Note: I received a promotional copy of this album for review.
If you have a young child in your life, consider sharing Michal Peanut Karmi’s album “Cuddlebug Parade” with them. All 18 songs are unique and range from silly to sweet to pure joy (“Pizzapants”,“Six Little Pickles”, and “Where’s Your Belly Button” are some of my favorites).
An L.A. based kid’s musician and entertainer, Peanut’s warm, gentle voice and exuberant personality combined with skillful ukulele playing make this album delightful. Some adults may find her voice a bit high-pitched but this is endearing not annoying for me. As a children’s librarian, I like the activity songs she includes like “Stompin’ at the Market” and “In the Pot” and may use those in a storytime program. The first half of “Where’s Your Belly Button” could be a great closing song for a Baby storytime program.
Peanut includes Spanish and Hebrew in some songs, adding to the distinct sound of the album. Little ones 4 and under will find themselves singing and clapping along- especially fans of Laurie Berkner, Elizabeth Mitchell and Frances England. I recommend this album for any preschool, library or home collection.
Sometimes it takes a caring friend to deliver a hard-to-digest truth. Sometimes to make things better we just need a warm bath and a friend to scratch that hard-to-reach itch. Big Smelly Bear by German author Britta Teckentrup has quickly become a favorite in our house lately. It stars a big brown bear- a big smelly brown bear- who has no interest in taking care of himself by brushing or bathing until he realizes it is keeping him from having any friends.
“Big Smelly Bear never brushed. Big Smelly Bear never took a bath. Big Smelly Bear was followed by a big smelly stink wherever he went. Flies buzzed all around him. But they were the only ones that ever came close.”
One day, he meets a Big Fluffy Bear who offers to scratch his itch if he takes a bath. They argue back and forth, but when Big Fluffy Bear finally shouts, “you stink!” Big Smelly Bear decides to give bathing a try. On its surface, this picture book is simply a silly story about bathing. But it also features themes about friendship, stubbornness, caring for yourself, and being honest even when it’s hurtful.
Big Smelly Bear makes a fantastic read-aloud because of its large, colorful illustrations; its humor and fun. It would fit well in a preschool story time about bears, bathtime, friendship, or silly stories. The argument between bears invites an opportunity for audience participation. In writing this post, I realized that I’m already familiar with Britta Teckentrup through her stories Animal 123 and Animal Spots and Stripes, as well as Grumpy Cat, Clumsy Duck and more. Hopefully you’ll fall in love with her books as much as I have!
British author and former graphic designer Edward Gibbs takes the “I Spy” concept to a new level in his books, “I Spy on the Farm“, “I Spy with My Little Eye“, “I Spy Under the Sea” and his latest, “I Spy Pets“. Beyond stories, they engage the reader in an “I spy” game in one colorful, clever package. Brightly illustrated and interactive, these picture books feature an actual hole that the reader can peer through, but it is the text cues that help most with this guessing game.
From I Spy on the Farm:
“I spy with my little eye…something yellow that begins with a D. Quack, quack! I’m a duckling”.
“I spy with my little eye…something black that beings with an H. Neigh, neigh! I’m a horse”.
The game doesn’t end on the last page- readers get a final hole and the words, “What can you spy with your little eye?” Recommended for ages 2 and up. You can read more reviews here.
One of my favorite stories for sharing in story time is Little Gorilla by Ruth Bornstein. This delightful book stars a little gorilla whose family loves him when he’s little and even as they watch him grow and grow and grow into a great big gorilla, they still love him. This is a story about unconditional love, the importance of friends and family and community. The narrative describes various jungle animals (giraffe, elephant, lion and even a big boa constrictor!) helping care for Little Gorilla. It ends with a birthday song, and the reassurance that although he’s now almost too big to fit on the page, everyone still loves “little” gorilla.
I’ve read this story for both birthday and monkey-themed storytimes, and used flannel props or stuffed animals to help tell the story, but the illustrations are vibrant and engaging on their own. I prefer the “lap size” board book version.
Check out this adorable video of a parent and child enjoying this book together- you’ll notice that the adult lingers on the page that the child is most interested in- the lion roaring- and follows her interest instead of insisting on getting through the rest of the story…a great example of print motivation (one of the six early literacy skills, this simply means an interest in and enjoyment of books)!
I wasn’t feeling quite satisfied with the second read-aloud I’d selected for preschool story time when the bold yellow cover with a colorful puffin beckoned to me from the picture book shelves. I grabbed it and immediately knew I had a winner. Brightly colored illustrations in a book about two best friends Peter and Paul (who happen to be puffins) getting separated from each other and- with the help of a friendly whale- get reunited for a happy ending? Yes please!
It’s Puffin Peter, by Petr Horacek. This is a story that gets told quite a bit, but not exactly in this way…It’s not only a fun story about friendship, but a narrative about miscommunication as the whale mistakenly finds other types of birds matching the description of the lost puffin. I’m already a big fan of Horacek’s picture books New House for Mouse, Silly Suzy Goose and Butterfly, Butterfly. And like many of my favorite author/illustrators, I think I’ll be fond of anything he does (and I admit a special bias for collage art). The preschoolers I read it to today seemed to love it just as much.