Wednesday, February 21, 2018

From Imagination to Publication

"The book that stands on the shelves of a bookstore and then into a kid's home needs structure in the process of its making. It needs your grit as an author and a dash of luck."


Bookplate by Alexei Yapatov

Friday, February 16, 2018

PPBF: Hatching Chicks in Room 6

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick*

Hatching Chicks in Room 6, by Caroline Arnold
Hatching Chicks in Room 6

Written and illustrated by Caroline Arnold

Charlesbridge, 2017
Ages 3-7, 40 pp, 590L


Themes:
Science, Nature, Non-fiction, Chicken Life Cycle



Opening:
Mrs. Best keeps chickens in her backyard. Every day the hens lay eggs. Every day Mrs. Best collects the eggs for her family to eat. But today Mrs. Best is bringing the eggs to school.


Synopsis:
Hatching Chicks in Room 6 is a photo essay of one Kindergarten class's hands-on experience raising chickens in the classroom. The book documents the journey from incubator to outside pen, serving as textbook and guidebook. Hatching Chicks is a great companion for teachers, a starting point for those wishing to raise their own flock, and an introduction to the avian life cycle for schools unable to care for actual animals.


What I Love:
This is not my kind of non-fiction. I would never have picked this book up off the shelf. As a child, I would never have chosen this book. So why is Hatching Chicks in Classroom 6 my Perfect Picture Book Friday pick? Not just because it won the CYBILS Award for elementary non-fiction (though it did), but because it is surprising, and fun, and almost perfect.

The text is perfectly suited to its audience. The writing is straightforward, but not dry. Facts abound, but not in a didactic way. The author's interaction with the kids of Room 6 and their combined enthusiasm for the subject shines from every page, putting the reader in the classroom, transforming the chicks into characters in a story.

Hatching Chicks is rather like a scrapbook of Caroline Arnold's time with Ms. Best's 6-year-olds. As readers, our education grows along with the little peeps. Questions, vocabulary, links, and more provide a complete package of resources for like-minded teachers or inquisitive students. I would love to see it in the hands of kids (especially the ones like me who might miss it!)


Bonus: 

1. If you know a teacher who would like to raise chickens in the classroom, pass on these links for educators: 7 Rules for a Successful Hatching Project from MyPetChicken and an elementary grade activity booklet from NYAgriculture in the Classroom.

2. Expand on the project with Vital Farms's 20 Ways to Recycle Eggshells.

3. Whole Fed Homestead has an economic, organic recipe for chicken mash, instead of purchasing store-bought chick feed.

4. Some administrators may need convincing, or schools may need to apply for grants. Find the info they'll need on PetsInTheClassroom.

5. Celebrate hatching day with a healthy snack: Alana Jones-Mann cooked up a dozen hard-boiled eggs that look like chicks hatching. There's a slightly more complicated version available from HGTV.

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

Reviewed by Jarm
Reviewed by Susanna


Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Sue
Reviewed by Susanna

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

Perfect Picture Book Friday is pre-empted today because of the 2018 Valen-Tiny Contest. Please check out the entries on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

*As a CYBILS second round judge, a review copy of this book was made available in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

CYBILS Awards 2018

Congratulations to each of the CYBILS winners. Book bloggers from all over whittle down the list of best books in each category: board books, graphic novels, poetry, and non-fiction, to name a few.

You'll find the top books (published in the previous year) in each category on the CYBILS blog.

The list of nominees is usually the cream of the crop.
Peruse the list to fill out your TBR pile.



Walk, don't run, to your local book store and pick up a copy of each of these deserving winners. While you're at it, take along a list of the finalists, too. There's always a passionate discussion among the judges. Sometimes the winners are only a fraction apart in quality. Celebrate these beautiful books and book creators with me...and pass the books on to the young readers in your life!


Starting tomorrow, I'll be reviewing each of the finalists in my category: Elementary Non-Fiction. So tune in to Perfect Picture Book Fridays. If time permits, I'll also post my thoughts on Middle Grade Mondays for the finalists in the Middle Grade Non-Fiction category. I've been dying to shout out about these amazing books. Please join me or sign up to follow my blog so you don't miss a single post!

Thanks, and happy reading.

Hatching Chicks in Room 6, by Caroline Arnold


Hatching Chicks in Room 6

by Caroline Arnold.
Winner in the Elementary Non-Fiction category.

CONGRATULATIONS!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lovable Books

"He loved books, those undemanding but faithful friends."

–Victor Hugo*


Bookplate of window bookshelf via Flikr


*Via Shesourceful

Friday, February 9, 2018

PPBF: Ask Me

And now on to today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Ask Me, by Bernard Waber and Suzy Lee
Ask Me

Written by Bernard Waber
Illustrated by Suzy Lee

Henry Holt BFYR, Macmillan, 2015
Ages 4-7, 40 pp, 250L


Themes:
Relationships, Family, Fathers


Opening:
Ask me what I like?

What do you like?

I like dogs.
I like cats.
I like turtles.


Synopsis:
Daddy and daughter take a walk together, giving Daddy time to discover inner secrets of his little girl through the lost art of listening. A celebration of both fatherhood and childhood.


What I Love:
Ask Me is a delightfully sweet book that echoes the yearning in every child's heart, to be heard, to be someone other people want to get to know. Dad and daughter exchange a series of questions with delightfully child-like answers which just may reveal more about her inner self than he could have imagined. Perfect for Valentine's Day, Father's Day, or any day.


Bonus: 
How to Listen So Other People Will Talk,
Recommended by Parenting Like Hannah


1. Enjoy daddy-daughter date suggestions from toddlers to teens on Ask MenThe Simple Dad, and Happily Ever Mom.

2. Have Daddy fill out a questionaire, from NotJustCute.

3. Questions aren't just for dads. Get to know your kids with conversation starters from Our Three Peas and Parents.

4. I'm still convinced that reading aloud with my kids (now teenagers) is consistently one of our strongest bonding times. Read more and find suggestions on ReadAloudRevivial podcasts and website.

5. My husband is a baking wiz. For our daughter's birthday he made these cherry limeade cupcakes from Bird on A Cake. Why not give it a whirl with your young lady? Or prepare dinner with five easy recipes from All Pro Dad.

6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.
Special thanks to three great PPBF reviewers: Julie, Wendy, and Perfect Picture Book Friday creator, Susanna Leonard Hill.

Review of Meet the Parents
Review of  The House on East 88th Street

Review of Dad and Pop
Review of Open This Little Book
Review of Daddy Depot
Review of Mother Bruce
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, February 9, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Growing Story Seedlings

"Once an idea comes to mind...one should ask, 'Who could help me tell that story? What character and what situation can help demonstrate that idea?'"

–Peter H. Reynolds*



Dandelion bookplate by Mads Stage,
Courtesy Frederikshavn Art Museum


Friday, February 2, 2018

PPBF: Claudia & Moth

And now on to today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Claudia & Moth by writer/illustrator Jennifer Hansen Rolli
Claudia & Moth

Written and illustrated by Jennifer Hansen Rolli

Viking BFYR, Penguin Random House, 2017
Ages 4-6, 40 pp, 610L


Themes:
Pets, Friendship


Opening:
"Claudia loved butterflies."


Synopsis:
Claudia is in love with butterflies. She yearns to take one home, but instead learns to paint them. She revels in the colors all summer, but when winter comes, greys and whites dominate her world. When Claudia encounters a white moth in her bedroom, she devises a plan to add some color and a new pet to her dull snowy days. Instead, Claudia learns that creatures in nature can't be improved upon or contained.


What I Love:
This book received a lot of hype in my area because the creator is a hometown girl. Now that I've finally gotten my hands on a copy, I realize the praise in a natural result of this book's well-told narrative and engaging illustrations. Claudia is adorable and kid readers will empathize with her desire to keep a butterfly in her room. I thought the story had an unusually long set-up, but I was so caught up in the story that I didn't notice until well after the last page was turned. The art is energetic, keeping the reader moving through the pages. The moral is more of an under-tone, turning the book into a perfect story time read which opens the door for further discussion.


Bonus: 
This color-your-own butterfly is my favorite craft
from the list on Danielle's Place

1. Learn to identify caterpillars and the butterflies they become with the guide found on The Children's Butterfly site or try the database on DiscoverLife.

2. Moths and butterflies have some obvious differences. Can you name the four main differences? Find out on EasyScienceForKids.

3. The art-themed birthday party on Crafts by Courtney could easily be transformed into a Claudia & Moth party. Check out the snacks and wall decor!

4. Paint your own butterflies with the coloring sheets found on ExploringNature.

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

Revuewed by Sue
Reviewed by Julie

Reviewed by Beth
Reviewed by Barbara
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, February 2, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Adding Story To Your Portfolio

"The mere act of being open to ideas all month gets your brain working and open and receptive. Even if you don't intend to write, I guarantee it will improve your illustrations. You'll be so focused on story that your work will automatically be showing more story in it. Isn't that what children's illustration is all about?"
-Laura Zarrin*


Reading mouse bookplate, by Felix Doolittle
*Via Simply Messing About





Saturday, January 27, 2018

Multicultural Children's Book Day 2018

How are you promoting an interest in diverse cultures with your children?

#ReadYourWorld
Read with a child this weekend and open their world to the far horizon.


I regularly review picture books featuring different languages, cultures, and countries.

Here are some of the Perfect Picture Book Reviews from the past months.
Blue Sky, White Stars, by Sarvinder Naberhaus and Kadir Nelson
Moses Goes To The Circus, by Isaac Millman
The Shark God, by Rafe Martin and David Shannon
Sleep Tight, Snow White, by Jen Arena and Lorena Alvarez
Never Forgotten, by Patricia McKissack and Leo and Diane Dillon

For young readers, try
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen, by Debbi Michiko Florence and Elizabet Vukovik
Alvin Ho is Allergic to The Great Wall, The Forbidden Palace, and Other Tourist Attractions, by Lenore Look and LeUyen Pham

A few of my favorite multicultural middle grade reads are
The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, by Uma Krishnaswami and Abigail Halpin
Save Me a Seat, by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
The Whole Story of Half a Girl, by Veera Hiranandani

I don't read much YA, but Nora & Kettle, by Lauren Nicolle Taylor, was fantastic—earth-shattering—a biracial love story set in a dark part of America's past.

Set in 1953, NORA AND KETTLE explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. 
–From the author's website

Blue Sky, White Stars,
by Sarvinder Naberhaus and Kadir Nelson

Nora & Kettle, by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Cover by Marya Heiman
The Whole Story of Half a Girl,
 by Veera Hiranandani

Alvin Ho, by Lenore Look and LeUyen Pham

Friday, January 26, 2018

PPBF: The Shark God

And now on to today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The Shark God, by Rafe Martin and David Shannon
The Shark God

Written by Rafe Martin
Illustrated by David Shannon

Arthur A. Levine, Imprint of Scholastic Books, 2001
Ages 4-8, 370L


Themes:
Folk Tales, Culture


Opening:
It was long, long ago that two children, a brother and sister, tried to find someone to help them save a shark.


Synopsis:
The Shark God is a retelling of an ancient Hawaiian fable, Kauhuhu The Shark God of Molokai.
Two children who live in a hard-hearted village save a shark from a slow death. In their excitement, they break a tribal law and are sentenced to execution. Their parents seek help from the powerful and frightening Kauhuhu. With his guidance, the children are freed and reunited with their family.


What I Love:
Master storyteller, Rafe Martin, has made this unusual tale accessible to modern readers and has tweaked the story to center on the children and to include a more concrete ending. With bold color and energetic illustrations, this Hawaiian folk tale leaps off the shelf. Kids will love the heroic nature of the sharks and the magical details.

While I planned to review a contemporary picture book featuring characters from an under-represented culture for Multicultural Children's Book Day, I couldn't resist this striking picture book with its rare tale of adventure and its strong theme of callousness vs. kindness.


Bonus: 
Make a classic bottle catch game from Krokotak.
1. Read Kauhuhu's story in the sacred texts, available on Hawaiian Legends of Ghosts and Ghost-Gods.

2. The University of Hawai'i at Manoa has created a detailed index of Shark god stories, compiled by the Hawai'i State Library.

3. DKFindOut! has created pages of Shark facts, or visit SharkSider for a compendium of sharks, detailed by species.

4. Make a shark-shaped cootie catcher origami with instructions from Easy Peasy and Fun.

5. Support Multicultural Children's Book Day and #ReadYourWorld. Find suggested reading, classroom kits, and more on their website.

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

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Vivian


Reviewed by Clar
Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Maria
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, January 26, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Friday, January 19, 2018

PPBF: A Year in the City

And now on to today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick
A Year in the City, by Kathy Henderson and Paul Howard
A Year in the City

Written Kathy Henderson
Illustrated by Paul Howard

Candlewick Press, 1996
Ages 3 & up, 32 pp


Themes:
City, Seasons


Opening:
The year's turning,
the year's turning
through the streets and houses
where people pass and the traffic churns,
all the time the year keeps turning.


Synopsis:
Pages packed with bustling illustrations, A Year in the City hustles readers through the frenetic pace of city life, month by month. The prose is poetic. The illustrations are detailed. Just like the city there is much in this book to see and explore. The creators offer a buffet of the delights and distractions inherent in an urban setting, highlighting cultural festivals, seasons, holidays, sounds, and textures.


What I Love:
With well over 1,000 words, this book may be a surprising addition to the PPBF list. I love the author's skill painting a scene engaging all of the senses. The illustrator's full-page and vignetted scenes carry a sense of energy and inspire kids to examine and appreciate a culture like, or unlike, their own.


Bonus: 
Petit and Small modeled 5 diverse cities from recycled materials
1. I love the creative breadstick appetizers for New Year's Eve found on Heavy.

2. MiniTime is a great website for planning a city trip with the kids. Links include NYC, San Francisco, and Boston. Or  uncover travel secrets from the New York Times article on Chicago.

3. Parenting Patch has created a handprint craft for preschoolers, while FunnyCrafts makes a 4 seasons bottle craft available to download.

4. You'll find printable worksheets for weather tracking, four seasons puzzles, seasonal writing prompts and more on Education.com

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

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Julie


Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Maria

Reviewed by Clara
Reviewed by Wendy

Reviewed by Wendy
Reviewed by Julie

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, January 19, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.