Friday, September 30, 2011

Poetry Friday: The Cat and the Fiddle

hey diddle cat with a fiddle 2

Hey, diddle, diddle! 
The cat and the fiddle, 
The cow jumped over the moon; 
The little dog laughed 
To see such sport, 
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

September: Community Service

Dry those sunflowers and share the seeds with your local squirrels.

Art by me, Lorie Ann Grover!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

For the Older Sibling: A Zeal of Zebras

I love a picture book with a strong graphic presentation. A Zeal of Zebras from Woop Studios offers that exquisitely!

A collection of collective nouns to illustrate the alphabet and animal kingdom awaits you in this beauty from Chronicle. Each spread presents the noun, facts about the featured animal with spot illustrations, and then a half spread of the collective noun, the letter, and animals grouped in mass.

I find the language evocative of the animals: an aurora of polar bears, a galaxy of starfish, a kaleidoscope of butterflies, and an ostentation of peacocks. While others are completely familiar: a family of porcupines, a hum of bees, and a nest of crocodiles. Some are completely surprising: an embarrassment of pandas, an implausibility of gnus, and a troubling of goldfish.

Outshining even the expressive text and animal facts is the imagery offered, in what really reads as a collection of fine art posters. The line, flat shapes, compositions, and textures are incredibly rich and engaging.

I heartily recommend A Zeal of Zebras for the older sibling of your totz, and your totz, as well. You'll even find yourself sharing this work with your own friends. Definitely, one of my top books for the year!

A Zeal of Zebras
by Woop Studios
Chronicle Books, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jennifer Adams: Romeo & Juliet / Pride & Prejudice

Clever, attractive, and informative, these sturdy board books introduce the fundamentals of classic literature, 1-10 counting concepts, and period history. To get so much into small 22-page board books, and yet keep them uncluttered, is an amazing feat.

If you could boil down these classics to ten images (to represent each number 1-10), which would you choose? For Romeo and Juliet, one image would likely be the balcony. Here, it serves to illustrate the number 1.

From Romeo & Juliet (upper image) and from Pride & Prejudice (lower image):

The books can be read at a variety of early ages, and as totz grow they can return to them and absorb new details. Curious totz will have questions about the illustrations which may well lead into discussion points with parents. Note the careful attention to basic historical detail -- the regency clothing and objects in Pride & Prejudice; Medieval clothing and objects in Romeo & Juliet.

The art is gorgeous and these board books will stand up to many readings. (and occasional chewings) As an Austen and Shakespeare fan, I highly recommend them!

Next up from Jennifer and Alison is Jane Eyre!

Jennifer Adams works as a writer and editor in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Alison Oliver runs Sugar design studio in NYC.

Romeo & Juliet
Pride & Prejudice goodreads
Author: Jennifer Adams
Illustrator: Alison Oliver
Gibbs Smith, 2011
For more, visit Gibbs Smith: BabyLit

Friday, September 23, 2011

Poetry Friday: My Little Baby

I googled Chinese nursery rhymes and found this tonight. Happy Poetry Friday!

Image from Spice Pages, a Cinnamon Flower

My little baby, little boy blue, 
Is as sweet as sugar and cinnamon too; 
Isn't this precious darling of ours 
Sweeter than dates and cinnamon flowers?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Joyce Wan: You Are My Cupcake

You Are My Cupcake by Joyce Wan is simple and simply yummy. Self-described as a "bite-sized treat for you and your little sweetheart," this glossy, glittery book is eye-catching and, well, sweet.

You are my CUPCAKE.
My sticky little GUMDROP.

The art is bold and the color choices are reminiscent of actual bakery goods. This is a sturdy, board book that totz and babies will ask for again and again. It's about them and how sweet they are. And it has a satisfying ending. What's not to like?

Joyce has created three other children's books, as well as notecards, totebags, magnets, and clothing. I look forward to more books from this talented author-illustrator.

An interview with Joyce Wan at Cakespy.

16 page board book  
author/illustrator: Joyce Wan

Friday, September 16, 2011

Poetry Friday: The Sandman

Here's a lesser known rhyme I found at

The Sandman

The Sandman's coming in his train of cars
With moonbeam windows and with wheels of stars
So hush you little ones and have no fear
The man-in-the-moon he is the engineer

The railroad track tis a moonbeam bright
That leads right up into the starry night

So put on you 'jamas and say your prayers.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Leo Lionni: little blue and little yellow


Originally published in 1959 and recently re-released in board book form to celebrate its 50th anniversary, little blue and little yellow began Leo Lionni's amazing career in children's books. Over the decades, four of Lionni's books have been named in the Caldecott Awards: Frederick, Swimmy (my personal favorite), Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse, and Inch by Inch.

The main characters in this sturdy board book are scraps of colored paper. Little Blue (a blue scrap) has blue parents, and Little Yellow (a yellow scrap) has his yellow parents. They each have friends of various colors in school and at play. 
When Little Blue can't find Little Yellow one day, he searches high and low. When they find each other, they are so happy that they hug it out…and hug and hug until they become green! Uh oh! Now their parents don't recognize them. This dilemma will have totz glued to the story and rooting for a happy ending. Where did little blue and little yellow go? Are they lost?

The two scraps begin to cry, and their tears are blue and yellow, not green. Seeing this, their parents finally recognize their scraps. All ends well.

This book is one I hadn’t seen before, even though it has been around forever. At its heart, it’s a story of friendship and acceptance, but it’s also a fun read, and functions as an intro to color blending. I can see it leading to a family or classroom art project, in which totz create their own colorful, well-blended, scrappy characters.
30 page board book  
author/illustrator: Leo Lionni  
Alfred A. Knopf , 1959 / 2009 re-release

Friday, September 9, 2011

Photo Friday: Fast Asleep with Her Books

A dear friend sent this image of her daughter fast asleep among her pile of books. Hug Hug! is close by! May your totz drift off among good friends.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Celebrating Joan's magnetic new release: A Kiss For You!

This board book (with lift-the-flap magnetic hand) began four years ago as a way to empower young children by showing the many important, loving things little hands can do. In fact, the original title was What Can A Little Hand Do? My editor loved the idea of blowing a kiss, which I had on one of the inside pages. So the title became A Kiss For You!

I made numerous dummies of the book to figure out the best way for the hand to move as a lift-the-flap which folds down on each page in turn, and Scholastic had the idea of adding a magnet so the hand would stay in place easily, until lifted.

Caroline Jayne Church's adorable illustrations added just the right touch that brought the story alive. I hope you and your child enjoy this book, which so many loving hands and minds came together to create.

From Publishers Weekly: "Readers can engage with this sunny board book by maneuvering a hand-shaped flap attached to the back cover, in seven scenes. Gently lifting the hand up and down makes a blonde girl softly pat a puppy. Elsewhere, a boy blows a kiss with the hand, and a brunette girl can play "peek-a-boo, I see you!" with readers...a fun, engaging gimmick. Ages 2–4. (Sept.)"

~ Joan

A Kiss For You!
Ages 2-5
Author: Joan Holub, readertotz co-founder
Caroline Jayne Church, illustrator
Scholastic, Cartwheel Books
September 2011