Amanda’s Favorites of 2011

Amanda has been on maternity leave for awhile, but that doesn’t mean she’s stopped reading! Her favorites, like her reading tastes, span a variety of genres:

Blackout by John Rocco, $16.99; Hyperion Books for Children; ages 3+

The Trouble With Chickens: A J.J. Tully Story; $14.99; HarperCollins, ages 7+

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman; $16.99; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; ages 5+

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen; $19.99; Penguin Group; ages 14+

Miss Megan’s Storytime Favorites

If you’ve ever walked through our front door on a Friday morning, you’ve experienced the delightful mayhem that is Wee Ones Storytime. Every week I’m amazed at the number of toddlers that manage to fit in the reading corner–and the amount of strollers in the aisles! It’s one of my favorite times of the week, and that’s saying a lot, since once upon a time, when I started doing storytimes, I was terrified of the responsibility that comes with keeping a crowd of two-and-unders entertained for a whole thirty minutes! Thankfully, though, I’ve discovered some tried and true books that little ones simply can’t resist. The following, in no particular order, are my absolute favorites to grab for an interactive storytime for infants through preschoolers.

Hooray for Fish, by Lucy Cousins, Candlewick Press

One of our all-time bestsellers at HFB! The fantastic thing about this book is that it grows with your wee one. For the smallest children, the large, vibrant illustrations are enough to keep them engaged. As they get older, though, the various concepts (counting, colors, emotions) will begin to take hold. A central character (Little Fish) describes his various “fishy friends,” and in so doing gently introduces the idea of storyline and narration without ever becoming wordy or overly descriptive.

Cows in the Kitchen, illustrated by Airlie Anderson, Child’s Play International

I was thrilled to find a version of this raucous story in print! I’ve found that stories that can be sung are usually an instant hit with the storytime crowd, and this title is no exception. Sung to the tune of “Skip to My Lou,” Cows in the Kitchen presents the conundrum of how to get a group of rowdy farm animals out of Tom Farmer’s house. This is one of my favorites to use when introducing animal sounds, since there’s a wide array here–pigs, goats, ducks, and of course the requisite cows.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, by Eileen Christelow, Houghton Mifflin Publishing

These five naughty monkeys are as popular as ever! This version by Eileen Christelow gives us a brief introduction and conclusion to the chant, rounding everything out into an inclusive story. I love to pull this one out when we’ve got excess energy to burn during Wee Ones Storytime. There’s nothing like turning the reading corner into a toddler mosh pit to get all the wiggles out!

Is This My Nose?, illustrated by  Georgie Birkett, Barron’s Educational Series

I don’t think this book is meant to be sung, but that hasn’t stopped me yet! I’ve freely adapted the text to fit the rhyme scheme of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and it’s become one that I use nearly every week. Each two-page spread is targeted at identifying a certain facial feature. Simple, colorful illustrations of children and animals aid in identifying eyes, nose, ears, chin, etc. This title is slightly larger than the typical board book, which is always an asset when trying to keep the back row engaged!

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime, by Bob Shea, Hyperion Books

A book that gets little ones involved with vocalization and storytelling is a winner in my opinion. This is one of my newest favorites, and it’s possible that I have as much fun with it as the two-year-olds do. Our friend the dinosaur is an energetic little guy who likes to ROAR (cue the vocalization!) when he is confronted with various challenges. Dinosaur versus a pile of leaves! Dinosaur versus a big slide! Dinosaur versus a bowl of spaghetti! This prehistoric beast is sure he can conquer anything–until bedtime rolls around. This is a great title to use with wiggle worms who aren’t too thrilled with the prospect of saying goodnight.

Of course, I like to rotate my list of titles for Wee Ones Storytime, but these are the ones I simply couldn’t do without! Don’t be surprised if you consistently see books from this list making appearances on Friday mornings–sometimes I just can’t resist.

Happy reading!

Miss Megan (G.)

Argus by Michelle Knudsen

Sally’s teacher, Mrs. Henshaw, hands out eggs, with instructions to observe the little baby chicks when they hatch. But when the eggs start to crack, Sally and her entire class are in for a surprise! Sally’s “chick” is green and scaly with big yellow eyes–very different from the fluffy yellow chicks the rest of her friends are playing with. When Sally draws a picture of her new pet, it is twice as long as the others. When the other chicks learn to peck for seeds, Argus chews a giant crater into the playground. When the students mark their chicks’ growth, Sally has to use a stepladder. She’s just about fed up with her very “different” chick, when Argus vanishes! Sally waits to feel relieved, but all she feels is sad. Together, she and her classmates band together and scour the area for Argus. When they find him digging up a neighbor’s front yard, Sally realizes that different isn’t a bad thing–it’s the thing that makes Argus special!

Michelle Knudsen (author of Hooray for Books favorite Library Lion) delivers again with this delightful tale of unlikely friendship! Andrea Wesson’s watercolor illustrations are whimsical and playful, bringing Argus’ hairbrained antics brilliantly to life. This is the perfect storytime book to share with  young readers!

Argus by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Andrea Wesson. Ages 3-6. Candlewick Press. $15.99

Orangutans Are Ticklish by Steve Grubman

Orangutans Are Ticklish: Fun Facts From an Animal Photographer, Steve Grubman with Jill Davis, Schwartz & Wade Books, Ages 3-9

Where does a grizzly bear get his name? Does a hippo’s yawn really mean he’s sleepy? How smart is a chimpanzee? What’s the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? All the answers to these questions are combined with beautiful photographs of animals to create a truly fun survey of some favorite animal friends.

Steve Grubman’s photography is the star of the show here. Giraffes and tigers leap off the page, with candid portrait-style shots that bring the wild to life! Jill Davis’ descriptions combine factual information with a conversational tone that appeals to little ones and older readers alike. This is a wonderful book to read in one sitting or to divide up into several interactive storytimes!

Hooray for books!

–Miss Megan

Orangutans Are Ticklish: Fun Facts From an Animal Photographer, Steve Grubman with Jill Davis, Schwartz & Wade Books, Ages 3-9


Megan’s Pick of the Day 8/7/09

Stretch, by Doreen Cronin, illus. by Scott Menchin, Ages 2-6

9781416953418Get ready to exercise those muscles! Join our doggy friend as he leads us in a stretching adventure–to the ceiling, to the floor, with a whisper, and with a roar! Children can explore from the depths of the oceans to the heights of the sky as they get limber with this fast-paced picture book!

Doreen Cronin (author of the previous Bounce and Wiggle) provides text that is unfailingly energetic and joyful, encouraging young readers to join in on the adventure. Cronin’s enthusiastic words are paired flawlessly with bright illustrations by Scott Menchin. Bursting with color and texture, Menchin’s art is sure to engage parents and children alike! This fantastic new book is perfect for an action packed storytime with kids who like to get up and go!

Stretch, Doreen Cronin, Scott Menchin, pub. Aug. 2009, Atheneum Books

Want to explore other books to share with wiggly readers? Call us! We’re always happy to provide recommendations. 703-548-4092. Or email:

Stretch your imagination with a good book today!

–Miss Megan

Megan’s Book of the Day 7/17/09

higherhigherHigher, Higher by Leslie Patricelli, Ages 0-5

A little girl goes to spend a day at the park with her dad. What better way to pass the time than to play on the swings? As Daddy pushes her higher and higher, the little girl sees more and more exciting things. A giraffe! A plane! A spaceship! A new martian friend! When our heroine descends back to the ground and Daddy’s open arms, she has just one request–to do it all over again!

Leslie Patricelli’s text is basic and repetitive, presenting an exciting refrain of “Higher! Higher!” as the playground protagonist rises higher into the sky. The simple, vibrantly colored illustrations are delightfully playful and joyous. Young children are sure to be drawn into this wonderful adventure that climbs higher and higher into the realms of imagination! Explore the possibilities for adventure with this fantastic picture book!

Higher, Higher, Leslie Patricelli, pub. March 2009, Candlewick Press

Let your imagination soar with a good book!

–Miss Megan

Megan’s Book of the Day 7/10/09

Best Baby Ever, by David Milgrim, Ages 0-4

261342690_140Mommy and Daddy have the Best Baby Ever! They simply can’t get over how clever and cute their little baby is. They are determined to let everyone in the neighborhood know about the great talent their little one possesses. See him smile! See him laugh! See him walk! And swim! And go potty! Gradually, Mommy and Daddy’s itty bitty bundle of joy starts to grow up–but they’ll always think of him as the Best Baby Ever.

Author David Milgrim’s delightful story is a fantastic tale to share with your very own Best Baby Ever. Milgrim’s simple, humorous text is paired seamlessly with bright, engaging illustrations. This witty depiction of two starry-eyed parents is a fantastic gift for couples expecting a child or for parents who want to relive old memories with their toddler!

Best Baby Ever, David Milgrim, pub. July 2009, Putnam Publishing Group

Need more suggestions for new parents? Give us a call! 703-548-4092. Or visit us: Hooray for Books, 1555 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314.

Enjoy your summer reading!

–Miss Megan