Archive for ‘Books by Topic’

May 1, 2015

Juna’s Jar

junajarTitle: Juna’s Jar

Author: Jane Bahk
Illustrator: Felicia Hoshino
Publisher:  Lee & Low Books
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Friendship, Childhood Experiences, Multi-Cultural

Excerpt:

“After they finished eating all the kimchi, Juna sometimes got to keep the empty jar.
Juna loved to take the jar and go on adventures with her best friend Hector.”

Synopsis (from Lee & Low website):

Juna and her best friend, Hector, love to go on adventures in the park, collecting things to put in Juna’s empty kimchi jars. But then one day Hector unexpectedly moves away, and Juna is left wondering who will play with her. With the help of her special jar, Juna searches for her friend the world over. What Juna finds is that adventure—and new friends—can be found in the most unexpected places.

Winner of Lee & Low’s New Voices Award, Juna’s Jar is a heartwarming and whimsical celebration of friendship and the power of imagination.

 

Activities:

  • Make kimchi. Recipe for mild, sweet kimchi, good for kids. Spicier kimchi with a video. There are tons more links on the web.
  • Seed Jar Experiment
  • Plant vegetables in a jar project.
  • How to make a Bug Jar.

 

Why I Like This Book:

I chose this book for a number of reasons, it’s a multicultural book without being multicultural, the story focuses on a childhood experience of losing a best friend, power of imagination, and the beautiful watercolor illustrations.

Juna and her best friend, Hector go on adventures. Along these trips Juna takes her trusty kimchi jar for collecting and catching stuff. But when Hector surprisingly moves away, Juna feels a loss. Juna’s brother tries to cheer her up by buying her a fish. That night Juna dreams her first adventure, diving into the ocean in search of Hector. The next day the fish is too big for the jar and has to be moved. Once again the jar is empty, so they grow a bean plant. More adventures follow involving a jungle and a cricket. Eventually Juna’s heart is calmed and knows that Hector is okay wherever he is. After which she is able to start a new chapter on friendship.

Juna is the quintessential child. The story felt REAL in that young kids don’t often know what is going on in their friends’ homes and so it felt totally appropriate that one day her friend was gone. Kids have powerful imaginations as shown by Juna’s adventures in the ocean, jungle, and on the cricket in her dreams. Through her dreams Juna was able to resolve her own problem, this felt very satisfying. The only aspect that may make kids scratch their head is the accelerated growth of the objects in the jar to which there is no explanation or concern by her older brother.

The watercolor art adds a complimentary layer of warmth and softness to the charming text.

junajar1

This is a good book for pre-school thru KG classroom storytime.

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 the book from the publisher Lee & Low Books. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

JUNA’S JAR. Copyright © 2015. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Lee & Low Books.

April 10, 2015

Stick and Stone – plus Giveaway!

Stick and StoneTitle: Stick and Stone

Author: Beth Ferry
Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3-6
Themes: Friendship

Opening Lines:

“Stick. Stone.
Lonely. Alone.
A zero. A one.
Alone is no fun.”

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

When Stick rescues Stone from a prickly situation with a Pinecone, the pair becomes fast friends. But when Stick gets stuck, can Stone return the favor?
Author Beth Ferry makes a memorable debut with a warm, rhyming text that includes a subtle anti-bullying message even the youngest reader will understand. New York Times bestselling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld imbues Stick and Stone with energy, emotion, and personality to spare.

Activities:

  • Activity Kit including circle-time games, printable (friendship bracelets, drawing, maze)
  • Classroom lesson for on anti-bullying using the rhyme “sticks and stones can …”
  • Another anti-bullying lesson plan.

 

Why I Like This Book:

A heartwarming friendship story between a stick and a stone. It is amazing what Ms. Ferry has achieved in only 139 words and in rhyme. It’s a simple story of finding a friend, losing a friend, and finding them again. The story is filled with loads of good things we want our kids to see such as compassion and loyalty, and the joys of friendship. Kids will enjoy seeing how Stick and Stone play together and Stone’s superb way for saving Stick.

As a writer, I like the short one word sentences in the beginning spreads that help convey the isolation each character is feeling. Sort of like two parallel stories that come together. Whereas later when the duo are together the author uses a comma “Stick, Stone”. Subtle but poignant.

Mr. Lichtenheld’s endearing child-like pencil and watercolor illustrations heighten the emotion of the author’s sparse text. I remember pausing and feeling the character’s loneliness the first time I saw this spread.

stickstone_4

 

Here is the scene where the two become friends after Stick sticks up for Stone. I love their silly smiles. I have yet to figure out what makes these characters so child-like but I love it.

stickstone_1

 

Love this art, totally feeling the scariness here.

stickstone_2

 

The three-panel spread (on the left) is brilliant in heightening the emotion. I love the increasing size and jitteriness of the text as Stone calls out for Stick.

stickstone_3

 

This book is perfect for lap-reading at home or for use in preschool storytime.

Checkout my interview with Beth Ferry!

Giveaway:

For a chance to win this book, leave a comment. Deadline to enter is Thursday, April 16th at 9pm PST.

Here is a short trailer of this charming book.

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

STICK AND STONE. Copyright © 2015. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

January 16, 2015

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

meandmiranda

Happy New Year!! Hope you all had a wonderful, relaxing holiday break.

I am ecstatic and overjoyed to bring you today’s book review! I first read this beautiful manuscript back in 2012, when Miranda and I were in the same 12×12 critique group. (haven’t heard of 12×12, click the link and find out more about this awesome picture book community. registration for 2015 is currently taking place.) If you ever have the opportunity to listen to Miranda speak/teach .. GO! She is an entertaining speaker and chockful of information. You will be seeing a lot more books with her name as she has FOUR more picture books coming out in the next two years! Now onto the review.

 

One Plastic BagTitle: One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

Author: Miranda Paul (interview)
Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon
Publisher: Millbrook Press (February 1, 2015)
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Africa, Environment, Activism

Excerpt:

Isatou shakes sand off her papers. Another plastic bag floats by, and she tucks her things inside.

The torn bag is useless now. She drops it to the dirt, as everyone does. There’s nowhere else to put it.

Synopsis (from One Plastic Bag website):

Inspiring story of five women who creatively dealt with their village’s plastic trash problem. Despite limited resources and ridicule, Isatou and her friends persevered for more than a decade, eventually realizing economic empowerment through their recycled plastic purse project. The book also includes bonus information such as a Wolof language glossary, timeline of actual events, and photos of the women of Njau.

Activities:

Visit the One Plastic Bag teacher’s resource section for tons of activities and information.

Gambia Facts Worksheet, Dangers of Plastic & What You Can Do resource guide, Downloadable Word Search, Bookmark

The coolest was the video demonstration on how to recycle plastic bags into a purse!

Why I Like This Book:

A wonderful book that shows how one single ordinary person, Isatou Cessay, made a difference. The reason I say ordinary is because initially Isatou had the same views as everyone else, which was that plastic bags are good for carrying things and when they break just  throw them on the ground. But when the plastic bag pollution became a problem for the villagers – goats eating plastic bags and dying, mosquitoes nesting in the pooling water – it was Isatou who did something about it. Together with the help of other women from the village they found a way to recycle the piles of plastic bags into purses they could sell in the nearby city. An empowering message for all young readers, that they too can make a difference.

The book is an engaging read as the Gambian world springs to life by awakening the readers senses via the sounds of the Wolof language “Ndanka”,  smells of Gambian food “bubbling peanut stew” and the sights of village daily life. The illustrations are collages of colored paper, paint, and even plastic bags. Checkout the interview at Seven Impossible Things for more sneak peeks into Ms. Zunon’s artistry.

If you would like to learn more about Gambia, this book, or the purses check out the One Plastic Bag website. I had the opportunity to see one of these purses at a writing retreat this summer. It was quite amazing.

purses

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 digital review copy of this book from the author. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

December 7, 2014

One Big Pair of Underwear

onebigunderwearTitle: One Big Pair of Underwear

Author: Laura Gehl
Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld
Publisher: Beach Lane Books, 2014
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3-6
Themes: Counting, Sharing

Opening Lines:

ONE big pair of underwear.
TWO brown bears who hate to share.
ONE bear wears the underwear.
ONE bear cries, “That isn’t fair!”

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

What’s one thing that two bears, three yaks, four goats, and six cats have in common?
They hate to share.
But look out—here comes a pack of twenty pigs ready to prove that sharing makes everything twice as fun!

Activities:

– Kindergarten Common Core Curriculum Guides for Math and English Arts.
– Printable activity sheets

Why I Like This Book:

Let me ask what is NOT to love about this book … Nothing.

  • I love that this is more than just a counting book from 1-10. It is has an underlying theme of sharing!
  • I love the front cover definitely an eye-catcher.
  • I love all the silliness: big underwear, cooking hippos, pigs on a slide, etc.
  • I love the use of poetic devices to create engaging and sometimes tongue-tied text.
  • I love the colorful, engaging, humorous illustrations of Tom Lichtenheld. The art was rendered in pencil and digitally colored.

This is a great book to use in any preschool classroom, storytime, for lap-reading.

Check-out Laura Gehl’s guest post on writing with kids!

Picture Book Analysis:

It’s been a while since I have done an analysis, but this is a great book to apply some of the tools I recently learned from the Pacing Picture Books to WOW class and the Lyrical Language Lab.

onebig_yaks

Spread 2

onebig_seals

Spread 3

 

  • WORDS: The title of “One Big Pair of Underwear” is a memorable catchphrase. Definitely a ‘hook’.
  • REPETITIVE STRUCTURE:The first ten spreads have a repetitive structure that acts as a pacing marker.
    • Line 1 – Introduce number ‘N’ and desired objects
    • Line 2 – Animals (N+1)
    • Line 3 – ‘N’ Animals get the desired object
    • <page turn>
    • Line 4 – Reaction of the extra animal that didn’t get the desired object
  • PAGE TURN: Due to the repetitive structure above the reader KNOWS there is going to be some silly sad animal after each page turn.
  • WHITE SPACE: When showing the sad animal, it is just the one animal in that illustration which really makes the reader ‘feel’ the animal’s loneliness in being left out.
  • POETIC DEVICES: Rhyme, Alliteration, Assonance, Consonance. While this isn’t a ‘rhyming’ book (doesn’t have consistent meter) it does make use of end rhyme.
    • Rhyme – yaks.. snacks.. packs, seals .. wheels
    • Alliteration – young yaks, small sacks .. salty snacks
    • Assonance – black backpacks
    • Consonance – seals steal
November 7, 2014

I’m My Own Dog plus a Giveaway

owndog

Title: I’m My Own Dog
Author & Illustrator: David Ezra Stein

Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2014
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Friendship, Humor

Opening Lines:

“I’m my own dog.
Nobody owns me.
I own myself.

I work like a dog all day.
When I get home, I fetch my own slippers.”

Synopsis:

Many dogs have human owners. Not this dog. He fetches his own slippers, curls up at his own feet, and gives himself a good scratch. But there is one spot, in the middle of his back, that he just can’t reach. So one day, he lets a human scratch it. And the poor little fella follows him home. What can the dog do but get a leash to lead the guy around with? Dog lovers of all ages will revel in the humorous role-reversal as this dog teaches his human all the skills he needs to be a faithful companion.

Activities:

  •  Check-out the Story-Hour Kit from Candlewick. Contains discussion questions, drawing exercise, and a connect the dots page. Pages 4,9, and 10.
  • Dog related crafts.
  • Checkout this list of great kids books about dogs from Pragmatic Mom.

Why I Like This Book:

This is one HILARIOUS book about an overly independent dog getting a human for a pet. The two things that stole my heart about this book were the great hook and the amazing voice of the dog. This is a wonderful book to study how the text and art work for irony and humorous effect. One of my favorite spreads reads “And you always have to clean up after them”, while the art shows the dog licking up the spilled ice-cream on the ground. Priceless. In the scenes below, we see how the dog is training the human.

dog1dog2

The dog’s attitude of “I can do it myself” will appeal to young kids, who long to control the happenings of their day and make their own decisions.

The artwork was created using a mix of watercolor, pen, and a hint of crayon. The looseness of watercolor is perfect for mimicking how kids paint – neither filling the space completely of running over the lines. I like how the shirt sleeve isn’t colored in all the way or the colors bleed over the outline.

Good book for preschoolers, story-time, and dog lovers.

Checkout my interview with the author, David Ezra Stein.

Giveaway: 

For a chance to win this book, leave a comment stating what name you would give the dog. Deadline to enter is Thursday, November 13th at 9pm PST.

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

I’M MY OWN DOG. Copyright © 2014 by David Ezra Stein. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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.

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