What do you get when you combine an imaginative child with a mysterious night box? A book that will speak to any child who has created wondrous and imaginative scenarios in her head to explain some of our world’s most natural occurrences. Why does light turn to darkness? How does the sky change color? How does the sun know to come back out every morning? If you’ve been asked these questions, your kids are bound to fall in love with The Night Box, a fabulous, reassuring new story by Louise Greig and illustrated by Ashling Lindsay.
In The Night Box, the world gets ready for darkness. And as a young boy heads back to his home, he carries a single key in his hand. Whatever is it for? The boy heads to his room, readies himself for the evening, and sticks the key into the lock of a small box. When he opens it, Night pours out, the stars jump out and sparkle, and the world is blanketed in a sea of darkness, caring for all of its creatures until the morning. And when it’s time for sunrise? It’s time for Night to rest again.
We absolute adore this wonderful new book! From its lyrical prose to the beautiful illustrations to its gentle take on nightfall and daybreak, we fell in love with The Night Box from our very first read. If you have a child at home who gets nervous about the dark or worked up before bed, try this story. It is calming to read, adding a sense of tranquility and peace to a time that can be fraught with anxiety. Not only that- it will undoubtedly inspire wonder in your little ones, and they will be so curious about the Night Box (is it real? Can I get one? Can we buy it on Amazon?!?) that it may help distract them from them their own worries about bedtime and darkness. Two trunks up for this one- one of our new favorite bedtime books!!
Did you like this book? Let us know on our Facebook page, and make sure to like us there! if you liked this post, make sure to check out these, too. Why? Because we know you will love them! Favorite Bedtime Books, Favorite Books to Spark Your Child’s Imagination and Favorite Picture Books of 2018.
Want the book? Get it here! The Night Box, by Louise Greig and illustrated by Ashling Lindsay. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received a review copy of this book, but all opinions are expressly our own.
It’s a new year! Imagine all of the possibilities the next 365 days will bring with phenomenal picture books that will help your child’s imagination set soar!
My almost six year-old thinks he’s Lebron James. In his mind, he plays for the Lakers, keeps his pals from the Heat and the Cavs on speed dial, and has a jump shot that takes down the moon. When he broke his arm last year, half of the boys in his pre-K class sent cards telling “Labron Jams” to get well soon. Some may call it an identity crisis, but I like to think of it as a vivid and vibrant imagination.
Too often, we underestimate the power of play. Yet it is play - pretend play, imaginative play, playing “make-believe” - that helps our children make sense of their worlds. Kids learn not just by doing, but by imagining. When they use their imaginations, our kids are gaining valuable developmental skills. They learn empathy by taking on new personas and stepping into another’s shoes. They explore scary situations while nestled in safe spaces. They experiment with language when they act as parents or teachers, or, even better, when they make up their own languages while pretending to be animals or fairies. They even learn to problem solve when they determine how build a castle or how to perfect a jump shot high enough to knock down a star.
So what do you do when your little one keeps insisting he’s Lebron James or Daniel Tiger or, even cooler, a cyclops unicorn with long blond locks just like Rapunzel? Encourage it! Encourage your kids to think, to dream, and to unleash their creativity in any and all ways possible. They are learning tremendously without even realizing it, and I have no doubt that you’ll be wildly entertained by their antics.
Looking for ways to encourage that imaginative play? Here are some of Happily Ever Elephants' favorite books to help their imaginations run wild.
Du Iz Tak?, by Carson Ellis: Read this once with your kids, and I promise they will be rolling on the floor laughing as they listen to the made up “bug language.” Read it a second time, and magic happens when your little ones realize the words actually make sense. This book is genius, both for the hilarity it inspires and the critical thinking it involves. Even better? I almost guarantee your kids and students will be wholly engaged in creating their own unique languages long after the book is put down.
The Whisper, by Pamela Zagarenski: When a little girl goes home from school after borrowing a book from her teacher, she discovers that all of the words have disappeared from the pages, leaving only the illustrations for her to look at. She is frustrated at first, until she hears a whisper telling her that she can imagine the words and the stories all on her own. What follows is a child who initially grapples with the idea of putting her own words to the illustrations, but then slowly finds her voice and unlocks the doors of her imagination. For our full review of The Whisper, click here!
A House that Once Was, by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Lane Smith: This book is exquisite. When two children come across a house that once was but is no longer a home, imaginations take flight as the two wonder who lived in the house, walked through the halls, and slept in its bedrooms. And why did they leave? A stunning blend of art and prose that together make music, this is one I return to frequently for the mystery within its pages and the way it so perfectly allows children to let their creativity take flight.
This is Sadie, by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad: This is one of my absolute favorite picture books, celebrating story and creativity with a beautiful narrative and gorgeous illustrations. Through casual yet precise text, this story takes the reader through a mundane day that becomes both adventurous and awe-inspiring through nothing more than Sadie’s power of imagination. With each turn of the page, we see how books transform Sadie’s ordinary experiences into extraordinary adventures. For our full review of This is Sadie, click here!
Please Bring Balloons, by Lindsey Ward: After a mysterious note instructs her to bring balloons to the animals on the carousel, Emma obliges. It is then that a wondrous adventure ensues, when the polar bear she rides steps right off the carousel and into the night sky. This is one of those books we come back to again and again, for the sheer awe it provokes, not just in my boys, but in me as well. It is a perfectly magical escape, and it gets those little minds working. If polar bears can ride right off a carousel and into the black of night, what else could happen? For our full review of Please Bring Balloons, click here!
Poppy Pickle, by Emma Yarlett: Poppy Pickle has quite the imagination, and upon being sent upstairs to clean her room, her imagination comes alive. Her room fills up with the fantastic images she conjures up, and life seems pretty incredible… until, that is, it starts getting crazy. What happens when a mammoth steps right through the door and a crocodile thinks Poppy would make an excellent snack? However will Poppy get these creatures to go away? This one is amazing for letting your kids imaginations run totally, totally wild!
The Night Box, by Louise Greig and illustrated by Ashling Lindsay: When a child opens the Night Box, day slips into evening as darkness unfurls and stars light up the sky. He is the holder of the key that opens this wondrous box, the one that breathes out night and breathes in the day. What a wonderfully imaginative and unexpected story about one child who holds the key (literally) to our world’s most natural cycle.
Beyond the Pond, by Joseph Keufler: A little boy in an ordinary town, living in an ordinary house, decides to explore the depth of the pond outside and ends up on an extraordinary adventure. What lies below? Ernest and his dog dive in, and deep down in the water they find a fantastical world complete with dinosaurs and unicorns where bravery reigns supreme. When the boy and his dog finally surface and comes up for air, their seemingly ordinary surroundings may contain a bit of the extraordinary after all.
What If…, by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Mike Curato: Here is a child who will do whatever it takes to express herself, no matter what challenges she must conquer to do so. She can draw, of course. But she will also sculpt, build, collage, sing or dance her dreams into being. This enchanting story is an ode to the imagination, and a testament that creative minds will always find a way to innovate and bring their visions to fruition.
Everything You Need for a Treehouse, by Carter Higgins and illustrated by Emily Hughes: In this achingly beautiful and wondrous story, readers are given "instructions" on what they need to build a treehouse, beginning with time, a look up, and a hefty imagination. The book breathes life into each and every requirement for the house. Together, the story and illustrations spark magic and awe. For our full review of Everything You Need for a Treehouse, click here!
Chalk, by Bill Thompson: In this gorgeous wordless book, three kids find an unusual bag of chalk on a rainy afternoon. They start drawing on the pavement, and within moments, their drawings come to life, entrancing the children with their remarkable power and mystery. This book is an absolute dream, with vivid illustrations that bring this imaginative story to life. The kids can stop the rain and create a sky full of butterflies, but how on earth will they tame a devilish dinosaur?
Beautiful Oops, by Barney Saltzberg: This book is an absolute gem that shows children (and adults!) that with a bit of creativity, our mistakes can be turned into discoveries. Maybe tears in paper, ink spills and drawing mishaps exist simply to make magic happen. This book, with its pop-ups and flaps and holes and tears, certainly makes it seem so.
Door, by Jihyeon Lee: What happens when, during your daily, mundane activities you come across a key - and then a solitary closed door? You go through it, of course. And you enter a world where people and animals and other unique creatures live together in harmony and beauty despite their significant differences. Because this book is wordless, children’s imaginations set soar as they eagerly select their own words to tell this wondrous story.
The Book of Mistakes, by Corinna Luyken: This is a quiet masterpiece illuminating the inherent beauty underlying every misstep we make. So many kids are perfectionists, beginning a project again and again because they can't get it just right. So how can we, the adults help to nurture their creativity and limit their insecurity? Use this book to show little ones that magnificence can be found in mistakes, even our biggest ones. For our full review of The Book of Mistakes, click here!
Wallpaper, by Thao Lam: This is the story of a young girl who moves with her family to a new home. Outside her window, the child sees kids in a treehouse, but she is too scared to say hello. With nothing else to do, she picks at a torn piece of wallpaper in her room, and a fantastical journey suddenly ensues. What happens when she discovers a monster on her journey? She's scared, of course, until she realizes the monster simply needs a friend. And he may be just the creature to give her a hefty dose of courage to survive her new circumstances. For our full review of Wallpaper, click here!
I am Famous, by Tara Leubbe and Becky Cattie and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff: If you have a child who lives for the stage, this book is for you. This one cracks me up, because Kiely doesn’t just think she is famous, she knows she’s famous. The paparazzi (her adoring parents) take pics of her wherever she goes, and she even has a personal chef and chauffeur (gotta love mom!). I Am Famous is perfect for kids who dream they are stars of their own shows.
Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney: A pancake and a piece of french toast are the best of friends, until that fateful day they discover there is only one drop of syrup left in the fridge. Behind the closed doors of the refrigerator, all food comes to life, and the competition to get to that last drop of syrup is not just fierce, but incredibly fun as well. Talk about a rollicking rhyming romp! This may just be the most imaginative food fight ever, and if your little ones are anything like mine, they will totally delight in the escapades that ensue once the refrigerator doors close and the food inside takes over. For our full review of Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, click here!
Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis: A box is just a box. Or is it? Of course not! Not a Box is the perfect book to help toddlers get their imaginations soaring, as it brilliantly teaches little ones that with just a bit of imagination, an ordinary box can become so much more. Your kids will turn boxes into cars, castles and candy shops before too long!
Imagine by Raul Colon: In this stunning wordless book, one young boy discovers art for the first time. Though he frequently passes by Manhattan’s museums, on one particular day he decides to walk in to the Museum of Modern Art. The boy studies painting after wondrous painting, until he stops at one and the famous work suddenly comes to life, its characters jumping off the canvases and into the real world, to join the boy on an adventure. The boy’s afternoon is thus filled with exploration and wonder as he and his new friends discover all of the excitement New York City has to offer. For our full review of Imagine, click here!
Time for Bed, Miyuki, by Roxane Marie Galliez and illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavanh: Sweet Miyuki just doesn’t want to go to sleep, despite her grandfather’s pleas. Why? There are too many things to do, like water the vegetables, gather the snails and prepare for the arrival of the Dragonfly Queen. With gentleness and patience, her grandfather indulges Miyuki’s antics until finally, she is ready for bed and sleep overtakes her. Children will delight in the gorgeous illustrations and Miyuki’s marvelous imagination! For our full review of Time for Bed, Miyuki, click here!
Also an Octopus, by Maggie Tokuda-hall and illustrated by Benji Davies: Do you know what the best stories start with? If you guessed a whole lot of nothing, you’re absolutely right. Storytelling has to involve a character who wants something, and this instructive, fantastically creative picture book will have your kids laughing and imagining goofy characters and wild situations in no time at all. Also an Octopus is, hands down, one of our very favorites for budding authors.
Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color, by Julia Denos: This is a spellbinding story about Swatch, a wild little girl with even wilder black hair, who is a color tamer. She jars up colors and collects them on her shelves, and she longs to harness all of the colors in the world. But Swatch eventually discovers that some colors refuse to be tamed, causing a drastic change in her master plan. The result? Something special and luminous, resulting in an imaginative story and illustrations your kids will pore over again and again. For our full review of Swatch, click here!
Which of these books are your favorites to ignite your child’s imagination? Let us know on our facebook page, and make sure to follow us there!
Did you like this post? We have a feeling you will love some of our others too. Make sure to check these out! Happily Ever Elephants Favorite Picture Books of 2018, Favorite Books About Friendship, and Favorite Books About Courage.
Oh my gosh, do I have a new favorite bedtime book! So you know I like funny books as much as the next one, but my heart is always with beautifully illustrated picture books (especially when they showcase our diverse world!), lyrical writing and a plot that inspires wonder and imagination. And this is precisely why I fell madly in love with Time for Bed, Miyuki, by Roxanne Marie Galliez and illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavanh. The book tackles a universal problem (I mean, do any of you not struggle getting your kids down at bedtime?!) and is set against an exquisite backdrop adorned with images depicting Japanese culture on every page.
In Time for Bed, Miyuki, sweet Miyuki just doesn’t want to go to sleep, despite her grandfather’s pleas. Why? There are too many things to do, like water the vegetables, gather the snails and prepare for the arrival of the Dragonfly Queen. With gentleness and patience, her grandfather indulges Miyuki’s antics until finally, she is ready for bed and sleep overtakes her.
Time for Bed, Miyuki is utterly captivating, both visually and lyrically. Children and parents alike will be enchanted by the story within the story, by the magical, detailed illustrations, and by Miyuki’s sweet and oh-so-familiar stalling techniques that so many kids employ night after night. It doesn’t matter where you live, bedtime for children around the world is always met with resistance! The tenderness between Miyuki and her grandfather shines and is sure to inspire the sweetest of slumbers as you kiss your little ones on the forehead and tuck them in for the night. A fun, whimsical beauty — my very favorite kind of book. Two trunks up!
Want the book? Get it here! Time for Bed, Miyuki by Roxanne Marie Galliez. *This is an affiliate link.
I remember the first time I saw art. I was 10 years old, and my family and I had traveled to Paris. We were at the Musee d’Orsay, where I came face to face with Edgar Degas’ exquisite Dancers in Blue painting. Oh my gosh, did it blow me away. I’d seen art before, of course, but I’d never really SEEN it before, if that makes sense. I’d never had a visceral reaction to it, never realized the transcendent power of a painting to stir your soul and really make you feel. But that day, I experienced it. And I was taken right back to this memory of 29 years ago the second I picked up the stunning new picture book Imagine, by Raul Colon.
Imagine is a wordless wonder, a stunningly illustrated picture book showcasing the day one young boy discovers art. Though he has passed by museums in Manhattan many times prior, on this particular day he decides to walk in to the Museum of Modern Art. The boy studies painting after wondrous painting, until he stops at one. And as he ponders that one painting, and then another, the figures in these famous works come to life, jump off the canvases and into the real world, and join the boy on an adventure. The boy’s afternoon is thus filled with exploration and wonder as he and his new friends discover all of the excitement New York City has to offer. He is left transformed.
Oh, what a beauty Imagine is, and what a glorious tribute to the transcendent power of art. This exquisite book is a powerful way to introduce children to artistic expression and creativity as well as some of the world’s most prominent artists. The paintings celebrated within Imagine’s pages include Pablo Picasso’s Three Magicians, Henry Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy, and Henri Mattise’s Icarus. The book moves fluidly from page to page, leaving readers dazzled and delighted as the boy and his new friends experience New York’s many icons. Imagine is a true beauty and a powerful testament to the power of art to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary. Imagine gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from our team!
Want the book? Get it here! Imagine, by Raul Colon. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are our own.
I was tremendously close with my grandparents, and so it is that I have a tremendously large soft spot for books depicting intergenerational relationships -- or the ways in which a grandparent's legacy may impact a child's life, adventures or imagination. Ocean Meets Sky, the newest book by the indomitable Fan Brothers, is the most stunning ode to the love one young boy holds for his grandfather and the manner in which the boy chooses to honor his grandfather's memory. Oh, my heart!
In Ocean Meets Sky, Finn decides to honor what would have been his beloved grandfather's 90th birthday by finding a faraway place he learned of from his grandfather's tales - the magical space where ocean meets sky. Finn builds a boat as he had planned to do with his grandfather, preparing to set off on his journey. Before he leaves though, he falls asleep in the boat. Finn awakens to find himself out at sea, and a massive golden fish discovers Finn and leads him to the precise destination described in his grandfather's tales. Finn is guided through one magical marvel after another, only to eventually be beckoned home by his mother's call. When he reaches the seashore Finn knows he's been transformed, and thanks to his grandfather, he experienced the most magical adventure.
Ocean Meets Sky is as stunning in word as it is in illustration. Sparse text allows the exquisitely detailed pictures to impart much of the magic of the story. Reading this feels akin to being in a lush dream, where library islands ignite imagination and boats can take off for the sky. I love the premise of this story- of Finn’s longing to find the magical place known only from his grandfather’s stories, and the Fan Brother’s stunning illustrations will leave children not just spellbound and curious, but totally and utterly captivated. Watch your children and students marvel over each illustration and share their own ideas of what they see on these pages. Ocean Meets Sky will invite them in and grip them with its magic.
Want the book? Get it here! Ocean Meets Sky by The Fan Brothers. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of this book, but all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.
There's this funny thing about kids today that I don't really remember from when I was younger. Everyone seems to be overscheduled. Between sports practice and tutors and language lessons and music lessons and theater lessons and voice lessons, when do we expect our children to play? Play, after all, is what childhood is all about - that's where the magic happens, where kids come into their own and learn who they are and develop cognitively, emotionally, creatively, and even physically. Perhaps that's why I so loved Moon, the new book written and illustrated by Alison Oliver, illustrator of the prominent babylit board book series.
In Moon, Moon is a young girl who leads a busy, busy life between school, homework, music lessons and other afterschool activities. One night, though, she goes astray when she happens upon a wolf. The wolf takes her deep into the forest where Moon gets a little lesson in letting loose -- how to be wild, how to be free, and how to howl. And once she learns how good it feels to live a little, Moon doesn't want to let go.
Oh, what a joyous book Moon is! At a time when our children seem to carry the world on their shoulders, this is a glorious story reminding both kids and parents alike to take a step back, breathe, and play. Today's society seems to be putting way too much pressure on children to succeed at such tender young ages, and we are forgetting a very basic but extremely important notion: let them be little! Let kids be KIDS! With its simple text and stunning illustrations, Moon is a lovely celebration of play, nature, and the revitalizing affect that embracing our inner wild can have on our well-being.
Want the book? Get it here! MOON, by Alison Oliver. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of this book, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
It's Wednesday, and I decided to join in the #wordlesswednesday fun today, because I have some new gorgeous wordless books that I can't wait to share. I know, I know. Wordless books can be intimidating, no doubt. But a good wordless book is worth its weight in gold. Why? With no words, children have to study the illustrations to pick up on story elements. They use their own language to tell the story, and they experiment with beginnings, middles and endings. Through details in the story, kids pick up on important tools such as emotions, weather, and catalysts for particular actions taken by the characters. And most importantly, kids are able to use the powers of their own imaginations in connection with the illustrations to tell their rendition of the story.
Wallpaper, by Thao Lam, is an absolute wonder! This is the story of a young girl who moves with her family to a new home. Outside her window, the child sees some other kids her age in a treehouse, but she is too scared to say hello. With nothing else to do, she picks at a torn piece of wallpaper in her room, and a fantastical journey suddenly ensues. What happens when she discovers a monster on her journey? She's scared, of course, until she realizes the monster simply needs a friend. And he may be just the creature to give her a hefty dose of courage to survive her new circumstances.
If you are new to wordless books, Wallpaper is DEFINITELY one to begin with -- and I don't say that lightly. The collaged illustrations, to start, are breathtaking. Wallpaper also has a clear beginning, middle and end, making it easy for kids to explain what they believe is happening. More importantly, however, the illustrations are concrete enough to give important context, but whimsical enough that kids can be creative with the story. Wallpaper is a unique, and uniquely beautiful, approach to the classic subject of making friends, and I cannot wait to share this one with my students.
Want the book? Get it here! Wallpaper, by Thao Lam. *This is an affiliate link.
If you are interested in additional wordless books, make sure to check out our reviews for these fabulous options: Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell, The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee, and Pool, by JiHyeon Lee.
I always wanted a treehouse as a child -- a treehouse with a staircase to the sky, where I could watch the world like a robin, read my books, and write my stories. It never happened, though. The swaying palm trees in our backyard weren't the most conducive for such a hideaway, my parents told me, so I had to resort to reading about them instead. Oh, how I wish I had Everything You Need for a Treehouse back then! It would have been the perfect antidote for my treehouse-less backyard. Why? Because it is just as magical as I imagine the real thing to be. Magical and mysterious and, no ifs ands or buts about it, absolutely perfect.
In Everything You Need for a Treehouse, lyrically written by Carter Higgins and exquisitely illustrated by Emily Hughes, readers are given "instructions" on what they need to build a treehouse, beginning with time, a look up, and a hefty imagination. The book breathes life into each and every requirement for the house - from gnarled timber to making sure it's tall enough to see sun speckles up close, to a swing and rope and "twisted twine of spun sugar and sap." Together, the story and illustrations sing. Together, they spark magic, ignite imagination, and capture the enchantment and wonder a treehouse rouses in children and adults alike.
Everything You Need for a Treehouse is genius. It's cadence is impeccable, making it a read aloud gem for storytime. The language and vocabulary is challenging yet accessible, so it works just as well for older elementary children as it does for the younger set. The illustrations are unbelievably breathtaking, with details to pore over on every page. And the lyrical prose reads like a dream, one you want to immerse yourself in again and again. Simply put: I may not have had a treehouse as a child, but, my goodness, I certainly do now. Everything You Need for a Treehouse is pure picture book perfection. Without a doubt, this is my favorite release of 2018 to date. Don't walk, run to the bookstore to get this beauty today!
Want the book? Get it here! Everything You Need for a Treehouse, by Carter Higgins. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of this book, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
I love walking outside and feeling a gentle breeze on my neck. Even better, I love a blustery, drizzly day, when you can watch the wind whip leaves into a frenzy, all while snuggled under a blanket on the couch with a steaming cup of coffee in your hands. I never actually took the time to think about the wind though - especially how important it is to have structures or trees to break it. Not until I read Kate, Who Tamed the Wind, that is, the fabulous new book written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Lee White.
In Kate, Who Tamed the Wind, an old man lives at the tippy-top of a steep, steep hill where a strong wind blows and blows, turning his world upside down and leaving him throwing his hands up in frustration. What to do with all this wind that bangs his shutters and bends his boards and spills his tea? A young girl in an itty-bitty town at the bottom of the hill finds the man's hat that blew out of his house - and after hearing his cry of "what to do?!" carrying on the wind, she finds a solution, too.
I am so in love with the way the prose in this book almost feels like the wind is blowing through the pages. The words are lyrical, the rhythm of the text is musical, and reading it aloud is pitch perfect. This is a beautifully illustrated, breezy story to read with students interested in or learning about ecology. But that's not all -- I love the way it explores friendship, problem solving, and ingenuity, too. Kate, Who Tamed the Wind is perfect -- not just for Earth Day, but all year round. Two trunks up!
Want the book? Get it here! Kate, Who Tamed the Wind, by Liz Garton Scanlon. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of this book, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
Oh how I love books about strong, geeky, girl inventors! Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe will now sit on our shelves alongside books like Rosie Revere, Engineer, Ada Twist, Scientist and The Most Magnificent Thing for its quirky, spunky protagonist. Magnolia Mudd is a girl who would prefer to tinker with gizmos and gadgets in an effort to launch a wedding bouquet high into the air rather than walk that same bunch of flowers down an aisle in a girly dress. What a romp this adorable story is!
In Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe, written by Katey Howes and fabulously illustrated by Valerio Fabbretti, Magnolia Mudd is devastated when she learns her favorite inventor, Uncle Jamie, is marrying Miss Emily. Miss Emily, simply put, ruins everything. When Magnolia is asked to be in their wedding, her uncle promises that being a flower girl isn't the only important job in a wedding. With help from none other than Miss Emily, Magnolia designs the best ever bouquet launcher that utilizes a heck of a lot of Mudd power. Maybe just a little too much...
Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe is an adorably fun read that subverts traditional gender roles and lets girls be the star of the STEM show. From her laboratory to her sketches to the fractions and space posters hanging in her room, Magnolia stands out as a plucky character who will not be held back by frilly dresses or fancy ribbons when there are nuts and bolts to be tightened. This is a must for your library collections, and especially for those girls who prefer bolts to barbies and blasters to bouquets. Two trunks up!
Want the book? Get it here! Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe, by Katey Howes. HEE received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
This book blew me away on the first read through, with its striking illustrations, its fabulous pacing, and its breathtakingly phenomenal voice. Wow. Crown, An Ode to the Fresh Cut, written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon James, was a window book like none other, a story about a young African-American boy who goes to the barbershop to get a haircut and walks out feeling like a million dollars. I remember being a young kid and sitting down in the hairstylist's chair vividly, but my experiences were wholly different then the one described in this vibrant story. As a child, I cried every time I looked into the mirror at the end of my cut when I was struck with a horrible realization: my hair was not long, not blonde and certainly not straight like Rapunzel's. Instead, it was mousy brown and more akin to Medusa than any Disney princess, with thin ringlets bouncing like a halo all around my little head. But this book, to think of how amazing this child felt every time he went to the barber - it was so poignant and immediately brought tears to my eyes.
In Crown, a boy walks into the barbershop. He saunters in "as a lump of clay, a blank canvas." But when the man has finished the cut, the boy looks so fly, "they'll want to post [him] up in a museum." The story moves seamlessly through the child's experience as the man drapes him like a king with a cape and then single handedly transforms him -- and his confidence -- with a new hairdo.
Crown is an absolute force. It firmly grounds the reader in the setting, right in the center of all that magic, where children become royalty alongside the other men visiting the shop that day. From the very first page, the very first sentence, Barnes transports the reader right into that barbershop culture through vivid details that come to life with brilliant authenticity. It is a celebration of self-confidence and self-worth, a beautiful window into a snippet of a boy's day that transforms him and makes him feel recognized and powerful. The voice, the word choice, the rhythm - it's all astonishingly perfect. Crown is a powerful read that should be in every classroom and every library around the country -- and in your homes too. An eye opener, a winner, a joy. Two trunks up!
Want a copy? Get it here: Crown, by Derrick Barnes. HEE received a review copy from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
Another fabulous story about the power of words! You know these types of books are my absolute favorite, and this year's release, Lexie the Word Wrangler written by Rebecca Van Slyke with illustrations by Jessie Hartland, is absolutely darling - a fun, fresh cowgirl spin on the alphabet and the meaning of words.
In Lexie the Word Wrangler, Lexie is the best Word Wrangler West of the Mississippi. She watches over baby letters as they develop into words, she ties short words together to create long ones, she ties words together to form sentences and then she throws sentences together to create paragraphs-- and stories! But what happens when letters and words go missing? Lexie realizes she has a word rustler to contend with-- and she must track him down before he creates a ruckus!
Lexie the Word Wrangler is creative wordplay at its best, and it will undoubtedly have kids mesmerized by the manner in which a word's definition can change so drastically by the addition (or removal) of a single letter. It is action packed, with engaging childlike illustrations begging to be pored over due to the unique details highlighting the words used on every page. Add to this Van Slyke's usage of compound words and anagrams, and it makes for a fabulous complement to any lesson on the component parts of words, vocabulary, and creative writing. Two trunks up!
Want the book? Get it here! Lexie the Word Wrangler, by Rebecca Van Slyke. *This is an affiliate link.
I mean, if you want to get your kids or students cracking up, run, don't walk to the nearest book store and get Best Frints in the Whole Universe, by Antoinette Portis, now. I'm not sure what my kids like more-- the fact that the book is hilarious, or the fact that I have yet to read it with a straight face. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it- this book is all around fun. But don't be fooled- it has a great impact on learning too!
Best Frints in the Whole Universe is about two residents of the planet Boborp who have been best buds- or "Frints" - since they were just little blobbies. But when Omek decides to take Yelfred's spaceship out for a spin-- without asking-- their "frintship" hits a universe-sized snag. Will they eventually make up and get past it? Or are they destined to be "alienated" from each other forever?
Oh my goodness. This book and its retro-colored, wacky and zany illustrations will have you in stitches-- though be forewarned the characters do get into some sticky fights and games, so it may not be ideal for all kids (remember, you know your little ones best!). All the fun notwithstanding, Best Frints in the Whole Universe also does wonders to help your kids understand how to decode unfamiliar words by studying the pictures and by using context clues. It's a great book for language development and a fabulously fun (and funny!) book on friendship. A big, big winner in our home!
Want the book? Get it here! Best Frints in the Whole Universe, by Antoinette Portis. *This is an affiliate link.
Everyone's favorite pesky chicken and aggravated alligator are back! If your kids roared with laughter over Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to be in This Book), then I have absolutely no doubt they will adore the sequel, Snappsy the Alligator and his Best Friend Forever! (Probably), by Julie Falatko and illustrated by Tim Miller, even more. In this sequel, Snappsy is grumpier than ever and the chicken is as bothersome as ever. The result? Your kids will be in stitches. I promise.
In Snappsy the Alligator and his Best Friend Forever! (Probably), a pesky chicken is determined to convince Snappsy that the two animals are - you guessed it - best friends forever. The chicken, who we come to learn is named Bert, has a slight tendency to exaggerate -- both about Snappsy's stellar achievements and the status of the animals' relationship. When Bert decides its high time to plan for their Best Friends Sleepover, it takes some pretty heavy convincing to get Snappsy to cooperate. Why? Snappsy, of course, much prefers quiet evenings by himself. But once he finally gets Bert to leave him alone, Snappsy decides that maybe, just maybe, his solitude isn't so much fun after all.
Talk about determination! I love that pesky Bert. I love his wild imagination, his devotion to Snappsy, and how he recognizes that Snappsy needs a friend before Snappsy even realizes it himself. But most of all, I love Bert's staunch commitment to his goal. He will befriend that cantankerous alligator! Both Snappsy books, with their vibrant cartoon art and word bubbles, make for rollicking read alouds. Whether it's one adult reading, or two kids acting out these hilarious and expressive characters, Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever! (Probably) is sure to be as big a hit as the first book, if not even bigger. One thing is for sure -- while Snappsy and Bert may struggle to find their rhythm, Falatko and Miller have their dynamic down pat. What a duo this team is! We can't wait to see what they have in store for us next. Two trunks up!
Want the book? Get it here! Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever! (Probably), by Julie Falatko. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced review copy of this book, however all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.
All of us in education know that a big part of the first several weeks of school involves establishing classroom rules and expectations for the year. So let's be honest here: This is hardly the most enjoyable topic for adults to address, and it is certainly a snoozer for kids and students. But it's not just important -- it's a must -- so why not kick this discussion off with an adorable book? Enter If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Dont!, by Elise Parsley.
Magnolia is back, starring in her third book! In If You Ever Want to Bring A Circus to the Library, Don't!, Magnolia advises her librarian that she will definitely abide by appropriate library behavior while there on a visit. But then Magnolia begins tight-rope walking, twirling and engaging in other circus antics around the library, and though she elicits great cheers from the other library patrons, the librarian is totally dismayed. When Magnolia's grand finale cannon-ball across the stacks is a total disaster, she discovers that the only other way to win back her fans is-- you guessed it -- by reading a magical book.
Whether you want to talk about expectations for the classroom, for the library, or even your own home, If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don't! is a fantastic book to get that conversation started with your young children. It's a light, fun read, one that will undoubtedly make your kids laugh while simultaneously reinforcing some important rules. There's nothing kids love more than recognizing they know something valuable that a character in a story is totally missing-- and nothing gives them a greater sense of joy than yelling to characters in a book when they are doing something wrong!
Want the book? Get it here! If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don't!, by Elise Parsley. *This is an affiliate link.
Ahoy! If you've got tween readers at home who love pirates, sword fighting and rip-roaring escapades with the most courageous adventurers and swashbucklers, look no further than Stephen Bramucci's debut novel, The Danger Gang and the Pirates of Borneo, illustrated by the great Arree Chung. Let's be honest- you all know I'm a lover of literary fiction and character driven stories, even when it comes to middle grade works. But since I now have a school full of pirate, adventure loving students on my hands, I know it's time for me to branch out. I picked up Steve's new book with bated breath-- and I absolutely loved it. I was hooked from the very first paragraph.
In The Danger Gang and the Pirates of Borneo, young Ronald Zupan touts himself as a master adventurer. There's only one problem-- he hasn't actually been on any grand or daring journeys. When his world traveling parents are kidnapped, Ronald knows he is the only one to save them. So he slaps on his fake mustache, grabs his pet cobra, and teams up with both his butler, Jeeves, and his fencing nemesis, Julianne Sato. Off they go to the the jungles of Borneo, where his parents were last spotted. Will their adventure end in success, or will they be outwitted by Zeetan Z, the worlds most ruthless pirate? There's only one way to find out!
If your tweens love fast-paced adventure stories complete with pirates, orangutans with wicked aim, snow leopards, giants, secret caves and sword fights, look no further than The Danger Gang. But don't be fooled by the swashbuckling escapades alone. Ronald Zupan also learns quite a bit about himself on his daring journey- starting with the fact that impressing others and pulling out all the stops isn't always the way to win the battle. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race-- even if it means your most sophisticated and spectacular talents won't steal the show. Ronald's loyalty to his team and steadfast devotion to his parents shines throughout the book, making this one of our summer favorites and a winner for young adventurers everywhere.
Want the book? Get it now, matey! The Danger Gang and the Pirates of Borneo, by Stephen Bramucci. And guess what? There’s a sequel! If you loved the first book, make sure to check out the second one too, Danger Gang and the Isle of Feral Beasts. *These are affiliate links. HEE received review copies of this book from the publisher, but all opinions contained herein are our own.
What a stunner this is! The Book of Mistakes, written and illustrated by newcomer Corrina Luyken, is a quiet masterpiece illuminating the inherent beauty that underlies every misstep we make. Even months after first reading this book, I still cannot quite believe this is Lyuken's debut. She is, without a doubt, one to watch. And this book is, without a doubt, a favorite of 2017.
In The Book Of Mistakes, the reader follows Luyken on a creative journey- one that exquisitely depicts how "mistakes" actually become an integral component of her illustrative process. Luyken's artistry is meant to be pored over and studied, with new, quirky details to be discovered each time the book is picked up for a reread. Though there are numerous books that touch upon opportunities arising from perceived errors, this one is as powerful as it is unassuming.
So many kids are perfectionists, beginning a project again and again because they can't get it just right. So how can we, the "grown ups" help to nurture their creativity and limit their insecurity? Use The Book of Mistakes -- and perhaps even pair it with A Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg -- to show little ones that magnificence can be found in mistakes, even our biggest ones. An "oh no" can become an "oh wow!" with just a bit of endurance and a whole lot of heart and imagination. Kids will be amazed at the manner in which Luyken's smudges and spills become extraordinarily special, and for this reason, it gets two hearty trunks up. This is one we will read again and again in our house... and I have no doubt The Book of Mistakes will be one my boys carry with them throughout their lives.
Want the book? Get it here! The Book of Mistakes, by Corinna Luyken. *This is an affiliate link.
Guess what today is? It's A Good Day for a Hat! In this merry story written by T. Nat Fuller, complete with vibrant illustrations by Rob Hodgson, Mr. Brown just can't seem to start his day. Every time he leaves the house he finds something unexpected going on outside his door, and each situation requires him to put on a wildly different hat. Will he ever be able to make his way to a very important date in the proper attire?
A Good Day for a Hat is an adorable book that the toddler set will just love. The repeating, silly stanzas enable kids to participate orally during story time or lap reading, and this repetition is fabulous for helping to build confidence in emerging readers. A Good Day for a Hat is also terrific for engaging toddlers' critical thinking and matching skills- your kids will love discussing which hats pair with each scenario Mr. Brown finds himself in as he leaves his house. Add to this the bright, kid-friendly illustrations, and A Good Day for a Hat is a toddler winner!
Want the book? Get it here! A Good Day for a Hat, by T. Nat Fuller. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received this book from the publisher; however, all opinions contained herein are our own.
I'll admit it- aside from Harry Potter, fantasy isn't usually my thing. I know that may sound crazy to many of you, but it is what it is. But then I read The Girl Who Drank the Moon, an astoundingly beautiful middle grade novel by Kelly Barnhill that just happened to win the 2017 Newbery Award, and I think I may be a new convert. Because this book... all I can say is WOW. This book is magic, and I was captivated from the very first sentence.
In The Girl Who Drank the Moon, a town is haunted by an annual "tradition": a Day of Sacrifice, one that involves leaving the eldest baby born that year in the woods to appease a witch who threatens to destroy the village if her commands are not obeyed. Thus begins the story of the baby who is taken and subsequently "enmagicked" by being fed moonlight rather than starlight, the families from whom babies are taken, a witch who is anything but, a very tiny dragon, and a tale looming large before a village that may or may not actually be true.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon had me hooked from the get go, from its perfect (and perfectly flawed) characters to it's truly spellbinding plot -- so much so that at times I totally forgot I was reading a middle grade novel and found myself pondering questions that were so relevant to today's times. Aside from the beautiful prose and the multiple perspectives that so seamlessly weave together past and present narratives, Barnhill masterfully presents a spring point for kids and adults alike to discuss the concept of truths versus lies and how adherence to certain stories can become the very foundations on which societies are built and even maintained. A breathtaking, mesmerizing story that leaves you guessing until the end, I still, months later, cannot stop thinking about it and cannot wait to read it again. There is not a doubt in my mind that The Girl Who Drank the Moon will become an instant classic, and if you and your kids loved Harry Potter, this is one not to be missed.
Want the book? Get it here! The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill. *This is an affiliate link.