticipation with delightful text and softly focused illustrations. A boy and his dog are waiting, waiting, waiting for the brown to disappear… planting seeds, watching the ground, listening, listening…and then…. If you are looking for a wonderful, gentle read, here it is.
Illustrated by Erin Stead Published by Roaring Brook Press 2012.
"We Shall Overcome," a song closely associated with the civil rights movement in the United States is now the subject of a vibrant picture book. The book traces the timeline of the song, starting with its origins in the days of slavery in the American south, and captures the struggles of African-Americans to achieve equal rights. From the Civil War to the Freedom Rides and lunch counter sit-ins, to the signing of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, to the election of the first black president, We Shall Overcome brilliantly illustrates a people's yearning for freedom from repression.
Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. pp. 32. Published by Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2013)
On a teeny little farm, in an itty-bitty coop, a very small hen laid a big, giant egg. And out of this egg came one big, humongous . . . something. The clueless chickens in the farm yard can't make sense of the gigantic new member of their family. Is it an elephant? Is it ... something else? What exactly is it? However, as the calamities start to pile up, one thing's for sure, whatever it is, it's a hero! Looking for a funny read-aloud? Try this clever mutation on the old Chicken Little tale and giggles will quickly ensue!
Published by Chronicle Books, 2010. p. 32.
Remember when snow was fun, fun, fun?
While “helping” his mother with holiday housecleaning, a boy keeps a watchful eye on the progress of a winter storm. He’s hoping for a big snow. A really big snow. Inside, he is underfoot, turning sheet-changing and tub-scrubbing into imaginary whiteouts. Outside, flakes are flying. But over the course of a long day (for Mom) the clouds seem slow on delivering a serious snowfall. Then comes a dreamy naptime adventure, marking just the beginning of high hopes coming true in this irresistible seasonal story.
Illustrated by author. p. 32. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013
Who doesn't have a pair (or in this case, a trio) of boring relatives who come to visit and bring very little to the party? Aunt Essy, Aunt Chanah, and Uncle Sam are the sourpuss Sunday visitors in this clever, witty picture book. They park their Continental in the driveway and park their butts in the living room and no matter what anyone says their response is always the same — “Oy," “Feh," “So?" One Sunday the three children are determined to extract a few different reactions. They fake a robbery, produce a dastardly dragon, and pretend to be kidnapped by aliens, but their aunts and uncle remain resolutely unimpressed. In a last ditch effort, the kids dress up as the trio and start mimicking them. Will this finally get a rise out of the relatives? Loved this one from the dedication page, which features the front end of a big ol' Lincoln Continental and the three poker faces lumbering down the street.
Illustrations by Gary Clement. pp.32. Published by Groundwood Books, 2013.
Children are perfectly delightful creatures ... except when they're not. Case in point, Henry and Eve, who are going through a "phase." A whiny phase. A very whiny phase. Their patient father warns them about the monsters who devour children who are going through such phases, but do Henry and Eve listen? Well, if they did, we wouldn't have much of a story. The whiny brats soon learn the perils of being snatched by the hungry monster -- and being eaten is the least of their problems. Trying listening to whiny monsters for a day... A wry cautionary tale that will please kids and adults.
Illustrations by author. pp. 32. Published by Simon & Schuster, 2010.
Joanne Zienty is a school librarian, teacher, reader, writer and published author who firmly believes there are so many good books and not enough time to read them!