Picture Books

My New Teacher and Me! by Al Yankovic

My New Teacher and Me! by Al Yankovic

Getting ready for back-to-school, but not ready to pack away the fun? Al Yankovic’s My New Teacher and Me! is as welcome for the last weeks of summer as an ice cream truck after a long, hot day at the pool.  In this rollicking story, Mr. Booth’s strict rules have met their match in Billy, a bright-eyed boy who shows up for the first day of class with a wide-open imagination. Disapproving Mr. Booth spots the dirt on Billy’s shirt immediately! Billy quickly—and politely—tells him how that came to be:

“I was digging to China out in my backyard.

And I almost was there when—I hit something hard!

Well, I dug, and I dug, and I dug a bit more

And discovered the skull of a real dinosaur!

“And I would have cleaned up, sir, but hey, I’m no fool—

I just couldn’t be late on the first day of school!”

Bow-tied and sour, Mr. Booth says his tale sounds highly unlikely, but as Billy points out, “the awesome-est things in the world often are!”

Runnery Granary by Nancy Farmer, Pictures by Jos. A. Smith

Runnery Granary by Nancy Farmer, Pictures by Jos. A. Smith

Something is stealing the grain in Mrs. Runnery’s granary. It must be weevils, thinks she, as she sets out spiders to eat them. But in the morning, the frightened spiders are clinging to the ceiling, their webs torn. It wasn’t weevils eating the grain. What could it be? The farmers need this grain from Runnery Granary to mill into flour so they can eat in the winter.

Thunderstorm by Arthur Geisert

Thunderstorm by Arthur Geisert

It’s Saturday afternoon on a working farm in the Midwest. Kids ride along as baled hay is taken to the barn. At 12:15 PM, lightning strikes a power line. That gets the attention of the people in the truck and the animals in the fields... and under the fields. In Thunderstorm, by Arthur Geisert, there are almost no words, the only “words” are time signatures as the thunderstorm rolls across the farm, getting stronger and causing problems for everyone around.

Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford

Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford

One of my daughters enjoys math, science, and thinking about seemingly abstract concepts in practical terms. I brought home the picture book Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford, thinking it would be particularly suited to capture her interest. In it, a young girl named Uma stares at the night sky dotted with stars and asks how many there are. Maybe as many as infinity? And then she begins to wonder how other people imagine infinity.

She performs her own research, asking her friends, Grandma, school staff, and ponders their unique responses. Her friend Sam introduces her to the infinity symbol and Grandma explains how infinity reminds her of their family tree. Other ideas about infinity make her head hurt, like her music teacher's idea of infinity as music that goes in a circle and never ends.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds. Illustrated by Peter Brown

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds. Illustrated by Peter Brown

Everybody knows that rabbits love carrots. Jasper Rabbit, in Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, is no exception. Jasper especially loves the carrots that grow in Crackenhopper Field. The problem is that Jasper can't get enough carrots, yanking and ripping them from the ground every chance he gets. That is, he did until the carrots started following him. Jasper is convinced that the carrots are creeping up on him.

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole

On a Southern farm during the Civil War, a young girl finds a runaway slave hiding in the family's barn. She is frightened but must make a difficult decision. What does she owe to the runaway with frightened eyes? Unspoken, by Henry Cole, is the story of a choice she makes and the bond that forms between the two of them.

Throughout the book, the reader never sees the runaway slave's face, just an eye peering fearfully from among the stored corn stalks. The girl and the slave never speak. In fact, there are no words in the book. But though all communication is unspoken, the message remains powerful. Detailed graphite drawings convey the tension and emotions, as well as the strong connection that grows between the girl and the runaway.

Oh, No! by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann

Oh, No! by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann

In Oh, No! the animals of the jungle are having a bad day. Tiger is on the prowl, and frog has fallen into a deep, deep hole. "Oh, no!" Mouse tries to help, only to fall in herself. One by one, more animals fall in, joining the group trapped in the hole. "Oh, no!" Finally tiger slinks over, licking his teeth and smiling as he offers to help the other animals out. "Oh, no!"

"Mouse came along, but what could she do?
Pippa-eeek! Pippa-eeek!
Mouse came to help, but what could she do?
Pippa-eeek!
Mouse was so small, what could she do?"

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

Cover of Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

In Bark, George by Jules Feiffer, George is a small dog with a big problem. When his mother tells him to bark, he can't. Instead he says, "Meow," not quite the sound his mom was expecting. George keeps trying, but to his mother's growing frustration, he can only produce the sounds of other animals, like "Oink" or "Moo." Finally George's mother takes him to the vet who promises to get to the bottom of the problem. The cause of George's unusual sounds is even funnier than the idea of a dog who quacks.

Mock Geisel Award Winners

Athletes train for the big game, musicians rehearse for their recital and area youth services librarians prepare for the mock Theodor Seuss Geisel awards named after America’s beloved Dr. Seuss.  This past year we read a multitude of recently published beginning readers, carefully evaluating each for it’s quality of writing, distinctiveness and ability to instill in young children a love and enthusiasm for books.  

Blackout by John Rocco

Blackout by John Rocco

A young boy just wants to play a board game, going from family member to family member without any luck. But when all the distractions are gone, that game looks pretty tempting.

The power outage that affected the northeast United States and Canada in August 2003 was thankfully a peaceful one, especially in New York City. Blackout by John Rocco, revolves around how that lack of electricity affects one family who are all normally just too busy.

Phone calls, dinner, and work on the computer are all more important than a mere board game...until the lights go out Without power, what will everyone do?