Picture Book Month -- New Read-Alouds

November is Picture Book Month. Let's celebrate by highlighting some recent titles that are recommended for reading aloud. These have been tested on a "live studio audience" -- at a library preschool storytime!

You can count on Amy Krouse Rosenthal for clever, original concepts. (See Little Pea, in which a vegetable balks at eating candy.) Her latest, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, is called Friendshape: an Uplifting Celebration of Friendship. Four good buddies tell the tale: a yellow square, a green triangle, a red rectangle and a blue circle. By manipulating their positions and adding facial expressions, Rosenthal and Lichtenheld express simple truths about friendship, such as "Friends may quarrel... (angry faces and wavy lines) but they don't stay bent out of shape for long (back to normal)."

The next title reminds me of one of my favorites from the 1980's: Who Took the Farmer's Hat? by Joan Lexau. In Finders Keepers by Keiko Kasza, Squirrel leaves his hat to mark the spot he has buried a nut. But the wind blows it to a bird who thinks it's a nest, an ant who thinks it is a boat, and so on. The cheerful colored pencil and pastel illustrations are charming. What appealed to my "studio audience" was the chance to call out "Finders Keepers!" each time the hat changed hands.

Don't read this next one aloud unless you are prepared to really ham it up: I Will Chomp You! by Jory John with pictures by Bob Shea. It falls into the category of "metafiction," where the book is "aware" that it is a book. The narrator, a monster with a big blue head, addresses the reader directly, starting out by saying, "If you turn any more pages... I WILL CHOMP YOU, BUSTER!" After several failed attempts, he finally confesses that he was trying to scare you off so you wouldn't eat the cakes he has hidden in the back of the book. Silliness, indeed, but fun to act out.

Reading with your child is the single most important way to get them ready to read. And it's a blast! Find some picture books and get started with your own November celebration.


A Book Worth Sharing

The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder

Lauren arrives in the small town with a broken heart and a secret. She has temporarily moved in with her aunt and uncle and their three children after a traumatic incident with her mother and baby brother. She feels adrift and torn with guilt, fear, and worry.

Colby is a star on the town’s beloved football team with a secret of his own. He knows how much the town, his team, his best friend, Benny, and his father are counting on him to have a good football season. But he dreams of a future that does not involve football and he dreads telling his father and letting down his team. And then Benny has a terrible motorcycle accident and Colby’s world is turned upside-down.

Colby finds solace in Lauren, but promises his father “no girls” during football season. After trying to keep their distance, they decide to be just friends, and together they organize fundraisers for Benny’s care and begin to find happiness behind the sorrow and the secrets.

And then, on the night before the last big football game, Lauren’s mother calls and asks her to come home and be a family again. What will they do?

The chapters alternate between their two voices, Lauren’s told in verse and Colby’s in prose. I enjoyed both their stories and was eager to see how their lives unfolded and became one. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but found it very satisfactory. In all, a believable and absorbing read.


Author Visit this Thursday - Judith Ryan Hendricks

Author Judith Ryan Hendricks will be discussing her new novel Baker's Blues as well as her writing process on Thursday, November 12th at 11 AM at the Rancho Santa Margarita Library.

Hendricks is the author of book group favorites The Laws of Harmony and Isabel’s Daughter, and her new book Baker’s Blues, which completes the trilogy with Bread Alone and The Baker’s Apprentice.
This event is free and no advanced registration is required.  Copies of Baker’s Blues will be available for purchase to benefit the Friends of the Rancho Santa Margarita Library and the author will be available after the event for book signing. One lucky attendee will win lunch for two at Cinnamon Productions, courtesy of the Friends of the Rancho Santa Margarita Library.

Contact the Rancho Santa Margarita Library at 949-459-6094 with questions.