Category Archives: Picture Books

Friday Favorite: B is for Bear- A Natural Alphabet

B is for BearPapercut artist Hannah Viano has another beautiful alphabet book publishing this month, and I recently received a promotional copy to review. (I previously reviewed “S is for Salmon: A Pacific Northwest Alphabet” here).

I usually don’t pay much attention to book dedications…unless they are as striking as this one. Viano’s book is dedicated “to all of those who let children run a little wild, climbing trees and splashing in puddles. It is worth all the laundry and lost mittens”.  With that statement, we turn the page to find the first letter, “A” for Acorn. This seems like a perfect intro for little readers and nature lovers, especially right now as my preschooler is coming home with pockets full of acorns he collects in the yard and on our neighborhood rambles.

O is for Otter

Each image is a work of art, at times reflecting movement and at other moments, still beauty. These mesmerizing images are “cut from black paper with an X-ACTO knife and soft colors are added digitally”. Each letter is accompanied by a short description or interesting fact. Some of them will be familiar, such as “G- Grass”; “M-Mountain”; “W- Wave”; but others will invite further investigation, such as “E- Egret”; “H- Herring”, “Y- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker”. I love that she chooses “K is for Kids” with this description: “What is another creature that belongs outdoors? KIDS!” Yes.  Our children need nature.  In today’s struggle to get kids regular outdoor time for unstructured play and exploration, this is a great reminder. Finally, she urges the reader to “dream of all the things that you must go investigate”- a perfect message for anyone who’s curious about the natural world whether you’re 3 or 93.

I highly recommend adding this title to your bookshelf.

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Friday Favorite: Larry Gets Lost by John Skewes

pdxabccovA while ago, Sasquatch books sent me copies of Portland ABC: A Larry Gets Lost book, written and illustrated by John Skewes as well as Larry Loves Portland in board book format. Both books feature an adorable brown puppy named Larry who explores the city and introduces young readers to all the important sights (the Willamette River, various bridges, the Rose Garden, Union Station, even Voodoo Doughnuts). Each story is a colorful delight with “retro-inspired” illustrations. The alphabet book has clear, bold letters, making it attractive to preschoolers. These books offer a fun, interesting way to introduce geography to kids, and they would be a special souvenir for children who are visiting Portland, or a unique book in your child’s collection.

If you happen to reside elsewhere, there may be a “Larry Gets Lost” or “Larry Loves” book featuring your own city or state. See the website for more info and additional resources, such as an activity kit and teacher guide.

Favorite Finds: Kids Book Storage

Hi, I’m here. I’ve missed you. It’s good to be back after a nice long spring break. And how time is flying- I keep meaning to blog more and the ideas are piling up in my head but life keeps pressing down on the accelerator pedal with little chance of letting up. So anyway….

I’m a firm believer in making books part of your child’s environment, no matter where they choose to play. Here are a couple of playful book-related storage accessories for kids that are fun, good quality, and will jazz up any young reader’s room (or living room, or wherever they choose to store stories).

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First, the P’kolino Book Buggee: it’s part toy and part storage- I love that it holds books and other prized possessions like my child’s favorite stuffed tiger, and his beloved Hot Wheels. There are four slots to hold bigger board books or picture books and it’s lightweight with a pull cord, so it’s easily transported to other rooms. It comes in a variety of colors and styles, and prices vary depending on where you purchase (I found mine recently at Target for $24.99 with just two color choices, purple and blue).

Second, The Hungry Caterpillar wooden bookends by Kids Preferred: I have a thing for Eric Carle, and one of my kids rooms already has a little theme going so these were a perfect addition (see photos below, the wall canvas is from Target and the alphabet flashcards can be purchased at a variety of places). They are lightweight, so if you’re looking for a heavier set of bookends that stay in one place and hold a bunch of big books, you won’t be happy with these; however since my 2+ year old is likely to move and throw anything he can reach, I wanted something that’s unlikely to cause injury or damage. He still has a fairly big collection of board books, and these work well for that format. (Available on Amazon for $25-30, but I found them at HomeGoods for $12.99 for the set).

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Do you have favorite storage items for your kids books? I’d love to hear from you!

Friday Favorite: “S is for Salmon: A Pacific Northwest Alphabet” by Hannah Viano

S is for Salmon
S is for Salmon

(Disclosure: I received a promotional copy of this book but the opinion is my own.)

There are plenty of alphabet books out there- so many that you can afford to be pretty picky when choosing which titles to check out from the library or purchase and add to your child’s personal home collection. I’ve previously written about some of my favorite titles, but recently I came across a stunning and unique new alphabet book, Hannah Viano’s S is for Salmon: A Pacific Northwest Alphabet from Sasquatch Books; this is one I can’t stop looking at, and it’s become a new favorite of mine.

Hannah Viano is a paper-cut artist (like one of my favorite authors/artists Nikki McClure) and this book beautifully captures the wonder and beauty of the natural world in the Pacific Northwest:

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A is for Anemone: Tucked away when exposed at low tide, the tentacles of a sea ANEMONE reach out when the water returns.

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G is for Gull: GULLS carry snacks of crabs and clams high into the air, then drop them onto rocks to open the hard shells.

Hannah Viano spend her childhood exploring the rocky Maine coast, and has worked as an outdoor educator. Viano entered the art world after her son’s birth: “In my life, art has always been fit in around the edges,” she says, “a tiny sketchbook and a stolen moment in the rigging of a sailing ship, or a thick roll of paper held open by my bare feet in the sand” She now lives in Seattle, Washington and “strives to mix natural history and art together in accessible ways through public art projects, education, and site-specific installations”.

S is for Salmon is a wonderful book to share with preschoolers, elementary students and up- really anyone who loves the Pacific Northwest, who appreciates and enjoys the coast and its natural beauty. This would make an amazing gift for the special beach lover in your life. I’m looking forward to seeing more from this talented author/illustrator.

Friday Favorite: Crocodile Tales

Kindhearted_CrocodileSolomon Crocodile

Two crocodile books came home from the library with us this week and I thought it’d be fun to feature them together. I must admit I favor the character of the Kindhearted Croc who wants to belong to a family so badly he does their dishes, folds their laundry, spreads jam on their toast, and tidies the toys. OH, and makes coffee for the parents. My kind of crocodile!

Solomon Crocodile, on the other hand, is a trouble-maker who has difficulty making a friend who will appreciate his, uh, charm. Both titles are clever, creative, funny stories with fantastic illustrations sure to capture the attention of your favorite preschooler.

The Kindhearted Crocodile by Lucia Panzieri, illustrated by Anton Gionata Ferrari

Solomon Crocodile by Catherine Rayner