Take the Summer Challenge

We’ve got some great ways for kids (and teens!) to engage with the library this summer in Dowagiac.  Kids (and teens!) can fill out our bingo sheets to earn pins, attend programs all summer long, or just come in and experience our makerspace.  We’ve added one more fun activity to the list: the summer challenge.

The summer challenge gives kids (and teens!) a way to earn points toward a free book through a series of challenges related to our summer reading theme: On Your Mark, Get Set… Read!




Messy Time: Seed Bombs


Library: Dowagiac District Library
Program: Messy Time

At Messy Time this week, we made seed bombs.  It was super easy.  Basically, the idea behind seed bombs are that they are balls of clay, dirt, and seed.  You can throw them anywhere and they will grow.  One of the kids who participated said, “This is definitely going to get messy.”


Here’s what you need:

  • Paper plate
  • A tub of clay from Crayola
  • A paper cup  filled with top soil
  • Wildflower seeds

Here’s what you do:

  • Take a paper plate and press the clay all over the surface like you’re making a pizza.


  • Pour on top soil, like you might pour meat on a taco or tortilla.  There should be more clay than dirt.
  • Then sprinkle  on wildflower seeds.


  • Fold the clay and then knead the mixture like you might knead dough.
  • Once the mixture is kneaded, press into a ball.
  • Roll the ball into a long tube.  It helps to roll slowly.  If the mixture breaks up, just squeeze back together and continue rolling.


  • Break off pieces and roll into smaller balls.

Take home and throw in your yard!


Up, Up, and Away Pt 1.

Program: Messy Time
Library: Dowagiac District Library (MI)

With summer reading just kicking off, we’ve started a weekly messy-time program at my new library.  For our first messy craft, we made papier mache balloons.  This was a fairly straight forward craft, but quite a lot of work.  It certainly made a mess!

This craft was very process-based, meaning that the fun comes more from the process of making than the end result.  It’s ok if your balloon ends up a bit crinkled–in fact, it’s very likely that it will happen.  This is also a great sensory craft for kids who need texture.

Here’s what you need:

  • Papier mache mixture (2 part glue, 1 part water)
  • Torn up newspaper (enough for 3 layers)
  • Balloons.

Here’s what you do:

  • Blow up the balloon. Smaller balloons are easier to papier mache for young children.
  • Dip the strips of newspaper in the paste mix.

  • Put the soaked newspaper on the balloon.
  • Repeat process until there are about three layers of newspaper on the balloon. It is easiest if you balance the balloon on a paper bowl.

  • Let the papier mache dry.
  • Come back next week to paint and make into hot air balloons.

Next week, we’ll paint the balloons with paper cups and string them together to make a hot air balloon.  Come join us!

Little Artist Storytime


STORYTIME FOR: Berwyn Public Library (Outreach)

Hello/Goodbye Song

We Say Hello/Goodbye Like This (with ukulele)
(Tune: The Farmer in the Dell)
D                                                          A7
We wave hello like this… with our friends in storytime, we wave hello like this.
D                                                         A7
We clap hello like this…with our friends in storytime, we clap hello like this.
D                                                           A7
We stomp hello like this… with our friends in storytime, we stomp hello like this.

Why These Books?

Lily Brown’s Paintings by Angela Johnson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis.  A young girl named Lily Brown loves the world she lives in and loves to paint her world.  As she paints, her renderings come alive like a dream.  This is a sweet book that stimulates the imagination.  Kids love to point out details on the page, and reading this is a great opportunity to talk about self-expression.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall.  The crayon in this story is supposed to be red, but he keeps drawing blue!  And now matter what anyone does to try to help him, all that he draws is blue.  Then one day, a purple crayon asks him to draw a blue ocean…and suddenly the “red” crayon has found his purpose.  This goes over well with kids because they love to correct me…”He’s not red, he’s blue!” and also love the message that you just need to find your true self to make your mark.

Jeremy Draws and Monster by Peter McCarty.  Isolated in his room, Jeremy draws himself a monster, but things don’t go according to plan.  Jeremy’s monster starts making all kinds of demands–without saying thank you–and Jeremy has to draw him a ticket out of town.  This is a silly book that delights the kids.  They love being able to say, “He’s not very nice,” which makes this a great opportunity to talk about manners.  There’s a hidden theme in here that some classes catch onto.  After dealing with the monster, Jeremy decides that it’s okay to go outside and play with the other kids.  I also include this book because I get to point out another way to be an artist, by drawing.

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont.  A boy’s mom puts his paints away, but then he secretly gets his paints back out and starts to paint all over his body.  He choruses, “I ain’t gonna paint no more, no more, I ain’t gonna paint no more,” yet goes on painting.  Here’s an opportunity to practice prediction skills.  What will he paint next?  Some kids even catch onto the rhyme scheme.  I like to get the kids to say the chorus with me, too.


This is the Way We Paint (action  song)
This is the way we stir the paint, stir the paint, stir the paint
This is the way we stir the paint so early in the morning
(dip our brush, paint the paper, blow it dry, frame the picture)
*credit: Storytime Katie

Big Green Monster (flannel puppet)

biggreenmonsterBig green monster has big scary green face,
Two big yellow eyes,
A long bluish-greenish nose,
Two little squiggly ears,
Scraggly purple hair,
And a big red mouth with sharp white teeth…But…
You’re just a puppet!  You don’t scare me!  So…
Go away, scraggly purple hair,
Go away, two little squiggly ears,
Go away, big yellow eyes,
Go away big red mouth with sharp white teeth,
Go away big green scary face,

The More We Get Together (w/ American Sign Language)
The more we get together, together, together,
The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.
Because your friends are my friends
And my friends are you friends.
The more we get together, the happier we’ll be!

A Fun Magic Coloring Book
Activity with A Fun Magic Coloring Book that stimulates the imagination.

How It Went

The two big hits were I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More and A Fun Magic Coloring Book, though most of the other books and extensions also worked really well.  There’s just something about the combination of rhyme and silliness in I Ain’s Gonna Paint No More that makes it PERFECT for this age.  I had a lot of kids saying they wanted to check it out.  I ended up switching Red: A Crayon’s Story with Lily Brown’s Paintings for groups that were more restless, if I could tell right away.  I love Lily Brown, but it’s a much quieter and sweeter book, so the silliness of Red worked better for some groups.

Do you have little artist stories you love to read in storytime?  Let me know in the comments!

Not Just for Storytime Pt 2

About a month ago, I wrote a blog post about how picture books are not just for storytime, and shared some of my favorite picture books to read to grades 1-3.  But there are some really amazing picture books for the tween crowd (grades 4-6), too.  I used to teach library at an upper elementary school, and part of my weekly schedule included doing storytime with third, fourth, and fifth graders.  This was an opportunity to talk about themes and characters–but it also provided a chance for kids to connect to stories through stories of their own, stimulate their imaginations through visual appeal, and get my students excited about all kinds of literature.

On the rare occasion that no story was planned for library class, the kids would ask me, “Aren’t we going to read a story today?” and usually expressed genuine disappointment when I replied, “Not today.”  This told me that, despite their ages, my students craved stories and valued storytime.  I also found them reading picture books together during free time.  Although they didn’t know it, reading aloud with a buddy is a great way for kids to build expressive skills.

Check out some of my favorite picture books from tweens below!

Anderson, M.T.  Me, All Alone, at the End of the World.  Illus. Kevin Hawkes.  Candlewick Press, 2005.

A young boy lives all alone by himself literally at the end of the world.  His days are filled with wonder as he explores the wilderness and plays with extraordinary creatures, but the boy begins to reevaluate things when an old man shows up, promising to bring fun without end.  The old man, Mr. Constantine Shimmer, stays true to his words, building an amusement part at the end of the world which brings tourists all year round.  The boy makes friends and enjoys the amusement park like everyone else…until he starts to miss nature and quiet time.  Kevin Hawkes’s water color and acrylic illustrations perfectly compliment M.T. Anderson’s rich, natural prose, which give the world a texture that makes this otherworldly setting seem very old, lived-in, and real.

Yes, you read that right.  This book was written by the same M.T. Anderson who wrote Feed.  I’ll admit, that’s the reason I picked up this book in the first place.  And I’m glad I did, because it’s become one of my favorites.  Some kids tell me this story is about how we should respect nature, while some say it’s all about how it’s okay to be alone.  This is a beautiful message, especially in a world where success is sometimes measured by social engagement.  But not all kids are natural extroverts, and I love that this book tells them its okay to be who they are.  Despite this seemingly calming message, the book is anything but.  As Mr. Constantine Shimmer comes on scene, things get crazier and crazier, and when the boy decides that enough is enough, the peaceful ending comes as a relief!

Ryan, Pam Munoz.  Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride.  Illus. Brian Selznick.  Scholastic Press, 1999.

Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt each made their own mark on history, so it only makes sense that they would have been friends.  And in fact, they were!  One night, the two women go for a flight from Washington, D.C. to Balitmore and back, despite the protests of the secret service.  Based on a true story, Pam Munoz Ryan and Brian Selznick team up to show the truly independent spirits behind these two women.  Though rendered in black and white, Brian Selznick’s illustrations evoke a magical tone and depicts history with vivid texture.

This is yet another book that displays the talents of two popular children’s authors: Pam Munoz Ryan, known for Esperanza Rising, and Brian Selznick, known for The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  That alone is bound to garner interest from tweens.  I also love this book for tween because it’s a great story to use to get them excited about history, and it provides a great example of two women who did whatever they wanted at time when women didn’t always have that power.  There’s a lot of historical context here, as well as emphasis on what it must feel like to fly a plane, which makes this perfect for older readers with a greater ability to focus.  It’s also a great chance to talk to students about social issues.  If nothing else, Selznick’s nearly-realistic illustrations will mesmerize readers.

Scieszka, Jon.  The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs.  Illus. Lane Smith.  Viking, 1989.

This is wolf’s version of the “Three Little Pigs.”  When he goes to borrow a cup of sugar from his neighbor, the first little pig who built the house of straw, and accidentally sneezes the house down, things progressively go from bad to worse.  Mr. Wolf claims he was framed, but was he?  Scieszka’s conversational prose pairs with Smith’s muted illustrations to add nostalgic character to the wolf’s tale.

This is a timeless classic that always seems to work with tweens, perhaps because it’s a spin on another timeless classic.  It also includes some darker tones, with the wolf gobbling up the pigs just because he didn’t want perfectly good ham to go to waste.  And even though the tweens know what is coming next, they’re still wrapped up in the story.  After the story, this is a great opportunity to talk about character and narrative.  Why did the wolf eat the pigs?  Why did he believe he was right?  I could even use this to model storytelling and take another fairy tale to twist.

Tan, Shaun.  Rules of Summer.  Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013.

A boy gives a imaginative narrative of what he did last summer, phrased by sets of rules.  Starting with some seemingly practical rules, such as “Never leave leave a red sock on the clothesline,” the rules become gradually more and more sinister.  Shaun Tan’s accompanying illustrations paint a dual story of the relationship about the young narrator and his brother, monsters and horrors they face, and the dire consequences when the narrator does not follow his brother’s rules.  Tan’s abstract oil paintings,more fully realized by the contrast of light and shadows and stark reds, add a layer of suspense that sparks emotion of both menace and wonder.

Shaun Tan is one of my favorite picture book authors, perhaps because his picture books seem to appeal to such a wide-ranging audience.  In Rules of Summer, the narrative is not straight-forward, and neither are the illustrations; readers must use their own imagination to tell the story.  But even the, darkness clearly lurks around every corner.  As the boy suffers the consequences of breaking his brother’s rules, the illustrations become increasingly cold, monotone, and dark.  The implied horror makes this too old for grades first through third, but ideal for tween readers who love to read horror novels (and there are many), while stimulating their imaginations and storytelling skills.  But even amid all this abstract art and arbitrary narrative, tweens can easily identify what that first sentence, so much like beginning-of-the-year writing prompts: “This is what I learned last summer…”

Wisniewski, David.  Golem.  Clarion Books, 1996.

Based on Jewish legend, a rabbi molds a giant called Golem out of clay, tasking him to protect the Jewish people from those who persecute them.  Golem dutifully fights against his enemies, though he yearns to simply enjoy being alive and watching the sunset.  But when his task is done and the Jews are safe, the rabbi returns the Golem to clay even though the Golem begs him to “Let me live!”  Fashioned by color aid, coral, and bark cut papers, David Wisniewski’s illustrations depict a vividly majestic, yet shadow-hung Prague.  Contrasting the stately Prague Castle with the earthly Golem and humble Jewish ghetto, Wisnewski portrays the drama between cultures and the desperation of the Jewish people.

This is undoubtedly the darkest book on this list, but there’s also undoubtedly a lot to be gained from reading this with tweens.  Look at the detailed and tactile illustrations, and its no wonder the book won the Caldecott Medal, but the value of this book goes beyond even the art.  First there is the context of history and culture which becomes increasingly relevant for tweens (most begin studying World War II in depth around fifth grade).  The story of the Golem also provides some diversity among other popular Western folktales.  And finally, this book is ripe with the drama and horror that tweens love so much.  But more than that, Wisniewski’s story encourages kids to ask tough questions about traditional tales and archetypes.  Though the Golem was born to be a brute monster, Wisniewski emphasizes how he yearns for humanity.  Tweens may wonder, “Did the Golem deserve to die?”


Color My World (Sensory Storytime)


STORYTIME FOR: Berwyn Public Library (Outreach)

Hello/Goodbye Song

We Say Hello/Goodbye Like This (with ukulele)
(Tune: The Farmer in the Dell)
D                                                          A7
We wave hello like this… with our friends in storytime, we wave hello like this.
D                                                         A7
We clap hello like this…with our friends in storytime, we clap hello like this.
D                                                           A7
We stomp hello like this… with our friends in storytime, we stomp hello like this.

Why These Books?

Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd.  Dog begins the story with one black spot and gradually accrues more colorful spots as he gets dripped on and rubbed by various things.  Though this is a bit longer, it worked really well with one of the special needs classrooms that I go to see because it’s so tactile.  I ask kids about the things dog runs into, what colors appear on his coat, and we also get to count the dots together.  All of these elements make this a great concept book for building skills, but because dog keeps running into new things there is also a lot of drama.

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Wash.  Another great book about animals getting into trouble that teaches color concepts.  This builds nicely after Dog’s Colorful Day, because it shows how colors mix to make new colors.  The kids don’t necessarily need to know that red and yellow make orange; the book guides them through that process.  Some of the special needs kids I read to even started guessing (correctly) what colors the mice would make next!  As an added bonus, the illustrations of the mice are absolutely delightful.  I mean, just look at them.

Press Here by Henre Tullet.  This is a great book for any storytime, not just for colors, because it is so interactive.  The book asks kids to tap and rub colors to make them change and move.  In a group setting, I usually ask kids to tap on their hands, but with a small groups it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get kids to come up (taking turns) and actually touch the book.  The class I read to kept wanting to get up and touch the colors.  Either way, the kids get really into this book, and I had a lot of nonverbal students pretending to tap, shake, and clap along with me, and getting excited!  A great book to end with!


If Your Clothes Have Any Red  (action song)

(Tune: Do You Know the Muffin Man?)
If your clothes have any red…put your finger on your head.
If your clothes have any blue…put your finger on your shoe.
If your clothes have any yellow…be a happy fellow.
If your clothes have any brown…turn your smile into a frown.
If your clothes have any black…put your hands behind your back.

We Wave Our Scarves Together (scarf song)
We wave our scarves together
We wave our scarves together
We wave our scarves together
because it’s fun to do.
Wave them up high
Wave them down low
Wave them in the middle
Because it’s fun to do.

The More We Get Together (w/ American Sign Language)
The more we get together, together, together,
The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.
Because your friends are my friends
And my friends are you friends.
The more we get together, the happier we’ll be!

A Fun Magic Coloring Book
Activity with A Fun Magic Coloring Book that stimulates the imagination.

How It Went

I felt that this was a successful sensory storytime.  The kids really engaged with these book, eager to guess colors.  For the song “If Your Clothes Have Any Red” some of them were able to identify the colors they were wearing, but they all did the motions for each part of the song, even if they weren’t wearing that color.  And that was ok, even great!  For a sensory storytime, I think the important thing is that the kids are responding.  They loved playing with the scarves, of course.  I always try to incorporate a tactile element like scarves, beanbags, or shakers into a sensory storytime.  We’ve done “The More We Get Together Before” and that was a hit again.  I happen to know that this groups loves music, so I try to use it as much as possible.  But I think the biggest hit was possibly The Fun Magic Coloring Book.  It got a big reaction, and the kids shows more excitement for that than anything else.  Overall, I got a lot of response, which is what I like to see.

Not Just for Storytime Pt 1

I just have to say it: picture books are pretty amazing.  My opinion on the matter might have been pretty clear already, considering storytime takes up about 80% of my time at both of my library jobs, and most of the posts on this blog already are about the books and extension activities I use.  But there are a lot of other really fantastic picture books out there, and these picture books are definitely not for storytime.

Sometimes there can be a misconception that picture books are just for preschoolers, just for storytime.  But picture books are great for all ages.  Fundamentally, they provide an opportunity for readers to read aloud together, share an experience, and stimulate the imagination in unexpected ways.  Reading aloud together is also an easy way to build relationships between readers, whether they are peer-to-peer or adult-to-child.

But that’s a blog post for another time.

Below are five picture books that make awesome read alouds to the first through third grade crowd.

Anderson, Giles.  Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: Missing Treasure.  Illus. Russell Ayto.  Margaret K. McEdlerry Books, 2008.

While on a trip to the museum, Flinn and his friends tumble through a magical closet and find themselves on the deck of a pirate ship.  They rescue a pirate captain, and quickly embark on a quest to retrieve his stolen gold from pirate dinosaurs.  Illustrations in water color and ink, cut and jagged framing, and dramatic staging work together to create an exciting adventure for young readers.

There are many reasons I love this book, the first of them being pirate dinosaurs.  After those two words, this books spirals into the delightfully ridiculous.  Flinn and his friends tumble through a closet into another world–Narnia-style–and immediately take charge of the situation.  When faced with pirates and pirate dinosaurs way bigger than him, Flinn doesn’t bat an eye.  The name of the pirate, Gurgleguts, is sure to make kids laugh.  To top it all off, the big bad dinosaur is afraid of spiders!  I wouldn’t read this to preschoolers because it’s too long and the text is too complex, but this is one of the most exciting books I have ever read to third graders, and they love it.  Even with all the entertainment, this is a great book for teaching vocabulary in a way that just makes sense.  This is actually the second pirate dinosaur book Anderson and Ayto have done together, but I like this one better than the first.  It’s sillier and more dramatic, and the end really zings.

Barnett, Mac.  Extra Yarn.  Illus. Jon Klassen.  Blazer + Bray, 2012.

A young girl named Annabelle finds a box filled with yard and begins to knit things for everyone in town, and then knits for actual things in the town.  People start coming from all over to meet her, until an Archduke tries to buy her box of never-ending yarn.  When Annabelle refuses to sell, he steals her box only to discover that the box is mysteriously empty.  He hurls the box into the sea, cursing her to never be happy again, but…”it turned out she was.”  Klassen’s reserved and delicate illustrations rendered ink, gouache, and digital perfectly compliment Barnett’s tongue-in-cheek language and story.

Number one reason I love this story: it was created by dynamic duo Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett.  Yes, the same team that brought us Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.  This one is just as imaginative and thought provoking.  In a nutshell, this is a story about a girls who changes the world around her through the power of knitting.  The visual effect is powerful, as Klassen’s illustrations begin in monochrome black, white, and gray until the little girl’s yarn fills the pages with color.  And every time you think a bully is going to dampen her spirit, it turns out all he needed was a knitted sweater.  There are an assortment of characters included–humans and animals of all shapes and sizes, a little person, and even the bear from I Want My Hat Back.  In truth, the actual storyline is relatively simple, but it takes long enough to build to the climax that I think this would appeal to first through third graders rather than preschoolers.  I would also love to feature this book in conjunction with a knitting program in the library for kids.

Barnett, Mac.  Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World)  Illus. Dan Santat.  Disney Hyperion Books, 2010.

A girl creates a robot for her science fair project, but things quickly escalate when a “rampage” starts.  The robot terrorizes the town with his superclaw, laser eye, and ability to control dog’s minds.  The girl tries to stop her invention-gone-wrong, but unfortunately forgot to program the robot to communicate.  To rectify things, she goes back to her lab and creates a giant toad to fight her robot.  She saves the day, only to realize that she may have created another monster.

Another book by Mac Barnett, this time teaming up with Dan Santat (who made Sidekicks).  This book is short and sweet, and while the language would be easily understood by preschoolers, I think the action and content gears it toward a slightly older crowd.  Elementary students will easily identify with making a project for a school science fair, and the whole mad scientist trope is more easily recognizable for older kids.  Santat’s illustrations in full spread and various panels evoke a comic book feel and format, which makes this book a great way to teach kids how to read longer graphic novels.  I’d segue into the literacy value of graphic novels, but that’s yet another blog post for another time.  Oh No! is completely narrated by the main character, in almost voice-over fashion, which really helps lend some drama to the story.  This is also a great book to use to talk about how story progresses, and even how kids can create their own stories.

Cannon, Janell.  Stellaluna.  Harcourt, Inc, 1993.

Stellaluna, a baby bat, gets separated from her mother and lands in a nest of baby birds.  She tries and struggles to be like the birds, eating bugs, sleeping right side up, and flying during the day.  One day, she happens along some other bats and learns that bats can eat fruit, sleep upside down, and fly best at night.  The best part of all–she finds her mother.  Stellaluna hurries to tell her bird friends about all she’s discovered.  Cannon’s beautiful Liquitex acrylic and Prismacolor pencil illustrations add to the sweet tone of the story, perfectly capturing the calm, natural glow of both dusk (for bats) and dawn (for birds).

Stellaluna will never go out of style.  I was read this book when I was in elementary school, and elementary students still love this book.  The story itself is timeless, but I also think some credit should be attributed to the near-realistic illustrations that are so beautiful and striking to look at.  They really help to convey Stellaluna’s emotions.  I also love the way this book talks about being different and fitting in.  Stellaluna tries to fit in with the baby birds, and they easily accept her; but when they copy her bat-like ways it’s the mother bird who forces her to assimilate.  Even when Stellaluna has rejoined the bats, she goes back to her bird friends, and they, in turn, try to act like her.  Though the friends realize how different they are, they can admit that being different is not bad and that they will always be friends.  This, I think, is the message that makes this story so timeless and wonderful, and the complexity of this idea is best appreciated by elementary students.  Finally, Cannon includes notes about bats in the back of her book, which would makes this a great pairing with a school unit or a library program on bats.  I really love how this helps to generate interest and compassion about an animal that is sometimes seen as scary.

Thurber, James.  Many Moons.  Illus. Louis Slobodkin.  Harcourt, Inc, 1943.

When Princess Lenore falls ill from eating too many raspberry tarts, she claims ones things will make her better: the moon.  Accordingly, the king calls in his advisors to discover how to get him the moon.  But the Lord High Chamberlain, the Royal Wizard, and the Royal Mathematician, tell him that such a task is impossible, though they do not seem to agree on how far away the moon is or what it is made of.  At last, the jester simply suggests that they are all right and all there is to do is ask the princess how far away she thinks the moon is.  When he learns that it is no bigger than her thumb, he has a necklace with a tiny gold pendant made.  But what will happen when Princess Lenore finds the moon in the sky?  The Lord High Chamberlain, the Royal Wizard, and the Royal Mathematician, each have different answers, none to the king’s satisfaction, but once more the jester comes up with the solution of simply asking the princess.  Her answer…as everything in nature grows back when you pick it away, so it makes sense that another moon would grow in the night sky.

As a Caldecott Winner, you can’t go wrong with this book.  One of the reasons I really like this story is that it feels so much like a fairy tale, especially with the way things happen in threes.  But rather than focusing on heroic quests and daring feasts, this story places wisdom in a simple court jester and the innocence of a little girl.  There’s also a lot of humor to be had.  As each advisor is called before the king, they begin listing all the things they have done or gotten for him, much to the king’s annoyance.  The back-and-fort banter is silly enough to delight young children.  This isn’t a great story for preschool storytime–due to the fact that it’s longer and has more advanced vocabulary–but it would make an enchanting, imaginative read for slightly older first, second, and third graders.  It may even be an ideal book for bedtime.