picture book-a-loo

I’ve had a pile of picture books that I’ve been meaning to talk about, so here we go, in no particular order:

A Wild Father’s Day by Sean Callahan

Inspired by a card that reads “Have a Wild Father’s Day,” the dad and two kids in this book act like various animals–running like cheetahs, swimming like dolphins, and swinging like monkeys. The text and art are both simple and bold. It would have been nice if the family had been more multicultural, but as it stands this book would work well in a family themed toddler storytime–because all the action will keep kids engaged and moving–or in a Father’s Day storytime for any age. Review copy provided by publisher.

Rapunzel illustrated and retold by Sarah Gibb

Now that Rapunzel has been Disneyfied it might be harder to get a beautiful book like this into the hands of princess crazy readers, which is a shame. Still, Gibb’s bright, stylized art* is akin to some of the best of Disney (it reminds me a lot of Sleeping Beauty, actually), so if you try hand-selling it to Disney-fanatics you’re very likely to succeed. The retelling itself is serviceable, and definitely suited towards a more tender audience (while I, jaded adult that I am, am more of a fan of versions with the questionable sex and twin babies). I am pleased to report that the prince’s eyes are still destroyed by thorns and healed with tears, so I’ll graciously accept the absence of the sex in a children’s picture book. Review copy provided by publisher. *You can see some of the art over at SLJ.

E-mergency by Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer

I can see this book being prominently featured in a future session of my Beginning Reader Storytime. Here’s the publisher’s description:

It’s an E-mergency! The letter E took a tumble and the only way to get her back on her foot is for people to stop using her. But who can take her place? The other letters have to make a decision ASAP. Z is too sleepy and Y asks way too many questions. Thankfully, O rolls in to try and save the day. Now E can rost up and got bottor . . . as long as ovorybody follows the rulos. Chock-full of verbal and visual puns, this zany book is sure to tickle both the brain and the funny bone.

This book would make a great pairing with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and even Dr. Suess’s ABC. A Call for a New Alphabet by Jef Czeka would be a good title to send home with kids. Review copy from publisher.

Tom’s co-author, Ezra, has an interesting story (also taken from the publisher’s website):

Ezra Fields-Meyer is a high school student and an expert on animated movies and animals. He is the creator of the animated short “Alphabet House,” which inspired this book[.]

Here’s the short, if you’re interested:


A Dog is a Dog by Stephen Shaskan

Wow. This book is…bizarre. In the best way. You know I like weird (Square Cat, another weird picture book, is one of my more recent favorites and would pair well in a storytime with this book) and Shaskan’s first picture book has weirdness in spades.

It starts off innocently enough, telling us “[a] dog is a dog, whether naughty or nice. Whether it suns on the beach, or glides on the ice. A dog is a dog, if it’s skinny or fat. A dog is a dog unless it’s a….CAT!” (You can see the charmingly horrific image of a cat crawling out of a dog suit here at the publisher’s website.)

My new favorite thing to do with picture books is to read them aloud to a trio of eighth graders who tend to hang out at the youth desk after school. These kids are awesome and funny and appreciate Doctor Who, so they’re the perfect test audience for quirky picture books like this. The general consensus: awesome. And messed up. But mostly awesome.

This would be a good book to toss into a costume/imagination storytime, or pair it with other multiple level picture books like Cow,Too and There Are Cats in this Book. Review copy provided by publisher.

librarian, weed thyself.

So the most recent Andy Poll was about weeding the library profession:


Most people are replying with attributes (View the story “Weed the librarian” on Storify) rather than a set of criteria, which I don’t think is really answering the question. How do you weed librarians out of the profession? Don’t reinvent the wheel–just use the same process most libraries use for materials: CREW and its charming companion MUSTIE. CREW, as everyone should know, stands for “Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding.”

As a professional, you should be continuously reviewing and evaluating your own performance, and weeding the skills and projects that are no longer beneficial to you or your organization. If you realize at any time that you’ve become MUSTIE*, then you should quit your job immediately and allow a newer, better librarian to have your job. If it’s good enough for our materials, it’s good enough for us.

*M is for : Misleading–factually inaccurate. I think we’ve all been there–we’re sitting on the desk with someone else, listening to them give out blatantly WRONG information. Even with gentle correction, our coworker refuses to change his or her way. Or, at best, they decide that they’ll just make you answer all of the hard questions because they’re too lazy to actually do their job.

U is for: Ugly–worn beyond mending or rebinding. Let’s not get into this one too much, except to say that ugly, when it comes to people, applies more to their attitude than their appearance.

S is for: Superceded–by a new edition of by a much better book on the subject. When you use the computer mouse by banging it against the desk, or answer a ready reference question with the phone book, you’ve been superceded.

T is for: Trivial–of no discernible literary or scientific merit. Have you been running the same programs for youth year in and year out with no changes? Do your booklists not have any titles published in the last twenty years on them? Are you chained to your reference desk?

I is for: Irrelevant to the needs and interests of the library’s community. Closely tied with trivial, many of the same questions can be asked. If you’re sitting at your desk waiting for people to come to you with their questions and their needs, you are irrelevant.

E is for: Elsewhere–the material is easily obtainable from another library [or librarian]. There are thousands of people with library degrees frothing at the mouth to work, and at least some of them have to be more outgoing, engaging, exciting, and innovative than your MUSTIE a**. How about you do one brave thing in your professional life and QUIT, so they can have a chance?

flash posts

I wrote about the Cybils for my BEA Librarian Blogger gig. Man, I love the Cybils.

A great post about how much the Chicago library cuts will suck, and why. Jesus, I’m sick of everyone punching women, children, and poor people in the face. Screw you, world.

Children’s librarians: you’ll learn more about children at a NAEYC conference than you ever will at any library conference. Metro areas often have local conferences; I’m hoping to go to Chicago’s Opening Minds conference in January. You’ll learn about how kids learn, grow, and develop, and learn strategies for working with them and developing their skills in literacy and other content areas. Way more useful than another “use Chase’s calendar of events to come up with library program ideas” panel, imo.

If you’re not following the blog How About Orange, you’re missing awesome stuff like these free printable Halloween crafts. Print those babies up, put ’em out after school, and you’ve got yourself a craft program, baby!

I love this proclamation of awesomeness in picture books. Hear hear!

We’re running out of sexy Halloween costumes. Sexy Hungryman dinner is my personal favorite.

In other news, I’m trying to write a story about a tiger who keeps getting food poisoning, and a musical about stranger danger. Good times. What are you geeking out on these days?

Sleepy Storytime

(I wrote this last winter but never finished it, so here it is now, as we are hurtling into fall and winter with its sleep-inducing weather.)

The frigid temperatures inspired me to put together a sleep-themed storytime, since this time of year all I want to do is stay beneath the covers and sleep until spring. (Not to toot my own horn, but I think I did my job too well: one of the teachers with my favorite school group actually fell asleep during this storytime).

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime!

Oh, Bob Shea. Oh, Dinosaur. This book is practically perfect in every way. There’s shouting, making fun of grownups, spaghetti, and the opportunity to yell “DINGDINGDING” at the end of every round. (Now that I think about it, I might try busting out my finger chimes next time I read this out loud. Man I love my finger chimes.) This is a super strong opener, so make sure you’re up to the task of selling the rest of the storytime with equal verve.

“Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”

I sang this with the monkey mitt. You have a monkey mitt, right? What genius created a furred glove and those adorably ugly puff ball pipe cleaner goggly eyed creations to go with them? Man. Why can’t I come up with something like that? Then I could have an informercial. Maybe even a spot on QVC. Anyway. I love that song, and the kids do too, but I’ve always felt the ending was lacking. I always feel like I should add some sort of pithy capper—“And then the monkeys spent the rest of the night in the ER”! or something, but nothing ever seems to fit. This time around I decided we’d kiss the monkeys owies and then sing them a lull-a-bye. I chose “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Then we tucked the monkeys into bed after they fell asleep. I felt much more satisfied with that ending. Try it; you might like it. Or try sending them to the ER. I’ve also worked in some banter about concussions; parents and teachers really enjoy that, and the kids enjoy that the adults are laughing.

If you have toddlers or want to add a music component, play this version of song while the kids jump, dance, or even shake some shakers:

Ten in the Den.

John Butler’s books are so adorable (cuter than a pillow stuffed with bunnies) I just want to barf glitter every time I read one. Ten in the Den isn’t my all time favorite (that’s reserved for Whose Baby am I?), but it is one of my sure-fire storytime winners. I sing the book, which you really should do, too (no shame if you’re pitchy) along with some hand actions for the kids—rolling their hands for “roll over, roll over” and either clapping or patting their legs when the animal stops rolling.

The Squeaky Door.

I’d normally put a book this long at the beginning of a storytime, but it doesn’t feel right at the beginning. You don’t want to follow this book with anything else besides a “see ya later.” At the end, when Grandma fixes the door, I had the kids help me fix the door by making the squeak get softer and softer until it disappeared. At the very end of the book, I was always afraid that the kids would squeak instead of shhhh, but no one ever did.

Some other sure-fire hits that would fit this theme: Where is the Green Sheep?, Monkey and Me, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late.