Friday, October 20, 2017

PPBF: Moses Goes to the Circus


Third in the Moses series by Isaac Millman
Moses Goes to the Circus

Written and illustrated by Isaac Millman

Frances Foster Books,
Macmillan Publishers, 2003
Ages 4-8, 490L


Themes:
Circus, Deaf Culture, Sign Language


Opening:
Moses and his family are going to the circus. On the way, they stop to look at the holiday displays in a department store window. Moses' little sister, Renee, riding on her daddy's shoulders, sways to the music coming over the speakers. Moses can't hear the music. He is deaf. His parents and Renee are not. Moses uses sign language to communicate.

[Moses signs] I am going to the circus.


Synopsis:
Moses is a deaf boy. He and his hearing family visit the circus in New York. Throughout the text, the illustrator includes dialogue and translations of the ASL. Moses gets chosen to participate in the ring. He and his family see the animals and performers and enjoy ice cream. Gentle and adorable, this book introduces readers to the circus, the city, and deaf culture in a sensitive and natural way. 


What I Love:
Lovely book about a deaf boy and his hearing family. The included diagrams of ASL were sometimes slightly confusing but necessary and interesting. I love the gentle art, the realistic family, the cute storyline. The book highlights a little-known "Circus of the Senses" which the Big Apple Circus put on especially for children with disabilities. Charming book about a lost part of our culture. Nice to see a positive spin on circuses which generally receive harsh, often undeserved criticism.


Bonus: 
1. Other books in the series include Moses Goes to School and Moses Goes to a Concert, and Moses Sees a Play.

2. You'll find some ASL resources for teaching about sign language and deaf culture on HandSpeak.

3. Circopedia is a comprehensive resource and a good place to start learning about the history of the circus.

4. Author / illustrator Isaac Millman lived in occupied France and was later placed in a Jewish-American home, though his family perished in Nazi concentration camps. Learn more about the "Hidden Children" on the Holocaust Encyclopedia.

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

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Vivian




Reviewed by Patricia
Reviewed by Diane

Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Patricia

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, October 20, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Take the Time

"Fleshing out a novel, completing every last task and polishing every page requires time. Plenty of writers can dash off a plot, a few engaging scenes, some hot dialogue. But not all writers can finish a novel the way it deserves to be finished. Some don’t finish it at all."
Beth Hill*

Engraved bookplate of Alice Blaine Robinson
attributed to Louis Rhead?


*Via The Editor's Blog

Monday, October 16, 2017

MMGM: The Whole Story of Half A Girl

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick

The Whole Story of Half a Girl, by Veera Hiranandani
The Whole Story 
of Half a Girl

Written by Veera Hiranandani

Penguin Random House, 2012
Grades 4-8, 930L
224 pages, 46000 words


Themes:
Cultural Identity, Depression,


Opening:
I'm in school, sitting with my hair hanging long down the back of my chair, my arm around my best friend, Sam. We're planning our next sleepover. Sam's parents have the tent and sleeping bags; Her mom even bought us cool spy pen-flashlights just for the occasion. To top it off, it's Friday, and summer's only two weeks away.
       Jack, my teacher, passes out recipes from the next and last country our fifth-grade class will be studying
India. I look down and see the makings of biryani, which is a special kind of rice dish. Jack always teaches us about the country's food first, then gives us the lay of the land and the history. Getting to know the food, Jack says, is the best way to really understand a country, just like sharing a meal with someone helps you get to know them. You can tell a lot from what a person eats. I agree.


Thoughts:
This book about a middle-schooler with parents from different cultures and religions transported me back to school days when you analyzed everything you thought and said and dreamed, hoping it wasn't too weird so you could fit in, whatever that meant. But it clearly speaks to modern audiences whose experiences are wholly different yet fundamentally the same. Sonia's authentic voice makes this a story which makes you laugh, cry, and cheer...and cry again. A cast of endearing, believable characters helps tackle struggles of pre-teen identity.  It explores the issues in a personal way, but with a complete grasp on the target audience. Very few middle  school books can manage this as appropriately. Spoiler warning for parents: this book does contain an instance of French kissing and orthodox practitioners may be frustrated by the lack of parental guidance to the kid characters, but the author's sincere treatment leaves ample room for discussion. We need more books like this.


Bonus: 
 1. If you enjoyed Veera's writing, try some of her other books. Karen reviewed the first book in Veera's Phoebe G. Green series on her blog.


2. Fellow MMGMers recommend these books featuring cultural diversity:

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, by Paula J. Freedman, reviewed by Randomly Reading and Ms. Yingling Reads

Unidentified Suburban Object, by Mike Jung, reviewed by Jess on The Reading Nook

This is Just a Test, by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang reviewed by Ms. Yingling Reads

Save Me A Seat, by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan, reviewed here on Bookish Ambition, and by Karen on Ms. Yingling Reads

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond, by Brenda Woods, reviewed by Alex on Randomly Reading

The Grand Plan To Fix Everything, by Uma Krishnaswami, reviewed by Joanne.

3. You can learn more about the author, her writing process, and peek behind the scenes of The Whole Story with interviews from Uma Krishnaswami and on Here, There, Everywhere.


My Path to Published with Veera Hiranandani from britta alexander on Vimeo.



Have you reviewed a Marvelous Middle Grade Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations for October 16, 2017.

MMGM started way back in 2010 by Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of Lost Cities. Each week, participating bloggers review our favorite books for ages 8-12. Why not join us?

Friday, October 13, 2017

PPBF: Sleep Tight, Snow White

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Sleep Tight, Snow White, released October 10, 2017
Sleep Tight, Snow White

Written by Jen Arena
Illustrated by Lorena Alvarez

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2017
Ages 3-5, 32 pp.


Themes:
Fairy Tales, Bedtime Rhymes


Opening:
Sleep Tight, Snow White.
Seven dwarves say goodnight.

Synopsis:
With simple preschool rhymes that roll of the tongue, author Jen Arena charms us again in her latest release, Sleep Tight, Snow White. Her bedtime picture book takes a dozen fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters and lulls them to sleep with short, playful rhymes on each spread. From the familiar Boy Blue to the classic Sleeping Beauty, the characters are encouraged to drift off to dreamland.


What I Love:
I've been eagerly awaiting this book's release and couldn't wait to share it with PPBF readers. Jen Arena has a way with rhythm which keeps readers moving through the pages. Parents are bound to love the traditional character choices as a way to introduce these time-honored tales to their little ones. Paired with the vibrant and mulicultural look of the illustrations, this sweet bedtime treat updates the stories in a retro-chic style that will appeal to all ages, from toddlers to grandparents.
I love the way the rhymes differ, tackling some of childhood's common obstacles to bedtime as well as injecting humor into the mix. I can hear myself repeating the Red Riding Hood Rhyme to calm nighttime fears, or the Princess and the Pea verse to settle a restless child.


Bonus:  
1. You can read interviews with the illustrator, Lorena Alvarez, on NoBrow and Kit Soup.
6 healthy fairy tale snacks from Happy Teacher Happy Kids

2. Tara Lazar has hosted Jennifer Arena on StoryStorm and PiBoIdMo.

3. How Wee Learn has collected 45 nursery rhymes themed crafts for little hands.

4. Youthwork Practice posted a dozen outdoor activities for elementary kids on the fairytale theme or try 10 play-group activities from B-Inspired Mama.

5. For a few lesser know fairy tales, try these suggestions from the Perfect Picture Book Friday crew:
Clever Kaytya, by Mary Hoffman and Marie Cameron
Bearskin, by Howard Pile and Trina Schart hyman
The Warrior and the Wise Man, by David Wisniewski
Moonstruck, by Eve Bunting and John Sandford

6. Check out this small sampling of Perfect Picture Books and many more at your local library.

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Susanna
Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Penny
Reviewed by Beth
Reviewed by Joanna

Reviewed by Wendy
Reviewed by Maria and Vivian

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, October 13, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

IF: Opulent

I thought I'd share Inktober Day 12  because it's also my contribution to Illustration Friday this week.

If: "Opulent" by Joanne Roberts
Pentel pocket brush and ink on AquaBee 93 lb paper
Remember to check my Instagram feed for all my Inktober 2017 drawings. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Perpetual Wealth

"No possession can surpass, or even equal a good library, to the lover of books. Here are treasured up for his daily use and delectation, riches which increase by being consumed, and pleasures that never cloy."
~John Alfred Landford*

Letterpress bookplate of Australia
Created by Mac and Ninny

*Via Quote Garden

Monday, October 9, 2017

MMGM: So B. It

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:

So B. It, by Sarah Weeks
So B. It

Written by Sarah Weeks
Cover by Anna Palma
HarperCollins, 2004
Ages 8-12, Lexile 860L
245 pp, 42000 words


Themes:
Belonging, Search for a past, Coming-of-Age


Opening:
If truth was a crayon and it was up to me to put a wrapper around it and name its color, I know just what I would call it— dinosaur skin. I used to think, without really thinking about it, that I knew what color that was. But that was a long time ago, before I knew what I know now about both dinosaur skin and the truth.
       The fact is, you can't tell squat about the color of an animal just from looking at its bones, so nobody knows for sure what color dinosaurs really were. For years I looked at pictures of them, trusting that whoever was in charge of coloring them in was doing it based on scientific fact, but the truth is they were only guessing. I realized that one afternoon, sitting in the front seat of Sheriff Roy Franklin's squad car, the fall before I turned thirteen.


Thoughts:
Heidi lives with her mom, So B. It and almost with her next-door neighbor, Bernadette. Their quirky, tight-knit family is just right, until the questions about her mom's past pile up too high for Heidi to sit still any longer. She embarks on a journey to find answers, "to know" like other kids do. 

The powerful storytelling and spot-on voice leap off every page. These characters will live in your heart and linger in your mind long after the last page is turned. The author weaves clever dialogue, interesting plot twists and just a tiny bit of magical luck into the story in the perfect blend. She creates a coming-of-age journey which gets to life's basic questions of what's important, what is family, who am I with wit, charm, and gut-wrenching drama.

Grab a box of tissues and a rainy afternoon. When you're finished, find a friend and read it together. It's truly a book to be shared and pondered.


Bonus: 
1. I could recommend Sarah's books again and again. Here are links to my pages for Save Me A Seat and Pie. And for slightly younger readers, try the Oggie Cooder series.

2. The movie version premiered in select theaters October 6. I haven't seen it yet, but you can find more info on So B. It The Movie. It'll never be as good as the book, but the original is so amazing, I'm eager to see them try. Besides, I hope it will prompt new readers to pull a copy off the library shelves.



3.  Have you reviewed a book with a similar vibe? Leave your MG recommendations in the comments. Thanks!



Check out all the recommended titles for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for October 9, 2017 available on Shannon Messenger's Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.