Author Archive

App Time Session 8

March 7, 2015

monster appThis week in App Time, we looked at the book app There’s a Monster at the End of this Book!  It’s produced by Sesame Street and available for $4.99 on the App Store.  Based on the beloved book of the same name, Grover narrates the book, warning readers NOT to turn the pages because there’s a monster at the end of the book. The book’s interactivity comes into play as readers can “untie” the ropes and “break down” the brick wall that Grover builds, in hopes of preventing the reader from turning another page. It’s easy to navigate with the bottom corner of the page pulling up, and Grover acting as a guide with funny comments. Interactive parts glow so it’s obvious where to tap, and there’s highlighted narration.  There is also a parent tab with lots of extension activities, and ideas for using the app to calm a child’s fears.
ACPL appThe activity app this week is ACPL Family (free on the App Store) from the Allen County Public Library.  The app promotes early literacy and can be used with preschoolers up through elementary-grade children. There are booklists with helpful themed lists, with some common ones such as Great Books for Toddlers but also less common ones such as “Dentist” or “Clay Illustrations.” Keep in mind that the books link to the Allen County Library so you’ll want to use the Plano library app to check for the titles recommended here.

There’s a Tips & Facts section that gives early literacy tips by age group.  There’s also a Reading Timer (great for independent readers or adults who want to commit to read-aloud time with their child).

The READY on the Go section is impressive for its videos related to each of the 5 early literacy practices (Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing & Playing).  The videos, aimed at the child but modeling for the parent or caregiver, give ideas for how to reinforce that practice.


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Rain Reign

March 6, 2015

rain reign Rain Reign by Ann Martin

This was such a satisfying chapter book!

Rose needs predictability in her life (she’s on the Autism spectrum), but living with her dad is difficult. He’s distant and gruff. Her saving grace is her uncle who seems to understand Rose so well. She loves homonyms and these appear all through the text.  Rose collects them. Besides her uncle, a dog–a gift from her dad–are her anchors.

I so rooted for this little girl. There’s a bittersweet ending but one that seemed just right. As a reader, I practically ached to make things right for her.  I hope you enjoy this one!

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App Time Session 5: Boats & MOMA Art Lab

February 14, 2015

Boats appThis week in App Time we looked at Boats, an app based on the book of the same name by Byron Barton.  It’s produced by Oceanhouse Media and is available as part of the Byron Barton Collection #1 for $4.99 from the App Store.

This app has the bright colors, bold outlines and simple shapes that are familiar from Barton’s books.  The book will automatically read aloud unless you go into the settings. There is the option to record your own voice.

There are sound effects and animation as the different boats move onto the page. Navigation is intuitive with the triangle appearing in the bottom right.

Tapping on a boat repeats a sound effect. You can also move the boats by holding and dragging. Tapping on objects or parts of the scene will identify the object and the word will appear, a great way to build on a child’s vocabulary.


moma art labThe activity app this week is MOMA Art Lab from the Museum of Modern Art in NY. It’s available for free from the App Store and encourages open-ended creativity.

Once the app is opened, you’ll see 3 colored buttons on the left. The button with the lightbulb gives you ideas for your artwork; the scissors and pencil button gives suggests activities based on a specific artist’s work.   Each of these button also has the option for audio, so that a pre-reader will have the activity or suggestion read aloud to them. The third button is your gallery where you can save your artwork.  On the right side, there’s the option to start a new work, take a picture of your art, change the canvas color, or delete your artwork.

In the middle is a blank canvas with drawing, shape and color options at the bottom. Bring shapes onto the canvas by tapping on them. You can move shapes around, resize them and turn them…or drag them off the screen to remove them.  Practice shape and color recognition with your child using the app.  There are lots of color and drawing options, and a handy eraser if you need to revise your artwork. The drawing option will allow a child to scribble and practice pre-writing skills by “writing” in their own way.

This app has so many possibilities: discuss the artists featured on the app; visit a museum; try some of the artwork with real art supplies; talk with your child about their artwork.


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Award Time!

February 3, 2015

The Newbery and Caldecott medals were awarded on Monday!

Newbery Winner:  The Crossover, written by Kwame Alexander and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Twelve-year-old narrator Josh Bell uses the rhythms of a poetry jam to emulate the “moving & grooving/popping and rocking” of life on the basketball court with his twin brother, J.B. This powerful novel in verse paints an authentic portrait of a closely-knit family on the brink of crisis. Swish! This book is nothing but net!
The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.


Caldecott Winner:  The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, illustrated and written by Dan Santat and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

In four delightful “visual chapters,” Beekle, an imaginary friend, undergoes an emotional journey looking for his human. Santat uses fine details, kaleidoscopic saturated colors, and exquisite curved and angular lines to masterfully convey the emotional essence of this special childhood relationship.
The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

For more information and other great award-winning titles, visit the ALA Book & Media Awards site.

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App Time Session 3

January 31, 2015

frog thingThe book app presented at App Time this week was A Frog Thing  produced by Oceanhouse Media  ($2.99 in App Store and Google Play) based on the book of the same name by Eric Drachman.

This app has a few standard options such as Read to Me, Read it Myself and Auto Play.  There is also the option to record your own voice.  There are only one or two sound effects per page, and some pages pan in and out, but the app mainly allows the reader and child to focus on the story and text with minimal distractions.

Voices for the main characters are appealing, with a lovable child’s voice for Frank the frog.  Words are highlighted in green as they are read aloud, which helps build print awareness and vocabulary. Words are repeated if they are tapped which helps with word recognition.  There is some background music to enhance the drama of the story.

I hope you enjoy the story of Frank, a frog who wants to fly!

mgolThe activity app used in App Time this week was Mother Goose on the Loose produced by Software Smoothie (free in the App Store).

This is a nursery rhyme and felt board app. On the left are 8 buttons. When you tap one of these, it displays the flannel objects associated with it. On the right side are circular buttons that have different rhymes—for example, the button with the spider opens up the options for the rhymes Little Miss Muffett and the Eency Weensy Spider (in both English and Spanish). There’s also the option to play the rain stick. You can move the flannel objects to the flannel board scene and then press the button to hear the nursery rhyme. You can move flannel pieces around or remove them from the scene.  This app is a fun way to introduce or reinforce the wonderful rhythm and rhymes in nursery songs.

Join us next week for App Time on Friday at 11am at Haggard Library!

Register online to use one of our tablets or bring your own:

Click here to see all of our App Time videos.

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Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

December 16, 2014

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Jon Klassen

Sam and Dave are on a mission to dig a hole in search of something spectacular.  As they try to figure out the best strategy, the reader (and the knowing dog) see the big gems that the pair are missing.  When they fall asleep and free-fall through the deeper hole, they end up falling from above, back to where they were before…or is it?  With sepia-toned illustrations, spare text and the reader in the know, children will enjoy the surprise ending.

This story reminded of that child-like belief that you can dig a hole to China, and the illustrations brought to mind that classic, A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss.  Enjoy!



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Color Mixing Fun!

October 14, 2014

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet is a wonderfully interactive picture book, and a fun introduction to colors and color mixing.  Directed to tap here and rub there, readers and listeners mix the colors on the pages of this book.  With its generous white space and splotches of paint color, the reader is invited to “with one finger take a little bit of the blue…and just touch the yellow.  Rub it…gently…”

And with a page turn, “see?” the reader sees the splotch of green that they’ve made!

Herve Tullet gave new meaning to an interactive picture book with Press Here, and this title follows in that same vein.

A delightfully fun reading experience that hopefully leads to some actual play with paints and colors!

Read the book, get some finger paints…and MIX IT UP!

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Chu’s First Day of School

September 11, 2014

Chu's firstChu is back in Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex.  In the first book featuring the lovable panda bear, readers got a surprise when they found out about Chu’s explosive sneezes.

In this second title, Chu is nervous about going to school.  When he gets there and all the animals take turns introducing themselves and sharing something they love to do, there’s a surprise in store for his fellow classmates, as Chu can’t help but demonstrate what he loves to do.  The expressions on his classmates’ faces tell Chu everything is going to be all right.

The concerns of Chu will resonate with young children, and readers will find humor in the facial expressions throughout the book and of course, in Chu!

For more books, check out our Starting School list.

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Feathers: Not Just for Flying

August 20, 2014

There are so many great new books about birds!

I was enamored with Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart.  This picture book nonfiction title shares some of the unique qualities of feathers.  With a scrapbook-like illustration style, each page provides a line of bold text, with smaller text to give more detailed factual information.  Illustrations show the bird and the object their feathers are compared to.  I like that the feathers are compared to objects which could lead to further discussion between reader and listener.

“Feathers can dig holes like a backhoe…or carry building supplies like a forklift.”  There are swallows who use the feathers on their lower legs to dig tunnels; and there is the lovebird who puts nest materials under her rump feathers.

I was fascinated by all the ways that birds use their feathers and I’m sure children will be, too.

The young ornithologists in your life might also enjoy these new titles:

Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward

Have you Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray

Nest by Jorey Hurley

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The Miniature World of Marvin & James

June 13, 2014

The Miniature World of Marvin & James written by Elise Broach and illustrated by Kelly Murphy

This beginning chapter book (with really large text size and plenty of sepia-toned drawings) is quirkily charming and perfect for a reader just starting chapter books.

It features characters from the author’s novel, Masterpiece, which I have not read, so this was my first introduction to the boy James and his best-buddy beetle named Marvin. In this story, James goes away for a week so Marvin is forced to play with beetle cousin, Elaine. Their adventure inside a pencil sharpener where they frolic in pencil shavings and nearly get caught, is great fun!

This is the first in a new series.  I am looking forward to reading more.

If you think you or your child would like this book, leave a message in the comments section below for a chance to win a free, hardback copy of the book!  One winner will be chosen at random on Friday, June 20, 2014.

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