Monday, May 23, 2016

Friday, May 20, 2016

PPBF: My Garden

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

My Garden, by Kevin Henkes
My Garden
Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow, 2010
Ages 2-7, 280 words

Gardening, Imagination

"My mother has a garden. I'm her helper. I water. I weed.
And I chase away the rabbits so that they don't eat all the lettuce.
It's hard work, and my mother's garden is very nice,
But if I had a garden..."

A little girl delights in her mother's garden, but dreams of a magical garden of her own where sea shells and jelly beans grow, chocolate rabbits abound, and the flowers change color at her whim.

What I Love:
I love the style Henkes uses, part child's marker-drawing, part linocut, part fabric pattern. His pages are bursting with child-like colors and almost smell like spring. He captures the young narrator's voice flawlessly. For example, the carrrots in her garden are invisible, because she doesn't like to eat them!


I found this umbrella garden on DIY Enthusiasts
1. The author/illustrator has produced a teachers guide for My Garden and other books on his website.
2. Kids Play Box designed an adorable jelly bean bush crafts inspired by this book. You'll find the instructions on their blog.
3. In the book, the garden unexpectedly sprouts buttons, old rusty keys, and umbrellas. Decorate your garden with colorful recycled key windchimes from Inner Child Fun. Faithtap showcases a dozen planter ideas from your closet including umbrella planters. DIY button stepping stones from Make Your Mark are brilliant!
4. The Science of Spring website is brimming with kid-friendly garden ideas including teacher packets for all grade levels.
5. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Loni
Reviewed by Laura

Reviewed by Penny
Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Joanne

Reviewed by Diane

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, May 20, 2016 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Be An Empath

"Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy."
 — Nikki Giovanni*

Autumn leaf bookplate

*via Word Dance

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Journey

"For most people, the road to publication is a long one...Take a moment to enjoy the small wins as they come along, and then do what you can to push forward."
-Mark Magro*

Bookplate art by Rieko Yamanaka

*Via Eastern Penn Points


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Stay Screen-Free with Audiobooks

If you haven't had much luck convincing the addicts in your lives to join Screen-Free Week,  then why not try an audiobook. I used to be a purist—paper only—until I heard recordings of some of my favorite books like the ones below.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J. K. Rowling, performed by Jim Dale
Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale, performed by Full-Cast Audio

Books of Bayern #1, by Shannon Hale

And two fantastic choices of narrators for George Selden's The Cricket in Times Square: Rene Aubergonois or Tony Shalhoub.

Chester and Tucker's first appearance,
by George Selden

Find a bookseller near you:

Celebrate Screen-Free Week, May 2-8, 2016

Friday, May 6, 2016

PPBF: Gordon Parks, The Man Who Captured Black and White America

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Gordon Parks picture book biography
by Carole Boston Weatherford and Jamey Christoph
Gordon Parks, The Man Who Captured Black and White America

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Jamey Christoph
Albert Whitman & Co., 2015
Grades K-3, AD840L

Nonfiction, Biography, the Arts

"The youngest of fifteen, Parks arrives stillborn and is nearly left for dead until a dip in ice water shocks his tiny heart to beat."


Portrait of Ella Watson,
"American Gothic," by Gordon Parks
This lyrical picture book chronicles Parks's life and photographic career. Uplifting and inspiring, it gives just a glimpse of the accomplishments of one man in one lifetime against the odds. The book has an afterward, a collection of the facts in Gordon Pars's life, but the true gem is the author's note which makes it personal, grounding this larger-than-life story from the past in the very real present.

What I Love:
The writing is so beautiful and honest, it was no surprise when I found out the author is also a poet. Readers are drawn into the detail, not just the facts of Parks's life. The art may be a bit different for designer Jamey Christoph, but he captures the era perfectly with engaging illustrations and muted colors.


Photographer Gordon Parks also
wrote a book of his own,
which Carole Weatherford read as a child.
The Learning Tree
1. Reading Rockets posted a comprehensive interview with Carole about her books and their inspirations.
2. The author has put together a dozen teacher guides on her books as well as general historical events, including a powerpoint presentation about the Jim Crow Laws.
3. The Gordon Parks Foundation in Pleasantville, NY is the best place to get a look at the power and scope of Parks work. Or you can view American Gothic, one of Parks most famous images at the Gordon Parks Museum.
4. Legends Online is a photographic hall of fame, including a small gallery of Gordon Parks's work. Plus Learn more about Parks's life on Biography.
5. Artist Jamey Christoph is also something of a Renaissance man. Find more of  his art, from theatrical posters to architecture on workbook.
6. The Brown Bookshelf is a favorite stop for me. With contributors like the inspiring Gwendolyn Hooks, the adorable and talented newcomer Tracey Baptiste, and picture book dynamo Don Tate, readers are assured of finding great books. The blog highlights Black and African American authors and their books.
Speaking of Don Tate, don't miss the opportunity to further your journey to publication at his Highlights Foundation Workshop.
7. The publisher offers common core statistics on their website.
8. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Clar

Reviewed by Erik
From Sally's Bookshelf

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, May 6, 2016 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Read Instead

Join Screen-Free Week
May 2-8, 2016

How do you get your kids unplugged?

  • Lead by example. 
  • Substitute screen time with face time. 
  • Plan a family activity.
Years ago we discovered the fun (and benefits) of reading out loud.
Thanks to Margaret Mary Kimmel and Elizabeth Segel*, we built irreplaceable family memories around a bowl of popcorn and The Wizard of Oz. Next came Mr. Popper's Penguins, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and A Bear Called Paddington. I still recommend a family gathering around Sarah, Plain and Tall or The Ghost in the Noonday Sun.

Sarah, Plain and Tall,
By Patricia MacLachlan
The Ghost in the Noonday Sun,
By Sid Fleischman

Try a few of these titles from your local library. They make great read-alouds.

Celebrate Screen-Free Week

*For more information and recommendations, check out For Reading Out Loud!: A Guide to Sharing Books With Children.