Archive for ‘Animals’

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.

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.

September 26, 2013

Hank Finds an Egg

Hank Finds an Egg

Title: Hank Finds an Egg
Author & Illustrator: Rebecca Dudley

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press, 2013
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 2-6
Themes: Kindness, Nature

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

While walking through the woods, Hank finds an egg all alone on the forest floor. Spotting its home high up in a tree, Hank diligently tries to return the egg to its nest, but is met with failure each time. After keeping the egg warm overnight, he returns to the scene the next morning. To his surprise, he is met by another forest creature. Will they find a way together to see the egg safely home?

Artist Rebecca Dudley crafts each tiny leaf, flower, and creature that appears in Hank’s forest in breathtaking detail, bringing the sunlit woods to life. From delicate ferns to the glow of Hank’s little campfire, Hank Finds an Egg immerses you in its vivid miniature world.

In this charming tale, told without words, Hank’s endearing and genuine kindness will inspire readers young and old alike to believe in themselves and the goodness of others.

Activities:

- Have the child “tell” the story for the pictures.
Discussion questions for students.
– Make a diorama. ocean diorama ideas. forest diorama ideas 

Why I Like This Book:

hankmomA simple tale of kindness brought to life in a wholly original fresh new way. Ms. Dudley’s talents as a diorama artist blended with her photographic skills are a winning combination. I was blown away the first-time, second-time, even the tenth-time I read this story. Her individual panels and full-page shots tell a complete story that need no words. She uses different angle shots and changes her focus on near and faraway objects to bring about the key elements and pacing in the story. One of my favorites is the top-down shot with the nest of eggs in focus and Hank fuzzed out below.

I liked that this was a simple story and easy to follow making it perfect for young tikes to ‘read’. (in case Peter Pauper Press or Ms. Dudley stop by – this story needs to be made into a board book!) Older kids will be amazed at the artistry and the “how did she make it” factor. Personally, I would love to know how she made those hummingbird wings.

This wordless, simple story of kindness with fairy tale like scenery makes me feel happy and hopeful. I love how the innocence of children is portrayed through Hank. I do hope there are more adventures for Hank in the near future. I for one will be anxiously waiting.

This book is good for story-time, lap-time and especially for a child to read on their own.

Interviews:

Learn about Ms. Dudley’s unique writing journey (making dioramas, learning photography, self-publishing) to landing a traditional publishing deal.

The Many Paths to Publication Part 3: An Interview With Rebecca Dudley
Rebecca Dudley Author Interview

Also checkout Ms. Dudley’s website Storywoods to see more stories of Hank and his friends.

A behind the scenes video at how Ms. Dudley creates these amazing dioramas and learn about her source of inspiration.

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

August 14, 2013

Chick-O-Saurus Rex

Chick-o-Saurus RexTitle: Chick-O-Saurus Rex
Author: Lenore Jennewein
Illustrator: Daniel Jennewein
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-6
Themes: Bravery, Bullying

Excerpt:

But first he had to face the bullies who guarded the entrance.

Little Chick clucked, “Can I come in?”

The bullies blocked his way. “This is a club for the brave and mighty. First you have to prove you belong.”

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

A bullied little chicken discovers his inner strength along with some surprising dinosaur ancestry in this farmyard tale with huge heart.

Why I Like This Book:

A book with heart and comical, colorful illustrations sure to delight any child who thinks he isn’t big enough to be strong and brave.

Little Chick wants to play in the tree house with the meanie farm animals – Little Pig, Little Sheep, Little Donkey. But they say no because he is a chicken and not “brave and mighty”. Little Chick goes on a search to find out how he can be brave and mighty. Frustrated that no one in the coop can teach him, he begins to wonder if anyone in his family was every brave and mighty. Good old dad cracks out the family album showing past accomplishments – chicken dance, crossing the road, archaeology? Little Chick is intrigued and starts digging with his dad. To their surprise they find they are descendants of the T-REX!

chick-o-saurus-bone

Chick-O-Saurus Rex, armed with this new knowledge, has courage and is able to scare off the hungry wolf at the tree house, thereby gaining respect and admission to the tree house.

I enjoyed this book for the animated, funny illustrations. I first noticed Mr. Jennewein’s work in the widely popular Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten. I love the message of this book that anyone can have inner strength. This book is rooted in scientific fact, see Author’s Note at the end, the chicken and T-Rex really are related. The favorite parts for my 5&7yr-old girls and I were the family album and Little Chick’s transformation. I particularly liked the name change from Little Chick –> Chick-O-Saurus Rex and his mighty battle cry (that was fun to read-aloud)!

The text was a little wordy in some areas and sparse in others. Also with regards to characterization of the bullies, I understood why they let Chick-O-Saurus play in the tree house. But I didn’t think the text showed the transformation of the bullies to make it believable that they were accepting of all the other small animals as well. Most kids won’t care about these points, but as a picture book writer I noticed.

This book is good for young kids, especially those who love dinosaurs or chickens.

tlc tour hostI received my copy of this book from the publisher as part of the TLC Book Tour. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book. To see other tour stops, click on the TLC icon.

April 16, 2013

Heart of a Tiger

Heart of a TigerTitle: Heart of a Tiger

AuthorMarsha Diane Arnold
Illustrator: Jamichael Henterly

Publisher: Dial Books, 1995
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Bravery, Perseverance, Jungle Animals, India

Excerpt:

The Name Day Celebration was only one week away.

“My name shall be Bahadur Shikari – Mighty Hunger,” declared Number One, scouting the veranda for mice.

“I’ll choose Rang Birange Kapare – Calico Colors,” added Number Two as she sat grooming her long fur.

….

“And you, Number Four,” asked Two, turning to the small gray kitten who had finally pulled his head from beneath the pillow “What will your name be? Smallest of All?”

Synopsis (from Amazon Website):

As the Name Day celebration approaches, a young kitten tries to deserve a noble name, by following the path of the beautiful Bengal tiger.

Activities:

Discussion guide on Naming ceremony, Indian culture, and even a tiger quiz from the author.

Tiger Crafts – simple paper crafts, origami, balloon animal

Basic info and photographs of Bengal tigers at National Geographic for Kids.

Learn more about tiger hunts and naming ceremony on Wikipedia.

Why I Like This Book:

A tale of a small cat who proves that he can be something more than what he appears.  The authentic text and vibrant illustrations transport the reader in time to the jungles of colonial India.

Number Four is a meek, small grey cat who yearns to be mighty and courageous, and have such a name. With Naming Day only a week away, Four sets out on a daring journey to learn how from the “Magnificent One”, a Bengal tiger. Four is not dissuaded in his quest by the jungle creatures who mock him. He doesn’t cower against the snarling tiger. Four remains persistent and follows the tiger for days and nights, learning how to survive. He saves the tiger’s life during a hunt thereby earning a powerful and wise name, Bangali Sher Ka Dil – Heart of the Tiger.

The illustrations done in watercolor and pencil are rich and bold, bringing to life the hot, humid jungle teaming with wildlife. Henterley has done a splendid job of conveying a range of emotions from the pensive Four looking into the rain puddle, to Four being startled via a close-up shot of the snarling tiger, to the tiger hunt scene showing just the tiger and Number 4 with the background a blur.

I enjoyed this book for its text and rich imagery with a great message that “you can be more than what you appear”. I loved seeing the inner strength of the cat revealed via each of the obstacles culminating with Four using his wisdom during the tiger hunt. The author uses accurate words to describe the colonial time period and jungle setting: master, veranda, langur (monkey), and beaters (men who play the drums during a tiger hunt). The Hindi names chosen have an accurate meaning too.  I love this last scene with Four in front on Naming Day with all the jungle animals in the background. Read this book and be transported to old-world India.

Heartoftiger

Below are some photographs of tiger hunts. These are from the Bangalore Palace in southern India.

tigertiger2

Check-out these other great reviews.

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