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.”

Friday, May 27, 2016

Holiday weekend!

 In recognition that a lot of readers are off enjoying a holiday weekend, I'm holding my Perfect Picture Book Friday post until next week. It's a good one. Hint: Can't SQUASH my enthusiasm for it!
Hope to see you then.

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. :)