Friday, November 11, 2016

CHICKEN in SPACE #PPBF

The author of the book I'm high-lighting today is a local author (local to me, anyway) who burst onto the scene in 2013 with his debut picture book, Warning: Do Not Open This Book, a zany madcap story of monkeys and mayhem. I think this one is even better!

Title: CHICKEN in SPACE

Author: Adam Lehrhaupt 
Illustrator: Shahar Kober
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2016
Intended Ages: 4-8 
Themes: Imagination, Animals, Friendship
Opening Lines:  "Zoey wasn't like the other chickens.
                             She had dreams. She had a plan. She had a pig."
Synopsis: Zoey the chicken finds a way to make her dream of space exploration come true.

What I like about this book: Just reading the title out loud, I hear an "announcer's" voice in my head--the melodrama, the echo. And that sets the scene perfectly for the imaginative main character who views the world through a rose-colored lens. Zoey's world is one where wishes can come true, if you look at things the right way. The illustrator nails the facial expressions that bring the barnyard characters to life and subtle details let the reader know this isn't your ordinary barnyard. It's one where satellite dishes are installed on doghouses. Melding hilarity and heart, there's a chicken in an aviator's hat.And there's pie.

Resources/Activities:


  • Whet your appetite with the Chicken in Space trailer:
  • Share a post-election moment. Read all of the author's books (four now!) and vote for your favorite.
  • Eat pie! So many varieties . . . YUM!
  • Brainstorm what you think Chicken's next adventure might be. 
  • Brainstorm alternate (imaginative!) uses for common household items. What could be used undersea? What could be used in space?
  • Take your own imaginative adventure. Examples: Build a couch-ship, a bed rocket, a sheet fort.
  • Which friend(s) would you want to take on an imaginative adventure? Why?

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy my selection this week. 
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

Friday, October 28, 2016

HALLOWEENSIE 2016

     There's no Perfect Picture Book Friday post today because--it's Halloweensie time!

     If you write for children and you aren't familiar with Halloweensie, get over to author Susanna Leonard Hill's blog and read about it! I'll wait. In brief, this is a brief--weensie--Halloween story contest. 100 words or less, using the magic words (this year: spider, moon and ghost).

     Susanna's holiday contests always put me in the spirit. All of the stories are linked to her blog so everyone can read the myriad of ways different writers approached a simple story prompt. After I post mine, I'll be heading over to start reading.

     My story this year squeaks in at 99 words!



Halloween Costume Countdown by Wendy Greenley

Sometimes it’s hard to find a good costume.
Spider tried being an eight-legged ghost.
“Hi, Spider!”
Eight-legged superhero?
“Hi, Spider!”
Eight-legged rock star?
“Hi, Spider!”
Spider sagged. “Phoeey! Everyone guesses it’s me.”
“I understand. It’s hard to hide my shell,” said Snail.
“Same problem with my wings,” said Moth.
“Don’t complain to me,” said Centipede.
They agreed to help each other create monstrously clever costumes, so no one would recognize them.
“Monstrously clever! That’s it!” said Spider.
By moonlight, the four friends painted, snipped and sewed.
Legs, wings, shells? Check! Check! Check!
“Trick or Treat!” shouted four matching Franken-bugs.


So- be careful when you open the door this year for trick or treaters, lol.
Thanks for stopping by. Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, October 21, 2016

WE FOUND A HAT - #PPBF

 High-lighting lesser known authors and artists is fun for me. I feel like I'm uncovering hidden gems. But sometimes the big names blow me away and I have to shout their praises.

Title: We Found a Hat

Author/Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2016
Intended Ages: 4-8 
Themes: Animals, Temptation, Friendship
Opening Lines: "We found a hat
                             We found it together."
Synopsis: Two turtles find a hat. It looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles, and only one hat.

What I like about this book: Jon Klassen is the master of understatement and the power of single glances. His newest addition to his "hat cycle" of stories adds a layer of tenderness and friendship to his spot-on deadpan humor. This is another story that leaves the emotional inner story to the reader to fill in. Klassen is the master of what happens in the story, off the page. The limited, muted palette keeps the focus squarely on the text and those expressive eyes. Constructed in three chapters, the 56 pages fly by. I believe it's appropriate for even young toddlers, age 2 and up.

Resources/Activities:

  • Read the author's hat trilogy (This Is Not My Hat, I Want My Hat Back and We Found a Hat). Discuss which you like best, and why
  • Talk about things you have. Which would you share? Why or why not? Does it matter if it's something that can be returned, or something gets consumed (like cookies)?
  • Brainstorm alternate endings for this book. Could they have taken turns wearing the hat? Made another hat? Could one turtle have taken the hat? How does the choice of an ending affect the characters' friendship?
  • Share something with a friend.
  • Buy a new hat for yourself or to donate to charity. Why do you pick the one you do?

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy my selection this week. 
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

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Ketzel the Cat who Composed - #PPBF

 I love stories that seem like they can't be "real"--but they are!  The book I'm high-lighting this week is one of those stories.

Title: Ketzel, the Cat who Composed
Author: Leslea Newman 
Illustrator: Amy June Bates
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2015 
Intended Ages: 5-8 
Themes: Animals, music
Opening Lines: "Moshe Cotel lived in the middle of a noisy building in the middle of a noisy street in the middle of a noisy city. But Moshe didn't mind. Everything he heard was music to his ears."
Synopsis: When Moshe can't compose an entry for a music contest, a kitten he rescued finds a way to make beautiful music.

What I like about this book: The cover made me pick this one up. And I'm not a cat person. But the adorable kitty on the cover, sitting on piano keys, smiled it's way into my arms. Definitely not a grumpy cat, this one. The story starts slowly, introducing a man named Moshe as the main character. When he rescues a kitten off the street, even though the story is Moshe's, Ketzel (the kitten) carries the story--and saves the day. This book is based on true events--with an author's note at the end detailing what is fact and what was fictionalized for storytelling purposes. Do you think a kitten can play the piano?? I don't want to spoil the story, you'll have to read it to believe it! The book is a 2016 Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Award Winner.
 
Resources/Activities:

  • Using any instrument (tap different things with a pencil or rap with your voice if you don't have an instrument handy) compose a short song. 
  • Try composing music online. I didn't get past the "Beat Lab" at free-online music-making for kids. Too much fun!
  • There are more than 1000 cat crafts to choose from on Pinterest!
  • Collect food for homeless cats like Ketzel. Maybe even bring one home to discover their special talent! :)
  • Attend a concert. Talk about which music you liked and why.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy my selection this week. 
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

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Story Book Knight #PPBF

 Summer heat has finally given way to autumn chill--perfect book reading weather! If you liked THE SNATCHABOOK, you'll be excited to know that the author/illustrator team has a new book.
 
Title: The Story Book Knight

Author: Helen Docherty
Illustrator: Thomas Docherty
Publisher: Sourcebooks, September, 2016
Intended Ages: 4-8
Themes: Books, being true to yourself, dragons

Opening Line: "Leo was a gentle knight in thought and word and deed.
While other knights liked fighting, Leo liked to sit and read."
Synopsis: When Mom and Dad send Leo off to fight a dragon, Leo uses his own special talent instead.

What I like about this book: Children can't read too many books about nonviolent resolution. And this book adds the element of standing up to parental expectations. I'm a fan of Thomas Docherty's loose illustration style, where simple changes in the characters' eyes carry the emotion. And "trusty steed" Ned adds an unspoken wink of humor throughout the spreads. The story doesn't feel entirely new in the sense that books are a way to resolve issues, but the way Leo appeals to the "baddies" sense of vanity kept me smiling.

Resources/Activities:
  • The publisher provides a 12-page educator guide at sourcebooks.com/library
  • Read THE SNATCHABOOK with this one. How is the art similar? How is the story similar?
  • Read this book with Mark Sperring's THE SUNFLOWER SWORD. Talk about nonviolent ways to resolve disagreements
  • Read this book with Oliver Jeffers A CHILD OF BOOKS. Discuss which you prefer and why.


Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy my selection this week. 
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 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.”

Friday, September 9, 2016

PRESIDENT SQUID - #PPBF

     Can you believe it's September already!?

     Don't think about it as an end to summer, think of it as the restart of Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews!

  Okay, I probably can't compete with summer. But here goes . . .

Title: President Squid
Author: Aaron Reynolds
Illustrator: Sara Varon
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2016
Intended Ages: 4-8
Themes: Sea creatures, Presidents

Opening Line: "I HAVE REALIZED SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT. Something that changes everything! No giant squid has ever been president before!"
Synopsis: Sea creatures react to Squid's announcement that he has five qualities that make him President.

What I like about this book: This book doesn't answer questions. Instead, it promotes a discussion of what qualities a president should have. With the upcoming election, the timing is perfect! The silly humor engages readers to explore what is otherwise a somewhat dry, complex topic. Adults reading with their children can laugh along at the satire. The New York based cartoonist and illustrator manages to make trousers on a hot pink squid believable! I do wonder why the squid needed to have teeth but I'm fairly certain no child will think twice. Put this one on the shelf beside Reynold's earlier Creepy Carrots.

Resources/Activities:

  • Schools often have mock (and real!) classroom elections. For everything you need, with a squid-related theme, download a free activity guide from Chronicle.
  • Read this book along with Doreen Cronin's DUCK FOR PRESIDENT, and Nick Bruel's BAD KITTY FOR PRESIDENT.
  • Explore the National Education Association's voter education links
  • Talk about what qualities you have that make a good president.
  • Talk about why someone wants to become president.
Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy my selection this week. 
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

Friday, June 3, 2016

Sophie's Squash Go to School - #PPBF

    SOPHIE'S SQUASH was one of my favorite titles in 2013. Sweet. Quirky. Re-readable.
    And now there's a sequel!
    Pre-order this one for Sophie lovers. Squash lovers. Possibly everyone.

Title: SOPHIE'S SQUASH GO TO SCHOOL
Author: Pat Zeitlow Miller
Illustrator: Anne Wilsdorf
Publisher: Random House, June 28, 2016
Intended Ages: 3-7
Themes: Fear, First-day-of-School, Friendship
Opening Line: "On the first day of school, Sophie peeked into her classroom."
Synopsis: When Sophie heads to school, it's easier for her to play with her two best buddies (squash) than to make new friends. And if she were to want another friend, it would certainly not be with the pesky boy that follows her everywhere. But squash don't last forever . . .
What I like about this book: Making friends is a skill. For some kids it comes easier than others, but everyone can benefit from a reminder to open their hearts and eyes to possibilities. And a reminder that sometimes it takes persistence to make a new friend. The author introduces this idea gently, without feeling preachy. And don't you all adore the illustrator's rendering of Sophie on the cover!? Pigtails askew. Bounding off the tips of her toes. The illustrator's playful energy threads through each spread, making the entire premise of squash friends plausible. The story takes place in a realistic multicultural classroom, with realistic moments of anger and trepidation portrayed. Finish the book and treat yourself to a new plant dance!
Resources/Activities:
  • Discuss what makes a good friend. How many of these traits do YOU have?  Elementary School Counseling.com has a great activity building on this idea, for the classroom.
  • Can a toy be a friend? Why or why not?
  • With a parent's approval, talk to someone new. Not everyone will be a friend, but they're all interesting! 
  • Share something with someone--bonus if it's someone who looks lonely. Perhaps make cookies for a neighbor, put a handmade card in someone's mailbox, sing someone a song.
  • Plant seeds and practice a dance for when the sprouts appear.
  • If you google search "back to school activities"-there are loads of links for teachers! One favorite:  Scholastic -Top five ways to get to know your students -http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/top-5-ways-get-know-your-students
  • You can hear the author read the original book and follow links to classroom activities for it on her website. There are no posted activities for this new book--yet. So check back!
 I hope you enjoyed this preview! This is a book to put on your pre-order or to-be-read list!
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 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.”