Tuesday, May 17, 2016

top ten Tuesday: ten books from Ellsworth story time.

It’s a known fact that I am a lover of books. (You can’t really work in a library and NOT love books, after all.)

Not only am I fortunate enough to work around books all day, I am also fortunate enough to have scored the best volunteer job ever: as a volunteer librarian in the Ellsworth elementary school library.
Seriously, it’s the best. I make displays, alphabetize and arrange books, and (my favorite) read to classes.

Tomorrow is my last story time for the 2015-2016 school year. Since I started doing these story times in fall 2014, I have found some truly amazing picture books. Since I began doing story time, I have spent an awful lot of time sifting through picture book after picture book in order to find just the right ones. (I’m not going to waste the kids’ time on something boring, after all.) And I NEVER would’ve done this had I not started volunteering. As a childless individual who spends most of her work day dealing with books for adults, picture books wouldn’t have crossed my radar without the Ellsworth kids.

And it turns out that some of the picture books I found are about a million times funnier than the adult books I’ve read lately. (On the whole, I stick to funny books for story time. I tend to measure my success by the volume of laughter.)

I present to you, after two years of Ellsworth story-timing, my top ten picture books. All of these are books that I had not, in fact, read before I stumbled across them for story time.

I Don’t Like Koala
Sean Ferrell
I Don't Like Koala is about a little boy who has a stuffed koala that (you guessed it) he doesn’t like. 
The illustrations in this book are hilarious – there’s one in particular where the little boy tries to lose Koala in the woods, but Koala always ends up back in his bed… “closer than close.” 
That is EXACTLY how I feel when James wants hugs and I don’t, or when our cat sleeps on our faces. Closer than close.

Zombie in Love
Kelly DiPucchio
I came across Zombie in Love when I was looking for a Halloween book that was neither too scary nor too corny. Kids love zombies (right?), and the Ellsworth kids loved this book. It’s about a zombie named Mortimer who is looking for love, but he can’t figure out why he scares off all the ladies. 
Poor guy.

The Story of Ferdinand
Munro Leaf
In September, I talk to the kids about Banned Books week, and I read them a book that has been banned at one time or another. I love the banned books lesson, because the kids are always mortified at the thought of anyone trying to keep books away from them. I had not actually read The Story of Ferdinand before last year’s banned books lesson, and I thought it was just lovely. It’s the story of Ferdinand the bull – he would rather smell flowers than bullfight. The book is from 1936, and it was banned in several countries (including Spain) because it was seen as promoting pacifism. The illustrations are in simple black and white, and it truly is a beautiful book.

Jenny Offill
Everyone loves sloths – don’t ask me why, but they do. Sparky! is a story about a girl who wants a pet, but the only pet her mother will let her have is a sloth named Sparky. She then tries to impress her friends with all the tricks Sparky can (supposedly) do, and I bet you can guess how well that goes.

The Day the Crayons Quit
Drew Daywalt
This book was HUGE with the elementary-agers these last couple of years. It’s written in the form of letters from crayons to their kid, and they all have complaints. Red feels overworked, yellow and orange can’t agree which is the color of the sun, black is bored with just being used for outlines, and so on. It’s kind of totally hilarious.

Interrupting Chicken
David Ezra Stein
Interrupting Chicken was part of my lesson on Caldecott medal books – titles that have been recognized as outstanding picture books. Interrupting Chicken is one such book, and it’s about a little chicken who keeps interrupting the bedtime stories her father is reading to her. 
I read this book too all the grades, but the kindergarten and first graders especially loved it. You should’ve heard them laugh.

Meet the Dullards
Sara Pennypacker
Whenever I’m getting ready for story time, I inevitably wind up on the couch with a huge stack of picture books beside me. I read each one, looking for the one that strikes my fancy. When I first read Meet the Dullards, I could not stop laughing. James came to see what on earth was going on, so I read him the book – and HE couldn’t stop laughing. It’s about parents who want to keep their children as dull as possible (no playing, no reading, no color, no nothing). 
The line in the book that had me laughing so hard came from a scene in which the Dullards meet their new neighbor. She says something excitedly, and they respond with, “Please do not use explanation points in front of our children.” HILARIOUS.

Bob Hartman
Grumblebunny is about a super-grumpy bunny who is spending the day with his three syrupy-sweet cousins when they are caught by a wolf. The wolf intends to make them into a stew, and the three sweet bunnies are delighted to be making a new friend and sitting in the nice warm water. Grumblebunny has to use his bad attitude to save the day. As someone who has been known to exhibit Grumblebunny-like tendencies from time to time, it’s kind of refreshing to read a book in which the cranky character is the hero!

Kelly DiPucchio
Yes, Kelly DiPucchio shows up twice on my list. Gaston is about a little bulldog who lives with a family of poodles. It turns out that he was accidentally switched at birth – his family runs into a family of bulldogs with one small poodle sister. They try to switch back, and it doesn’t go well. 
Bonus points for cute pictures of small dogs.

The Princess and the Pony
Kate Beaton
When I announced the title of this book to the kindergartners and first graders, all of the boys in the class were audibly disappointed. They did NOT want to hear about princesses and ponies. They came around after the first page or so. The book is about a princess who desperately wants to be a warrior like everyone else, so she asks for a war horse for her birthday… but receives this:

She does her best to make the pony into a fighter, but things don’t go that well. The princess takes the pony into battle anyway, and the pony totally saves the day. But HOW does a roly-poly pony save the day? You’ll have to read the book and find out.


There we have it: my ten favorite books from the last two years of story times. Honestly, I’m a little worried for story time next year: how am I going to beat this delightful crop of books? Stay tuned… here’s hoping I’ll have another great list for you next May.

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