5 A Day Keep the Doctor Away & thoughts on Thanksgiving Storytimes

Getting ready for Thanksgiving, I try to focus on the non-controversial aspects of the holiday like food and giving thanks.  I try to avoid the whole indians and pilgrim thing in my storytime because I know its not the place to spout my political views, so its best if we avoid them all together and keep the holiday all about family and gratitude.  Which should really be the take-aways anyways.  Once my yet to be born children arrive, I hope to tell them the story of the first thanksgiving from the POV of their ancestors who helped to settle America and the indigenous populations who were already here.  Being multi-racial, you find yourself stuck between conundrums.  If my ancestors hadn’t unethically evicted the Native Americans and had stayed in England, I wouldn’t be here today.  And even if my ancestors directly didn’t participate in these acts, their presence and lack of protest against these acts is also a bit of an admission of guilt.  But the other, indigenous half, also recognizes that if indigenous populations had been left to survive and live harmoniously, maybe we would all still be here, but we’d be more understanding and more tolerant of each other’s views because it would have been something we’d practiced all along.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes, illustrated by Doris Barrette

A simple book that says lots of different fall, thanksgiving, and family things the kids are thankful for.  A great storytime thanksgiving book that doesn’t deal with the whole colonization issue at all and leaves everyone feeling warm and fuzzy.

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Turkey Trouble by Wendi Salvano, illustrated by Lee Harper

Poor turkey doesn’t want to get eaten so he tries to disguise himself as different animals around the farm, until he comes up with the perfect idea and costume to avoid being eaten.  I have to admit I didn’t see the plot twist at the end, but it was funny and creative and, spoiler:  let turkey survive another thanksgiving.  This book is better for older kids, Kinder or first through second grade.

Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by Jan Jutte

Underwhelmed.  A creature of habit, Old Robert learns to work outside of his comfort zone and adopts a ton of cats who sing and dance.  The last cat he adopts warms his heart and helps him to extend himself a little further, sailing into the night seas.

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Big Birthday by Kate Hosford, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown

This book is about a girl who is bored with birthday parties at the zoo and with magicians and other typical birthday party themes.  She wants to have a birthday on the moon.  She tries to build her own rocket, but it just won’t go, so her parents rent a rocket ship and take her and her friends to the moon.  They complain the whole time because its not what they expect so the next year she has a pirate party out of a pirate ship she creates.  This story actually really bothered me.  All her and her friends do is complain throughout the party about every detail.  There is never a thank you to her parents for bending over backwards.  Even if the space journey was make-believe the kids are still being disrespectful and unappreciative.  As someone who has had a handful of birthday parties in her life, including as a child, I think that this is the case of a spoiled child who doesn’t appreciate the gift of spending her special day with her friends.

No Go Sleep! by Kate Feiffer, illustrated by Jules Feiffer

The baby doesn’t want to sleep so everything outside of the house tries to lull him until eventually he falls asleep.  This book felt a little long.  At first it seemed endearing, but after awhile it felt done and got tiring.  The illustrations were done by the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth and were once again very well done but are better viewed up close rather than in a group setting due to the subtlety of the watercolors

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman, illustrated by S. D. Schindler

Very similar to my favorite flannel board ever, the Enormous Turnip, this is the Halloween version.  The witch plants a seed that grows into a pumpkin that she can’t get off the vine.  The vampire, mummy,  ghost, and bat help her and they all enjoy some delicious pie.  I’m going to make a flannel and add this to my halloween rotation.

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

A great book on sharing, being thankful, and returning favors.  Another solid Bear book by Wilson, this story would work for a multitude of themes, including Thanksgiving.  This book lends itself to audience participation with the refrain “The Bear Says Thanks” and the kids and parents get practice using a word that many people feel is becoming extinct.

Ollie’s School Day:  A Yes-And-No Book by Stephanie Calmenson, illustrated by Abby Carter

This story is all about audience participation and kind of sort of dialogic reading.  The narrator gives the reader a scenario, like Ollie is getting dressed and then asks if he should do outlandish things like wear a police uniform.  The answers to those questions is no, and then you turn the page, the narrator offers a responsible answer, and the reader answers Yes!  I think that the theory behind it is good, but that it would get a little tiresome for the adult in a storytime setting.  Worth a shot though!

Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas

I am a huge Jan Thomas fan.  I love What Will Fat Cat Sit On and Rhyming Dust Bunnies.  I had high expectations for this book.  While its fun and solid and done in Jan Thomas style, I didn’t fall in love with it like I did most of her other books – but then again my expectations at this point might be too high.  I do like it enough, though, to absolutely use it in storytime and share with the kids.  Silly Duck running around with a pumpkin on his head… Come on.  Who doesn’t find that funny?

Thanksgiving Rules by Laurie Friedman, illustrated by Teresa Murfin

This book is all about indulgence on Thanksgiving.  Percy Isaac takes you through the steps to enjoy your Thanksgiving Buffet to the max.  A reminder to say thank you to everyone is thrown in at the end.  As a whole, I thought this book was cute and fun and the rhyming flowed well.  I think its a little long for storytime, but great for one on one sharing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Oink-A-Doodle-Moo by Jef Czekaj

The farm animals play a game of telephone in which each animal adds his or her own sound to the original sound they heard.  This simple book is actually pretty funny and I was chuckling as I read it.  A fun spin on what could be a lesson about the dangers of sharing secrets and how information gets distorted along the way.

Library Gingerbread Man by Dotti Enderle, illustrated by Colleen M. Madden

A silly book intended to teach the dewey decimal system, the gingerbread man runs away from his spot at 398.2 and all over the non-fiction area.  He runs into a representative of each of the major Dewey areas until the librarian snaps him shut back into the book.  I enjoyed the story and think it might be good to use for a class visit.

This Tree Counts!  by Alison Formento, illustrated by Sarah Snow

This would be a good book for Earth Day.  It discusses things that live in trees and how a tree contributes to society.  It asks engaging questions that children listening to the story can participate in and add their own opinions to.

There by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

Learning about the concept over there, this book kind of goes through a child existential crisis about what it means to get there and will the child change or do things different once they’re there.  It’s not clear how the child gets on the topic of there, but a lot of questions ensue and remain unanswered as the child puts off going there for another day.

What’s Under the Bed? by Joe Fenton

A cute bedtime book about a boy who thinks there is something under his bed.  The black and white illustrations are fun, especially since only the monsters appear in color.  The end is cute, when the monster wonders what might be hiding under his bed…

Thursday, October 26, 2012

Little Bo Peep Can’t Go To Sleep by Erin Dealey, illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama

This book is for hardcore nusery rhyme lovers.  Little Bo Peep can’t sleep because she’s lost her sheep and all thanks to her annoying brother little boy blue.  She goes through all the nursery rhymes to find them and they eventually return on their own.  A good exercise for K-2 kids.

Big Scary Monster by Thomas Docherty

A simple story about a big fish in a little pond who leaves and realizes that maybe he’s not so big.  Lonely because he scares everyone, Monster wonders how he can find friends until they scare him just as badly as he scared them.  Their favorite game becomes “Boo!”.  With some modifications and acting this could be an okay story to read aloud, but not a first choice, especially as is.  I liked the illustrations the best.

Alfie Runs Away by Kenneth M. Cadow, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Alfie wants to run away because his mom wants to give away his favorite shoes since they’re too small for him.  She packs a backpack for him and sends him on his way.  While he’s outside, his feet hurt because his shoes are too small and he misses his mom hugs.  She comes to the rescue and off they go, back inside the house, with bear being the new owner of Alfie’s too small shoes.  A solid story.  This sounds like my kind of parent.  Good for one on one sharing.

I Get So Hungry by Bebe Moore Campbell, illustrated by Amy Bates

A story about a chunky little girl who’s mom won’t buy her healthy foods because she doesn’t believe they can ever be skinny minnies so why try.  Nikki goes along with this until her overweight teacher gets sick and starts eating healthy, walking more, and losing weight.  Nikki and her teacher start walking every morning, and by the time parent teacher conferences come in the spring, Nikki convinces her mom to start adopting a healthy lifestyle as well.

I’m 3!  Look What I Can Do by Maria Carluccio

A book about all the things a 3-year old can do.  It’s basically a list with illustrations.  Not much storyline, but might be good if your pre-schooler needs a little ego boost.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Beware of the Frog by William Bee

This book was kind of weird.  The storyline was simple enough but the illustrations were weird.  And then the frog goes around eating everyone and with the plot twist at the end, I’m not sure what kind of child I’d give this book to…

What About Bear? by Suzanne Bloom

Poor bear gets the shaft.  Him and goose are playing and then fox comes and shuts him out of all the games.  They learn how to be all-inclusive in the end and get along, but I feel bad for bear throughout most of the book.  He takes it like a champ, though.  Through limited text, this story is good for the toddler, early pre-school crowd.

Mustache!  by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

The king is obsessed with his appearance and neglects the kingdom.  As a gift, he gives the kingdom a picture of himself, which everyone hates, and begins defacing by drawing mustaches on.  He throws everyone in jail, gets lonely, and then turns the joke back on himself by painting a mustache on his face.  I’m not really a fan of the whole mustache craze and this just seemed like a long joke that I wasn’t in on.

Will It Be A Baby Brother? by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Beth Spiegel

Reinforcing the importance of gender identity in society, this little boy struggles with wanting a baby brother.  Everyone tells him that he’ll be happy whether its a boy or a girl, but then they keep asking him which he would prefer, like it matters, and like he has a choice or any say.  He tells them he wants a boy, and becomes kind of aggressive about it, for which he gets in trouble.  Once the baby comes, its of course a girl and he of course loves it anyway.  I wonder, though, if people didn’t keep asking him if he wanted a boy or a girl, would he have even developed the desire to have a preference, or would he been just as happy awaiting the arrival of any sex.  Why do we even ask these questions when most parents will just simply say “It doesn’t matter, as long as its healthy?”  It’s kind of a set-up to make the parent who says I’d rather have a boy or girl look like an asshole for expressing their valid opinion.  I am going on a tangent here and I should stop before I make the situation worse…

Squish Rabbit by Katherine Battersby

Squish is a lonely little rabbit who tries to make a friend out of cloth but discovers that he’s still lonely.  In the midst of throwing a tantrum a little squirrel thinks he’s playing and the two become instant friends.

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2 thoughts on “5 A Day Keep the Doctor Away & thoughts on Thanksgiving Storytimes

  1. Agreed on the Thanksgiving books. Another one I’ve used is “Thank You Thanksgiving” by David Milgrim. Not super exciting but sweet and good for the very little ones. Also like “One is a Feast for a Mouse.” You can also just use stories about feasting/eating if you need more ideas.

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