Category Archives: Children’s Book Reviews

October 2020 Mentor Text Author Study: Margarita Engle

October 2020 Mentor Text Author Study: Margarita Engle

The October Mentor Text Author Study looks at Margarita Engle’s latest picture book about pianist Teresa Carreño. Celebrating Latinx Heritage!

Click the book cover to read the post. Happy writing!

Kirkus STARRED Review!

Kirkus STARRED Review!

It is what it is. GOOD TROUBLE!

NO VOICE TOO SMALL got a star 🌟 from Kirkus Reviews! Click on the picture to read the review.


Thank you to the wonderful words by  Nikki GrimesCarole Boston WeatherfordTraci SorellCharles WatersHena KhanJanet WongJoseph Bruchac,Guadalupe Garcia McCallAndrea J. LoneyLesléa NewmanGreg NeriS. Bear Bergman, and Fiona Morris.  And to Charlesbridge Publishing, our editor Karen Boss and Literary Agent Emily Mitchell who represented us in this project.

We can’t wait to share this book with readers of all ages!

Reviews are coming in!

Reviews are coming in!

ALL THE FEELS! Check out this video review of NO VOICE TOO SMALL by Kirsten Williams Larson.🎤 Empower youth. They are are our future and our hope.

Check out other reviews by Kirsten on her YouTube channel where she dives deep into nonfiction books. Excuse me while I grab a tissue. 😭

June 2020 Author Mentor Text Study: Revisting Kim Norman

June 2020 Author Mentor Text Study: Revisting Kim Norman

This month I discussed informational picture books and looked at at Give Me Back My Bones by Kim Norman, illustrated by Bob Kolar over at the Reading for Research blog. What a fun read!

FREEDOM SOUP – A Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

FREEDOM SOUP – A Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators. 

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. All kids should have access to diverse books like the one I reviewed this year.

FREEDOM SOUP by Tami Charles and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara was sent to me Candlewick Press at no cost in exchange for an honest review. Published December 10, 2019, the book has earned four starred reviews! Read those reviews from Kirkus, SLJ (School Library Journal), Shelf Awareness, and Publishers Weekly.

Food is a wonderful way to celebrate culture and history. That’s exactly what Charles does in her story about the Haitian dish, Soup Joumou, also known as Freedom Soup. An intergenerational story, readers follow along as a young child and her grandmother cook together.

Every New Year’s Day Ti Gran makes Freedom Soup but on this day she is teaching Belle how to make the soup, just like she was taught when she was a little girl.

Readers can sway to the rhythm of Charles’ lyrical language and Alcántara’s colorful, expressive illustrations filled with movement. Both text and art will entice children to  dance like Belle and tap their toes like Ti Gran while imagining the sounds of the Haitian kompa music.

As they cook, Ti Gran teaches Belle the history of Haiti, the place where she was born.

“Know why they call it Freedom Soup” Ti Gran asks.

“Because it’s free?

It’s the same answer I always give. Ti Gran laughs her loud, belly-deep laugh.

“Oh, Belle. Nothing in this world is free, not even freedom.”

Charles recounts the country’s history of slavery so children understand what it meant to be enslaved. Ti Gran explains, “Freedom Soup was only for the free.”

As the soup cooks Belle and Ti Gran dance their way through the rebellion that lead to the revolution and cheer for Haiti’s independence.  Charles provides a recipe for Freedom Soup and an author’s note with background information on Haiti and her personal family connection to the story. FREEDOM SOUP is a fun and engaging story but it also introduces young children to the true history of a country and the people who resisted slavery and won their freedom.

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,

Platinum

Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,

Gold

Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,

Silver

 Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

Bronze

Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

Author Sponsor Link CloudJerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, , Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book seriesGreen Kids Club, Inc.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

A Morning With Grandpa by Sylvia Liu

A Morning With Grandpa by Sylvia Liu

A MORNING WITH GRANDPA by Sylvia Liu, illustrated by Christina Forshay, published by Lee & Low Books is the book I reviewed for this year’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day. The MCBD campaign founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom is in its 6th year! The mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity and get them in homes, schools and into the hands of young readers.

A MORNING WITH GRANDPA celebrates the loving relationship between Mei Mei and her grandfather, Gong Gong. Mei Mei finds Gong Gong practicing Tai chi and he attempts to teach her some of the motions, but she playfully shows off moves of her own.  When Mei Mei decides to teach Gong Gong yoga, he finds the twisty, bendy poses hard to imitate. But they still enjoy each other’s company despite their differences in physical agility, age, and experiences.

Liu’s use of metaphors portrays each character’s distinct personalities.  Forshay’s choice of earthy colors and expressive illustrations capture the warmth of their relationship.

“Gong Gong stepped from side to side and carefully moved his arms back and forth. He was a warm summer breeze gently blowing through the trees.

Mei Mei was a frisky fall wind tumbling with the leaves.”

The author won the 2013 Lee and Low New Voices Award for this intergenerational story that features both Chinese and Western cultures. The text is also informative as Liu describes the positions used in both Tai chi and yoga for her young audience. Backmatter encourages readers to learn more about both forms of movement.

This is a delightfully diverse family centered story for young children ages 4-8 years.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Level Sponsors on board!

HonoraryChildren’s Book CouncilThe Junior Library GuildTheConsciousKid.org.

Super PlatinumMake A Way Media

GOLDBharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra GoldBharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcitoKidLitTV,  Lerner Publishing GroupPlum Street Press,

SILVERCapstone PublishingCarole P. RomanAuthor Charlotte RiggleHuda EssaThe Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge PublishingJudy Dodge CummingsAuthor Gwen JacksonKitaab World,Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ LanguagesLee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and  Baptiste PaulRedfinAuthor Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s DaughterTimTimTom BooksLin ThomasSleeping Bear Press/Dow PhumirukVivian Kirkfield

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board!

HonoraryJulie FlettMehrdokht Amini,Author Janet BallettaAuthor Kathleen BurkinshawAuthor Josh FunkChitra SoundarOne Globe Kids – Friendship StoriesSociosights Press and Almost a MinyanKaren LeggettAuthor Eugenia Chu,CultureGroove BooksPhelicia Lang and Me On The PageL.L. WaltersAuthor Sarah StevensonAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleHayley BarrettSonia PanigrahAuthor Carolyn Wilhelm,Alva Sachs and Dancing DreidelsAuthor Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu KidTara WilliamsVeronica AppletonAuthor Crystal BoweDr. Claudia MayAuthor/Illustrator Aram KimAuthor Sandra L. RichardsErin DealeyAuthor Sanya Whittaker GraggAuthor Elsa TakaokaEvelyn Sanchez-ToledoAnita BadhwarAuthor Sylvia LiuFeyi Fay AdventuresAuthor Ann MorrisAuthor Jacqueline JulesCeCe & Roxy BooksSandra Neil Wallace and Rich WallaceLEUYEN PHAMPadma Venkatraman,Patricia Newman and Lightswitch LearningShoumi SenValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing,Traci SorellShereen RahmingBlythe StanfelChristina MatulaJulie RubiniPaula Chase,Erin TwamleyAfsaneh MoradianLori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution,Soulful SydneyQueen Girls Publications, LLC

MCBD has the following CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts
A Crafty ArabAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot MommyBiracial BookwormsBooks My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it,  Growing Book by BookHere Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin LeeJump Into a BookImagination Soup, Jenny Ward’s ClassKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsRaising Race Conscious ChildrenShoumi SenSpanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.

FREE RESOURCES From MCBD

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS by Alice Faye Duncan

A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS by Alice Faye Duncan

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is…

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A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS

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Written by: Alice Faye Duncan

Illustrated by: Xia Gordon

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (January 2019)

Suitable for ages: 5-8

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Themes/Topics: biography, poetry, African-American life

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Brief Synopsis:

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A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks is about the African-American poet and author Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) who wrote about the urban African-American experience.

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The book is part of the “People Who Shaped Our World” series. Alice Faye Duncan captured the life and work of Brooks, beginning in 1925 at age eight, ending in 1950, the year she became the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

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Why I like this book:

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Duncan writes in lyrical text and shows observations informed the poet’s writing, even from an early age.

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The author also gives examples of the kinds of struggles Brooks faced as a young, gifted writer as well as the support she received from her family. Brooks struggled with her confidence and her words. A teacher once accused Brooks of plagiarism so her mother had the young poet write a poem in front of her. As a teen when others were looking for work, Gwendolyn’s parents supported her dream and allowed her to “sit and think”. And from all her years of hard work, an adult Brooks realizes her dream and became a professional writer.

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Back matter includes an author’s note, timeline, suggested readings by Gwendolyn Brooks and bibliography to learn more about one of America’s most influential writers.

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I read the ARC for this review; the book release date is January 1, 2019. This book would be a great addition to the home, school, and library.

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Resources:

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  • For more about poetry for kids, see the Poetry4kids website.

  • A lesson plan about Gwendolyn Brooks  (grades 3-12).

  • A lesson plan for Gwendolyn Brooks (grades 5-6).

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To read lots more Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews visit author Susanna Hill’s blog.

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Happy reading!

How the Squid Got Two Long Arms by Henry Herz

How the Squid Got Two Long Arms by Henry Herz

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is…

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HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS.

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Written by: Henry Herz

Illustrated by: Luke Graber

Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. (September 2018)

Suitable for ages: 3-8

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Themes/Topics: greed, ocean animals, pourquoi story

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Brief Synopsis: In this pourquoi tale, Herz tells the story of how the squid, who once had 10 arms “all of equal length”, ended up with 2 long arms. A shivering squid, one scarf, and the need to stay warm in the cool ocean water set this tale in motion. When the squid steals clothes from other animals, he ends up learning a lesson, “if you do bad things, bad things will happen to you.”

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Why I like this book: A fun read to help kids think twice about greed! Luke Graber’s illustrations are bold, expressive, and the details are hilarious. Herz weaves in ocean vocabulary throughout the story and includes information about squid in the back matter. Elementary teachers will be able to use the story as supplemental reading in a science lesson related to ocean animals.

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Herz gives credit Jon Klassen’s THIS IS NOT MY HAT for the last spread. No spoilers here…read it to find out what happens.

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I read the digital ARC for this review, the book release date is September 4, 2018.

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Resources:

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To read lots more Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews visit author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

BE QUIET! by Ryan T. Higgins

BE QUIET! by Ryan T. Higgins

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is BE QUIET!.

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Written/illustrated by: Ryan T. Higgins

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion, April 4, 2017

Suitable for: Preschool – Kindergarten

Themes/Topics: Friendship, Frustration, Patience

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Brief Synopsis:  Higgins writes a laugh out loud story about Rupert, Thistle and Nibbs, the mice he introduced in Hotel Bruce. Rupert wants to star in a book without words that is “visually stimulating” but Thistle and Nibbs cannot stop talking about being quiet.

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Opening pages: 

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Rupert: “FINALLY! I get my very own book to star in.

This is going to be great!

 I’m going to make it a wordless book.

They are very artistic.

This book will have NO WORDS at all. Starting…NOW.”

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Why I like this book: These mice are hilarious!  Reading it aloud is so much fun. When Rupert uses vocabulary like “vishery strigulating” it is mistaken for “visually stimulating”.  “Ima-gonna-pee-a” is mistaken for “onomatopoeia” as the mice banter.

Higgins entertains readers with visual puns like on the spread when Rupert tries to explain visually stimulating means strong illustrations and the mice suddenly have the physique of body builders.

Resources:

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Happy reading!

A Perfect Picture Book Pair: SIBLINGS

A Perfect Picture Book Pair: SIBLINGS

A Perfect Picture Book Pair about sharing the spotlight with younger sibling. These stories feature the cutest DIVAS!

In STARRING CARMEN by Anika Denish and illustrated by Loren Alvarez Gómez, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017, Carmen is a showgirl! She loves an audience, the attention, and the applause! But her little brother Eduardo wants to perform with her. Can Carmen make room for him?

In FAMOUSLY PHOEBE author Lori Alexander and illustrator Aurelie Blard-Quintard, Sterling Children’s Books, 2017, Phoebe was always the family star, followed by camera-carrying “paparazzi” until the arrival of a new sibling. Can Phoebe find a new role to play?

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A Perfect Picture Book Pair or #PPBP showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience, or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature.

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Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too!

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Kids love to see their reflections in books. Follow  #WeNeedDiverseBooks  #ReadYourWorld for more selections of diverse books.

A Perfect Picture Book Pair – Facing Fear

A Perfect Picture Book Pair – Facing Fear

A Perfect Picture Book Pair about courage. These stories show it’s possible to overcome fear with the love and support of family.

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In JABARI JUMPS by author-illustrator Gaia Cornwall, Candlewick Press, 2017, a boy declares to his dad that he is ready to jump off the high diving board for the first time. Or is he?

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In THUNDER CAKE by author-illustrator Patricia Polacco, Philomel Books, 1990, a grandmother distracts her granddaughter frightened by an incoming storm by gathering all the ingredients needed to make a Thunder Cake – some from outside!

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Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience, or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature.

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Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too!

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Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!

Nina by Alice Brière-Haquet, illustrated by Bruno Liance

Nina by Alice Brière-Haquet, illustrated by Bruno Liance

Saturday, January 27, 2018 is the 5th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day!  I am honored to once again participate in this wonderful event as a book reviewer. [spacer height=”10px”]

Children want to see stories about their families, cultures, customs, traditions, histories, and religions in books. And it’s important to expose all children to literature that reflect people who are different from them. One way to introduce kids to diverse stories is through characters in picture book biographies. NINA: JAZZ LEGEND AND CIVIL-RIGHTS ACTIVIST NINA SIMONE is an introduction to the civil rights diva, High Priestess of Soul, and icon of American music, Nina Simone.

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by Alice Brière-Haquet; illustrated by Bruno Liance; translated by Julie Cormier;  published by Charlesbridge; ages 4-8

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The publisher sent a copy for me to review, however all opinions expressed are my own.

The story begins with a tender moment, a mother telling her child a story. The mother is Nina Simone, the child is her daughter. The story Nina tells is about her own life.

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To set the story in motion, Nina shares her earliest memory of learning to play the piano. She compares her blackness to the physical difference between the notes on her keyboard. The imagery is powerful.

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“The white keys are whole notes and the black keys are flats, or half notes,” my teacher explained. 

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I asked why.

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“Because that’s just the way it is.”

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Yes, that’s the way it was. White was whole. Black was half.

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Despite her experiences growing up in a country where white people and black people were treated differently, Nina didn’t allow discrimination to interfere with her dreams. When Nina was 12, she refused to sing when her mother had to give up a front row seat to white people at a concert. This early memory demonstrates how Nina learned to use her voice to fight for social justice too.

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Music has no color.  In music there is only one rhythm. Only one heart.

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The story of Nina Simone is about a talented artist and how she feels about the world in which she lives. Readers learn why and how she speaks out against injustice. This is the kind of story that would inspire children to believe they too, can use their voices to do the same.

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Free Multicultural Books for Teachers.

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Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators.

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TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm. #ReadYourWorld & #MCBD2018

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Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party!

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

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Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

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2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

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HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

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PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs

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GOLD:Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

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SILVER:Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

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BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal BoweGokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

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2018 Author Sponsors

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Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina, Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan BernardoAuthor Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne BroylesAuthor Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports QueenAuthor Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and  MFL Publishing  Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham  Author Natasha Yim

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We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

 

HER RIGHT FOOT by Dave Eggers

HER RIGHT FOOT by Dave Eggers

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is  HER RIGHT FOOT by Dave Eggers. I am often asked, “Where are you from?” Sometimes I respond, “If you tell me your immigrant story, I will tell you mine.”

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HER RIGHT FOOT is an important reminder that the majority of Americans are descendants of emigrants and immigrants. Maybe your ancestors were part of the early British-American colonies or the French and Spanish colonies as mine were. Maybe they came via the Gulf of Mexico as my great-grandfather did during the 19th century, or were greeted by the Statue of Liberty in the Atlantic upon arrival from a distant land. Regardless of your family origin, this story reminds us of the early motto of the United States, E pluribus unum, “out of many, one”.

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Written by: Dave Eggers

Illustrated by: Shawn Harris

Publisher: Chronicle Books (September 2017)

Suitable for ages: 6-9

Themes/Topics: Statue of Liberty, US History, Immigration

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Brief SynopsisDave Eggers tells the story behind the making of the Statue of Liberty. As the story progresses, readers learn the history behind this gift from France and most importantly, that it represents how the United States is a country that embraces and welcomes emigrants and immigrants.

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Opening pages“You have likely heard of a place called France.

If you have heard of France, you may have heard of the French. They are the people who live in France.

You may have also heard of something called the Statue of Liberty.

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty comes from France?

This is true. This is a factual book.”

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Why I like this book: Written in second person, the narrator addresses readers directly. The author uses a playful but instructive approach to introducing kids to fun facts about the design, construction and transportation of the Statue of Liberty. It artfully teaches the fact that our country is populated with people from many different countries and cultures from around the world and ties in the symbolism of Lady Liberty as a beacon that welcomes everyone to the United States.

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Resources:  [spacer height=”10px”]

Read other perfect picture book Friday reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

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Happy reading!

Photography – Non-fiction biographies about photographers

Photography – Non-fiction biographies about photographers

This Perfect Picture Book Pair is dedicated to two nonfiction biographies about American photographers. Both artists chose to capture current events by taking pictures of people  during important eras in our nation’s history.

Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee! by Andrea Loney, illustrated by Keith Mallet, published by Lee & Low is about photographer James Van Der Zee whose pictures depict an important era and people in American history – the Harlem Renaissance.

Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Gérard Dubois, published by Calkins Creek Books is about photographer Dorothea Lange whose pictures depict an important era and people in American history – the Great Depression.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYsY09hktc0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAeKTKMWpkM

Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience,  or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature.

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too!

Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!

Goodnight, Numbers by Danica McKellar

Goodnight, Numbers by Danica McKellar

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is Goodnight, Numbers.

What does the Hallmark channel, popular TV shows The Wonder Years, The West Wing, Dancing with the Stars and math have in common? Actress, mathematician and author Danica McKellar!

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Written by: Danica McKeller

Illustrated by:  Alicia Padrón

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers (2017)

Suitable for ages: 2-5

Themes/Topics: bedtime, numbers, counting

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Brief SynopsisGoodnight, Numbers is a bedtime book and concept book about numbers.  Using the same pattern as the classic book Goodnight Moon, children say goodnight to things familiar to them – two hands, three wheels on a tricycle, four paws on a cat. The book highlights the fact that numbers are all around us.

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Opening pages“Goodnight, one fork, Goodnight, one spoon, Goodnight, one bowl, I’ll see you soon.”

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Why I like this bookGenius! Really, the book and McKellar. The rhyme is perfect. The illustrations are soft and gentle and include diverse families. Children can see numbers are everywhere and practice counting along on every spread.

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A letter to parents, grandparents and caretakers as well as an author’s note with suggestions on how to use the book is included.

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Resources:

Read other perfect picture book Friday reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

Miss Paul and the President by Dean Robbins

Miss Paul and the President by Dean Robbins

Today’s Perfect Picture Book pick is Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote. [spacer height=”10px”]

Written by: Dean Robbins

Illustrated by:  Nancy Zhang

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers  (September 2016)

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Activism, Right to vote, Women’s suffrage, US history

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Brief Synopsis:  As a child Alice Paul saw her father go off to vote but not her mother. Why?  She studied the nation’s laws and knew they needed to change to allow women the right to vote. Alice protested in different ways and convinced other women to join her.

One day in 1914 she organized a parade that upstaged the arrival of the newly elected President, Woodrow Wilson. He asked to meet her. However the president told her he had more pressing issues to deal with that working on the women’s right to vote . But that didn’t stop Alice Paul. She persisted. Even the president’s daughter Margaret agreed with Alice Paul. Then one day in 1918, President Wilson agreed too!

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Opening pages:

Alice Paul hurried up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in a purple hat.

She wanted to make everything perfect for her parade. A parade in Washington D. C. no one would ever forget!”

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 Why I like this book This is a wonderful introduction to a female activist who was instrumental in the fight for the right to vote for women. Through scenes that are both playful and serious, Robbins tells the story of activism by describing the actions and persistence of Alice Paul. [spacer height=”10px”]

The book is a wonderful introduction to this period in history and could spark discussion about the US Constitution as well as the role of Congress in making laws. [spacer height=”10px”]

Resources

  • Scroll down the author’s website for Activities for Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote. [spacer height=”10px”]

  •  A teaching unit about women’s suffrage movement can be found from Rutgers: Teach a Girl to Lead. [spacer height=”10px”]

  • Head over to A Mighty Girl to find girl-empowering resources such as toys, movies, music and books. [spacer height=”10px”]

Read more of today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

The Littlest Streetcar by Vernon Smith

The Littlest Streetcar by Vernon Smith

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is The Littlest Streetcar by author-illustrator Vernon Smith. What a sweet story! [spacer height=”10px”]

Written & Illustrated by:  Vernon Smith

PublisherPelican Publishing Company, Inc. (February 2017)

Suitable for ages: 3 and up

Themes/Topics: Self-Concept, Self-esteem, New Orleans, Louisiana, Streetcars & Trains, Transportation

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Brief SynopsisThis is a story about a little streetcar named Charlie who wasn’t as popular as other streetcars because he was a maintenance vehicle. Convinced he was “just a worker car”, Charlie didn’t feel worthy or as important as the other streetcars until his skills helped them out of trouble. Charlie then realized he is appreciated and valuable and special, just they way he is.

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 Opening pages:

“Charlie the Streetcar liked to roll down the tracks and enjoy his day. It made him very happy, because he didn’t go out all the time like the other streetcars.

Some days, Charlie was called upon to put sand on the rails. This would create traction, so the other streetcars could move without the wheels slipping and sliding.” 

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 Why I like this book This is such an endearing story with a wonderful message. The Littlest Streetcar reminds readers that there is something special about each and every one of us. The artwork is colorful and expressive showing every character’s personality. See if you can find the spread where Vernon Smith gives a shout out to The King Cake Baby the first book we both published with Pelican; he as the illustrator.

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In the back matter Smith gives a brief history about New Orleans streetcars and his inspiration for writing the story.

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Resources

  • Learn more here about New Orleans Streetcars. And if you are ever in the city take a ride on one!

  • Read the history of trams, trolleys, and streetcars here and or visit your local train museum.

  • See this KidsHealth PreK-2 Teacher’s Guide on Self-esteem

  • Extension activities to help children develop self-esteem.

  • Extension crafts from Pinterest to help children develop self-esteem.

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Read more today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

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Happy reading!

ABC, Adoption and Me – Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

ABC, Adoption and Me – Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

This Friday we celebrate the fourth annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

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As readers, reviewers, and writers this day is an excellent way to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kidlit that address diverse topics and feature people of color. Even though census data shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team is on a mission to change all of that. You will find hundreds of book titles and reviews to read at this linky. Raising awareness of these titles will help you create a more diverse bookshelf, and make it easier to get these books into homes, schools, libraries, and into the hands of young readers. And for this reason, the co-creators of this unique event, Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom  have chosen #ReadYourWorld as the official hashtag

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 ABC, ADOPTION & ME was sent to me by authors Gayle H. Swift, and Casey A. Swift to review. Published by WRB Publishing, the book has won recognition and many awards.
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  • Named a Favorite Read of 2013 by Adoptive Families national magazine
  • Named a Notable Picture Book for 2013 by Shelf Unbound in their Dec/Jan 2014
  • Honorable Mention – Gittle List of 2014; 
  • Finalist; IPNE 2014 Book Awards (Independent Publishers of New England)
  • Honorable Mention 2014 Purple Dragonfly Book Award 
 ABC, Adoption & Me is an informational ABC concept book. Written from a child’s point of view, it skillfully addresses complex information about adoption, such as who can be adopted, feelings about birth parents, and the different ways to adopt, all explained in an age appropriate way for young children.

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Page samples:
“C is for children. You can be adopted at any age, from tiny babies to teens.”   
“M is for miss. Sometimes I miss my birth parents. I wonder if they miss me too.”  
“O is for open adoptions. In open adoptions, adoptees know their birth parents. They visit each other and spend time together – a little or a lot.” 

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The illustrations are colorful cartoon-style drawings that show an array of multicultural characters and families. What I like most about this book is that it includes the challenges and difficulties kids face when adopted, in addition to the positive experiences. It also includes an introduction to show adults how to use the book. It mentions the Adoption-attunement Quotient (AQ) which considers how adoption influences a child. The book would be a valuable resource for caregivers, parents, and schools to use when discussing adoption. And especially helpful for adoptive families who want to talk about adoption with their adopted children. The authors have provided a very informative, inclusive, and kid-friendly guide on the subject.

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Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.[spacer height=”10px”] Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

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We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

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MCBD Links to remember:

Penguin Problems by Jory John

Penguin Problems by Jory John

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is… Penguin Problems

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Written by:  Jory John

Illustrated by: Lane Smith

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (September 2016)

Suitable for ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: penguins, grumpiness, pessimism, attitude

 

Brief Synopsis: One penguin’s pleasures are another penguin’s problems. The story follows a pessimistic penguin who complains about penguin life. The snow is too cold, the sea is too salty, and waddling makes him look silly. When he meets a wise walrus who helps him look on the bright side of life, the penguin changes his attitude. Or does he? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

 

Opening pageIt’s way too early.

                               My beak is cold.

                              What’s with all the squawking you guys?

 

Why I like this book: It’s hilarious! We’ve all met, um, penguins like this. You may live with one. You may work with one.  Maybe you’re a penguin! And Lane’s illustrations capture this little penguins attitude on every page.

Even if you are not a penguin, we’ve all certainly had penguin days, um, or weeks. One thing I’ve learned when that happens is to focus on doing something for someone else. I think giving your time or talent to help another person in is an uplifting experience, whether a planned activity or a random act of kindness.

 

Resources: It’s Not Fair! Tackling Your Child’s Complaints from Parents.com gives tips about how to deal with children who complain. 

 

Whine? Not! Four Ways to Deal with Whining Children from Parents.com gives tips about how to deal with children who whine.

 

5 WAYS TO TEACH GRATITUDE IN YOUR CLASSROOM shows creative ways to incorporate gratitude in your home or classroom. 

 

Find a lesson on gratitude for middle grade students here from Heart-Mind Online. 

 

To read more reviews of today’s picks, visit author Susanna Hill’s blog here.

 

Happy reading!

Monsters!

Monsters!

The characters in these two books figure out how to deal with their monster problems in this Perfect Picture Book Pair! [spacer height=”20px”]

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Title: Monster Trouble

Author: Lane Fredrickson

Illustrator: Michael Robertson

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (September 2015)

Age Range: 4-8 years

[spacer height=”20px”] What’s a girl gotta do to rid her bedroom of monsters so she can get some sleep? Winifred Schnitzel finds the perfect solution to her monster trouble!

 [spacer height=”20px”] Title: The Monstore 

Author: Tara Lazar

Illustrator: James Burks

Publisher: Aladdin   (June 2013)

Age Range: 4-7 years

[spacer height=”20px”] What’s a boy gotta do to get rid of his pesky little sister? To solve his problem, Zach goes to the Monstore!

[spacer height=”20px”] A Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience,  or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature.

[spacer height=”20px”] Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too!

[spacer height=”20px”] Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!

Boys and Bots: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Boys and Bots: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Two boys and their bots make a perfect picture book pair! Friendship, hilarity, and science saves the day.

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TitleThe Bot that Scott Built

Author: Kim Norman

Illustrator: Agnese Baruzzi

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (August 2016)

Age Range: 3-7 years.

Boy builds bot. Classroom calamity ensues. Boy and bot save the science fair!
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Title: Boy + Bot  

Author: Ame Dyckman

Illustrator: Dan Yaccarino

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers   (April 2012)

Age Range: 2-5 years.

Boy likes bot. Bot likes boy. Friendship ensues!

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Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes but one must include diverse settings,  life experiences,  and or people in the world of  children’s literature in response to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

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Mark Twain said ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…”Reading is too!

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Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!

Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat

Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Maneki Neko: the Tale of the Beckoning Cat 

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Written by:  Susan Lendroth

Illustrated by: Kathryn Otoshi

Publisher: Shen’s Books (July 2010)

Suitable for ages: 5 and up

Themes/Topics: Japan, legend of Maneki Neko, folk tale, gratitude

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Brief Synopsis: A cat named Tama lives in a small Japanese village with a poor monk at the Kotoku Monastery. During a great storm a samurai takes cover under a tree not far from the temple. Tama is also stranded outside. When Tama is cleaning her face with her paw, the samurai sees the cat beckoning him. He moves toward the cat and the tree is hit by lightning. He believes the cat saved his life. [spacer height=”10px”]

In his gratitude, the samurai shared his wealth with the monk who then shared the riches with his village. When the cat died, the monk created the legend of Maneki Neko  “beckoning cat” or “lucky cat” to honor Tama. [spacer height=”10px”]

This is one of many versions of the Japanese legend of Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat. [spacer height=”10px”]

Opening page: You have come to the wrong place, little one, for I am as poor as you with few scraps to share,” said the monk when he first saw the cat sunning herself outside his door. Still, he smiled, scratching the thin fur behind her ears and the spot on her back, round as a child’s ball. [spacer height=”10px”]

The cat rolled, rubbing her head between the monk’s hand and the hard-packed earth, then immediately sat up to polish the dust from her face. One curled paw dipped and rose, beckoning to the monk like an old friend. [spacer height=”10px”]

Why I like this book: The artwork by Kathryn Otoshi captures the peacefulness and serenity of the landscape in many rural areas in Japan. [spacer height=”10px”]

The story is a beautiful memory of my years living and working there. These small figurines are found all over Japan and throughout Asia. Homes and businesses have Maneki Neko statues displayed with either its left or right paw raised. Businesses display cats with the left paw raised to bring in customers. A raised right paw is said to bring luck and money. The figurines come in a variety of colors that symbolize a different kind of luck. White is for happiness, gold brings money, black is for good health, and red is for love and relationships. [spacer height=”10px”]

The book introduces readers to Japanese culture and folklore.

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Photo : Sarah on Flickr

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Resources:

See Sushi Cat for concentration and memory games. [spacer height=”10px”]

See DLTK for directions for making a Maneki Neko craft Education.com and Coloring Castle for a coloring pages. [spacer height=”10px”]

See Mr. Dunn‘s site for links, PowerPoint presentations, maps, and lesson plans about Japan for students of all ages. [spacer height=”10px”]

For more reviews of today’s picks, visit author Susanna Hill’s blog here.

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Little Red Cuttlefish

Little Red Cuttlefish

Perfect Picture Book Friday is back! Today’s pick is Little Red Cuttlefish.

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Written by:  Henry Herz, Josh Herz, and Harrison Herz 

Illustrated by: Kate Gotfredson

Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. (September 2016)

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: bravery, marine life, fractured fairy tale

Brief Synopsis: Little Red takes crab cakes to Grandmother Cuttlefish’s corral, but when she gets there, the big, bad, hungry tiger shark threatens to eat them. Little Red’s quick thinking and smooth moves saves the day!

Life under the sea is captured beautifully in the colorful and detailed illustrations by Kate Gotfredson. The movement and vibrant depiction of marine life brought back many fond memories of my experiences diving and snorkeling around the world.

Why I like this book: Little Red Cuttlefish is a fun, lively aquatic retelling of the classic Little Red Riding hood tale. Ocean references and active language is used throughout the story. The author’s note includes information about cuttlefish and tiger sharks and provides online resources for further reading. A nice addition for any home, elementary school, or classroom library.

Resources: The BBC, NOVA, PBS, etc. has cool videos on cuttlefish here.

The book also includes links to learn more about oceans and sea life from Oceana, Animal Planet, National Geographic and many others.

For more reviews of today’s picks, visit author Susanna Hill’s blog here.

Happy reading! Read the rest of this entry

Catherine’s Pascha by Charlotte Riggle

Catherine’s Pascha by Charlotte Riggle

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Catherine’s Pascha – A Celebration of Easter in the Orthodox Church

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Written by: Charlotte Riggle

Illustrated by: R. J. Hughes

Publisher: Phoenix Flair Press (2015)

Suitable for ages: 6 and up

Themes/Topics: Pascha (Easter), Orthodox Christian Easter, Eastern Orthodox Church, religious celebrations, religious diversity, cultures from around the world

 

Brief Synopsis: Through the eyes of a young girl named Catherine, readers learn about Pascha [PAH-ska], the Orthodox Christian Easter service celebrated in communities around the world. Catherine is determined to stay awake on Holy Saturday this year so she can experience the Pascha (Easter) service at her church. In beginning of the story, while Catherine naps, the family is busy with preparations for the feast that follows the service on Easter Sunday. After they leave for the service, the author takes us inside the church to experience the details of this special celebration. The illustrations show different churches from around the world, in all seven continents, where Pascha has been celebrated – yes, even in Antarctica!

In addition to the story, the author includes back matter, a glossary and Frequently Asked Questions pages for easy reference.

 

Opening pages:  Mom says I have to go to bed at my regular time, even though it’s Holy Saturday.

 

“But, Mom!” I say. “It’s going to be time to get up in just a little while!”

 

“All the more reason for you to get a little nap,” she says, and she turns off the light.

 

Well, Mom can make me go to bed, but she can’t make me go to sleep. I’m going to stay awake until it’s time to go to church.”

 

Why I like this book: Catherine’s Pascha is a lovely story packed with details about a special annual event still celebrated today. Children will certainly identify with the child centered character of Catherine the author created. Given I was raised Roman Catholic, this story brought back many memories of Christmas midnight mass, including the excitement of wanting to stay awake. Although our Easter was celebrated in a daytime service, just as Catherine and her family, we celebrated Easter by wearing new clothing, and eating special food after fasting for Lent.

This story would be a good addition to any collection of books on world religions, Orthodox traditions, and Orthodox Pascha (Easter).

 

Resources:

See the Charlotte Riggle’s website which is filled with further reading, resources, activities, and more.

Listen to Charlotte Riggle’s interview by Bobby Maddex with Ancient Faith Ministries podcast.

 

Check out author Susanna’s Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page here to read more of today’s book reviews.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Sewing Stories by Barbara Herkert

Sewing Stories by Barbara Herkert

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist Sewing Stories

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Written by: Barbara Herkert

Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (October 2015)

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: folk-art, quilting, community, survival, determination, resilience, US history, women’s history, slavery, emancipation, Civil War

 

Brief Synopsis: This story is about the life of Harriet Powers who is not well known, yet whose legacy of early African-American folk art is displayed in the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Even though she lived her early life enslaved and remained poor throughout her adult life, Harriet believed, “You gotta take what you’ve been given and make something out of it.” And that she did.

 

After enslaved women labored in the fields and or made textiles for the plantation, they used their craft to create story quilts. Over time, sewing became a source of pride and income for Harriet. I imagine the craft had to have helped strengthen her community during the dark times of unfathomable oppression while living either enslaved or free.

 

Given the recent discussion about the picture book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington, some question why Sewing Stories has not received the same criticism for “smiling slaves”. In my opinion, this book includes facts in the sidebars that touch upon a shameful part of US history while at the same time weaves a story of hope, resilience, determination, and community, despite the oppression. This author does take liberties in a couple sidebars. In this example she intuits, “For a few daylight hours, they might have felt free.” Although sewing and quilting was done for the master, Harriet and her community made the craft their own. After emancipation she used her skills to eventually earn enough to help buy a small farm. The images of characters smiling shows a universal human emotion. Yes, the enslaved had the ability to feel those same human emotions of joy, pride, and hope too. This story is not only about individual pride, it is representative of the grit and struggle people like Harriet demonstrated.

 

Opening pages:  “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.”

 

Why I like this book: I recently had a discussion with a fellow writer about depicting slavery in picture books. She told me her 5-year-old mentioned something about slaves one day. When probed, he said, “They ran away. Brave people helped them run away and they were safe.”

 

In a sense, Harriet ran. She ran toward developing a craft that helped her contribute to her family’s income, create a sense of self-worth, and hope for herself, and her community. At the end of the story, Harriet had to sell one of her quilts after falling on hard times. An art teacher named Jennie Smith purchased it, recorded her story, and kept her promise to exhibit it. Jennie was brave.

 

As writers, we will make mistakes despite our good intentions. But there are many stories that need to be told. For this bright 5-year-old eager to learn, we must continue to create stories that help him understand sensitive and complex topics. And that will take courage.

 

Resources:

 

*School & Library Journal listed other picture books that celebrate African-Americans in the Arts here.

 

*KidLitTV shared Librarian  Scott Woods’ list of diverse books –28 Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball can be found here.

 

*Lee & Low’s collection of books to celebrate Black History Monty can be found here.

 

*Addressing the topic of slavery in the elementary classroom can be found here.

 

Check out author Susanna’s Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page here.

 

Happy Reading!