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Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

In this darling and beautifully illustrated biography, Melissa Sweet introduces readers to the creator of the floats we all know and love that parade around New York City on Thanksgiving Day.  Tony Sarg began his career by making marionettes that were known for their incredibly lifelike movements.  His work attracted the eye of R.H. Macy’s department store in Herald Square and Sarg created holiday window displays for them.  When Macy’s decided to have a holiday parade for their employees, they knew Sarg was the man for the job.  Sarg worked with a company that made blimps to bring his ideas to life.  After some design tweaks, Sarg was able to create stunning balloons that have dazzled audiences since 1928.

Balloons Over Broadway:  The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet
Picture book | 40 pages | Houghton Mifflin | November 2011 | 0547199457  | Library copy

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Picture Book Friday

Friday seemed to come around quickly this week, which I’m sure everyone will agree is a very good thing. I have 3 fun books to share today.  They’re great for storytime and I’ve used them with a ton of success at our school outreaches.

That’s Not Funny by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds

When a mischievous Hyena decides to place a banana peel on his friend Giraffe’s path, a hilarious chain of events ensues.  Giraffe skids into a tree, knocking a coconut on Hippo’s head, who steps on Snake, who bites Ostrich…and, well, you get the picture.  Through it all Hyena just laughs and laughs at his friend’s misfortunes.  He’s so busy laughing that he forgets all about the banana peel, which is now in his path.  Let’s just say Hyena gets what he deserves…and elephant poo is involved.  The kids were rolling on the floor by the end of this book.

That’s Not Funny by Jeanne Willis
Picture Book | 32 pages | September 2010 | Andersen Press | 0761364455 | Library copy

When A Monster is Born by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Nick Sharratt

“When a monster is born, there are two possibilities – either it’s a faraway-in-the-forests monster, or … it’s an under-your-bed monster.”  And so begins a choose-your-own-adventure-esque type of story about what would happen if you took your monster to school, it eats the principal, then walks out through the wall, meets a kitchen-girl, who turns into a monster and they fall in love and has a little monster baby.  I love how the kids shriek “EWWWWWW”  when the monsters fall in love.  Of course, I make it sound as gushy and romantic as possible, which makes them shriek even louder.

When a Monster is Born by Sean Taylor
Picture Book | 32 pages | March 2007 | Roaring Book Press | 9781596432543 | Library copy

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Leonardo is a terrible monster.  He can’t seem to scare anyone.  One day, he decides he’ll find the wimpiest kid out there and scare the tuna salad out of him.  After much research, Leonardo narrows it down to one pathetic little boy named Sam.  Leonardo gave it all he’s got and Sam begins to cry.  Finally!  Success!  Leonardo isn’t such a terrible monster after all!  But Sam quickly bursts his bubble by blurting out a long and very whiny list of reasons as to why he is crying, none of which has anything to with being scared by Leonardo.  The monster is disappointed at first, but is cheered by the idea that perhaps instead of terrible monster, he could try being a really good friend.  Mo Willems does it again with a simple, humorous tale that kids love every time they hear it.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
Picture Book | 48 pages | August 2005 | Hyperion | 9780786852949 | Library copy

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Picture Book Friday

I am so excited to share these 3 books with you today.  They are some of my favorite picture books.  The illustrations are soft and beautiful and the stories are hilarious.  If you were to judge a book by it’s cover (never!), you might not pin this as your typical “funny” story, but the writing is wry and subtle and oh-so-witty and I LOVE it.

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Bear doesn’t like visitors.  This is clearly indicated by the “NO VISITORS ALLOWED” sign on his front door.  So imagine his surprise when he hears a soft tap on his door one morning.  He opens the door to find Mouse, small and gray and bright-eyed.  Needless to say, Bear is not pleased and sends poor little Mouse packing.

But Mouse doesn’t give up that easily.  As Bear continues trying to make his breakfast, Mouse pops up all over the house.  Each time Bear has a rather impassioned outburst and kicks him out, but finally it’s too much.  He consents to let Mouse stay for a snack.  But then, he really must go.

Bear soon discovers that it’s quite nice to have someone to talk to and show all the neat things he can do.  Mouse sticks to his promise, though, and when the cheese has been eaten and the tea has been drunk he readies himself to leave.  What follows is quite a surprising turn of events.

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker
Picture Book | 56 pages | February 2008 | Candlewick | 0763628077 | Library copy


A Birthday for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Bear doesn’t like birthdays.  He doesn’t like cake or cards or balloons or presents.  So when Mouse shows up and tries to throw Bear a birthday party, he is once again escorted right out the door.  Bear resumes his cleaning.

A rap at the door reveals a small, gray deliveryman with a bunch of balloons.  Bear is not easily fooled by Mouse’s disguise…or by his attempts to play the postman…or Santa Claus.   Just when it seems like Mouse has finally gotten the picture, there is another knock.  This time all Bear finds is a box full of birthday cake. 

Mouse pops out of the cake in a last ditch effort to get Bear into the birthday spirit.  As usual, Bear has had enough and can’t fight Mouse any longer.  And just like last time, Bear is surprised by how much he enjoys his friends eager efforts to celebrate his special day.

A Birthday for Bear by Bonny Becker
Picture Book | 56 pages | September 2009 | Candlewick | 0763637467 | Library copy


A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Bear doesn’t like to be disturbed at bedtime.  He needs everything just so; his glass of water by the bed, his pillow nicely fluffed, his nightcap snug and tight, and of course, absolute quiet.

When Mouse shows up with a tiny suitcase and announces he’s spending the night, Bear is sure this will turn out to be a disaster.  He’s amazed by how much noise such a tiny creature can make!  Finally, Mouse settles down, but now it’s too quiet.  And Bear thinks he hears something. 

He awakens Mouse, who offers to peer into the closet, under the bed and behind the curtains, just to check for…things.  Bear heartily agrees that this is a wonderful idea and once all is safe and sound, he suggests a bedtime story…to calm Mouse’s nerves.  Mouse obliges and the two finally drift off into dreamland.

A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker
Picture Book | 48 pages | September 2010 | Candlewick | 0763641014 | Library copy


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Picture Book Friday

I have two wonderful books to share with you this week.

That Book Woman by Heather Henson, illustrated by David Small

Cal lives way up high up in the Applachian Mountains with his family.  One day a strange woman arrives on horseback with a passel of books.  His sister Lark is thrilled, for she is the “readenest child you ever did see”, but Cal just scoffs; if this woman thinks the family has money to spare on such a luxury, she’d better think again.  But she doesn’t want to sell or even trade the books.  She’ll let the family hang on to them for free and then will come back in a few weeks to swap them out for new ones.  Cal is skeptical, but when that book woman makes the trek to their home in all kinds of weather, he yearns to know “what makes that Book Woman risk catching cold, or worse.”  So he learns to read.  And in the spring, when the book woman returns, he reads to her.

Right about there is where I lost it.  This is such a beautiful story about the power and magic of books and the dedicated librarians who will do almost anything to make sure everyone has access to them.  The illustrations are goregeous, with soft lines that do a lot to evoke mood in the story.  Definitely one of my favorites.

That Book Woman by Heather Henson
Picture Book | 32 pages | October 2008 | Atheneum |1416908129 | Library copy


In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Alice is wide awake and can’t go to sleep unless her room is blue.  It seems unlikely that will happen, since the walls are quite obviously yellow.  Her mother brings in items to try to soothe her into dreamland; a cup of tea, flowers, a cozy blanket, lullaby bells.  But none of them are blue.  Finally, Alice settles down enough to snuggle into bed.  When her mother shuts off the light, her room is bathed in blue – blue tea, blue flowers, blue blanket, blue bells.

The writing is rich and lyrical and Averbeck artfully weaves concepts (colors, five senses) into a simple and timeless bedtime story.   Soft, whimsical illustrations by Tusa provide just the right feel for this lovely book.

In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck
Picture Book | 32 pages | April 2008 | Harcourt Children’s Books | 015205992x | Library copy

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