Category Archives: Children’s Picture Books

Happy Earth Day from Stiletto Storytime

Happy Earth Day 2011 from Stiletto Storytime

And what better way to celebrate than to feature a great new children’s book about respecting, preserving and re-using the Earth and all it gives us. Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth is the perfect book to help educate young readers while also celebrating Earth Day! Taking on an alphabetical format- the book shows children how to create compost including instructing them on what can be added and what cannot. Need something to do with your laundry lint? Compost Stew can help. Adults and children alike will learn things they didn’t know about the world of compost.

Complimenting the book are illustrations by Ashley Wolff. The illustrations are done in an organic pallet and combine odd recyclable items such as newspaper, magazine pictures and sea shells in collage form. The ABC format of the book also makes it accessible for a variety of ages in both read-a-loud and independent reading form. This book would be a wonderful addition to any Earth Day celebration, conservation curriculum or at home project. A great addition to any young conservationist library!

Book Giveaway

To help celebrate Earth Day author Mary McKenna Siddals is giving away 5 copies of the picture book COMPOST STEW and 2 art prints from the book, autographed by illustrator Ashley Wolff. To enter go here. (Giveaway ends of April 25, 2011)


Filed under Children's Literature, Children's Non-Fiction, Children's Picture Books, New Books, Reading Fun

Sunday Picture Book Picks

I guiltily admit is has been a bit since I posted my latest picture book picks. It’s not because I’m not reading them just that with Little Man being two…I am often reading the same one over and over. All you parents out there know what I mean…and don’t you dare try to skip a page..they always catch you. However I have been indulging in some great picture books of late. Some by myself and some with Little Man so enjoy and I hope you find one that’s perfect to share with all the little ones in your life.

Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs by Willy Caflin.

Illustrated by James Stimson. (Ages 4-8)

It’s a fairy tale mosh pit of fun and you’re invited. The only question about this newest book from Maynard Moose is who will laugh the loudest…you or the children you share it with. From Punzel to the many many dwarfs and a “chubbified” Prince riding a noble white moose..the fun never ends. With tons of fairy tale twists along with hilarious illustrations and plot’s the perfect picture  book for older children to enjoy.  While the age designation for this book is 4-8, I would have to say as a children’s librarian you would need to be about 6 to get the humor completely but the book could be enjoyed by children and adults of all ages probably topping out around 12 for the independent reader. This is a really great pick for your older picture book reader….they haven’t heard this story but can identify the many they have within and the humor will keep them from thinking it’s for “babies” simply because it is in picture book form. If you enjoyed The Uglified Duck, you will love Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs. An added bonus is the included audio CD which blends perfectly with the book.

Press Here by Herve Tullet (Ages 4-8)

And now on to Little Man’s latest obsession: Press Here by Herve Tullet. This book has drawn my toddler in like magic and it’s so simple really. Some of the best books are. All you need is your imagination. This book takes simplistic illustrations and interaction with your child to a whole new level. Click here to check out an interactive video to show exactly what I am talking about. Now the age designation is 4-8 for this book but Little Man is only 2. However while he cannot completely grasp the full concept- this is his favorite book of the moment. The primary colors and simple shapes keep him occupied and interested much longer than many books for children his age. It’s also a very sturdily made book so I have no problem leaving it out for independent play. This is an “it” book that every child, classroom and library should have. It truly is literary magic.

Book Giveaway

Thanks to the always generous August House one lucky reader of Stiletto Storytime will win their very own copy of Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs. Giveaway ends midnight EST April 24, 2011. US and Canada address only please. Winner will be chosen by and notified by e-mail address. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

To enter simply leave a comment below letting me know what picture book you are sharing with the children in your life? Is there a great new title you want to share or an old favorite?

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Filed under Children's Literature, Children's Picture Books, New Books, Reading Fun

Review & Giveaway: Babyberry Pie by Heather Vogel Frederick “Take one wiggly baby, scrubbed clean. Add sugar to his nose and toes. Tuck him into a warm pie crust. Don’t forget a kiss good night! That’s the perfect recipe for a babyberry pie- and a peaceful bedtime. (Just don’t let that little giggleberry wiggle away!)”

Babyberry Pie is a delightful picture book that’s just perfect as that special way to help say goodnight. A playful rhyme to share one-on-one with your little one or to read aloud to a group, it’s lullaby rhythm makes it a winner either way.  As we ready baby for bed…we go through the normal motions of bath time and tucking in…however we are also making baby into a pie. This tale pairs a sweet rhyme with perfectly matched illustrations from Amy Schwartz to create a great bedtime read. While my little man does not sit still for much, he did sit still through all of Babyberry Pie. He especially enjoyed the part where baby gets sugared from his head to his toes!

As a librarian I can’t help but think about what a great addition this book would be to any storytime collection. Perfect for a “bedtime” themed storytime or even lap sit. The easy rhythm and theme will make it a much used treasure.

Also remember to keep a watch out for Hide and Squeak coming in February of 2011 from Heather Vogel Frederick and C.F. Payne.

Book Giveaway

One lucky Stiletto Storytime reader will receive their own copy of Babyberry Pie from the delightful Heather Vogel Frederick herself. To enter simply leave a comment below sharing your favorite bedtime picture book. US/Canada addresses only. Giveaway ends at midnight on January 5, 2011. Good luck and happy reading to all.


Filed under Children's Literature, Children's Picture Books, Heather Vogel Frederick, New Books

Review & Giveaway: Other Goose by J. Otto Seibold

The classics are just that…classics. However some of the most fun I’ve had in picture books has been when classics are reborn and re-imagined…one of my personal favorites is The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. In that category we can now add Other Goose by J. Otto Seibold, a collection of “re-nurseried” rhymes for a new generation. Since it’s from J. Otto Seibold…you know it’s gonna be a great read. If you have not read Olive, The Other Reindeer then now is the perfect time of year. And since it’s from Chronicle Books…you know it’s going to be unique and detail oriented. Their packaging is simply fantastic and their attention to every detail in their covers is hard to beat.

While these humorous rhymes are skewed for the slightly older child than traditional Mother Goose, the rhyming and humor will keep the kids interested and bring back memories of the original inspiration. With great new funky rhymes such as “Blah Blah Black Sheep” and “Little Asleep Bo-Peep”, parents and kids will be laughing along with every turn of the page. Modern, dramatic illustrations complete this new look at Mother Goose for today’s kids. The bold images contain lots of details and hidden humor to keep kids looking more than once. It’s sure to be a hit with both girls and boys and even has a little of that special “boy” humor we all know they enjoy. So who would you share this book with?

Want a sneak peek at Other Goose? How about your own copy for that special child this Holiday season? Chronicle Books will give one lucky reader of Stiletto Storytime their own copy and a great matching poster.  Simply comment below with your email address and share your favorite traditional rhyme (Mother Goose or Other). US and Canada addresses only please. Giveaway ends midnight December 6th, 2010.

And if you like Other Goose make sure to add a uniquely inspired set of “Old Maid” cards in those stockings this year!


Filed under Blog Tour, Children's Literature, Children's Non-Fiction, Children's Picture Books

Traditional Indian Tales By Reshma Sapre old man goes searching for adventure and finds more than he bargained for in a classic Indian tale for readers both young and old. As old Raaheeji leaves his comfortable home for the jungle beyond he happens upon a tiger. The tiger imprisoned in an ancient cage begs to be released and promises he will not eat the man in return for his help. However upon release the tiger immediately revokes his promise calling the man a fool for believing him. The man’s fate in the end will lie in the hands of a banyan tree, a buffalo, a road and a very clever jackal. Will the man ever return to his home or will he forever be known as a fool?

The Traveller, The Tiger and the Very Clever Jackal is a beautifully written and elegantly illustrated work that brings the beauty of India and the art of the folk tale to life.  Combining the best of a well-written traditional story with gorgeous illustrations, Reshma Sapre and Jessica Lian create a picture book that is perfect for reading alone or out loud to children of a wide variety of ages. The elegant artwork shines as brightly as the writing as Lian brings characters such as the banyan tree to life with subtle detail and well-designed personification. The book shines as a must have international contribution to any library whether personal or public., Moon and Wind are all invited to a feast to celebrate the coming of the monsoon. They are each asked to bring something back to their mother Star of the North Sky since she will light the way for them. However not everyone remembers to do so. Only one of her children will be rewarded for their loyalty when they return. In a classic folktale about how the Sun, Moon and Wind got their place, Reshma Sapre continues to delight with time-honored tales from the land of India.

In the Indian Night Sky is a classically written folk tale creating a magical explanation for the nature of the sky.  Children will delight in its beautiful black ink pages with silver metallic and primary color drawings that jump off the page.  Illustrator Jayme Robinson has taken a modern approach in the artwork for this picture book that contrasts nicely in some ways with the text and somewhat oddly in others. While the color scheme pops for the reader some of the objects pictured seem to clash with the very traditional wording of the story.  In the end while the mix of modern and traditional seems a novel idea the art comes across as slightly inconsistent.

In the end Sapre’s amazing rhythm and ability to create that traditional wording and atmosphere save this picture book and make it one worth reading.

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Filed under Children's Literature, Children's Picture Books

Stiletto Storytime: Guest Post at Jenn’s Bookshelves

Today I am honored to guest post at Jenn’s Bookshelves where she is having a wonderful event this October called Fright Fest! I was happy to share some of my favorite Halloween picks for kids that fall right in between spooky but not too scary…one of my favorites of course for the chapter book readers is Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah and James Howe. It’s always been a favorite of mine since childhood and a favorite pick for kid’s book club in October. So head over to Jenn’s for more info on Bunnicula as well as recommendations for all ages this Halloween season.


Filed under Children's Literature, Children's Picture Books, Events, Library Fun, Middle Grade

Picture Book Parade Hallowilloween: Nefarious Silliness by Calef Brown

Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, September 6, 2010

The leaves will soon be changing and a chill will enter the air and then Halloween will be upon us with all its fun and fair. As this creepy day approaches teachers and parents alike will be searching for the perfect book that will find balance between scary and not too scary for their children to enjoy. Often poetry can be the answer and this season’s newest offering is a collection of poetry that is perfect to inspire not only a spooky atmosphere but lots of giggles as well.  What better way to celebrate than with Calef Brown’s new collection of “nefariously silly” poems about all things Halloween or shall we say Hallowilloween?

The collection is filled with characters that have just enough scary with a silly twist to make them perfect for kids of elementary age. Younger children will delight in the rhyme and bold acrylic illustrations while older children will be excited to get the subtle references and humor hidden within the poems.

Characters such as the vampire umpire or “Vumpire” will be a hit with all audiences and children will want to hear their favorite poems again and again. Adults will also enjoy the witty connections to be found within the poetry such as allusions to classical literature and historical figures. Humor abounds and laughs are sure to follow. This collection is perfect for sharing at home on a spooky fall night or with friends in the classroom or library on a special occasion. Hallowilloween is a great book for any holiday collection sure to be treasured when Halloween rolls around each year.

Other Great New  Picture Books from Chronicle Books

Chicken Big by Keith Graves

A Long Piece of String by William Wondriska

Day & Night by Teddy Newton

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Filed under Children's Literature, Children's Picture Books, Middle Grade, New Books, Non-Fiction

Review: A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker

A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker: Book Cover “Joseph can hardly believe what he has been asked to do. His Aunt Kate, a wildlife biologist, is waiting for him at a research station and needs his help taking care of an orphaned polar bear cub only a few months old. He will leave his friends and family and venture to the farthest northern town in the United States. As the adventure unfolds, Joseph and his newfound Eskimo friend Ada find mysteries wherever they look. The bear cub, Delta, remains in danger. Who would want a polar bear dead? Joseph will have to look to the North Georgia woods to save Delta. When his parents were kids, they too embarked on an excursion into the unknown. Their encounters with the wilderness beyond their backyard have shaped the future for Joseph and Delta. A Place for Delta is about one family’s journey—a passage born in the Appalachian Mountains and leading to the Arctic seas.” -Synopsis from Publisher
The Old House at Paradise Delta Eating Whale

A Place for Delta is a very simplistic story really. One you might overlook on the shelf at the bookstore in passing… but don’t because it is destined to become a classic. It is a book that returns us to a time when children’s books were really about something and made you feel things as a child and question the world around you. So simplistic in its plot and wording it still manages to become a work of literary art. A young boy on a journey far from home to help save something so precious and yet something we so often forget to treasure- the natural world that surrounds us. A story of the appreciation for the wild no matter the location and the fight to save its creatures. Friendship, love, bravery and even some sneaky detective work make for an exciting read with an essential message woven within. A Place for Delta is a a must read for children interested in the environment, animals and the preservation efforts of both.  Walker has found the perfect balance of traditional storytelling and modern elements to keep kids and adults reading until the last page. The illustrator Richard Walker has also contributed the perfect art for the writing which plays out in simplistic and beautifully rendered sketches throughout the book.
While generally my reviews tend to be more abstract, A Place for Delta connected with me as a reader on a very personal level which prompted a more personal review. For example an advantage I had when reading this work particularly was that I am a Southerner who has lived in Alaska. My parents called Fairbanks home for two years and so I know the landscape and culture that Walker portrayed and I must say she was spot on as she was with her descriptions of the southern wilderness as well.  This authenticity only makes the book more real and meaningful for readers.
Personally as a young child I felt drawn to books like My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. I think I was drawn to that wilderness element, where you connected with the wild on a level where civilization got left behind. It was a kind of paradise to me. I immediately felt that same kinship when I began reading A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker. It is that simplistic view of nature as what guides us that seems to draw me into these types of books. While A Place for Delta s not a true survivalist story like the ones I have mentioned, in a way it is. It is the fight for survival not for humans but for the wild and the animals who live there. I was very impressed with this book and would recommend it  to boys and girls alike. I think it will resonate for many ages as well even as a read-a loud or book club pick. The book also comes with additional notes in the back such as a glossary, sources and other fun informational links to facts about locations and animals present in the book. Parents will also be happy to find a higher level reading book that is both education and a good clean read. No worries about content or language. The books is said to be the first in a series and I for one cannot wait for the next book. A Place for Delta has also become the recipient of the 2010 international book award winner for best children’s fiction. Quite an accomplishment for a book published by a small press that is committed to bringing out books with a strong focus on the natural world and the people and wildlife living within it. Way to go Whale Tale Press!
*And if you don’t want to take my (adult) word for it check out this review at ten year old Melina’s Reading Vacation Book Blog*


Filed under Award Winners, Children's Literature, Children's Picture Books, New Books

Book Expo America 2010

Book Expo America

Well I made it…Book Expo America 2010. This was my first BEA and my first trip to New York City and I have to say although I was not feeling my best the entire trip, it was still spectacular if a bit overwhelming.  I think when you feel unwell things of this nature take on a whole new level of anxiety. Luckily I am an old pro at ALA so I was pretty prepared for what the Exhibit Floor would be like (Complete Madhouse) and what was a priority on this trip (Meeting face to face with people who make what I do possible on a daily basis through the somewhat impersonal glory of  technology).

First off we signed in for our Press Badges and then hit the floor. Meeting with some wonderful publishers that I have worked with in the past and creating new relationships with some I hope to work more closely with in the future.  I was so excited to get to meet a great bunch of new authors and be introduced to some pretty exciting upcoming releases. As a children’s librarian I must say one highlight was my meeting with children’s author and illustrator Rosemary Wells.  She was extremely sweet and welcoming and I look forward to being able to work with her more in the future.  She has a great new release On the Blue Comet coming in September of 2010. Look out for a review here on Stiletto Storytime and a possible guest post by the amazing woman herself.

Children’s Author and Illustrator Rosemary Wells

BEA 2010

Other really interesting BEA events included meeting with the ladies at the Simon & Schuster booth and meeting lots of Independent Publishers who truly LOVE what they do. I always enjoy meeting people who are just as excited about books as I am especially if they are friendly as well. The ladies at Harper Perennial were also terrific and I loved stopping by and talking about Harper Lee and the 50th Anniversary of To Kill A Mockingbird. What a great booth and the celebration of a true classic. Also another instance where it is so nice to put a face to a name that you have been working with for quite awhile through e-mail. Thanks ladies, so very nice to meet you.

All in all I had a great time even if I did not have a packed schedule of events. I have found for myself I do best at these type of events by keeping things open and not trying to do too much. Crowds tend to do me in within a few hours so I don’t try to overdue it. It works for me and I loved the things I did get to see and do.  Book Expo America 2010 was a great experience for me and I look forward to next year.


Filed under Children's Literature, Children's Picture Books, Events, Publishers

Review: All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome

In celebration of April being Autism Awareness Month and as part of my Autism Awareness Challenge, I have just finished All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopmann.  I had seen this book many times before in passing at the library in shelving or even referring a patron to a book about Autism or Aspergers geared towards children. However I had never really sat down and read it. The book is pages of very simple statements about Aspergers matched with vibrant, funny and sometimes tear jerking pictures of cats and kittens. It is stunning in it’s simplicity but oh so poignant in it’s message. It is a link to connect children with and without Aspergers to the disease by information given in a form they can relate to. It explains Aspergers in a way a child could understand using cats as  examples. Many of the trademark symptoms of Asperger Syndrome are displayed by cats such as liking to be near someone they love but not held or having exceptionally good hearing. This book is such a jewel. The perfect book to help other children understand what a classmate may be going through or a tool to help a child with Autism understand their own world. I was happy to see one Mom blog about her experience reading it to her Autistic son. Bravo Kathy Hoopmann….your book made a difference in a child’s life. Isn’t that the most wonderful feeling of all…what it’s all really about.

My favorite line of the book among many was: “Sure, he may need help following fashionable trends, but don’t forget everyone is different in his own way and there is a little bit of Asperger in us all.”

As the cowardly lion would say “Ain’t it the truth? Ain’t it the truth?””


Filed under Children's Literature, Children's Non-Fiction, Children's Picture Books, Non-Fiction