Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mother Goose's PAJAMA PARTY

     Mother Goose's nursery rhymes are old news--until a book finds a way to make them new again. And author Danna Smith and illustrator Virginia Allyn do just that in their book releasing today!

Title: Mother Goose's PAJAMA PARTY
Author: Danna Smith
Illustrator: Virginia Allyn
Publisher: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2015
Intended age: 3-7 

Themes: Sleepovers, familiar characters, rhyme

First lines: "Star light, star bright, come to story time tonight. Bring your friends and don't be late. Meet at my house - half past eight.   --Mother Goose"

Synopsis: Mother Goose invites a parade of characters from her nursery rhymes for story time and a sleepover.

Why I like this Book: The colorful illustrations pulled me in and I paged through this book once without reading the text.  Featuring a multicultural--and multispecies--cast, the opening double page spread with Mother Goose's invitation written in the stars perfectly captures the magical feeling that makes the story work. Can the moon talk? Of course it can! Can animals talk to people? Of course! The gorgeous harlequin pattern from the endpapers is carried throughout on rugs in everyone's houses. One tiny detail that stopped me--Miss Muffet runs "to pick a bright bouquet" but I didn't see her flowers in the illustrations. Maybe that's why she looks grumpy in the following spread?
    The author's lively rhyming text introduces each character and leads them across this fairy tale world to a cozy bed. (Actually sleeping at a pajama party is one element that may not ring true, lol!) Perhaps having some prior knowledge of the traditional rhymes would enhance a reader's understanding and enjoyment. But if this is your first exposure to them, the author includes the fifteen rhymes that contain the characters as the last eight pages of this forty page book. (I honestly didn't remember Jack-a-Dandy.)

Resources/Activities: There are HUNDREDS of websites that list nursery rhyme activities and you can even sort by pre-school, toddler or elementary age. Here are three of my own book-specific thoughts and one favorite from another site
  • With Halloween upon us this week, perhaps a nursery rhyme character costume is in order!
  • Host a pajama party. Play charades with each child acting out a nursery rhyme character. Read the accompanying rhyme aloud after each character is revealed (pick a favorite stanza to shorten this)
  • Make a game of finding finding familiar characters in the illustrations that aren't mentioned in the text. (I saw the three blind mice and the gingerbread man - are there others?)
  • What ARE curds and whey? Try an education.com science experiment!
  • Learn more about the illustrator's process from Virginia Allyn's interview with Kathy Temean.
Let me know if this is on your reading list! I love to read your comments.
Note: I received a review copy from Random House in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Sewing Stories - Harriet Powers' Journey from Slave to Artist #WNDB #PPBF

     If you had never been taught how to read or write, how would you share your stories?
    As a writer, this thought made my breath catch in my throat. I believe everyone feels a universal human need to share their thoughts and be heard. A new book (released October 13, 2015) tells the story of one woman who spoke with her needles and cloth.
Title: Sewing Stories- Harriet Powers'
Journey from Slave to Artist
Author: Barbara Herkert
Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Publisher: Knopf, 2015
Intended age: 4-8
Themes: Biography, African American, Quiltmaking

First lines: "See that sweet baby girl lying on a quilt her mama made? What could she be dreaming of?
                    On a plantation near Athens, Georgia, Harriet's mama worked from rise to set while Harriet slept between the cotton rows."

Synopsis: Born into slavery, Harriet Powers' skills as a quiltmaker change her life.

Why I like this Book: This book reminds me of an excerpt of the Humans of New York, learning about a fascinating person who might not be well-known, and who certainly didn't set out to be well-known but nonetheless leaves a strong emotional connection with the reader.
     Especially at election time, I hear a lot of people talking about what they think. For me, what a person does is often a better indication of their character. And this book is about a doer. Someone who needed to survive. Someone who found a way to make beauty in difficult situations.
     The text uses lovely lyrical language. This line is my favorite: "Then Harriet explained each story sewn within the squares, like the lyrics of a song spun into cloth."
     Fun fact about me: When I was in high school I made a quilt from scraps of old clothing and leftover craft projects. I don't think it will hang in a museum like Harriet's work, but I am proud of it and it "talks" to me.


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
Note: I received a review copy from Random House 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 comments to know what you think of my selections.

Friday, October 9, 2015

NIGHT of the MOON - Perfect Picture Book Friday

     This summer, while Perfect Picture Book Friday was on hiatus, Muslims celebrated the ninth month of the Islamic calendar known as Ramadan (June 18-July 16, 2015). Next year the holiday begins on June 6, so yes I'm a bit early for it. But it's never too early to enjoy a good book!
Title: NIGHT of the MOON - A Muslim Holiday Story
Author: Hena Khan

Illustrator: Julie Paschkis
Publisher: Chronicle, 2008
Intended age: 4-8
Themes: Holidays, Ramadan

First lines: "It was bedtime, and Yasmeen waited for her mom to read her a story as she did every night. But this night was different."

Synopsis: A seven-year old girl celebrates the month of Ramadan.

Why I like this Book: I don't know much about Ramadan. I knew that people fasted, but not much more. The story portrays a close knit loving family while explaining the holiday that they are celebrating, emphasizing the themes of family traditions and charity for others who are less fortunate. This book contains basic information so it probably isn't for members of the Muslim community who would know these things already.
The illustrator frames the spreads with lush mosaic patterns of teal and turquoise.