I had so much fun at this week’s storytime, seeing most of my regular families, and some I hadn’t seen in a long time. Auld Acquaintances! But if there are any publishers, children’s authors, or aspiring children’s authors reading this, please take note: there is a desperate shortage of books about New Year’s.
I had pulled or ordered over every book I could find in our system on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. There weren’t many, not even on Amazon, and the ones I found were mostly too long to read at story time. There are LOTS of books on Chinese New Year, which I’m looking forward to covering in a few weeks. But publishers appear to have dropped the ball on New Year’s Eve, and I don’t mean the one in Times Square.
I ended up resorting to an odd mix of books about babies (in honor of Baby New Year) and parties and the year in general. Luckily there are a fair number of these. These were the ones I ended up reading:
The only actual New Year’s book I read. It’s a rhymed book, and the meter is awkward in some places, but overall it meets my requirements for a good holiday book: it covers the major traditions without being dry, and tells a story in the process. In this case, it’s about a girl and her brother who want to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, but don’t quite make it. The kids enjoyed this one, and it was eagerly snatched up at the end. After the book, we all counted down from 10 and yelled, “Happy New Year!” It would have been fun to throw confetti too, except for the inevitable clean-up.
Okay, this was a stretch, but I justified it by mentioning Baby New Year. I had originally pulled this one because it was on a list of best picture books published in 2013 (a topic I will be covering soon). And the kids loved it! There was even a minor brawl over it at the end. When a baby is born with a mustache, the delivery nurse tells his startled family that they need to find out if it’s a good guy mustache or a bad guy mustache. The baby starts out taking on all kinds of good mustachioed roles: cowboy, Spanish painter, sword fighter, and man of the law. But then the mustache begins to curl on the ends… The illustrations are very funny.
I read the first story in this early chapter book, partly because it fit the theme of a new year, and partly because there’s an Arnold Lobel exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, including a concert of songs based on his works on January 12. I also thought it would fun for some of the Kindergartners in my storytime to get to know Frog and Toad, who were favorite characters from my old childhood. In the story I read, Frog drags Toad out on a cold winter day, and gets him to go sledding.
Another stretch, but I justified it because it was about a party. Xander wants to throw a panda party, but since he’s the only panda at the zoo, he reconsiders and invites all the bears. When he finds out the koala isn’t really a bear, he extends his invitation to mammals, but rhinoceros insists on bringing his bird. In the end, of course, he ends up inviting every creature at the zoo, including the people. Cute rhyming story that the kids seemed to enjoy. It got checked out immediately too.
CRAFT: Decorated Calendars
I happened to be at Michael’s the other day, and picked up a bunch of small picture frame calendars for 60 cents each. The kids had fun drawing, stickering, and collaging on them with pictures I cut from magazines. A cheaper way to go would be to print out calendars (or even just the month of January) from CalendarLabs.com and have the kids decorate those.
This is actually a really sweet book, that would work well for New Year’s, even for toddlers. It’s a lovely poem about all the nice things that will remain the same: “…this new year/the sky will still be there/the stars will still shine/birds will fly over us/church bells will chime…we shall have peaches/we shall have pie/we shall have ice cream three scoops high” The illustrations are soft, colorful, and peaceful.
This one was a bit too long for my storytime, but I liked that it addresses the idea of writing New Year’s Resolutions, which might have been a fun craft idea too. Squirrel is frustrated that she can’t come up with any resolutions of her own, but she ends up helping each of her friends keep theirs.
Shanté Keys and the New Year Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport; illustrated by Marian Eldridge (Amazon.com link) Submitted by Lindsey Tear
Grandma has made all the lucky foods for New Year’s Day, but she forgot the black-eyed peas. So Shanté Keys sets out to find some. I haven’t seen this one yet, but I’ve requested a copy for our library system. As a kid, we always had kidney beans, cornbread, and collard greens for New Year’s Day, a tradition that I miss, so I can empathize with Shanté Keys.
This book is out of print, unfortunately, but it looks sweet. Winnie the Pooh and his friends are sad to see that the calendar has come to an end, until Christopher Robin tells them they have a whole new year ahead.
Another Frog and Toad book, but one that may be even more appropriate for New Year’s. It’s even referenced in this article on keeping your New Year’s resolutions. The two stories that fit best are “A List,” where Toad makes a list of things he plans to do, and “Cookies,” where Frog and Toad try to find the willpower not to eat all the cookies.
P. Bear’s New Year’s Eve Party by Paul Owen Lewis (Amazon.com link) Submitted by Neeru Penumella
This one isn’t in our library system either, probably because it’s only available in paperback, but it looks like fun. The book uses the arrival of each of P. Bear’s friends to demonstrate counting and telling time.
Are there any great New Year’s books I’m missing out on? Please share them in the comments.