Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Picture Books are Not Just for Kids! Part 2

Before I get started on this second installment of Picture Books are Not Just for Kids!, I'll tell you that another thing I've learned from my storytime experience has been not to get too crazy trying to make every storytime have a theme.  Themes can trap you into choosing books that are not that exciting and kids don't even care whether all of your stories are about ducks or not.  So I'm going to apply that principle to these posts and group some in categories if they fit, but let other groupings be miscellaneous.

Last time I shared a few dinosaur books, but this time I'll tell you about some that didn't fall neatly into a theme.

There is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems
Why I love it:  It's one of the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems, obviously I love it!  This series is very popular for a reason.  The text is simple and sparse enough for new readers to devour on their own, and the super-funny, exaggerated pictures make it even easier for them to understand and enjoy.  So what happens when a bird lands on Elephant's head?  I'll tell you: the kids you are reading to laugh their heads off, say "Eww!!", and make other highly entertaining comments.  I have read several Elephant and Piggie books at storytime, and this one always gets the most animated reaction, so it has definitely earned its place on my favorites list. 

The Frog Who Lost His Underpants by Juliette MacIver
Why I love it:  It's about underpants!  And it's soo funny to read books about underwear to preschoolers.  One little boy said "Eww!" every other page at my latest underpants storytime, and when we reached a certain page depicting a clothesline full of underwear he shouted, "Eww, there are too many of them!".  Most don't get grossed out by the topic, however.  In fact, they thoroughly enjoy talking about underwear, which one must be careful about.  To conclude, I like The Frog Who Lost His Underpants because: aside from frog's adorability, the rhythm of this story is really fun, and there are wonderful messages within about resolving conflict with kindness and what makes an individual special. 

Brief Thief by Michael Escoffier
Why I love it:  Another one about underpants!  This one is about a lizard who ends up using a stray pair of underwear (which happens to belong to somebody else) to wipe after using the bathroom. From there, the story line cleverly introduces the idea of conscience.  This illustration of knowing the right thing to do and doing it is not annoyingly spelled out as some picture book lessons can be.  As I may mention later, I prefer the morals in picture books to be more subtle than overt, because often the overt ones feel a little too patronizing to me, even for reading to children.  It's much more fun to talk through morals that are shown through the story rather than stated outright.  The witty hilarity of this story and the slightly eccentric, but very appealing illustrations tie together in a delightfully surprising end to make this book seriously first-rate.  Whew, that was a lot of adverbs and adjectives.

Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio
Why I love it:  Gaston is thought-provoking and heartwarming, but still humorous, and the charming illustrations remind me a bit of the Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans.  It is an original story about two very different litters of puppies that each contain one pup who doesn't quite fit in with the rest.  The conundrums that the dog families face as they try to work out their differences will get the kids thinking so hard that you'll see it on their faces, which is pretty cute.  It's hard for me to actually rank my favorite books, but if I were to try, it is possible that this one would be in the top 5...  But who am I kidding?  I feel that way about way more than 5 books... Oh well, it's a good problem to have.

Let me know what you think of these or the others I posted about - I could talk about picture books all day! 

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