Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Storytime Favorites

There was a bit of a kerfuffle on our website yesterday and for about 8 hours it accidentally listed yesterday's 10:30 storytime for today at 10:30. We were hoping that since it was only up there for a short amount of time nobody would have noticed. We were breathing a sigh of relief at 10:29 when nobody had come in asking where the storytime was. They arrived at 10:35. I quickly grabbed 3 books off the new books cart and by the time I got to the family area I was doing an impromptu mini-storytime for 22 kids not including parents! And boy did I pick some winners!

I started with Bears on Chairs by Shirley Parenteau, illustrated by David Walker. Four empty chairs are waiting for bears and one by one they are filled. Then a fifth bear arrives! OH NO! What to do? The art is beautifully soft and evocative. I wanted to snuggle each of the bears (especially the floppy one), and the rhyming text was fun to read. A definite thumbs up.

Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas was my ace in the hole. Truth be told it wasn't on the new books cart anymore, it was in sitting in the back on my desk. I had just checked it out to bring it home for my girls, but sometimes a librarian has to share the wealth! Anytime Jan Thomas does something it's bound to be brilliant. Scary Face engaged the kids and has them standing up, sitting down, wiggling around and in general interacting with the book. I know, I know, I'm a sucker for a good fourth-wall breaking book, but this one is at the top of it's class for this kind of thing!

I ended with All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee. In retrospect I would never make the transition from Scary Face to All the World. It's a fabulous book but a complete change of pace. It's much easier to go from quiet to boisterous than to go the other way around. That said, I can't wait to use All the World in a storytime! It is a beautiful meditation on a group of people (family? friends? aquaintences? It doesn't exactly say) in a town living their day. The text is short, rhyming, and fun. The art is beautiful (as would be expected from Marla Frazee) and detailed. The text could be talking about anyone, but the details in the art make it special. One family consists of a mother and her brand new baby. She looks like she's studying for school (but she may be just doing her taxes) as the day draws to a close. Another family is a blond, pale mother, a darker father with wild hair, and a boy and a girl who spend the day digging at the beach, climbing the best climbing tree I've ever seen, and eating chili with corn bread that makes my mouth water. As I keep flipping through this book I keep finding more details to love: the puppy in the wagon, the ladies on the bicycle built for two, the VW bus! In short, go find this book.

As long as I'm talking about good new storytime books, here's a few more I've just discovered:

I first found out about The Boy who cried Fabulous (by Leslea Newman, illustrated by Peter Ferguson) through I'm here, I'm queer, what the hell do I read?. As you can tell, I get way too enthusiastic about things so I empathized with Roger right away. Roger spends so much time wandering around exclaiming about the fabulous things he sees that he's always late to school and even later coming home. His parents end up banning the word "fabulous" from his vocabulary when they go out one day and he tries not to exclaim over everything until he has an idea and gives us a subtle, fun vocab lesson! What a marvelous, scrumptuous, elegant, book! I just wanted to run around exclaiming about how "the world's too wondrous to ignore" after reading it.

And then there's Laurie Halse Anderson. When The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School (illustrations by Ard Hoyt) came in I knew it would be too old for Kaylee, but I brought it home anyway because I wanted to pour over it a bit more. Kaylee pulled it out of my bag and demanded I read it to her and surprise, surprise she sat through the whole thing then demanded I read it again! This is another book where the writing is wonderful but what kept Kaylee entertained was the details in the art. Where are the gerbils now? What is the hair curled around over there? Look at that! Look at this! That said, you can get away with a lot one on one that you could never get away with in a storytime, and when it's your own child (or a child who is very used to you) you can get away with even more. In a storytime setting I would take Zoe and her wild hair to be read to some first graders. In fact, I was just asked to go to read to some next month and this is the first book I'm deciding to bring for sure.

And with that, my lunch break is over. Have a great day!