Archive for ‘Books by Topic’

February 27, 2014

Penguin Series by Salina Yoon

penguinseries

Welcome! It is my pleasure to review a wonderful series about a warm-hearted penguin from the super-talented picture book author/illustrator Salina Yoon. Also check-out my interview with Salina and Penguin!!

The Penguin picture book series involves a cute little penguin that embarks on adventures and experiences new places through the lens of a young child. All of the books have an underlying theme of love and friendship which will be appealing to readers of all ages. The digital illustrations are simple, colorful, child-like and perfect for storytime.

penguin-and-pinecone

In the first book Penguin and a Pinecone, Penguin finds a pinecone and they become best friends. Penguin knits it a scarf, takes it sledding, and then becomes worried when pinecone sneezes. Penguin then sets off on a journey to take Pinecone home to the forest, where it can go big and strong. Penguin gets Pinecone settled in his new home and while he returns his ice home. After waiting and wondering about his friend, Penguin returns to the forest and finds Pinecone has “grown” from Penguin’s love.

Penguin shows the same love and concern for pinecone that young children show for their favorite stuffed animal or doll. He also has the same worries as kids do about being apart from someone who they love. What is truly amazing is the number of emotions (curiosity, concern, worry, happiness) and themes (friendship, love, loyalty) conveyed with such little text, only 212 words.

penguin vacation

In Penguin on Vacation, Penguin decides he is tired of snow . “Snow again?” (I’m sure those of you on the East Coast can relate to that.) Skiing, sledding, and skating vacations just don’t cut it anymore. He sees a cruise ship in the distance and decides to go to the beach! Penguin packs a suitcase and a beach ball and sets off. Despite bigger and bigger waves he persists. Upon reaching the beach Penguin realizes he can’t do the same things here as he did on ice. But with the help of a friendly Crab, Penguin learns how to have fun in the sun. But when Penguin leaves to go home he finds a stowaway, his new friend Crab who says “I need a vacation too!” The two enjoy winter activities before Crab has to leave.

Penguin show curiosity and gumption in this tale of visiting a new place. I love how Penguin thought he could do his winter activities at the beach. The tale resonates a theme that I think kids already know and that adults sometimes forget, “you can have fun anywhere as long as you are with friends.”

penguin beach

penguin loveIn the newest title, Penguin in Love, Penguin is looking for love but he finds a purple mitten. Penguin tries to find the owner who loves knitting as much as he does, but no luck. He then makes a bill cozy for a puffin. The grateful puffin hatches a plan to bring the two knitting penguins together. Penguin and his friend Bootsy go on a journey to unravel the mystery of their missing yarn only to realize what they have been looking for all along was right under their beaks.

I love that the acts of kindness in this book, where Penguin gives the puffin a cozy for his cold beak and in turn puffin sets off to help Penguin find love.

February 13, 2014

Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears

Goldi Rocks and the Three BearsTitle: Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears

Author: Corey Rosen Schwartz and Beth Coulton
Illustrator: Nate Wragg
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’ Sons, 2014
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Fractured Fairy Tale, Music

Opening Lines:
“Once upon a rock-and roll time,
three bears in a band jammed with ease.
The Papa Bear drummed,
the Mama Bear strummed,
and Baby bear ticked the keys.”

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear know how to rock! But they need a new singer, so they audition everyone—the Three Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, and more. To their dismay, no one seems just right. Could the perfect lead singer be the mysterious girl sleeping on Baby Bear’s keyboard?

Activities:

Have kids make their own musical instruments, guitar, bells and drums, and more. Then have a jam session.
Lesson plan on writing fractured fairy tales for 3rd-5th grades.

Why I Like This Book:

Goldilocks and the Three Bears has to be the most popular story to do a fractured fairy tale. I’m not sure why but this rhyming version by Ms. Schwartz rockets to the top of the charts for sheer originality and fun. The rhythm and pop feel of this rendition will engage today’s kids and their American Idol watching parents. This book is a pure read-aloud joy that is enhanced by the colorful pencil and digital illustrations.

gold_tryouts

Picture Book Writers: Check-out this wonderful post by Ms. Schwartz at the Writerly Wisdom blog where she discusses Rhyme and Meter in Goldi rock style!

One lucky winner will receive their choice of a signed copy of this book OR a free picture book critique from Ms. Schwartz. In the comments answer “What favorite pop song do you like to sing or bee-bop too?” Deadline to enter is February 20th 9pm PST.

My favorite song to rock out on these days is “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities.

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.

January 23, 2014

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac (Multicultural Children’s Book Day)

The Great Race, Story Chinese ZodiacTitle: The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac

Author: Dawn Casey
Illustrator: Anne Wilson
Publisher: Barefoot Books, 2006
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 5-8
Themes: Folktale, Chinese Culture

Opening Lines:
“Many moons ago, the people of China had no calendar. With no way to measure time, nobody could tell one year from the next.

Synopsis (from Barefoot Books website):

Race with the animals of the Zodiac as they compete to have the years of the Chinese calendar named after them. The excitement-filled story is followed by notes on the Chinese calendar, important Chinese holidays, and a chart outlining the animal signs based on birth years.

Activities:

There are tons of Chinese Zodiac and New Year’s activities on the Internet. Below is just a sampling.

Snake Mobile Craft
Chinese New Year’s Activities for Kids – Pinterest Board
Chinese New Year Lesson Plans, Printables, and Crafts
More Chinese New Year Printables – puzzles, word searches, coloring sheets.

Why I Like This Book:

A simple, colorful re-telling of the origin of the Chinese zodiac and why cats hate rats.

The Jade Emperor decided to name each of the 12 years after an animal. To decide the order he announced The Great Race, the order in which the animals finished would determine the order of the calendar. Cat and Rat were best friends and also the smallest animals in the race. Clever Rat got them a ride on Ox. However, over-ambitious Rat pushed his friend Cat in the water and later ran-ahead of Ox to win. Cat never gets over the betrayal and this is why cats hate rats.

The text and artwork do a great job of engaging young readers. The artwork is done with paper collages and acrylics which works well in keeping the artwork simple, colorful, and childlike. The back matter contains information on Chinese festivals and more characteristics about the twelve animals and the people born in those years.

GreatRace_HC3

(Click to see a larger picture)

As a picture book writer, I know every word has to be carefully chosen to convey the right meaning and tone. For this reason I was somewhat bothered by the line below, which follows the scenes of Rat consciously pushing his friend cat into the water and running ahead of Ox to win the race.

“Rat may be small but he is also smart!” the Jade Emperor laughed.

I do realize the author can’t deviate from the original story, however it’s the subtext (probably unintentional) that it was okay for the rat to be mean and sneaky that bothered me. Maybe if the cat gave chase to the rat at the end I would have felt a little better.

Regardless of my pet peeve I do think this is a lovely book and is still good for introducing kids to the Chinese zodiac. Perfect timing with the Chinese New Year coming up.

This is review is a part of Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF) and Multicultural Children’s Book Day! To see additional PPBF recommended books please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book.

MC_collate

I am very excited  to be a book reviewer participating in Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature on January 27th, 2014Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump into a Book have organized this event to raise awareness for children’s books that celebrate diversity and to get those books into more classrooms and libraries so more little eyes can see them. Proudly sponsored by Lee & Low Books, Wisdom Tales Press, Chronicle Books, and author Susan Fayad.

Why is Multicultural Children’s Book Day so important?

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

More than 60 bloggers are joining together to share books and ideas to celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day.  Please join us on January 27, 2014 for book reviews and multicultural activities.

Visit our collaborative Pinterest board, Multicultural Books for Kids, to see more great books and check out all of these amazing blogs participating in the event!

2GirlsLostInaBook · 365 Days of Motherhood · A Bilingual Baby · A Simple Life, Really? · Africa to America · After School Smarty Pants · All Done Monkey · Andi’s Kids Books · Anita Brown Bag  · Austin Gilkeson · Barbara Ann Mojica ·  Books My Kids Read · Bottom Shelf Books · Cats Eat Dogs · Chasing The Donkey · Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac · Children’s Books Heal · Church o Books · CitizenBeta · Crafty Moms Share · Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes · Early Words · Flowering Minds · Franticmommy · Gathering Books · GEO Librarian · Gladys Barbieri · Going in Circles · Growing Book by Book · iGame Mom · I’m Not The Nanny · InCulture Parent · Itsy Bitsy Mom ·Just Children’s BooksKid World Citizen · Kristi’s Book Nook · Mama Lady Books · Mama Smiles · Mission Read · Mother Daughter Book Reviews · Mrs AOk · MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter · Ms. Yingling Reads · Multicultural Kids Blog · One Sweet World · Open Wide The World · P is for Preschooler · Rapenzel Dreams · School4Boys · Sharon the Librarian · Spanish Playground · Sprout’s Bookshelf · Squishable Baby · Stanley and Katrina · Teach Mama · The Art of Home Education · The Brain Lair · The Educators’ Spin On It · The Family-Ship Experience · The Yellow Door Paperie · This Kid Reviews Books  · Trishap’s Books · Unconventional Librarian · Vicki Arnold · We3Three · World for Learning · Wrapped in Foil 

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

November 18, 2013

Teeny Tiny Trucks

TTTrucksTitle: Teeny Tiny Trucks (book, app)

Author: Tim McCanna
Illustrator: Keith Frawley
Publisher: Little Bahalia, 2013
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3-6
Themes: Trucks, Insects

Opening Lines:
“Teeny tiny trucks. Smaller than a dime.
So much to deliver, in very little time.”

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

Slugs in traffic jams, busy bees and caterpillar bridges you never know what you’ll encounter with Teeny Tiny Trucks! Teeny Tiny Trucks hits the road with a convoy of micro-sized rigs as they trek through a treacherous garden, down a grassy landscape, across a wide stretch of sidewalk and into the great beyond. Will they deliver their teeny tiny cargo on time?

Activities:

  • Downloadable coloring sheets of the Teeny Tiny Trucks.
  • Grab some building sets, some trucks/cars, and whatever else you have and make your own truck route.

Why I Like This Book:

Breaker .. Breaker. We have got a new truck that is sure to delight all kids and will have them speaking like veteran trucker in no time. This colorful, rhyming book from debut author Tim McCanna is wonderful. I enjoyed the microcosm aspect of the book, teaching kids to see ordinary things in a new way. For example, a water hose is like a tunnel and a garden is like a jungle to teeny tiny truck.

Best of all kids can enjoy it in print form or as an interactive app. The two formats complement each other well. The print version has the bonus trucker glossary in the back. The app version has interactive elements at each spread, where kids can help the teeny tiny trucks by loading stuff onto the truck or moving obstacles out of the way. My 5yr-old daughter’s favorite part wasn’t the “helping” actions … nope, it was making the snails run into each other for the “fender bender” scene. So yes there is something for every child in this app.

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

October 25, 2013

People

peopleTitle: People
Author & Illustrator: Peter Spier

Publisher: Doubleday, 1980
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Diversity, Population, Individuality

Excerpt:

“People around our world wear different clothes — or none at all.

All of us want to look our best. Still, what is considered beautiful or handsome in one place is considered ugly, and even ridiculous, elsewhere.”

Synopsis:

Celebration of people everywhere around the world, reminding us that we are all unique, different from one another – each deserving respect.

Activities:

There are many, many activities, classroom plans available on-line. I have listed just a few here.

Why I Like This Book:

I loved that my 7 year old poured over the pages of this book for over half an hour, looking at the myriad of detailed illustrations, and most importantly learning about the world’s people. Mr. Spier goes through all sorts of physical and cultural attributes – appearances, clothing, homes, jobs, food, religion – while constantly reminding the reader that what may appear strange to one culture is completely normal to another. As we become a tighter global community, the importance of books like this will continue to grow. This is a must have book for every classroom.

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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