Friday, October 29, 2010

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Elementary Edition

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein book cover
Interrupting Chicken
by David Ezra Stein
Grades Preschool-Grade 2


Little Red Chicken wants Papa to read her a bedtime story but interrupts him almost as soon as he begins each time.

Why you'll love it: 
  • A fun premise: Little Red Chicken interrupts the stories her father is reading to her, literally popping into them and truncating them to her satisfaction.
  • David Ezra Stein employs a variety of artwork styles to great effect: warm, expressive paintings show the cozy bedtime scene; sepia-toned, ink drawings (save for the brightly colored young chicken) depict the three classic fairy tales; and crayoned scenes with handwritten text illustrate what Little Red Chicken has penned to tell her father.

Chicken Big by Keith Graves book cover
Chicken Big
by Keith Graves
Preschool-Grade 2


A giant chicken hatches from an enormous egg, but the other chickens cannot accept that he is one of them.

Why you'll love it:
  • The little chickens reach ridiculous--and hilarious--conclusions as they notice Chicken Big's talents and traits. For instance, since Chicken Big is able to shelter the little ones from rain, he must be . . . an umbrella!
  • Elements of Chicken Little are sprinkled through the story. Kids will smile at the familiar refrain, "the sky is falling," in this new context.
  • Comic-book-like touches in the artwork, including the chickens' silly comments and reactions in speech bubbles, add to the fun.

Swim Swim by Lerch book cover
Swim! Swim!
by Lerch
Preschool-Grade 1


Lerch the fish is lonely, and after trying to befriend some unreceptive—and inanimate—objects, he finally succeeds in finding a friend.

Why you'll love it:
  • Lerch is one endearing fish! Readers will enjoy humorous moments, such as Lerch "talking bubble" to the bubbles and remarking that the hungry cat seems to "really like him."
  • James Proimos (writing and illustrating as Lerch) makes great use of format, sometimes splitting pages into comic-book-style panels, other times using full pages and spreads. His boldly outlined characters have huge eyes and are extremely expressive.
  • The simple text, consisting solely of dialogue incorporated into the illustrations as speech bubbles, is suitable for a young audience; the format and sly humor make the story substantial enough for beginning readers. 

Bink and Goalie by Kate DiCamillo book coverBink & Gollie
by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
Grades 1-3


Two roller-skating best friends share three comical adventures involving outrageously bright socks, an impromptu trek to the Andes, and a most unlikely marvelous companion.

Why you'll love it:

  • Bink and Gollie are a tremendously appealing pair, and their friendship is full of give and take.
  • The somewhat stylized dialogue ("I must journey forth into the wider world . . ."), combined with childlike sentiments ("Putting on socks is hard work," said Bink. "I'm hungry."), make for a fun read-aloud.
  • Tony Fucile's background in animation is clear; every one of the girls' poses suggests movement. His delightful illustrations contain ample white space and backgrounds that are mostly grey and minimalistic, while the girls and selected details pop with color.

Cat's Pajamas by Wallace Edwards book coverThe Cat's Pajamas
by Wallace Edwards
Grades 1-3


Depicts twenty-six idioms--contextualized within a sentence--with illustrations that bring new meaning to each, and includes explanations of the sayings. 

Why you'll love it:

  • Each of Wallace Edwards's twenty-six tableaux depicts a different idiom, while an accompanying sentence uses the expression in a way that is simultaneously literal and figurative. For example, in one scene, a crab is knotting a giraffe's bow tie. The text reads, "Gerrard was terrible at tying bows, but Claudia could always be counted on in a pinch."
  • Imaginative, detailed illustrations encourage close study. Readers are invited to search for a hidden cat (some are easier to find than others!) in every scene.
  • A playful and clever approach to language that will appeal to fans of puzzles and brainteasers. 

Hallowilloween by Calef Brown poetry book cover
Hallowilloween: Nefarious Silliness from Calef Brown
by Calef Brown
Grades 2-5


A collection of poems celebrating Halloween, accompanied by acrylic illustrations featuring fanciful holiday scenes. 

Why you'll love it:
  • Calef Brown's rhymes are witty and mischievous. A mummy worries about his wrappings ("'What a bummer!' / the mummy cried, / 'Why oh why / was I so badly mummified!'"); a vampire becomes an umpire ("He only works night games. / His signals are creepy."); and some smartly dressed witches from Texas practice hexes "in comical conical ten-gallon hats."
  • Whimsical, folk-art-inspired illustrations perfectly match the poems' freewheeling, ebullient silliness.
  • Readers will laugh at a host of hilariously non-threatening creatures, from a ghostly waterspout known as the Poltergeyser to a Frankenstein look-alike that loves to decoupage. 

Dark Emperor by Joyce Sidman poetry book cover
Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night
by Joyce Sidman
Grades 3-6


A collection of poems that celebrate the wonder, mystery, and danger of the night and describes the many things that hide in the dark. 

Why you'll love it:
  • Elegant wordplay and vivid imagery draw the reader into the woods as seen by its nocturnal inhabitants. Joyce Sidman has a gift for engaging all five senses with her verse.
  • A memorable introduction to poetry, from playful rhyming and thoughtful free verse to the traditional Latin form of lamentation known as ubi sunt.
  • Each of the twelve poems is paired with fascinating factual information about the poem's focus.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Loved Interrupting Chicken as well -- such a cute book with a great message about rudeness.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Interrupting Chicken is so much fun! Love how manic little chicken gets!!

Elizabeth said...

Stopping back to say hello.

Hopping by from the blog hop.

I am an e-mail subscriber.

Veens said...

I love all these books! They sound so so fun :)

Kristen M. said...

I've heard great things about Bink and Gollie. I need to check that one out! And the kids at our elementary school went cuckoo for Interrupting Chicken. :)

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