Book Weekend – Best Readaloud Picture Books

hugHug Me by Simona Ciraola follows a hopeful little desert cactus who’s searching for affection despite a tendency to be prickly.  After a series of rejections, the little cactus becomes resigned to loneliness.   But the green hero keeps an open heart, and finds friendship in an unlikely place.   The charming illustrations combined with the thoughtful exploration of nature vs. aspirations marks this picture book as one of my favorites.

OnceOnce Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers is a series of short, inter-linking stories for each letter.  This is not a book for preschoolers, but for their older grade school siblings to read aloud.  The challenging vocabulary will encourage questions, while they chuckle at the twisty dark humor.

Reach for the Stars


Hello Nebulon by Ray O’Ryan
In Hello, Nebulon!, Zack makes the big move from Earth. He is already nervous about starting school and making new friends, but it only gets worse when he dreams that his classmates are slimy aliens with tentacles, pizza comes covered in gross bugs, and he can never communicate with his Earth friends again! Fortunately, when Zack arrives at Sprockets Academy for his first day of school, he meets and befriends Drake Tucker, a Nebulite boy who also loves to explore and learn about the planets. Nebulon isn’t as awful as Zack’s dream, but there are a lot of differences between Nebulon and Earth, and they make Zack miss his home in Dubbsville, Texas, even more. But things start to look up when he receives a mysterious surprise. What could it possibly be?

The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara
GREEP BOINK MEEP! The three little aliens are happily settling into their new homes when the Big Bad Robot flies in to crack and smack and whack their houses down! A chase across the solar system follows in this out-of-this-world version of the classic Three Little Pigs tale. Margaret McNamara (How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?) and Mark Fearing (The Book that Eats People) have created a humorous and visually stunning story that kids will adore—and that will introduce them to the planets and the solar system. The endpapers even include a labeled diagram of all the planets.

Why Are Black Holes Black? Questions and Answers about Space by Thomas Canavan Jr.
Why are black holes black? This introductory book will provide the answers to young scientists big questions about space. Provides age-appropriate text to fuel and inspire young readers to want to learn more. A wealth of bright photos and images accompany the inviting text that even reluctant readers will find appealing.

Fly Guy Presents: Space by Tedd Arnold
Fly Guy and Buzz are back with another great nonfiction book!
Award-winning author/illustrator Tedd Arnold brings nonfiction to life in this engaging nonfiction reader! During a visit to a space museum, Fly Guy and Buzz learn all about planets, space crafts, space suits, and even dirty snowballs (i.e. comets!)! With straightforward fun facts, humorous illustrations of Fly Guy and Buzz, and vivid photographs throughout, this book is sure to be a hit with budding astronauts everywhere!

Exploring Space Robots by Deborah Kops
How can robots help us explore space? A probe called New Horizons is zooming through the outer solar system. It’s headed to Pluto. It and other space robots can go where people cannot survive. In this book, you’ll learn how robots can work as our eyes, ears, and hands in space.  As part of the Searchlight Books collection, this series explores outer space and sheds light on the question What’s Amazing about Space? Fantastic photos, kid-friendly explanations of science concepts, and useful diagrams will help you discover the answers!


Get ready to blast off with this fun rocket craft from PBS Parents!

Best Illustrated Picture Books – Book Weekend

MommyEvery December the New York Times announces their picks for the best illustrated picture books.  Here are the top titles from that list.

Where’s Mommy? by Beverly Donofrio and illustrated by Barbara McClintock.  A girl and her mouse friend go on parallel bedtime hunts for their mothers through a charming mid-century modern house.  McClintock creates a cozy tiny world built into the spare nooks and crannies of the human house.




Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Gary Kelley.  The story of a regiment from Harlem that fought bravely in World War 1 alongside the French.  They shared much with the Allies, including their new brand of jazz music, but returned to America to find Jim Crow still haunting them.




babytreeThe Baby Tree written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.  When a curious little boy asked “Where do babies come from?” he gets a mixed bag of answers.  The mailman, his sitter, his grandma, all offer suggestions from funny to strange, but finally his parents set him down and explain the facts.  Blackall’s delicate line art balances between innocent and odd and her fresh bright colors keep the tone playful.

To see more of her work, check out her website,




Time for Bed, Fred! written and illustrated by  Yasmeen Ismail.  One playful dog runs wild trying to outrace bedtime, but will all his shenanigans work?  Or will all that clever tree-climbing, puddle-jumping and hiding just tire him out?


Play Date Theater: Holiday Sing-Along

Get into the holiday spirit on December 20 at 2 pm in Central Library’s Auditorium!


Kathy Schottel plays guitar, dulcimer, and banjo and Glenn “Papa” Wright plays marimbas as the duo presents their wacky version of a holiday concert. Youngsters can sing-along with familiar favorites. Older siblings, parents, and grandparents will laugh at the satirical lyrics of Tom Lehrer, Spike Jones, and more.

Warm up by the fire with some cold winter reads

Although it already feels like it, the first day of winter isn’t until December 21st. That gives you plenty of time to pick up these titles from your neighborhood branch. Mr. Popper’s Penguins might be too long for some early readers, but makes a wonderful read aloud at home or school. Once you’ve finished the book, you can even place a hold on the movie to watch with the whole family/class.


Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard Atwater
Mr. Popper has penguins in his fridge, an ice rink in the basement, and a family for whom life will never be the same. How many penguins in the house is too many? Mr. Popper is a humble house painter living in Stillwater who dreams of faraway places like the South Pole. When an explorer responds to his letter by sending him a penguin named Captain Cook, Mr. Popper and his family’s lives change forever. Soon one penguin becomes twelve, and the Poppers must set out on their own adventure to preserve their home.

The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The adventures of Laura Ingalls and her family continue as Pa, Ma, Laura, Mary, Carrie, and little Grace bravely face the hard winter of 1880-81 in their little house in the Dakota Territory. Blizzards cover the little town with snow, cutting off all supplies from the outside. Soon there is almost no food left, so young Almanzo Wilder and a friend make a dangerous trip across the prairie to find some wheat. Finally a joyous Christmas is celebrated in a very unusual way in this most exciting of all the Little House books.

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig, by Chris Kurtz
Flora the pig was born for adventure: “If it’s unexplored and needs to get dug up, call me. I’m your pig,” she says. The day Flora spots a team of sled dogs is the day she sets her heart on becoming a sled pig. Before she knows it, she’s on board a ship to Antarctica for the most exhilarating–and dangerous–adventure of her life. This poignant novel of a purposeful pig is sure to become a favorite with any young readers who have ever dreamed of exploring the great beyond.

Winter According to Humphrey, by Betty G. Birney
A hamsterific celebration of the best time of the year Room 26 is abuzz. The students are making costumes and practicing their special songs for the Winter Wonderland program and Humphrey is fascinated by all the ways his classmates celebrate the holidays (especially the yummy food). He also has problems to solve like how to get Do-It-Now-Daniel to stop procrastinating, convince Helpful-Holly to stop stressing over presents, and come up with the perfect gift for Og the frog. Of course he manages to do all that while adding delightful heart and humor to the holiday season. Nominated for twenty-four state awards and the winner of seven, the Humphrey series is a hit across the country. And he’s becoming a one school/one book favorite!

My Friend Rabbit and the Snow Geese, by Eric Rohmann
On the first day of winter, the Gibble Goose Girls sulk – the snow has made their favorite outdoor activities impossible! It’s up to Rabbit and Mouse to prove that the cold season has its own charms.

After sharing one of the books above, your child can make a penguin from a toilet paper roll. Instructions courtesy of the Noah Wild Blog.

PuppetFest 2014 at Buder

On November 22nd, Buder Branch hosted its annual PuppetFest. PuppetFest 2014 featured a presentation of “Ant & Grasshopper” by Blaque Berry Puppets with puppets made by local artist Sandy Griffin.  Over 90 audience members crowded together in Buder’s event space, many attendees had never before seen a shadow puppet performance!


Following the performance, a puppet-making workshop was lead by Ginny Weiss in which kids used paper plates, construction paper and pipe cleaners to create turkey puppets for use in their very own puppet productions.

puppetfest2014cIf you missed PuppetFest this year, don’t worry – we all hope it will return in 2015!