Entries tagged with “Picture Books”.
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Thu 9 May 2013
Neither of my children were ever fans of nighttime strolls.
My oldest threw herself over the edge of her crib once when she was abut 18 months old. She landed with a thud and a wail, so we were well aware of what had happened.
My youngest would occasionally come downstairs in the middle of the night when she was three or four, but she’d always stand right next to my face until I woke up with a start.
But lots of other kids love to explore at night. Like the main character in Nighttime Ninja (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012) written by Barbara DaCosta and illustrated by Ed Young.
But this child doesn’t think he’s exploring. He thinks he’s being a ninja. And the lovely paper collage illustrations show him as a ninja, so it’s not until relatively late in the book that you discover who he really is and what he’s really after.
In fact, today’s guest reviewer, was thoroughly surprised by how things played out.
Take it away, Patrick.
Today’s reviewer: Patrick
I like: Skiing, playing soccer, playing on my iPod.
This book was about: A little boy who wanted to be a ninja — and he was trying to get down to the kitchen to get some hot chocolate. (Editor’s note: When I read the book, I thought the boy was trying to get ice-cream, but I can see how it could be hot chocolate, too. That’s one of the pleasures of picture books — how many ways they can be interpreted.)
The best part was when: The picture just showed his eyes
I smiled when: When you know it’s a boy and not a real ninja. I thought it was a real ninja the first time.
I was surprised when: His mom said, “How about a back-to-bed mission?”
I was worried when: The lights flooded on.
This book taught me: You can’t get up in the middle of the night.
Three words that best describe this book are: “Exciting.” “Interesting.” “Confusing.” (Because I was sure it was a real ninja.)
My favorite line or phrase in this book is: “He crept down the twisting moonlit hallway, and knelt in the dark shadows, listening.”
Other kids should read this book because: You don’t really know what’s going to happen at the end of the story at the beginning. There’s a lot going on and a lot of surprises.
Thank you, Patrick!
Patrick says he doesn’t usually sneak around at night. But one time he went to get a cookie. But it wasn’t a very successful mission. Half of the cookie fell into the dog kennel.
Nighttime Ninja is Barbara DaCosta’s debut picture book. And, it’s done really well.
It was an ALA Notable selection, a Publishers Weekly “Best Children’s Illustrated Book of 2012″, earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, was a Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2012, a Horn Book “Book of the Week”, and a finalist for James Patterson’s “Read Kiddo Read” contest.
If you’d like to learn more about Barbara, you can visit her blog.
If you’d like to learn more about Ed, who is a Caldecott Award medalist, you can visit his website or read this wonderful interview on the blog Seven Impossible Things.
Thu 25 Apr 2013
Posted by Pat under Book reviews
Sometimes, you can’t argue with a kid with a dream.
Sometimes, you just have to smile and let them do what they want to do, whether it’s wear their frilly princess dress and fairy wings to school, pretend they’re a super-hero for weeks on end or drink their milk from a bowl on the floor — just like a kitty.
Parents the world over know that sometimes, if nothing harmful could happen, the best thing you can do is just roll with it.
That’s sort of what happens in Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money (Schwartz & Wade, 2012) written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by G. Brian Karas.
This picture book tells the tale of Pauline and John-John, a brother-sister team with a mission — to have an outdoor lemonade stand in the middle of their cold, snowy winter.
Mom and Dad try their best to be logical.
“Nobody will be on the street.”
“Can’t you see it’s freezing?”
But Pauline and John-John will not be dissuaded.
Money is pooled.
Provisions are purchased.
And a lemonade stand is opened.
What happens next?
Let’s ask today’s guest reviewer.
Today’s reviewer: Dharma.
I like: Pizza, math, biking, and video games like Aion.
This book was about: Two kids counting money.
The best part was when: They were making lemonade and limeade. It was exhausting. You just know it.
I laughed when: The girl kissed the man for buying her a limeade.
Three words that best describe this book are: “Crazy.” “Easy.” “Silly.”
My favorite line or phrase in this book is: “You kids are crazy.”
You should read this book because: If you are a kindergartener or in first grade even, it will help you learn to count money, maybe.
To learn more about Emily Jenkins, you can visit her website or read this interview on the blog Writing and Ruminating.
To learn more about G. Brian Karas, you can visit his website or read this interview that was in Publishers Weekly.
Sun 14 Apr 2013
Each Kindness (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012) is a picture book by Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis about how seemingly small actions can have large consequences.
A new girl comes to school and tries to make friends. When Chloe, the narrator, is unkind, the girl keeps trying. And then the girl is gone and Chloe is left only with the memory of her unkindness.
Here’s what Jacqueline had to say about why she wrote the book: ”At some point in our lives, we are all unkind. At some point, we are all treated unkindly. I wanted to understand this more. I think too often we believe we’ll have a second chance at kindness – and sometimes we don’t. I do believe, as Chloe’s teacher, Ms. Albert, says, that everything we do goes out, like a ripple into the world. I wrote this because I believe in kindness.”
The Cooperative Children’s Book Center awarded Each Kindness the 2013 Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book.
Let’s hear what today’s guest reviewer has to say:
Our reviewer: Emma
Things I like to do: Run, especially on my two-wheel scooter. I like to swim at the lake. I like to read.
This book was about: Maya was different, and the other kids didn’t like her. Chloe was sad that she didn’t smile back at Maya.
The best part was when: Chloe was at the water and wishing she was kind to Maya.
I smiled when: Maya was jumping with her jump rope.
I was surprised when: Maya played by herself.
I was worried when: Chloe didn’t be Maya’s friend.
This book taught me: To be kind to the new kids. Or everybody.
My favorite picture in this book is: The jumping rope pictures with Maya and the picture of Maya joining the class.
Thank you, Emma!
If you’d like to learn more about Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis, you can:
- Visit Jacqueline’s website. There’s tons of cool stuff, including answers to lots of questions she gets from kids doing homework assignments!
- Visit E.B.’s website. He calls himself an “artistrator” because he illustrates books and creates fine art. He’s also a teacher.
- Watch this video interview with Jacqueline.
- Watch this video interview with E.B.
Tue 9 Apr 2013
Posted by Pat under Book reviews
Zach loves his grandma and grandpa.
He especially loves spending time at the amusement park with them.
But while Zach’s grandpa adores riding a roller-coaster called The Whipper, Zach is scared of it and prefers riding the Big Wheel with his grandma.
After Zach’s grandma dies, Zach’s grandpa just isn’t happy. Zach hopes if they go to the amusement park, he’ll see his grandpa smile again. But Zach still doesn’t want to ride the roller-coaster.
Will he face his biggest fear? Will it make a difference?
The Roller Coaster Kid (Viking, 2012) is written by Mary Ann Rodman and illustrated by Roger Roth. It’s a story of family and love and facing your biggest fear.
Let’s welcome today’s guest reviewer, who is going to tell us more about it.
Today’s reviewer: Josepha
I like: Swimming, reading and being creative.
This book was about: A kid who had to face his worst fear. And his grandpa told him to be brave and face his fear. And the boy’s grandpa was known as the “Roller-Coaster Kid” when he was young because he road The Whipper 100 times, so the boy wanted to ride the roller-coaster too, but he was scared.
The best part was when: The boy faced his fear.
I was surprised when: He yelled at his grandpa, and said what he really said, “I miss grandma.”
My favorite word or phrase in the book is: “When the time is right, you will face your fears.”
My favorite picture in the book is: The picture that shows all of Oceanside Park.
Three words that describe this book: The Roller Coaster Kid.
Kids should read this book because: They will learn they should face their worst fear. Don’t be scared, just be brave. You might not be that scared once you’re on it. You can’t judge a thing on how it looks. You have to try it before you judge it.
Thanks, Josepha! (By the way, Josepha says she likes roller-coasters because, “They go super fast and are fun to ride.”)
Author Mary Ann Rodman won the 2006 Charlotte Zolotow Award and the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for her picture book My Best Friend (Viking, 2005). Here’s an interview she did shortly thereafter. Mary Ann also blogs at Teaching Authors.
Illustrator Roger Roth’s earlier book The Sign Painter’s Dream was featured on “Reading Rainbow.” You can see Roger’s website or check out this interview with lots of examples of his fabulous art.
And, finally, if you’d like to see a kid review of another roller-coaster book, check out Leo talking about Roller Coaster.
Fri 29 Mar 2013
The other day, a box arrived at my house.
And these shoes were inside.
(They’re John Fluevog shoes, for those of you who care. Spring edition “Michaels.” Just released.)
I tried them on, and my feet smiled.
And as I walked around with my happy feet, I couldn’t help but think of a popular children’s book and a great video of the author and illustrator sharing it with children together.
The book is Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes (HarperCollins, 2010) written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean.
And it’s just the niftiest look ever at colors and shoes and rolling with the ups and downs of life.
It’s the sort of book that’s so perfect, you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” And even though you didn’t, you’re glad that someone else did.
You can read the text as a story, sing it as a song or just chime in on certain parts, like: “Goodness, no!”
Kids love it. Adults love it. I bet you will too.
And if you want to get the sense for how it’s supposed to be read, watch this video of it being performed live by Eric and James.
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
You’ll be smiling and humming for a good, long while.
No matter what color your shoes are.
(If you’d like to see more of Pete the Cat, you certainly can. There are several other titles in the series, including Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.)
Tue 26 Mar 2013
At a certain age, many kids are fascinated by poop.
Whether kids in your life think poop is awesome, awful, or something in-between, Poopendous (Blue Apple Books, 2012) written by Artie Bennett and illustrated by Mike Moran just might be the picture book for them.
The book features rhyming couplets that tell the story of Professor Poopdeck and his two young friends as they take a journey through the world of poop.
Words for poop — guano, number two, ca-ca — are shared. So are its styles, shapes and uses.
The book is informative, but it’s also funny and entertaining thanks to the wordplay Bennett employs. And the illustrations are cuter and more colorful than you might expect given the subject matter.
For a review of this book, we turned to someone firmly in the book’s target demographic of kids aged 4 to 8. (But if you’re older don’t be alarmed if you find yourself smiling, too.)
Our reviewer: Walter
I like: The video game “Skylanders,” pepperoni pizza, football and hamsters.
I’d give this book: Five stars!
This book was about: The uses for and types of poop.
The best part was when: In the end, when everyone said, “POOPENDOUS!”
I laughed when: A hippo had pooped and they called it “hippoop.”
I was worried when: The woman had poop on her shoe.
I was surprised that: Poop is called “dung.”
This book taught me: The word “dung.”
Other kids reading this book should watch for: When the lady gets poop on her shoe.
Three words that best describe this book are: “Nasty.” “Fun.” “Exciting.”
My favorite word from this book is: “Hippoop.”
You should read this book because: It is silly, and you can learn about poop!
Thank you, Walter!
Want to get to the bottom of things?
Visit Artie Bennett’s website. He has fun facts plus lots of information about his other projects. (Artie, who provided a copy of his book for review, also has written a book of dinosaur puns and one called 101 Ways to Say Vomit.) To read a kid review of another book by Artie called The Butt Book, click here.
If you’d like to learn more about illustrator Mike Moran, you can visit his website.
Tue 19 Mar 2013
Posted by Pat under Book reviews
I’ve written about Chloe and The Lion (Disney Hyperion, 2012) before.
This picture book by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex had a considerable buzz going after it was released. In fact, I mentioned it in a previous blog post as an example of a picture book that broke new ground.
Because while the book starts off as the story of Chloe, a girl who saves her coins so she can ride the carousel and then gets lost in the forest, it quickly turns into an argument between the book’s author, Mac Barnett, and its illustrator, Adam Rex, about the path the story should take.
Barnett says Chloe should encounter a lion in the forest.
Rex draws a dragon. (“I just thought it would be cooler.”)
An argument ensues. (“I don’t really care what YOU think. I’m the author of this book. You’re the illustrator. That means I’m in charge of what happens, and you draw whatever I tell you.”)
Rex argues back, so Barnett orders the lion to eat Rex, and then even attempts to draw the book’s pictures himself. But that’s a disaster.
So after a firm talking-to from Chloe, Barnett apologizes to Rex, Rex finishes the artwork and they all go off to ride the carousel.
The book is hilarious, and it shows how the best results are achieved when people work together — and don’t have lions eat their friends.
But what does a kid think of it? Let’s ask today’s guest reviewer.
Today’s reviewer: Wannathet
I like: Biking and hiking. My favorite food is chicken.
This book was about: Mostly the lion. But a girl named Chloe got dizzy and then got lost in the forest and saw a dragon. But it was supposed to be a lion.
The best part was when: He drew the dragon instead of the lion.
I was worried when: He drew the lion scary.
I was surprised when: The lion ate the illustrator.
I laughed when: The lion spit out a nickel.
Other kids should read this book because: They could learn a lot about different creatures.
Three words that describe this book are: “Illustrator.” “Author.” “Chloe.”
My favorite picture in the book was: The dragon.
My favorite word or phrase in the book was: “Clearly, the knight was an idiot.”
Thank you, Wannathet. (By the way, sorry Mac, but Wannathet agrees with Adam that a dragon would have been way cooler.)
Now, I am not a picture book veteran like Mac Barnett and Adam Rex (who, as you’ve probably figured out, get along grandly in real life). But, I will say that my experience as a picture book writer working with an illustrator has been wonderful.
Seeing the pictures come back from Anne Wilsdorf for Sophie’s Squash (Aug. 6, 2013, Schwartz & Wade) has been incredible. She took my story to new heights and added in beautiful details on every page that I’m still discovering.
My favorite addition of hers might be a cat that is never mentioned in the story, but who is on nearly every page like a silent chorus, helping the action along. And the endpapers. Don’t even get me started on the endpapers. But if Anne had turned Bernice from a squash to a rutabaga or an artichoke, I might have felt differently.
Anyway, if you haven’t seen it before, you simply must watch this wonderful video showing Barnett and Rex taking their fictional author-illustrator squabble to new heights.
What author/illustrator combinations are your favorites? Tell me in the comments below.
Sat 16 Mar 2013
Reading books with second-graders is fun.
It was especially fun when I met today’s guest reviewer, Patrick. As he and I walked down the hall to read, he smiled and said, “I’m so excited!”
I couldn’t blame him. Patrick and I were going to read The Hallelujah Flight (Putnam, 2010), a picture book written by Phil Bildner and illustrated by John Holyfield.
It’s a very exciting story based on the experiences of two African-American aviation enthusiasts, James Banning and Thomas Allen, who flew a small, ramshackle plane from one end of the United States to the other in 1932, facing breakdowns and prejudice before accomplishing their goal.
Banning and Allen didn’t have corporate or personal funding for their trip. They relied on their own aviation skills and the kindness of the people they met along the way, letting those who fed them or bought fuel sign the tip of their plane wing.
Patrick has been on a plane for a trip to Colorado, but not an OXX6 Eagle Rock like Banning and Allen flew. Here’s what he had to say about the story of their trip.
Today’s reviewer: Patrick
I like: Kayaking in the summer and skiing in the winter.
This story was about: Someone who really wanted to fly a plane. He got a plane and got to use it. People didn’t call him and his co-pilot nice names. They called them “the flying hoboes.” But they took it as a good thing and had a nice ride.
The best part was when: They were in the desert. I like the desert too.
I was surprised that: They actually flew the plane.
I was worried when: People called them the flying hoboes. And when they were caught in the storm by Pittsburgh.
Three words that best describe this book: The Hallelujah Flight.
My favorite picture in the book was: When they are at Canyon Airlines and there is mist and purple clouds in the background.
My favorite phrase in the book was: “Flying hoboes.”
Other kids should read this book because: It’s an exciting story. It’s amazing.
Thank you, Patrick!
Patrick says that if he could fly anywhere, he’d like to visit Texas or Hawaii.
If you’d like to learn more about author Phil Bildner, a former middle school social studies teacher, you can visit his website or read this interview.
If you’d like to learn more about illustrator John Holyfield, and the wide variety of art he produces, you can visit this website or read this article. And, here’s a link to a kid review of another book he illustrated.
Sat 9 Mar 2013
The first sentence of Cecil The Pet Glacier (Schwartz & Wade, 2012), a picture book by Matthea Harvey and Giselle Potter says, “Ruby Small was a normal little girl.”
Except she’s not.
In fact, there are a lot of things about Ruby that are downright quirky. Like her parents with their interests in the tango, tiaras and topiary and her three slightly creepy identical dolls all named Jennifer whom Ruby is intensely devoted to.
Ruby’s wish for a pet of her own, however, is completely normal. She’s hoping for something cuddly, like a dog, that might balance out her parents’ strange natures. But she ends up with a baby glacier named Cecil. (It’s a long story, but it all starts on a family vacation to Norway that Ruby didn’t really want to go on anyway.)
Ruby’s not fond of Cecil at first and does her best to ignore him. But Cecil’s love for Ruby is eteral and unwavering, and he eventually proves himself to her and helps her find a friend in the process.
Want to hear more? Meet Josie, today’s guest reviewer.
Our reviewer: Josie
I like: Dancing, hanging out with my friends and lots of outdoor activities.
This book was about: Ruby and her three dolls and how she got the little glacier after her trip to Norway.
The best part of the book was when: Her friends helped the glacier to get bigger again.
I was surprised that: Her friends helped her. From the pictures, it looked like she was alone.
I was worried when: The glacier got smaller and smaller in the rain when he was trying to rescue one of the Jennifers.
I laughed when: Cecil ate black and white pebbles every day. But not any gray ones.
This book taught me: It’s OK to have weird parents. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you.
My favorite words or phrase in the book was: “No way,” muttered Ruby grumpily. “Norway! What a fabulous idea!” said Mrs. Small.
My favorite picture in the book was: When the big glacier was having baby glaciers and one of them was Cecil.
Other kids should read this book because: It’s interesting in the end when people are nice to Ruby and they appreciate Cecil.
Josie doesn’t have a glacier for a pet, but she does have a three-year-old cat named Grayson that was a gift from her grandmother.
Want to learn more about author Matthea Harvey, who is best know for her poetry? You can visit her website or read this interview.
Want to learn more about illustrator Giselle Potter (who also illustrated one of my all-time favorite picture books Shrinking Violet)? You can visit her website or read this interview.
Sun 3 Mar 2013
Posted by Pat under Book reviews
What do dragons like to eat?
Most books are quite vague on the subject. They have dragons capturing princesses, but exactly what the dragons intend to do with the princesses after they have them is always a bit unclear.
Eat them? Hold them for ransom? Turn them into lifelong backgammon partners?
Thankfully, author Adam Rubin and illustrator Daniel Salmieri have answered this question in the title of their latest picture book, Dragons Love Tacos (Dial, 2012). It turns out that dragons do, indeed love tacos as long as they aren’t too spicy.
What happens if they are? Let’s ask today’s guest reviewer.
Take it away, Gavin …
Our reviewer: Gavin
Age: 6 (will be 7 on April 1)
Things I like to do: Play video games, build stuff with Legos, play soccer, wrestle, do things with my family.
This book was about: Things that dragons love, like tacos, and things dragons hate, like spicy foods.
The best part was when: The dragons burned the boy’s house down.
I smiled when they said: You’re going to need a “pantsload” of tacos.
I was surprised when: The dragons didn’t like hot salsa. I love hot salsa. My mouth is watering right now.
I was worried when: They were about to eat the tacos with the jalapenos in them.
This book taught me: Dragons love tacos.
Three words that best describe this book are: “Dragons.” “Tacos.” “Love.”
My favorite line in this book: The giant letters that said, “DON’T EAT THOSE TACOS!”
My favorite picture in this book is: The pool party. Why is that dragon wearing a seashell bikini?
Other kids should read this book because: The words and the pictures are really funny.
Thank you, Gavin!
If you’d like to learn more about Daniel Salmieri, you can visit his tumblr site.
If you’d like to learn more about Adam Rubin, you can read this interview. Here, also, are Adam’s top 10 tip for jazzing up your bedtime story reading routine.