Category Archives: Grades K-2

Winners Wednesdays: The Kissing Hand


An absolutely perfect book for back-to-school time is The Kissing Hand  written by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak. Published in 1993, it has quickly become a classic children’s bookissinghandk. In addition to being a New York Times Bestseller and landing high on lists of recommended children’s books, The Kissing Hand  received the Ed Press award for excellence in educational publishing.

The story begins with a young raccoon named Chester who is extremely nervous about his first night of school. His mother sees his worry and lets him know that he will find lots of fun things to do at school. Most importantly, their family’s secret of the kissing hand will make him feel like he’s at home anytime he’s lonely. It will give him the courage to go to school without her.

She kisses his palm and shows him that all he has to do is press his hand next to his face, and he will be reminded of how much she loves him. The kissing hand works to make Chester feel better, and he even decides to give his mother her own kissing hand before he heads off to class, making the mother happier and more reassured doc 2_4

I think this is a wonderful book that I would read to students between the ages of 3 and 8. They can likely relate to Chester’s anxieties about being away from his mother and starting something strange and new that he doesn’t know if he will like or not. They can take comfort in knowing that even when they’re at school for what may be the first time, their parents still love them and are not far away from their hearts. The text is simple and straightforward enough for children of these ages to understand, and the watercolor illustrations help to engage the children and further their understanding of the emotions in the story.

The story obviously conveys that it’s okay for kids to be nervous when starting new things, but it also touches upon the fact that parents can get nervous too and need the love of their children to comfort them. Children don’t normally realize that parents can be vulnerable like them, and the fact that they can reassure their parents is empowering.

While the illustrations are certainly not Caldecott worthy, they are still colorful and illustrate the action of the book well. Additionally, there is a set of heart stickers in the back of the book that can be used by a teacher or parent to reinforce the idea of the kissing hand. I think the stickers are a fantastic way to remind children that they are loved, and the stickers could help comfort them in times of trouble.

The Kissing Hand‘s message of love and comfort is a heartwarming sentiment that readers of all ages can benefit from. Parents, teachers, and children alike can take something away from this story. No matter how old you are, it is clear to see that The Kissing Hand is an adorable picture book that can easily capture the hearts of all of its readers.










By Jenna Ravasio

Trendy Tuesday: Dewey Bob


Dewey Bob cover“Dewey Bob Crockett was born in the pocket of an old pair of pants.” And thus opens the story of Dewey Bob, a fastidious little raccoon who loves to collect shiny things, but discovers how hard it is to find — not to mention keep — a friend.

Dewey Bob, both written and illustrated by Judy Schachner, was published just earlier this month, making it a great choice for our first Trendy Tuesday post of the semester. Schachner is best known for her best-selling Skippyjon Jones series, but she branches out into a new world of characters with Dewey Bob.

The adventure begins when Ma Crockett sends Dewey Bob into the world to find his own pair of pants to live in after his hoarded treasures weigh down the family pants too much. He finds a treehouse instead and sets about fixing it up and cleaning it out — very different from most raccoons in real life! Dewey soon decides that his apartment is lonely and that he needs friends, so he goes around throwing animals into his shopping cart in hopes of making them his friends.

Understandably, the animals all run away at the first chance they get, except for a mud ball in the bottom of the cart. Dewey begins to suspect the unresponsive mud ball isn’t alive until he gives it a squeeze — and it turns out to be a filthy baby cat (though Dewey incorrectly believes it is a puppy). Dewey cleans up the kitten, feeding and caring for him, and realizes his back legs are disproportionally short: that’s why the kitten didn’t run away like the other animals.

So Dewey makes the kitten a wheeled rig out of buttons to attach to his back half so the kitten can run on his front two feet. However much Dewey wants a friend, he realizes he needs to let the kitten be free to roam on his own. The book ends with Dewey’s poignant choice:

“But the truth is, the mud ball wasn’t a thing. He was a livin’, breathin’ critter who deserved to experience the world in all its splendor. And Dewey knew it. So first he opened his heart…and then he opened the front door. ‘Roll on, Mudball, roll on. And roll he did…right back into the arms of his very best friend.”

I actually had planned to do my Trendy Tuesday post on another book, but as soon as I read this final page I knew I had to write about Dewey Bob instead. The book introduces a lot of more complex themes (some of which might going over very young kids’ heads) but slightly older readers will enjoy this warm-hearted book — and mom or dad might find themselves tearing up a bit at that ending as they think about letting their own babies go.

Adults will also enjoy their own moments of humor, such as the pelican who tells Dewey “You should see what’s floatin’ in the ocean, Dewey!” as the raccoon searches through the trash heap. They will also recognize the front page of the Better Homes and Gardens magazine Dewey consults while renovating his treehouse.

Speaking of the magazine, the illustrations in this book looks almost like collages, and incorporate many photographic elements, adding lots of visual interests that will no doubt keep kids absorbed in the pictures. The front matter says that “the illustrations for this book were created in acrylics, gouache, mixed media, and the kitchen sink,” and that certainly seems almost true. The collage style of the pictures fits perfectly with Dewey Bob’s homespun character and dialogue.

Should I ever need a picture book library of my own some day, I would definitely consider adding Dewey Bob alongside other older classics from my own childhood. It’s a charming read that children and adults alike will thoroughly enjoy.

By Kara Sherrer

Trendy Tuesday: Troll Swap


What is trendier than being yourself? With recent attention to ending bullying and getting kids to feel good about being themselves, being proud of who you are is definitely trendy! Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson (the author of the popular Charlie and Lola series) follows a little girl and a little troll that switch places.

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Timothy Limpet is a troll that is cleaner and quieter than all the other trolls, so he is made fun of because he does not fit in with everyone else. Tabitha Lumpit is a human girl that is loud and messy, but her parents want her to be nice and polite like them and like the other children. Timothy and Tabitha run into one another and realize that neither of them fit in with the rest of their kind, so they decide to trade lives.

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After they both fit in perfectly in their new lives, they realize that being the same as everyone else is boring, and that their families missed them. Timothy and Tabitha switch back, realizing that their homes are where they really belong.  Hodgkinson’s writing style is definitely embellished by the different fonts that the characters speak in and the bolding and size changes of the text.  It makes the book more active and engaging and practically begs to be read out loud!

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This book definitely shows that being you, even if you don’t fit exactly in with your peers, is the best way to be! Children may wish they could trade places with other people, but this book shows that your life is the best life for you. It also shows that your friends and parents may want you to be a different way, but if you change, you won’t be the one that they know and love already.  I think this book’s content is important for children to experience so they can be confident in themselves and realize that it is okay to be different.  It also shows that your family and friends really do love you, even if you guys do not agree on everything!

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The illustrations and style of this book are Hodgkinson’s typical style. Her cartoony drawings are cute and the different fonts, drawings, and collages make the book fun to look at and fun to read. The different fonts can help you read in different characters’ voices. The font of the text looks childish and silly, like a child wrote the book. I would recommend this to children in elementary school because it can be enjoyed by younger as well as older kids.  This book would be a great read aloud with children and would definitely bring humor into reading time, as well as the message that it is great to be yourself!

-Holly Reichert


Trendy Tuesdays: Clifford the Big Red Dog


When thinking of things that are trendy these days, I could not help but think of the throwback theme and the trends of our childhood coming back. From the relaunching of Boy Meets World into the spinoff Girl Meets World to Friends being on Netlfix, the 90s are everywhere. One of my favorite childhood books was Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell. Upon searching it on the web, I found out that the book was first published in 1963! While that was not the 90s, Clifford was popular then and is still popular now, as there are many many books in the Clifford series and there is a PBS show by the same name.   Because Clifford has been around for over 50 years and is still relevant, I decided that it is definitely trendy!


The edition of Clifford the Big Red Dog that I found has older illustrations, so I will also put up a photo of a newer cover that I found online.

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The story in the original Clifford book is that of Emily Elizabeth explaining how her dog, Clifford, is the biggest and reddest dog on her street. She then tells stories about the games that they play together and all the time they spend together. The funniest part is when she says that she can always find Clifford in hide and seek (because he is too big to be hidden completely). She goes through the bad habits of Clifford, as well as the difficulties of taking care of such a giant dog. I think it is a nice foundation for the series that follows because it introduces Clifford and talks about his good qualities and his bad qualities, and also how Emily Elizabeth loves him no matter what.

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I think that Clifford was popular for us as children because there were still books being made and it was adapted into a TV show. The simple, brightly colored illustrations were easy to adapt into animations so the books and the TV show matched well. The characters largely stayed the same as well, and I remember as a child watching the TV show as well as reading the books before bed. As the illustrations evolve over time, new editions of the books come out, keeping Clifford current. There are still Clifford books coming out today, even though Norman Bridwell has passed away. I hope that Clifford will live on through his stories and TV show so that kids for many years will still find Clifford as one of their favorite childhood characters.

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Overall, I think Clifford will stand the test of time and continue to be read to children because of the sheer number of books that exist about him!  Beyond the book, on the PBS website, there are interactive games that you can play with Clifford and his friends as well as listen to stories on the website.


The simple, engaging illustrations and story lines of Clifford the Big Red Dog make it a timeless read that will continue to capture children’s hearts everywhere!

-Holly Reichert

Free Fridays: Me with You – A Captivating & Quick Read


I saw this book in the Peabody Library and was immediately drawn to it. The illustrations in this book, created by Christopher Denise, are intricate, colorful, and heartwarming.  They go along beautifully with the text, advancing the story by demonstrating so much emotion through facial expressions and colors.

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Published in 2013, Me with You by Kristy Dempsey centers on the theme of friendship, specifically between a grandfather and his granddaughter. Each page depicts a different event, demonstrating the different roles that the daughter and her father have within their friendship. No matter what the event may be, positive or negative, the pair is always working together and looking out for each other. From cheering each other on during a baseball game, to keeping each other company when they’re feeling sick, this grandpa is always by his granddaughter’s side; even when she has trouble sharing her toys or simply feels discouraged.  Without a central plot or complex character development, this simple book is perfect for very young students, specifically ones who are learning to regulate their emotions.


In addition, the book does a great job of demonstrating the importance of being an individual, in that it is great to have interests and hobbies that are different than those of the people around you. Both characters make time to participate in separate activities, due to some of their dissimilar hobbies. While the young bear is off with friends at a summer camp, her grandfather enjoys caring for his garden.


For students who might be unable to relate to having a strong relationship with grandparents, this story can easily be narrated as  a father and daughter instead.

I absolutely adored this book, and believe that it will be extremely relatable for grandparents, parents, and children alike.

Alyssa Janco

Free Fridays: The Keeping Quilt



The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco depicts the history of an immigrant family as they acclimate to America over many generations while preserving their heritage through a quilt.  The story is based on Polacco’s own heritage, and is told from her perspective.  The story opens when her Great-Gramma Anna, having just come to New York from Russia with her parents, begins her new life with only a dress and a babushka to remind her of home.  Once she outgrows them, her mother uses pieces from the dress and babushka, combined with articles of clothing from family members back in Russia, to create a quilt to remind them of home.  We see how the quilt follows Anna throughout her life, from carrying on their Jewish heritage to getting engaged and then married, and then to welcoming her daughter, Patricia’s grandmother, Carle.  The story continues to see how the quilt plays a role in Carle’s life, and then her daughter, Patricia’s mother, Mary Ellen’s.  The quilt is always there, in times of hardship and joy, as Anna dies and Patricia is born. Patricia describes how the quilt has been used in her life, and the story ends with her holding her own daughter in it.


The Keeping Quilt emphasizes the importance of maintaining one’s heritage while still moving forward in life.  We see traditions carried on but also how times and customs change.  There are four weddings shown in this book, one for each girl who has owned the quilt.  Each one is married beneath it as a huppa, and each incorporates a gold coin, bread and salt into the ceremony.  But we also see how the generations slowly change.  In Anna’s wedding, the men and women celebrate separately, but then at Carle’s wedding they celebrate together but do not dance with each other.  At Mary Ellen’s wedding there are both Jews and non-Jews present, and Mary Ellen wears a suit instead of a dress.  Patricia’s wedding shows men and women dancing together, and she incorporates a sprinkle of wine for laughter.  The changes are gradual, but by the end we see many key differences between Anna and Patricia’s weddings.  Teaching this book can be used to show children not only a different culture than they may be used to, but also how heritages may be maintained while still moving forward.

This book includes beautiful pencil illustrations by Polacco herself, shown in shades of gray with the only color being the quilt.  The drawings are incredibly realistic, with facial expressions depicting lifelike emotions to match the scene.  We see an evolution of the facial structure as the family intermixes with the American culture. As the book progresses we can clearly see that time is passing based on the changing fashions, settings and furniture and also through the additions of technologies such as cars.  But, in almost every picture there is some depiction of the Jewish faith, whether it’s a Yamaka, a Rabi, or a Torah, showing the value they still place in their heritage.

The 25th anniversary edition includes an additional fifteen pages of the story that picks up where the original book ended and tells how the quilt has continued to live on.  A new chapter in the family begins when the quilt becomes so worn out that Patricia’s children surprise her with a new, identical quilt.  Patricia makes the hard decision to donate the original quilt to a museum, but we see how the new quilt carries on the story.  We continue to see the changing of cultures in this addition, with Patricia’s daughter marrying another woman, but still under the huppa of the quilt.  This new addition shows that the legacy of the quilt lives on.


This book would be great with a wide range of ages, and can spark a discussion about different cultures and the idea that every family has a history that lives on through children.  We really enjoyed reading this book and were moved by how such a powerful story was told in such an understandable way.  Combined with the beautiful illustrations, this book will continue to be cherished for generations to come, just like the keeping quilt.

By Mary Nobles Hancock and Adrianna Moss

Marvelous Picture Book Mondays! The Dark by Lemony Snicket, Illustrated by Jon Klassen



While it might seem appropriate to blog about the recent announcement of the 2014 Caldecott Award winner, I’ve decided to take this Marvelous Monday to talk about a book I’ve just discovered that’s been written by one of my favorite authors when I was a young reader, Lemony Snicket, and illustrated by last year’s Caldecott Award Winner, Jon Klassen. The Dark is an entertaining and beautifully illustrated book about a little boy, Laszlo, who is afraid of the dark. At first, Laszlo is afraid of anywhere that the dark might exist. However, one night he finds himself in the dark when the night light in his room goes. Laszlo confronts this fear of the Dark as he’s lead by a voice to find the light bulb he needs to fix his night light.

I really enjoyed this reading this book because I think it’s a story that many young kids and even adults can identify with. Many of us have or still fear the dark; we might still jump the last couple of steps to our bed at night or make sure the closet door is fully closed before closing our eyes. While Lemony Snicket’s writing about the Dark can be a little ominous and suspense-producing, possibly expanding the reader’s fear of the dark, the final tone of the book is a reassuring one that I believe children will be very happy with. While I wasn’t so sure about how a Lemony Snicket children’s picture book would be like, I’m glad to see that he was able to keep his suspenseful style while still making it kid-friendly.

Now to the Marvelous part of this book (in my opinion)- the illustrations! I recently read Jon Klassen’s This Is Not My Hat and absolutely loved the illustrations! It’s a style of illustration that I’ve never encountered before and that drew me into the characters and the plot of the story instantaneously. His use of a black background This Is Not My Hat and, especially, The Dark plays up the words on each page and emphasize certain aspects of the plot that really draw the reader into the story. Klassen uses black backdrops to give the Dark a real presence in the pictures just as it is personified in Snicket’s writing. Some of my favorite pages are the ones with almost completely black backgrounds, such as the cover of the book, where there are only one or two pictures and the few words. In other pages Klassen uses the black to contour specific areas of the setting and thereby placing the reader in Laszlo’s shoes.

Overall I highly recommend this book for its marvelous illustrations! I also recommend that it be read in the daylight (: It’s perfect for a read-aloud story in a prekinder and early elementary age classroom and can be used to have kids open up about their own fears.

Here’s a link to a book trailer to get a sneak peak at some of the illustrations in the book!

The Dark Book Trailer