Category Archives: Picture book reviews

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is UNDER MY HIJAB.

Written by: Hena Khan

Illustrated by: Aaliya Jaleel

Publisher: Lee & Low Books, February 5, 2019

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics:  hijab fashion, modern Muslim women, religion

Brief Synopsis: UNDER MY HIJAB is written from the point of view of a young girl who observes how, when, and where her modern, independent, female family members wear their individual headscarves for work and play.

Why I like this book: Hena Khan’s story is for anyone curious about modern Muslim women who choose to wear a hijab.

Most often women cover their hair, ears, and neck but to show just how individual that choice is, the cool artist aunt covers her hair and ears pinned with a handmade jewel. Illustrator Aaliya Jaleel adds other details like henna designs worn on the hands of these characters while attending a social event.

At the end of the book, the author shares the cultural and religious significance of wearing the headcover.

I read the ARC for this review. UNDER MY HIJAB would be a great addition to the home, school, and library.

Resources:

  • Resources: For more about Islam for kids, see the World Religions website.
  • See examples of modern hijabs at this London fashion show.
  • Watch this tutorial on youtube by a young girl on how to style different headscarves.
  • Read this interview on the Lee & Low Book blog with author Hena Khan.

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

Happy reading!

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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.

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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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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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Girls, Challenge & Resilience!

Girls, Challenge & Resilience!

This Perfect Picture Book Pair written by award winning author-illustrator Ashley Spires features girls with strong characters.  Both books are wonderful examples of how they face challenges and demonstrate resilience. 

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING is about a girl who knows exactly what she wants to build and how it will work, but is frustrated because it’s not easy. So she quits. But she comes back and guess what? She gets it right! The book is a great example to kids that it’s okay to make mistakes and even get angry. We all face frustration and fear that we may not succeed in our endeavors. 

THE THING LOU COULDN’T DO is about a girl who loves adventure until her friends decide to do something Lou couldn’t do.  She makes all kinds of excuses but eventually Lou faces her fear. Rather than feel like a failure, she sets a goal. Not everything we fear can be solved easily or quickly. Just recognizing the fear is a step in the right direction. 

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!

Happy reading…

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The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper

The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is THE RING BEARER. It’s normal for the bride and groom to be nervous on their big day, but imagine a young child who is part of a wedding party feeling nervous. Now imagine it’s his mother’s wedding!  

Written/Illustrated by:  Floyd Cooper

Publisher: Philomel Books (April 2017)

Suitable for ages: 3– 7

Themes/Topics: overcoming fear, anxiety, dealing with change, love, weddings, blended family

Brief Synopsis:  Jackson’s mother is getting married. And he is an important part of the ceremony. Jackson is the ring bearer! But he’s worried. What if something goes wrong? He could trip. He could drop the rings. Sophie, his younger new stepsister is part of the ceremony too. She’s the flower girl. But Sophie isn’t worried at all. In fact, she’s having fun.  

Opening pages“Mama is having a wedding, and Jackson is worried. What will it be like to call Bill “Dad”? And share stuff with Sophie, his new little sister? Things won’t be the same around here anymore.” 

 Why I like this book This story made my heart smile. I adore the cover with a cautious Jackson and playful Sophie. Through text and illustrations, Floyd Cooper created an endearing story about the power of family. Readers will love his inter-generational characters and blended family because they express their love of one another throughout the story.

With the support of his family, old and new, Jackson is able to overcome his fear. And because of the wonderful examples in his life, Jackson even saves the day!

Resources

  • Find answers to your burning questions about having children in a wedding party here.

  • Find the article from the site, Today’s Parent, Kids at weddings: Essential do’s and don’ts here

  • Find an article, Children’s feelings about blended families, here.

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

Happy reading!

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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. 

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

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!

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!”

 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. 

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. 

Resources

  • Scroll down the author’s website for Activities for Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote. 

  •  A teaching unit about women’s suffrage movement can be found from Rutgers: Teach a Girl to Lead

  • Head over to A Mighty Girl to find girl-empowering resources such as toys, movies, music and books. 

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

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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Grandparents & Celebrating Heritage: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Grandparents & Celebrating Heritage: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

PERFECT timing for this Perfect Picture Book Pair!

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This October, Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur are celebrated, and it’s also National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Both books are inspired by the Yiddish folksong “Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl” (I Had a Little Overcoat or My Coat). And both stories show how grandparents re-use, and re-purpose fabric to leave a legacy of love.

Title: Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya

Author: Monica Brown

Illustrator: David Diaz

Publisher: Children’s Book Press (CA); and imprint of Lee & Low Bilingual edition (August 15, 2015)

Age Range: 3-7 years.

Topics: Latino culture, inter-generational story, sewing, re-use/re-purposing cloth, legacy

 

Title: My Grandfather’s Coat

Author: Jim Aylesworth  

Illustrator: Barbara McClintock

Publisher: Scholastic Press   (October 2014)

Age Range: 4-8 years.

Topics: Immigration, inter-generational story, sewing, re-use/re-purposing cloth, legacy

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 own reflections in books. Join me and  #ReadYourWorld!

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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 Based on a Cumulative Tale

A Perfect Picture Book Pair Based on a Cumulative Tale

What a fun perfect picture book pair based on the cumulative story, “I Know An Old Lady That Swallowed a Fly”. And perfect for reading aloud!

Both books are modern adaptations of the old tale filled with lyrical language and wordplay. 

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One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom (Author), Brendan Wenzel (Illustrator) Published by Katherine Tegen Books (May 2016) Age Range: 4-8 years.

A hungry snake fills his belly, but his captives are planning their escape.

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann (Author), Ben Mantle (Illustrator) Published by Random House Books for Young Readers (August 4, 2015) Age Range: 4-8 years.

There was an old dragon who swallowed things in a kingdom, including a knight! That’s not polite!

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Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

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Written by: Susan Hood

Illustrated by: Sally Wern Comport

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2016)

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Resilience, Poverty, Compassion, Courage, Community, Creativity, Paraguay, Music

Brief Synopsis: This is the true story of Ada Ríos and the start of The Recycled Orchestra from the small town of Catuera in Paraguay. Catuera isn’t like most places, it is part of a landfill made of trash. Poverty surrounds the people who live there and so does crime. As one can imagine, Ada and her parents worry about their future. Her grandmother took care of Ada before she was old enough for school while her parents worked. Her abuela loved to sing to Ada. Her whole family loved music. One day Ada’s grandmother saw a sign at the chapel from a music teacher named Favio Chávez offering free music lessons. She signed Ada up. But many children showed up for lessons and there only three guitars and two violins to share. Ada dreamed of playing the violin, but knew she needed an instrument of her own to practice. Her family had no money to spend on such a luxury. Then Señor Chávez had an idea. He knew of a band that made its own instruments so he asked a ganchero, a carpenter named Nicolás Gómez to help. With much experimentation, soon there were enough instruments, made from trash, for anyone who wanted to learn to play! Ada finally got a violin, made from recycled trash, of her very own. Readers follow Ada and her fellow musicians through their plight to learn to play these instruments all the way to their success taking the stage for audiences to hear them perform.

Opening pages:  “Ada Ríos grew up in a town made of trash.

Every morning at dawn, Ada heard the first garbage trucks rumble and roll down the road to Cateura. Beep, beep, beep! Backing into the landfill, they tipped their loads up and up and-CRASH! The trash came tumbling down-fifteen hundred tons each day.” 

Why I like this book: I spent last week in Paraguay. Music is a very important part of the culture. Although I did not see any musicians from Cateura play, I was fortunate to see a young man play a Paraguayan harp. And young women perform traditional dances. I am thrilled Susan Hood has shared this story of The Recycled Orchestra.

Families live in poverty all over the world. The story, Ada’s Violin, allows readers to empathize with their lives and witness their fight against such undesirable conditions. In this story we are witnesses to the power of courage, community, and creativity to overcome insurmountable odds.

 

Resources:

There is an author’s note that tells more about Ada, her family and the orchestra. She also adds url’s for websites and videos.

 

See the 60 Minute segment The Recyclers: From Trash Comes Triumph here.

 

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

Happy reading!

 

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Let Them Play by Margot Theis Raven

Let Them Play by Margot Theis Raven

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Let Them Play

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Written by: Margot Theis Raven

Illustrated by: Chris Ellison

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press (2005)

Suitable for ages: 7 and up

Themes/Topics: Little League Baseball, US history, segregation, racism, Jim Crow south, Civil Rights, perseverance, resistance, resilience

Brief Synopsis: The story depicted in Let Them Play is true. In 1955, a segregated South Carolina had sixty-two official Little League teams. Only one of them, the Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars had African-American players. Like most young boys who loved baseball, they wanted to play, but the other white teams didn’t want to play them. After the sixty-one white teams pulled out of the Little League and formed another program, the Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars became state champs by default. However they did not qualify to play in the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania because they hadn’t actually won any games or their state’s tournament. The team ended up going to the World Series anyway in hopes of taking the field. The title Let Them Play is what the boys heard from the crowds in attendance who wanted to see them play.

Opening pages:  “Most folks say it was Coach Ben Singleton who pulled the all-star dreams from the sky over Harmon Field and sprinkled them in the eyes of 14 boys the summer of 1955. Not that baseball dreams weren’t already rising high as the heat waves on noonday porches all over Charleston’s Upper Westside.

Boys wanted to be Jackie Robinson playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and mothers like Flossie Bailey on Strawberry Lane wanted to find their missing mop handles. Stickball players like her son John used the handles as bats to hit half-rubber balls and sandlot player made mitts from paper bags or cardboard sewn with shoelaces.” 

Why I like this book: Its baseball season and opening days are happening all over the country. My kids participated in team sports because we wanted them to learn about rules, and what it takes to be a team player as well as other life lessons.  There is much to learn from sports, like sportsmanship and playing fair. We also know kids learn that sometimes life can be unfair and even harsh.

Let Them Play is about the true life events of young athletes who were treated differently based solely on the color of their skin.  The bigotry and discrimination these young players experienced were common during this time, especially across the southern United States.  This story gives readers specific examples of what it was like for African-Americans who lived in the Jim Crow south during segregation where racism was so prevalent. It also shows readers examples of pride, perseverance, resilience and resistance. For those looking for a story with wonderful examples of how oppressed people navigated life under adverse conditions, this one hits a home-run.

 

Resources:

See discussion questions and activities from the William Allen White Children’s Book Award  here.

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

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Always Remember by Cece Meng

Always Remember by Cece Meng

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is Always Remember 

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Written by: Cece Meng

Illustrated by: Jago

Publisher: Philomel Books (2016)

Suitable for ages: Preschool and up

Themes/Topics: Life, death, grief, remembrance, legacy

Brief Synopsis: In the end, Old Turtle takes his last swim, and his last breath and he was gone. But is he? Physically yes, but his legacy lives on when all those he touched share their memories of him.  Other turtles he taught to swim, otters remember he loved to play, a manatee remembers how Old Turtle rescued him when tangled in a net.

Opening pages:  In the end,  on his very last day, Old Turtle swam his last swim and took his last breath. With his life complete, the gentle waves took him away.

 By dawn, everyone who knew Old Turtle knew he was gone.

Why I like this book: This book is tender and deals with an emotional topic in a very kid friendly way. Although death is a part of life, and can be unexpected or expected, grieving is part of the process.  The author showcases a way to grieve, by remembering how those departed have touched our lives. The illustrations are wonderfully tender and quiet.

Resources:

A gallery of art from the illustrator may be found here.

Advice about discussing death with children from a Hospice site may be found here and from the National Funeral Directors Association here.

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

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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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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!

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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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Picture Books for the Holiday & Ever After

Picture Books for the Holiday & Ever After

There are many lists out there for all your holiday reading needs. Many from well known sources. Most books never make those lists. As a new author, I know the importance of getting the word out about your work. We certainly can’t buy every book published, but we can support authors, illustrators, and bookstores by sharing those we read and enjoy. Blogging or writing reviews on sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads also helps spread the word. So I created my own list.

Gingerbread books

It’s not just books, but people who blog frequently about books. People who are passionate about picture books and what they mean to kids and parents and teachers and librarians.

Anyone looking for a gift or simply love to read and or collect picture books, below are links to some fabulous titles.

Goodreads with Ronna has two posts about Christmas books Roundup Part 1 and Part 2

Just Us Books put together a list of holiday books with diverse themes and or character or by authors least represented in the world of publishing.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) launched a Book Party event to help support their membership in an effort to market 2015 releases.

What about after the holiday? Below are my go to blogs for learning about books by reading reviews. It’s a very diverse list because I am a huge supporter of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #ReadYourWorld campaigns.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day  is January 27, 2016. This site showcases new and old releases with diverse content.

Mia Wenjen aka Pragmatic Mom , Co-Founder of Multicultural Children’s Book Day blogs about parenting, books, and education.

Valarie Budayr Jump Into A Book, Co-Founder of Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Valarie says, “Jump into a Book is a site about the love of children’s books and how they can incorporate them into our everyday lives through play, crafting, cooking, movies, games, traveling and author visits. At JIAB, we strive to pull books off shelves and stories off pages to create reading experiences for families.”

Susanna Hill hosts Perfect Picture Book Friday. Authors and writers share weekly book reviews. She has an extensive list of books by category.

Patricia Tilton, Children’s Books Heal. Looking for a book that addresses a tough topic? Search this blog. Patricia says, “I want my blog to be a resource for parents, grandparents and teachers who are searching for a special gem that will help a child through a tough time.” And it is indeed.

Juliana Lee’s Crafting Stories. From her Books Alive! page or Celebrate Every Day with a Picture Book page, or easy reader and early chapter book reviews from her 2015 Cybils page, Juliana has something current for everyone.

Tiffa blogs about picture books she reads with her two sons at her site, The Picture Book Review. Note: They read a lot of books!

Goodreads with Ronna by Ronna Mandel who is a former Associate Editor at L.A. Parent, and a team of reviewers keep us up to date on current releases. She reviews inclusive books with characters and or topics specific to a population with special needs.

Danielle Davis blogs at This Picture Book Life, She says, “This blog brings picture books to life through crafts, book pairings, interviews, recipes, and other fun stuff.” Her reviews are thought provoking and honest.

See my picture book reviews here and my perfect picture book pairs here or on Facebook.

These are a few of my favorites, there are so many, many more.

Happy Holiday reading! Happy reading in 2016!

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Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules
DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post!

Written: Jacqueline Jules   9780807517345

illustrated by: Kathryn Mitter

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (2009)

Suitable for ages: 6-8

Topics/Themes: Vietnamese culture, American Thanksgiving, cultural awareness, cultural diversity, acceptance, assimilation, acculturation

Brief Synopsis: DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is the story of a girl of Vietnamese heritage who learns about Thanksgiving in school. The class makes a turkey from pine cones, sing Turkey songs, and her teacher refers to the day as turkey day, but her family always serves duck. Tuyet’s plan is to convince her family to eat turkey, known by many as the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving food. But they end up using her grandmother’s recipe for duck like they always do and Tuyet even has a second helping. When school resumes after the holiday, Tuyet is reluctant to talk about her holiday meal until other classmates tell about their dinners that included lamb, enchiladas, and noodles.

Opening pages:  To get ready for Thanksgiving, Tuyet’s class sang Turkey songs. They made pine cone turkeys. They talked about Pilgrims and Native Americans.

“See you Monday.” Mrs. Cook said when the bell rang. “Have a good Turkey Day.”

Why I like this book: DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY is a delightful book which introduces children to Vietnamese culinary traditions. It is a perfect fit to include in a  #weneeddiversebooks list. In addition to addressing cultural diversity, there is multi-generational component weaved into the story that I also enjoyed. It’s is a wonderful story that demonstrates there is no ‘right way’ to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving.  The day is also about giving thanks and spending time with family, not  only eating turkey!

Resources:

Click here for the Children’s Choice Award lesson plan on page 12.

Click here for the library sparks lesson plan.

Click here for multicultural Thanksgiving Songs by the Jacqueline Jules.

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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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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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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A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story

A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story

Title:  A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story

   Written by: Susanne Lewis 61tht0f31mL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_

   Illustrated by: Lisa Anchin

   Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press, February 1, 2015

   Suitable for ages: 4-8

   Themes/Topics: survival, courage, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, penguins, aquarium animals

   Brief Synopsis: This is a Hurricane Katrina story about the  rescue and aftermath of the penguins from the New Orleans Audubon Aquarium of the Americas Aquarium of the Americas. The story is told from the perspective of Patience and begins on the night the hurricane hit the city.  As the oldest and head penguin Patience had to be patient and keep Fanny, Ernie, Kohl, Bunny, Amquel, Voodoo, Rocky, Stachmo, Dyer, Zelda, Dennis and the other in line during this ordeal. Tom, the penguin keeper, helped them stay cool and fed until they were all transported to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Tom went along too, but couldn’t stay for long. Patience, once again, had to be patient.  Nine months later and the aquarium repaired, the penguins returned home in a New Orleans style celebration!

Opening pages:  “Patience knew something was terribly wrong.

It was dark and steamy hot inside her home at Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans. Being an African penguin meant she was used to a warm climate, but not this warm!”

Why I like this book: Anyone with ties to New Orleans was personally affected by the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. This is one story that highlights the struggle and determination not only to survive but return. Everyone will root for Patience and her fellow penguins to go back home!

Resources: Suzanne Lewis has activities on her site here.

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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