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Perfect Picture Book Friday! Swatch by Julia Denos

23 Jul

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is visually stunning.

swatchSwatch; The Girl Who Loved Color
By Julia Denos
40 pages – ages 5+

Published by Balzer + Bray on March 15, 2016

Theme/Topic- Art/Creativity

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “In a place where colors ran wild, there lived a girl who was wilder still.

Her name was Swatch, and she was a color tamer.”

Publisher’s Synopsis: “In a place where color ran wild, there lived a girl who was wilder still. Her name was Swatch, and color was her passion. From brave green to in-between gray to rumble-tumble pink . . . Swatch wanted to collect them all. But colors don’t always like to be tamed. . . “

What I Thought- The art in this book is phenomenal! It really does seem as if the colors are alive! It is a very unique idea, and I think one that has several subtle, underlying messages as well, such as it not being right to cage wild animals. Ms. Denos has a great writing style, reminding me of a fairytale. I enjoyed this book very much, and hope to read more by Ms. Denos!

swatch

Activities and Resources- Funathomewithkids.com has a great activity on ways to finger paint with children HERE. I think the activity will go great with the book!

For a full preview of the book, visit the HarperCollins website HERE.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Sophie’s Squash Go to School by Pat Zietlow Miller

1 Jul

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because sometimes it takes a bit of work to grow a friend.

squash2Sophie’s Squash Go to School
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller
Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
40 pages – ages 5+

Published by Schwartz & Wade on June 28, 2016

Theme/Topic- Making friends

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “On the first day of school, Sophie peeked into her classroom.”

Synopsis from publisher: “This charming sequel to the beloved Sophie’s Squash is the perfect antidote to the back-to-school jitters. Sophie goes to school for the first time and has no interest in making friends that aren’t squash. Here’s a gently humorous read-aloud that proves that making friends, just like growing squash, takes time.

On Sophie’s first day of school, nobody appreciates her two best friends, Bonnie and Baxter, baby squash that she grew in her garden. Even worse, one classmate, Steven Green, won’t leave Sophie alone. He sits by her at circle time. He plays near her during recess. And he breathes on her while she paints. Steven just wants to be friends, but Sophie isn’t interested. Still, Sophie knows that her squash friends won’t last forever. Maybe it would be nice to have some human friends after all. . . .”

What I Thought- Ms. Miller did a fabulous job with this sequel to Sophie’s Squash! I enjoyed the way it dealt with making new friends, showing the Sophie was perfectly fine without human friends (or so she thought), but when Bonnie and Baxter need to get planted in the ground, she gets lonely. I thought that that was a marvelous idea. Ms. Wilsdorf’s illustrations are perfect for the book, with a soft glow created from the watercolors. This is a great picture book about friendship!

Activities and Resources- You can visit Parentingscience.com to read an article about helping your kids make friends HERE.

You can visit Vegetable-gardening-online.com to read an article about growing your own butternut squash HERE!

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Can I Tell You a Secret? by Anna Kang

18 Jun

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a good story about facing your fears.

secretCan I Tell You a Secret?
Written by Anna Kang
Illustrated by Christopher Weyant
40 pages – ages 4+

Published by HarperCollins on May 31, 2016 

Theme/Topic- Facing your Fears

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Pssst!

Yes, you.
Hi.
Could you come here for a sec?”

Publisher’s Synopsis: “From the author-illustrator team of You Are (Not) Small, winner of the 2015 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, comes an adorable picture book featuring Monty.

He’s a little frog with a BIG secret that he’s ready to share. Monty learns how to face his fears with some help from his new friend—YOU!”

What I Thought- This is a really cute book. It’s by the same people as those that wrote You Are (Not) Small (Review HERE), and the art and writing style collaboration is perfect for the book. I was glad to see another book by them. The book has a good message on how to handle fears, without sounding preachy, as the reader is “helping” Monty out with his fears. It’s a nice story that kids will enjoy reading, and learn a little without realizing it. The illustrations are simple. The white space on the page draws the reader’s eye to the illustration, giving it nice emphasis.
secret1

secret2

 

 

 

 

 

The book also shows that it is a good idea to talk with someone about something you are afraid of and not keep it inside.

Activities and Resources- 

Check out a sample of the book at the publisher’s website HERE.

Family Education has a good article on how to face fears objectively, found HERE.

StressFreeKids.com has an article about how to ease your child out of fear, found HERE.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! My Little Sister and Me by Maple Lam

10 Jun

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it really captures the relationship of siblings.

littlesisterMy Little Sister and Me
By Maple Lam
40 pages – ages 5+

Published by HarperCollins on May 10, 2016

Theme/Topic- Siblings

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “For the very first time, Mom asks me to take my little sister home from the bus stop – all by myself!”

Publisher’s Synopsis: “It’s a big job when a big brother gets to take his little sister home from school for the very first time. In debut author-illustrator Maple Lam’s charming story, she celebrates the incredible relationship between a little boy and his younger sister. Similar to books like I’m a Big Brother by Joana Cole and What Brothers Do Best by Laura Numeroff, this book is perfect to read with both older and younger siblings, as well as with youngsters getting ready for back-to-school!”

What I Thought- This is a really sweet book. It shows the care and affection siblings have for one another perfectly. It is also incredibly realistic, because even though they love each other, they may not understand each other – such as when the sister is picking up trash to look at it, and the brother says “Ewwwww.” The book is simple, but funny, as the sister runs off after whatever catches her eye, and her brother tries to keep her on track (wow – that pretty much sounds like my sister and me). The illustrations go perfectly with the book, the watercolors create a feeling of soft love. This is a fabulous debut!

Activities and Resources- Sheknows.com has a good article about things you can do to reduce friction in sibling relationships HERE.

Handsonaswegrow.com has great ideas for strengthening the sibling bond HERE.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Butterflies Keep Flying by Ali Pfautz

3 Jun

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a book with a nice hidden lesson on accepting others.

butterflyButterflies Keep Flying
Written by Ali Pfautz
Illustrated by Sara Grier
44 pages – ages 5+
Published by Artistic Endeavors Press on March 29, 2016

Theme/Topic- Realizing/finding your inner strength / accepting others

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Sometimes I imagine I’m an elephant…

…with a huge body that shakes the houses in my neighborhood as I walk to school.”

Synopsis:  Sometimes, the gentle butterfly imagines what it might be like to be other creatures–big, strong, loud animals–those without fragile wings. Those who don’t have to fly. But when she stops daydreaming and starts thinking about how her wings carry her through life’s challenges, the butterfly reminds herself of the great strength within her colorful, breakable wings.  

This tender story was inspired by the courageous spirit and tenacity of the “butterfly children,” the boys and girls battling a rare disease known as Epidermolysis Bullosa, or EB. Children with EB have skin as delicate as butterfly wings. They often have tears and blisters all over their bodies. Many live in constant pain, yet they get up each day and keep flying. In the back of BUTTERFLIES KEEP FLYING, the author lists information about EB and a nonprofit group serving EB families called debra of America. (debra.org)

What I Thought- This is a really sweet story about how sometimes being delicate can create strength you didn’t know you had. The butterfly is easily hurt and damaged, but it must fly, or else its position gets worse. The book is very symbolic, but is a great way to teach kids about what it is like to have to keep going on, similar to what those with EB must do. The illustrations are gorgeous, and full of color. The words are written in such a way that they bounce across the page, bringing the story to life.

Activities and Resources- To find out more about EB, go HERE (The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne and HERE (EBkids.org).

For ideas on how to teach others acceptance go HERE (kidsofintegrity.com) and HERE (Scholastic.com).

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Wolf Camp by Andrea Zuill

20 May

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a funny story.

wolfcampWolf Camp
By Andrea Zuill
40 pages – ages 5+
Published by Schwartz & Wade on May 3, 2016

Theme/Topic- Going to camp / Being your true self

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening:My name is Homer. I am a dog…

but sometimes I am very wolfish.

Synopsis:  Homer is a dog . . . but he also secretly fancies himself part wolf. So when an invitation to attend WOLF CAMP (“Where every dog can live as a wolf for a week”) falls out of his kibble bag one morning, he’s determined to go. After his people finally agree, Homer boards the bus bound for Wolf Camp, along with fellow campers Trixie* and Rex. They’re greeted on the other end by wolf counselors Fang and Grrr (“they seem nice”), and what follows is an array of wolf activities, including learning to howl, mark, and hunt. Of course, Homer’s a little homesick at times, and the food isn’t very good, but that just makes heading home all the sweeter.

*Typo – actually Pixie

What I Thought- This book is pure humor! I like how the illustrations show what is really happening, and the writing tells it from Homer’s perspective. Ms. Zuill has a definite eye for the funny, and it was nice seeing her interpretation of how dogs would live with wolves for a week. The book is a great read-aloud, and would make kids giggle and smile.The illustrations are funny, and have a sort of water-color doodle type of feel. I really enjoyed looking at them.

wolfcamp2

Homer is a nice character – behaving as most (intelligent) dogs would. This is a great debut!

Activities and Resources- You can visit Care.com for some good home-made summer camp activities. The full list is HERE.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Review! Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle

5 May

Flora-and-the-PeacocksFlora and the Peacocks

By Molly Idle

40 pages – ages 5+

Published by Chronicle Books on May 3, 2016

Synopsis- Flora is back in another wordless picture book! This time, she and two peacocks are going to dance together. But what if the two peacocks both want Flora to themselves? Can the dance go on?

What I Thought- I really like this series (see Flora and the flamingo and Flora and the penguin). This is a great next book, and I like that it teaches that it is okay to have more than one friend. The peacocks fight over Flora, and end up ripping her fan. Ms. Idle’s illustrations are gorgeous, but that’s not all you have to look at – there are also flaps to flip, and even a fold-out scene.

 

flora1 flora3

 

I really like these, because it makes the reading experience even more interactive. I really like how Ms. Idle does these wordless picture books!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

fivebooks

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday! The Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na

1 May

It’s Perfect Picture Book FRIDAY Sunday! Okay – I am super late with posting this but I had a bunch going on at the end of the week so I figure better late than never right?:)

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a nice book of opposites.

oppositeThe Opposite Zoo
By Il Sung Na
24 pages – ages 4+

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers March 8, 2016

Theme/Topic- Opposites / Animals

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “The sky is DARK and the Opposite Zoo is CLOSED.

But the monkey’s door is OPEN!
Time to explore…”

Synopsis:  “Follow the monkey as he visits all the animals in the zoo: fast and slow, big and small, noisy and quiet, soft and prickly! Filled with energetic illustrations, friendly animals, and a clear, simple text—all wrapped up in a gorgeous package—The Opposite Zoo is a fun and lively introduction to animals and opposites for the youngest picture-book audience.”

What I Thought- This is a nice, simple book about a monkey going around the zoo and seeing all of the opposites there. There are minimum words (one spread only says “Tall short”), and make it an easy book for kids to try to read. Families could have a nice time reading this book together, and it really helps if you read the opposites in funny voices out-loud:) . Mr. Na’s illustrations really exhibit the opposites – they have a good contrast quality to them. They are also whimsical and very pleasant to look at. Kids will like looking at them while reading the book.

Activities and Resources- After reading the book, try to find more opposites in the pictures. With the illustration on the cover the animals can be big and small or smooth and rough.

The Guru Parents blog has a great list of teaching opposite activities listed in THIS POST – CLICK HERE TO GO THERE!

Scholastic has a fun opposite dance you can do – CLICK HERE!

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Coyote by Lee Harper

17 Apr

It’s PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY SUNDAY!

So – I know I am VERY late in publishing this, but I had an unexpected trip to Washington DC pop up. I was invited to cover the USA Science and Engineering Festival for Scholastic News (I am a Scholastic News Kid Reporter) and it was an opportunity I wanted to do. With a little convincing that had to be done for my mom, I got to take that invitation! I will link up to the article when it is published. It was a great event but I was out of town for a couple days and fell behind on my blog. I really wanted to get this PPBF book out there because it’s been on my list for a while and I really was impressed with this book and the story behind it.

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a good book to breach the topic of losing a loved person in one’s life.

coyoteCoyote
By Lee Harper
pages – ages 5+
Published by on

Theme/Topic- Death / Losing a friend / Losing a loved one

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “It’s Saturday!!

I hop on my bike and go  for a ride.”

Synopsis: From the author- “Author’s Note: COYOTE is based on the real events of the morning I learned of my brother Chase’s unexpected death — a morning when I actually saw and rode with a coyote — then returned home to learn that Chase was gone. Retold through the eyes of a child, COYOTE is a gentle and lyrical picture book dealing with the subject of loss. It is my hope that COYOTE will help children talk about loss and to show how art can be used to help heal the hurt of losing someone you love. In Chase’s memory, my wife Krista and I will donate our share of the proceeds to help the children of Sandy Hook. ~Lee Harper”

What I Thought- This was a simple book with a lot behind the words. The book itself is just about the boy and his bike ride with the coyote, which he never sees again. Enter the symbolism. The book was written as a tribute after the sudden passing of Mr. Harper’s brother. The book shows Mr. Harper’s love for his brother, and his shock at no longer being able to see him. I saw Mr. Harper at a book-festival, and asked why the book was self-published, instead of by a traditional publisher – he said that he didn’t want an editor to try to rewrite the book because it was just the tribute he wanted for his brother. That really touched me. The book is illustrated in gorgeous water-colors, adding a little bit of surreal-ness to the book. I think that this book will be a necessary read for children who have lost a loved one.

Activities and Resources- Here is a good PDF Teacher’s Guide from Scholastic for kids dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Here is another link to a good post with a teacher’s guide on dealing with grief.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! The Bear’s Surprise by Benjamin Chaud

9 Apr

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because I am a fan of Benjamin Chaud’s work.

bears.surpriseThe Bear’s Surprise
By Benjamin Chaud
32 pages – ages 4+
Published by Chronicle Books on September 15, 2015

Theme/Topic- Adventure

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Deep in the forest, Little Bear awakens to the sounds of spring.

Synopsis: From Amazon- “Hibernation is over and Little Bear is ready for another adventure! But where is Papa Bear? Never fear, Little Bear will find him! Follow the curious cub through interactive cutouts on every page of this detail-rich extravaganza: into a bustling forest, deep beneath a mysterious cave, and en route to a rollicking circus in full swing. What will Little Bear discover when he finally locates his high-flying papa?”

What I Thought- I really like how there are cut out shapes on each page spread, making the story seem to travel across the pages. Mr. Chaud has several references to his other works, including Flopsy. His artwork is always fun to look at and pick out things.

 

bear bear2

The story is rather simple, but good. It would make a great bedtime story for kids. The book itself is very good for reluctant readers. It has a lot of space for visual impact, with a good amount of humor.

Activities and Resources- There are some pretty good circus-themed activities HERE.

it would be fun to put on  a talent show for the kids. Point out that anything can be a special talent. I found a bunch of ideas for school-aged kids and talent shows and HERE is a blog post that makes suggestions for pre-school talent shows.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

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