I Scream, You Scream for Stories about Ice Cream

The ice cream mixture: milk, vanilla and sugar

The ice cream mixture: milk, vanilla and sugar

This week we read books about ice cream, and made ice cream in a bag, something I learned from my very first job as a Children’s Librarian, at the North Regional Library in Raleigh, North Carolina.  I was only there for a few months before my husband got a job that required us to move to the Bay Area, but I learned a lot from my coworkers there, and I’ll always be grateful to them.

I was actually debating about making the ice cream in coffee cans instead of plastic bags, since it would be more environmental, but my kids and I tried it three times at home (yeah, they hated being guinea pigs for this one), and we just couldn’t get it to work.  The stuff in the middle would always be too slushy, and the stuff on the sides so frozen it was hard to scrape off.  So I went back to the original plan. I did collect and wash all the plastic bags at the end.  (Stores in our county no longer give out plastic bags, so I actually hoard them to dispose of my cat litter).

Here’s what we read:

ice-cream-larry-cover

Ice Cream Larry by Daniel Pinkwater; illustrated by Jill Pinkwater (Amazon.com link)

I hadn’t originally planned to read this one, because it’s a longer picture book, but right when storytime started, there was only one 6 year-old and her mom, so I decided to share it with her.  It’s one of a series of books about Larry the polar bear, who lives at the Hotel Larry and serves as the lifeguard for the pool.  In this book, Larry makes the news when he asks a local ice cream shop if he can cool down in their freezer, and then eats 1/8 of a ton of their ice cream.  “I do not feel sick,” he says.  Soon, the owner of the Iceberg Ice Cream company shows up at the hotel to meet with Larry.  He ends up making him the spokesbear for his new line of ice creams, and the company’s new slogan, “I do not feel sick,” becomes a national sensation.  Very silly, but lots of fun to read, and a hit with the kids.

littlepea

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Jen Corace (Amazon.com link)

Other families with younger kids had come in during the first book, so I went with this one next.  It’s not actually an ice cream book, but it tied in with my “Candy Corn for Dinner” song that I sang before I read it.  It’s one of my favorite picture books, about a little pea who dreads having to eat his nightly dinner of candy.  This one always gets laughs from both kids and adults.

icecream

Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

I had to to do this book, which is one of my favorite Elephant and Piggies.  Gerald is just about to enjoy his ice cream cone, when he wonders if he should share it with Piggie instead.  It is a terribly difficult decision, and one that takes him so long that his ice cream melts.  Most of my regular storytime families are familiar with Gerald and Piggie, but there was one new family who had never heard of the series.  I was happy to hear them laughing at the ending.

frogandtoad

Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel (Amazon.com link)

Occasionally I like to share a chapter from an early reader book like this one, and I was reminded of the “Ice Cream” story in this book when my daughter was listening to the audiobook in the car.  To my surprise, most of the kids had never heard of the Frog and Toad books, which I know are still asked for frequently at the library.  In this story, Toad buys two ice cream cones for himself and Frog to enjoy.  But on his way back to Frog, the ice cream melts, covering his face so he cannot see.  Other animals run from him in alarm, and when he finally gets back to Frog, he looks like a scary monster with two pointy horns.  This one got laughs too.

ninja

Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta; illustrated by Ed Young (Amazon.com link)

I should have asked ahead of time if the kids knew what a ninja was, because one of them raised the question.  A ninja is stealthily creeping through a house, until he is discovered and unmasked for what he really is: a boy sneaking ice cream from the freezer.  This is a short book that is fun to read aloud because you can build up the suspense in the early pages.

SONGS:

Candy Corn for Dinner

I wrote this song for the storytime, since I couldn’t find many that fit the ice cream theme.  It needs another verse, which I’ll try to add sometime in the future, but the kids seemed to like it.  I’m still too nervous to tell people at storytime when I perform an original song, but it’s a fun challenge to write them.  It’s also not too hard if you know a few chords on the guitar or ukulele, which is all you need for most kids songs anyway.  This one only has three chords: C G7 and F.

C                                                                     G7                   C
My mom and dad put me in charge of our dinner tonight.
C                                                                                G7
They said I could make anything as long as we ate right.
C                                                        G7                   C
I had to serve some vegetables, a salad, and a stew.
C                                                                        G7               C
I thought a while and cooked a bit, and here is my menu.

F                                                     C
We’re having candy corn for dinner
G7                             C
With a side of chocolate stew.
F                               C
A three jelly bean salad,
G7                                                C
And an ice cream sandwich too.

I don’t know why Mom and Dad say cooking’s such a chore,
‘Cause I had such a great time going to the grocery store.
My mom said we were out of milk, so I bought a big milkshake,
And since my dad likes cheese so much, I got him a cheesecake.

We’re having candy corn for dinner
With a side of chocolate stew.
A three jelly bean salad,
And an ice cream sandwich too.

If All the Raindrops

This is an old standby that I use for toddler and baby storytimes too.  (I used to sing it to my daughter at toothbrushing time, and it became kind of a game to brush her teeth while we sang the “Aaahs.”)  I asked the kids to suggest other things they would like the rain to be.  One girl suggested chocolate marshmallows, and her mom suggested margaritas.  Here are the traditional lyrics (click on the triangle for the tune):

 

C
If all the raindrops
G7                           C
Were lemondrops and gumdrops
C                                                 G7
Oh, what a rain that would be!
C                G7                           C                    G7
Standing outside, with my mouth open wide
C                 G7               C                 G7
Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah Ah!
C                                           G7                           C
If all the raindrops were lemondrops and gumdrops,
C                   G7                     C
Oh, what a rain it would be!

If all the snowflakes
Were candy bars and milkshakes…

If all the sunbeams
Were bubblegum and ice cream…

CRAFT: Ice Cream in a Bag

Ice cream mixture sealed in a large bag of ice and rock salt

Ice cream mixture sealed in a large bag of ice and rock salt

The finished product!

The finished product!

I printed out the directions on a half-page handout, in case anyone wanted to take it home.  You can print your own here: ICE CREAM IN A BAG

Before we started, I went over each of the ingredients.  We talked about the vanilla, and I let the kids smell the open bottle.  I showed them the rock salt, and explained that it was important, because without it the ice cream wouldn’t freeze.  (The milk and sugar freeze at a lower temperature than water, but the salt lowers the freezing temperature of water.  When you put it on ice, the ice melts, but it turns into a slushy mixture that is actually colder).

I gave each kid a quart-sized plastic zipper bag (for what it’s worth, the bags I bought from Target claimed to be BPA-free, although I’ve read that the other chemicals plastic companies use aren’t necessarily safer).  I had them hold their bags open, and I poured the 1/2 of whole milk in for them, since it was a large, heavy gallon of milk.  Then I held the bag open for each of them as they scooped in two tablespoons of sugar.  I pour in the 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Then I told them to seal their bags tightly, and make sure they were closed (I once had volunteers mix up the ice cream mixture in the bags ahead of time, and they forgot to seal the bags shut.  There were a lot of disappointed kids left holding bags of salty milk).

Once they had their ice cream mixture sealed in the small bags, I gave them each a gallon-sized bag to half-fill with ice.  Then we poured the rock salt in on top of the ice (the recipe calls for 1/2 cup, but I just estimated).  They sealed their ice cream mix into the big bag, and shook the bags while I played some songs on the ukulele.  It takes about 5 minutes for the ice cream to freeze.

Once the ice cream was frozen, I gave out spoons and straws for the kids to each it straight out of the bag.  Some froze more solidly than others, but it has a pretty good flavor that they all seemed to like.

OTHER BOOKS ABOUT ICE CREAM:

I Scream, Ice Cream! a Book of Wordles by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Serge Bloch (Amazon.com link)

This book’s not actually about ice cream, but I was originally going to read it along with Little Pea, since it references that book at the end.  It’s actually a series of phrases that can mean two different things, depending on how you read them.  For example: “I scream!  Two bucks!” (with a picture of someone running away from two angry deer), sounds just like “Ice cream, two bucks!”  The phrases get increasingly complicated, and it’s fun to try and guess what the alternate meaning will be.

Ice Cream: the Full Scoop by Gail Gibbons (Amazon.com link)

Nice overview of the history of ice cream, and how it is made commercially.  This one was a little long for my group, but would work well for a preschool or elementary school class.

Any other books about ice cream?  I would love some more suggestions.

 

For the Birds: Stories about our Fine, Feathered Friends

Goldfinch Feeder

Goldfinch Feeder

Last night at Family Storytime we read stories about birds, and made a simple bird feeder for goldfinches.

I was happy because I got to open with one of my all-time favorite read-alouds:

beebee

The Baby Beebee Bird by Diane Redfield Massie; illustrated by Stephen Kellogg (Amazon.com link)

This book is perfect for storytime: it has large, colorful illustrations, lots of animal noises, and a funny, annoying repeated phrase the kids get to join in on.  A quiet evening at the zoo is interrupted by the newly arrived baby beebee bird, who insists on singing, “Beebee Bobbi Bobbi!” over and over again all night long.  The next morning, the other animals are exhausted, the zookeeper is worried, and the lion has a plan to get revenge.  I’ve also seen this book performed as a reader’s theater, where it works beautifully because there are so many different parts.

hot dog

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

One of the kids spotted this Pigeon book in my stack and got really excited.  I had actually brought two Pigeon books along, and I asked the kids to vote for the one they wanted to hear: they all asked me to read both.  I think this one got the biggest laughs though.  In this book, the Pigeon is about to enjoy the hot dog he found, until an adorable, curious (and deviously clever) duckling asks him what hot dogs are like.

pigeon

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems (Amazon.com link)

This one is more like the original Pigeon book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, where the kids get to respond to the Pigeon’s wheedling demands by yelling, “No!”  In this case, the Pigeon is angling to stay up past bedtime, by using the arguments and excuses that every parent has heard before.

chickens

Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman (Amazon.com link)

Fun, silly farm story about the Greenstalk family, whose chickens always swoop in to save the day.  Wristwatch in the well? Chickens to the rescue! Too tired to make dinner? Chickens to the rescue!  Dog ate your book report? Chickens to the rescue.  This one is always a hit, and the kids love chiming in on the “Chickens to the Rescue!”

emu

Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles; illustrated by Rod Clement (Amazon.com link)

Edward the emu is sick of the zoo.  When he hears someone say that the seals are his favorite animal, Edward hops the fence into the seal pool and tries being a seal instead.  But then he overhears someone else saying the lions are best, and has to try that too, until another person raves about the snakes. Finally, someone says they like the emus best, but when Edward returns to his old enclosure, he finds a new emu in his place.  The illustrations in this rhyming story, showing Edward emu-lating the other animals, are hilarious.  The kids also enjoyed making animal noises along with Edward.

SONGS:

Two Little Blackbirds

One of my favorite songs/fingerplays. I usually sing it a cappella, so I can do the hand motions.  Click on the triangle to hear how it goes:

Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill, (Hold up both thumbs)
One named Jack, and the other named Jill.
Fly away, Jack! (Put one thumb behind your back)
Fly away, Jill! (Put the other thumb behind your back)
Come back, Jack! (Bring the first thumb out in front).
Come back, Jill! (Bring the second thumb out in the front).

Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud,
One was quiet, and the other was loud (I make my voice as loud and obnoxious as possible each time I sing the word “Loud!”)
Fly away, Quiet!
Fly away, Loud!
Come back, Quiet!
Come back, Loud!

Two little blackbirds sitting in the snow.
One flew fast!
And the other f-l-e-w s-l-o-w!…

Two little blackbirds sitting on a gate.
One was early,
And the other was…late!…  (I like to drag the pauses out as long as possible before saying “Late!” until the kids are all yelling it out.)

Six Little Ducks

I’ve done this song for years, and it’s a popular favorite at toddler and baby storytimes.  Last night, I had several 6 year-olds in the group, so for an extra challenge, I asked if any of them could squat down and waddle like a duck (it’s surprisingly tiring, but they had fun).  Here are the lyrics, with the accompanying ukulele or guitar chords:

C                                  G7
Six little ducks that I once knew,
C
Fat ones, skinny ones, fair ones too.
G7
But the one little duck with the feather on his back.
C
He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Chorus:
G7                                         C
“Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!”
G7                                              C
He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Down to the river they would go,
Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble, to and fro.
But the one little duck with the feather on his back,
He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Chorus

Home from the river they would come,
Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble, ho hum hum.
But the one little duck with the feather on his back,
He led the others with his “Quack! Quack! Quack!”

Chorus

Little Bird

I actually meant to do this song, but I forgot about it completely, and sang Brush Your Teeth instead (to go along with Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late).  It’s perfect for a bird theme though, since the kids can suggest different types of birds, so I’m including it here.  I originally heard it performed by Elizabeth Mitchell on her album, You Are My Little Bird, which is one of my favorite kids’ albums.  Here’s how it goes:

C
Little Bird, Little Bird,
C
Fly through my window.
G7
Little Bird, Little Bird,
G7
Fly through my window.
C
Little Bird, Little Bird,
C
Fly through my window.
G7                       C
Find molasses candy.

Chorus:
G7
Fly through my window, my sugar lump!
C                            G7            C
Fly through my window, my sugar lump!
G7                        C
Find molasses candy!

Jay bird, Jay bird, fly through my window…etc…

Chorus

Repeat the verse and chorus, asking kids for the names of different birds (robin, parrot, etc.) to sing in place of “Little Bird” each time. You can also do this song as a dance, where a pair of kids put their hands together over their heads to make a “window” and the other kids “fly” through the window in a line.

CRAFT: Goldfinch Feeders

Goldfinch Feeder by Sarah

Goldfinch Feeder by Sarah

I found this easy goldfinch feeder on Do-It-Yourself N Save: http://diynsave.com/?p=337.  I was really happy, because we get a lot of goldfinches here on the coast, and they are beautiful, and fun to watch.  Also, I had originally thought of doing one of the typical kids bird feeder projects, where you put peanut butter on a pine cone and roll it in bird seed, but one of my regular storytime kids has a severe peanut allergy, so this was a much safer alternative.

It is super easy to make (although a bit messy, since the thistle seed tends to spill).  After showing the kids a picture of a goldfinch, I gave each of them a knee-high stocking or the foot of a regular pair of stockings (one of my coworkers brought me some old ones from her mom, and I had also picked some up at Goodwill).  I also had a variety of old jar lids, a chopstick, some yarn, and a bag of thistle (Nyger) seed.  The kids each stuffed a lid into the bottom of their stocking, then filled the stocking with thistle seed (I gave them little plastic cups to scoop and pour).  Then they tied them shut with the yarn, and stuck the chopstick through the stocking just above the lid.  The chopstick makes a hole for the goldfinches to reach the seed, while also giving them a place to perch.   One dad wisely waited on sticking the chopstick through the stocking until they got home, to keep the seed from spilling out all over the car (and the library!).  All in all, it was easy and fun.  I hung one on a tree in my backyard at home, and I’m eager to see if the goldfinches find it.

OTHER BOOKS ABOUT BIRDS:

There are so many great books about birds, especially once you factor in all the duck, penguin, and chicken books out there.  Here are some others that I considered:

Penguin by Polly Dunbar (Amazon.com link)

This one is super-quirky, and a little dark, but I love it, and it’s always been a hit at storytime.  Ben is frustrated with his new penguin, who refuses to talk.  He tries everything from tickling it, to trying to feed it to a passing lion, but the lion eats Ben instead.  Luckily, Penguin saves the day, rescuing Ben, and finally speaking, in a language of his own.

One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo; illustrated by David Small (Amazon.com link)

When Eliot secretly brings a penguin home from the aquarium, his father seems oblivious to all of Eliot’s attempts to make his new pet feel at home, until the surprise at the end.  I’ve read this one to a wide range of ages, including a few second grade classes, and they loved it.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell; illustrated by Patrick Benson (Amazon.com link)

This has always been one of my favorite books for toddler time.  A sweet story about three baby owls whose mother has left them alone in their nest.  As time passes, they grow increasingly worried, and wish their mother would come back, and of course, she does.  The illustrations are beautiful.  I have a personal copy of this book that I’ve read many, many times to my own kids.  It is perfect for a snuggly bedtime story.

What are your favorite books about birds?

 

The Year of the Horse

Paper Rocking Horse by Kiki

Paper Rocking Horse by Kiki

This year, Chinese New Year begins on January 31, and it’s the year of the Horse (you can find a list of all the animal signs and dates on TravelChinaGuide.com).

I didn’t know much about Chinese New Year until we moved to the Bay Area, but it’s such a fun and colorful celebration.  At my son’s school, each Kindergartner decorates a box in bright colors, with holes in the front so they can wear the box on their heads and still see out.  One of the teachers wears a big dragon’s head, and the kids line up behind her, making a huge 60-person dragon that winds around the play-yard, while the first graders pop big sheets of bubblewrap behind them.  It’s something the whole school looks forward to every year.

For storytime this week, I read books about horses and Chinese New Year.

dragon dance

Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the Flap by Joan Holub; illustrated by Benrei Huang (Amazon.com link)

This one was new to me, but the kids always love Lift-the-Flaps (although they argue over who is going to get to open them).  It’s a simple rhyming book that explains the different parts of the New Year celebration: sweeping away the old year, buying fish and flowers at the market, getting red envelopes, and of course, enjoying the big dragon parade.  The illustrations are warm and colorful.  A good introduction to the holiday for toddlers on up.

clip

Clip Clop by Nicola Smee (Amazon.com link)

This is actually a board book, and unfortunately out of print, but it’s a great horse book, especially for younger kids (I read it again today to both a preschool class, and a toddler storytime, and they all loved it).  Mr. Horse offers a cat, a dog, a pig and a duck a ride on his back, but when he gallops too fast, and then stops suddenly, they all fly off into a haystack.  The kids enjoy saying the repeated, “Clip Clop!  Clippety Clop” lines.

unicorn

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea (Amazon.com link)

Okay, I know unicorns are not horses, but I thought the kids would love this one, and they did.  It was the clear favorite of the evening, for the 5 year-olds especially.  Goat is jealous of Unicorn, and why wouldn’t he be?  Not only can Unicorn fly, he makes it rain cupcakes!  But when Goat finally meets Unicorn, he finds that he’s got some special talents of his own that Unicorn admires, and to Goat’s surprise, they end up becoming friends.  I love all of Bob Shea’s books, especially I’m a Shark and Oh, Daddy!

my pony

My Pony by Susan Jeffers (Amazon.com link)

This is the book for little girls who love horses.  I would have been all over it as a kid.  The little girl in this story wants a pony more than anything else in the world, but her parents say a pony is too expensive, and they don’t have room for it.  So she draws a pony instead, a beautiful dapple-gray she calls Silver, and together they fly through the sky and meet lots of other ponies.  The illustrations are gorgeous.

SONGS:

Giddy-up!

I do this one often as a bouncing rhyme for babies and toddlers.  This time I had the kids gallop in a line around one of the bookshelves.  They especially liked the sudden “Whoa!” when we would all stop short. You sing it to the tune of The William Tell Overture:

Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up-up-up!
Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up-up-up!
Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up-up-up!
WHOA, Horsie!

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

INSTRUMENT PLAY WITH A CD: Hop Up, Ladies from Putumayo Folk Playground (Amazon.com link)

CRAFT: Paper Rocking Horses

photo (67)

Paper Rocking Horse by Kiki

I adapted this craft from AHC Arts & Crafts, which has a tremendous number of craft ideas.  I printed their template, but since I wanted the kids to be able to color their rocking horses however they liked, I traced the template onto white card stock and cut it out (I had to redraw the lines for the base).  I folded the paper in half before I cut it, so it would make a mirror image of the horse.  Then I folded it over, so the two horse shapes lined up.

I gave each child a pre-folded horse to color in with markers on both sides, and a paperclip to put on the back, clipping the two horse shapes together.  If you bend the bottom of the two horses slightly apart, it will stand up.  If you touch the tail lightly, it will rock just like a real rocking horse.

Other Chinese New Year Books:

Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin (Amazon.com link)

This is the book I usually read for Chinese New Year, and I still love it.  It’s shows a family preparing for the New Year by sweeping their house, making get-rich dumplings, getting haircuts, and looking forward to seeing the dragon, which is presented on pages that fold out into a big spread at the end.  In the past, I’ve brought bubblewrap for the kids to pop on the page with the firecrackers.  Simple enough to work for toddlers as well as preschoolers and older kids.

This Next New Year by Janet S. Wong; illustrated by Yangsook Choi (Amazon.com link)

I didn’t get this book in time for my storytime, but it’s a good one.  A Chinese-Korean boy shares what the New Year means to him and his friends from other cultural backgrounds.  I like that the story gives a sense of having a fresh start: a chance to clear away all the mistakes of the past and look forward to the future.  A little too lengthy for toddlers, but I think this would work well for preschoolers and elementary school kids.

My Lucky Little Dragon by Joyce Wan (recommended by Sapphira Edgarde)

Sapphira writes, “Our daughter is a dragon, but this book describes a child who has a good trait from each of the signs. Then at the end it says how lucky the reader is to have this particular baby, and there’s a heart-shaped mirror on the last page, which is always a big hit.”

Other Horse Books:

Are You a Horse? by Andy Rash (Amazon.com link)

When Roy gets a saddle for his birthday, he sets out to find a horse.  The problem is, he doesn’t know what a horse looks like.  Kids like shouting out the names of the other animals he thinks might be a horse, including a snake, a crab, a lion, and a zebra.  Plus it has a funny surprise ending.

What are your favorite horse or Chinese New Year picture books?

You Be the Judge! The California Young Reader Medal

photo (44)

Star Wand by Ramona

 

This week I read the nominees for the 2013-2014 California Young Reader Medal for Primary Grades.  Every year, a committee composed of members from four different reading and literacy organizations selects five books in five age categories: Primary (grades K-3), Intermediate (grades 3-6), Middle School/Junior High (grades 6-8), Young Adult (grades 9-12) and Picture Books for Older Readers (grades 4 and up).  Kids all over the state have all year to read or listen to the books and vote for their favorite before the winning books are announced on May 1.

I had shared these books last week with two second grade classes, and was curious to see if I got the same result from my evening storytime group, which has a number of Kindergarteners.  They enjoyed all the books, and they scrambled to check them all out at the end, but there was definitely a clear favorite.

The five books were:

children

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

When a bear named Lucille finds a little boy in the woods, she names him Squeaker, and begs her Mom to let her keep him.  But Squeaker proves to be a challenging pet, especially when he disappears.  Although this one only got one vote, the kids enjoyed it thoroughly.  I love the author’s note on the back jacket, where he says that as a kid he found a frog and asked his mom if he could keep it.  She asked him if he would like it if some animal took him home to be it’s pet.  His reply, “Absolutely!”

Ballgame_jacket

Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies

Great book for baseball fans.  This is a rhyming story about a baseball game between two rival teams of bats.   The illustrations of the bats are adorable, and the writing conveys the tension of watching a close game.  This one didn’t get any votes from my storytime group, but a couple of the second graders chose it as their favorite.

stars

 

Stars by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Marla Frazee

This is a quiet book about the wonder of stars of all kinds: stars in the sky, stars in moss, snowflakes, pumpkin flowers.  The illustrations are large and lovely, and the language is beautiful.  I love the idea of keeping a star in your pocket, just to know it is there, for days when you don’t feel so shiny.   It’s a different style of book from the other four, and even though none of the storytime kids chose it as their favorite, several of them clamored to check it out, and it did get a couple of votes from the second grade.

 

chicken

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

This one was the big winner with my storytime group, as well as with one of the second grade classes.  It’s one of my favorite read-alouds.  Little Chicken won’t go to bed without a story, and she promises her father not to interrupt.  He caves, and reads her Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Chicken Little, but every time he gets to the most exciting part of the story, Little Chicken can’t help jumping in to save the main characters: “Out jumped a little red chicken and she said, ‘Don’t go in!  She’s a witch!’  So Hansel and Gretel didn’t.  The End!”   This would be a great book for fairy tale units as well.

press

Press Here by Herve Tullet

This one surprised me.  I had read it before, but never shared it with a group of kids.  They LOVED it, especially in the second grade, where it was the overwhelming favorite with the first class, and a close contender in the second.  It got a few votes from my storytime group too.   It’s a simple, interactive book that reads a lot like an iPad app (and in fact, there is an app based on it).  Each page shows a series of different colored dots, with instructions like “tap five times on the yellow dot,” or “turn the book to the left.”  The instructions appear to change the dots in different ways, causing them to move, change color, or multiply.  Towards the end, it instructs you to clap once.  The dots get bigger.  Clap twice.  They get even bigger.  In both the second grade classes, the kids were practically screaming each time I turned the page to show the bigger dots.  They were so excited!   It was astonishing and hilarious, and I had such a good time reading it with them.  I could imagine lots of ways to use this book in a classroom, to accompany lessons on color, number, pattern, or direction.   It would also be fun to have kids experiment with making their own dot books.

CRAFT: Star Wands

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Star Wand by Claire

I have very forgiving coworkers.  The storytime ended just before the library closed, and there was glitter everywhere!   But it couldn’t be helped.  We had to make the star wands described in the book Stars, because if you wave a magic wand, you might see a wish come true.  Who could pass up that possibility?

I cut out stars on yellow card stock ahead of time, and gave each child a chopstick and some tape to make the wand.  They decorated their stars with glitter (of course!), as well as stickers and markers.  Each one was unique.

Which book would you vote for?  This year’s California Young Medal Award winners won’t be announced until May, although the nominees for 2014-2015 will be revealed in February.  To learn more about the award, visit:  http://californiayoungreadermedal.org/

Going to the Dogs

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Envelope Dog Puppet by Olivia

I decided to do a dog-themed storytime this week.  For once I was faced with the problem of having too many great books to choose from!   The kids loved the four I read, and they all got checked out at the end, but there were so many others I didn’t get to:

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How Much is That Doggie in the Window? by Iza Trapani (based on the song by Bob Merrill)

This is my daughter’s current favorite book, and one of my all time favorite read-alouds.  Parents often ask me if it’s the full version of the original song (which actually hit #1 on the Billboard charts in 1953).  It’s not.  The original song is about a woman leaving on a trip to California, who wants to buy a dog to protect her sweetheart from burglars.  The version in this book is by Iza Trapani (author/illustrator of the classic, The Itsy Bitsy Spider).  It’s about a little boy who hopes to raise $60 to buy the adorable puppy in the pet shop window, but ends up spending all his money to help his family.   The illustrations are adorable, and I still get choked up at the happy ending.   This one is always a hit.  Tonight it got snatched up immediately!

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Dog Breath by Dav Pilkey

Poor Hally Tosis, a cute, friendly dog with horrible breath.  When Mr. and Mrs. Tosis decide to find her a new home, their kids try everything they can think of to solve her bad breath problem.  Nothing works, until two burglars creep into the house one night.  Can Hally save the day, along with her place in the family?  Filled with groan-worthy puns, and lots of visual jokes, this one appeals to both kids and adults.  It was quickly claimed by one of the kids as well.

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The Doghouse by Jan Thomas

Jan Thomas is a master of storytime read-alouds, always finding some way to interact with the audience.  In this one, several animal friends lose a ball IN THE DOGHOUSE!!  One by one, they venture inside to get it…but never come out!  The story is short, suspenseful, and funny, and the kids loved joining in on the phrase “IN THE DOGHOUSE!”

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Dog Blue by Polly Dunbar

Bertie has always wanted a dog.  A blue dog.  He wants one so badly that he often pretends to be a dog himself.  But then a real dog shows up: a perfect, beautiful, spotted dog who needs an owner.  But the new dog isn’t blue at all.  This is a sweet, funny story with Polly Dunbar’s characteristic quirky surprises.  (I also love her book Penguin).

SONGS: I did B-I-N-G-O with a dog hand puppet, who licked all the kids faces.  We barked the missing letters instead of clapping them.

CRAFT: Envelope Dog Puppets

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Envelope Dog Puppet by Joaquin

I found this craft on the Twiggle Magazine web site, and was very happy because the instructions included a template you could print out for the ears, eyes, and nose.  Basically you fold a business-sized envelope in half down the middle, then cut it along the fold (I found it worked better if I sealed the envelope first).  Then you tape the inner halves of the cut envelope together (on the side where the seal is), so that you can slide your hand into the outer part of the envelope to make a puppet.  I cut out the ears, eyes, and noses ahead of time, and the kids glued them on, along with some wiggle eyes.  I gave them crayons to add spots and other decorations.  It’s always fun to see how differently everyone’s craft comes out.

OTHER BOOKS

Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman

I wish I could have gotten hold of this one in time.  When Sarah Ann brings home three adorable kittens, her dog Katie loves them so much she can’t help but howl, scaring the kittens and upsetting her owner.  The illustrations in this book are priceless, and the howling makes it so much fun to read.

Harry, the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham

This one of my childhood favorites, about a dog who gets so dirty, his family no longer recognizes him.  I read it often at storytime.

Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack

I remember my grandmother reading this to me, and I still have the copy she gave to me on my birthday when I was 3.  Angus is a curious Scottish Terrier who wonders about a strange noise he hears on the other side of the hedge, until one day he gets the rare opportunity to explore.   The illustrations are wonderful, and I’ve always loved the way Flack uses sound effects, capital letters, and pacing.  Great storytelling.

Bertie Was a Watch Dog by Rick Walton and Arthur Robins

One of many, many dog books about pets thwarting burglars, but this one is a lot of fun.  Bertie is a Watch Dog, but not because he is big, or mean, or scary.  It is because he is the size of a watch.  But of course, he still finds a way to save the day when a nasty burglar comes to call.  I can never read this book as well as my boss, Thom, who portrays the burglar with an hilarious heavy Cockney accent.   But I still love it as a read-aloud because the kids get to join in on all the barking.

Chewy Louie by Howie Schneider

Love this one, and not just because my own black lab ate not only the siding of our house, but also my 11th grade teacher’s copy of The Epic of Gilgamesh with all of her teaching notes inside.  As a puppy, Louie eats everything: sticks, toy trains, his dog dish.  His family hires several trainers, but nothing seems to work, and they fear they’ll have to give Louie away.  Of course, it all works out in the end.  The wry sense of humor is what makes this book, but the illustrations are hilarious too.

The Hallowiener by Dav Pilkey

Recommended by Thom Ball, branch manager of the Pacifica Libraries.  I wish I had remembered this one, since it is also perfect for Halloween.   Oscar the dachshund has enough problems with being called “Wiener Dog!” by the other dogs, and then his mother expects him to spend Halloween night dressed as…a hot dog.  Filled with Pilkey’s characteristic puns and visual humor, this is one of my favorite October read-alouds.

Walter the Farting Dog: Trouble at the Yard Sale by William Kotzwinkle

Recommended by local Mom Ria Tajbl.  When Walter ruins the family yard sale by driving away all the customers, his owner sells him for $10 to a clown with a secret plan to use Walter’s gas to inflate noxious balloons he plans to use to help him stun guards so he can rob banks.   Gotta love Walter!  Ria also recommended the classic easy reader Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman.

Stanley’s Party by Linda Bailey

Recommended by school media specialist Linda Anderson.  When Stanley the dog discovers that he can get away with lying on the forbidden couch while his people are out, he wonders what other liberties he can take.  Soon he is throwing a wild party with all the dogs in town!

Old Mother Hubbard by Jane Cabrera

Recommended by Christina Olson, who says it was one her kids read to pieces.  Funny extended version of the classic nursery rhyme with bright, whimsical illustrations.

Carl’s Afternoon in the Park by Alexandra Day

Recommended by Tanya Scoville.  The Carl books are sweet, beautifully-illustrated, mostly wordless adventures about a baby and a kind Rottweiler.  In this one they spend the day in the park together, riding on a carousel and going to a zoo.

No Roses for Harry by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham

Recommended by Barbara Beyer.  In this sequel to Harry, the Dirty Dog, Harry tries desperately to get rid of his new present from Grandma: a sweater with big roses all over it.

What are your favorite picture books about dogs?

Gorilla! Gorilla!

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There is a new baby gorilla at the San Francisco Zoo, born on July 17, 2013.   She’s not out in the gorilla enclosure yet.  I’m sure both she and Mom need a while to settle in (I know I wouldn’t have wanted to be on public display during my first few months as a new parent.  The horror!)  But I enjoyed showing my storytime kids the pictures from the zoo web site.  They found her both adorable and frightening, which kind of sums up a lot of the picture books about gorillas too.  And there are many!  Here are the ones I read:

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Little Gorilla by Ruth Bornstein

One of my all-time favorite books for toddlers, this is a sweet story about a little gorilla, and all the animals who love him.  But then one day he begins to grow and grow and GROW, until one day he is big.  And everybody still loves him.  I have the kids sing Happy Birthday to Little Gorilla on the page with his birthday cake.  This book seems to appeal to a wide range of ages, and is perfect for storytimes about birthdays and jungle animals.  Even though the color scheme is very 1970’s, this book is timeless, and is always a hit.

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Gorilla! Gorilla! by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross

I love Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross.  One of my secret evil picture book favorites is The Tadpole’s Promise, even though it horrifies my son, and I’ve only had the nerve to read at a storytime once.  (The kids loved it.)  In Gorilla! Gorilla! a mother mouse is searching for her baby when a giant gorilla begins to chase her…all over the world.  The desperate chase ends when the exhausted mouse finally stops running, and realizes the gorilla was trying to help her all along.  This book really builds the drama, exaggerating the scariness of the gorilla and the fears of the mouse.  I remember reading this to my daughter when she was two, and it terrified her (although after that first read, she loved it), so I tend to do it more for preschool-aged kids and older.   There was an 8 year-old in my group tonight who said, “That was a really good story!”

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No Fits, Nilson by Zachariah OHora

This one was new to me, but it worked really well.  Amelia and Nilson the gorilla do everything together, but sometimes the smallest things make Nilson upset.  Amelia has to remind him not to have “fits,” especially when they are out running errands with Mom.  But when the ice cream vendor runs out of banana ice cream, it is Nilson who helps Amelia remember to stay calm.  This was a fun read-aloud that gave the kids the chance to join in on the angry “Gaarrrghhs!” when Nilson has his fits.  On the last page, Nilson is revealed to be a toy gorilla, a surprise that the kids enjoyed.  This book would pair well with Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney, or Mouse Was Mad by Linda Urban and Henry Cole for other stories about coping with anger and life’s daily frustrations.

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Little Beauty by Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne clearly likes gorillas (in fact, I almost read his book One Gorilla, a counting book about primates).   This story is about a signing gorilla, who is given an adorable pet kitten named Beauty.  The two become inseparable (the favorite page for the kids, of course, is of the gorilla on the potty, while the kitten sits next to him in her litter box).   Then one day the gorilla sees a movie (King Kong) that makes him so angry that he smashes the TV, and the keepers threaten to take Beauty away.  But Beauty surprises them all with a sign language of her own.  The ending is a bit wacky, but the large illustrations are wonderful, and it was fun to talk to the kids about Koko the Gorilla, who lives in Woodside, not too far from here.  I wish I had thought to show them one of the books about Koko and her kittens.   A lovely one is Koko-Love! Conversations with a Signing Gorilla by Francine Patterson.

SONGS AND RHYMES:

Freight Train

Although I love the original version of this song by Elizabeth Cotten, I use the more kid-friendly one by Elizabeth Mitchell and ask the kids for suggestions of where to go.  Luckily one of them wanted to go to the zoo, which worked perfectly for my theme.

Ten Candles on a Birthday Cake

Ten candles on a birthday cake (hold up ten fingers)
All lit up for me (point to yourself)
I make a wish and blow them out.
Watch and you will see! (blow on fingers and quickly close hands into fists)

I asked the kids how old they were, and we did the rhyme a few times with different ages.  I even asked the parents if they wanted their ages represented, but sadly nobody volunteered.

Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory Dickory Dock (clap along to the beat)
The mouse ran up the clock. (run fingers up arm)
The clock struck 1: BONG! (hold up one finger)
The mouse ran down. (run fingers down arm)
Hickory Dickory Dock! (clap beat)

…the clock struck 2, the mouse went “BOO!”…
…the clock struck 3, the mouse went “WHEE!”
…the clock struck 4, the mouse said, “No more.”

Boom Diddy Boom 

Boom Diddy Boom Diddy Boom Boom Boom (pound on chest)
Boom Diddy Boom Diddy Boom Boom Boom
Down in the jungle where nobody goes,
There’s a great big gorilla washing his clothes.
With a scrubba dubba here, (scrub hands back and forth)
And a scrubba dubba here.
That’s the way he washes his underwear!

INSTRUMENT PLAYALONG WITH A CD:  Gorilla Song by Sha Na Na from Blue Moo by Sandra Boynton

CRAFT: Gorilla Masks

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Olivia holding her gorilla mask (with two adorable teeth)

I got this craft from a site called Noah’s Ark Preschool.   There wasn’t a template, but it was pretty easy to draw the faces and heads freehand on construction paper.   I cut out those and the eyes (white circles) and bows ahead of time.  The kids glued the faces and eyes on and drew in their own mouths, pupils, and eyelashes.  We used tape to hold the popsicle sticks on the back.  It was amazing to see how different each child’s gorilla was.

OTHER BOOKS:

The book I wish I had gotten in time was Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, the classic nearly-wordless story about a naughty gorilla who follows the zookeeper around on his evening rounds and lets the animals out one by one.   My son and I always enjoyed looking for the mouse and the balloon on every page.

Another one I almost read was My Friend Gorilla by Atsuko Morozumi.  This is a bittersweet story about a little boy whose family takes in a gorilla.  They have a wonderful time together, until some people come to take the gorilla away to a preserve where he will be happier.  I remember reading this to my son when he was little, and he was sad that the gorilla had to go away, which made for an interesting discussion about animals in the wild versus in captivity.

I had also considered doing books about other primates, which might have included Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (always a hit!), but also the more recent Me, Jane by Patrick McDonnell, a lovely simple story about the childhood of Jane Goodall.

Any other favorite gorilla or ape books?