Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A New Tactic

"Procrastination does not mean you're broken. It means you're trying to force something through willpower alone that takes a plan and structure to achieve."
—Jessica Abel*


Kangaroo bookplate by Geoffrey Ricardo
Courtesy Museums Victoria


*Via Growing Gills

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Willing To Work?

"Creation, whatever its form, is not an act of will, but an act of faith."
Lloyd Alexander*


Man and mammoth bookplate by Kurt Leyde


*Via The Story Within, by Laura Oliver

Friday, May 11, 2018

PPBF: Adrift At Sea

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

The true story of Tuan Ho,
told by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and Brian Deines
Adrift At Sea
A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival

Written Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and Tuan Ho
Illustrated by Brian Deines, bio

Pajama Press, 2017
Ages 6-9, 40 pp


Themes:
Immigrants, Cultural Diversity, Vietnam


Opening:
When I come home from school today, a jug of water and bags of dried food sit by the door.
Ma gathers me in her arms. "Are you leaving me now too?" I ask.


Synopsis:
The Ho family live in Vietnam in the 1980's. This is the story of how Tuan and his sisters made a daring escape from that country, were lost at sea, and survived. The book includes photographs and details to inform the reader about Tuan Ho's family members, making the journey very personal. The author's note gives facts about the Vietnam War and the subsequent struggles of refugees.


What I Love:
This book is a beautifully written account of a harsh emigration from a young boy's perspective. The author includes sensory details to heighten the experience. The fine art paintings are beautiful, evoking a strong sense of realism.

I did think the book needed a bit more context for young readers. The enormous cast introduced in the first few pages was also a bit confusing. The solid back matter could be used by adults to provide a framework and summary before reading the story to children. There were places where I wished the art was more illustrative. I think the artist could have used some spreads to heighten the tension, reinforcing what was unsaid in the text. Yet the art was breathtaking, definitely creating a sense of mood on every spread.

Overall, this book is a much needed and honest picture of something many immigrants experience. Despite its shortcomings, I recommend Adrift at Sea for use in homes and classrooms.


Bonus: 
Culture map from Kids Press Magazine
1. Try kid-friendly recipes for fried rice, noodles, or summer rolls from A Week in the Life of the World.

2. Duolingo is my favorite app for learning languages. Try a few minutes of Vietnamese for free, and you'll be hooked.

3. Fluent in Three Months adds language games to get your kids moving and articulate.

4. Print and color Vietnamese paper dolls from education.com.

5. In case you missed the other CYBILS Award finalist reviews, I've included the links below:
Hatching Chicks in Room 6
Once Upon A Jungle
Shark Lady
Dazzle Ships
Danza!
What Makes A Monster?

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

A Different Pond, family life
of Vietnamese immigrants
Vietnamese Children's Favorite Stories,
Folk Tales


The Little Refugee,
Vietnamese Emigration
Maya Lin, Vietnamese architect
When Jesse Came Across the Sea,
Jewish immigrant story
The Wall, German escape story
Light in the Darkness,
African Escape story
The Name Jar,
Korean-American story

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 11, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

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

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Managing Your Next Project

"The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on that first one."
—Probably not Mark Twain*

Village bookplate by Hubert Wilm
Via Europeana Collections


*Via Brainy Quotes. See The Quote Investigator

Friday, May 4, 2018

PPBF: What Makes A Monster?

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

What Makes A Monster?, by Jess Keating
What Makes A Monster?
Discovering the World's Scariest Creatures

Written Jess Keating
Illustrated by David DeGrand

Alfred A. Knopf, Penguin Random House, 2017
Ages 6-9, 48 pp


Themes:
Animals, Science, Fears


Opening:
Don't high-five the AYE-AYE. Also known as "the demon primate," the aye-aye has a dangerous tool on hand. Or rather, its hand is a dangerous too.


Synopsis:
Like its predecessor, Pink Is For Blobfish, this book highlights animals by theme, with large photos, detailed scientific facts, and light-hearted trivia. What Makes A Monster? examines dangerous and scary creatures, from Komodo dragons to prairie dogs. The author carefully chooses animals we think of as scary and others we think of as cute or harmless. She includes varied back matter to make her points that we are usually afraid of what we don't understand and many of our animal-related fears are unfounded.


What I Love:
While not as clever as the previous book, I think WMAM? will engage readers because of the sensational nature of both the material and the format. Non-fiction books which present scientific facts in a humorous way are always popular. While I was disappointed by the lack of variety in the animals and thought the message was sometimes heavy-handed, I learned plenty of new things and "remembered" some animal facts I had forgotten. And kids will love this. That's what counts, after all.


Bonus: 
You could buy actual edible Jellyfish,
but I prefer this pita version from JDaniel'sMom
1. For more than you ever thought you could know about the author AND artist behind What Makes a Monster, visit Design of the Picture Book's entertaining interview. And for more zaniness, read Colby Sharp's 5, 4, 3, 2, 1-sentence interview with Jess Keating about Pink Is For Blobfish.

2. CelebratePicture Books has done a beautiful Q & A with the author an and in-depth look at her books and process.

3. Layers of Learning posted a bird anatomy worksheet, and Enchanted Learning has one for ant parts: perfect to go along with the Greater Honeyglide and the Zombie Ant found in the book.

4. You'll find all the picture book nominees for the CYBILS Award on Perfect Picture Book Fridays. Here's what you may have missed so far:
Hatching Chicks in Room 6
Once Upon A Jungle
Shark Lady
Dazzle Ships
Danza!

5. I'm always disappointed when the photographers whose work goes into a picture book are forgotten. Get inspired by 13 year-old Josiah Launstein, nature photographer on Shutterbug. Then take these tips from Mother Nature Network and try your hand and capturing some critters on film.

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

Reviewed by Andrea
Reviewed by Joanne


Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Joanna

Reviewed by Andrea
Reviewed by Sue

Reviewed by Stacy
Reviewed by Joanna

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 4, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

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

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Friday, April 27, 2018

PPBF: Danza!

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

Danza! A biography of Amalia Hernández, by Duncan Tonatiuh
Danza!
Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México 

Written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Abrams BFYR, 2017
Ages 6-10, 32 pp, 980L


Themes:
Dance, Cultural Diversity, Biography


Opening:
Amalia (ah-MAH-lee-ah) Hernández was born in Mexico City in 1917 and everyone assumed she would grow up to be a schoolteacher like her mother and her grandmother. Even Ami (AH-me), as everyone called her, expected that.

But one afternoon while her family was on vacation, Ami saw a pair of dancers in a town square. They stomped and swayed to the live music. The danzas that they performed had been danced by the people of that area for generations. Ami was hooked. She made a decision: she was going to become a dancer herself.


Synopsis:
Amalia Hernández is an overlooked figure in the history of entertainment. She was a dancer, teacher, and a collector of folk dances from her home country and around the world. She pioneered new styles of dance and incorporated cultural influences in her productions. She founded a prestigious ballet company, effectively cementing the importance of Mexican and folk dances in the collective consciousness. This book takes Amalia from her exposure to dance as a young girl, through the many high points of her life, and ends with her lasting legacy.


What I Love:
This book is written with scrupulous research and obvious respect, though the text is sometimes thick and overburdened with Amalia's many accomplishments. It is presented for ages 6 and up, but I think younger readers will have a difficult time grasping the details in the book. It can instead be used to introduce the very young to an exciting Hispanic personality and an important art movement. And older readers can enjoy the subject's amazingly full life and her ability to influence society. Unfortunately, the writing is sometimes less like a story, than an encyclopedic account. However, the book's significance and the omission of Ms. Hernández's broad accomplishments in most other places, makes this a picture book to try.

The author's choice to illustrate in a classical style adds to the book's message that Mexican tradition has much to offer. The nature of the art style is sometimes at odds with the theme of the book: Tonatiuh's art is fluid, but stiff at times, while Hernández's art was all about energy and movement. Tonatiuh does an excellent job of including even more facts into the back matter, facts which would have distracted from the linear nature of the story.

Danza! is a lovely and remarkable book which many people will find inspiring.


Bonus: 
A Mexican dancer to color, from Crayola
1. Patricia of Wander, Ponder, Write has also reviewed this book for Perfect Picture Book Friday.

2. The Adelante Movement has published more information on the life of Amalia Hernández or check out the page on Danzantes Unidos.

3. You can learn the names and details about ten important traditional Mexican dances on CultureUp, as well as seeing a video for each.

4. PinBureau posted an inspiring article on the local Ballet Folklorico groups in the Phoenix, AZ area. Why not explore your town for a company near you?

5. In case you missed the other CYBILS Award finalist reviews, I've included the links below:
Hatching Chicks in Room 6
Once Upon A Jungle
Shark Lady
Dazzle Ships

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


Reviewed by Vivian
Reviewed by Beth

Reviewed by Erik
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, April 27, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

*As a CYBILS second round judge, I was expected to review this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Eye-Opening Books

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
Marcel Proust*

Galleon bookplate by Franklin Booth 

*From Remembrance of Things Past via age-of-the-sage

Friday, April 20, 2018

PPBF: Dazzle Ships

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

Dazzle Ships, by Chris Barton and Victo Ngai
Dazzle Ships
WWI and the Art of Confusion 

Written Chris Barton
Illustrated by Victo Ngai

Millbrook Press, Lerner Publishing, 2017
Grades 2-5, 36 pp
990L, ATOS 6.10


Themes:
WWI, Art history, Biography


Opening:
One of the ships on this page is painted in sneaky, stripy camouflage.
You probably can't even see it?
Oh. You can see it?
Hmmmmmmm.


Synopsis:
Dazzle Ships is my favorite kind of non-fiction. It covers history biography and a bit of legend. The book introduces important concepts about the First World War by focusing on the devastating effect of German torpedoes on British ships and the desperate attempts by Norman WIlkinson to convince the navy to use reverse camouflage. The highly-imaginative illustrations dazzle with their interpretation of countries as characters, the creative colorschemes, and the almost graphic novel-like storytelling.

Modern dazzle ship recreation via 1418Now, Scotland
The method of painting dazzle ships to confuse the enemy periscope sighters and the desperate plight of the civilians of the British isles are all thoroughly explained.

With additional notes and a timeline included in the back matter, this book provides the ideal doorway to exploration of a larger subject.



What I Love:
Dazzle Ships is a delight. The subject matter and the artist treatment are both unique. The author includes a well-rounded picture of history in an interesting way which will capture both newbies and history buffs. While the illustrations are extremely stylized, the artist uses them to make the story crystal clear. Some may not like the fantastic treatment, but I think her idea is genius.

The one drawback was the way the author revealed the doubtful results of the dazzle painting, almost as an afterthought in the last page of the story. While I appreciate the author's honesty, I think he could have presented in a different way. As a reader, I was caught up in dazzle fever, just like the British and Americans. When the author reveals the whole idea may not have made a difference, I wonder why I even bothered to read the book!

Just tweaking the tone of his revelation would have swayed me to give this book the full five stars. Nevertheless, I think in the hands of a parent pr teacher, an inquisitive child is going to be fascinated, to learn to think outside the box, and to be inspired to change the world.

You'll find all the picture book nominees for the CYBILS Award* on Perfect Picture Book Fridays. Here's what you may have missed so far:
Hatching Chicks in Room 6
Once Upon A Jungle


Bonus: 
Striped inside and out, t
his cupcake recipe from Eats Amazing
could be turned into dazzle ships!
1. The Best Children's Books has compiled a tidy list of picture books and middle grade choices centering on the Great War era.

2. Animal camouflage would be a fascinating study to go along with this book. For some top picture books, try Secrets of Animal Camouflage, by Carron Brown, Animal Camouflage, by Sarah Dennis and Sam Hutchinson, Animals Undercover, by Madeleine Fortescue, Hidden in Plain Sight, by Elsie Belback, and What Color Is Camouflage?, by Carolyn Otto and Megan Lloyd, to name a few.

3. Find more about wartime camouflage on Kiddle.

4. There's more to the man who designed dazzle ships than a commission from the British Navy. Meet the artist on The Vintage Poster and at Darnley Fine Art.

5. In case you missed the other CYBILS Award finalist reviews, I've included the links below:
Hatching Chicks in Room 6
Once Upon A Jungle
Shark Lady

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

Reviewed by Susanna
Reviewed by Kathy

Reviewed by Kristen
Reviewed by Jarm


Reviewed by Joanne
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, April 20, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Reading in Bed

"A full stomach, a soft mattress, a feather comforter, a pillow, a long candle and nobody to tell you what to do. ...Heaven must be something like that."
Sarah Ellis*


Reading chair bookplate
from University of Delaware Library Digital Collections
via Pinterest


*From The Several Lives of Orphan Jack

Friday, April 13, 2018

PPBF: Shark Lady

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

Shark Lady, a biography of biologist, Eugenie Clark
Shark Lady
The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became The Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist

Written Jess Keating
Illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2017
Ages 4-8, 40 pp, 730L


Themes:
Ocean, Animals, Biography


Opening:
It was Saturday, and Eugenie wanted to stay at the aquarium forever. She wanted to smell the damp, salty air and stare at the glittery rainbow of fish. She wanted to keep watching her favorite animals...The sharks.


Synopsis:
Shark Lady follows scientist Eugenie Clark's life from fascination with sharks as a child to her ground-breaking studies as a marine biologist. The book focuses on the misrepresentation of sharks and uses it to strengthen the theme: that Eugenie Clark was also misunderstood. As a woman scientist, she faced opposition as well as challenges she set herself in her field work. The back matter includes a timeline, shark facts, and other interesting bits.


What I Love:
With multiple degrees and awards to her credit, Clark is a great role model for young readers. Keating's text is readable, and re-readable. The art is playful and colorful, perfect for attracting readers of both sexes, even ones who aren't interested in the subject. I love the underlying idea that we look too much on the outward appearance and tend to misjudge both animals and people. While Keating's What Makes A Monster? is somewhat heavy-handed, Shark Lady sets just the right balance. The entire book is designed to be engaging from the charming endpapers to the clever "Shark Bites" of information in the back where the author includes, not just more information, but deeper, funnier, or more kid-friendly factoids.


You'll find all the picture book nominees for the CYBILS Award* on Perfect Picture Book Fridays. Here's what you may have missed so far:
Hatching Chicks in Room 6
Once Upon A Jungle


Bonus: 

Craft a paper fin hat to wear
during the playground games.
Courtesy of Susan's Site
1. Play Fishy Fishy Sharky Sharky or Minnows and Sharks during recess.

2. For snacktime, mix up some gummy sharks and blue Jello or a watermelon shark.

3. PBS Parents has cooked up a shark-themed coding game for women's history month.

4. TeacherVision is a great resource for classrooms, from biographical worksheets on Eugenie Clark, to shark matching pages.

5. Learn more about Eugenie Clark at The Marine Laboratory & Aquarium or read her bio on National Geographic, published after her death.

6. Take a field trip to The Georgia Aquarium or a facility near you.

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

Reviewed by Maria
Reviewed by Penny


Reviewed by Sue
Reviewed by Vivian

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Susanna

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, April 13, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

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