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


Themes:
Nature, Nonfiction


Opening:
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.
 

Synopsis:
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.


Bonus: 
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


Themes:
Character, Identity


Opening:
"There are so many words in the world."


Synopsis:
"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.


Bonus: 
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

Friday, June 2, 2017

PPBF: Rufus Goes To Sea

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Part of the Rufus series of books
Rufus Goes to Sea

Written by Kim Griswell
Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev

Sterling Children's Books, 2015
Ages 3-8, Lexile AD400L


Themes:
Pirates, Literacy, Talents


Opening:
Rufus Leroy Williams III loved going to school.
He loved reading.
He loved writing.
He loved playtime and naptime and storytime.
But one day, Rufus found the school door locked.


Synopsis:
Rufus the pig loves school, but summer vacation has begun and he doesn't know what to do with himself. He is inspired by one of his pirate books and sets out to join a pirate crew for the summer. The scurvy captain keeps rejecting him because a) he's a pig and b) Rufus isn't able to perform any useful duties onboard. In the end it is his love of reading that wins the hearts of both captain and crew.


What I Love:
Um, everything.
Rufus is a loveable character. His naïve determination speaks volumes to young kids, especially in situations where they feel like outsiders. The text itself is bouncy and readable. In fact, it is perfectly rereadable, a must for this age group. Valeri's trademark illustration style is perfect for charming readers with Rufus's piggy antics or the general rowdiness of the pirates. Bright colors keep it light and optimistic.



Bonus: 
1. Kim Griswell offers great advice for writers on the Highlights Foundation blog. And on The Children's Book Review, she discusses the inspiration for Rufus Goes to School.

2. Don't miss this great illustrator interview with Valeri Gorbachev courtesy of Jules Danielson on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Or our own PPBFer Joanna Marple's interview on Miss Marple's Musings.

3. ETSpeaks from Home makes pig snouts out of egg cartons. They're actually for Peppa Pig books, but can be used for cute pink Rufus noses, too.

4. Coolest Kid Birthday Parties has collected a slew of pirate party games appropriate for pre-schoolers and up.

5. Grab some Pirate's Booty (cheddar is my favorite) or create your own pirate snack from Jello and orange slices courtesy Paging SuperMom. (The Pirate Booty site also features activities and giveaways!)

6. Ministry To Youth offers a lesson, video, and Biblical examples of perseverance.*

7. Also, enjoy the video of perseverance from kids' points of view by Described And Captioned Media above.

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


Previously reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Susanna


Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Diane



Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Jarm


Reviewed by Barbara
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 2, 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, May 31, 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

Whom do you remember?

Here we are celebrating Memorial Day with prayer, reflection, family time, and music by the Voices of Liberty.

We send our thanks to all the families who sacrifice at home everyday and the servicemen and women who sacrifice their wants for our needs.

We are most thankful to God for those who have gone before, those who have sacrificed their lives in the service of freedom.


 It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863







For those families of servicemen, I'd like to recommend the following books, While My Soldier Serves and Fighting Fear. I recently met Edie Melson, the author of these powerful books. She knows what she's talking about and I highly recommend buying one of these books to strengthen and support the wives, children, and families of the members of our armed forces.


While My Soldier Serves,
Prayers for military families
Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home
Secrets to living a peace-filled life

Friday, May 26, 2017

PPBF: Alpha Bravo Charlie

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Alpha Bravo Charlie,
The Complete Book of Nautical Codes, by Sara Gillingham
Alpha Bravo Charlie

Written and illustrated by Sara Gillingham


Phaidon Press, 2016
Ages 6-10, 120 pp


Themes:
Language, Nautical, Nonfiction


Opening:
Ship ahoy!
Imagine you are on a boat out at sea, a long time ago, with no phone or electronic way to talk to anyone else. Sailing in the big, wide ocean is pretty dangerous! There are pirate ships that could rob you, and maybe even enemy ships from countries you are at war with. So when you see another ship off in the distance, what do you do?

Synopsis:
Alpha Bravo Charlie is truly a "complete book of nautical codes." The introduction explains the need for and definition of signal flags, the phonetic alphabet flags, Morse code, and semaphore. Then, for each letter of the alphabet, the book includes a full page flag, explanations of each of the other languages, plus a different kind of boat on every page giving examples of the code in use. Each boat is also explained in detail adding a bonus of 26 boats to the reader's repertoire. The back matter includes a glossary, more about nautical history, more about codes, decorating boats, links, and resources for further study. Whew!

What I Love:
This brightly colored, graphic book is sturdy and perfect for enquiring minds and eager little hands. The format is what makes it stand out, as well as the information packed between the covers. Even the endpapers are in Morse code (though I found myself wishing there was a secret message embedded there!) I loved learning the meanings of the flags and can see this being referred to often by best buddies: sending signals from the tree tops or covertly in the classroom. The creator cleverly included various ships to help tell her story. For example, the Alpha flag also means "diver down." The artist drew a boat with diving platform, including descriptive text, to cement the details in our minds. I was astounded she could come up with twenty-six different kinds of boats, each linking to the meaning of the International Code of Signals flags. I did find myself wishing I could detach the flags and use them. I can imagine my kid-self doing just that.

Bonus: 

Secret codes in Math class
from What Do We Do All Day
1. I found an Australian site which has pictures and descriptions
of the International Code of Signal Flags.

2. Study.com has articles on the history of Morse code and
lessons on the subject.

3. I found a huge, detailed list of various ships on the Ultimate Online Guide. I wonder if it more or less reliable than Wikipedia.

4. Kids Activities Blog and Grandparents.com each have a multitude of codes you can teach your kids.

5. Creative Interviews posted an interview with Sara Gillingham on her duties as design director.

6. Check out these related reviews from my previous posts and don't forget to support your local library.


Jackrabbit McCabe & the Electric Telegraph
Voyage



Mr. Wuffles!
Float

Reviewed by Leslie
Reviewed by 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, May 5, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Two Out of Three?

“A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.”
~ William Faulkner*

Czechoslovakian bookplate
via Pinterest

*Via Rosi at The Write Stuff






Friday, May 19, 2017

PPBF: The Book of Mistakes

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The Book of Mistakes, by Corinna Luyken
The Book of Mistakes
Written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken

Dial BFYR, 2017
Ages 4-8, 56 pp


Themes:
Creativity, Accidents


Opening:
It started


with a mistake.


Synopsis:
From the first two words, "It started" we see a pencil drawing a face and we know this book is going to be special. On the next page, the "artist" makes a blob where the eye should be. But this clever picture book shows readers how to keep creating through the mistakes, turning them into happy accidents, or transforming them into out-of-the-box solutions. As the book progresses, a main character emerges and by the end, her personality is fully realized along with a fantastic setting peopled with other unusual characters. The very end is no mistake as the story circles back on itself, leaving the reader with the definitive message to explore their creativity without fear.


What I Love:
This debut book showcases Corinna Luyken's talent in creating fascinating quirky drawings as well as a page-turning picture book. With the emphasis on the theme and the text directed at the reader, the "story" is a little light. But in many ways, this feels like a Peter H. Reynolds book. I predict many wonderful masterpieces as a result of the author's permission to revel in our mistakes.


Bonus: 
1. For interviews with the illustrator, see SCBWI's Kidlit Artists, Design of the Picture Book, and Let's Talk Picture Books.

2. Introduce budding artists to Ed Emberley's drawing pages and books. No one says "I can't draw" when they follow his step-by-step instructions.

3. Peter H. Reynolds's International Dot Day is all about creativity. You don't have to wait until September to be infected by his encouraging mission.

4. Not confident with a pencil? Try baking Oops cookies from Steph's Blessings.

5. More4Kids has posted a straightforward article on helping children learn from their mistakes. And Roots of Action lists ten ways you can turn mistakes into positive experiences.

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



Reviewed by Laura
Reviewed by Barbara



Reviewed by Leslie
Reviewed by Sue


Reviewed by Erik
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, May 19, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.