Drop Everything and Read Day is coming on April 12th.  The official site has resources to plan programs at your library or school, flyer templates, activity ideas, tips for parents, and much more. 

If you are in search a great read for the day, you can take a look at book lists by age or just pick up any of Beverly Cleary’s books.  April 12th is her birthday too.

Birdsong: Get Ready to Make Some Noise


Birdsong by Ellie Sandall

This book is a simple, bright invitation to make some noise during story time!  One bird lands on a tree branch and begins to sing “Kitcha kitcha Kee kee kee.”  Another bird flies to the same branch and begins its own song “Urrah!  Urrah! Rah rah ree.”  More birds come, including an owl and a parrot, until finally a very large bird with an enormous voice manages to clear the others from the branch with very humorous results.

Sandall keeps the concept clear and simple.  The narrative portion of the book is kept to an absolute minimum of just introducing the entering birds.  Her bird calls when read one after another form a rhythm and music.  The repetition makes this a great choice for toddlers as well as preschoolers.  The illustrations are a pleasing mix of the roughness of pencil in the branches and trees to the silkiness of watercolor for the birds.  The colors are bright and vibrant, filling the illustrations with color.  The illustrations are large enough to work well with a group.

Upon first reading the book, I thought it would work very well as a play for preschoolers to put on.  Each child as a unique bird with an interesting call that is the only line they have to learn.  And then a comic ending, to wrap the whole thing up.

A great addition to any story time about birds, children will enjoy helping make the musical noise in the book and could even be assigned instruments to match each bird and their call.  Think of the lovely cacophony!  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Egmont.

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Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream: Diverse and Universal All-American Story


Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han, illustrated by Julia Kuo

Clara Lee wants to be Little Miss Apple Pie in the upcoming Apple Blossom Festival parade.  But it requires that she gives a speech in front of the entire school and that worries her.  So when she has a dream that she thinks is a nightmare but her grandfather assures her is good luck, she discovers that she has an entire day of luck.  She gets the backseat on the bus, she climbs all the way to the top of the rope in gym class, and someone secretly gives her a candy necklace.  So she signs up to compete for Little Miss Apple Pie.  But before she can give her speech, her luck changes for the worse.  Will she be able to restore her good luck before the contest?

Han has created a book that is fresh and a delight to read.  Clara Lee is both all-American and beautifully Korean.  Her life with a foot in both worlds will easily be related to by anyone who has a strong cultural tie to another country.  There are some scenes that capture this especially well, like the meal where Clara Lee and her family eat fish soup, except for her little sister who gets to eat chicken wings instead.

That scene is refreshingly honest not only about the multiple cultures but about family relationships, especially with younger siblings.  The emotions that Clara Lee exhibits are real and tangible for the reader.  Clara Lee is not a perfect girl, instead it is her more human moments that make her the protagonist she is.

This chapter book is just right for young readers transitioning from easy readers to full chapter books.  There are friendly illustrations that make the reading easier and the writing is simple and forthright, ideal for transitional readers.  Get this in the hands of children who enjoy Ivy and Bean.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by: