Friday, October 27, 2017

PPBF: Miss Moore Thought Otherwise

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

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise
How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries For Children
Miss Moore Thought Otherwise

Written and illustrated by Jan Pinborough
Illustrated by Debby Atwell

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , 2013
Ages 6-9, 40 pp, 1060L

Libraries, Biography

Once in a big house in Limerick, Maine, there lived a little girl named Annie Carroll Moore. She had large gray eyes, seven older brothers, and ideas of her own.

Anne Carroll Moore loved books, but women were not supposed to read much or visit libraries when she was a young girl. As Anne grew, she looked for opportunities to follow her heart's desires. When a job opened up for Anne to become a librarian, she pursued her education and delved into her work. Soon Anne was championing others who were restricted from libraries, namely children. She promoted children's books and literacy. Anne was instrumental in establishing the pattern for the modern style of children's library, beginning with the New York Public Library's famous children's reading room. Her ideas to create a place for kids to fall in love with books spread across the country. This book highlights some of Anne's particular accomplishments and children's libraries in general.

What I Love:
The book is as colorful and inviting as a children's library should be. It explores, not just a woman who challenged her perceived role in life, but society's perception of a library's role. The  story uses Anne's particular accomplishments to touch on a larger history and the theme of literacy. Bright, folk-art style illustrations echo the energy of the main character and encourage the reader to explore the pages of this book and all the others at their local branch.

 1. It goes without saying to visit a local children's library.
When my children were little, we visited a library once a week. I made a point to visit different branches and even got them library cards from the neighboring county. Every library was different. Some were loud and some were quiet, some had constant activity, some had secret places to explore. Some of the librarians were wonderfully kind and others...need to read this book about Anne Carroll Moore. But the one thing we gained from each one was an opportunity to find new books. Books my kids might have scorned in one branch, they gravitated to in the next. And we always took out many more than we could read in a week. It bothers me when I hear parents limiting their toddlers to just one. The benefits of books in the house, the benefits to the library (you know they get more funding when they check out more books, right? And if a book is taken off the shelf it has a slimmer chance of being culled from the library's collection), far outweigh my other parenting instincts. This is a place I want my kids to go hog wild!

2. In addition, what does your local children's reading room need? Better toys? New crayons? That signed illustrator's poster you are never going to hang? Donated books for their permanent collection or for sale? Involve kids in finding the answers to these questions and organizing a volunteer group. Start a book club for various ages and partner with the library to create elementary, youth, or teen panels who help plan events, review books, or clean up around the library.

Easy bookish decorations from My Chocolate Moments.
3. There are THOUSANDS of bookish ideas on Pinterest for hosting an amazing book party. Build a fort with lots of throw pillows. Collect stacks of books. Choose one or two to read aloud. Dish up themed snacks. Craft some bookmarks. Maybe even watch a bookish movie. I've collected some of my favorite recipes for every age group on the Bookish Food board and some great party ideas on the It's My Party board.

4. The Horn Book published an interesting article on Librarian Anne Carroll Moore back in 1997.

5. What could be more fitting than a visit to the NY Public Library Children's Reading Room? Plan your trip today. Explore the history of the library before you go.

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

Reviewed by Kirsten
Reviewed by Clara

Reviewed by Vivian
Reviewed by Susanna

Reviewed by Erik
Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Sue
Reviewed by Beth

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 27, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

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

Circus, Deaf Culture, Sign Language

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.

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.

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

Cultural Identity, Depression,

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.

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.

 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.

Fairy Tales, Bedtime Rhymes

Sleep Tight, Snow White.
Seven dwarves say goodnight.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Friday, October 6, 2017

PPBF: Animals Christopher Columbus Saw

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

Christopher Columbus, Part of the Explorers Series
Animals Christopher Columbus Saw
An Adventure in the New World

Written Sandra Markle
Illustrated by Jamel Akib

Chronicle Books, 2008
Ages 7-10, 48 pp, 970L

Exploration, History, Animals

Would you believe that, once, worms inspired people to explore the world? In fifteenth-century Europe, silk made from the thread of silkworms was more valuable than gold. Silk and silkworms could only be found in the areas now known as China and Japan, and finding the fastest sea route between these areas and Europe could make an explorer very rich. Christopher Columbus was determined to find that route. In 1492, he set off with three ships, and while he did find land, it wasn't what he expected. Neither were the animals he found along the way.

The author weaves both history and zoology into the story of Christoper Columbus's voyage. She uses journals and primary sources to uncover the probable route of the three ships and straighten out the facts in our minds. She details the various species of animals on land, sea, and air which Columbus's crew encountered. Her book is full of historical place names and vocabulary and doesn't shy away from the introduction of slavery and disease. However, the focus is not on the value of the journey, but rather on the wildlife. Each spread has narrative paragraph which tells about the sailors and a paragraph which highlights an animal the crew encountered. The text is a bit complicated for younger readers to read themselves, but would be a great introduction to the subject for both lower and middle grades. The focus on the animals is a kid-friendly way to teach history. The book includes a glossary and age-appropriate resources plus an author's note.

What I Love:
I love this series of animal books by Sandra Markle. I appreciate the way she tries to be historically accurate and put the details into perspective. I am sure there are many people who think she does not hit the issues like slavery harshly enough and that this book glorifies Columbus in a Eurocentric way without regard to the chaos of colonialism. Personally, I like how the author found an important theme running through Columbus's voyage and also that she has an opportunity to show what the voyage meant to his people at the time. It opens conversation about pre-conceived notions about what makes a civilized society and still leaves room to explore the history without the modern politics.
The illustrations are beautiful, though I was disappointed by the book's design. I would have liked the narrative sections and the animal sections to be set apart differently. Though a period map was included in the illustrations, I think a more detailed map would be more useful.

1. There are other books in the Explorers series including one about Marco Polo and one about Robert Shaw.

2. Kids can create their own journal of animal species with the tips from Reading Rockets and biome-specific helps from Earth'sKids.

3. Geocaching is another way to get kids out and exploring. Go to their official website, or check the overview on LifeWire.

4. To dig deeper into the truth about Columbus's journey, try Biography and IndianCountryToday. While KidsPlayAndCreate offers a list of historical facts and dates.

5. Both Calliope and Dig magazines featured issues on Queen Isabella, and Cobblestone's issue on explorers would pair well with this book.

6. National Geographic's website encourages kids to follow in modern explorers' footsteps. Even city kids can do some adventuring on CityKidExplorers.

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

Didn't one of the PPBF participants review Monsoon, illustrated by Jamel Akib? I couldn't find it, but I'm sure I read it. If so, please leave the link in the comments or drop me an email. Thanks!

Reviewed by Sue
Reviewed by Sue

Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Joanne

Reviewed by Diane
Reviewed by Beth

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 6, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

IF: Time Travel

Today's illustration doubles for both InkTober Day 5 and Illustration Friday.

IF, "Time Travel"
PaperMate 1.0m ink on paper
By Joanne Roberts
Follow me on Instagram to see the rest of my InkTober drawings.
Don't forget to leave the link to your InkTober Challenge in the comments.
Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Reaction to Rejection

"The great question is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure."
— Chinese proverb*

Frog bookplate by Zhang Fen Quan
Via Washington Printmakers

*Via The Routledge Book of World Proverbs, by Jon R. Stone

Monday, October 2, 2017

MMGM: The Wizard's Test

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:

The Wizard's Test, by Hilari Bell
The Wizard's Test

Written by Hilari Bell
Cover illustrated by Cliff Nielsen
HarperCollins, 2005
Ages 10+, Lexile 720L
176 pp, 32000 words

Fantasy, Destiny, Colonialism

"Wizard born!"
Dayven reached for his sword hilt as he spun in search of the speaker. Early in the morning the courtyard was crowded—not only with Watcherlads like Dayven, who'd come for a little extra sword practice, but also with adult Guardians, who were there to increase their skills with sword and lance. Someone had put a lot of effort into that hissing whisper, to make it audible over the clang of metal on metal...but who?

The Wizard's Test is a stand-alone fantasy novel about an apprentice in a feudal system who must embrace his sordid wizard heritage to spy on his lord's enemies in order to attain his goal of Guardian in the army. Bell's books are self-described as "morally ambiguous." In each that I've read, she poses ethical questions to both the characters and the reader, usually dealing with consequences, violence, or cultural enmity. This book fits that mold. It rather reminds me of Lloyd Alexander's books rather than Avi's. Avi consistently makes you care about the rogue, the thief, the liar, and then ridicules the opposition so the reader is compelled to agree with the main character's decisions. Both Bell and Alexander make you care about characters from both sides of an issue, and challenge you to decide what you might do in a similar situation. They want you to think before you act. This book is one of Bell's earlier works, and doesn't show the mature writing style of her later books. It does however include interesting world-building, deft plotting, subtle humor, and charming characters. Thought-provoking and age-appropriate with some battle scenes.

1. If you are interested in learning more about Hilari Bell, you can find an early interview on Writers Write, her publishing ventures on Publisher's Weekly, and a personal perspective from the author at the start of her career on the Enchanted Inkpot.

2. I love Hilari's Shield, Sword, and Crown trilogy about a young man's quest for the enchanted objects which will save his world. She has written loads of other books which you can find on her Goodreads page.

3. Looking for books with a similar vibe?
The Ascendance trilogy or Mark of the Thief series by Jennifer Nielsen and covers by Ken Choi and Larry Rostant, respectively.
The InkHeart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke with covers by Carol Lawson.
The Westmark books or The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha by Lloyd Alexander.
Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger, covers by Jason Chan.

Reviewed by Literary Rambles
Mark of the Thief #1
reviewed by Karen Yingling

Queen's Thief #5 reviewed by
GeoLibrarian and Ms. Yingling
Reviewed by Middle Grade Mafia

The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha,
by Lloyd Alexander,
Illustrated by Laszlo Kubinyi
Keeper of the Lost Cities series
reviewed by Cindy and Michelle

Check out all the recommended titles for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for October 2, 2017 available on Shannon Messenger's Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.

Feel free to leave your MG recommendations in the comments. Thanks!