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Best of the Bookshelf: Two Great Joke Books for Beginners

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 There’s a lot of joy in a simple joke. Lately my kids have a favorite book they both want to hear over and over. Its cute characters and silly punch lines make them laugh so much I don’t mind the repetition. Today at breakfast when my toddler asked to hear it again I suspected it would be the brightest moment in my long day ahead. I was right. -Rebecca


“Knock, knock. Who’s There? Luke. Luke Who? Luuuke out below!”

“Knock, Knock. Who’s There? Anita. Anita Who? Anita bath!”

Knock Knock Who’s There: My First Book of Knock Knock Jokes by Tad Hills (author of the Rocket and Duck and Goose books) has a lift-the-flap thick-paged format much like a board book. Adorable, colorful animals help illustrate simple word-play jokes based on names. It’s a perfect introduction to “knock-knock” jokes with familiar subject matter to little ones—birthday surprises, getting dirty, saying “I love you” and more. Great for ages 3 and up!

chirp Another funny book geared toward preschool and up is Joking Around with  Chirp: more than 130 feather-ruffling jokes, riddles, and tongue twisters! by the editors of Chirp Magazine, and published by Owlkids Books Inc. (2013).

Here’s a sample:

Q: “What’s a frog’s favorite food?” A: “French flies”

Q: “Why didn’t the lobster share its toys?” A: “Because it was shellfish”

Q: “What does a turtle do on its birthday?” A: “It shellebrates”

Snowflakes Fall: Remembering Sandy Hook

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Snowflakes FallFriday. December 14, 2012. Tragedy.

It was a day that started like any other at Sandy Hook Elementary. It ended in tragedy.

20 students and 6 teachers died at the hand of a 20 year old gunman.

The people of Sandy Hook, and our nation, mourned the loss.

Remembrance. Solace. Celebration of Life.

Illustrator Steven Kellogg lived in Sandy Hook for thirty-five years, raised his family in that community, knew and loved the people and the town. Kellogg shared his overwhelming sadness and loss of optimism with good friend and author Patricia MacLachlan.

Together, they turned to their creative outlets in the hopes of recovering a sense of well-being, a point of solace, for themselves and for this community. They collaborated on a picture book called Snowflakes Fall. In his illustrations, Kellogg depicts the beauty of changing seasons, the comforting presence of this town, and the joy of children. Through her words, MacLachlan shares a message of the cycle of life, renewal, remembrance, and appreciation for the uniqueness of each child.

Reading the words and pictures with children in our lives, young eyes see children enjoying nature, animals, snow, each other. We adults remember those lost, and hold close the ones that we have. -Jody

Soup’s On! Top 10 Soup Stories for Preschoolers

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It’s soup weather.  Cold, short days are just right for bowls of hot, delicious soup.  Cook up a batch and while it simmers on the stove, cuddle up with your favorite little one and share some stories about soup. -Ginny W.

Soups On!

Tiger In My Soup by Kashmira Seth Will the steam that rises from your soup have a tiger in it?  That’s what happens to the little boy in this story.  His distracted sister, engrossed in her own book, doesn’t notice the fierce beast that has popped out of the bowl of soup she has prepared for her brother’s lunch.

Fandango Stew by David Davis A variation on the folktale “Stone Soup.”  In this version, set in the desert southwest of America, a grandfather and his grandson make soup for the whole town out of just one tiny bean.  Fandango Stew is the result!

Surprise Soup by Mary Ann Rodman Mom and Dad are bringing a new baby home and so everyone pitches in to make “Surprise Soup” to welcome their new baby brother – or is it a new baby sister?  – to the family.

Duck Soup by Jackie Urbanovic Maxwell Duck’s search for the missing ingredient for his soup leaves his friends believing he has fallen into the soup!

Souperchicken by Mary Jane Auch Learning to read helps Henrietta warn her fellow chickens in time to prevent them from becoming chicken soup.

A Pipkin of Pepper by Helen Cooper Duck, Cat and Squirrel get separated during their search for salt and pepper for their pumpkin soup.  Helen Cooper’s first book about this trio’s soup adventures is titled “Pumpkin Soup”.

Stone Soup: an Old Tale by Marcia Brown A Caldecott Honor book first published in 1947 and based on an old French folktale.  Three soldiers persuade the residents of a tiny village to help them make soup from a stone – and a few other ingredients.

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert This is making soup from the ground up!  How to plant, raise and harvest all the delicious vegetables that make soup.

Soup Day by Melissa Iwai A snowy day is spent assembling and cooking a tasty batch of soup.

Gator Gumbo: a Spicy-Hot Southern Tale by Candace Fleming A Louisiana bayou, and old gator and some mean critters are featured in this Cajun style version of “The Little Red Hen”.

If you need some recipe ideas, check out these great cooking websites for kids:




Thank You!

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thank-youWe had over 100 library patrons respond to our recent survey about blog content. Our youth services team is busy looking through your suggestions and planning for 2015. Congrats to the two winners of the Piccolo Mondo Toys gift cards, and thanks again to all of you who took time to offer your input!

Folktales for School Age Kids

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Folktales with frameFolktale picture books are a great choice for kids of all ages, but especially for older kids who are looking for longer and more sophisticated illustrated stories. Folktales also offer a range of inventive and artistic illustration styles. Folk and fairytales are located in the 398’s in our easy and juvenile nonfiction sections.  -Wendy

The Three Little Pigs by James Marshall, preschool-4. A playful and colorful retelling of this classic story that will appeal to kids of all ages.

The Great Race of the Birds and the Animals by Paul Goble, ages 3-7. This is the Great Plains Native American Tribes’ story of how mankind won power over the animals to become the “Guardians of Creation.”  Goble’s vivid illustrations lend authenticity to his books of Native American myths and legends.

Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella by Tomie de Paola, grades K-3. Many cultures have a Cinderella story and this one is from Mexico and is about the beautiful but mistreated Adelita. She drops her rebozo (shawl) behind at a fiesta in honor of Javier, the son of a wealthy family, leaving him to search for its owner.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Rachel Isadora, grades K-3. Through her striking collage illustrations, Rachel Isadora sets this exotic retelling of a classic tale in Africa.

Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock by Eric Kimmel, K-and up. Scheming and mischievous Anansi attempts to use a magical moss covered rock to his advantage. This is a great introduction to Anansi the Spider, a trickster figure from West African folklore.

Cinderella by Ruth Sanderson, grades 1-3. A classic version of Cinderella featuring Ruth Sanderson’s luminous illustrations.

Young Arthur by Robert D. San Souci, ages 8 & up. An introduction to Arthurian legends that will light up the imaginations of boys and girls alike.

Amazing Authors: Jan Thomas

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amazingauthorsWhenever I read Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas in a silly-themed storytime, the kids loooove it- even the very squirrely, outspoken kids in my preschool groups are mesmerized. I read it in my best “country” accent, and I don a fake mustache and cowboy hat. I sing the opening lullaby, using a tune similar to the one in the book trailer. The kids are invited to sing along with me, once they’ve heard the chorus a couple times. This is a story with many options; you could read it by itself, with props, or act it out with a storytelling partner. And if you happen to play banjo or guitar (a skill I have yet to acquire), this would be a fantastic opportunity to do so.

Jan Thomas2

Jan Thomas titles include: What Will Fat Cat Sit On?, Rhyming Dust Bunnies, A Birthday for Cow, Can You Make a Scary Face? and more. This author-illustrator is a self-confessed “serious doodler” and it shows- all her books have eye-catching, bold illustrations. I love their innate invitation to play and interact, whether it’s with an individual child or an entire audience of kids and parents. Jan Thomas books have large appeal not only due to their silliness and laugh out loud factor, but they’re great for helping children develop print motivation and narrative skills, two of the six early literacy skills children need to have before learning to read. Her stories are perfect for the preschool and kindergarten crowd. To learn more about Jan Thomas, read an author interview from the excellent book blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  Share one of her books with your favorite young person today and get ready to grin and giggle! Do you have a favorite Jan Thomas title? I’d love to hear from you.  -Rebecca

Stories About Giving Thanks

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Thanksgiving is almost here, so today we’re sharing some stories that inspire us to be thankful. These books are great for ages 3 and up. Here are more ideas from Scholastic.

Want a fun craft activity to reinforce the stories you read? We love this idea of making a Thankful Tree with your little (or big) ones to celebrate the holiday season. How are you sharing the concept of “being thankful” this year? Let us know in the comments below.  -Wendy

Bear Says ThanksThankful BookGracias ThanksSplat Says Thank YouSecret Saying Thanks

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson: Bear thanks his friends for bringing food dishes to his dinner party and finds a way of sharing something of his own.

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr: Easy-to-read text encourages the reader to find something every day for which to be thankful, from underwear that is just the right size to birthday cakes and the wishes they bring.

Gracias by Pat Mora: A young multiracial boy celebrates family, friendship, and fun by telling about some of the everyday things for which he is thankful.

Splat Says Thank You! By Rob Scotton: In this Thanksgiving-themed story, Splat the Cat figures out how to let Seymour know that he’s thankful for their friendship.

The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood: While learning the secret to a good life, a child says thank you for the natural world and for being loved, because a grateful heart is always happy.