October 31, 2014

Hank Has a Dream

hankdreamTitle: Hank Has a Dream
Author & Illustrator: Rebecca Dudley

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press, 2014
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 2-6
Themes: Adventure, Imagination

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

In this poetic tale, Hank dreams that he can fly. Come along for the ride as he recreates the dream for his little friend. How far will Hank fly? What will he see? How high will he go? These dreamland mysteries capture his friend’s imagination and they will capture yours too. The enchanting images of Rebecca Dudley’s meticulously crafted dioramas set the scene for this gentle fantasy. Readers will set sail, gliding through Hank’s world as he discovers the wonders of flight and the magic of friendship. This gentle, uplifting fantasy by the author of the bestselling Hank Finds an Egg highlights the magic of friendship and lets young readers’ imagination soar. Rebecca Dudley’s highly praised, hand-crafted dioramas and characters — combined with minimal text — will entertain and delight.

Activities:

- Common Core  teaching guide – printable worksheets, discussion questions

Why I Like This Book:

Ever since I read Hank Finds an Egg, I have become a huge fan of Rebecca Dudley’s work. I just LOVE the details the painstaking details that go into her 3D illustrations.  With Ms. Dudley’s diorama art, I feel like I could step into Hank’s world and feel the breeze, run through the woods, or bump into his hummingbird friend. Her books are truly immersive. But it’s not just the gorgeous artwork, it’s also in her wondrous character Hank, who perfectly embodies the innocence and nostalgia of childhood. In this tale, he is recounting his dreams of flying. The book is uniquely structured to show the parallels between the real and “dream” actions for the story.

hankdream2

The last scene in the book is precious and speaks so much to the inner beauty of Hank and its creator. In a market filled with quirky, subversive humor or the traditional problem-rising tension-climax stories, it is wonderful to see there is still space for something peaceful and charming as the Hank books.

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received an F&G (fold and gather, not bound) copy of this story from the author. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

October 8, 2014

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

samdavedighole

Title: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2014
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Friendship, Irony

Opening Lines:

On Monday Sam and Dave dug a hole.

“When should we stop digging?” asked Sam.
“We are on a mission,” said Dave.
“We won’t stop digging until we find something spectacular.”

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.

Activities:

  •  Check-out the Story-Hour Kit from Candlewick. Contains a game idea that will have kids on their feet, discussion questions and a drawing exercise. Pages 4, 11, & 12.
  • Learn about the layers of the Earth at Easy Science for Kids.
  • Questions: Discuss what would be the challenges of actually trying to dig a deep hole like Sam & Dave. What would happen if you could dig through the earth?

Why I Like This Book:

The duo that brought us Extra Yarn (one of my all-time favorites) are back with a charming story about two boys on a mission to find something spectacular. They dig and dig and then dig some more but are always missing that something “spectacular”, though the dog always seems to have a sixth sense about it. This visual irony is the gem of the book and is what kids will find most appealing. My 6yr old was talking back to the book saying “it’s right there!” I enjoyed how Mr. Barnett has captured the authenticity of young children so accurately from just the idea of let’s dig for treasure, to the back-n-forth dialogue that fills the book, to being happy with chocolate milk and animal cookies. The only area that the creators may have missed the boat is in the cryptic spectacular ending; was it the falling from the sky, spending a day digging with your best friend, or something else. Would love to hear your thoughts on this. (Check-out this interesting post by Travis Jonkers at 100 Scope note about 6 theories on the ending)

The subdued colors and dead-panned expressions, classic Klassen, complement Barnett’s wry humor and together work beautifully to convey the visual irony. Do take notice of the beginning and ending scenes.

 

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher Candlewick Press. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

September 26, 2014

Tap to Play

Tap to Play

Title: Tap to Play
Author & Illustrator: Salina Yoon

Publisher: Balzer & Bray, 2014
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 2-6
Themes: Interactive, Cause & Effect

Opening Lines:

Hi!
I’m BLIP.
I need to reach that bar to win the game.
Can you help me?

How do I get from HERE to THERE?

If I win, I get a
SURPRISE!

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

In this interactive video-game-inspired picture book perfect for fans of Press Here and Tap the Magic Tree, Blip needs to reach the bar to win his game—but he needs the reader’s help. If he wins, he gets a surprise!
Tap, tickle, and shake Blip.
Tilt, turn, and bounce Blip.
Help Blip win the game in this spirited interactive book, perfect for reading—and playing—again and again!

Activities:

Why I Like This Book:

First there was PRESS HERE which expanded the boundaries of interactive books in a new way for today techno-gadget babies. Then came TAP THE MAGIC TREE which built upon the interactivity but added concepts about the seasons. Ms. Salina Yoon is taking us even further down this path by blending a traditional story arc with the interactivity for a video-game inspired story.

Blip our main character has to get from HERE to THERE, but how. The number bar tells the reader they have five attempts to win the game and get their surprise! Readers will bounce, tilt, and flip, BLIP to comical results. Rest assured Blip and the ingenious reader will win the game and get a special, heartfelt surprise in the end.

My favorite aspect of the book were the funny responses from Blip when the action didn’t go quite right. They just made me chuckle. Here is one example.

Could you shake the book so I can bounce?
Go ahead. Shake!
<page turn>
NOT SO FAST!
Bounce it slower please!

Here is another from when the tilting is a bit too much.

TAPSPREAD.1

Enjoy the trailer! Shhh…..The retro music makes me want to go play Pac-Man or Q*bert.

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received a F&G (fold and gather, not bound) copy of this story from the author. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

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September 22, 2014

Industrial Revolution for Kids: The People and Technology That Changed the World

Industrial-Revolution-for-Kids

Title: Industrial Revolution for Kids: The People and Technology That Change the World

Author: Cheryl Mullenback (interview by the Mixed Files … of Middle-Grade Authors)
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, 2014
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 8-12

Synopsis (from Chicago Review Press website):

This blend of authoritative historic overview and human interest stories recounts one of the most important eras in American history. This educational activity book introduces young readers to the Industrial Revolution through the people, places, and inventions of the time, from the incredibly wealthy Rockefellers and Carnegies and the dingy and dangerous factories of the day to the creation of new forms of transportation and communication. By recounting this fascinating period in American history through the eyes of everyday workers, kids, sports figures, and social activists whose names never appeared in history books—including Hannah Montague, who revolutionized the clothing industry with her highly popular detachable collars and cuffs and Clementine Lamadrid, who either helped save starving New Yorkers or scammed the public into contributing to her one-cent coffee stands—this book helps tell the human stories of the Industrial Revolution. Twenty-one engaging and fun cross-curricular activities bring the times and technologies to life and allow for readers to make an assembly line sandwich, analyze the interchangeable parts of a common household fixture, weave a placemat, tell a story through photographs, and much more. Additional resources featured include books to read, places to visit, and websites to explore.

 

Why I Like This Book:

This is wonderful book that can be used to supplement a curriculum on the Industrial Revolution. It is jam-packed with basic historical information and photographs. Personally, I really liked the short articles offset in blue boxes. These are the little tidbits or personal stories that you won’t find in most textbooks, that make this era come to life. For example, did you know factory girls would sometimes leave notes in the garments they made in hope of finding a husband. Or how about Owney, the railway mail dog who rode the train across the US making sure the mail pouches were safely delivered to the post office. The book also comes with activities tied into the various section themes such as making an assembly line sandwich or designing a tenement space. With so much information this isn’t a book to speed through all at once, but rather read, process, and explore one chapter at a time.

If you liked this book be on the lookout for the next book by this author The Great Depression for Kids coming out in 2015.

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher Chicago Review Press. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

September 19, 2014

Hooray for Hat!

hoorayforhatTitle: Hooray for Hat!
Author & Illustrator: Brian Won

Publisher: HMH Books, 2014
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 2-6
Themes: Friendship, Kindness

Excerpt:

It was hard to stay grumpy now.
“HOORAY FOR HAT!”
Elephant cheered. “I will show Zebra!”

 Synopsis:

Elephant wakes up grumpy—until ding, dong! What’s in the surprise box at the front door? A hat! HOORAY FOR HAT! Elephant marches off to show Zebra, but Zebra is having a grumpy day, too—until Elephant shares his new hat and cheers up his friend. Off they march to show Turtle! The parade continues as every animal brightens the day of a grumpy friend. An irresistible celebration of friendship, sharing, and fabulous hats.

Activities:

  • Have a Hat Parade! Download and print this colorful activity kit with hats from the book!
  • Have kids Read and Act out the story. This tale is laid out well for Reader’s Theater.
  • Have kids do a Random Act of Kindness. Here is a link to my past blog post to get some ideas.

Why I Love This Book:

I love, love, love this book! It is perfect for story time and preschools, but will certainly bring a smile to anyone that reads it.

  • I love the simplicity of the story, that can be summarized with three keywords, grumpy – hat – friends.
  • I love that sheer joy and innocence in the characters, that represents young kids so well.
  • I love the repetitious lines “GO AWAY! I’M GRUMPY!” and “HOORAY FOR HAT!” that help to provide a strong story structure.
  • I love the bright, colorful illustrations and the use of white space to make the art eye-grabbing. Also the use of colored letters for HOORAY throughout the story.
  • But most of all I love that it teaches kindness and sharing.

Enjoy this adorable trailer:

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

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