If I Had a Gryphon

If I Had a Gryphon
Vikki VanSickle, Cale Atkinson
2016—Tundra Books
Ages 3 to 7, Grades P to 2

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Unicorns and hippogriffs and krakens! Oh my! 

If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki Vansickle and Cale Atkinson is an adorable picture book that is—literally—not of this world. 

When Sam gets a hamster for a pet, she is not really that excited. Hamsters don’t do all that much, and she wishes for a pet with more exotic powers….something like….a unicorn (with a silky mane), a gryphon (with flashing feathers), or a sasquatch (with burly, curly fur). 

 
 

The problem is, though, that these mythical creatures come with some challenges of their own. Chupacabras like to bite!

Sam comes to realize that her boring old hamster is probably a perfect pet for her...and maybe not so boring after all.

The illustrations for this creative tale are so cute, and they show off the powers and problems of each mythical creature with perfect pitch.

If I Had a Gryphon is a fun gateway to learning about mythical creatures and might inspire some creative Halloween costumes, too.

Are you looking for more fun October ideas for kids? We have plenty of titles and storytime tips in our October gallery.


 
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Boo Haiku

Boo! Haiku
Deanna Caswell, Bob Shea
Abrams Kids—2016
Ages 3 to 5, Grades P to K

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Halloween haiku? Why not? The author-illustrator duo from Guess Who, Haiku is back with a spooky treat for kids and families.

The idea behind and the execution of Boo! Haiku, a children’s riddle book, both get a strong A+ from me—and my preschooler. It has so many winning elements:

  • bright and graphic illustrations,
  • rhyme,
  • repetitive text,
  • humor, and
  • educational value.

Best of all, it sets its readers up for success. If the haiku clues are a little bit tricky for young ears, kids can use the picture at the bottom of the page to help them solve the riddle. 

 
 

Haiku poems are great for young kids because they are a fun way to teach about syllables and patterns. Understanding the sounds within words is a key pre-reading skill, and reading haiku helps kids play with the concept. Even very young children can begin to recognize patterns, and pattern awareness helps kids develop the ability to count and problem solve. That’s no joke!

Can you guess who from his hauku?

Can you guess who from his hauku?

The book ends with an elegant description of haiku and a strategy for teaching kids to identify syllables. 

Are you looking for more fun October ideas for kids? We have plenty of titles and storytime tips in our October gallery.


 
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Bonesville

Bonesville
Jean-Luc Fromental, Joëlle Jolivet
Abrams Kids—2016
Ages 5 to 7, Grades K to 2

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“There were 1,275 skeletons living peacefully in Bonesville. They each had 206 bones. That meant there were 262,650 bones. “


When a monster starts stealing bones from the good citizens of Bonesville (all of the skeletal persuasion, of course), Sherlock Bones is on the case. The monster runs off with the radius of Mrs. Strongbones, the fibula of T-bone the butcher, and twelve vertebrae belonging to the patients in Dr. Crackbones’s waiting room. Yes, there is chaos in Bonesville, but Sherlock’s careful note taking and attention to detail let him set the perfect trap and close the cranium on this silly—and suprisingly educational—mystery.

 
 

The cover of this book might look a bit spooky, but the tale inside is bone-rattling fun that teaches kids about the human skeleton.  It’s large size makes it fun to handle and share, and the black or blue backgrounds on the pages give it a graphic twist that is very appealing—especially for a nighttime tale. 

Click to enlarge.

Oh, and I’m not much for dust jackets, usually. (I even wrote a popular blog post detailing five alternative uses them.) But this one is pretty special: It folds out into a poster diagramming all of the bones in the human body. What a super surprise!

Are you looking for more fun October ideas for kids? We have plenty of titles and storytime tips in our October gallery.


 
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The Pruwahaha Monster


The Pruwahaha Monster
Jean-Paul Mulders, Jacques Maes, Lise Braekers
Kids Can Press—2016
Ages 4 to 7, Grades P to 2

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They’re baaaaaaaack…pumpkin fever is in full swing, and all of those orange orbs and warming spices have me feeling fall. Of all the great books heading to market this season, one of my favorites is The Pruwahaha Monster, from Jean-Paul Mulders, Jacques Maes and Lise Breakers.


Just saying the name of this book aloud is both spine-TINGLING and spine-TICKLING, and I’m in awe of how the book achieves this magical mash-up. It is probably one of those things you have to experience for yourself, but I will try to explain. 


At first, The Pruwahaha Monster seems to be a terrifying creature—a large-clawed monster who lurks through the woods near a boy and father at play. Tension and anticipation build.

As the story continues, we readers begin to get some subtle clues that all is not as it seems. And, when the words and the pictures collide in the final pages, we are left giggling and shaking our heads. The story is not about a monster after all! It is actually the story of a very sweet and playful father-son relationship.


Everything about this book is simply delightful. The illustrations a brilliant, and it’s a ton of fun to read aloud, which is why my family keeps returning to this scary story that is not-so-scary after all.

Are you looking for more fun October ideas for kids? We have plenty of titles and storytime tips in our October gallery.


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Monsters Go Night-Night

Monsters Go Night-Night
Aaron Zenz
Abrams Kids—2016
Ages 3 to 5, Grades P to K

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What is the bedtime routine like in your house? Over here, we have something to eat, take a bath, put on our pajamas, and get in a little snuggle time before that final night-night kiss.

Well, as it turns out, monsters do the same thing! They just do it a little bit differently...ok, a lot differently.

Monsters Go Night-Night is a fun bedtime story. It goes through all the parts of an evening routine—with a twist. For example, it tells us that monsters take baths. Then, it gives us four choices. Do monsters take baths with soap, shampoo, a rubber ducky, or chocolate pudding? We turn the page and see the answer: Monsters take baths with chocolate pudding, of course.

 
 

Author Aaron Zenz dedicated this book to his son, Elijah, whose monster drawings inspired the adorable creatures in the story. Check out his interview on the All the Wonders podcast here and watch this great YouTube video to learn more about his creative process.

My toddler and preschooler ask for Monsters Go Night-Night over and over again, and I think your little creatures will love it, too.

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Are you looking for more fun October ideas for kids? We have plenty of titles and storytime tips in our October gallery.


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Fingers for Lunch

Fingers for Lunch
Brandt Lewis, Cori Doerrfeld
Little-Brown Kids—2016
Ages 0 to 3, Grades P to P

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My young kids absolutely love this finger-play board book that is perfect for some silly Halloween fun! Hands-on rhyming books like this one aren’t just amusing for toddlers, though; they promote social, language, and fine-motor skills.

Each page in Fingers for Lunch by Brandt Lewis and Cori Doerrfeld has a funny little poem and a scene featuring a blue monster, his pet dinosaur, and a few of your wiggling fingers. CHOMP! Watch your pinkies.

Are you looking for more fun October ideas for kids? We have plenty of titles and storytime tips in our October gallery.

 


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Black and Bittern Was Night

 
 

Black and Bittern Was Night
Robert Heidbreder, John Martz
Kids Can Press—2013
Ages 4 to 8, Grades P to 3

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’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: 
All mimsy were the borogoves, 
      And the mome raths outgrabe. 


Do you remember this famous poem (very likely to have had you pulling out your hair back in 10th grade)? Jabberwocky by Lewis Carol is probably the most famous nonsense poem in the English canon (by the way, have you seen the Baby Lit version? Adorable.), but the picture book Black and Bittern Was Night by Robert Heidbreder and John Martz is—by far—my favorite.

 
 

The epic action all happens on Halloween night. The kids (tyke-tots) are all dressed up in their costumes, but an army of skeletons (or SKUL-A-MUG-MUGS) invades the town, hypnotizes the adults (tall-bigs), and cancels trick-or-treat. The kids fight back, however, and a fierce scaring battle ensues. In the end (spoiler alert!), the kid army returns victorious and shares their tale of battle fought and won.


All you tall-bigs don’t need to worry: the funny illustrations and nonsensical verse keep the book on the silly side of scary and make it fun to read over and over. I haven’t been able to stop chanting the tyke-tots' victory cry:

 

“Thrickle! And thrackle!
Thinder-a-thray!
SKUL-A-MUG-MUGS,
We’ll splook you sway!”

Are you looking for more fun October ideas for kids? I have plenty of titles and storytime tips in my October gallery.


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Unlike Other Monsters

Unlike Other Monsters
Audrey Vernick, Colin Jack
Disney-H
yperion—2016
Ages 3 to 5, Grades P to K

Looking for more fun October ideas for kids? We have plenty of titles and storytime tips in our October gallery.


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Little Blue Truck's Halloween

Little Blue Truck's Halloween
Alice Schertle, Jill McElmurry
HMH Books for Young Readers—2016
Ages 3 And Under, Grades P And Under

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We are die-hard fans of the original Little Blue, and we love collecting the whole series because of their rhyming, rhythmic, read-aloud appeal and positive messages. So, of course, we jumped at the chance to grab the brand new Halloween title. Did you know it is already an Amazon best seller?

 
 

This board book is large, colorful, and full of your favorite farm characters—in costume! I think it is a great introduction to the concept of dressing up for the holiday, and it is not at all gruesome or scary. My kids think its lift-the-flap action is hilarious.

Are you looking for more fun October ideas for kids? We have plenty of titles and storytime tips in our October gallery.

 


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A Teeny Tiny Halloween

A Teeny Tiny Halloween
Lauren L. Wohl, Henry Cole
Persnickety Press—2016
Ages 3 to 7, Grades P to 2

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Do you get into your read alouds? Like, get INTO them. I perform for my kids and students when I’m reading aloud in a way that I would never be comfortable with if I didn't have a book in my hands. 


Perhaps you have heard the quote (credited to Emilie Buchwald) that says, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." Using a bit of drama and changing the volume and tone of your voice is the perfect way to create memorable early-reading experiences for preschoolers and children in the primary grades—the kind of experiences that make them love reading and books.