Archive for ‘Picture Books’

January 21, 2016

Be A Friend

beafriendcoverTitle: Be A Friend

Author/Illustrator: Salina Yoon
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2016
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3-6
Themes: Friendship, Self-acceptance

Opening Lines:

DENNIS was an ordinary boy …
… who expressed himself in EXTRAORDINARY ways.

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Dennis is an ordinary boy who expresses himself in extraordinary ways. Some children do show-and-tell. Dennis mimes his. Some children climb trees. Dennis is happy to BE a tree . . . But being a mime can be lonely. It isn’t until Dennis meets a girl named Joy that he discovers the power of friendship–and how special he truly is! At its core, this book is a heartwarming story of self-acceptance, courage, and unbreakable friendship for anyone who has ever felt “different.”

Activities:

  • Downloadable activity sheets – BE A FRIEND Valentines, coloring, and spot the difference.
  • Lovely post by Ms. Yoon on how the story has parallels to her own childhood.

Why I Like This Book:

A tender and powerful story about the loneliness a child feels until he has someone who understands him. While this book is aimed at the children just starting to learn how to make friends in a school setting, I think this story is something any aged reader can relate to. The story is one that will fill the reader with courage to be yourself and re-assurance that there is a friend for everyone.

Ms. Yoon has a knack for creating stories that emotionally connect with children and are also simplistic and charming in their excution. The subdued color palette with red accents is eye-catching and plays well with the short text. One of my favorite parts of the story is the title “BE A FRIEND”, what a subtle and perfect way to get kids to remember to be ‘that friend’ to someone else. In a recent blog post, Mr. Sharp hoped that the kidlit world would mobilize behind this message similar to the “Choose Kind” movement. I certainly hope so.

This book has tons of heart. Check-out the trailer below and see for yourself.

 

This is a good book for pre-school thru KG classroom storytime or lap-reading at home.

 

Find Be A Friend at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1619639513
ISBN-13: 978-1619639515

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

 

October 16, 2015

It’s Raining Bats & Frogs

raining batsTitle: It’s Raining Bats & Frogs

Author: Rebecca Colby
Illustrator: Steven Henry
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends, 2015
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3-6
Themes: Witches, Halloween

Excerpt:

The raining and pouring
may have been quite boring,
but cats and dogs, they just don’t work.
They hiss and bark and go BERSERK.
So, change what’s falling on my head.
Make it HATS and CLOGS instead!

 

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

A little witch named Delia has been looking forward all year to flying in the annual Witch Parade. When the rumors of rain come true and the other witches start complaining, Delia takes action. Using her best magic, Delia changes the rain to cats and dogs. At first this goes over quite well, but she quickly realizes the animals cause a few issues. She must change the rain again! This time to hats and clogs. And finally, she tries bats and frogs. But each new type of rain brings its own set of problems. How will Delia save the day?

 

Activities:

  • Teacher’s Guide – English Language Arts & Math exercises, Frog facts, songs, and more!

 

Why I Like This Book:

Cute charming tale about a young witch trying to save the Halloween parade with a lovely theme subtly woven in that parents will appreciate.

In the story Delia a young witch tries to prevent the rain from ruining their Halloween parade by changing the rain to cats and dog, then hats and clogs and so on. Each changes brings on it’s own set of issues which the other witches complain about. Eventually Delia realizes the best way to solve the problem — this was completely satisfying.

My favorite part of the book was the cumulative refrain that is done in rhyme. So fun and catchy. It is sure to elicit recitations and re-enactments by the youngest readers.

The artwork is as equally charming as the text. Loved the roundness of the witches making them appear kid-like. The color palette of a gray backdrop with spots of muted greens, purples, and oranges was just the right look for this adorable Halloween story.

bats1

This is a good book for pre-school thru KG classroom storytime or lap-reading at home.

Find It’s Raining Bats & Frogs at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 125004992X
ISBN-13: 978-1250049926

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

October 9, 2015

Star Wars Epic Yarns – plus Giveaway

People throughout the galaxy will be celebrating reading this Saturday, October 10th for the 4th annual Star Wars Reads Day. So grab your young padawans and experience together the power of reading.

If you are a Star Wars geek like me, then check-out the Star Wars Epic Yarn books from Chronicle. They’re not your average board books.

Star Wars series

These 12-paged books are word primers. Each spread contains a single word paired with an iconic scene from the movie, helping the adult reader narrate the story to the child. The scenes are amazing from the meticulous handcrafted felt characters to the onsite shooting. It may even trigger reader a (re-)watching of the movies.

Here are some interior spreads.

SW Epic Yarns_A New Hope_10_Swing spread © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

SW Epic Yarns_Empire Strikes Back_4_Force spread © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.SW Epic Yarns_Return of the Jedi_Team spread © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

A perfect gift for any Star Wars fan.

Giveaway:

You are in luck. I have an extra set of books to GIVEAWAY, courtesy of Chronicle Books. Leave a comment below telling us your favorite character and why (anyone from Episodes 1-6, but picking Jar Jar Binks is automatic disqualification, j/k :-) ). Deadline to enter is Thursday, October 15th. May the force be with you!

Read my interview with the creators Jack and Holman Wang and learn about their creative process.

 

Find the Star Wars Epic Yarns series at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads

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

September 25, 2015

The Perfect Percival Priggs – plus Giveaway!

percivalTitle: The Perfect Percival Priggs
Author & Illustrator: Julie-Anne Graham

Publisher: Running Press Kids, 2015
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-7
Themes: Unconditional love, Individuality

Opening Lines:

Percival Priggs was perfect.
His parents were perfect.
His grandparents were perfect.
Even his pets were perfect.

 

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

Percival Priggs wants to be the perfect child in order to please his seemingly perfect parents.
But even when Percy gets his family into a mess of a situation, his parents’ love for him remains absolute perfection.

 

Activities:

  • Activity Guide – discussion questions, coloring sheets, games, and more.

 

Why I Like This Book:

A delightful book with a quirky cast of characters in a sweet story about pursuing the things you love and not having to be perfect at it with a dollop of unconditional family love. Perfect story for kids who too often notice the trophy/prize someone has won without realizing the hard work and failures that came prior.

The art shines brightly in this book. Check-out the trophy shelf below. Unfortunately, Percival doesn’t enjoy most of his activities they are b-o-r-i-n-g, which most young readers will likely agree with.

priggs_trophy

One day Percival comes up with an ingenious plan to finish his to-do list faster. Unfortunately, his plan literally blows up and creates havoc in the household. This is where the unconditional loves comes in, but wait this isn’t the end of the story. Now we find out all about the parents’ past failures. It’s a real treat, sorry no hints.

priggs_love

Since the charm of the book is in the detailed art, probably not a good book for story time but definitely one to keep in a home or classroom library.

 

Giveaway:

For a chance to win this book, let us know your quirky talent in the comments below. (my quirky talent is i can catch spiders) Deadline to enter is Thursday, October 1st at 9pm PST. Contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

 

Find The Perfect Percival Priggs at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0762455063
ISBN-13: 978-0762455065

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 Running Press Kids. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

 

September 11, 2015

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine – plus Giveaway!

Growing up I was a math and science girl. I completed two degrees in engineering and my day job is in the computer industry. It is my pleasure to bring to you today’s book review about Ada Lovelace. Ada is recognized as having created the first algorithm (“computer program”) to be carried out on a mechanical machine. Can you believe it the first programmer was a woman! What is sad is that even though I studied computer programming, I had never heard of Ada Lovelace until a few years ago when I saw a Google Doodle about her. I am thrilled to see this children’s biography about her life and contributions and hope it will inspire today’s girls.

Check-out my interview with author Laurie Wallmark.

Ada coverTitle: Ada Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

Author: Laurie Wallmark
Illustrator: April Chu
Publisher: Creston Books (October 13, 2015)
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 6-10
Themes: Women in Science, Mathematics

Opening Lines:

Ada was born into a world of poetry, but numbers, not words, captured her imagination.

Her mother, Lady Byron, had a passion for geometry. In fact, her nickname was “The Princess of Parallelograms.”

But her famous father dominated the household. Beloved for his Romantic poems, Lord Byron was a celebrity throughout the world.

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the famous romantic poet, Lord Byron, develops her creativity through science and math. When she meets Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, Ada understands the machine better than anyone else and writes the world’s first computer program in order to demonstrate its capabilities.

Activities:

Why I Like this Book:

A story about one girl’s love for numbers. Numbers were Ada’s friends, they kept her occupied and engaged. They even kept her mind sharp when she temporarily blind due to illness. The author beautifully shows us Ada’s inquiring nature as she progresses from sketching models for flying machines to computing the wings’ power, leading her to eventually collaborating with Charles Babbage on the Analytical Engine. Unfortunately this complex machine was not completed so Ada never got to see her program run but her influence lives on in modern computing.

I was surprised to learn that she was the daughter of the famous poet, Lord Byron, and that her mother loved geometry. I was also intrigued by the fact that there were women that studied math, such as Ada’s tutor Mary Fairfax Somerville. You just don’t learn about women in scientific pursuits for that time period in general history courses. While we do see Ada’s mom encouraging her in analytical thinking, the disparaging opinions of the Nanny give the reader a sense of what was considered appropriate pursuits for girls.

The pencil and paper drawing with the lush digital coloring are gorgeous. I do like the subtle shows of humor by the artist such as the cat hiding in Ada’s bag or the frog in the bathroom. Ms. Chu has elegantly captured Ada’s inquisitiveness and love for science. On one spread Ada is looking at a flock of birds taking flight and the bird that is right over her head is drawn as a mechanical bird, showing us Ada’s curiosity. Click here to see the mechanical bird image plus others from the book.

A detailed author’s note, timeline, and bibliography will help facilitate further investigation. This book is good for use in upper elementary classrooms.

Giveaway:

For a chance to win this book, leave a comment. Deadline to enter is Thursday, September 17th at 9pm PST. Winner will receive the book at time of release in October. Contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

Find Ada Lovelace and the Thinking Machine at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1939547202
ISBN-13: 978-1939547200

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.

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