Gia’s Shout Out: Children’s Titles!

This week I’m shouting out one of my very favorite classic picture books, Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans. It has been such a wonderful experience to read this classic with my son that I enjoyed so much at his age. There is something so comforting about the first few rhyming pages, 

In an old house in Paris, 

That was covered in vines

Lived twelve little girls 

In two straight lines.

Madeline is our endearing, courageous heroine who cannot be frightened by tigers or mice and overcomes her stay at the hospital. The rhymes in this classic are still beloved even after 75 years. We’ve been working our way through the whole Madeline series by Bemelmans and watching the wonderful TV show adaptations narrated by Christopher Plummer which closely follow the books and the rhymes. It’s opened up lots of discussion about French customs and what it would be like to grow up in an orphanage. Do you have any favorite classic picture books?  It’s been really fun to relive the joy of reading these classics together as a family. Happy Reading! 

As we near Mother’s Day weekend, I’ve been turning to some more of my favorite, fuzzy feelings books that are full of love and appreciation for our family. The title I’m shouting out this week is, Under the Love Umbrella, by Davina Bell with illustrations by Allison Colpoys. 

The illustrations in this book are absolutely stunning. Colpoys uses really unique colors in this book. There are a lot of neon oranges, pinks, and lavenders that make this picture book really pop!

 Not only are the pictures really special, the message in this book is really heartwarming. We’re meant to imagine ourselves safe under a love “umbrella” that shelters us from the things that can make life really challenging for a child. “Whatever you fear, come close, my dear. You’re tucked in safe for always here. And I will never not be near, holding our love umbrella. In every weather it’s us together. My love for you goes on forever. Be still, breathe deep, wherever you sleep. You’re under my love umbrella.”

There is great skin color representation in this book, as well as parents of all genders. I’ve been using my umbrella often the past few weeks to my son’s delight. If you’re looking for a spring inspired bed-time book that helps you bond at the end of the day, this is a great one to request. Not to mention, the author instructs to try and find all the umbrellas hidden throughout the book — so it doubles as an “I Spy!” Happy Reading!

This week we are really starting to see things sprout into spring! We are having a lot of fun with Todd Parr’s The Spring Book. Parr uses so much color in his books that are so delightful for kids and adults alike. It especially works for this colorful time of year. On each page he writes and illustrates some of the many wonderful holidays and activities that happen in the spring. He writes, “Spring is a time to dance in the rain. Celebrate traditions with family and friends. Play hide and seek. And love the Earth!… Now go roll down some hills! Happy Spring!” Todd Parr is an author and illustrator we always reach for because of his silliness and bright illustrations. His books always evoke feelings of kindness, acceptance, love, and excitement. Happy Reading!

This week I’m shouting out a series of board books by Jessica Spanyol that we’re really loving. These are simple books about playing together with friends with the characters Clive and Rosa. I particularly love this series because they are, “gentle affectionate books, celebrating diversity and challenging gender stereotypes.” Rosa loves to play with cars just as much as Clive does, and Clive loves to play with baby dolls as much as Rosa does.

 In Rosa Plays with Cars, “Rosa helps Mustafa pack up the camper. ‘We are going to the beach,’ says Rosa.”  In Clive and His Art, “Clive and Jeffrey thread beads,” and “Clive looks at pictures in his big art book. ‘Beautiful!’ says Clive.” My son really gravitated towards this series and Clive’s cat named Moshi, especially. It was fun to read Clive is a Librarian with him since he loves the library, and there’s a new series out with Rosa with STEM activities, such as Rosa’s Big Sunflower Experiment. As a parent, it’s exciting to find books that aren’t so gender stereotyped. Not to mention the board pages are wonderfully durable! Happy reading! 

How have you been coping with the April rain showers? In our house we’ve been reading and singing, Singing in the Rain! based on the Broadway song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown with pictures by Tim Hopgood. This cheery book brings all the smiles to our family on dreary days. There are lots of beautiful spring illustrations with colorful umbrellas and rain boots. I think this book is a wonderful introduction to such a classic song and I always check it out this time of year. I always imagine Gene Kelly smiling and stomping through puddles while we sing it together as the rain pours down outside. “Come on with the rain! There’s a smile on my face. I walk down the lane, with a happy refrain, and I’m singin’… singin’ in the rain!” Happy Spring reading!

This week we are excited about spring blooms! Is there anything more delightful than watching sprouts and crocuses pop through the soil? We’re shouting out, Make it Grow, by Debbie Powell.  This lift-a-flap book has the most beautiful illustrations and demonstrates the way that flowers bloom. Not only does it include flowers, but also fruit, seaweed, mushrooms, and butterflies in all their different colors! I think that’s what makes this spring-themed book different from some of the others this time of year. 

The rhyming also helps the flow of the story as you go from page to page seeing nature grow in all its forms. It goes, “In the backyard rain comes down, making all the creatures frown, but thirsty flowers start to show… Lift the flaps to make them grow!” When you reach the end, there’s a big rainbow to flip up and talk about all the colors you just named on all the other pages! This one was great to take along on a stroller walk while pointing out all the other colors coming up in our neighbors’ gardens. Happy reading! 

Happy Poetry Month! This week I was looking through the children’s room stacks and found a wonderful rhyming picture book from 1994 that is bringing us a lot of delight. It’s titled A House by the Sea by Joanne Ryder and is illustrated by Melissa Sweet. As the temperatures grow warmer, we are feeling called to enjoy a more tepid beach excursion in the coming weeks. This book is the perfect companion!

This book depicts a boy and a girl describing what it would be like to live in a house by the sea with carefree seals, an octopus neighbor, and friendly crab friends who play games with them. It goes, “If I could live in a little house, I’d live in a house by the sea. And I’d whisper at night when the moon was bright, ‘Would you please give a wish to me?’ Then I’d land on a whale with a black and white tail who would rock me fast asleep, and she’d carry me home on a crest of foam over the waters deep.” 

The rhyming poetry is where this book really shines. It has a perfect luling rhythm with a nautical touch that is just giving us all the comfort feels this week. Not to mention, it is silly and fun, too! Do you have some favorite, lesser-known picture books from your childhood? It’s fun to find them still available in the stacks! Happy Reading!

Feeling hungry? This week we’re shouting out, “Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao,” written by Kat Zhang and illustrated by Charlene Chua. This wonderful story is based on the author’s real childhood experience of making bao buns with her family. Her character, Amy Wu, is a smart and sassy girl who is determined to make the perfect bao after feeling frustrated by a series of others that didn’t turn out so well. It seems like no matter how hard she tries, they turn out too big or too small. Sometimes they have too much filling, or not enough. Her mother, father, and grandmother make beautiful bao for the steamer, but her bao still doesn’t look as perfect as theirs. As you read on, she discovers all by herself what she can do to improve her technique. This is such a great story on how to move through a frustrating task through a different cultural lens. It inspired Zeke to try some of the great local Asian-American dishes we had for take-out as well. There’s even a recipe for how to make your own bao in the back of the book! Definitely check this one out and consider making something for our Edible Book Contest! Happy reading!

This week we are shouting out a very fun book called, “Doing Business,” by Shawn Harris. If you have kids who are particularly fond of bathroom humor, this book is for you. This book feels like an updated version of the classic, “Everyone Poops,” by Tarō Gomi. In this book, we see a variety of different animals and ages of people and how they use the bathroom. My favorite part is that they’re all wearing business coats. When some “bad business” appears on the living room carpet, the readers wonder, “Who’s business is this?” These bright colorful illustrations and silly expressions are a delight for kids and a great resource for transitions from diapers to the potty. Definitely check this one out (new to our collection!) for guaranteed giggles. Happy Reading!

This week we’re sharing a cute and silly book about Escargot the French snail. We absolutely loved this adorable snail character who wonders, “Why isn’t your favorite animal the snail?” We loved snuggling up to read this book in bed with all the fun French expressions.

This book is also engaging because it’s an interactive book; Escargot asks us to make a fierce face, to make a loud roar, and blow kisses. Escargot feels very strongly against carrots in his salad at the end of the book, however, after trying one bite of the carrot, he discovers they are magnifique! Have fun with this book, we certainly did while trying to master a French accent!

” A few weeks back we were teased with some 60 degree weather and it had our family missing green grass picnics and tropical temperatures. Maybe you and your family are feeling ready for spring (or a warm vacation). Today we’re shouting out a favorite title, “Tropical Terry,” by Jarvis.

This book has the most beautiful and colorful illustrations alone, but the storyline is super fun, too.

Terry is a sweet little fish living in the tropical coral reef, who wants nothing more than to fit in with the flashing, dashing tropical fish that shimmer and swish around in circles together. When Terry gathers up some shimmery seaweed and becomes as popular as he imagines, he discovers that being so eye-catching isn’t the best idea when Eddie the hungry eel comes to town.

This story is beautiful, engaging, silly, and teaches a great little moral lesson. Definitely give this a request if you’re looking to brighten up your week! Happy Reading!

This week is all things TRAINS! We have been reading the book, “The Littlest Train,” by Chris Gall, over and over again. We had a wonderful ride on the Wiscasset, Waterville, and Farmington train on Saturday and then had a great time watching the Maine3Railers model trains on Wednesday in the Patten Free Library’s children’s room! 

This story is a wonderful adventure with a little toy train who falls off his train table and decides to discover the world beyond. He’s able to meet the largest trains he’s ever known and learn about what makes them different from each other. After traveling with Mighty Max, Sara Speedster, and Chloe Cogs, he’s ready to return to his little village on the train table. But, how will he find his way home? 

As I mentioned before, this book has been a major hit in our house and the illustrations give you something new to notice each time you read. It’s been a fun week learning about all things locomotive! Happy Reading! 

Today we’re excited to shout out a book from one of our very favorite picture book series, Katie and the Mona Lisa!” In the Katie series, a curious young girl walks around museum galleries while her grandmother rests on the nearby bench. Katie is able to step in and out of famous paintings and interact with the subjects in them. In Katie and the Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa needs cheering up to bring back her famous smile. Katie and the Mona Lisa go traipsing throughout the museum visiting other paintings, such as St George and the Dragon by Raphael, Primavera by Sandro Botticelli, The Lion of St Mark by Vittore Carpaccio and An Angel in Red with a Lute by Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis.

These stories are the best way to combine storytelling with education to keep kids engaged and interested in fine art! Have you visited any museums lately or taken advantage of our free and discounted museum passes? Perhaps one of these books could inspire a visit! Happy Reading!

Have you ever jumped off a diving board? This week we’re shouting out, Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall. We’re anticipating swim lessons at the YMCA and this book has been critical to helping overcome some nervous feelings about getting in the water. Featuring a beautiful Black family, Jabari, his sister, and his Dad are going to the community pool for a swim. Jabari is excited to jump off the diving board, but when he gets to the ladder, he starts to feel apprehensive. “It’s ok to feel scared,” said his dad. “Sometimes when I feel scared I take a deep breath and tell myself I am ready. And you know what? Sometimes it stops feeling scary and feels a little like a surprise.” Will we get to see Jabari jump? You’ll have to check it out to experience the joy! Happy Reading!

Today we’re shouting out the book, “Bodies Are Cool,” by Tyler Feder. I absolutely LOVE this book for it’s wonderful inclusive message about all the different kinds of bodies we see here in the world. They point out different skin colors, disabilities, hair types, and body sizes.
As a parent, it’s important to me to be able to share this message and normalize bodies in a way that’s really engaging to kids. My son kept pointing out what makes each body different and beautiful and saying, “bodies are cool!” which is the joyful refrain on every page. Not to mention the illustrations are really beautiful and eye catching.“My body, your body, every different kind of body! All of them are good bodies! BODIES ARE COOL!” Happy reading!

Grab your pillows and blankets! This week we’re shouting out, “Fort Building Time” written by Megan Wagner Lloyd and illustrated by Abigail Halpin. We just LOVE building living room forts the past few weeks and I think this book may have been what’s inspired them! This book takes us through the seasons of different kinds of fort building. In the winter, you can build snow forts, in the summer it’s driftwood beach huts, in the spring you’re exploring the forest, etc. The writing in this book is *so* inspirational and has you diving into each season with all five of your senses. Winter is described as a, “snowball-throwing, scarf-wrapping, sled-pulling, ice-sliding…dog-snuggling, cocoa-drinking, snowman-making, fort-building time!” The illustrations had me nostalgic for my own fort-building childhood. Definitely request this one for some cozy reading and building fun. Happy reading!

This week we are shouting out We All Play by Julie Flett. My son really connected with this book this week. It’s gorgeous Earth tones in the illustrations made it easy on the eyes for me to read, too! Author/illustrator Julie Flett connects children and their playful behavior to the natural world in this one. Flett incorporates the Indingenous Cree language (with pronunciation guide), adding a cultural layer to this pre-K perfect read-aloud.It’s really fun to see the similarities of how a bear tumbles and plays in the snow and then illustrations of how, “we play too!” as kids and adults. I highly recommend this short and sweet one for snuggles and play time. 

This week we are talking a lot about the months of the year! It can be tough for young ones to conceptualize the twelve months in each year, so we like looking at this really interesting counting book which involves counting up to twelve. At the same time, each page counts up from January to December. The first page is a blank wintery landscape with the number zero, and for the next page, it counts up to one and beyond. There are no words; which makes it a great book for discussing and counting what we see on each page. There’s a new building added to the village on each page, and lots of other fun things to notice and count. Sheets of laundry on the line, dragonflies in the air, children playing in the river, etc. 

If you want to start off the new year with a great book for counting months and discussing the seasons, this is a great place to start! Happy Reading. 

Hello Readers! This week we are shouting out, “Flannel Kisses,” by Linda Crotta Brennan and illustrated by Mari Takabayashi. This is such a beautiful and simple book. With everything that’s going on in the world, sometimes beautiful and simple is just what the doctor ordered; especially before bedtime for kids (and adults, too.)
This book really evokes the five senses of wintertime living for families, which I think makes it so powerful for such a short book. It starts off with, “Flannel sheets, Cold floor, Hot oatmeal, Out the door! Slippery snowsuit, Sticky snow. Pack a snowball, make it grow.”
My son loves receiving “flannel kisses” from his Daddy after reading this book, which I find really heartwarming. Maybe you’ll find it heartwarming, too. Happy reading!

Hello Readers! Our shout out this week is a beautiful, wintery tale of Coco and Bear trying to bring kindness to others in the forest. The title is “Share Some Kindness, Bring Some Light,” by Apryl Stott. Bear feels sad because his large size frightens many of the other animals. Coco suggests that he should show others kindness in order to build friendships with them.

Coco says, “ My grandmother always says: ‘When life gets dark as winter’s night, share some kindness. Bring some light.’” They get to work baking cookies and making lanterns. Will they succeed? You’ll have to request this book to find out! It’s a heartwarming story with gorgeous illustrations. There are some children’s books that bring delight and inspiration to me as an adult and this is one of them. Stay warm & cozy, and happy reading!

This week we’ve been listening to the music of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Ballet to get into the holiday spirit, and watching the beautiful ballet dancing. Zeke loves dancing and singing to holiday music so I thought we’d read more about male dancers, since we see them represented less often than ballerinas; and still have so much to offer to the stage! 
He absolutely loves this book, with the fun illustrations and rhyming text. There are beautiful examples of real-life male ballet dancers with the words, “Let these leading men inspire as you practice and perspire. Growing stronger day by day, dream of parts that you might play…Princes, pirates, villains, too. Slay the Mouse King in a coup!” I love that this book encourages boys to express themselves through dancing and that, “with dancing skills you’re sure to soar in sports, at school, and so much more!” This book is great for girls and boys, alike! Happy reading!

If your kids love vehicles like Zeke does, then you’ll LOVE the book, “Big Rig,” by Jamie Swenson and Pictures by Ned Young. This is a new book to the Patten Free Library collection, and I knew Zeke would love it. This is a really fun conversational read with lots of great sounds to make and cheeky phrases and rhyming. Frankie the semi-truck is excited to take you along for the ride to deliver his goods to Dinosaur Land. He says, “Rain clouds? Not a problem. Wipers—do your job—SCHWAAT, SCHWAAT, SCHWAAT. Lights on–can’t miss me, I’m like a Christmas tree. Looks like blue skies on the horizon!” With all the long holiday stories to read at bedtime, we also like to take a break, and indulge in some of our other comfort reads. It certainly has us appreciating all those who deliver goods around this time of the year! Happy Reading! 

This week we are enjoying a classic, The Mitten, by Jan Brett. As soon as the snow falls and we start bringing out the knitted items, I know it’s time to indulge in some Jan Brett illustrations. My son is really loving this one this year. Brett is so good at adding another dimension to her stories by including the additional illustrations on the side of the page that show us what animal is coming next. When Nicki drops his snow-white mitten in the snow, and all the animals in the forest start snuggling in, Zeke is excited to exclaim, “The Badger is coming next!” Though she has many wonderful stories, and we love to read them all, this classic is our favorite one of all. Happy Reading!

The book we want to shout out this week is, “The More We Get Together,” written by Celeste Cortright, illustrated by Betania Zacarias, with an accompanying CD sung by Audra Mariel and Kena Anae.

This book is a terrific adaptation of the classic, “The More We Get Together,” song that adds in an age-appropriate introduction to recycling, activism, community gardens, teamwork and more. We’re particularly focusing on gratitude this week as Thanksgiving plans are being made across the country.

The song goes, “Let’s gather round the table, whenever we’re able. Let’s gather ’round the table with all of our friends.And with every plateful, we’ll feel ever grateful. Let’s gather ’round the table with all of our friends. ‘Cause your meal is my meal, and my meal is your meal.”

I love the books that integrate text, music, and illustration for a more complex experience. This book even has a Youtube animation of the story as well!

Hope this wonderful book & music can inspire some togetherness with your friends and/or family!

We had a lot of fun this week talking about The Day of the Dead which falls on November 1st-2nd and Nov 6th too, depending on the locality. Our book this week is Day of the Dead inspired: Gustavo the Shy Ghost written and illustrated by Flavia Z. Drago.

Our story is about a ghost who’s very shy, but wants nothing more than to have some friends. The sweet illustrations show Gustavo being a shy little ghostie and being invisible watching the other little monsters play. Gustavo is a very talented violinist though, and finds joy in playing music. Gustavo builds up the courage to write the monsters a letter to invite them to a violin concert in the cemetery. You’ll have to read to see what happens next!

We love this sweet book about making friendships. It’s great for reading any time of the year, but this week especially! We also requested this through Minerva as a Wonderbook copy so we could listen along to the narrator and the violin music it provides! It made for a wonderful experience. Happy reading!

This week we’re feeling the chill of winter approaching in the wind! We’ve been shopping for new outerwear to prepare for Maine’s cold temps as we bid the 70 degree days farewell. We had a lot of fun reading Bella’s Fall Coat by Lynn Plourde and illustrated by Susan Gal. One afternoon, Bella’s grandmother keeps trying to remind Bella that her coat is much too small and that it’s time for a new one. But, Bella LOVES her coat, and loves doing all the wonderful things fall has to offer in her coat.

 After falling asleep and dreaming of more, “bright orange leaves, crisp, juicy apples, and soft white feathers,” she wakes up to a big surprise the next morning. We loved reading about Bella’s fall adventures and the way she always “Whooshed!” out the door. Do you ever feel sad about saying goodbye to a coat you’ve outgrown? Bella gives us a good idea on what to do with it after it’s seen better days. Happy reading!

This week as we lead up to Halloween, (or maybe you celebrate Día de los Muertos!) We’ve really enjoyed many evenings of reading Pick a Pumpkin by Patricia Toht and illustrated by Jarvis. This book really highlights the delight of picking a pumpkin and the creative enjoyment of making it into a jack-o’-lantern. Toht shows us how fun it can be to form a pumpkin carving crew and to how to get elbows deep into the guts and seeds of a pumpkin. 

The illustrations by Jarvis are super, spooky fun without being actually frightening, in case you have some sensitive readers. The rhyming text is also really quality writing and never got old to me, even though we read this many times!

For example, “Lift your pumpkin up with pride. March it to a place outside. Set it safely on the ground, and call the crew to gather round. Ask someone to strike a match. Watch! The candle’s wick will catch. See it glow outside your door. LOOK! It’s not a pumpkin anymore. It’s a… Jack-o’-lantern!” When you turn the page and see the beautifully illustrated jack-o’-lantern, we smiled with glee each time. This book is great Halloween fun, I hope you enjoy it! 

This week, Zeke and I want to shout-out one of our very favorite Dalov Ipcar books: Hard Scrabble Harvest! As someone who grew up on a vegetable farm, I can relate to this wonderful book which playfully describes the joys and challenges of growing and harvesting food in New England. 

One of my favorite pages reads, “Grapes on the arbor. Apples on the trees. Gather the tomatoes before they freeze. Bring in the apples. It’s cider-making time. Fatten up the turkey. Fatten up the swine.” It’s just really wonderful and relatable rhyming text paired with the marvelous Ipcar illustrations. Definitely find a copy of this one to pick up before Thanksgiving, if that’s a holiday you celebrate! And then stop by and admire the other Ipcar books we have on display near the children’s room.  Happy reading!

My shout out this week is a really fun interactive book called Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. Since the trees outside are changing their colors, it’s a great opportunity to talk with children about the cycle of seasons and how trees change throughout the year. It’s a great book to read at bedtime or outside on a nice autumn day. The book encourages us to “Pat the leaves—be gentle, please. Aha! Now blow a whooshing breeze!” And with each turn of the page, we’ve magically helped the tree along on its way throughout the seasons. There’s rhyming text as well, which always helps children know what word may come next. We like to read this one in the Fall and Plant the Tiny Seed by Matheson in the Spring. Happy Leaf Peeping, Readers!

The book we want to spotlight this week is Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee. With all the fairs happening all over the state, our little ones may be feeling excited or anxious about the wild rides one buys tickets to for enjoyment. Frazee gives us readers such a fun ride with this book! We follow the characters in the line of the roller coaster as tension builds to board the ride. Zeke loved the “clickity, clackity, clickity, clackity. Up. Up. Up!” and then the “Whoosh!” of the ride that truly makes us feel like we’re on it. We read this every night until it was due, and we spotted something new on each page every time. Marla Frazee has become one of our new favorite authors and illustrators in the way she’s able to tell such a great story with just a few lines and imaginative illustration. Maybe it could inspire our young readers to be brave and give the rides a try!

Goodbye Summer Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak:

I love reading this book written and illustrated by Kenard Pak as we transition from summer to autumn. We read it every year and we always try to read it outside! We follow a girl as she walks through the woods and her downtown observing the changes in the weather. He writes about how the animals busy themselves getting ready for winter, how the cool wind asks us to “bring out your thick sweaters and scarves,” and how “the sun sets earlier and earlier now that summer is coming to an end.” I think he does a great job of capturing the happiness, but also the moodiness, of autumn in such a great way for kids. This book and the others in Pak’s season series is how my son learned the changing of our Maine seasons. His illustrations are really simple, yet beautiful! 

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