Category Archives: Children’s Books

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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Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month

Anyone celebrating Women’s History Month should take a look at the blog post here from Kid World Citizen. It’s an international celebration of women around the world! Link your titles to her blog.

There are so many wonderful children’s books, including picture book biographies about women and the contributions they have made to our nation and the world. This list happens to feature female scientists.

When I think my mother was born the same year women gained the right to vote in the United States, I really do think, “We’ve come a long way baby!”

 

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World Read Aloud Day 2016

World Read Aloud Day 2016

‘Twas a great World Read Aloud Day, er, WEEK! There were so many teachers and librarians requesting visits that I wanted to accommodate them all. I couldn’t, but I did end up scheduling visits over three days instead of just one. The King Cake Baby was a fun B.A., Baby Ambassador for the city of New Orleans!

Slide1Students in kindergarten through 3rd grade, were well prepared with great questions. One librarian surprised the kids on camera- they were all going back to their classrooms to eat King Cake. Fun! One kindergarten class showed up wearing beads, and they made masks too. And students danced with me to some Mardi Gras music. What a wonderful way to share New Orleans and a beloved tradition.

The educator in me did sneak in a little geography lesson during Skype visits. When visiting with a school in Minnesota, first graders were quick to identify their state and knew the Mississippi River starts there. We traced the path of the river down south to Louisiana. In one spread where the baby is running toward the Mississippi River Bridge in New Orleans, I always ask students if they think the baby will travel over or under it, and where they think he’s going. For the kids in Minnesota, the King Cake Baby was going to hop on a boat and head north, of course!

Bridge & map capture

Until next year!

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016

Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Wednesday, January 27th!

official poster by Robert Trujillo
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  • TWITTER PARTY! Diversity discussion during #ReadYourWorld Twitter Party from 9-10pm EST.

  • BOOK GIVEAWAY every 5 minutes during the Twitter Party!

  • BLOGGERS BOOK REVIEWS: find links to reviews here (MCCBD blog)

  • TEACHERS: Giving away more than 600 diversity books to classrooms provided by the Junior Library Guild. Details here.

  • MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN’S BOOKLIST:  find an extensive list of diversity books and extension activities for kids sorted by country, holiday, ethnicity, genre, and age group here.

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PLEASE SUPPORT MCCBD #ReadYourWorld SPONSORS:

Platinum Sponsors:

Story Quest BooksWisdom Tales PressLil’ Libros

Gold Sponsors:

Candlewick PressTori Nighthawk: Don’t Judge A Bird By its Feathers

Silver Sponsors:

Lee & Low BooksChronicle BooksCapstone Young ReadersChina Institute.orgTuttle PublishingNY Media Works, LLC/KidLit TV

Bronze Sponsors:

Jacqueline WoodsonPomelo BooksPapa Lemon BooksGoosebottom Books LLCAuthor Gleeson Rebello, M.D .,  Shout Mouse PressMahvash ShaheghLive Oak Media

Honorary Sponsor: 

The Junior Library Guild

Author Sponsors:

 Lisa YeeJoseph BruchacJacqueline JulesValerie TrippDebbie DadeyTodd DeBonisMaría de Lourdes VictoriaSherrill CannonPack-n-Go Girls®D.G. DriverJanet BallettaJ. J. ParsonsCharlotte RiggleMiranda PaulLeza LowitzAnn BerlakMarti DumasCarl GundestrupCarole P. RomanCathleen BurnhamHeidi Smith HydeGreg RansomKeila DawsonStephanie WorkmanGloria D. GonsalvesStephen HodgesQuentin HolmesJeaninne Escallier KatoKarl BeckstrandFrancesca FostP.J. LaRueFrancesca ForrestDiana Lee SantamariaTerrie HoopsCerece Rennie MurphyZ. AltugHoliday House PublishingMaria DismondyMichael SmithIcy SmithAphrodyi AntoineElsa TakaokaErik NielMarimba BooksKaren Leggett AbourayaShout Mouse PressKaneMiller EDC PublishingShweta AggarwalDurga Yael BernhardLorRonCoHeather GoetzDania Ramos

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Ask Me by Bernard Waber

Ask Me by Bernard Waber

Ask Me is my pick for today’s for Perfect Picture Book Friday review!

Written by: Bernard Waber

Illustrated by: Suzy Lee

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (July 14, 2015)

Suitable for ages: 4-7

Themes/Topics: parent-child relationship, father-daughter bonding, curiosity, patience, wonder

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Brief Synopsis:  “Ask me what I like,” a little girl asks her father as they take a stroll through the neighborhood on a cool fall day. And so he asks, “What do you like?” The child answers, the father sometimes probe for more information, and they continue the dialogue over and over throughout the book. You can feel the child’s energy as she provides list after list of things she likes each time she sees something different. This is a wonderful story that shows the special parent-child bond between a father and his daughter.

Opening pages:

Ask me what I like,”

“What do you like?”

“I like dogs.”

“I like cats.”

 “I like turtles.”

Why I like this book: This story captures a precious moment in time every parent is bound to recognize. It reminds us of the innocence of childhood and all the wonders in the world they see, even when on a simple walk.

The illustrations are delightful and colorful. A lovely read aloud and bedtime book.

To read other Perfect Picture Book Friday picks from today, head over to author Susanna Hill’s page here. Check out her new blog for the New Year!

Happy reading!

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Halloween PerfectPictureBookPair 2

Halloween PerfectPictureBookPair 2

A #WeNeedDiverseBooks Perfect Picture Book Pair for Halloween!

Halloween PPBP

Title:  Los Gatos Black on Halloween
Written by: Marisa Montes
Illustrated by: Yuyi Morales
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (August 22, 2006)
Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Los Gatos Black on Halloween is a spooky bilingual Halloween poem that introduces young readers to spooky Spanish words. 

Amazon copy: Under October’s luna, full and bright, the monsters are throwing a ball in the Haunted Hall. Las brujascome on their broomsticks. Los muertos rise from their coffins to join in the fun. Los esqueletos rattle their bones as they dance through the door. And the scariest creatures of all aren’t even there yet!

Title:  Bone Dog
Written/Illustrated by: Eric Rohmann
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press; First Edition edition (July 19, 2011)
Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Bone Dog is a touching story that deals with the reality of death when a pet nears the end of life and makes a promise to his best friend.

Amazon copy: Gus doesn’t feel like doing much after his dog Ella dies. He doesn’t really even feel like dressing up for Halloween. But when Gus runs into a bunch of rowdy skeletons, it’s Ella–his very own Bone dog–who comes to his aid, and together they put those skeletons in their place. A book about friendship, loss, and a delightfully spooky Halloween.

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The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Written by: Chris Barton 

Illustrated by: Don Tate

Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (April 1, 2015)

Suitable for ages: 7 and up

Themes/Topics: US History, Reconstruction, Civil Rights, Mississippi politics, racism, slavery, perseverance, hope, courage, inspiration

      Born: 1847 – Died: 1939
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Brief Synopsis: The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is a picture book biography about the inspirational life of a man born enslaved, freed as a teenager after the start of the Civil War, and 10 years later elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives during Reconstruction.

John Roy’s father, Patrick Lynch, was an Irish overseer, his mother enslaved on the plantation where they lived. Patrick planned to save enough money to purchase and ”own” his family since by law he could not free them. But in 1849, when his son was a mere a toddler, Patrick became ill. He entrusted a friend to free his family in case of his death, but instead this man sold them to a new owner.

Opening pages:  John Roy Lynch had an Irish father and an enslaved mother. By the law of the South before the Civil War, that made John Roy and his brother half Irish and all slave.”

Why I like this book: Let me start by saying I am a genealogy addict which involves a lot of historical research. And for that reason, I love this book!

Barton does a phenomenal job recounting the life of this extraordinary man who overcame so much hostility and oppression to become a justice of the peace and a state representative in Mississippi during a time when laws marginalized people of color. The author’s research is impeccable. The use of primary documents gives us a sense of the man John Roy was and brings readers into the world in which he lived. Barton does not sugarcoat the history nor the inhumane treatment a select group of people suffered. He does give us a history of how one man was able to rise above the fray despite insurmountable obstacles.

The watercolor illustrations by Don Tate carries the lengthy story helping young readers digest these harsh periods in US history.

This book is well done all around and for this reason it is a must read for all ages, not just kids. Many citizens have not learned the history presented in this book. The historical note, timeline, author’s note and illustrator’s note are supplements that add even more to this remarkable story. And of course it is a treasure because -#weneeddiversebooks that are this well researched and written.

“When every man, woman, and child can feel and know that his, her, and their rights are fully protected by the strong and generous and grateful Republic, then we can all truthfully say that this beautiful land or ours, over which the Star Spangled Banner so triumphantly waves, is, in truth and in fact, the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

John Roy Lynch

United States House of Representatives 1876

Congressional Record, vol. 2, Part 5, 43rd Congress, 1st Session (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1876), pp. 4782-4786.

Resources:

Click here to find more books and facts about John Roy Lynch.

Click here for the educator’s guide.

Click here to see the book trailer.

For more of today’s book reviews, click here go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

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PiBoIdMo – Picture Book Idea Month 2015

PiBoIdMo – Picture Book Idea Month 2015
The most wonderful time of the year for picture book writers is almost here.

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PiBoIdMo or Picture Book Idea Month created by author Tara Lazar, is an annual writing challenge scheduled during the full month of November. Beginning on the first day of the month, participants will receive daily inspirational blog posts and writing exercises by picture book authors, illustrators, and editors. The only thing that would make this event more awesome would be the chance to win prizes. Wait. What? Yes, there will be prizes!

 

The goal is to generate 30 ideas to deposit into a writer’s picture book idea bank. We all know the first step in the process of writing a picture book is coming up with a story idea. And we often hear what Mark Twain said, “There is no such thing as a new idea.” If that is true, how are we supposed to come up with something original that an editor or agent will consider book worthy? One way is to spin and twist old ideas to create new intriguing combinations.

 

Here are a few great examples:

 

Fractured Fairy Tales
Little Red is a fairy tale figure skater who needs to win a paired skating competition. She needs a partner. The other characters are taken. But there’s one with big eyes, sharp teeth, and furry paws available.  Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar
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Bullying
Ginny Louise is a new addition to a class of troublemakers who is so cheerful she is unable to find fault in any of her cranky classmates. And that ultimately changes their bullying attitudes.  Ginny Louise and the School Showdown by Tammy Sauer
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Rivalry
Leftovers Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast engage in a race around other foods in the refrigerator to get to that last drop of maple syrup.  Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk
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Bedtime
Little pirate Ned will do anything to avoid bedtime. He convinces Papa Pirate there are things he must do before settling in for the night.  Pirate’s Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime by Marcie Wessels
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Determination
Percy the Pug finds the perfect puddle but the puddle pigs who inhabit it won’t share. Puddle Pug by Kim Norman
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Each one of these books started with an idea, perhaps a random thought, or a “what if” question. Reading and listening to interviews about authors often give us the story behind their story idea. And you will be surprised how, when, where, and under what circumstances those ideas came to them. That is what PiBoIdMo is about. Finding out what works for others may just work for you too.

 

There will be days during the month when ideas just won’t show up. Like they’re playing a game of ”keep away”.

 

And you’ll feel like this.

 

Hang in there.

 

Other days you’ll be thrilled when they come.
Here’s my PiBoIdMo Pledge.
  1. I will register on Sunday October 25, 2015 by entering my name in the registration blog post.
  2. I will assemble all necessary tools to be available 24/7 for 30 days of November.
  3. I will read every post, comment daily when possible, and complete the exercises.
  4. I will record all my ideas, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  5. I will not beat my head against the computer, but I will do a jig when I think of a story idea.
Hope to see you in November, on Tara’s blog or on the PiBoIdMo Facebook page!

 

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Books by the Banks Book Festival

Books by the Banks Book Festival

Books by the Banks Book Festival proved once again to be a blast! On a beautiful Saturday in the Queen City authors, illustrators, writers, and readers of all ages gathered at the largest annual literary festival in Cincinnati.

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My favorite part of this year’s event was watching picture book author-illustrators showcase their talent inspiring kids with their art. Crazy talent! Watch author-illustrator Jeff Mack below share how he draws the characters of Bear and Skunk from his picture books Who Wants A Hug and Who Needs A Bath? His advice – start small!

And Tad Hills, well known for his books about the dog Rocket (and has a real dog named Rocket) demonstrated how to create art using the letter “M” a young audience member drew. This was definitely ”art in action”!

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In addition to meeting some awesome creatives, there were sessions offered for those interested in learning more about the craft and or the business aspect of writing and publishing. A special moment for me was meeting Tim Bowers, the illustrator of the picture book Pirate’s Lullaby: Mutiny At Bedtime. Me matey, Marcie Wessels is the author.

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These Ohio SCBWI mighty girl authors Mary Kay Carson, Kathy Cannon WiechmanMichelle Houts, and illustrator Christina Wald showcased their publications and talent!

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The King Cake Baby and I walked the halls of the convention center again meeting many picture book characters who came to the event.

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Until next year! Keep reading, keep writing, or both!

 

 

 

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Amazon Giveaway #2

Amazon Giveaway #2

The baby is on the run again. CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN! 

#‎AmazonGiveaway #2! Click here to enter for a chance to win a copy of The King Cake Baby. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

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Amazon Book Giveaway, Ends 09/21/15

Amazon Book Giveaway, Ends 09/21/15

That ended quickly!! Check back tomorrow. New giveaway will be announced!!

Catch him if you can! #AmazonGiveaway! Enter here for a chance to win a copy of The King Cake Baby. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends September 21, 2015!

If you’ve ever had king cake, you know a tiny plastic baby belongs inside the cake. But what if the baby runs away before he’s hidden inside the cake?

The King Cake Baby is a tasty re-telling of the Gingerbread Man tale, told New Orleans style! The runaway baby is chased by an old Creole lady and an old Creole man, a praline lady in Jackson Square, and a waiter at Café du Monde. But can he outrun a clever baker?

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International Dot Day 2015

International Dot Day 2015

International Dot Day is celebrated every September 15-ish.

The motivation for this annual event came from the story about a girl from The Dot, a picture book written by Peter H. Reynolds. Vashti is reluctant to participate in art class because she believes she can’t draw. But through her teacher’s encouragement, Vashti learns she can. The idea is to challenge what we may think about ourselves or what others may think about us and express our own creativity.

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To date, Dot Day creator T.J. Shay has taken this message of inspiration and the celebration of creativity to 3.6 million participants in 113 countries. Listen to T.J speak with librarians on this ISTE Librarians Network twitter chat .
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Register here and download a free educator’s guide. Collaborate and share using facebookSkype in the Classroom or twitter using hashtags #DotDay and #makeyourmark. Everybody can make a dot-ish – so…

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Check out the amazing Celibri dots made by illustrators. Authors made them too! I made one. But first, like Vashti I thought, “Look at those beautiful dots, I can’t draw!” Then I remembered what Vashti’s teacher said, “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” I made a mark, learned new skills, and this where it took me. It’s my dot and there’s no other like it.

Who Dot FINAL signed

 Now everyone join in and sing the Dot Day Song. Then go out there and make your mark!

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Dot Day Partners

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Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

Title:  Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans 

Written by: Phil Bildner

Illustrated by: John Parra

Publisher: Chronicle Books (August 4, 2015)

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: Hurricane Katrina, spirit of New Orleans, empathy, community, resilience, courage, recovery, pride, joie de vivre

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Brief Synopsis: This story is based on the life of a friendly, hardworking, energetic, fun loving man named Cornelius Washington, a trash collector in the French Quarter. He did his job well taking pride in keeping the streets clean. When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans the trash pickup became a monumental task. But that didn’t stop Cornelius because he was a monumental man. Everyone he greeted on his morning route pitched in, and people came from all over the United States to help.

“Cornelius rose. He dried his eyes. For his spirit and will were waterproof.”

Opening pages:  “In the Quarter; there worked a man known in New Orleans as Marvelous Cornelius.”

“Mornin’.” He saluted the sliver-haired man with the Times-Picayune tucked under his arm.

“Greetings.” He waved to the couple with the baby on the balcony.

“Ma’am.” He nodded to the woman shanking rugs out at her front window.”

Why I like this book: Phil Bildner creates a tall tale depicting the life of Cornelius Washington into a modern American folk hero. The art of John Parra is authentic; filled with humanity and emotion. Neither the story nor the art shy away from the pain suffered as a result of the storm. Yet it brilliantly captures that joie de vivre of the people and New Orleans culture. It saddens me to know that Cornelius Washington died at age 48, a few years after the storm, and before the story was written. Many of us who are native New Orleanians have untold stories that include our own personal heroes during that difficult time who showed unbridled courage.  And there were those from afar who came to help that showed tremendous kindness. Thanks to Phil Bildner and John Parra we are reminded that they too are Marvelous Cornelius.

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Resources:

Click here to read an interview with the author  Phil Bildner and learn about Cornelius Washington

Click here to read the Time-Picayune story about Cornelius Washington by Katy Reckdahl.

Click here to hear Cornelius Washington.

Click here to see the book.

Click here for the teacher’s guide.

Click here for Facts for Kids.

Click here for Education World lessons on hurricanes.

Click here for more about hurricanes from Science for Kids.

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A Storm Called Katrina

A Storm Called Katrina

Title: A Storm Called Katrina

5

Written by:  Myron Uhlberg

Illustrated by: Colin Bootman

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (August 1, 2011)

Suitable for ages: 4 and up

Themes/Topics: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, natural disasters, family, community, survival, compassion, empathy, courage

Brief Synopsis: A Storm Called Katrina is the story of a family’s experiences with Hurricane Katrina told through the voice of Louis Daniel, a 10-year-old boy who dreamed of one day playing his trumpet like Louis Armstrong. Like many in the city, the family prepared for the storm but did not evacuate. The day after the storm the water began to rise and the family was forced to leave their home. They left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing but Louis took his horn. They were rescued and ended up in the Superdome.  Although the family survived the flood waters, the conditions in the stadium were harsh and dangerous. When his father went out to find water for the family, Louis and his mother, feeling unsafe, moved to different seats. Fearing his father would not be able to find them, Louis ran down to the football field to play his trumpet. The family is reunited when his father hears him play.

Opening Pages: “HURRICANE’S COMING, Baby,” Mama said.

“I’m not a baby anymore, Mama. I turned ten last month.”

“Doesn’t matter how old you are, Louis Daniel. You’ll always be my baby,” she said. “Hush now and go to bed.”

The wind rattled my window something fierce. When the storm howled louder, I covered my ears and hid under the blanket.”

Why I like this book: Author Myron Uhlberg writes a moving story about a tramatizing event that shows how one family was able to navigate and survive a natural disaster. However it is presented in a way that is not too scary for children and is rather touching. Illustrator Colin Bootman adds to the story with his authentic images of New Orleans at the time of the flood. I especially like the page where sunlight beaming through the torn off roof of the Superdome shines on Louis as he plays his trumpet hoping his father will hear his music. This book is a wonderful tribute to family, community, and survival.

Resources:

Click here to find classroom discussions questions about A Storm Called Katrina.

Click here for Facts for Kids.

Click here for Education World lessons on hurricanes.

Click here for Scholastic site. Hurricane Katrina for upper primary and middle school kids.

Click here for a wealth of articles and lessons for kids from TeacherVision

Click here for more about hurricanes from Science for Kids.

In My Heart: A Child’s Hurricane Katrina Story on YouTube.

Children of the Storm on YouTube

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Coming Home by Greg Ruth

Coming Home by Greg Ruth

Coming Home by Greg Ruth is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Written & Illustrated by: Greg Ruth

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (November 4, 2014)

Suitable for ages: 4-7

Themes/Topics: military families, resilience, hope, anticipation

Coming home

Brief Synopsis: Coming Home is a nearly wordless story of a young boy awaiting a loved one to return home. It is a sweet and simple story depicting a typical military homecoming scene. Through eyes of the boy, readers experience the emotion and anticipation felt on this joyous day when families and friends gather to greet their loved ones. The boy sees others arrive while he searches for his someone special. And it has the perfect surprise ending!

Opening pages:  “Every day, soldiers leave their families to protect others. We love them. We miss them when they’re gone. And we want them all to come home. They are our heroes.”

Why I like this book: As a former educator in the Department of Defense Dependent Schools I know first-hand how deployments affect children. As a military spouse, this book flooded my memory. I re-experienced every homecoming scene I and my children have had when their father returned from an assignment as an active duty naval officer. It’s very moving. Civilians get a glimpse into the life of a military child.

The beautiful illustrations depict the many different ways a homecoming can be celebrated. There are spouses, parents, friends, pets, even a man touching the belly of his pregnant wife. I highly recommend it!

Resources: Little Listeners in an Uncertain World Coping strategies for you and your child during deployment or when a crisis occurs. Two options to create a book together, when it’s dad or when it’s mom “out there.”

Helping children handle deployments Addresses a child’s moodiness and behavior during the deployment may be a sign of stress or anxiety and how to help.

Preparing children for deployment Tools and resources for military families throughout each stage of deployment by those who have been there.

The “So Far” Guide A guide to help children and youth cope with the deployment of a parent in the military reserves.

For other Perfect Picture Book Friday picks from today, head over to author Susanna Hill’s page here.

Happy reading!

 

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Daredevil Duck by Charlie Alder

Daredevil Duck by Charlie Alder

Daredevil Duck is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Written & Illustrated by: Charlie Alder 

Publisher: Running Press Kids (May 12, 2015)

Suitable for ages: 3-6

Themes/Topics: facing fears, bravery, believing in yourself, helping others

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Brief Synopsis: Daredevil Duck is the bravest duck in the whole world, kind of. When he’s dressed in his superhero cape, red helmet, dark x-ray glasses and rides his squeaky super tricycle, he sure is! Although he dreams of being brave, underneath the costume he’s afraid, of just about everything, like things that are too dark, too wet, too fluttery or too high. Other ducks make fun of him. While floating in his rubber ring dreaming about being brave, a mole appears. Daredevil duck is so frightened he pedals away through the dark woods over puddles, leaves and hills! Ending back where he started he meets the Mole again who asks for his help retrieving his balloon from a tree. Mole believes if Duck could pedal through the dark, in deep puddles, through the most fluttery leaves and the highest hills he’s the right one to help.

The foldout pages add to the page turns and the illustrations are bright and colorful.

Opening pages:  “This is Daredevil Duck. (Well, sort of)”

“He is the bravest duck in the whole world. (Well kind of)”

Why I like this book: This is such a sweet story. The reader will root for Duck every page, hoping his dream of being the superhero he would like to be is realized. I especially like the message that although it’s hard to face your fears, sometimes it’s easy to do for a friend.

To read other Perfect Picture Book Friday picks, head over to author Susanna Hill’s page here.

Happy reading!

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Gingerbread Man & Runaway Tales, Near & Far

Gingerbread Man & Runaway Tales, Near & Far

Gingerbread Man runaway tales from near & far are as old as they are vast, brought to us in many versions from around the world. Research shows the story began as an oral storytelling tradition, a folktale. According to a researcher at The The Straight Dope, the history behind “gyngerbreed” dates back to 1386, that’s the 14th century folks! And the early gingerbread treats were made in the shape of a fluer de lis, or men or pigs.

Leave it to the Brothers’ Grimm to show the dark side of what most think of as a moral lesson to children about vanity. In their nightmarish twist on the Gingerbread Man a young child is splashed with mud and the mud steals the child’s eyes, nose, and mouth. Yikes! Then it runs off yelling, “You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!” You can see a short clip of their creepy version on YouTube  here. Yeah, run, run, as fast as you can to get away from that thing!!!

The first documented account of a Gingerbread tale in the United States appeared in 1875. “The Gingerbread Boy,” was a story printed in the May issue of St. Nicholas magazine, a children’s literary journal. And over centuries, it has been re-imagined over and over.

What’s your favorite spin on this re-told tale? You know mine, The King Cake Baby, about our very own New Orleans runaway of course!

*updated with new titles

Follow my Gingerbread Man board on Pinterest.

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Swing Sisters by Karen Deans

Swing Sisters by Karen Deans

Swing Sisters: The International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday in honor of Jazz Fest in New Orleans and Teacher’s Appreciation Week, both celebrated in the month of May.

Swing Sisters

Illustrated by: Joe Cepeda

Publisher: Holiday House (January 1, 2015)

Suitable for ages: 7-11

Themes:  women in music, educational activism, integration, jazz, gender studies, perseverance, inspiration, US history, Jim Crow laws, stereotypes

Brief Synopsis: This book brings attention to the first interracial all female jazz/swing band, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm formed in 1939 at Piney Woods Country Life School in Mississippi. The band became popular in the 1940’s and toured the US and Europe.

The story opens by bringing attention to Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones, a black educator who started a school in 1909 for orphans in Mississippi. Music education eventually became a part of the school’s curriculum and many of the Sweethearts were part of the school band.

Swing Sisters highlights the struggles these women endured from society because of both race and gender.

Opening pages:  “Way back in 1909, not far from Jackson, Mississippi, there was a special place for orphans It was called Piney Woods Country Life School.

A man named Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones started the school. He wanted to make sure these African American kids had a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a good education. In return, the children worked at the school to earn their keep. Some planted seeds and picked weeds outside on the farm; others chopped vegetables in the kitchen or did laundry.”

Why I like this book: A great example of history using a story that inspires and educates. During one of the most difficult times in US history when the intent of oppression from Jim Crow laws was to prevent African Americans from achievement, this band of talented women, black and white, formed and succeeded in entertaining Americans and Europeans.

Further research shows Dr. Jones came from a family of educators, with an uncle who started a school back in 1846. When Dr. Jones learned about a county in Mississippi that had an eighty percent illiteracy rate, he moved there from Missouri and eventually started Piney Woods Country Life School.

Resources: See the Teacher’s Guide here. Listen to their story on NPR. Listen to them play! Dare you not to boogie!

For more of today’s book reviews from May 15, 2015, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

http://www.npr.org/2011/03/22/134766828/americas-sweethearts-an-all-girl-band-that-broke-racial-boundaries

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Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday and National Sibling Day!

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Illustrated by: Sophie Blackall

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (March 2010)

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes:  cultural awareness, immigrant experiences, cultural conflict, sibling-rivalry, tolerance, dealing with anger, frustration, jealousy

Brief Synopsis: Rubina is invited to a birthday party and her little sister Sana asks to tag along. But Rubina tries to convince her mother it’s not a good idea to bring someone to a party when they are not invited. Rubina’s mother does not understand why bringing her little sister is a problem. She also doesn’t understand why someone would celebrate a birthday since that is not a tradition in their culture. Sana persists and although embarrassed, Rubina asks the host for permission to bring her. At the party Sana misbehaves. And not only does Sana eat the candy in her party bag when they get home, but Rubina is not invited to another party for a long time. When Sana is invited to a party, the third sibling, Maryam, asks to go too. But this time, Sana is the one who doesn’t want a tag-a-long. Rubina’s intervention helps her family understand North American culture.

Opening pages:  “I am so excited I run all the way home from school.

“Ami! I’ve been invited to a birthday party! There’s going to be games and toys, cake and ice cream! Can I go?”

Sana screams, “I wanna go too!”

Ami says, “What’s a birthday party?”

“It’s when they celebrate the day they were born.”

“Why do they do that?”

“They just do! Can I go?”

Why I like this book: I enjoyed this book because it weaves sibling rivalry in the backdrop of a story about an immigrant family from Pakistan. The are two ongoing conflicts, the first between the siblings and the second is adapting to a new culture. An excellent choice to introduce cultural awareness,teach tolerance, address cultural practices, and address the sibling dynamic present in all families regardless of heritage.

Resources: See the Teacher’s Guide here.

For more of today’s book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

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Betty Bunny Loves Easter

Betty Bunny Loves Easter

Happy Easter Everybunny!

Betty Bunny Loves Easter is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday! My pick for today is

Written by Michael B. Kaplan 

Illustrated by: Stéphane Jorisch

Publisher: Dial Books (February 2015)

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Easter, growing up, seeking independence, family, overcoming disappointment

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Brief Synopsis: Betty Bunny wants to become the Easter Bunny one day but when she has difficulty finding eggs on her own at an Easter egg hunt she becomes discouraged.

Opening pages:  “Betty Bunny was a handful.

She knew this because on the night before Easter, she was hopping all around the kitchen handing eggs to her parents, her brothers, and her sister. And that’s when everyone in her family said at once: “Betty Bunny, you are a handful.”

Why I like this book: Many families will recognize the character portrayed in the Betty Bunny series. She is indeed a handful! But even when naughty, Betty Bunny is loved. In this new addition to the series Betty Bunny discovers her older siblings are helping her fill her basket with eggs on the Easter egg hunt. She tells them she would prefer to find them on her own. But when she only finds one egg she decides “Easter is yucky”. Her parents encourage her to keep trying.

Resources: A page dedicated to the Easter Bunny theme can be found here.

For more of today’s book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

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The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

THE GIRL AND THE BICYCLE by Mark Pett is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Written and Illustrated by: Mark Pett  9781442483200_p0_v5_s260x420

Publisher: Simon & Schuster April 2014

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Determination, kindness, generosity, selflessness

Synopsis: A wordless picture book about a girl who wants to buy a bicycle, and the neighbor who she works for to earn money  toward her goal. She works and saves as the seasons pass, however, when she finally has enough to buy it, the bicycle is no longer available. In the end the girl is rewarded for her acts of kindness and her willingness to work.

Opening pages:  The book begins with a double-page spread of a little girl holding the hands of a little boy walking toward a storefront display window. The only color on the second page is part of the green frame on a bicycle in the window. On the next page, the girl stops suddenly when she sees the bike.

Why I like this book: The themes are why I love this book! They are universal and timeless. And the story flows so easily, all through the illustrations. Very impressive. This book is sure to be around for generations. See if you can catch a clever hint on the first spread that shows why the neighbor hired the little girl to work when others did not!

For more book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page to see other January 16, 2015 reviews.

 

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The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie

The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday! My pick for today is The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie by Chris Van Allsburg.

This book has garnered reviews that swing like a pendulum! Some hate it while others love it. There’s only one way to find out how it makes you feel, read it.

Title: The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie sweetie pie

Written & Illustrated by: Chris Van Allsburg

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2014)

Suitable for ages: 5-8 (according the publisher)

Themes/Topics: pet responsibility & ownership, animal adoption & care, abandonment, longing, courage

Brief Synopsis: Sweetie Pie is a hamster adopted from a pet store who ends up in the care of multiple children who are either not ready for pet ownership or who are just neglectful. Sweetie Pie goes through a few owners, one who leaves him outside stuck in a plastic hamster ball, another who leaves him out in the snow. In the end Sweetie Pie escapes and joins a family of squirrels, finding solitude in the outdoors.

Opening pages:  “He’s sooo cute!” squealed the pigtailed girl. The hamster had heard these words before. He’d once shared his home with a dozen friends. One by one, they’d all been taken away.

He’d been left behind because whenever a child had picked him up, he’s squirmed and scratched.”

Why I like this book: Sweetie pie is not the best pet. Why? Is his behavior innate? Is it possible his  environments affected him? Readers have some pretty strong opinions about this book! I see it as an example of a picture book appropriate for older audiences. Firstly, the text is far lengthier than many of the newer 500-700 word picture books; secondly there are many social factors that can be discussed using Sweetie’s Pie’s situation, his desires, and the behavior of the children and adults that are supposed to care for him. It’s not a funny story, but rather poignant. A good read for anyone studying animal care or for parents or teachers who are considering getting a pet for the home or classroom. I would recommend parents and or teachers read it first because it does stir many different emotions, some which are just not pleasant but totally authentic. So where some see it as not a great book coming from what they expect from the well-known author, I feel it’s that this book isn’t funny or witty or clever. Some books are good because they stir up strong emotions and opinions.

For more book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

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