Friday, February 8, 2019

This Book is Spineless

Title: This Book is Spineless          
       
AuthorLindsay Leslie

Illustrator: Alice Brereton
Publisher: Page Street Kids, Feb. 19, 2019
Intended Ages: 4-8
Themes: Fear, Humor, Books

Opening Line(s):
 "Whew! Thanks for turning on the lights! As I said, I'm afraid of the dark. Actually, I'm afraid of most things, because I'm spineless."

Synopsis:
An anthropomorphized book breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the reader, fearing the possibility of facing a terrifying plot, becoming braver with each page turn.

What I like about this book:
Don't you love this title!! Smart and sassy. The author peppers the text with fun language like zilch, smidge and whodunit, while weaving in the five senses as tools for exploring the book's possible subject. I was one of the shy kids that would have identified with this book's irrational fears! Adam Lehrhaupt's Warning: Do Not Open this Book would be a fun title to pair and compare.

Lindsay has two more books under contract with Page Street Kids (so far!). Keep a look out for this new talent.


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, January 25, 2019

More-igami - Multicultural Children's Book Day

Title: More-igami                     
Author: Dori Kleber

Illustrator: G. Brian Karas
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2016
Intended Ages: 4-8
Themes: Multicultural play, Practice/Persistence

Opening Line(s):
Joey loved things that folded. He collected old road maps. He played the accordion. He slept in a foldaway bed.

Synopsis:
When a boy who loves folded things sees origami, he wants to learn how to make a crane. But origami takes practice and patience.

What I like about this book: Origami is fun! I got a set of instructions and a box of paper for Christmas one year. The author uses a quirky main character (the accordion and the bed are quirky!!) to introduce this fun craft. And the restaurant owner that helps Joey warmed my heart in this sweet, straight-forward story. Help in life does come from unexpected places sometimes. The illustrations capture Joey's moments of concentration and surprise. With the awww ending, a student becomes the teacher. Yay, Joey!


Resources and Activities:

Try some origami! The book has two pages of back matter that describe how to fold a ladybug! Other simple instructions (shapes I remember making!) can be found on the Origami for Kids website.


The Spruce crafts website has suggestions for how to throw an entire origami-themed kids party.

More-igami is part of one of Candlewick's story hour kits, including a traceable crane figure. They also suggest a study of the history of origami for older readers. Order the PBS DVD of their show "Behind the Folds" to learn the origin.

I hope you enjoy today's selection! It was one of Kirkus reviews Best Books of 2016, but I missed it when it came out. Never too late to find a great book like this. It's a fantastic book to look for on Multicultural Children's Book Day or any day!!

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, January 4, 2019

Meet--Honeysmoke!

Title: Honeysmoke

Author: Monique Fields
Illustrator: Yesenia Moises
Publisher: Imprint (Macmillan) , January 8, 2019
Intended Ages: 3-6
Themes: Family, Racial Identity, Language

Opening Line(s):
Simone wants a color.
She asks Mama, "Am I black or white?"

Synopsis:
A young biracial girl doesn't see herself as black or white and explores possible descriptions for herself.

What I like about this book: Without being preachy, this story about a biracial girl’s skin color encourages children to pause and reflect about the words they use and opens the door for lessons on family, heredity, and creative wordplay. The spare language is suitable for all ages. Most things in the world aren't black or white, and this book embraces children's individuality and empowers them to visualize who they are and how they want other people to see them. Arnold Adoff used a similar approach in the 1973 picture book black is brown is tan, told from the adult parents' point of view. Honeysmoke starts and stays with the child. Vibrant illustrations accompany the simple text.

Resources and Activities:

Play with fingerpaints! Mix the colors and make up names for the new combinations.

Brainstorm descriptors. Older readers can do this on their own. For younger readers, perhaps provide a stack of index cards with adjectives, colorful and otherwise, and let children pick and discard from the stack.

Older readers can also discuss the weight of words as descriptions. Are broad categories necessary? Why or why  not?

For educators--Washington State has an 86-page pdf to download on biracial awareness, biases, and counseling biracial children.

I hope you enjoy today's selection!
Another review of this great book is posted by Vivian Kirkfield.

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 5, 2018

MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS and HAMMERING FOR FREEDOM recommended!

A slew of great picture books have released in the last few months. I'm highlighting just two of them today, one fiction, and one nonfiction.

First up - for all the upcoming Halloween story times!

Title: Maximillian Villainous

Author: Margaret Chiu Greanias          

Illustrator: Lesley Breen Withrow
Publisher: Running Press Kids, 2018
Intended Ages: 4-8
Themes: Monsters, Humor, Kindness

Opening Line: "Maximillian Villainous came from a long line of famous villains. But Max was different from his family."

Synopsis: When a monster chooses a friendly bunny sidekick, he has to decide whether to follow his family's directive to embrace their evil nature or his own inclination to be good.

What I like about this book: The first reason is that the author is one of my critique partners and a friend! I love to see her great story-telling flair out in the world. More than that, this story is FUN! Sure, there's an underlying theme of being true to yourself, and good triumphs over evil, but the language is playful ("evil up!") and the characters' attempts to "reform" and become evil are delightfully silly. Paired with adorable illustrations, this book is a winner. The "monsters" are cute and shouldn't scare your little ones.


Resources and Activities:


  • The author has an extensive teacher's guide on her website, and two crafts.
  • The website PLAY IDEAS has a great compilation of easy monster crafts (I LOVE the paper roll monsters!) 
  • Would you want to be part of Maximillian's family? Why or why not?
  • Design a monstrous Halloween costume 
  • Read more monster books and compare-what makes a monster a monster? (some of my favorites include Tara Lazar's THE MONSTORE, Tammie Sauer's MOSTLY MONSTERLY and Anne Marie Pace's VAMPIRINA series)

 The second book I've got in the spotlight today is totally different in tone, but no less exciting. 

Title: Hammering for Freedom  
    
Author: Rita Lorraine Hubbard          Illustrator: John Holyfield

Publisher: Lee & Low, 2018
Intended Ages: 7-10
Themes: Slavery, Perseverance, Family

Opening Line: "One starry night in 1810, William "Bill" Lewis was born on a plantation in Winchester, Tennessee."

Synopsis: The true story of a slave who learned the blacksmith trade and worked to try to earn enough money to free his family.

What I like about this book: Inspiring true stories make my heart glad. Throughout history there have been people who toiled without need for public recognition or celebrity to achieve something amazing. I'd like to think these are the real celebrities that deserve our attention. The author and illustrator bring a time in history to life in an accessible story without glossing over the horror of people as property yet keeping a hopeful thread to pull young readers through those "bone-weary years." Readers will also get a feeling for how important a blacksmith was to the community during this time.


Resources and Activities:



  • Compare this book with DAVE THE POTTER by Laban Hill.
  • Google teaching resources for slavery to find resources available for your reader's age level
  • Brainstorm what you would want to do to earn money at your age now, and when you are in your twenties (like Bill).
  • Estimate how many tools a blacksmith could make in a day and then watch the TV show Forged with Fire to see modern day forgers in action (does it look easier or harder than you expected?). 
  • Find out how much $1000 in 1830 would be today
I hope you enjoy my reviews and look up these books for yourself!

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 8, 2018

This Story Is For You by Greg Pizzoli #PPBF Review

2018 Picture Book Recommendations - Perfect Picture Book Friday

This Story Is For You by Greg Pizzoli

If you're expecting another quick read like Number One Sam, slow down and take your time with this next book. Greg Pizzoli's illustrative style remains, but the story here is a subtle meditation that deserves a contemplative visit.

Title: This Story Is For You
Author/Illustrator: Greg Pizzoli
Publisher: Disney Hyperion, April 2018
Intended Ages: 3-5 (I would peg it slightly older)
Themes: Friendship, Separation

Opening Line: "This story is for you. You and only you."

Synopsis: A celebration of friendship, noting that distance is no obstacle once friendships are formed.

What I like about this book: Despite the simple text and illustrations, this is't a simple story. In fact it isn't a story at all but more of a journey through many moments of possibility. Discussion of the book post-read or a "pre-reading" of the pictures may help younger readers comprehension.
     Our family moved a lot when our children were younger and this story of enduring connections and friendship is one I would have shared with them, and the friends they were leaving behind.
     Note that the book is 48 pages, longer than most picture books, but with the spare text it doesn't read long. It's a great end of the school year read when some kids may not be returning to the same school the following year.

Resources and Activities:

  • Draw a picture for a friend. Maybe you can even draw a picture of them like the characters did in this story (the simple body, stick arms and legs) 
  • Make a list of the ways you and a friend are the same.
  • Make a list of the ways you and a friend are different.
  • Make the lists above with another friend--did the lists change?
  • If you have a friend that lives farther away, can you think of a way to connect with them? Send a snail mail letter/picture/photo, call them on the phone, email of Skype/Facetime/what's app (with a parents help!) or even plan a visit!
  • Find a dark place and make shadow puppets with a friend (maybe a grownup can hold the flashlight). Giggling together is one of the best ways to make friendship connections. :)


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 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.”

Thursday, May 10, 2018

drawn together by Minh Le #PPBF Review

2018 Recommendations-- Perfect Picture Book Friday


drawn together by Minh Le

The pace of technological inventions creates a generational divide for everyone, even if there isn't a language barrier. If children are lucky enough to have living grandparents, and to live close enough to see them, it's heart-breaking to think that anything else could stand in the way of a relationship between them. Today's rec is a sparse text with gorgeous illustrations that spoke to me on several levels. This book releases next month but is available for pre-order now.


Title
: drawn together                          
Author: Minh Le
IllustratorDan Santat
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion, June 5, 2018
Intended Ages: 4-6 (note: theme/art for all ages)
Themes: Grandparents, Art, Communication

Opening Line: "So . . .what's new, Grandpa?"  Note: this line of text comes after multiple wordless spreads that set the mood and scene.
Synopsis: Spare text married with a mix of graphic novel style panels and traditional picture book spreads explores the emotional distance a young boy feels when his mom drops him off to visit his Grandpa. Although family, the young boy and Grandpa don't speak the same language--or do they . . .?

What I like about this book: While the story uses multicultural multi-generational characters, the message about building bridges of communication applies to all people of all ages. Silence may be golden for some, but often it's a painful reminder that we don't know what to say. I'm a huge fan of double entendre titles, and this one doesn't disappoint.
     The illustrations carry much of the story in sly glances, frowns and smiles, making clear that neither character is comfortable in the situation. Cultural and language barriers divide them. Yet by finding a common passion, two people gain a new understanding and appreciation for each other. The use of color and chaotic complex illustrations bring the flood of emotions to life. Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat does not disappoint! I think I like this one better than Beekle (and that's saying a lot!) I was reminded of the scenes from the movies The Matrix and Lucy where everything whirls and falls into place. 
     Note: the cover actually gives away the story ending, but I didn't notice it on my first reading, so don't look too hard at it! And if you're wondering what Grandpa is saying, there is a "translation" on the title page. I didn't see that in my first reading either, and it didn't matter. This book is one that can seriously be described as breath-taking and one that invites readers to revisit it again.

Resources/Activities

  • Brainstorm ways to communicate without using words.  If you have never played charades before, give it a try!
  • Pick one subject and then draw pictures together as a family. Do the pictures all look the same? Why or why not?
  • Do something nice for someone you don't usually talk to. Does your kind action start a conversation?
  • Get out crayons, markers, pencils, collage materials or whatever different types of art supplies are available and color in the same picture (or if you don't have the same picture printed off to color in, make a similar picture with each medium). Which do you like best?
  • Try eating food from a different culture than what you're accustomed to.
  • Call/visit your grandparents and give them a hug. Talk about what you have in common. If you don't have grandparents available, ask anyone you want to know better to participate.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy my selection this week.  I'd love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments!
Note: May 23, 2018 Cynthia Leitich Smith has an interview with Minh Le about this wonderful 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

Note: My review is based on a 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.”

Part-time Mermaid by Deborah Underwood #PPBF Review

2018 Recommendations-- Perfect Picture Book Friday

Part-time Mermaid by Deborah Underwood

Like many writers, I'm a daydreamer. It's almost part of my job description! And the book rec today is a great "what if" for  kids.

Part-time MermaidTitle: Part-Time Mermaid                            
Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator: Cambria Evans
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion, March, 2018
Intended Ages: 3-5 
Themes: Bedtime, Imagination, Siblings

Opening Line: "During the day, I am a regular girl."
Synopsis: At bedtime, a girl imagines she is a daring mermaid, and her younger brother a merboy--and they awaken with wet hair!

What I like about this book: Okay--this isn't very "deep" as reasons go (but there's a sea pun already!) --I love the sparkly cover! If I was going to be a mermaid, I'd pick the shimmery pink tail, too.
     The story has a Clark Kent/Superman feel to it as a mild-mannered girl by day transforms into a brave mermaid at night. With cleaner shrimp for my bedroom and the gumption to stand up to the sea witch I can picture myself in this deep sea world.
      I also love the second layer to the plot, the sibling element of the story, as the MC's pesky younger brother during the daytime becomes her partner after visiting this imaginary world where humans (in her dream world) are nonplussed by mermaids and octopuses and turtles eat strawberry ice cream!


Resources/Activities

  • Deborah and Cambria combined on a partner title--Part-time Princess. Read both books and talk about which character you would like to be, and why
  • Come up with other "part-time" jobs you would like to have
  • If you were a superhero, who would be your sidekick?
  • Draw a picture of your favorite sea creature
  • I love the jellyfish lunch by Deirdre at http://jdaniel4smom.com/2013/05/lunch-for-kids-jellyfish-for-lunch.html ! Getting hungry . . .
  • Go swimming and practice your mermaid/merboy moves

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy my selection this week.  I'd love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments!

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 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.”