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February 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more Classroom Connections
Strong body, strong mind, right? Recent media reports have expressed concern that American kids don’t spend nearly enough time getting exercise. We need to encourage even our youngest patrons to get up and get moving, and help establish habits that will lead to an active lifestyle. The benefits extend beyond basic health and fitness, as studies show that students who feel good are more receptive to learning—in subjects across the curriculum. Here’s a list of recent picture books that encourage hopping, skipping, jumping—and a whole lotta shakin’!
The ABCs of Yoga for Kids around the World. By Teresa Anne Power. Illus. by Kathleen Rietz. 2017. Stafford, $22.95 (9780982258781). PreS–Gr. 1.
Letters of the alphabet are sequentially linked to yoga poses. Colorful illustrations of children model correct postures and make the movements fun and easy to emulate. The familiar ABC pattern is nonthreatening and should help get kids moving while they gain basic familiarity with yoga. This will be great fun for family storytimes.
Emily and the Mighty Om. By Sarah Lolley. Illus. by Sleepless Kao. 2014. Simply Read, $16.95 (9781897476352). K–Gr. 3.
Emily’s new neighbor spends all day practicing yoga and chanting “Om,” until the dreadful day when he gets locked into position and can only squeak out “O.” Emily comes to his rescue, leading neighbors and passersby in a mighty group “Om.” The text is straightforward, and the painted illustrations have a peaceful simplicity. Om . . .
The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story. By Uma Krishnaswami. Illus. by Ruth Jeyaveeran. 2005. Lee & Low, $16.95 (9781600603600). PreS–Gr. 2.
Meena is convinced she’s a stumblebum. She signs up for yoga classes and gradually improves her balance and confidence. She’s even able to hold the tree pose in the class play! Bright, warm-colored acrylic illustrations complement this encouraging story that seamlessly integrates insights into Indian culture.
A Morning with Grandpa. By Sylvia Liu. Illus. by Christina Forshay. 2016. Lee & Low, $17.95 (9781620141922). PreS–Gr. 2.
Cheerful interplay between Mei Mei and her grandfather show the merits and techniques of a few tai chi and yoga poses. Colorful, digitally rendered illustrations accentuate the tender relationship between the two and the joyful natural world they inhabit. The satisfying story ending shows the pair bowing to each other in namaste.
My Daddy Is a Pretzel: Yoga for Parents and Kids. By Baron Baptiste. Illus. by Sophie Fatus. 2004. Barefoot, $16.99 (9781846868993). PreS–Gr. 3.
Our young narrator thinks of yoga postures that mirror adult activities. Gardening reminds her of the tree pose, and in a following spread, Daddy correctly models the position. Step-by-step illustrations show how to move in and out of each posture; cheery, tropical-colored paintings reinforce the congenial mood. Great for groups.
Yoga Bunny. By Brian Russo. Illus. by the author. 2016. Harper, $17.99 (9780062429520). PreS–K.
A little white bunny, outlined in thin black ink, is ignored when he invites other animals to join him for yoga. Eventually, they reconsider and find that the poses make them feel good, solve their irritation and anxiety issues, and cure hiccups. The sweetly simple illustrations make yoga look fun. Another story hour natural.
Yoga for Kids. By Lorena V. Pajalunga. Illus. by Anna Forlati. 2015. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (9780807591727). K–Gr. 2.
A yoga lesson at the zoo prompts a young boy to teach his cat about animal-inspired poses and the characteristics each embodies. Step-by-step directions face illustrations of animals in their natural habitat, reinforcing connections. The warm, soothing colors and gentle tone should encourage audiences of all ages. Namaste!
You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses. By Taeeun Yoo. Illus. by the author. 2012. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $16.99 (9780399256028). K–Gr. 3.
Lightly inked block prints show preschoolers in a woodsy glen, modeling seven safe, relatively easy yoga poses. Each child demonstrates a position and then roars, hops, or otherwise expresses a trait of the corresponding animal. Audiences will enjoy participating in the activities, including the concluding “namaste to each other.”
Dojo Daytrip. By Chris Tougas. Illus. by the author. 2015. Owlkids, $16.95 (9781771471428). PreS–Gr. 2.
This time Master is taking the tykes from Dojo Daycare (2014) to a farm for a field trip. Master is not a barnyard natural and continually gets into scrapes and must be rescued. The slapstick imagery of Master’s pratfalls and the extremely expressive eyeballs of the ninjas, who are outfitted in full-body ninja gear, ramp up the humor.
The Five Forms. By Barbara McClintock. Illus. by the author. 2017. Farrar, $17.99 (9781626722163). PreS–Gr. 2.
A young girl finds a book about ancient Chinese animal martial arts forms and, despite warnings, tries them out, only to have the actual animals run amok in her living room. How to restore order before Mom gets home? Precise illustrations show correct stances for each pose, which will prove irresistible—despite the possible consequences.
Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks. By Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez. Illus. by Dan Santat. 2016. Putnam, $17.99 (9780399176265). K–Gr. 2.
This martial arts makeover tells of two brave young chicks that master ninjutsu to rid their village of a fox. Lively limericks tell the story in a swift, kicky rhythm, and dynamic, warm-toned, action-filled illustrations throw a nice nod to kung fu movies. Even young audiences will get most of the delightful (and irreverent) references.
Mosquitoes Can’t Bite Ninjas. By Jordan P. Novak. Illus. by the author. 2017. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (9781681192154). PreS–Gr. 1.
While most humans are fair game, the bloodsucking mosquito is no match for a ninja’s quick, stealthy movements—as demonstrated through many proboscis-crunching encounters. Minimal text, brightly colored ink drawings, and simple, cartoon-style figures, plus a surprise ending: it turns out ninjas can bite mosquitoes!
Ninja Boy Goes to School. By N. D. Wilson. Illus. by J. J. Harrison. 2014. Random, $16.99 (9780375865848). K–Gr. 2.
Being a ninja isn’t easy, whether climbing bookshelves, escaping through classroom windows, or remaining silent and stoic during ensuing visits to the principal’s office. Vibrant, cartoonish illustrations deftly blend and blur reality with fantasy. Perhaps a bit esoteric for some, but those who follow the ninja code will be delighted.
Ninja Bunny. By Jennifer Gray Olson. Illus. by the author. 2015. Knopf, $16.99 (9780385754934). PreS–K.
A cute little bunny valiantly strives to develop the strength and skills needed to become a super awesome ninja. The cartoon-style illustrations (pratfalls! splats! unfortunate ear and tail exposures!) effectively contrast with the straightforward text. Eventually, with a little help, Ninja Bunny becomes the hero he is meant to be.
Ninja Red Riding Hood. By Corey Rosen Schwartz. Illus. by Dan Santat. 2014. Putnam, $16.99 (9780399163548). PreS–Gr. 3.
Having been embarrassed by The Three Ninja Pigs (2012), our wolf hero enrolls in ninja school, only to find himself going after a little girl who is also a trained ninja. The pair is evenly matched, prompting Grandma to settle things with a little tai chi. Comic verse and delicate, digital rice paper brushwork round out this romp.
Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny. By John Himmelman. Illus. by the author. 2014. Holt, $13.99 (9780805099706). Gr. 1–3.
Isabel is the best bunjitsu artist in school, an expert in kicking, hitting, and throwing. Her martial arts aren’t confined to the classroom, as she also faces down piratical foxes and angry waves. The black-and-white line drawings delineate her swift and deft movements, but hopefully won’t inspire too many overly enthusiastic copycats.
Baby Loves to Boogie! By Wednesday Kirwan. Illus. by the author. 2014. Simon & Schuster/Little Simon, $5.99 (9781481403832). PreS.
Hotfooting beasts help toddlers rhythmically wiggle their butts. Or, you know, dance. Pages feature bright primary-color backgrounds and stylized animals getting funky. “But who loves to boogie?” It’s Baby, who ends up decked out in Saturday Night Fever garb underneath a twinkling disco ball. Perfect for burgeoning dance maniacs.
Boris for the Win. By Andrew Joyner. Illus. by the author. 2013. Scholastic/Branches, $15.99 (9780545484480). K–Gr. 2.
It’s Field Day, and Boris, the adventure-seeking warthog, would love, just once, to beat Eddie, who always wins everything. Boris sets up a backyard training field and practices while dreaming of glory. A sweetly surprising ending reinforces the importance of sportsmanship and loyalty, even while reaching for the gold.
The Busy Body Book: A Kid’s Guide to Fitness. By Lizzy Rockwell. 2004. Crown, $15.95 (9780375822032). PreS–Gr. 3.
This message about the joy of physical activity makes physiology accessible to preschoolers. Bright, colorful spreads of kids busy on scooters and rollerblades offset full-page diagrams of skeletons, clearly labeled and packed with facts. An afterword addresses childhood obesity and makes an ardent pitch for healthy physical fun.
Clap, Clap! By Madalena Matoso. Illus. by the author. 2016. Flying Eye, $14.95 (9781909263826). PreS–Gr. 1.
Blocky designs and unexpected text demand interactive listening, encouraging kids to stand up and move. Whether shouting 13 triangle “tings” or booming 11 bass drum “bongs,” readers will laugh at the unusual demands. A last page shows active children in a variety of poses, encouraging even more uproar. “Fomfin!”
Farmyard Beat. By Lindsey Craig. Illus. by Marc Brown. 2011. Knopf, $15.99 (9780375864551). PreS.
The repetition, rhythm, familiar words, and fun sounds will have toddlers chanting, dancing, and reenacting the farmyard chaos shown in the bright, hand-painted paper collages. Not exactly a first choice as a lullaby, but the ending does show the animals exhausted and cuddling, all nice and cozy. Be sure to include this part (good luck!).
Footloose. By Kenny Loggins and Dean Pitchford. Illus. by Tim Bowers. 2016. Quarto/Moondance, $17.95 (9781633221185). PreS–Gr. 1.
Loggins’ 1985 hit Footloose is the inspiration for this fanciful tale. Night is falling on a city zoo, so it’s time to cut loose and put on your dancin’ shoes. Animals don fringed vests, top hats, or tutus and get busy. The colorful, canted, chirpy illustrations are busy and undulating. Be sure to play the included CD until it (or you) wears out.
Go, Shapes, Go! By Denise Fleming. Illus. by the author. 2014. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, $17.99 (9781442482401). PreS–Gr. 1.
A mouse ringmaster orders ovals, circles, and rectangles to slide, bounce, or roll, just begging for audience participation. The shapes eventually form a monkey, but not for long, as the constant shape-shifting causes general mayhem. Young kids should recognize the shapes and really appreciate the chance to misbehave.
The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen. By Thelma Lynne Godin. Illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 2014. Lee & Low, $18.95 (9781600608469). K–Gr. 3.
Kameeka is determined to win the title of Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street, but she’s supposed to be getting ready for Miz Adeline’s birthday party. Emphasizing camaraderie and celebration, the text snaps with effortless cadence, and the colorful palette shows a lively inner-city neighborhood and how folks look out for one another.
I Got the Rhythm. By Connie Schofield-Morrison. Illus. by Frank Morrison. 2014. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (9781619631786). PreS–K.
A young African American girl leaves her urban home and finds rhythm in everything she encounters, inspiring an impromptu marching band that creates a riot of sound, color, and movement. The bright palette and vibrant tones of the loosely painted illustrations echo the energy of the text and encourage infectious participation.
I. Q. Gets Fit. By Mary Ann Fraser. Illus. by the author. 2007. Walker, o.p. PreS–Gr. 2.
I. Q., the class pet mouse, wants to pass the Student Fitness Challenge. Along the way, he learns the value of a balanced diet, staying active, getting enough sleep, and drinking plenty of water. Appealing colored pencil, gouache, and ink illustrations plus witty endpapers create immediate allure (and hopefully invite imitation).
Janine and the Field Day Finish. By Maryann Cocca-Leffler. Illus. by the author. 2016. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (9780807537565). PreS–Gr. 1.
Janine, our confident heroine from Janine (2015), knows her body doesn’t work like other kids’, but she’s still excited for field day. Gentle text explains how Janine’s a little different, without naming her disability. Expressive illustrations capture her irrepressible spirit and help teach lessons about friendship, competition, and what constitutes winning.
Kitchen Disco. By Clare Foges. Illus. by Al Murphy. 2017. Faber and Faber, $16.95 (9780571336975). K–Gr. 2.
The lights go out, everything’s quiet, and all kinds of fruit start shaking their booties. Block-letter lyrics and big, bright cartoon illustrations help create excitement. Two kids join in, and then foil stars and a disco ball appear, sending the glittering gala to new heights. Come sunrise, it’s back to the fruit bowl for a recuperative snooze.
Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing, and Shout; Dance, Spin, and Turn It Out! Games, Songs, and Stories from an African American Childhood. By Patricia C. McKissack. Illus. by Brian Pinkney. 2017. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $24.99 (9780375870880). PreS–Gr. 3.
This collection celebrates how traditions, simple movements, tunes, rhymes, and dance steps enhance African American storytelling. Folk heroes, legends, and lore come alive, steeped in symbolism and imagination. There are enough songs and games to keep young audiences engaged—and moving—through multiple readings.
Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ and Shakin’. By Lisa Loeb. Illus. by Ryan O’Rourke. 2013. Sterling, $14.95 (9781402769160). PreS–Gr. 1.
This collection of 10 songs (with an accompanying CD) will definitely get little ones up and out of their chairs. Retro-cool illustrations, a fun design, a mixture of classic songs and original creations, hand movements, very basic yoga poses, and instructions for bopping along ramp up the energy. Let’s have a dance party!
Maisy’s Field Day. By Lucy Cousins. Illus. by the author. 2016. Candlewick, $12.99 (9780763684419). PreS–K.
Beloved Maisy the mouse enjoys Field Day, winning some events and losing others, all the while cheering on her friends. After a tug-of-war, the exciting day ends with medals and ribbons for all. The characters, outlined in thick black lines, pop against the vibrant backgrounds. The message? Fun—and inclusion—for all.
Miss Fox’s Class Shapes Up. By Eileen Spinelli. Illus. by Anne Kennedy. 2011. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (9780807551714). K–Gr. 3.
Miss Fox’s students are neither healthy nor fit, so she motivates them to change old habits, eat right, sleep well, exercise more, and get ready for Field Day. The colorful line-and-wash illustrations show the kids complying—or not—through humorous and convincing scenarios. A great addition to the Miss Fox canon.
Murphy Meets the Treadmill. By Harriet Ziefert. Illus. by Emily Bolam. 2001. HMH, o.p. PreS–Gr. 1.
Murphy, a rather plump golden retriever, tries everything to get in shape. Finally a treadmill produces results, and Murphy becomes fit (and preens properly). Cartoon-style illustrations feature spare, nuanced line work to coax all sorts of expressions from Murphy: fury, resignation, and eventually delight. Kids should get the hint.
Music Class Today! By David Weinstone. Illus. by Vin Vogel. 2015. Farrar, $17.99 (9780374351311). PreS–K.
A little boy is wary of his first music class. He stays by Mom, intently observing others dancing and playing. Eventually the lively lyrics and appealing interactions win, and he becomes an enthusiastic participant. The lyrical text and colorful childlike caricatures aptly capture the magical pull of music and the welcoming joy of dance.
Ruby Rose: Off to School She Goes. By Rob Sanders. Illus. by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. 2016. Harper, $15.99 (9780062235695). PreS–Gr. 1.
Kindergartener Ruby Rose likes to dance, but her new teacher does not. A classroom disaster prompts whirling and twirling, and Ruby bounces home happy, knowing that dance is in her future. Kinetic illustrations delightfully show Ruby’s sheer joy in moving ’n’ grooving, encouraging other free spirits to get up and do their own thing.
Spunky Little Monkey. By Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson. Illus. by Brian Won. 2017. Scholastic, $17.99 (9780545776431). PreS–K.
A big dose of clapping, stomping, and shaking is needed to get Spunky Little Monkey out of bed. Engaging text and call-and-response rhymes perfectly complement the vibrantly colored illustrations that demonstrate dance steps and syncopated hand movements. This is lively, all-around fun and a great excuse to get just a little loud.
Stretch. By Doreen Cronin. Illus. by Scott Menchin. 2009. Atheneum, $15.99 (9781416953418). PreS–Gr. 1.
As in Wiggle (2005) and Bounce (2007), our dog narrator pairs the chosen action word with infectious, energized exemplars sure to get kids moving. Different fonts and funny illustrations progress from simple activities to elaborate series that stretch across pages. Stretching—and wiggling and bouncing—will prove irresistible.
Tiptoe Joe. By Ginger Foglesong Gibson. Illus. by Laura Rankin. 2013. Greenwillow, $17.99 (9780061772030). PreS–Gr. 1.
Tiptoe Joe, a big bear, tiptoes through the forest, inviting animal friends to come see a surprise: two newborn cubs. As friends comply, so does the accompanying noise: clopping, stomping, flapping, and slapping. Appealing shaded drawings with watercolor washes show kids when to join in—as if they’ll need encouragement.
We Are the Dinosaurs. By Laurie Berkner. Illus. by Ben Clanton. 2017. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (9781481464635). PreS–Gr. 2.
This dinosaur marching song now employs a plot, dialogue, sound effects, and big, very simply drawn prehistoric scenes to help bring the iconic lines to life. There’s no particularly strong rhythm or cadence to the lyrics, but young audiences should have no trouble chiming in as they march about and roar in chorus. RAWR!
Kathleen McBroom recently retired from a 40-year career that spanned public, academic, and school library assignments. She currently works as a consultant.
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