Friday, April 24, 2015

Max and the Dumb Flower Picture - #PPBF

     I had to flip a coin to decide on this week's recommendation. I got lucky at the library this week. There are two great ones shouting for attention. :)
Interestingly, they are both on the same theme, but very different in style. I hope you come back next week for #2!
from Publisher's website
Title: Max and the Dumb Flower  

           Martha Alexander 
   with James Rumford 
 (Ms. Alexander passed away and Mr. Rumford finished the book from her sketches)

Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2009

Theme: Individuality 

Intended Age: 3-8

Opening Line: "Max didn't want to color the dumb flower picture. 
                     Miss Tilley wanted him to."

Synopsis: When a boy's teachers asks the class to color a flower picture that she reproduced for all of them as a Mother's Day gift, the boy decides he wants to make his own picture instead.

What I like about the book: I was already hooked by the endpapers. Martha Alexander's family, friends and colleagues drew flower pictures that are scattered across the endpapers plus one additional spread.There is a square left blank on the opening endpaper for the reader to draw their own flower (amazingly, the library copy is still clean!). The small 7x7 trim size means it falls to the bottom of the picture book bins, and I hope it isn't passed over because of that. There is one scene when Max runs out of the classroom, out of the building that may require parental comment (don't do that!) but I think younger children who feel the urge to "color outside the lines" will identify with the emotion and resolution.

  • Take a page from a coloring book and color it how you think the creator of the book intended. Then color another picture with similar subject matter on a blank piece of paper. Which do you like better? Why?
  •  Make 3-D flowers with chenille stems and paper using a lesson on the Smile Makers website.
  • Go to the store and select cut flowers for a bouquet. Why do you select the ones you do?
  • Type flower crafts for toddlers in your search box and see hundreds of choices!
  • Bookit Program curriculum page available here.
  • Parents/teachers can talk to children about using words to express feelings (instead of running away!)
  • If you are a member of a Story Before Bed, you can access a recording here. (NOTE: I did not test this)
This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Curious Mind - The Secret to a Bigger Life

     I am guilty of failure to post a Perfect Picture Book Friday post two weeks in a row!
     Not because I haven't read some great ones, in fact I am taking Susanna Leonard Hill's fabulous Picture Book Magic class and reading tons. Unfortunately, the writing has been homework, not picture book recommendations.
     C'mon, you're probably saying. You couldn't fit in ONE recommendation?
     In addition to reading boatloads of picture books, I read an adult title that has to get a shout-out first. A book that smacks you up-side-the-head with the power of possibility. This recommendation can't wait.

jacket image by Jeff Koons
Title: A Curious Mind - The Secret to a Bigger Life  
Authors: Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2015
Theme/Subject: Curiosity
Publisher's summary: "From Academy Award-nominated produced Brian Grazer and acclaimed business journalist Charles Fishman comes a brilliantly entertaining peek into the weekly "curiosity conversations" that have inspired Grazer to create some of America's favorite and iconic movies and television shows--from 24 to A Beautiful Mind."

What I liked about this book: I'm not a movie buff. I don't watch a lot of television. So yes, I have a seen A Beautiful Mind, but I've never watched 24. So why would I want to read, and recommend, a book written by a movie producer?
     It isn't really about movies, television, or even Hollywood. It's about the benefits and process of being curious. My interest was piqued when I read that. But as a busy person, what made me go that step further? I didn't recognize the name Brian Grazer or Charles Fishman. Why would I want to spend my evenings reading something they wrote?
     I read in a promo that Brian Grazer had interviewed science fiction writer Isaac Asimov and medical researcher and polio vaccine creator Jonas Salk. As a writer and someone with a MS in Microbiology, my inner geek screamed "I have to read this one!" And Malcolm Gladwell blurbed it on the back cover. Ooh, I'm a Gladwell fan.
     I plunged in.
    And I wasn't disappointed. I couldn't put it down. As a creative person, the reminder that our creativity comes from everywhere around us, and that we can take an active role in pursuing it is a great one. Its use may not be immediately obvious but ever interaction is growth. Brian uses his life experiences in Hollywood to illustrate concepts that apply to everyone, everywhere. You don't need to be interested in Hollywood. You don't need to be a writer. You don't need to know anything about microbiologists past or present. It's just a great read. Engaging. Inspiring. Energizing.
     And now I do know a little about what a Hollywood producer does. At least more than the zero I knew before. Bonus.
Go. Read. This. Book. Tell me what you think.

Note: I received an advance copy of this book from Simon & Schuster through Shelf Awareness. No other compensation was received.  No review was required. 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.”