Archive for ‘Animals’

March 1, 2016

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book)

I am thrilled to bring you today’s book review. I first ‘met’ Julie Falatko over the Internet back in 2012. She had just started doing book reviews on the Brain Burps podcast when I recommended Mathew Cordell’s ANOTHER BROTHER to her, hoping she would love it. I am so excited to see her witty, quirky humor getting out into the world.

My fun-filled interview with Julie Falatko and Snappsy.

SnappsyTitle: Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book)

Author: Julie Falatko (awesome interview of Julie, Tim, and Joanna at 7’Imp)
Illustrator: Tim Miller
Publisher: Viking Books, 2016
Editor: Joanna Cardenas
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Friendship

Opening:

Snappsy the alligator wasn’t feeling like himself.
His feet felt draggy.
His skin felt baggy.
His tail wouldn’t swish this way and that.
And, worst of all, his big jaw wouldn’t SNAP.

“This is terrible! I’m just hungry! Why is this rude narrator trying to make it seem like I need a nap?”

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Snappsy the alligator is having a normal day when a pesky narrator steps in to spice up the story. Is Snappsy reading a book … or is he making CRAFTY plans? Is Snappsy on his way to the grocery store … or is he PROWLING the forest for defenseless birds and fuzzy bunnies? Is Snappsy innocently shopping for a party … or is he OBSESSED with snack foods that start with the letter P? What’s the truth?

Activities:

Why I Like This Book:

A fusion of meta-fiction and unreliable narrator with a dose of heart. A book that can be simply enjoyed for the witty humor or dissected in classroms for its clever storytelling.

Right away from the book cover you know something is awry with the first part of the title in bold maroon letters, and the second part in a Snappsy dialogue bubble. This is the basic jist of the story, overbearing narrator vs humble Snappsy. I love the interplay between what the narrator says about Snappsy versus what Snappsy is actually doing – Snappsy hunting for animals to eat (false) vs Snappsy on his way to the grocery store (truth). I think Kirkus Review said it best by likening the narrator to Rita Skeeter. No wonder Snappsy is snappy. But he does humor the narrator by throwing a party to spice up the book. The reveal of the narrator was an unexpected pleasant surprise.

I love the narrator’s authoritative voice. (Come back tomorrow to find out the author’s influences on this.) I also really enjoyed Snappy’s dialogue when retorting back. Who actually says “You are really cheesing me off.” So original. It is sophisticated storytelling to pull-off essentially two characterizations of a single character, and in a picture book format.

Ms. Falatko provided the skeleton and framework which Mr. Miller filled out with his unique artistic vision. A perfect marriage of text and art.

The retro-cartoony art are simple drawings but full of charm and depth. I loved all the little tidbits that the illustrator added to Snappsy’s character such as the tie and fez. I also enjoyed the interpretive license. Text says “forest” but the art shows a bamboo forest. Snappsy visits a grocery store but it’s actually and ABC Grocery store where the aisles are letters not numbers. The art enrichs the story taking it to another level.

This is a fun read and one I can see kids going back too for more. For a special Snappsy treat take of the dust jacket.

Check-out this awesome book trailer. Enjoy!

Find Snappsy the Alligator at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0451469453
ISBN-13: 978-0451469458

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

August 27, 2015

Mummy Cat

Can’t believe summer has come to an end. Hope you have had a great one. Here is my final classroom pick for this month. Here are the other classroom picks from this past month. Water is Water, It’s a Seashell Day, Nature Books for the Classroom, and Marvelous Cornelius.

I’ve got a lot more new titles to tell you about in the Fall. Stay Tuned!

mummy_catTitle: Mummy Cat

Author: Marcus Ewert
Illustrator: Lisa Brown (interview at 7 Imp’)
Publisher: Clarion Books, 2015
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Ancient Egypt, Mummies, Cats, Friendship

Excerpt:

And one cold night, each century,
he gets up, and he checks to see

if she’s come back, his loving friend …
so that this lonely time can end.

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Mummy Cat prowls his pyramid home, longing for his beloved owner. As he roams the tomb, lavish murals above his head display scenes of the cat with his young Egyptian queen, creating a story-within-a-story about the events of centuries past. Hidden hieroglyphs deepen the tale and are explained in an informative author’s note.

 

Activities:

  • Informational website for kids on everything Ancient Egypt
  • National Geographic Kids website with fast facts on Ancient Egypt, plus more in-depth links on pyramid building, hieroglyphs, and mummification.
  • Printables coloring sheets, word searches, and mazes.
  • Pinterest board – links to crafts, printables, books, games, and more.

 

Why I Like This Book:

In a market filled with all sorts of friendship stories (realistic, imaginary creatures, animal stand-ins), this story of a cat and her beloved queen truly stand out. This is a tender friendship story set against the backdrop of Ancient Egypt. Readers will get a taste of Egyptian life, rituals, afterlife, mummification, and art. This dynamic duo has made learning about history and cultures engaging and heartfelt. Perceptive readers will be rewarded with extra story information when they decode the hieroglyphs. The extensive back matter can be used as a good starting point for learning more about Ancient Egypt.

Check-out this behind the scenes look

MUMMY CAT at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0544340825
ISBN-13: 978-0544340824

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
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.

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.

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