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#70 Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas (2009)
Another favorite read aloud. You get to do funny voices for Ed, Ned, Ted and especially the prone to (not unwarranted) hysteria, Bob. It’s also a great call and response book that lets kids answer the question of “What rhymes with…?” When I was a bookseller, I would sell at least one copy every time I read it. – Sharon Thackston
Can you honestly believe that the last time I conducted this poll Jan Thomas didn’t make an appearance on it anywhere? I suppose it makes a bit more sense when you consider how the poll was conducted in 2009 and that was when Ms. Thomas was just beginning to create delicious books like the one featured here today. So it is with great pleasure that I welcome her to the Top 100 list. Hello, Jan! Glad you could make it.
The description from my review reads, “Meet the rhyming dust bunnies: Ed, Ned, Ted, and Bob. As they like to say ‘We rhyme all the time!’ On this particular day Ed starts them off with wondering ‘Hey! What rhymes with car?’ Everyone puts in a vote except for Bob. Bob’s sort of staring in the distance and saying things like ‘Look!’ and ‘Look Out!’ The other bunnies are confused by Bob’s seeming inability to rhyme. Even when he says ‘Look out! Here comes a big scary monster with a broom!’ they’re not quite catching on. Finally he screams out ‘Run for it!’ and the troop run and hide under a dresser. However, when they attempt to restart their rhyming antics, ’sat’ ‘pat’ and ‘rat’ are completed with Bob’s timely ‘vacuum cleaner!’ and with a mighty ‘Thwptt’ off they go.”
The urban legend about Ms. Thomas’s rise is that she was an SCBWI discovery. An editor was doing manuscript consultations, saw the work Ms. Thomas had done for the picture book What Will Fat Cat Sit On? and signed her right there and then. Is it true? Haven’t a clue, really. That sort of thing almost never happens, but it makes for a good tale. As for this particular book it did inspire the sequel going by the name of Here Comes the Big Mean Dust Bunny in which our heroes suffer at the hands of a malevolent dusty fiend.
PW wasn’t entirely on board when they said of it, “Although a little sketchier than Thomas’s previous works, such as What Will Fat Cat Sit On?, this book is just as funny and snappy-looking.”
Indeed School Library Journal was far more positive when it said, “This book will make readers laugh; it will teach them to rhyme; it will enchant them and make them think twice every time they see a vacuum cleaner.”
Ditto Booklist with, “Preschoolers will recognize how it feels to be big but just a mite in a grown-up world, and they will enjoy the playful rhymes and simple wordplay as much as the bold scenarios of the tiniest creatures in danger from giants, and one hero who sees it coming.”
And Kirkus was entirely won over when they said, “With their wide noses, long ears, four-fingered paws and buck teeth, these fuzzy characters are a riot. Put away your cleaning supplies for a little messy fun.”
Ever had aspirations to be someone or something other than who or what you are? The piggy in this book, Liam, wants to be a bunny—the Easter bunny, to be exact. He’s willing to put in the hard work, even if it means eating salad. Nobody in his family, except for his grandma, believes he can become the Easter bunny, but Liam remains focused and with his can-do-attitude and support from grandma he makes his dream come true. Jeremy Tankard’s ink and digital media artwork are the icing on the cake (or the foil wrapper on the Easter egg, if I may) adding emotion to the story through little piggy faces and bodies. Liam is adorable and so is this story. (Ages 4-6. Publisher: Feiwel and Friends)
Jan Thomas is one funny author. In her latest book the Easter bunny is doing his best to teach readers how to dye Easter eggs, however, his assistant Skunk keeps getting over-excited and … well, let’s just say he has trouble containing himself. The combination of the bright illustrations and well-timed text create a laugh-out-loud picture book perfect for an Easter story time session. (Ages 2-5. Publisher: HarperCollins)
From the moment Peepsqueak, a chicken, hatches from his egg he is raring and ready to fly. Even though everyone tells him he is not ready, Peepsqueak remains determined and filled with self-belief—the perfect recipe for reaching goals. Leslie Ann Clark uses rhythmic and repetitive text that begs to be read aloud; and her sweet cartoon illustrations give Peepsqueak a delightful amount of bounce. Great for spring and Easter, but definitely an all-year read that is sure to be a request over and over again. (Ages 2-5. Publisher: HarperCollins)
Anita Lobel, a Caldecott Honor Book illustrator, has created a charming little number with 10 Hungry Rabbits. 10 very hungry rabbits set out to find 10 vegetables from the garden for Mama Rabbit’s soup pot. Using gouache and watercolors, Lobel’s illustrations prime readers well with an exploration of color as each rabbit collects their chosen vegetable
It’s time to start prepping for the holiday season. First stop: Halloween. No tricks here—only treats!
When witches go riding,
and black cats are seen,
the moon laughs and whispers,
‘tis near Halloween.
Our 2011 Halloween book list spotlights everything from growing pumpkins; overcoming fears (a great topic for youngsters that tend to get a little surprised when they no longer recognize their family and friends due to colorful costumes and scary masks); witches; skeletons; cats and bats; and plain-old, creepy stories that beg to be read on a dark night with a flashlight. From babies to beginning readers to middle graders to young adults, TCBR has you covered.
Publisher’s synopsis: What’s Halloween without a haunted house? Come inside SPOOKY BOO! A HALLOWEEN ADVENTURE – it’s filled with tons of Halloween fun! With spooky lift-the-flaps, icky touch-and-feels, and outrageous mirrors throughout, this is one haunted house that trick-or-treaters will want to visit again and again!
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (July 26, 2011)
Publisher’s synopsis: Black is the new black in this darkly tantalizing touch-and-feel extravaganza for the senses! Now babies can enjoy this daring color in a novelty board book chock-full of gorgeous, full-color photographs. There are textures to touch, a flap surprise, and the scratch ‘n’ sniff scent of sweet licorice that you can almost taste!
That went well! A week or two ago I announced that I would begin a new series on this blog. My idea was that children’s librarians always want to see how other children’s librarians tell different stories. It gives us ideas. We can steal ways of telling books and incorporate them into our own storytimes. So I did a post called Storytime Suggestions that consisted of a video of me reading The Noisy Counting Book by Susan Schade along with suggestions on how to present it.
Well I had so much fun that I’m doing it again! And since we already did a Toddler Storytime book last time, let’s go for a Preschool Storytime book this time!
Name: Rhyming Dust Bunnies
Author: Jan Thomas
In Print?: You bet.
Best For: Preschool Storytime
Storytime Suggestions: While there’s nothing saying you couldn’t present this book to a group of toddlers or even second graders, I personally feel that the ideal audience for this book is preschoolers (which is to say, 3-5 year olds). First off, when each Dust Bunny asks for words that rhyme with “car” or “cat”, sometimes an enterprising preschooler will interject with suggestions of their own. You can totally use that. And that makes Bob’s ill-rhymed words all the better.
Some librarians I know have performed a kind of Readers’ Theater with this book. They’ve taken colored fluff, be it faux fur or colored cotton balls, and stuck ‘em on the ends of pencils or popsicle sticks. Or, if your office looks anything like my own, you can grab actual dust bunnies and give ‘em a dye job. And googly eyes. Be sure you are well stocked in googly eyes.
The advantage of any Jan Thomas book is that it reads well from a distance. Now in this video I cut off the side of the book once in a while, but it’s rarely a problem because the images are so doggone big. Thomas participates in what I like to call The Todd Parr/Lucy Cousins Effect. Which is to say, if you combine thick black lines and bold colors, kids go gaga. Add in some humor and you’ve come up with the world’s greatest readalouds.
When doing a Jan Thomas books in a preschool storytime you can always begin with this one after the preliminaries. It doesn’t get the children so riled up they won’t sit for more books (unlike, say, Can You Make a Scary Face?), though they may be baffled by the ending. I love Ms. Thomas but while her books read aloud beautifully, her en
*Picture book for preschoolers through first graders *Tiny bug and You as main characters *Rating: I wish I would have had this idea for Can You Make a Scary Face?
Short, short summary: A bug gives the reader commands such as “Stand up,” “Sit down,” and “Do the chicken dance.” But then, he wants you to pretend a tiny, tickly bug is stuck in the reader’s shirt. And then a giant, hungry frog comes, and the bug wants you to scare him away! So, he tells you to make a scary face, but it turns out that the tickly bug is a pretty big scaredy-cat.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. This book has a built-in activity. The bug is telling the students what to do. You should have the students do the activities with the bug. It is a great book for a winter recess activity and/or a PE or music warm-up.
2. As a shared writing activity, write more pages for the book. You and your class can add more pages before the bug asks you to make a face. What can the bug ask the readers to do? Have fun creating these pages with your class or your children.
3. This book is great for drawing attention to the endmarks: periods, question marks, or exclamation marks. Because the print is big and there are few words per page, students can focus on the punctuation marks. They can also read the words with you, and practice intonations, etc that go with question marks, periods, and exclamation marks.
The story in The Doghouse begins on the endpapers with Cow, Pig, Duck and Mouse playing with a big red ball. Cow makes a great kick that is headed right for (insert scary music as the pages turn past the title page to the first page of text) the doghouse, which suddenly has a dark sky, a bat across the full moon, thunder and lightning, and skeletal trees around it. First the animals send big, brave, strong Cow in to get the ball. Cow does not come back. (More bats across the moon, and three pairs of wide, frightened eyes left.) Next Pig goes in. Does not come back. Then Duck. Does not come back. Mouse begs Duck to come back, but the scary face of the Dog appears and tells Mouse, "I am having Duck for dinner." After a page of sheer Mouse terror...
...Dog turns back to his dinner guests seated at the table and says with regret in his eyes and voice, "Too mad Mouse couldn't come, too."
But isn't that Mouse peeking in the window? Sure enough, he joins the group for cake in the final endpapers.
Be sure you look for a cameo appearance by the big red ball in the final pages.