Archive for ‘Picture Books’

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.

Tags:
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.

September 12, 2014

Flora and the Penguin plus a Giveaway!

florapenguinTitle: Flora and the Penguin
Author & Illustrator: Molly Idle (interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast)

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

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

Having mastered ballet in Flora and the Flamingo, Flora takes to the ice and forms an unexpected friendship with a penguin. Twirling, leaping, spinning, and gliding, on skates and flippers, the duo mirror each other’s graceful dance above and below the ice. But when Flora gives the penguin the cold shoulder, the pair must figure out a way to work together for uplifting results. Artist Molly Idle creates an innovative, wordless picture book with clever flaps that reveal Flora and the penguin coming together, spiraling apart, and coming back together as only true friends do.

Activities:

Why I Like This Book:

A year ago I was amazed with Ms. Idle’s book Flora and the Flamingo, a beautifully crafted visual tale about making friends involving a girl, a flamingo, and ballet. Ms. Idle’s latest book in the series is just as gorgeous, this time through ice-dancing and a penguin friend, while exploring a different aspect of friendship. “What happens when two friends want different things?”

Flora and penguin glide, twirl, and pirouette on the ice as any great ice-dancing duo. But Flora is left befuddled during her sit-spin when penguin abandons her to leap down into the ice hole after a fish. Could it be just that the two friends aren’t on the same wavelength, for Penguin returns offering her a gift, a fish. Flora behaves much in the way any child does when they get something they don’t want (my girls certainly behave this way), she simply tosses it away. How will the duo find their way back, well you’ll have to read it to find out.

Ms. Idle has created a story arc about the natural, undulating waves in friendship. The subdued color palette of white, yellows, and pale blues lends a soft, innocence touch to the story. The flaps move from right-left allowing the characters to glide back and forth across the page. I love how moving the flaps reveal a new emotions or actions to move the story forward. Do take notice of the fish swimming in the opening scenes and how they mirror the skating movements above.

fp_glide1

fp_glide2

Flora and Penguin is a charming tale and a great addition to the series.

I have a special treat this time. I have an extra copy of the book that I will be giving away (yes, before the release date!!). Leave a comment stating what animal you would like Flora to be friends with and what activity they would do together. Deadline to enter is September 19th 9pm PST.

Be sure to check-out Ms. Idle’s interview on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, to get a behind the scenes look at her thought process into making this book. Also find out about the next book in this series!

Enjoy the delightful trailer.

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 Chronicle Books. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

September 8, 2014

Seeds of Change

seeds-of-changeTitle: Seeds of Change

Author: Jen Cullerton Johnson
Illustrator: Sonia Lynn Sadler
Publisher: Lee and Low Books, 2011
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 6 and up
Themes: Environment, Activism, Multi-cultural

Opening Lines

“Come,” Wangari’s mother  called. She beckoned her young daughter over to a tall tree with a wide, smooth trunk and a crown of green, oval leaves.

Synopsis (from Lee & Low Books):

As a young girl in Kenya, Wangari was taught to respect nature. She grew up loving the land, plants, and animals that surrounded her—from the giant mugumo trees her people, the Kikuyu, revered to the tiny tadpoles that swam in the river.

Although most Kenyan girls were not educated, Wangari, curious and hardworking, was allowed to go to school. There, her mind sprouted like a seed. She excelled at science and went on to study in the United States. After returning home, Wangari blazed a trail across Kenya, using her knowledge and compassion to promote the rights of her countrywomen and to help save the land, one tree at a time.

Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace brings to life the empowering story of Wangari Maathai, the first African woman, and environmentalist, to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Engaging narrative and vibrant images paint a robust portrait of this inspiring champion of the land and of women’s rights.

Activities:

Resource Page on the Lee & Low website containing activities, lesson plans, discussion guides for elementary and middle-school students.

Resource sheet from Reading is Fundamental (RIF), contains a scratch art activity, a simple recipe for maize and bean stew, and discussion questions.

Green Belt Movement website – initiative started by Wangari

National Geographic for kids website with facts and pictures of Kenya

Other picture books on Wangari Maathai: Mama MitiPlanting the Trees of Kenya, and Wangari’s Trees of Peace

Why I Like This Book:

A rich, colorful book that engages the audience at multiple levels. The author brings Nobel prize winner,
Wangari Maathai, to life in an accessible way for young readers. The book opens with the importance of the
mugumo tree to Wangari’s people. The reader gains an appreciation of the interconnection between plants,
animals, and humans. During the early years we also see Wangari’s desire to learn at a time
when it was not common for girls to attend schools. It is these two threads which intersect in Wangari’s later
years that lead her to become a champion for Kenya’s environment and women’s education.

I found this book to be empowering because it showed how just a single person with sheer determination
and passion can indeed make a difference in the world. Also that it all started with something so simple,
planting one tree at a time.

Lovers of lyrical language will enjoy the numerous plant metaphors.

Wangari listened as still as a tree, but her mind swirled with curiosity like the currents in the stream.

The rich, saturated colors done in scratchboard art and oil, bring to life the beauty of the African landscape
and native clothing.

seedsofchange_tree

This book is best suited for elementary readers and can be used in conjunction with classroom discussions
about Kenya, environmentalism, or activism.

Come back tomorrow to find out how this book inspired one elementary school to become a platform of
change, when I interview the author Jen Cullerton Johnson.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,703 other followers

%d bloggers like this: