Category Archives: Early Childhoood Books

New Releases

Today we are looking at a few new releases from the first half of 2012 that are worth checking out.

Penny and Her Song

Penny and Her Song is by the wildly popular Kevin Henkes.  This is a beginning reader chapter book (2 chapters) that follows Penny as she tries to capture an audience to listen to her new song.  In the clip below, Henkes introduces us to the character, Penny.

Builder Goose (It’s Construction Rhyme Time)

Builder Goose: It’s Construction Rhyme Time! by Boni Ashburn and Sergio DeGiorgi plays off classic nursery rhymes with a construction twist.  The illustrations are bold and lively.  This is a fun read for young readers.

Pete the Cat & His Four Groovy Buttons

Pete the Cat & His Four Groovy Buttons by James Dean and Eric Litwin is next in a series of Pete the Cat picture books.   In this tale, Pete sings a groovy song about his buttons.  However, his buttons keep popping off.  No need to worry.  Pete discovers he will always have a bellybutton that he can sing about.  Children even learn a little basic subtraction in this tale.  Get a little taste of the book in the clip below.

Bugs Galore

Bugs Galore by Peter Stein and Bob Staake is a perfect book for your little bug lover.  Lots of descriptive adjectives to describe all those bugs also helps build vocabulary.

Enjoy checking out one of these 2012 new releases.  What other 2012 releases have you found to be noteworthy?

*Please check out the linky party directory to see where this post has been linked to for the week.


ABC Books

There is an ABC book out there on just about any topic.  They range from very simple labeling of basic objects to complex descriptions of specific subjects.  ABC books aren’t just for beginning readers.  They can teach something to all of us no matter what our age.   Let’s look at some interesting ABC books on a variety of subjects.

Firefighters A to Z by Chris L. Demarest

I love when authors write about topics that are meaningful to them.  Demarest was a member of a volunteer fire department in New Hampshire when he wrote this book.  The text is short, but informative. What is most interesting is that the text follows the real life order firefighters take when fighting a fire from when the alarm (A) sounds all the way to zipping (Z) into bed for a rest.  He ends the book with an author’s note filled with fascinating and important information about fires.

On Your Toes- A Ballet ABC by Rachel Isadora

Here is another book where the author has some real-life experience with the subject.  Isadora was a ballet dancer with the Boston Ballet before she became a successful writer and illustrator.  Her colored pastel illustrations will capture the attention of any child dreaming of being a dancer.  I will say that it’s helpful to have some background knowledge on the subject to understand some of the vocabulary such as pas de chat and harlequin.  Although, Isadora does include a glossary for each word she depicts in her ABC book.

Potluck by Anne Shelby and Irene Trivas

Potluck is one of my favorites.  Maybe it’s so well liked because it revolves around food!  Some friends get together for a potluck and each person brings an item that begins with the first letter of their name.

Lonnie loves lasagna, so he brought lots of that.

Monica made mounds and mounds of mashed potatoes.

Norman knew that oodles of noodles would be needed.

I’ve used this book countless times in the classroom.  One of my favorite activities was to create a class book with each student writing and illustrating a page for our own potluck book.  The students always had a fun time researching a food that began with the letter of their first name.  I’ve also used the book as an administrator when we held a potluck lunch for a staff development day.  Each participant signed up to bring an item that began with the first letter of their first or last name.  I created a sign-up sheet on chart paper labeled with the ABCs down the side for each participant to record their dish.

All Aboard ABC by Dough Magee and Robert Newman

This book will educate a train enthusiast.  I’m guessing this will be a favorite of my oldest son when he gets a bit bigger.  The illustrations are photographs of trains and all things train related.  Diesel engines, junction, signals and freight cars are just a few words that you’ll pick up in this informational book.

The Desert Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta and Mark Astrella

This book is just one of Pallotta’s 24 ABC books that he has written in addition to several other books.  Each of his ABC books is loaded with information on the topic he is covering.  In The Desert Alphabet Book you will learn facts such as a Headstanding Beetle stands on its head to collect droplets of water on its body that then slide down to its mouth.

Eating the Alphabet- Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert

This is a great book to introduce children to new vegetables and fruits.  In fact, it would work well with the tasting passports that I talked about last week!  This is a very bold and colorful labeling book.  Ehlert includes a very detailed glossary at the end of the book.  Did you know that celery is native to the Mediterranean area and the Middle East and was cultivated by the Romans?

Hurricane City by Sarah Weeks and James Warhola

It has always fascinated me that hurricanes have people names and that every hurricane for each season is named in ABC order.  This silly tale revolves around the havoc that different named hurricanes have on towns.

Hurricane GABRIEL blew like mad-

Father lost what hair he had.

Hurricane OPAL huffed and puffed,

Sandwiches came all unstuffed.

A Garden Alphabet by Isabel Wilner and Ahsley Wolff

This is a great book for the spring as we begin to plant our gardens.  Travel through the alphabet as a garden is planted, nurtured and harvested.  The simple text is perfect for the preschool crowd.

Antics by Cathi Hepworth

26 words in ABC order that all have the little word “ant” in them!  Yep, who would have thought that they all existed.  Hepworth showcases them in this clever book.  Flamboyant, gallant and hesitant just to name a few.  How many more can you think of?

Avalanche by Michael J. Rosen and David Butler

This ABC book is actually a story.  The author highlights the alphabet during the tale of  a snowball that grows into an avalanche while collecting items in its path.  This is a fun twist on the predictable type of ABC books we are familiar with reading.

So here are ten of my favorites.  What ABC books are you fond of?  Let’s grow the list even more.

Please check out my linky party directory to see where this post has been linked to this week.

Books to Celebrate Earth Day and a GIVEAWAY

There are so many great books that have been published for children regarding the care of our earth.  It’s actually pretty exciting to see this topic covered so well.  I’ve narrowed down a few of my top picks and hope that you will check them out with your young readers.

The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden

The town is being buried in trash.  Careless citizens are throwing gum and soda bottles on the ground.  One tidy man realizes he has the power to get rid of the trash and teaches the town a lesson.  This is such a fun and silly book packed with a powerful environmental message.

This Is Our Earth by Laura Lee Benson and illustrated by John Carrozza

Benson uses rhythmic verse to paint a portrait of appreciation for our earth at the top of each page.  The subtext at the bottom of each page gives facts to introduce life and earth sciences.  I love the last line, “This is our Earth to cherish and love.  To clean and protect from below and above.”

Our Earth by Anne Rockwell

This story explains how our earth has changed over time.  Islands, glaciers, volcanoes, coral reefs, forests, and caves are all explored in this simple introduction book.

Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole

In the garden that Jack built you will see and meet lots of plants and animals.  Over the course of this cumulative book, you will watch his garden bloom.  This is an excellent book for building vocabulary.

Wilson’s World by Edith Thacher Hurd and Clement Hurd

Wilson sets out to paint a picture and create a story that he titles, “THIS IS WILSON”S WORLD”.  As Wilson adds more and more to his picture he realizes that his “world” is quickly becoming polluted and crowded.   So, he takes out a clean piece of paper and begins to create a world that he really wants to be a part of.  He creates a world where everyone takes care of the environment.

Dear Children of the Earth by Schim Schimmel

This is a letter that Mother Earth writes to the world about the importance of respecting the planet.   Schimmel’s acrylic paintings are a beautiful accompaniment to the poignant text.

City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

A vacant lot sits in the middle of a city block.  A young girl has an idea to turn the run-down lot into a green space.   The story blossoms into a whole neighborhood coming together to create this beautiful space.  At the end of this book are tips to starting your own community garden.  I like this book so much that I’m giving one hardbound copy of the book away to a lucky Growing Book by Book reader.

Giveaway Guidelines

You have multiple chances to win a hardbound copy of City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan.

1.  Leave a comment on this post.

2.  Like Growing Book by Book on Facebook.  Simply use the button in the right hand tool bar THEN, leave another comment saying that you liked Growing Book by Book on Facebook.

3.  Become an email follower.  You can find a spot in the right hand tool bar to fill out your email address to become a follower.  Make sure to leave a comment that you became a follower.

4.  Become a Pinterest follower.  Click the Pinterest button on the right and then click on follow once you get to Pinterest.  Be sure to leave a comment on this post telling me you became a Pinterest follower.

There you go!  Four ways to win!  Entries will be accepted until 4/22/12 (Earth Day!) at 9:00pm (CST).  The lucky giveaway winner will be randomly selected the week of 4/23/12 and announced on this site.  I will contact the winner via email.   I can ship to USA addresses only.   Good luck!

Be sure to check my linky party page to see where I’ve linked up to this week.

10 Books About Frogs

Spring is just around the corner!  Next to fall, spring is my favorite season.  I love watching flowers and trees bloom and the return of all the little creatures.  So, this week, I thought we would look at one of those creatures that appears in the spring-  FROGS!  Here are my top 10 picks for books about frogs.


1.  Bradley McGogg, The Very Fine Frog by Tim Beiser came out in 2011.  Bradley learns that not everyone eats the same things as he does, and that is ok.  It really has a great message about respecting customs and preferences of others.

2.  City Dog, Country Frog by Jon Muth is a story with a deep message.  The tale of finding a friend and then losing him gently teaches that all living things have a beginning and an ending.

3.  Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel is a classic in a series of books by Lobel.  There are five silly adventures in this book highlighting the everlasting friendship of a frog and a toad.

4.  Jump Frog, Jump! by Robert Kalan is a fun cumulative tale that will get the kids up and jumping.

5.  Tuesday by David Wiesner is an almost wordless book about frogs who take flight on their lily pads.  The illustrations won Wiesner a Caldecott award in 1992.

6.  It’s Mine by Leo Lionni is a tale of three frogs who argue all day about things that they find and want to claim as their own until they learn from a toad that sharing is much more rewarding.

7.  Bentley & Egg by William Joyce follows a frog who is in charge of watching a duck egg.  He decides that the white egg is boring and colorfully decorates it.  Well, it is mistaken for an Easter egg and the adventure begins.


8.  From Tadpole to Frog (Let’s Read and Find Out Science) by Wendy Pfeffer is a good basic introduction to the life-cycle of a frog for early readers.

9.  What is the difference between a frog and a toad?  Check out Frogs by Gail Gibbons to find out.  Plus, you will learn oodles more in this great read.

10.  Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley showcases photographs from the Central American rainforest of a red-eyed tree frog searching for food and dodging predators.

Hoppy Reading!

Author/Illustrator Profile: Eric Carle

Eric Carle

Eric Carle has to be one of the most beloved authors/illustrators of all time.  He was always a featured favorite in every school that I worked in by classroom teachers and art teachers alike.  There are also a slew of ideas floating around cyber world that piggyback off dhis work.  Today we will look at some of my favorite, a great clip about his work and a few great finds of extension activities.

Carle has illustrated over 70 books, many of which he has also written.  He uses hand painted paper from which he cuts and assembles collages to create his easily recognized illustrating style.  My top three favorite Carle books are Draw Me a Star, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Pancakes, Pancakes!  Here is a video clip from Eric Carle about his newest book, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse.  He talks about the importance of nurturing children’s  curiosity and ideas.

In 2002, the Carle family opened the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Massachusetts.  One day when I can get to the east coast, I will definitely be making a visit.

There are oodles of ideas for extension activities related to Carle’s work.  Let’s take a look at a few of my favorite literacy activities.

1.  Puppets for The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I created this caterpillar from a green sock and painted some red eyes on it.  I then cut out all of the foods from the story out of construction paper and laminated the pieces.  Finally, I bought a small butterfly finger puppet and presto I had the beginnings of a puppet show retelling.

2.  Letter Collages

The Imagination Tree created tissue paper letter collages and then framed the letters.  What a cute idea!

Letter Collages from the The Imagination Tree

3.  Author Study

The Scholastic website has a very helpful author study on Eric Carle including an interview with him.

4.  Felt Board for Little Cloud

Time for Play walks you through creating a DIY felt board.  Felt boards are inexpensive and great for a variety of literacy uses including retellings of stories.

Little Cloud Felt Board from Time for Play

5.  Story Patterns

Kidzclub has some great story pattern printables for Today is MondayFrom Head to Toe,  and Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me.

Interested in more ideas of all things Eric Carle?  Head over to my Eric Carle Pinterest board.

*Please check out my linky parties page to see where I’ve linked up to this week.

Roll Out the Awards

Roll out the red carpet!  In the children’s book world, today is comparable to a night at the Kodiak Theater when the Oscars winners are announced.  For on this January day, the prestigious Caldecott and Newberry Award winners are announced.

What, might you ask, are these awards for?

Since 1938, the Caldecott Award has been awarded each year to the most distinguished American picture book artist by the Association for Library Services to Children.  There is one overall winner and multiple honor awards.  A few of my favorites from past winners include Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann (1996 Winner), Tuesday by David Wiesner (1992 Winner) and The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (1986 Winner).

The Newberry Award is also awarded by the Association for Library Services to Children.  Yearly, since 1922, the award has been given to the most distinguished American author of children’s literature.  Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (2000 Winner), The Giver by Lois Lowry (1994 Winner) and Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (1986 Winner) are a few of my favorite past award winners.

Without further ado, the winners for 2012 are…

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka (2012 Caldecott Winner)

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (2012 Newberry Winner)

Do you have a favorite children’s book from 2011 that didn’t make the winner’s list?  What do you think of this year’s winners?  Have you read all the winners?  If not, what a great opportunity to check out the new books or some past winners from your local library.

Let It Snow!

Ah, it’s January and here in our part of the Midwest we have yet to see a significant snow.  I guess I’ll just have to read some books about snow to tide me over and help me dream of a winter wonderland.  Here are a few of my favorite fiction and non-fiction snow titles.  Some are classics and some are new-found reads.   Oh, and a bonus snowman bookmark idea that I originally saw on Pinterest.  By the way, did you see that you can now follow me on Pinterest?  Just click the little red button on the right side of my home page.

Fiction Picks

Red Sled by Lita Judge is such a cute almost wordless book.  A sled is left outside a cabin where some creatures borrow it to go exploring in the snow.   I love when the pictures and your imagination have to create the story.  Check out the book trailer below.

Making a Friend by Alison McGhee tells of the changes a snowman deals with as the weather warms.  These changes include melting and turning to fog only to return as snow again the next winter just in time to build a new snowman friend.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic wintertime story.  This story is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year.  Peter explores a fresh snow packed outdoor world and even tries to keep a snowball in his pocket for another day.  Watch and listen to the book being read in this clip from YouTube.

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert is a beautiful book that shows that your imagination + found objects + packed snow= a whole snow family.  I just love Lois Ehlert’s work.

Non-Fiction Picks

It’s Snowing by Gail Gibbons gives all the facts you wanted to know about the white stuff.  Learn what happens when it snows and the different forms snow can take.  There are even tips for preparing for a snowstorm.  (P.S.- Stay tuned for an author profile on Gail Gibbons on Growing Book By Book soon.)

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin is a Caldecott winner from 1999.  The beautiful woodcut illustrations help to tell the story of the first scientist who captured pictures of snowflakes which led to the discovery that no two snowflakes are alike.

To keep your place in all of your new snow books, you will need a snowman bookmark.    I love this activity because the bookmark is made with recycled materials.  Here are the materials you need for one snowman bookmark: one white paint strip sample, an old magazine, pair of scissors and a glue stick.  Simply cut a hat, eyes, nose, mouth, scarf and buttons from a magazine.  Glue the pieces onto the paint strip sample.  My picture doesn’t show the bookmark laminated, but I highly suggest doing so for durability purposes.  There are so many literacy things that you could do with your snowman if you decided not to use it for a bookmark.  One idea (pictured below) would be to use it for a labeling activity.  You could also give your snowman a name and create a character description of him followed up by an oral or written story about him.

Interested in some other snow literacy ideas?  Head to my snow Pinterest page.  Can you think of other literacy ideas to do with your snowman creations?  Please share! Let it snow!   Let it snow!  Let is snow!

Linking to:  No Time For Flashcards, I Can Teach My Child, JDaniel4’s Mom, ABC and 123, Playing With Words 365 and Sun Scholars