new storytime favorites

Preschool-2nd grade storytimes

Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker

I love cats. I love cats in boxes. I love weird books. So, it seemed inevitable that I would love Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker. Eula is the square cat of the title. She is, literally, square. She wishes she were round like her friends Patsy and Maude, but she is not. Being a square, when she tips over, it is hard to get back up. Mouseholes are impossible. Red shoes make her look short. Her friends try to help her become rounder in several ways, my favorite being the two panel spread wherein all three cats sing “oooooooo” with rounded lips, skip in circles, and eat doughnuts. In the end, Eula makes peace with her squareness, and all is well. When I read this aloud, I ask the kids if Eula’s tactics are working, giving them a chance to answer that she is “still a square.” Great for a cat storytime, a shape storytime, or a storytime about friendship.

Banana! by Ed Vere

If brevity is the soul of wit, then Banana! sets a new standard for the witty picture book. There are only two words in the entire story: banana, and please. The telling of this tale entirely hinges on the acting skills of the storyteller, so set your inhibitions aside and really FEEL the pain of these two monkeys–one in red and white stripes, the other in blue and white–as they scream, cry, and whisper their way through the story. The monkey in blue has a banana, which the monkey in red wants. With his one word refrain, the monkey in red goes from excitement over the banana, to questioning, to an all out banana crying fit.  When the text reads “Banana!!” with two exclamation points, and the background is all bright colors and jagged lines, and the monkey’s face looks like the quintessential toddler tantrum face, you need to bring it to your performance, or you might as well not read this book aloud at all. This book would pair well with The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog.

Pouch! by David Ezra Stein

I’ve been reading Pouch! and Banana! together, drawing attention to the exclamation point that is part of each title. I’ll say the title with exclamation point intact, and then I will cover it up and repeat the title without the same fervor. I don’t push the point (ha! see what I did there?) but it is a nice, informal away to start introducing preschooolers to punctuation. Pouch! is the tale of a Joey who is ready to leave his mother’s pouch in search of adventure. Each time he leaves the pouch, he hops a bit farther afield, but is always scared by the creatures he encounters, causing him to shout “Pouch!” and jump back in to hide away. When I read this aloud, I have kids stomp out the number of hops that Joey takes. Stein’s loopy crayon and watercolor illustrations suit the story perfectly.

Baby times (4-18months)

In my baby times for the past year, I’ve been using Annie Kubler’s supremely adorable board book renditions of nursery rhymes. It’s very easy to adapt the rhymes for adults to perform the actions with their babies. I usually read the book through two times. I love Kubler’s illustrations because she includes a wide variety of babies, including babies with hearing aids and babies with glasses, in addition to the wide variety of skin tones. I also use Kubler’s books with the toddlers.

Musically, I’ve taught myself how to play “Stop and Go” by Ella Jenkins . I play it using G, C, and D. I’ve used it with toddlers and kids up to second grade, and it’s been a hit every time.

Are there any other musical librarians out there? What do you play? How do you use music in your library work? Let me know, I’m curious as all get out.

-Miss Julie

All books reviewed from library copies.

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