First up - for all the upcoming Halloween story times!
Title: Maximillian Villainous
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
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
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