Friday, May 13, 2016

WHAT JAMES SAID by Liz Rosenberg reviewed for Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

  Misunderstandings arise all the time. For kids and adults. The heat of the moment can make tempers flare unreasonably out of control. This book is perfect for those times. Some books are fun library reads. I recommend this one as a book to own.     

   I had to be MIA for a few Fridays and have two posts today to catch up a bit. Scroll up (or down, depending on which you started on!) to be sure you don't miss anything.

Title: What James Said                 
Author: Liz Rosenberg
Illustrator: Matt Myers
Publisher: Roaring Brook, Macmillan, 2015
Intended Ages: 4-8
Themes: Friendship, misunderstandings
Synopsis: When a comment from her best friend, James, is relayed back through a chain of classmates, a little girl takes the remark out of context, thinks James is saying bad things about her, and decides they're "in a fight."
Opening line(s): "I'm never talking to James again. We are in a fight."
What I like about this book: I have a serious crush on this book. The text runs slightly longer than average (541 words) and not a moment feels too long or wasted. The voice is fantastic, carrying authentic emotions without feeling preachy or moralizing.
     The friendship is between a boy and a girl. Great, right? Even better, it's an African-American boy and a Caucasian girl. Because race and gender play absolutely no part in the story, the illustrator may be the one to thank for this realistic reflection of childhood. Paint blotches from the artistic main character reinforce the emotional mayhem while ample white space on the pages keeps a tight focus on the main characters.
     Communication skills are HARD. Especially when feelings are hurt. And the little girl in this story does what many of us might when we hear something that hurts our feelings. Instead of asking James about it, she shuts down and closes him off with the silent treatment. Poor sweet James doesn't have a clue what's going on and tries his hardest to make his friend feel better. 
     The story mirrors the best and worst moments in childhood friendships. Timeless. Classic.

Resources/Activities
  • Compare this book to Ame Dyckman's book Horrible Bear, another book about misunderstandings. Is anyone at fault in each book? Why or why not? Could either situation have been handled better?
  • Discuss misunderstandings you have had. Did you ever get it straightened out? Is anyone owed an apology? Is it a funny story to share?
  • Make a picture for a friend. 
  • Make awards for friends or family members. Awards for funny joke-teller or homework-helper for example.
Thanks for stopping by today! Let me know if you've read this book. 
 
This review is part of PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books. Organized and curated by author Susanna Leonard Hill, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF

Trainbots by Miranda Paul reviewed for Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

  I had to be MIA for a few Fridays and have two posts today to catch up a bit. Scroll up (or down, depending on which you started on!) to be sure you don't miss anything.

  Do kids love trains? Yes.

  Do kids love robots? Yup.

  Put them together and what do you get?  Trainbots!   


Title: Trainbots                      

Author: Miranda Paul
Illustrator: Shane McG
Publisher: Little Bee Books, coming June 7, 2016
Intended Ages: 4-8
Themes: Trains, Adventure, Robots
Synopsis:   Good and evil square off with a toy delivery at stake. The trainbots have to work together when Badbots try to stop a delivery of toybots on their way for children to play with.
Opening line(s): "Trainbots drawing, sawing, building. 
                           Hammer, clamor, lots of gilding."
What I like about this book: Good rhyme is hard to do! Read the opening lines out loud. Hear the chugga-chugga rhythm? Ms. Paul maintains the quick pace throughout, varying rhythm enough to keep it from becoming sing-songy. The story reminds me of a fantasy version of The Little Engine that Could. No talking down to children here, the rich language will have train and bot lovers matching words and visuals in the illustrations.
   The spiky, angular badbots are larger than the trainbots, subtly reinforcing the message that little kids can work together and accomplish big things--bigger than the bad guys.
  My review copy was a pre-release F&G so I didn't see final art for the final several spreads, but I'm guessing there's going to be a market for cuddly toybots! 

Resources/Activities
  • For older readers- Make a list of all of the verbs in the story. Try to use each in a new sentence.
  • Would you want a toybot? Why or why not? What else could the train bring? Ride a local train--what do you see (Trainbots?!).
  • Reading builds up an appetitie. Mommy Moment's blog wants kids to eat their veggies--off the veggie train.  And Makinglearningfun.com has a savory twist using crackers and cheese.
Trainbots is available for pre-order. 

This review is part of PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books. Organized and curated by author Susanna Leonard Hill, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF

Note: My review is based on a Folded and Gathered review copy received from the author in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, April 22, 2016

THE PERFECT DOG by Kevin O'Malley #PPBF

   As a writer, you probably hear the phrase "take an old theme and make it new." I know I hear it. And this book is a perfect example. As a parent, teacher, reader, you just want a fun book with re-readability. Check!

Title: The Perfect Dog                               

Author/Illustrator: Kevin O'Malley
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers, May 31, 2016
Intended Ages: 3-7
Themes: Dogs, Grammar
Synopsis: Using comparatives and superlatives, a young girl imagines the qualities she'd like in the perfect dog, and then her family heads to find the perfect match.
Opening line(s): "My parents said we could get a dog. And I know the perfect dog . . . ."
What I like about this book: If there is a dog on the cover, I want to read it. I'm a dog-lover. Okay, a HUGE dog-lover. So the Brady Bunch type cover brought a smile to my face. It's a big doggie world out there! The endpapers carry that theme forward with two dozen thumbnail sketches of various dog breeds. I personally wish the Pit Bull had been given a "full" sketch, and wondered where the All-American mutt was, but understand that this is a story, not an encyclopedia of the dog world. It's great to see the pet picking process explored in a thoughtful manner. I believe readers will be left feeling that this is going to be a happy life-long match.
     Dog breeds are a fun way to learn comparatives and superlatives! Grammar and fun are not exclusive! Do you want a big dog? Bigger? Biggest? The words, the dogs--and even the font itself reinforces the curriculum concepts. The illustrations support the text so this book could transition quickly from read-aloud to read-alone. And the ending brings the main character into the real world where serendipity trumps the best laid plans.
     I'm not an artist so the technique escapes me, but the characters pop off the background. Perhaps it's the black outlining? Taking a closer look I wondered if it is a shadow or leggings that seem to move/disappear on the first spreads? And a beret changes color in the final ones. Of course, these may be modified in the final bound copy.
 
No dog in this spread, but lots of fun!

Resources/Activities

Make a list of attributes your perfect pet would have. Is it a dog, or something else?

Make a game of finding objects in your home and have someone else guess how they link together. Is it big, bigger, biggest? Funny, funnier, funniest? Purple, purpler, purplest? 

Learn everything you can about one dog breed. 

Make homemade dog biscuits and take them to share at your local shelter. Nope, there is nothing about feeding dogs in the book, I just think any excuse to have kids helping shelter animals is justified! (be sure to use a recipe from a trusted source--dogs shouldn't eat some people foods)


This review is part of PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books. Organized and curated by author Susanna Leonard Hill, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF


Note: My review is based on a Folded and Gathered review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thanks for stopping by! I love to know what you think of my selections.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Two titles next week!

     Sorry, there's no post today. My perfect picture book Friday posts will double up next week. I'm just back from a wonderful workshop. (more about that later!)
     Bonus brownie points to #kidlit writers who know where I went just by looking at this photo. :)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Where's the BABOON? #PPBF



     Hold onto your seats. I usually gravitate toward story-driven books, so this choice is an unusual one for me. Except that I loved the last book from this team, too. Seeing a pattern for this duo . . .

Title: Where's the Baboon?                                


Author: Michael Escoffier (click on the British flag
to see the book list in English! Author is French)
Illustrator: Kris Di Giacomo
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books, 2015
Intended Ages: 4-8
Themes: Word games, Clues, Animals
Synopsis: The answers to a series of questions about the illustrations is hidden in the wording of the questions themselves.
Opening line(s): Let's go search for hidden words! Who is the headmaster?"
What I like about this book:  The illustrations in this book are tremendously fun, yet simple enough that children just learning to decode letters as well as early readers can figure out the answers to each question. The "clue" word uses red and black lettering, with the "important" letters in red, and in order. No scrambling required. Ex. headmaster
The first one, in my opinion, is the hardest since kids this age in the United States are probably more familiar with the terms principal and teacher and may not know what a headmaster does, nor recognize the small bell-ringing creature as a hamster. But cows, apes, etc are easy game!
The illustrations look like they were painted on brown craft paper, adding texture and mottled color variations. Two thumbs up!

Resources/Activities

Practice more wordplay! Googling wordplay for kids or preschoolers brings up a host of possibilities. I especially liked the series at FunBrain.com that lets you pick easy and hard settings.

Scholastic has a good article about making up your own word games.

Visit the Zoo and try to find hidden words in each animal's name!

Are their hidden words in your own name? (you might need to scramble the letters!)


This review is part of PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books. Organized and curated by author Susanna Leonard Hill, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF
Thanks for stopping by! Is this book new to you?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Little Red Gliding Hood - #PPBF

     I've missed a few Perfect Picture Book Friday posts and the wonderful books are piling up!
     This book has been featured on other blogs, but I have to give it a shout-out because I love it.

Title: Little Red Gliding Hood                        

Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: Troy Cummings
Publisher: Random House, 2015
Intended Ages: 2-10
Themes: Fractured fairy tales, Sports

Opening line(s): "It was winter, and the river winding through the enchanted forest was frozen solid. A girl raced down to the river's edge and laced up her skates."

Synopsis: If she's going to be able to continue her trips to Grandma's house, Little Red Gliding Hood's well-worn skates need to be replaced and the upcoming pairs skating competition is offering skates as a prize--if only Little Red could find a partner.

What I like about this book: My love began with those opening lines, cleverly placed BEFORE the title page. The text goes on for three more sentences to set up the title character, a gorgeous winding illustration drawing the reader into the fairy tale world.
     Tara manages to fit a slew of fairy tale favorites into the story. In the third spread alone you'll find The Dish and Spoon, Hansel and Gretel, Little Boy Blue, The Seven Dwarfs and Old MacDonald. I was already smiling, but Old MacD's "E-I-E-I-ouch" made me laugh! No story is sacrificed for the mash-up and the last lines are brilliant.
     Hilariously expressive brightly-colored illustrations update the fairy tale realm perfectly. One lone dark moody moment is allotted to the Wolf's introduction, then cartoon colors abound. It bubbles over (freezes solid!) with kid appeal.
   
Activities/Resources:

Talk about how a pairs event is different from a singles skating event. Physically and mentally depending on a partner. The Olympic committee has a pairs website and videos posted here.

Tara interviewed Troy (her illustrator) here

 Tara shares a how to write a fractured fairy tale guide and a Little Red coloring page here

See if you have an indoor rink nearby and try it out!

The ActivityVillage.co.uk has several ice skating related activities for preschoolers.

Read, or watch the movie of Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates. (Blades of Glory is a hoot for teenagers, but at PG-13 may not be appropriate for this book audience!)

The Youtube links that claim to be about this book are trolls advertising free book downloads! Avoid them! If you want to learn more about the author, Kidlit TV interviewed  Tara when her debut book, The Monstore, was released.


This review is part of PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books. Organized and curated by author Susanna Leonard Hill, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF

Thanks for stopping by! Is this book new to you?

Friday, March 4, 2016