Pardon Me!

Pardon Me! by Daniel Miyares was a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

A little yellow bird sits alone on a rock in a swamp. He won’t be alone for long, though. One by one, a heron, a frog, and a turtle politely ask to join him. The little bird really just wants to be left alone, but he begrudgingly allows the others a bit of space. That changes when a fox comes along…

The little bird finally snaps. He wants everyone to leave him alone! He doesn’t realize, however, that the fox is trying to give him a very important warning. Being grumpy could land this little yellow bird into a huge heap of trouble!

Pardon Me!, while not ideal for read-alouds, is sure to charm fans of I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, and other books with rather unexpected endings. It is a very quick, surprising read that will delight young and older readers alike. The illustrations are vibrant and beautifully capture the overall mood of the book.

Here Comes the Easter Cat

Here Comes the Easter Cat, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Claudia Rueda, was a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Cat thinks it’s time to give the Easter Bunny a bit of competition. While the Easter Bunny is hopping around delivering eggs, Cat will hop on his motorcycle and give boys and girls some chocolate. He’s not prepared, though, for just how tiring all his preparation is. Cat is ready for a nap.

Imagine Cat’s surprise when he learns that the Easter Bunny doesn’t get naps. He has to do all that work with no rest? Well, that simply will not do. When the exhausted Easter Bunny comes by to deliver eggs to Cat, Cat takes it upon himself to help his tired new friend.

Will Cat give up his plans for Easter domination? Or does he now have even loftier ambitions? Find out when you read Here Comes the Easter Cat!

I’ll be reading this book aloud to my K5 students this week ahead of our Spring break/Easter holiday. I hope they find it as charming as I do, and I hope it tells them a little about being kind, problem-solving, and, yes, having lofty ambitions.

Here Comes the Easter Cat may lead young (and older) readers to explore even more “substitutes” for holiday or other famous figures. What if, instead of Cupid on Valentine’s Day, we had a porcupine or something? The possibilities are as endless as the imagination.

If you’d like to promote this book to your young readers, feel free to use the book trailer below:

A Piece of Cake

A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Mouse has baked a special cake for Little Bird’s birthday. As he walks to Little Bird’s home, though, he encounters several animals who’d like a piece of cake. Being the kind mouse he is, Mouse trades pieces of cake for some rather random items–a cork, a wire, a net, and a flyswatter. By the time Mouse makes it to Little Bird’s house, he’s all out of cake, and he doesn’t know quite what to do with this odd assortment of items.

Little Bird, however, thinks these presents are wonderful. As he and Mouse make their way back to Mouse’s house, they find a way to make use of these things and get just what they need to make an even better cake for Little Bird’s special day!

A Piece of Cake is an excellent read-aloud and is great for firing imaginations, encouraging generosity, and teaching young readers to expect the unexpected. At the beginning of the story, readers may think they know what’s coming on the next page. By the end, though, they’ll know that things are not always so easily predicted.

If you’d like to promote this book in your classroom or library, feel free to use the book trailer below.

One Big Pair of Underwear

One Big Pair of Underwear, written by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Our story begins with a big pair of underwear and two bears. Both bears want to wear the underwear, but only one can. That leaves the other bear bare. Next, we meet three yaks who want snacks, four seals wanting scooters painted teal, five goats in cars who want candy bars, and so on. Each group has one big problem–there’s never enough to go around!

Finally, twenty pigs, who all want to ride on ten playground slides, show everyone how fun it can be to share! Soon, all of the animals, from bears to cows to baboons to yaks to hippos, are all sharing their goodies and having a blast at the same time…and it all started with one big pair of underwear!

One Big Pair of Underwear is already a hit with young readers in my school. The title alone ensures that it is constantly checked out, and, once children read the funny story inside, they want it again and again.

Teachers and parents may find this book to be a great read-aloud with their little ones. Not only does it teach counting (and, dare I say it, economic principles like supply and demand), but it also emphasizes the importance of sharing.

If you’d like to use the book trailer I created to promote this book, feel free.

What If You Had Animal Teeth!?

What If You Had Animal Teeth!?, written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam, was a nominee for the 2015-2016 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

What If You Had Animal Teeth!? is an excellent book that will engage even the youngest readers in animal research. Readers will learn interesting facts about some familiar–and not so familiar–animals and how their teeth help them to survive.

The animals featured in this book (beavers, sharks, narwhals, elephants, rattlesnakes, naked mole rats, vampire bats, hippos, tigers, crocodiles, and camels) all have very different teeth, and students will enjoy comparing the animals and thinking about what it might be like to have the chompers they see on the pages.

If you’re a librarian planning on using What If You Had Animal Teeth!? as a read-aloud, be prepared for lots of questions. It’s also a good idea to have some easy-reading nonfiction titles on each of the featured animals available for checkout immediately after presenting this book to the class/group.


Carnivores, written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Dan Santat, was a nominee for the 2015-2016 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

It’s not easy being at the top of the food chain. Lions, sharks, and wolves may seem like ferocious carnivores, but they have feelings, too. They want to be liked by their neighbors, but it’s hard to make friends when their neighbors are so delicious.

In an effort to curb their carnivorous ways, the lion, shark, and wolf decide to become vegetarians…but that doesn’t work out so well. Then, they come up with a plan to disguise themselves in an effort to fit in…but that doesn’t end well, either. What’s a lonely carnivore to do?

Sometimes, all a lonely animal can do is embrace what makes them who they are…and find a few friends just like them.

Carnivores would be a great addition to elementary studies of animals. It’s a fun book about carnivores, and it could inspire some young readers to write their own books about animals’ eating habits. The pictures in Carnivores are hilarious, the narrative is equally funny, and these two elements combine to create a laugh-out-loud experience that readers of all ages will enjoy.

FYI, any readers who liked the sharks in Finding Nemo will be delighted by Carnivores.

My First Day

My First Day, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, was a nominee for the 2014-15 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

My First Day takes a look at what animals do on their first day of life. Some animals, like the Siberian tiger, emperor penguin, or sifaka (a type of lemur), rely on their parents to care for them for a while. Others, like the capybara, leatherback turtle, or kiwi, are on their own almost immediately. Many other animals are somewhere in between.

With interesting text, colorful pictures, and further information at the back of the book, My First Day is an excellent book for readers who love animals, especially baby animals. Many of the animals depicted aren’t well known, so this book could serve as a starting point for more in-depth research.

This book is a welcome addition to collections focused on animal studies and will surely be a hit as a read-aloud with many young students.

No Sleep for the Sheep!

No Sleep for the Sheep!, written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic, is a nominee for the 2013-14 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

No Sleep for the Sheep! is a funny picture book that young readers interested in farm life or animals will really enjoy. The pattern to the story is clear from the beginning, and this makes this book ideal for read-alouds. Children can get involved in the story. Even those who are learning to read will be able to follow along and predict where the story is going next.

This book, in my opinion, is also ideal for some type of reader’s theater. I can visualize a group of students acting out this book very easily, and I think they’d have a lot of fun portraying the different animals.

All readers will be able to sympathize with the poor sheep in this book, but they’ll also enjoy predicting which animal will be the next to interrupt his sleep. (The illustrations definitely help with this part of the story.) Young readers will have a blast making all of the animal noises that wake the sheep as well!

Hibernation Station

Hibernation Station, written by Michelle Meadows and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus, is a nominee for the 2012-13 South Carolina Picture Book Award. This book is a great read-aloud that tells about a group of animals getting ready to hibernate for the winter. At first, various animals have trouble going to sleep, they’re hungry or wet, or they’re just plain lonely. Gradually, with the help of the bears in charge, each animal settles in for a long winter’s sleep.

The whimsical illustrations, rendered in pencil with digital color, and the fun rhymes really keep this story going. I especially enjoyed seeing the snakes’ pajamas! Young readers will be enchanted by this story, and it could lead them to explore how animals survive cold winters.

Pair this book with Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart or What Do Animals Do in Winter? by Melvin and Gilda Berger for a great discussion about animals in winter!

What’s for Dinner? Quirky, Squirmy Poems from the Animal World

What’s for Dinner? Quirky, Squirmy Poems from the Animal World by Katherine B. Hauth and David Clark is a nominee for the 2012-13 South Carolina Children’s Book Award. For that reason alone, I will promote this book, but I have to say that I’m not a huge fan. (It probably didn’t help that I read the book right before lunch.) I’m not a big fan of most poetry anyway, and when poems are about the disgusting eating habits of animals, I’m even less of a fan.

My students will devour this book (pun intended). It will be a good addition to animal research projects and could encourage students to write their own poems about animal or plant life cycles.