Posts tagged ‘perfect picture book friday’

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.

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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.

February 13, 2014

Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears

Goldi Rocks and the Three BearsTitle: Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears

Author: Corey Rosen Schwartz and Beth Coulton
Illustrator: Nate Wragg
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’ Sons, 2014
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Fractured Fairy Tale, Music

Opening Lines:
“Once upon a rock-and roll time,
three bears in a band jammed with ease.
The Papa Bear drummed,
the Mama Bear strummed,
and Baby bear ticked the keys.”

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear know how to rock! But they need a new singer, so they audition everyone—the Three Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, and more. To their dismay, no one seems just right. Could the perfect lead singer be the mysterious girl sleeping on Baby Bear’s keyboard?

Activities:

Have kids make their own musical instruments, guitar, bells and drums, and more. Then have a jam session.
Lesson plan on writing fractured fairy tales for 3rd-5th grades.

Why I Like This Book:

Goldilocks and the Three Bears has to be the most popular story to do a fractured fairy tale. I’m not sure why but this rhyming version by Ms. Schwartz rockets to the top of the charts for sheer originality and fun. The rhythm and pop feel of this rendition will engage today’s kids and their American Idol watching parents. This book is a pure read-aloud joy that is enhanced by the colorful pencil and digital illustrations.

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Picture Book Writers: Check-out this wonderful post by Ms. Schwartz at the Writerly Wisdom blog where she discusses Rhyme and Meter in Goldi rock style!

One lucky winner will receive their choice of a signed copy of this book OR a free picture book critique from Ms. Schwartz. In the comments answer “What favorite pop song do you like to sing or bee-bop too?” Deadline to enter is February 20th 9pm PST.

My favorite song to rock out on these days is “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities.

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.

January 23, 2014

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac (Multicultural Children’s Book Day)

The Great Race, Story Chinese ZodiacTitle: The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac

Author: Dawn Casey
Illustrator: Anne Wilson
Publisher: Barefoot Books, 2006
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 5-8
Themes: Folktale, Chinese Culture

Opening Lines:
“Many moons ago, the people of China had no calendar. With no way to measure time, nobody could tell one year from the next.

Synopsis (from Barefoot Books website):

Race with the animals of the Zodiac as they compete to have the years of the Chinese calendar named after them. The excitement-filled story is followed by notes on the Chinese calendar, important Chinese holidays, and a chart outlining the animal signs based on birth years.

Activities:

There are tons of Chinese Zodiac and New Year’s activities on the Internet. Below is just a sampling.

Snake Mobile Craft
Chinese New Year’s Activities for Kids – Pinterest Board
Chinese New Year Lesson Plans, Printables, and Crafts
More Chinese New Year Printables – puzzles, word searches, coloring sheets.

Why I Like This Book:

A simple, colorful re-telling of the origin of the Chinese zodiac and why cats hate rats.

The Jade Emperor decided to name each of the 12 years after an animal. To decide the order he announced The Great Race, the order in which the animals finished would determine the order of the calendar. Cat and Rat were best friends and also the smallest animals in the race. Clever Rat got them a ride on Ox. However, over-ambitious Rat pushed his friend Cat in the water and later ran-ahead of Ox to win. Cat never gets over the betrayal and this is why cats hate rats.

The text and artwork do a great job of engaging young readers. The artwork is done with paper collages and acrylics which works well in keeping the artwork simple, colorful, and childlike. The back matter contains information on Chinese festivals and more characteristics about the twelve animals and the people born in those years.

GreatRace_HC3

(Click to see a larger picture)

As a picture book writer, I know every word has to be carefully chosen to convey the right meaning and tone. For this reason I was somewhat bothered by the line below, which follows the scenes of Rat consciously pushing his friend cat into the water and running ahead of Ox to win the race.

“Rat may be small but he is also smart!” the Jade Emperor laughed.

I do realize the author can’t deviate from the original story, however it’s the subtext (probably unintentional) that it was okay for the rat to be mean and sneaky that bothered me. Maybe if the cat gave chase to the rat at the end I would have felt a little better.

Regardless of my pet peeve I do think this is a lovely book and is still good for introducing kids to the Chinese zodiac. Perfect timing with the Chinese New Year coming up.

This is review is a part of Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF) and Multicultural Children’s Book Day! To see additional PPBF recommended books please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book.

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I am very excited  to be a book reviewer participating in Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature on January 27th, 2014Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump into a Book have organized this event to raise awareness for children’s books that celebrate diversity and to get those books into more classrooms and libraries so more little eyes can see them. Proudly sponsored by Lee & Low Books, Wisdom Tales Press, Chronicle Books, and author Susan Fayad.

Why is Multicultural Children’s Book Day so important?

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

More than 60 bloggers are joining together to share books and ideas to celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day.  Please join us on January 27, 2014 for book reviews and multicultural activities.

Visit our collaborative Pinterest board, Multicultural Books for Kids, to see more great books and check out all of these amazing blogs participating in the event!

2GirlsLostInaBook · 365 Days of Motherhood · A Bilingual Baby · A Simple Life, Really? · Africa to America · After School Smarty Pants · All Done Monkey · Andi’s Kids Books · Anita Brown Bag  · Austin Gilkeson · Barbara Ann Mojica ·  Books My Kids Read · Bottom Shelf Books · Cats Eat Dogs · Chasing The Donkey · Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac · Children’s Books Heal · Church o Books · CitizenBeta · Crafty Moms Share · Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes · Early Words · Flowering Minds · Franticmommy · Gathering Books · GEO Librarian · Gladys Barbieri · Going in Circles · Growing Book by Book · iGame Mom · I’m Not The Nanny · InCulture Parent · Itsy Bitsy Mom ·Just Children’s Books– Kid World Citizen · Kristi’s Book Nook · Mama Lady Books · Mama Smiles · Mission Read · Mother Daughter Book Reviews · Mrs AOk · MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter · Ms. Yingling Reads · Multicultural Kids Blog · One Sweet World · Open Wide The World · P is for Preschooler · Rapenzel Dreams · School4Boys · Sharon the Librarian · Spanish Playground · Sprout’s Bookshelf · Squishable Baby · Stanley and Katrina · Teach Mama · The Art of Home Education · The Brain Lair · The Educators’ Spin On It · The Family-Ship Experience · The Yellow Door Paperie · This Kid Reviews Books  · Trishap’s Books · Unconventional Librarian · Vicki Arnold · We3Three · World for Learning · Wrapped in Foil 

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

October 25, 2013

People

peopleTitle: People
Author & Illustrator: Peter Spier

Publisher: Doubleday, 1980
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Diversity, Population, Individuality

Excerpt:

“People around our world wear different clothes — or none at all.

All of us want to look our best. Still, what is considered beautiful or handsome in one place is considered ugly, and even ridiculous, elsewhere.”

Synopsis:

Celebration of people everywhere around the world, reminding us that we are all unique, different from one another – each deserving respect.

Activities:

There are many, many activities, classroom plans available on-line. I have listed just a few here.

Why I Like This Book:

I loved that my 7 year old poured over the pages of this book for over half an hour, looking at the myriad of detailed illustrations, and most importantly learning about the world’s people. Mr. Spier goes through all sorts of physical and cultural attributes – appearances, clothing, homes, jobs, food, religion – while constantly reminding the reader that what may appear strange to one culture is completely normal to another. As we become a tighter global community, the importance of books like this will continue to grow. This is a must have book for every classroom.

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

October 10, 2013

Miss Maple’s Seeds

Miss Maple's SeedsTitle: Miss Maple’s Seeds
Author & Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler (interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast)

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Nature, Seeds

Excerpt:

She learns each seed by heart, all similar yet none the same. “Take care, my little ones,” Miss Maple says, “for the world is big and you are small.”

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

Fans of Miss Rumphius will adore this gorgeous picture book which introduces the kind, nature-loving Miss Maple, who celebrates the miracle in each seed.

Miss Maple gathers lost seeds that haven’t yet found a place to sprout. She takes them on field trips to explore places to grow. In her cozy maple tree house, she nurtures them; keeping them safe and warm until it’s time for them to find roots of their own, and grow into the magnificent plants they’re destined to become.

Eliza Wheeler’s luminous paintings feature gorgeous landscapes, lush foliage and charming details. Her tender story celebrates the potential found in each seed—since even the grandest tree and most brilliant flower had to grow from the smallest of seeds.

Celebrate every season with Miss Maple, from Earth Day to graduations to harvest festivals.

Activities:

  • Activity sheets which include coloring sheets, filling in the missing items for Miss Maple’s house and garden, and a seed fact sheet.
  • Booklist of additional “seed” related books, fiction & non-fiction.
  • Plant something with your kids.

Why I Like This Book:

A magical, timeless book that leaves the reader with a sense of calmness that everything  will be okay and the world is as it should be. There  really is a Mother Nature and she is Miss Maple.

Miss Maple searches for lost seeds and takes them to her home. Where she cleans them up, teaches them about being a seed, reads stories to them, and eventually one day near the end of spring she sends them on their way, so they can find their own roots. Kids will enjoy the whimsicality of the story and the illustrations, such as the seeds taking a bubble bath or being snug in bed. Older readers and adults will appreciate the metaphor of the story, of nurturing, teaching young kids and then having to let them go to discover their own path. The artwork is gorgeous with its pen, ink, and watercolor drawing. Checkout Ms. Wheeler’s portfolio and be amazed.

wheeler_bathtime_2My favorite parts from the book are:

  • Near the end “take care , my little ones, for the world is big and you are small. But never forget …” (I love the next part but I’m not going to spoil it.)
  • “In bustling gardens, seeds must take care to stay clear of weedy characters.” And there is a picture of some creepy weeds.
  • The picture of all the different seeds: pine, water lily, pea, pumpkin, and more.
  • Miss Maple giving the seeds a bath and reading bedtime stories by firefly light.
  • Miss Maple’s teaching the seeds of what they will be doing next summer, traveling by air or water and learning to grow big and strong.

This book is good for storytime. It can also be used in classroom to complement science units about seeds and plants.

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

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