About Mr. Tom

Mr. Tom is a preschool storytime expert. He's conducted hundreds of storyimes across the San Francisco Bay Area since 2005.

Philadelphia Chickens – an imaginary musical comedy revue (in the form of a picture book)

th-26Infectious showtunes performed by an all-star cast playing original Boynton characters in an imaginary musical revue.


Bibliographic Info:  Boynton, Sandra  Philadelphia Chickens Workman Publishing (2002) 64pp  $16.95  Formats:  Hardcover with CD, ISBN:  978-0761126362  Interest Level: preK-grade 3  Genre: Song, Comedy and Humor  Themes: Music, Animals, Dance

Summary:  Philadelphia Chickens is a songbook with CD that includes 17 1/2 illustrated story-poems by Sandra Boynton.  Composer Michael Ford, who also composed Boynton’s Rhinoceros Tap, transforms these story-poems into original songs performed by many well-known actors, including Patti LuPone, Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Laura Linney, Eric Stoltz and Scott Bakula.


StorytimeWow_FinalLogo-1Philadelphia Chickens was given the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal on May 8th, 2015 and has been selected for the PictureBookWOW collection at storytimeWOW.com.


th-27Review:  Philadelphia Chickens is a wacky, hilarious and toe-tapping musical show in a picture book. The piece is more than a book, it’s an event.  Infectious showtunes are performed by an all-star cast who play original Boynton characters in an imaginary musical revue.  Standout numbers include “Cows”, “Pig Island”, “Snuggle Puppy” and “Be Like a Duck”.  The cast of childlike animal personalities appeal to kids of all ages.  As always, Boynton’s colorful hand-drawn illustrations are full of visually expressive humor and emotion.

Storytime:  th-28 Storytime is a great occassion and opportunity to share Philadelphia Chickens with groups of children.  They will love it.  Choose one story-poem/song to include in your weekly program throughout a Philadelphia Chickens-storytime sing-along series that lasts three months.  In these storytimes, package and introduce the sing-along series and project your chosen story poem’s illustrations and lyrics onto a big screen to create a hilarious, enjoyable, toe-tapping and highly engaging sing-along story group experience.

Awards:  Grammy nominee. #1 New York Times bestseller, Recording Industry Association of America Platinum album.

Read-alikesBlue Moo by Sandra Boynton, Frog Trouble by Sandra Boynton, Dog Train by Sandra Boynton, Rhinocerous Tap by Sandra Boynton,

Links:  author’s website, Amazon

Bio (from Amazon.com):  Sandra Boynton is a popular American cartoonist, children’s author, songwriter, producer, and director. Since 1974, Boynton has written and illustrated over fifty children’s books and seven general audience books, including five New York Times Bestsellers. More than 60 million of her books have been sold–“mostly to friends and family,” she says. She has also written (with Michael Ford) and produced five albums of renegade children’s music. Three of her five albums have been certified Gold [over 500,000 copies sold] and “Philadelphia Chickens,” nominated for a Grammy, has been certified Platinum [over 1 million copies sold.] Boynton has also directed six music videos of her songs, including the award-winning “One Shoe Blues” starring B B King. She lives in rural New England, and her studio is in a barn with perhaps the only hippopotamus weathervane in America.

Reviews:  Common Sense Media, Goodreads

I chose to review this musical in a picture book because it’s full of Sandra Boynton’s unique brand of humor and comedic characters.  And moreover, storytime deserves more showstoppers.

3Make Reading More Fun


Written by Tom Schween

Itsy Bitsy Spider – go beyond the water-spout with this inspiring story song

9135HIMdpvLThe Itsy Bitsy Spider ventures beyond the water-spout in this singable picture book available in both print and digital formats.


Bibliographic Info:  Trapani, Iza  Itsy Bitsy Spider  Charlesbridge (1993)  32pp  $7.95  Formats: Board Book, Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1879085695, eBook, Audiobook  Reading Level:  K-2  Interest Level: 2-7 years old  Genre: Sing-along/Music, Nursery Rhymes, Movement  Themes: Music, Animals, Cleverness, Perseverance


StorytimeWow_FinalLogo-1Itsy Bitsy Spider was given the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal on May 14th, 2015 and has been selected for the PictureBookWOW and Picture eBookWOW collection at storytimeWOW.com.


Summary:   The classic Itsy Bitsy Spider is a traditional sing-along, fingerplay and story about a dedicated little spider with a lot of perseverance.  Iza Trapani’s picture book, now available in a singable eBook format, adds adventures beyond the water-spout with a cat, mouse, rocking chair and a tree.  Its ending is all new too!

thReview:  Iza Trapani’s Itsy Bitsy Spider musical picture book was released with a corresponding CD in 1993.  This follow-along story and song cleverly builds on the traditional fingerplay, taking readers on adventures with fans, mice, and cats.  Finally, the little eight-legged heroine climbs a tree, spins her web and takes a well-deserved rest. The joyful  music compliments Trapani’s lush illustrations.  This inspiring adventure is now available as an eBook for use in digital storytime.

Storytime: th-2 The illustrations are lush and the spider is small.  In group storytime, use the eBook projected on a big screen to make the illustrations more visible and clear to little kids.  Play the song, turn the digital pages and encourage children to sing-along as Trapani spins new musical adventures for the Itsy Bitsy Spider.


Read-alikesChicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault, I’m a Little Teapot by Iza Trapani, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Iza Trapani

Links:  author’s website, Amazon, Scholastic

Other Review:  Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

I reviewed this book because the visuals will add a cognitive component to the classic sing-along during toddler and preK storytimes.

3Make Reading More Fun


Six Little Ducks – a toddler time sing-along story app and ebook

9781619381919_p0_v1_s260x420Six playful little ducks take children on a first fun adventure.


Bibliographic Info:  Thompson, Kim M.  Six Little Ducks  Twin Sisters  (2012) 16pp  $10.99  Formats:  Paperback, App ($1.99), eBook, Board Book,eBook ISBN-13: 9781619381919, Kindle, CD  Interest Level: babies-preK  Genre: Sing-along/Music, Movement  Themes: Music, Animals, Curiosity


StorytimeWow_FinalLogo-1Six Little Ducks was given the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal on May 13th, 2015 and has been selected for the AppWOW, PictureBookWOW and Picture eBookWOW collections at storytimeWOW.com.


Summary:  Six Little Ducks quack, wobble and march in a line led by one little duck “with the feather on his back” in this sing-along adventure.  Available in print and electronic formats (animated eBook formats and an interactive app), Six Little Ducks teaches kids to count from one to six while cultivating vocabulary, phonological awareness and print awareness.

th-2Review:  This classic story song, now available in analog and digital formats, is an fun and engaging experience for toddlers and preschoolers.  The colorful and animated illustrations amusingly depict the playful behavior of these six wacky little ducks. Little children will enjoy following the story and singing along.  In the meantime, the activity helps children learn the numbers 1 through 6 and cultivates early literacy skills.

Storytime: th-1Use the original track and the eBook projected on a large screen to create a delightful and interactive sing-along activity during storytime.  The track sings the story while children follow along with each page.

Read-alikesBaby Beluga by Raffi, Five Little Ducks by Raffi, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault

Links:  author’s website, Amazon

Other Review:  Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Amazon MP3

I chose to include this engaging story song because it will delight toddlers.

3Make Reading More Fun


Written by Tom Schween, founder of storytimeWOW!