Yes, it's true! The frog is actually part of the bow that is needed to play the cello (fortunately not the animal, just the name of the part). It helps adjust the sound of the cello by tightening or loosening the strings. Frogs Play Cellos, part of the Did You Know series, is a very clever nonfiction title with quirky characters that entertain while relating facts and music trivia. Kids will not only learn about a variety of instruments, but also read snippets on cultural influences and musicians (for example, spoons are used in many cultures to make a beat and create harmony). The illustrations are a lot of fun, including a pig singing opera, John Lennon as the Walrus, and a variety of cool cats playing the horns. This would be a great title to support this year’s summer reading theme “Libraries Rock,” and I’ve heard from customers that the Did You Know series is massively popular with their young readers.
By Susan Frappier, Penworthy Representative
To misquote a popular holiday movie, “The best way to spread cheer is giving hats for all to wear.” Hooray for Hat, one of the best read aloud and picture books of 2014 (according to the Huffington Post and NPR), has definitely made a statement with me. This cheerful book easily captures the eye due to its huge, bold text and bright illustrations. The story involves six animal friends who all seem to be having a grumpy day, but with the simple gesture of giving to one another, each of them finds their way back to happiness. And what could be a better cure for a grumpy mood than a delightfully silly hat?
This book is a great read aloud for story time, especially one focused on emotions. Little readers will love chiming in with each repetition of “Hooray for hat!” The author’s website offers a downloadable activity kit which includes lots of fun things such as a friendship card, coloring pages, story time suggestions, and a couple of different hat templates.
Kanisha Hines, Penworthy Sales Representative
How to be a DJ in 10 Easy Lessons is a fun and straightforward guide for aspiring DJs. Readers interested in music and mixing will follow an easy-to-understand path to becoming a DJ, starting with a brief history of the art form. The book outlines basic equipment and software needed for startup, followed by music theory and counting beats and bars. From there, kids will learn about music mixing, blending, and scratching. Readers gain knowledge as they progress though the book with simple and clear instructions, engaging graphics, and helpful tips.
The layout makes the text easy to read, with paragraphs separated into highly visual sections, and broken up by fun images and helpful diagrams. A table of contents, glossary, index, and a "Useful Links" section are included. The author himself is a professional DJ and music producer, and teaches dance and arts workshops for youth internationally. This title is great for the upcoming 2018 Summer Reading theme "Libraries Rock," or for any kid interested in learning how to DJ, either for fun or as a potential career path.
By Katie Ratajczyk, Penworthy Sales Representative
My Penworthy Pick is Squirrel's New Year's Resolution, which I love for a few reasons: the sweet story line, the message, and the adorable illustrations. Squirrel hears on the radio that it's January 1st, and time to make a New Year's Resolution! But she doesn't know what that is. So, of course, she heads to the library to find out. Along the way, her various woodland friends end up being the recipients of her helpfulness as she tries to decide what her own resolution should be, and inadvertently helps them with theirs. It all comes full circle in an adorable dinner scene with all his friends.
This is such a lovely read-aloud picture book, and a great way to introduce the concept of resolutions. It's also a nice conversation starter about how we can all make positive changes. The illustrations are clear, clean and detailed, with a cozy feel. Kids will be able to recognize each animal friend easily!
By Laura Jelinek, Penworthy Representative
After 17 years at Penworthy, I have found that I do indeed have some favorite authors and one super favorite illustrator: Lynn Munsinger, who brings Helen Lester's adorable and hilarious story to life. "Wodney Wat" (Rodney Rat) has a speech impediment. Both the first book (Hooway for Wodney Wat) and this sequel address the issue that some children have trouble pronouncing the letter "r"…and that sometimes, children who are "different" are bullied.
Wodney receives a very helpful robot for his birthday, which assists Wodney in translating his "w's" to "r's". However, when the robot stops working and Wodney's impediment becomes more obvious, Camilla Capybara steps up her teasing. In the end, the robot unintentionally teaches Camilla a bit of a lesson! It's a super fun read aloud, and the illustrations are filled with details that bring the rodents to life. This would be a great choice to spark a discussion about different abilities and treating others with kindness.
By Roxane Goldman, Penworthy Representative
My Penworthy Pick is Duck for Turkey Day, an adorable, multicultural story about Thanksgiving and the different ways we all celebrate. Tuyet’s class is preparing for Thanksgiving in the usual ways: singing turkey songs, making pinecone turkeys, and learning about the holiday’s history. Tuyet is excited, until she’s crushed to discover that her Vietnamese American family is having duck for Thanksgiving dinner rather than turkey. How will it be a real Thanksgiving feast? But Tuyet ends up enjoying her family’s Thanksgiving meal, even without the turkey. After the holiday, her teacher asks the students to share stories about each of their celebrations. It turns out that a wide variety of non-turkey dinners were enjoyed by her classmates and their families on Thanksgiving: lamb, chicken and noodles, and even a tofu turkey. Of course, the one thing everyone’s holiday meal had in common was enjoying the love and company of family.
This is a sensitive and engaging story which most children will be able to relate to, no matter their cultural background. Tuyet clearly loves her family and wants to be respectful of their traditions, and her worries are touching and vivid. This is a great choice for reading aloud during the holiday season, or for starting a discussion with students about embracing diverse cultures - particularly their own.
By Dawn Marowsky, Penworthy Representative
My Penworthy Pick is The I'M NOT SCARED Book by New York Times bestselling author Todd Parr. Parr's award-winning books have helped children around the world deal with sensitive issues, introduce change through positive messages and gentle logic, and increase literacy. Your young patrons will love the brightly illustrated pages while they explore fearful situations and alternative ways of looking at what they see as scary. For example, "Sometimes I'm scared of what's under my bed." vs. "I'm not scared once I clean everything out and see all my favorite toys." - or- "Sometimes I'm scared of monsters and ghosts" vs. "I'm not scared when I see that they aren't real." The Scary vs. Not Scary format is a great way to help kids see solutions to their fears. The I'M NOT SCARED Book is just darling, great for a bedtime read-aloud, a counselor's office, or to prompt a discussion session with little kids. It would be a great addition to your library shelf next to the scary books!
Todd Parr's website has some wonderful printable activities available for free download (not specific to this book, but lots of fun).
By Rebecca Cejka, Penworthy Representative
One Cozy Christmas by M. Christina Butler, and adorably illustrated by Tina Macnaughton, is a fabulous picture book! As in the other ten books in the beloved series, it features Little Hedgehog and his furry friends: Badger, Fox, Rabbit and a family of mice. The friends spend the days leading up to Christmas together, and though the visit starts happily, grumpiness abounds the next morning. Fox's paws have been stepped on, Rabbit can't find his socks, and someone was snoring all night. Worst of all, someone ate a cookie that had been hanging on the tree, and Little Hedgehog's special hat goes missing! Readers will smile once the identity of the cookie eater and hat thief is revealed on Christmas morning, and they will enjoy the spirit of camaraderie that infuses the story.
This sweet book is perfect for any story hour or read-aloud opportunity, as it tells a fun tale of what can go wrong as Christmas approaches, and also conveys the true meaning and importance of Christmas. Little Hedgehog is often wearing his furry, red hat throughout the book which provides a fun "touch and feel" element...engaging even the youngest readers as each page turns!
By LauraLee Bartley, Penworthy Representative
Cows unite! Farmer Brown's cows find an old typewriter and start sending him messages demanding better working conditions. Farmer Brown refuses to give in to their demands, so of course they go on strike and are soon joined by the hens. Doreen Cronin’s classic, award-winning picture book has been made available in a leveled reader format (Level 2, for children starting to read longer sentences). The story is hilarious and original, and Betsy Lewin's comical illustrations pair perfectly with the simple, funny text. It’s also a great and simple way to start a discussion on labor movements and working together. The twist at the end involving the mediator duck feeling empowered to make his own demands will leave young readers laughing.
A fun “Letter from the Pig” writing activity to go along with the book is available for free download here.
Lauri Streeck, Penworthy Representative
My Penworthy Pick is Bee-Wigged by Cece Bell. Jerry Bee is a lonely and enormous bee who loves people. Unfortunately, people don’t love him, since he is, after all, a person-sized bee. Wearing a wig, Jerry passes as a boy and finally makes lots of friends, until the wind blows off his wig during the school parade. In a hilarious twist, the wig turns out to be a guinea pig, who points out to everyone that while Jerry might be a very large bee, he is also a great person and friend.
While this is an adorable, funny picture book with bright and silly illustrations that will appeal to kids, it’s also a great starting point for discussions about appearances, preconceived notions, and kindness towards others. A great pick for story-time, especially now when young readers are beginning a new school year.
By Joan Schimmels, Penworthy Representative
Penworthy works with schools and libraries across the country to provide Penworthy Prebound Books, library bound books, board books, and puppets.