Friday, June 23, 2017

PPBF: Renato and the Lion

Perfect Picture Book Friday is on vacation, but I couldn't resist sharing one more perfect picture book which celebrated its release June 20th. This way you'll have all summer to share it with the your favorite people. For my previous reviews, you can search here.

Please join me next week for Summer Drive-in, a new feature which highlights some of my favorite books-turned movies.

Renato and the Lion, by text and art by Barbara DiLorenzo
Renato and the Lion

Written and illustrated by Barbara DiLorenzo

Viking Children's Books, June 2017
Ages 5-7, 44 words

WW II, Art, Magical Realism

"Renato loved his home in Florence, Italy. He loved the people there. And the food there. But he especially loved the art there. It was everywhere."

Renato lives in Florence and often visits the museum where his father works. He loves the art found all around the city, but especially the lion in the Piazza della Signoria. When war comes to Italy, Renato's father has a plan to protect the sculptures, except Renato's beloved lion. Using a bit of magical realism, the author communicates the dangers of war and the plight of refugees. Renato completes his life's journey, returning to Italy years later to learn the lion's fate.

What I Love:
An unused illustration of Renato
by Barbara DiLorenzo

I've been waiting for this book. The cover and concept had me hooked before I ever opened the cover. The gentle storytelling and expressive watercolors transport kids to another time and place. Barbara evokes a sense of danger and impending loss through the main character's relationship with the sculpted lion. She manages to layer a lot of story into this little book, making it a great read for older readers, too. Her thorough research shows in the tiny details. Readers will learn bits about World War II, art, immigration, history, and the breathtaking city of Florence. And I hope this Renato will be a starting point for lifelong curiosity about these subjects.

Cindy Ingram, art teacher,
thoroughly explains how art influenced
public thought during WW II.
1. Barbara DiLorenzo has hinted she'll be posting behind-the-scenes tidbits and easter eggs from Renato and the Lion on her Facebook page. Follow along and get the scoop.

2. Don't just take my word for it. The Booklist Reader has posted a review with perspectives from both adult and child readers and from those who have actually visited Florence. Take a look at what they had to say.

3. Learn more about the two lions in the Piazza della Signoria on Florence Inferno.

4. Travel For Kids lists at least ten great places to visit in Florence. Ciao Bambino! highlights tips and links for taking kids to Italy.

5. Cathy Ballou Mealey posted a great article on Nancy Schon's sculpture and getting kids to interact with art.

6. Try making a papier mache lion pinata from Inna's Creations.

7. I love this video how to for lion pancakes with orange slices, posted on Good to Know.

8. National Geographic Kids lists ten quick facts about World War II, an interesting jumping off point. highlights the war in Italy for older readers. And Mindshift offers a list of videos to give kids an overview of the war.

9. Check out these and more related Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Clara

Reviewed by Patient Dreamer
Reviewed by Julie

Reviewed by Leslie

Reviewed by Joanne

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

View other the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Fridays available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Shallow Readers

"The rage for swiftness which is so characteristic of this restless time has been extended to fashions of reading. One effect of the modern habit of swift and careless reading is seen in the impatience with which anything is regarded which is not to be taken in at a glance.”
Arlo Bates*

Mysterious 19th Century bookplate of Arlo Bates

*Via Goodreads from Talks on the Study of Literature

Friday, June 16, 2017

PPBF Plants Can't Sit Still

Perfect Picture Book Friday will soon be on vacation, but please join me here every Friday of the summer for Summer Drive-in where I'll be highlighting some of my favorite books-turned-movies. Don't forget the popcorn and a pillow!

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Plants Can't Sit Still, by Rebecca Hirsch and Mia Posada
Plants Can't Sit Still

Written by Rebecca Hirsch
Illustrated by Mia Posada
Millbrook Press, 2016
Ages 5-8, Lexile 510L

Nature, Nonfiction

Plants don't have feet or fins or wings,
Yet they can move in many ways.
Look closely and you'll discover that plants can't sit still.

Plants Can't Sit Still is a delightfully creative look at a characteristic of plants which is often overlooked...their movement. Plants can move. Blossoms grow toward the sun. Roots snake along the ground. Many plants react to their environment. Some flowers fold up for the night. Some fold up when touched. The author also highlights plants which move in more unusual ways, like the tumbleweed and the squirting cucumber. Lastly, the text explores how plants travel: their seeds floating, flying, hitchhiking, and whirling through the air. From cockleburs to coconuts, seeds are designed to travel to new places where conditions are good for growing new plants. The back matter contains a more detailed summary of plant behavior. Along with a glossary, descriptions of each species, and an author's note explaining how she researched the plants in the book, Rebecca Hirsch includes recommended reading, and links to Venus fly trap videos and accelerated growth footage.

What I Love:
Plants Can't Sit Still is beautifully written, using active verbs and energetic fonts. The text is lyrical and the author avoids rhyme in favor of vigorous prose, inviting readers themselves to move, through the pages and back again. The ending circles back to wording from the beginning, mimicking the plant life cycle. Mia Posada's art is perfectly suited to the text. The illustrated plants climb, slither, and squirm their way across the pages in earthy watercolored collage. Guaranteed to convert fiction fans to nonfiction lovers.

1. GROG interviewed the author, Rebecca E. Hirsch.

Absolutely amazing learning craft
from Danielle's Place

2. Illustrator Mia Posada is also a skilled fine artist. You can purchase her nature prints on Minted Marketplace.

3. Explore mobile plant seeds and cultivate a butterfly garden with tips from American Meadows on growing Milkweed.

4. Plants for Kids  posted instruction for the classic phototropism experiment in which a plant grows through a shoebox obstacle course until it finds the light.

5. BBC Nature offers some fascinating videos on animal-aided  seed dispersal.

6. WonderGressive has more information and videos on sensitive plants which move when touched.

7. I adore the environmental science curriculum, activities, and info from LifeLab. Check it out or pass it on.

8.  This book is truly perfect. Just ask the other Perfect Picture Book Friday reviewers: Sue on Archimedes Notebook, Kirsten on Creating Curious Kids,

9. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Susanna
Reviewed by Kirsten

Reviewed by Julie

Reviewed by Susanna

Reviewed by Sue
Reviewed by Joanne

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, June 16, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

*I do not necessarily endorse the ministry listed, but recommend the content of the link provided.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Tricky Part of Writing

"Well, editing taught me what not to do; that’s the easy part. Learning what to do is more tricky. But I think it boils down to this: to connect with readers, write from your heart."
Jamie Michalak*

Art Nouveau quill bookplate
Courtesy University of Illinois Library Collection 

*Via Highlights Foundation

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017

PPBF: My Special Word

Perfect Picture Book Friday will soon be on vacation, but please join me here every Friday of the summer for Summer Drive-in where I'll be highlighting some of my favorite books-turned movies. Don't forget the popcorn and a pillow!

My Special Word, by Alison Green Myers,
Dwight Smith, and Beth Bogert
My Special Word

Written by Dwight Smith and Alison Green Myers
Illustrated by Beth Bogert

My Special Word,  July 2017
Ages 4-8, 119 words

Character, Identity

"There are so many words in the world."

"What if you had your own special word?" That's the question this book asks the reader, showing them how empowering words can be. Then readers are challenged to choose their own special word, one which can help them through times of oppression, strife, or uncertainty. This charming metafiction picture book was created for use with the My Special Word program, and will be available from booksellers this summer.

Here's one of my favorite spreads from My Special Word.

What I Love:
The authors have written a sensitive invitation for kids to decide what kind of person they want to become. The POV is intimate and every detail from the illustrations to the typography invokes a playful sense of intimacy. I love the word choices: kind, confident, special, unstoppable, awesome.

I adore Beth's illustrations. They present a game of hide-and-seek in which readers look for hidden words and whimsical details. Her lively characters and energetic layouts are reminiscent of Hilary Knight's classic books. The limited color lends a timeless feel to a timeless message.

1. My Special Word co-founder Dwight Smith is a not-for-profit dedicated to sharing the power of words with young people.

What's My Word?
 2. There is also a My Special Word for middle graders, written by Alison and her co-author Greta Schmidt, with additional contributions by Dwight Smith.

3. SCBWI NEPA interviewed Alison on what makes a great picture book. Or you can read about her role at the Highlights Foundation on Women on Writing.

4. Join author Alison Green Myers at a Highlights Foundation workshop this summer, or choose from their wide range of classes on everything from collage to novels-in-verse.

5. Beth Bogert is an experienced illustrator and elementary school presenter. To schedule a school visit featuring My Special Word, talks, crafts, and activities, contact Beth via her website.

6. The main character in the book chooses "kind" as her word. Ministry to Youth* has put together a great object lesson on kindness as a lifestyle rather than a single act.

Have students write their special word
on cookie sticks like these
from Cadillac Cookies
7. Family Life* offers dozens of articles about building character in your child's life, like these on integrity, responsibility, and honor.

8. Jessica from What I Have Learned shares tips for building character in the classroom including activities, bulletin boards, and worksheets.

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

View all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for Friday, June 9, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Check out these and more related Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Barbara

Reviewed by Diane
Reviewed by Kelly

Reviewed by Clara
Reviewed by Patricia

*I do not necessarily endorse the ministry listed, but recommend the content of the link provided.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Pile of Words

". . . you may believe that words committed to paper are sacred, fixed, immutable. But you’re not dealing with a finished, printed, copyrighted book, only with an idea, a pile of words that will change many times before they take shape as a book."
—Dorothy Bryant*

Etching, bookplate, Dresser-Reynier
Courtesy Pratt Institute Libraries

*From The Writer’s Digest’s Handbook of Novel Writing via Beth Hill on The Editor's Blog