Category Archives: Children’s Books

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…

A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS

Written by: Alice Faye Duncan

Illustrated by: Xia Gordon

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (January 2019)

Suitable for ages: 5-8

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

Brief Synopsis:

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.

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.

Why I like this book:

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

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.

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.

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.

Resources:

  • 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).

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

Happy reading!

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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…

HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS.

Written by: Henry Herz

Illustrated by: Luke Graber

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

Suitable for ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: greed, ocean animals, pourquoi story

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.”

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.

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.

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

Resources:

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

Happy reading!

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BE QUIET! by Ryan T. Higgins

BE QUIET! by Ryan T. Higgins

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

 

Written/illustrated by: Ryan T. Higgins

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion, April 4, 2017

Suitable for: Preschool – Kindergarten

Themes/Topics: Friendship, Frustration, Patience

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.

 

Opening pages: 

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.”

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:

Happy reading!

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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?

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.

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. Follow  #WeNeedDiverseBooks  #ReadYourWorld for more selections of diverse books.

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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.

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?

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!

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!

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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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

I asked why.

“Because that’s just the way it is.”

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

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.

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

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.


Free Multicultural Books for Teachers.

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

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

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!

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.

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

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs

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

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

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

2018 Author Sponsors

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

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.

 

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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.”

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”.


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

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.

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.”

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.

Resources:  

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

Happy reading!

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Reading for Research: Author Mentor Text Studies

Reading for Research: Author Mentor Text Studies

It’s been a joy to be a part of the Reading For Research Month team of bloggers that study stellar picture books. Check out the blog for loads of informative and  inspirational posts.

I am looking forward to the 2018 ReFoReMo. Carrie Charlie Brown and Kirsti Call always plan a great month for all who read, write, and study picture books. Hope you will join us in March.

Happy New Year!

Here are the 2017 posts of authors I chose to study.

November 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Study: Barbara Rosenstock

October 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Shutta Crum

September 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Study: Kevin Henkes

August 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Deborah Underwood

July 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Susanna Hill

June 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Jeff Mack

May 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Kim Norman

April 2017 Post ReFoReMo Reflection

Reading for Research: ReFoReMo Day 18: Keila Dawson Takes the Challenge

February 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Doreen Cronin

January 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Patricia Polacco

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King Cake Baby Goodreads Giveaway

King Cake Baby Goodreads Giveaway

Think you can catch dat baby? Enter the Goodreads Giveaway to find out!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The King Cake Baby by Keila Dawson

The King Cake Baby

by Keila Dawson

Giveaway ends January 09, 2018.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

“No mon ami, you can’t catch me, I’m the King Cake Baby!”

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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.

 

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!

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Arturo and the Bienvenido Feast by Anne Broyles

Arturo and the Bienvenido Feast by Anne Broyles

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is Arturo and the Bienvendio Feast. Arturo and his grandmother, Abue Rosa, return in this sequel to Arturo and the Navidad Birds. This is the  perfect month to share a story about family and food. Every November families gather to give thanks for one another and share a Thanksgiving feast. Children will enjoy reading about Arturo and his family’s feast.

Written by: Anne Broyles

Illustrated byKE Lewis 

Translator: Maru Cortes

Publisher: Pelican Publishing Co., Inc. (August 2017)

Suitable for ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: family, Latin American culture culture & food

Brief Synopsis:  Arturo and Abue Rosa plan a special feast to welcome Michael, the fiancé of his aunt, Tía Inés.  Their menu includes Pupusas, curtido, fried plantains, chocolate almond cake and more. While cooking Abue Rosa gets a headache so she takes a nap. But Arturo can’t wake her up and the guests are coming. What can he do? Arturo saves the day of course!

Opening pages“Arturo stole a glance at his grandmother as he popped a handful of shredded cheese in his mouth.” 

“Arturo echó una miradita a su abuela mientras se metía un bocado de queso rallad a la boca.” 

“Leave some for the pupusas.” Abue Rosa threw the dough into the mixing bowl – thwack! – and massaged the masa into a smooth ball.” 

“Deja un poco para las pupuses.” Abue Rosa ventó la masa al tazón – jzas! – masajendo la masa hata formar una bala suave.” 

Why I like this book: The tender relationship between Arturo and his grandmother continues in this sequel. Reading about Arturo and Abue Rosa reminded me of the special bond shared between my son and my mother when they cooked Louisiana Creole Filé Gumbo together. Food and family are important to culture and celebrations. Anne Broyles brings both together in this sweet story told in English and Spanish. In addition to recipes for Curtido (slaw) and Pupusas (stuffed, fried corn cakes), there is an author’s note. Also included is a glossary with phonetic pronunciations and definitions for the Spanish words used in the story.

The illustrations are warm, and earthy colors represent Latin American culture.

Resources:  

  • Lu and Bean Read podcast 11/16/2017 interview with author Anne Broyles.

  • Mr. Donn’s Free lessons, games, presentations about Latin America.

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

Happy reading!

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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!


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

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.

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

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.

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

Resources:

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

Happy reading!

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FRIENDS (Mostly) by Barbara Joosse

FRIENDS (Mostly) by Barbara Joosse

It’s back to school time! So today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is FRIENDS (Mostly). As new students start school and old students return to new classrooms, children will make new friends, some will lose old friends all will hopefully learn what friendship means and how to keep them intact.

Written by: Barbara Joosse

Illustrated by:  Tomaso Milian

Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 2010

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Friendship, Jealousy, Kindness and Caring

Brief SynopsisThis book is about how two best friends make up when one allows jealousy to tear them apart.

Opening pages:

Ruby and Henry, 

Henry and Ruby,

Usually we’re friends, but sometimes we’re unfriends.

It all depends.

Why I like this book The title tells all, you can be friends (mostly) and you can be unfriends too. Friendships often hit rough patches and kids need to find a way to work through those times. When Ruby is teased because she can’t float like her best friend Henry, she lashes out at him. And then she decides to walk away from their friendship. In the end, the two friends work out how to remain friends. A wonderful lesson for showing children what friendship looks like and how friendships work. And even when bad feelings come between friends, sometimes only one act of kindness can save a relationship.

Resources

To read other Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews from today, head over to author Susanna Hill’s page

Happy reading!

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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!

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

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.

 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.” 

 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.

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

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.

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

Happy reading!

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Bridget and the Books Giveaway

Bridget and the Books Giveaway

Eh la bas! A young kidlit blogger at Bridget and the Books is hosting a giveaway of THE KING CAKE BABY. Run to her blog and comment on her post to enter. Last day to enter is February 17th. Good luck!

Happy Mardi Gras! 🎶🎺🎵🎷🎭🎶👑

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BunnyBear – A Perfect Picture Book Friday Review

BunnyBear – A Perfect Picture Book Friday Review

I am fortunate to have read an advanced copy of BunnyBear, my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday. What a delightful story!

Written by:  Andrea J. Loney

Illustrated by: Carmen Saldaña

PublisherAlbert Whitman & Company (January 31, 2017)

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: bears, identity, being yourself, friendship, acceptance

Brief Synopsis: What should a bear do when he feels like a bunny? And other bears called him odd. He wiggled his nose, nibbled on strawberries, and bounced through the forest of course!

Author Andrea Loney tells the story about a bear who did what felt natural because “It made him feel free and light and happy.” Even though others did not always understand, Bunnybear finds out he is not the only animal whose identity is at odds with social norms. Readers will celebrate the importance of staying true to who you are on the inside, despite what you look like on the outside.

Opening pages:

“There was once a bear who was more than a bear.

Sure, he was shaggy and stompy like most bears.  And he could be loud-very loud-if he wanted to.

But when he was alone, he loved to bounce through  he forest, wiggle his nose, and nibble on strawberries. It made him feel free and light and happy.”

 Why I like this book: BunnyBear is a wonderful story to introduce kids to the idea that it’s more  important to know who you are, be yourself and be happy rather than try to live in a way that doesn’t feel right to please others.

Being different can be difficult and lonely for kids. This story gives them hope. They learn that being true to your natural self means you don’t have to be alone. And somewhere there are friends who will accept you for who you are. The theme of this story is “Just be you.”

Resources: K-8 Classroom article, Express Yourself! Encouraging Kids to Be Themselves

Here is an article from kidshealth.org about self-esteem.

The website All Done Monkey lists these picture books about being yourself.

No Time for Flashcards picture books about being different and learning to be yourself.

Susanna Hill’s book lists on Acceptance/Tolerance and Be Yourself/Individuality.

Chapter Two “I’m Special” and Chapter Six “I Like Myself” from author Vivian Kirkfield‘s book Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking has many activities appropriate activities.

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

Happy reading!

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Penguin Problems by Jory John

Penguin Problems by Jory John

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

penguinproblems1

 

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!

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Monsters!

Monsters!

The characters in these two books figure out how to deal with their monster problems in this Perfect Picture Book Pair! 

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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

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!

  Title: The Monstore 

Author: Tara Lazar

Illustrator: James Burks

Publisher: Aladdin   (June 2013)

Age Range: 4-7 years

What’s a boy gotta do to get rid of his pesky little sister? To solve his problem, Zach goes to the Monstore!

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!

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Books by the Banks 2016 Highlights

Books by the Banks 2016 Highlights

Books by the Banks 2016 had a stellar line-up of authors and presentations.

Bookseller Alia Jones, authors Zetta Elliott, Greg Leitich Smith and Children’s Librarian Sam Bloom discuss the state of diversity in publishing and ideas to close the gap.

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These guys! Laughed out loud the entire presentation with author-illustrators Greg Pizolli, Bob Shea, and Loren Long. Fun session where they shared personal experiences as well as a bit about their creative process.

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Authors Kerrie Hollihan, Brandon Marie Miller, Michelle Houts, Nancy Poe Pimm, Mary Kay Carson, Carmella Van Vleet, and Jen Swanson talk about science and history – and women in science and history!

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Ohio creatives Tim Bowers, Lana Wayne Koehler, Gloria Adams, Will Hillenbrand and Christina Wald.

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What a fun and creative day! Until next year…

Read and write on!

 

 

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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.

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.

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

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

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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

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. 

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. 

This is one of many versions of the Japanese legend of Maneki Neko, the beckoning cat. 

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. 

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. 

Why I like this book: The artwork by Kathryn Otoshi captures the peacefulness and serenity of the landscape in many rural areas in Japan. 

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. 

The book introduces readers to Japanese culture and folklore.

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Photo : Sarah on Flickr

Resources:

See Sushi Cat for concentration and memory games. 

See DLTK for directions for making a Maneki Neko craft Education.com and Coloring Castle for a coloring pages. 

See Mr. Dunn‘s site for links, PowerPoint presentations, maps, and lesson plans about Japan for students of all ages. 

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

Happy reading!

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Finding what makes you special: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Finding what makes you special: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

What an excellent and extraordinary perfect picture book pair! Both books show the importance of fitting in by finding out what makes you special.

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Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty (Author), Julia Sarcone-Roach  (Illustrator)

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers (May 2016)

Age Range: 4-8 years.

Ed finds out exactly what makes him special in an exceptional family.

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Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison (Author/Illustrator)

Published by Dial Books (February 2014)

Age Range: 3-5 years.

Jane learns ordinary friendship, kindness, and loyalty is what makes her extraordinary.

A 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.

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

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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

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A Perfect Picture Book Pair – Girls Rule Dress-up

A Perfect Picture Book Pair – Girls Rule Dress-up

What a fun perfect picture book pair about little girls who love to dress-up. But looking pretty is only one part.

Girls

Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer (Author)

Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Illustrator)

Published by Sterling (August 2016)

Age Range: 4-8 years.

Mary is a bit of a fashionista but she won’t let her goals interfere with her fun! The ending is delightful.

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Every-day Dress-up by Selina Alko (Author/Illustrator)

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 12011)

Age Range: 3-7 years.

Do all girls dress like princesses? Not this one. She dresses like famous female role models. 

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 helps 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!

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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!

 

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