EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm (with a Little Help from a Hen)

EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm (with a Little Help from a Hen), written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Matthew Myers, is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

EIEIO is a new take on an old favorite. Many kids may know the tale of Old MacDonald and his farm, but how did he get that farm in the first place?

As it turns out, it all started because Old MacDonald didn’t like to mow the lawn. First he got a goat to help him out, but that didn’t totally solve his problems. Luckily, things started to change with the help of Little Red Hen, a brilliant bird who knew a little something about ecology.

Old MacDonald and his hen began to transform the yard, but it wasn’t a pretty process! It involved hard work, mud, trash, poop, worms, and, finally, lots of seeds. Those seeds, planted in raised beds, eventually grew into vegetables that Old MacDonald enjoyed and shared with his neighbors. What began as a simple lawn turned into a wonderful organic garden!

EIEIO is a good book for introducing the concept of plant ecology and organic gardening to young readers in a fun and familiar way. I can see it being an especially great read-aloud in the spring, when many gardens are being planted, or as part of Earth Day celebrations.

Feel free to use the book trailer below if you’d like to promote this book in your classroom or library!

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.

Because I Stubbed My Toe

Because I Stubbed My Toe by Shawn Byous is a nominee for the 15-16 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Because I Stubbed My Toe is sure to be a hit with young readers who enjoy Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books.

This charming book shows the chaos that erupts because of one stubbed toe. One little stubbed toe leads to frightened animals, dropped ice cream cones, bee swarms, a bouncy house disaster, stampeding elephants, and it all leads right back to the boy who started it all.

Because I Stubbed My Toe is an excellent book for teaching the concept of cause and effect. It’s a funny, fast read that could inspire children to write similar stories.

Tap the Magic Tree

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson is a nominee for the 2015-16 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

In Tap the Magic Tree, young readers are invited to interact with a tree through the seasons. They give pages a tap, a brush, or a wiggle, and the next page shows them what results. They may see a tree blooming with flowers or fruit, serving as home to bees or birds, losing its leaves, or covered in snow.

The “magic” of Tap the Magic Tree, in my opinion, lies with the reader. It’s up to each individual reader to make this book the interactive experience it is intended to be. I can see Tap the Magic Tree being used as a class read-aloud, particularly when K5 and 1st grade classes are studying plants or seasons, but I think it would be more effective in small groups or in a one-on-one setting.

Reindeer Dust

During one particularly foggy Christmas Eve, Santa and his reindeer were busier than ever. So busy, in fact, that the reindeer didn’t get any food before their big night! They were also having problems delivering toys because they couldn’t see to land the sleigh. They looked and looked for the houses they knew were below, but Santa and his trusty reindeer just didn’t know what to do.

Down below, a young boy named William, worried about the fog and what it could mean for Christmas, came up with a plan to help the reindeer. He made some Reindeer Dust! Made of oats, bran, and brown sugar, this sparkly concoction would surely be seen by Santa and his magical (and hungry) reindeer. William shared his wonderful mixture with the children nearby, and after sprinkling the Reindeer Dust on the ground and affirming their believe in Santa’s magic, the children went to bed with hope in their hearts.

Thanks to William and his quick thinking, the reindeer above made their way to the paths illuminated by the Reindeer Dust. Christmas was saved, and the children were filled with delight on Christmas morning, knowing that they had done their part in making this holiday all it should be.

Reindeer Dust, written by Kate Dwyer and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, is a welcome addition to the many books shared with families during the holiday season. It includes a poem to be read on Christmas Eve as well as an easy recipe for Reindeer Dust. The recipe alone is enough to ensure that this book earns its place in many families’ holiday traditions. (I know my nieces will love making–and sampling–the stuff!) It may also be a fun activity for those last days of school before winter break. Little readers would have something to take home and share with their loved ones, and the joy inspired by this charming book would spread far and wide!

Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg

Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg, written by Lori Mortenson and illustrated by Michael Allen Austin, is a nominee for the 2014-15 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg is a perfect picture book for anyone who’s ever tried to give a dog a bath…or anyone who has ever dreaded bathtime!

This colorfully illustrated rhyming book will charm young readers with its tale of a cowboy who finally gets his house clean when he realizes his dog is still dirty. But Dawg doesn’t want to take a bath, and hilarity ensues when he escapes Cowpoke Clyde’s attempts to get him clean! All the other farm animals get involved in the chaos before Clyde finally has enough.

Will Cowpoke Clyde finally find a way to get Dawg to take a bath? Readers will surely laugh at this story’s conclusion, and it could just convince them to make bathtime for their pets a little more fun!

Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg is an excellent book for read-alouds with younger students. The rhymes are entertaining, and the illustrations definitely keep kids engaged. I may have to mention, though, that they shouldn’t take baths with their pets unless their parents say it’s okay!

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes, written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean, is nominated for the 2013-2014 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

I can see Rocking in My School Shoes being hugely popular as a beginning-of-the-school-year read aloud. Luckily, there’s also an amazing website (http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com…) that goes along with all of the Pete the Cat books, so those of us with less-than-great singing voices don’t have to do the singing ourselves!

It’s easy to see why so many of my students like all of the Pete the Cat books. (I can’t keep them on the shelves!) Pete is kind of a cool cat, the stories are predictable, rhythmic, and easy to read, and they are full of colorful illustrations.