Monthly Archives: September 2010

Wonderful Book from the Past: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus


Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems is a wonderful book for an interactive read aloud or an independent read. While it is recommended for ages 2-6, even older children will enjoy this hilarious story. This is a story of a pigeon whose dream is to drive a bus. The bus driver, however, warns the reader to keep the pigeon away from the bus while he goes on a break – thus begins the begging, pleading, and cajoling of the pigeon to the reader. The pigeon tries to convince or trick the reader into allowing him to drive the bus. He says, “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s play ‘Drive the Bus’!” Children will laugh out loud at the silly antics of the pigeon.

This book was a Caldecott Honor book in 2003. The hysterical cartoonish illustrations are outlined in black pencil or crayon and filled in with a neutral and cool blue palette. The text is written in speech bubbles. The format of the book is very simple which adds to the humorous nature of the book. The final page, where the pigeon begins his new dream of driving a truck, allows the reader to create their own ending; deciding whether or not they would allow the pigeon to drive the truck. We would recommend this to all children (and adults). It was a joy to read!
Happy Reading
Michael and Page


This is the cover of David Shannon’s It’s Christmas, David! This book is about a little boy named David, who does everything you’re not supposed to do around Christmas time. He takes a sneak peek at his presents, he steals Christmas cookies, and he plays with fragile ornaments. He uses bad table manners at Christmas dinner, tries to open his Christmas presents early, and won’t go to sleep on Christmas Eve. He is constantly told “no” around this time and told that Santa’s watching and that he will get a lump of coal. The story is told in second person, so the reader gets the feeling of hearing the adults yelling at David. David apparently takes the admonishments and threats to heart, for he has a nightmare that Santa gave him a lump of coal and a letter saying he was naughty. However, at the end, David does get his Christmas presents and Christmas cookies and Santa gives him a nice letter.

This book will be very entertaining to children because it’s about all the trouble children can get into around Christmas rather than just about the good and happy things. A lot of children will probably be able to relate to this because David, the little boy in the story, does the kinds of things that every kid either does or wants to do around Christmas that they know they shouldn’t. Children will also be comforted by this book, for they will see that Santa still loves them and will give them presents even if they are just a little naughty.

Its Christmas David ! is an extraordinarily colorful book that is a holiday feast for the eyes. All twenty-nine pages are filled to the brim with rich scenery in a bold color pallet. A medley of deep reds, forest greens, royal blues and many other colors all intermingle together to create bright and eye catching scenes. The text itself is aesthetically pleasing. Written in a black bold style, resembling a young child’s hand writing, the text intermingles with each scene adds a great deal of depth and interest to the look of each paged.

What is most special about Its Christmas David! By David Shannon is that each scene is drawn from a small child’s perspective. Every action of the main character is portrayed in the first person. Visually this allows for an interaction between the reader and David, the main character. The illustrations make the reader feel like a participant in the story, viewing David’s actions in real time as they happen.

The illustrations in this book are beautiful and will mesmerize children of any age, and maybe the adults too.

For more information about the author, visit

Marvelous Picture Book: If You’re a Monster and You Know It


Rebecca and Ed Emberley, authors of If You’re a Monster and You Know It, are a father and daughter team that have worked on a variety of children’s books including Chicken Little and There Was an Old Monster!

This children’s story is based on the popular song “If Your Happy and You Know It,” however it offers a new take on the song, going through different noises a monster might make. The book provides a silly song, found on the scholastic website, accompanied with pictures, allowing students to snort, stomp and growl. The song is performed by Adrian Emberley, daughter of Rebecca and granddaughter of Ed, creating a unique three generational collaboration.

As show on the cover, the illustrations are bold, bright and creative, using a collage technique against a dark background. Each monster is complex and unique, providing a fun and stimulating way for children to look at the scary idea of monsters.

This story is recommended for ages 3-5, and is a great group read aloud because if its interactive quality.

Happy Reading!

Annalise and Kath

Wonderful Book From The Past: Corduroy


Corduroy by Don Freeman is a book that continues to tickle the imagination of children and convey valuable lessons about friendship. Corduroy was first published in 1968, almost 45 years later this wonderful piece of literature still peaks curiosity concerning one question: What do toys do when no one is watching?
In the story a little girl names Lisa, sees Corduroy at a toy store and immediately wants to take him home. However, she and her mother leave the store empty handed as they realize the bear is missing a button and her mother declares that they have spent enough money already.When the toy store closes Corduroy sets off to find a button to fix his suspenders and deserve Lisa’s friendship. However, before he can replace his missing button Corduroy is returned to the toy department by a security guard on the night shift. The next day Lisa returns to purchase the bear anyway. She replaces his button and so begins his first experience with friendship.
Don Freeman tells a story to which children can relate because it is narrated in the language of childhood. As Corduroy journeys through the department store. he uses fanciful ideas to describe his mundane surroundings. In his mind, so similar to that of a child, his imagination redefines the large world around him; escalators are mountains and furniture show rooms are palaces.
This endearing story is accompanied by whimsical watercolor illustrations. All 32 pages of this book masterfully integrate the text into artwork. The bold black letters at the bottom of the page perfectly compliment the large bright images to tell this timeless tale.
Although this book is almost half a century old it will still delight any child. More importantly, Don Freeman‘s Corduroy sparks children’s imaginations about the adventures their own toys get into, when the lights are turned off.

Kim and Abby

Wonderful Book from the Past: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

William Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is a wonderful book to share with children. It is great for a read-aloud or an independent read for children ages 4-8. In 1970, Steig received the Caldecott Award for his beautiful illustrations in this book. The illustrations are done using pen and paint, and Steig successfully brings human characteristics and emotions to the animals. His illustrations demonstrate a great mixture of bright solid colors and patterns with a childlike quality that children might relate to in their own work.

Additionally, this book was selectecd by the National Education Association as one of the 100 Best Books of the Century. The captivating story takes readers through Sylvester’s experience finding a magic pebble and turning into a rock. This is a great book to use to work with children on predictions and exploring different emotions. It holds a great message of the importance of family and that wishing for things won’t make one happy, but rather happiness lies among the people in your life.

William Stieg is a great author from the past that has published many award winning children’s books. Others include Doctor De Soto, The Amazing Bone, Abel’s Island and many more. Be sure to keep an eye out for his modern classics in the library and bookstore!
Happy Reading!!

Kath and Page

Marvelous Picture Books


This is the cover of Chris Raschka’s Little Black Crow. Raschka won the 2006 Caldecott medal for his children’s book Hello, Goodbye Window. The Little Black Crow is about a young boy’s wonderings about the life of a crow. The boy asks questions about the crow’s life, such as, “Where do you go in the cold winter snow?” and “Do you ever complain in the wind and the rain?” In the end, the boy asks the crow, “Might you ever wonder about someone like me?”

The illustrations in this book are water color and use a very neutral palette. They display images of nature while emphasizing the crow’s place in the wilderness. The illustrations combined with the text allow the reader to authentically wonder about the crow and nature in general. Children who read this book will be inspired to ask these questions about animals they see for themselves. They may try to find the connections between their lives and the lives of animals in nature. The author suggests ages four to seven for this book, however we believe that both younger and older children will enjoy the illustrations and the connections made with nature.

Happy Reading!

Page and Michael

The Tortoise or the Hare: Fabulous Book Published in 2010



Toni Morrison, with the help of her son, Slade Morrison, has written several children’s books in contrast to some of her more serious adult novels, such as Beloved or A Mercy. In their newest children’s book, The Tortoise or the Hare, they put a new spin on the well-known story of competition and winning.

Instead of putting heavy focus on winning and losing, Morrison uses the characters Jimi Hare and Jamey Tortoise to redefine success. Jimi Hare and Jamey Tortoise prepare for the race in two very different ways–one through athletic training and the other through clever strategizing. In a surprise twist, Jimi Hare crosses the finish line first; however, both feel as through they have won in their own way. By providing two different views of success, Morrison communicates a new attitude about competition and friendship. The Tortoise or the Hare provides an intriguing story recommended for children ages 4 through 8; however, complete understanding of the message require familiarity with the classic tale from Aesop’s fables.

Beautiful oil-paint illustrations by Joe Cepeda bring the story alive with bright colors and bold lines. The usage of paint provides a textural element that covers each page with richness and depth. Even on pages that are primarily white, the visible brush strokes that cover the page will engage children in both the artwork and the story. Many different types of animals are portrayed alongside Jimi Hare and Jamey Tortoise, allowing for plenty of opportunity for rich discussion and interaction between reader and child. The detailed illustrations in combination with the unique and fresh storyline make The Tortoise or the Hare an exciting and new addition to the world of children’s literature.

Happy Reading!

Grace and Abby


This is the cover of Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr. This book won the 1988 Caldecott award. Told from a child’s point of view, the book describes the trek of a father and child through a snowy woods to go owling. This is the child’s first time, and along the way the child describes the landscape and the feeling of the cold and the snow. The child tells what he or she knows about owling, such as the need to be quiet and brave and that the chance of finding an owl can be variable. The child depicts the process of owling: calling out to the owl by imitating its sound. After they finally see the owl, the child emphasizes how much the experience impacted her, saying she feels like a shadow.

This book’s illustrations consist of beautiful watercolor landscapes that each span two pages. The illustrations are realistic, and the different brush strokes and the details created with the fine, dark lines give a great sense of texture. The detail given to the trees makes them fascinating to look at. Each one has different elaborately shaped branches, and many types of trees are shown. One can almost feel the coldness of the snow when looking at this book, for the vast white spaces contrasted with the darkness and detail of the forest truly create the illusion of snow. The illustrations sustain engagement, for they reveal a new and different scene and visual perspective with the turn of each page.

This book’s illustrations will capture the attention of young children and engage them as they scan the landscapes and feel as though they are being transported into the world of the book. I think this book is a great winter read and would be a good calming book to read in the classroom. Though this book is very calming and peaceful, it will also excite children as they anticipate the owl’s coming or what they will see next.

For more information about the author and illustrator, visit and

Happy Reading!


Marvelous Picture Books

            Jamie Lee Curtis is one of few celebrities to have seamlessly entered the children’s book writing profession. Since 1993, She has published nine books along with illustrator Laura Cornell and feels that writing is her favorite creative outlet.
When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youth is the first book written by Curtis. The book follows a four year old through her memories of what she couldn’t do as a baby and then describes what she can do now. By going through this list of things she can do, the little girl discovers who she is and how great it is to be a big girl.
Jamie Lee Curtis was inspired by her then four-year-old daughter’s witty comments about her “past” when she wrote this book. Just as Curtis’ daughter was proud of her growing accomplishments, I believe that most little girls could relate to some aspect of this story. It’s a tribute to being a girl and loving the responsibilities that come along with growing up. The beautiful watercolor illustrations are whimsical and funny which makes reading this book even more enjoyable! I would recommend this book for a preschool or kindergarten classroom or simply as a book to enjoy with your daughter!
*For more information about Jamie Lee Curtis as well as teaching guides and games to go along with When I Was Little, please visit

Happy Reading!

Fabulous Book Published in 2010: The Lion and the Mouse


This is the cover of The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (, winner of the 2010 Caldecott Award.  This is a beautifully illustrated wordless book based on the classic Aesop’s fable.  This book probably grew out of his previous book Aesop’s Fables which contain a collection of all of the fables, each with an illustration by Pinkney.  Pinkney’s illustration in both books, but especially The Lion and the Mouse, are very detailed, hand sketched drawings that depict scenes in the stories.

 The thing that strikes me about these illustrations is how easy it is to see the artistic process that Pinkney used.  The reader can clearly see the pencil marks Pinkney used to sketch the overall shapes and used to add details.  The layer upon layer of watercolor add light, color, and even more detail to the illustrations.  I think that this book could not only be considered an excellent piece of literature, but also a large collection of art.

The simple fact is that kids of all ages will love this 2010 Caldecott winner.  I am planning on teaching Kindergarten after I finish school and I cannot imagine my classroom without this book.  Because of how eye-catching this book is, I think young children who read it will begin to see how amazing and exciting the world of books is.  The reader cannot help but become engaged when reading this book.  Older readers will not only love the illustrations, but will enjoy writing their own story to go with them.

Happy Reading!