Thursday, October 27, 2016

Make a big splash!

Abigail the Whale by David Cali and Sonia Bougaeva. Owl Kids, 2016. Recommended for ages 5-8.

A young girl hates her swim class. Every time she jumps in the pool she is teased by her peers because her large body makes a large wave.   An understanding coach helps her visualize confidence: " ... we can change how we see ourselves ... and ... "offers a creative visualization technique she can use to feel bolder, more confident, and more accepting of herself" (from the publisher). 

Abigail the Whale - owlkids-us

Bold and vibrant illustrations perfectly compliment a story that can gently help children develop self esteem and understand the harmful effects of teasing and bullying.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tune into TOON BOOKS!

Cool off with some hot titles from Toon Books!

I love Toon Books and so do my students! They're kid-friendly in size and designed for emerging as well as older readers. Children find the colorful graphic novel style of the books, illustrated by such notable artists as Kevin McClosky, Liniers, Art Spiegelman, and Frank Viva, highly engaging. Parents, teachers, and librarians find that these books (and accompanying lesson plans and activities on the Toon Books website) not only support reading development, but can be used to develop literary appreciation, character development, and inspire learning. See their outstanding website for a wealth of materials on the authors and illustrators, as well as reviews, videos, and other resources to support the love of reading and learning.


Birdsong: A Story in Pictures by James Sturm. 2016. $12.95. Recommended for ages 3-7.

Wow! Can hardly wait to try this one with my K-2 classes ... as well as with older students. The possibilities for extension activities are endless. An endearing story, breathtakingly illustrated.

From the publisher:

"DISCOVER KAMISHIBAI: THE ART OF JAPANESE PAPER THEATER
An innocent bird meets two cruel kids and changes their world forever-–but exactly how this unfolds is up to you since the story is wordless. It is meant to be narrated by each reader in his or her own way. The spare and elegant images by master cartoonist James Sturm are the visual equivalent of haikus--they leave space for children to inhabit this timeless tale–and make it their own".


The Real Poop on Pigeons by Kevin McClosky. 2016. $12.95. Recommended for ages 3-7.

No, it's not what you think ... but thanks to McCLoskey's humorous touch and brilliant illustrations, I came away with a new appreciation for these gentle creatures.


From the publisher:

​Just who’s cooing outside? Did you know pigeons can fly faster than a car and farther than a small airplane? Or that they have something unusual in common with penguins, flamingos, and even the dodo? With his trademark mix of humor, well-researched facts, and artistry, Kevin McCloskey delivers the straight poop on these humble creatures, which turn out to be...coo, coo, COOL!


Oedipus: Trapped by Destiny (TOON Graphic Mythology) by Yvan Pommaux. 2016. $16.95. Recommended for ages 8+

A succinct yet lyrical narrative accompanies a richly illustrated and age - appropriate version of Oedipus' journey. Fans of Greek mythology will enjoy this (and other titles in this series).


From the publisher:


Oedipus is born to a terrible fate. Can he escape it?

An oracle makes a ghastly prediction: the young prince will kill his father and marry his mother. Horrified, the father decides to murder his infant son before he can grow up to carry out the prophecy–but destiny can’t be avoided so easily. The son is Oedipus who, rescued by a shepherd, unwittingly fulfills the gods’ plans–while doing everything he can to escape his fate. With style, originality, and a wealth of informative details, graphic novelist Yvan Pommaux brings to a new generation the tragic tale which has thrilled and terrified everyone for thousands of years. A must to nourish young readers’ imaginations.


Sea Change by Frank Viva. 2016. $18.95. Recommended for ages 8+

Give this one to fans of Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Pinchon's Tom Gates who are ready for a longer, prose-style narrative accompanied by Viva's creative design.

From the publisher:

One summer can change your whole life. As soon as school lets out, Eliot’s parents send him to the very edge of the world: a fishing village in a remote part of Nova Scotia. And what does the small town of Point Aconi have to offer? Maggots, bullies, and grumpy old men. But along the way, Eliot discovers much more – a hidden library, starry nights, and a mysterious girl named Mary Beth. Critically acclaimed author and artist Frank Viva (Along a Long Road) brings us this warm, funny, and innovatively designed coming-of-age story. See Point Aconi through Eliot’s eyes, as he finds that this place he never wanted to visit is becoming a home he doesn’t want to leave.

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Star-Spangled Read

Happy Fourth of July. Celebrate Independence Day with:


Awesome America 
by the Editors of Time for Kids.
Time Inc. Books/Liberty Street, 2016. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Learning can be fun ... and Awesome America proves it:

"Discover what makes America unique in this comprehensive timeline and photographic overview of American history ...  From America's early history all the way to present day, kids will learn about what it was like to grow up in the 1700's, 1800's, 1900's and today and discover the inventions, innovations, and important social movements great Americans have created over the year (from the publisher)."


Fourteen chapters explore the people, places, and events that shaped America using large, striking visuals and "bite-size" pieces of information. The stunning graphics, which include vivid photographs, period illustrations, sidebars, maps, and charts, make the book highly readable, supporting children's learning. Each chapter has a Find Out section which contains an essential question (chapter 8: how did the struggle for equal rights develop in America?), a Learn section with fun and fascinating facts (chapter 7: Ford's Model T), and a Take a Closer Look at a topic which illustrates that chapter (chapter 5: wild animals that call America hone).

Chapter 14 consists of an especially appealing twelve page timeline of significant American events from the arrival of the Native Americans' ancestors to the election of the first African American president. The timeline includes many iconic and uniquely American entrepreneurial firsts such as:

1860: John Stetson makes his first "Stetson" cowboy hat
1873: Levi Strauss patents his first pair of blue jeans
1928: the invention of a bread slicing machine
1948; MacDonald's sells its first hamburgers 
1998: Google search engine created

Parents and teachers can reinforce the book's learning and build higher level thinking skills for their children with the truly "awesome" curriculum guide.  Extension activities include thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion points for each chapter which meet Common Core Standards. Have children use the guide's printable graphic organizers to explore the book, take part in scavenger hunts, compare and contrast activities, 

The book also includes index, glossary, and a resource list of museums, organizations, books and articles to "Explore More!"

Use this well-organized book and the curriculum guide with children 8-12 years old to examine American history, government, and culture. As 2016 is an election year, Awesome America will help children understand the role of the president and how the government works. Have children figure out if they "have what it takes" to be president by filling out the job application included in the curriculum guide. This book not only provides some great background on the United States, but can provide research or project ideas, and hours of browsing fun.

Friday, June 24, 2016

New books from Animal Planet

Prevent the "summer slide" and celebrate National Zoo and Aquarium Month with the newest titles from Animal Planet.


The three recently released books are appropriate for ages 4-8 and are packed with highly readable and bite-sized bits of information. Vibrant photographs and graphics contribute to the books' readability, supporting young readers' comprehension. Additionally each book has extension activities as mentioned in the reviews below. All books are well-organized with a table of contents, index, and glossary and will serve well as research starters and providing hours of fun browsing. And shouldn't learning be fun?


Giraffes only need 30 minutes of sleep every 24 hours?

The horns on a Texas longhorn can be 8.5 feet long?


Both books by Laaren BrownTime Inc. Books, 2016.

Meerkats live in groups called mobs or gangs?


Animal Planet's newest titles to the engaging Animal Bites series (see my review of earlier titles here) introduce young readers to a number of farm and wild animals in their environments, whether it be on the farm or on the Falkland Islands. Snazzy chapter headings ("All Cooped Up:" life in a chicken coop) are sure to grab youngsters' attention and draw them in. 

The books in this series employ a brilliant organizational scheme using color tabs , i.e. a green tab signals to children that a chapter tabbed with this color explains how animals adapt to their environment. This helps children understand the kind of information found in each short chapter and, because of the uniformity throughout the series, is an excellent way to support a young reader’s reading development and comprehension. 

All titles in this series include a variety extension activities. Try "Wild Activities" in Wild Animals and have children use their bodies in the same way animals do to communicate: bowing is "wolfish" for "let's play." A fun and different kind of foot race will have children waddling like geese, leaping and jumping like goats, etc., to the finish line to find out which animal is fastest. For those interested in more fun and learning, check out the Resources page for places to visit and books and websites to read.

I was quite pleased to find out that some of the proceeds from this series go " to support Animal Planet's R.O.A.R. (Reach Out. Act. Respond.) campaign " ...which partners with leading animal organization to make the world a better place for domestic and wild animals."  Partners include
the Jane Goodall Foundation, Equus, the National Wildlife Federation, and moreVisit this page for more information, activities, and how you and your children can help.


Animal Planet Animal Atlas (2016).

What is a biome? 

How is the North Pole's animal life different from the South Pole's?

Is a food web different from a food chain?

How and why do animals adapt to their environment? 

Animal Planet Animal Atlas answers all of these questions and many more. Through detailed maps, fun infographics, simple charts, and Find It! Fact boxes readers can track their favorite animals across the globe, learning about how animal habitats are affected by climate, food and water availability, migration, and human environmental (from Animal Planet website)."


The difference between Animal Planet Animal Atlas and a world atlas is that this atlas is not defined by the world's countries but by " ...  the major biomes of the world."  Succinct definitions of the major biomes are accompanied by thumbnail shots of the biomes. Information in each chapter includes human-animal connections and the impact of humans on the environment. Special "tour guides" (an animal native to each biome) accompany children on their "world tour" providing tidbits on information about their habitat.

Visit Scribd to download a free curriculum guide to use with this book. I intend to use both the curriculum guide and this atlas when I do my atlas unit with my students.


Thanks to the publisher and Blue Slip Media for letting me review the books.





Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A special children's literature event (LA area)


Join the great team from Bridge to Books at the "Tots, Tweens, and Teens Book Fest" on Saturday,  May 14 from 12-6 pm at Pasadena High School. This free event includes over 30 authors and illustrators, panel discussions, and more. Please visit the website for a complete schedule, directions, and to RSVP.



Sponsored by Bridge to Books