Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Storytime 2/22/11

Storytime at Scholastic tends to attract mostly babies, considering it runs at 11am on weekday mornings. However this week the NYC kids are off from school, so we had some older kids, which is so much nicer. Unfortunately I didn't realize this while picking the books, but it still went okay.

Olivia Forms a BandOlivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer
(Simon & Schuster, 3-7)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Olivia, but this one is just not as solid as the original. Olivia's mother is taking them to the fireworks and Olivia wants to know if there will be a band, because there has to be a fireworks band. When her mother assumes not, Olivia decides that she'll be the band. While cute, the plot sort of meanders then when Olivia finishes being a band and focuses on other things like her make-up. The images, however, are always worth the price of admission and the crash-bang-twink-ploink noises of Olivia's band make for a fun read-aloud.

Break for "Itsy-Bitsy Spider." Had to shy away from the normal baby-ness of songs like "ABC" or "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Maybe next time I'll go with "The People in Your Neighborhood."

Tony BaloneyTony Baloney by Pam Muñoz Ryan & Edwin Fotheringham
(Scholastic, 4-8)
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Cute with bright illustrations, but it's only just an okay read. Far and away the best part of the whole book is Dandelion the stuffed ostrich, who helps Tony Baloney with his problems by sitting and taking notes like a psychiatrist, and is clearly the source of any trouble going on. The dynamics between Tony Baloney and his siblings (one older and bossy and twin babies) doesn't ring quite as true, and I found the plot more annoying than Tony did his siblings. Also, I had to stop and explain the word "exasperated" to the kids, and while new vocabulary is always good, they wouldn't have figured it out on their own from the context. There's a cute gimmick in the writing, where Tony says things like, "for twenty years, or maybe just an hour", but it doesn't flow in the narrative very well, although that could've just been from reading it for the first time.

Cat the Cat, Who Is That?Cat the Cat, Who Is That? by Mo Willems
(Balzer + Bray, newborn-5)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The simplest Willems for the youngest use, but really perhaps too simple. I agree with a reviewer on Goodreads who stated this might be better suited as a board book than in picture book form. However, it's saved by the alien/monster at the end ("Blarggie Blarggie!") and a sweet message.

Break for the "Hokey Pokey," my very favorite and a good one with the older kids. Also, later in the day a lady came in with a "The Hokey Pokey really is what's it's all about" t-shirt, so that made me happy.

Ivy Loves To GiveIvy Loves To Give by Freya Blackwood
(Arthur A. Levine, 4-8)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautifully drawn Ivy loves to give presents to the people (and animals) in her life, but she doesn't always get it right (glasses for the dog, tea for the chicken). Cute and silly at times, Ivy's story is very sweet when she does give the right gifts and her sister gives her a gift in return. A nice story in the vein of "it's better to give than receive" and about sharing. A nice short read-aloud with lovely illustrations and fun for the kids to point out Ivy's mistakes.

Cat SecretsCat Secrets by Jef Czekaj
(Balzer + Bray, 3-6)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Originally I gave this book four stars because it's super adorable and I anticipated some awesomeness with storytime. I still think it's really cute, but it doesn't translate to storytime quite like I hoped. The interactive bits are great, my kids were fabulous meowers, but there's a LOT of pages where the cats are just staring at you listening. Almost like the pauses in Dora the Explorer, only you don't actually need that in the a storybook. Still, very cute and interactive.

All in all, a successful storytime, although I think the only one I'd pick again would be Ivy Loves to Give, especially for the two to five range. Maybe on another baby day, I'd bust out Cat the Cat and Cat Secrets. Sorry, Dandelion, but Tony Baloney misses out. And I'd pick a different Olivia book, cause there are far superior ones.


  1. YAY EMMA! I'll be promoting this like mad!

  2. Little White Rabbit (Henkes) is a great storytime book for the baby crowd. SO FREAKING CUTE and also very simple, but still interesting, text. OH, also also, I wanted to ask you if you had seen the newly repackaged Babysitters Club books. They are like minimalist covers! It's weird, but I don't disapprove.

  3. I tend to find Henkes a little hit or miss, but I'll definitely check that one out.

    I LOVE that they're reprinting the BSC, although I do miss the old covers (my favorite was Claudia on the phone for #2), but the new ones are super minimalist cute. Also apparently they've updated them slightly so instead of listening to cassette tapes they have MP3 players, etc, but otherwise they're all the same. Also, did you see there's a new prequel? I still have to pick it up!

  4. This is awesome...I've been looking for more Children's book blogs. There seem to be so few! I found you on goodreads and will visit often.