Squirrel vs. nut

Aw, Nuts!

By Rob McClurkan

Harper 2014

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Come September, I’m always on the lookout for quality fall-themed picture books that work well as a read aloud. There is an abundance of books with leaves, pumpkins, squirrels, or scarecrows but not a lot that will keep the attention of a classroom of kindergartners who just had fruit loops & powdered doughnuts for breakfast.

Then I came across a copy of Aw, Nuts! and figure kids will basically get hooked solely on the exaggerated frustration the title implies. Of course the squirrel narrator utters “Aw, nuts!” no less than ten times throughout the slapstick story of a squirrel who doesn’t quite understand that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

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Check out the book trailer

If you like contrasting could things get any crazier/Whew! structuring of this story I would also recommend Remy Charlip’s adventurous book Fortunately (1964).

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Sing a Song

This is my go-to song for when autumn approaches. I used a die cut machine to

make red, orange, yellow, & brown maple leaves to act out the verses at storytime.

Spread the love by making extras for families to sing all the way home with.

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Best Thing I’ve Read All Week

The Farmer and the Clown 

by Marla Frazee

Beach Lane Books 2014

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Tenderhearted book about the kindness of strangers. No words are needed to tell the story of a young clown who is separated from his circus train and the farmer who takes care of him. Readers follow both characters as they are transformed by their friendship.

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Yellow + Blue Makes Green (and then some)

Mix it Up!

By Hervé  Tullet

Chronicle Books 2014

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Hervé Tullet, author of the widely lauded Press Here (2010) which resulted in a landslide of interactive picture books being published has applied that formula rather successfully to his latest offering Mix It Up.

Children now able to swipe before they walk get results similar to a handheld screen in the pages of a book. All you have to do is follow directions then simply turn the pages getting a little poof of picture book magic.

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Tullet allows readers to vicariously experiment with paint as well as introduces color combining in this fantastic work that promises to be yet another bestseller.

For children continuing to learn more about working with color, I suggest pairing Mix it Up with Mouse Paint (1995) by Ellen Stoll Walsh and Little Yellow and Little Blue (1959) by Leo Lionni.

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Best Thing I’ve Read All Week

The Cake

By Dorothee de Monfried

Gecko Press, 2014

A tiger gets it’s just desserts in this delightfully snarky tale of failed collaboration.

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I’m curious if the teddy bear has a gluten intolerance.

Pick 5

The Bear’s Sea Escape

By Benjamin Chaud

Chronicle Books 2014

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We meet Papa Bear and Little Bear again in this follow up to Benjamin Chaud’s The Bear’s Song. This time instead of hunting for his cub throughout an opera house, Papa Bear tails him from a snowed-in city to a faraway tropical island. Saturated colors and mountains of details to wade through make for a delightful picture book not just to read but study.

Very Little Red Riding Hood

By Heapy & Heap

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014

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The Big Bad Wolf has his work cut out for him after encountering a pint-sized girl on her way to Grandmama’s house. Very Little Red Riding Hood insists on calling him “Foxie”, she refuses to share her delicious cakes, and throws more than one tantrum before they even reach their destination. Heapy & Heap rearrange a classic in the most adorable way possible.

Flashlight

By Lizi Boyd

Chronicle Books 2014

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Explore the world outside at night in this brilliant and original wordless picture book by the author of Inside Outside. With the aid of a flashlight, we are shown contrasting color scenes that splice through the black and silver darkness.

Pig and Small

By Alex Latimer

Peachtree Publishers 2014

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Friendship isn’t always easy, and pig & bug almost give up on theirs due to having incompatible sizes. They come to realize there are more things they can do together than can’t.

 Digger Dog

By William Bee

Nosy Crow Publishing 2014

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Put on your hard hat and join Digger Dog in his hunt for a bone that turns out to be much bigger than expected. Rhyming text and fold out pages make for an engaging read with a surprise ending.

Knock Knock

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Recipient of the 2014 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me delivers both a visual and emotional punch. It begins with a simple game played between an adoring son and his father, but just a few pages in the boy experiences a great loss. His father disappears, but not in the magical way that parents frequently go absent in children’s literature thus allowing children the narrative freedom to go on great adventures. The father of the boy in this story is simply gone.

“Papa, come home, ’cause I miss you, miss you waking me in the mornings and telling me you love me. Papa, come come ’cause there are things I don’t know, and when I get older I thought you could teach me.”

The story is a sad one, but not uncommon. Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream For Me is based on the author, who at three years old experienced his father being incarcerated. As an adult, Beaty an award-winning actor, singer, writer, and composer produced this version to “…tell the story of loss from a child’s perspective and also to offer hope that every fatherless child can still create the most beautiful life possible”.

Definitely check out the author performing the monologue that inspired the picture book.