Tuesday, June 21, 2022

I Just Want to Say Good Night: Rachel Isadora

In a small village on the African veld, it's time for Lala to go to bed. But before she does, she must say goodnight to so many. There is the goat, the dog, the monkey, the ants, and more. All must be wished well by Lala before she goes to sleep.

The sun sets in Rachel Isadora's sweeping, painterly illustrations, and the spreads shift from warm to cool. The book is full of atmosphere. My personal favorite is the dedication page. 

In a sweet homage to Margaret Wise Brown, Lala says goodnight to her book and the full moon out of her window. Add this beautiful, bedtime book to your goodnight ritual. After saying goodnight to all. 

Rachel Isadora
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2022

Saturday, June 18, 2022

More, more, more: Heckadeck, Travis Nichols

How about instead of 52 cards, you have 160 to play with? Imagine being able to play Go Fish with your totz and then maybe Hearts with your older children, with the same deck of cards. Heckadeck offers you 8 suits of 16 cards. You can also anticipate new ranks, visual shapes, and more. What might your family create with Clouds, Zeroes, Beasts, and Travelers? 

An accompanying game booklet offers up the rules for old games and new. There's even a section for reading cards, if you're interested. The power is yours as you and your loved ones sit down for some fun card playing.  

Creator, illustrator Travis Nichols' imagery is both adorable and intriguing. The palette is softly muted. The box says for ages 6 and up, but I see you might use the Heckadeck with younger children in many ways. They might match cards, learn colors and numbers, spot imagery, and play memory games. 

With an opportunity to invent your own games, and the extra cards for further creativity, this deck is fun for all. Shuffle away! 

by Travis Nichols
Chronicle Books, 2022

Sunday, May 29, 2022

More, more, more: Out of a Jar, Deborah Marcero

As feelings are strong, and we search for answers, meaning, and peace, Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero might be a perfect place to begin with your readertotz. Llewellyn the bunny likes all things scary, but he does not like to be scared. Other feelings, too, can't be ignored and continue to come around, but all is well when Llewellyn discovers they can be tucked inside jars. Even pleasant feelings can be bottled. It's not until they are all released that he is able to finally feel relieved. 

This adorable bunny with long ears, who lives in a subtly patterned world, will win hearts. The fresh exploration may help your first readers to identify emotions and assist them in witnessing and expressing their feelings in healthy ways. 

by Deborah Marcero
G. P. Putnam, 2022

Sunday, May 15, 2022

My First Book of Beards, My First Book of Tattoos: Robyn Wall

Here we go with two fresh books in a series titled My Cool Family from Doubleday's author Robyn Wall and illustrator Lydia Nichols: My First Book of Beards and My First Book of Tattoos. Quick rhyme accompanies clean illustrations with a subdued palette and beautiful black, varied and expressive lines. 

My First Book of Beards describes beards via the tasks the characters are doing and transitions to physical descriptions of beards:

Merry beard
Share-y beard
Glitter princess fairy beard

My First Book of Tattoos describes the tattoo imagery and the physical expression of that choice:

Rock it tat 
Chalk it tat
Catch it, pass it, block it tat 

Both of the best beards and tats come with love for the child. What a fun addition to our shelves for first readers. Brava! 

by Robyn Wall
illustrated by Lydia Nichols
Doubleday, 2022

Monday, March 28, 2022

I Want to Be...a Ballerina: Becky Davies

Our first readers can dream big, and the I Want to Be series from Random House can help visualize the accomplishment. I Want to be...a Ballerina illustrates and labels the journey of a young girl from getting ready for her first lesson to performing onstage as an adult. Vocabulary is rich and identifies clothing, steps, and parts of the studio and stage. 

Text is tight and Richard Merritt's flat, colorful illustrations pop but don't overwhelm. They carry the information in a creative way, even turning the layout for impact. 

You can help your own first reader into ballet with this board book. Whether a career ensues or not, they can dance with joy. 

For your teen readers, I, of course, recommend my own novel, On Pointe. 

by Becky Davies
illustrated by Richard Merritt
Random House, Little Tiger Press Ltd 2022 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Black Heroes, a Go Fish Card Game: Magali Attiogbé

Happy Black History Month! I ran across this most excellent Go Fish card game titled Black Heroes. It features 44 inspirational black figures throughout time. Your totz can group explorers, sports players, stars, activists, politicians, and artists. An accompanying booklet elaborates on each hero featured in the game. From Kamala Harris to Abu Bakr II, Queen Anna Nzinga to Chadwick Boseman, there is much to learn. So much inspiration awaits! 

Paintings by Magali Attiogbé are bold and bright. Text in the booklet is by Dr. Kimberly Brown Pellum. The game is recommended for 8 and up, but the cards could be used educationally for younger totz.  

Find this little gem and celebrate our Black Heroes. Go Fish!   

text by Dr. Kimberly Brown Pellum
illustrations by Magali Attiogbé
Lawence King, Orion Publishing Group Ltd.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Women in Art: Rachel Ignotofsky


Yay for each board book added in an effort to balance the shelves. Women in Art does so for our first readers, and it's now in a board book format. Diverse women through time are featured and celebrated.  

New York Times bestseller, Rachel Ignotofsky's stylized imagery of artists and their variety of mediums inspires along with its simple text. Find Maya Lin, Faith Ringgold, Yayoi Kusama and more.

As Ignotofsky says in the introduction: "Art is more than something beautiful. With each brushstroke, chisel of stone, and line drawn, these women artists used their talents to tell truths, to talk about injustice, and even to heal. Today, we celebrate their art and their stories."

Let's fill our shelves with quality board books such as those created by Rachel Ignotofsky. Brava! 

by Rachel Ignotofsky
Crown Books

Monday, January 17, 2022

Hot Cocoa Calm: Kira Willey


Cozy up this winter with Hot Cocoa Calm and your beloved readertotz. Author Kira Willey walks the reader through mindfulness exercises to help us regulate our emotions. What a perfect joining of winter chill; friendly, stylized animals illustrated by Anni Betts; and instructions nested around a warm, sweet drink that needs a little time to cool.  

Maybe we could all use a cup of cocoa and calm at the start of our new year. Happy reading in 2022 with peace and joy to you and yours!

Mindfulness Moments for Kids Series
by Kira Willey
illustrations by Anni Betts
Rodale Kids, 2021

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Change Starts With Us: Sophie Beer


Beginning our new year, it's good to be reminded Change Starts With Us! With straightforward text, author/illustrator Sophie Beer illustrates how even the smallest hands can create change. We all can save water, pick up litter, and plant trees. We can recycle, save power, and shop local. 

Adorable, flat, vibrant illustrations bring youthfulness to the imagery as children assist adults and each other in affecting change. Together we can care for our beloved world. 

Happy new year to you and your readertotz! Happy reading and learning! 

by Sophie Beer
Dial Books, 2021