Archive for ‘Books by Type’

July 7, 2015

Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head

Hope you all are having a relaxing summer. I am enjoying the longer chill days with my family. Today I have a special treat for you. A short review by my 9-year old daughter who flew through this first book in a new middle-grade mystery series. Enjoy!

shrunken_headTitle: Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head
Author: Lauren Oliver & H.C. Chester
Publisher: HarperCollins, September 29, 2015
Pages: 386
Genre: Mystery
Ages: 8-12

Synopsis (from Harper Collins website):

The book is about, among other things: the strongest boy in the world, a talking cockatoo, a faulty mind reader, a beautiful bearded lady and a nervous magician, an old museum, and a shrunken head.

Blessed with extraordinary abilities, orphans Philippa, Sam, and Thomas have grown up happily in Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. But when a fourth child, Max, a knife-thrower, joins the group, it sets off an unforgettable chain of events.

When the museum’s Amazonian shrunken head is stolen, the four are determined to get it back. But their search leads them to a series of murders and an explosive secret about their pasts. This sensational new series combines the unparalleled storytelling gifts of Lauren Oliver with the rich knowledge of the notorious relics collector H. C. Chester.

What you will find in this book:

A rather attractive bearded lady
Several scandalous murders
A deliciously disgusting Amazonian shrunken head
Four extraordinary children with equally extraordinary abilities
A quite loquacious talking bird
What you will NOT find in this book:

An accountant named Seymour
A never-ending line at the post office
Brussels sprouts (shudder)
A lecture on finishing all your homework on time
A sweet, gooey story for nice little girls and boys

 

AK’s Review:

The book was exciting at first but it got kind of scary towards the middle. It is about four kids who try to solve many mysteries all at once. It got scary when a lot of murders happened at one time. It’s also about how four children can work together to save their home. People who like mysteries will love this book. I give the book 5 stars.

 

Find Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver & H.C. Chester at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0062270818
ISBN-13: 978-0062270818

 

Disclosure: We received a copy of this book from the publisher HarperCollins. This review nevertheless reflects our own and honest opinion about the book.

 

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.

March 27, 2015

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Up in the Garden and Down in the DirtTitle: Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Christopher Silas Neal
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2015
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Gardening, Insects, Ecosystem

Excerpt:

“I hide behind the cucumber vines, but their leaves can’t save me. I shiver and laugh, drenched in Nana’s rain.

Down in the dirt, water soaks deep. Roots drink it in, and a long-legged spider stilt-walks over the streams.”

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

In this exuberant and lyrical follow-up to the award-winning Over and Under the Snow, discover the wonders that lie hidden between stalks, under the shade of leaves . . . and down in the dirt. Explore the hidden world and many lives of a garden through the course of a year! Up in the garden, the world is full of green—leaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit. But down in the dirt exists a busy world—earthworms dig, snakes hunt, skunks burrow—populated by all the animals that make a garden their home.

Activities:

  • Plant a garden or maybe just some tomato and cucumber plants to start.
  • Grow butterflies or insects. Check out Insect Lore for kits.
  • Check-out Kidsgardening for additional classroom and family resources.
  • Pinterest themed board “Bugs in the Garden” that contains preschool crafts and activities.

Why I Like This Book:

This book takes you on a wondrous journey down in the dirt with fascinating details and lush language that simply leaves the reader in awe. I love the juxtaposition of the ‘down in the dirt’ scenes with their darker colored illustrations  and complex details of the ecosystem, against the ‘up in the garden’ scenes that are light-colored and depict simple childhood pleasures, such as quenching glass of lemonade or cooling water spray. An engaging book that will enrapture the reader as they travel through the weeks, months and seasons in the garden.

Here are some spreads from the book.

upinthegarden_1

upinthegarden_4

upinthegarden_6

 

This is perfect for classroom science discussions as it includes wonderful back matter on all the animals mentioned. Also good for home libraries due its narrative storytelling. Do also check out the previous book in this series Over and Under the Snow about the subnivean layer during winter time.

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.

February 23, 2015

Picture Books – Spring 2015

spring2015

 

Here are some of the picture book titles coming out in the next few months that I can’t WAIT to read! Any other new picture books I should know about? Leave a comment would love to know.

  • Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal. March 3, 2015. Explore the hidden world and many lives of a garden through the course of a year! Up in the garden, the world is full of green—leaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit. But down in the dirt exists a busy world—earthworms dig, snakes hunt, skunks burrow—populated by all the animals that make a garden their home.
  • I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. March 31, 2015. Wishes for curiosity and wonder, for friendship and strength, laughter and peace. Whether celebrating life’s joyous milestones, sharing words of encouragement, or observing the wonder of everyday moments, this sweet and uplifting book is perfect for wishers of every age.
  • Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld. April 7, 2015. 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?
  • By Mouse and Frog by Deborah Freedman. April 14, 2015. Fastidious Mouse has one idea about how to tell a story. Free-spirited Frog has another. What happens when Frog crashes into Mouse’s story with some wild ideas? Chaos!…followed by the discovery that working together means being willing to compromise—and that listening to one another can lead to the most beautiful stories of all.
  • Water is Water by Miranda Paul and Jason Chin. May 26, 2015. This spare, poetic picture book follows a group of kids as they move through all the different phases of the water cycle.
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