What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(from Through the Looking Glass Book Review)

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Through the Looking Glass Book Review, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 1,310
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
A blog written by the editor of Through the Looking Glass Book Review, a monthly online children's book review journal.
Statistics for Through the Looking Glass Book Review

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 17
1. Picture Book Monday with a review of What Forest Knows


Today's picture book is one of the most memorable and lovely books that I have read in a long time. It perfectly captures the beauty that can be found in a forest, it gives a forest a voice, and it explores the connection that all of us should have with places in nature.

What forest Knows
George Ella Lyon
What forest KnowsIllustrated by August Hall
Picture Book
For ages 6 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2014, 978-1-4424-6775-0
Forest is wise and knows the ways of the seasons. It also knows the animals that live amongst its trees. In winter it “knows snow,” and knows that squirrels are sleeping in hollows and moles are “resting among roots.” Forest knows about waiting…waiting for that moment when life starts to flow through the trees once more and buds swell and open. It knows the voices of the birds as they build their nests in the trees.
   Forest knows the changes that come as spring spills into summer, and as summer drifts like falling leaves into fall. It sees the animals raise their young and then prepare for the winter that is coming.
   Forest is not the only one who knows of these things. There are others, a dog with a sniffing nose, and a boy. The boy and his furry companion have eyes that see, ears that hear, and noses that smell. They know Forest well.
   In this beautiful picture book we visit a wild place, getting to know the plants and animals that call it home. We witness the changes that take place as the seasons unfold, and we discover that Forest’s world, and other worlds in nature, are out there waiting for us. We are a part of them, and if we are lucky, they are a part of us.

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of What Forest Knows as of 12/15/2014 8:58:00 AM
Add a Comment
2. Poetry Friday with a review of I and I: Bob Marley

When I was in Jamaica some years ago I heard a lot of Bob Marley's music. The Jamaicans are proud of their famous countryman, and with good reason. Back then I had no idea what Bob Marley had been like as a person, what his life had been like. I was therefore delighted to receive today's poetry title, which uses poems to tell the story of this special musician.

I and I: Bob MarleyI and I: Bob Marley
Tony Medina
Illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Lee and Low Books, 2009, 978-1-60060-257-3
Several generations of people have grown up hearing the songs of Bob Marley, and even today’s young children know the tune that goes with the words “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing is gonna be alright!” There is something about the words from his songs that have touched the hearts of many, a universality that spreads far from the shores of Bob’s Marley homeland in Jamaica. In this book the story of this remarkable man is told using poems that are constructed in such a way that we can almost hear the beat of music in the background. Throughout the book the author uses some of the elements found in Jamaica’s patois to give his poems a genuine authenticity. He also tells Bob Marley’s story using the first person so that we feel that we are hearing the musician speaking, or perhaps singin, to us.
   We hear about how Bob Marley is born in a small village, the son of a “country girl shy as can be” and a white man who “Rode off on a horse the color of a pearl” when Bob is still a very small boy. For a time Bob lives quietly in the country with his mother until his father “sends for me.” Dressed in his “church clothes” the boy travels to Kingston in a bus so that he can live with his father and go to school.
   He soon learns that his father has no intention of being his parent. The man leaves, and Bob’s elderly caregiver is so unwell that Bob is the one who takes care of the house and does the shopping, cooking and cleaning. Eventually, a year after his father left, Bob’s mother finds him and she takes him back to the family home in the village of Nine Miles.
   Several years later Bob, his mother, and her new husband come back to Kingston and live in a squalid ghetto called Trenchtown. Bob’s mother worries that her son will get into trouble if he hangs out with the “rude boys,” but he reassures her that he will “follow my own beat” and he is sure that “Music will get me out of the rubble.”
   With their evocative words and rhythm, the poems in this book tell a story of a man and capture a moment in time. At the back of the book readers will find notes that provide additional information about the poems and the story that they are telling.

0 Comments on Poetry Friday with a review of I and I: Bob Marley as of 12/12/2014 8:30:00 AM
Add a Comment
3. Picture Book Monday with a review of The Sheep go on Strike

Many of us tend to think that sheep are not very bright animals. They are followers rather than thinkers. In today's picture book you will meet some sheep who are intelligent and opinionated. In fact, they take a stand on an issue that is dear to them.

The Sheep Go on StrikeJean-Francois Dumont
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Eerdmans, 2014, 978-0-8028-5470-4
Every year the sheep are sheared and every fall they feel pretty chilly without their woolly fleeces. Some of them even get colds, and then they have to be seen by the vet, and we all know what happens when the vet comes; the sheep have to “swallow disgusting medicine and get shots.” After years of putting up with this state of affairs, the sheep have decided that they have had enough. None of the other farm animals get sheared for their fur, so why should the sheep put up with this treatment? There is only one thing to do: the sheep go on strike. 
   The sheepdog, Ralph, tries to round up the sheep and ends up having to run for it. The sheep are in no mood to be pushed around. On the farm some of the animals sympathize with the sheep, while others think that the sheep should stick to “tradition” because “that was how it was supposed to be.”
   The next day the sheep get ready to march on the road that runs from the end of the meadow to the goose pond. The farm animals watch as the sheepdogs from the neighboring farms gather for a meeting at Ralph’s doghouse. Afraid that they will lose their jobs, the dogs are determined to do what they can to stop the strike. No one imagines that the march and the kerfuffle that follows will cause a terrible schism to develop between the farm animals.
   We live in a world where people are often all too willing to resort to violence when things are not going their way. In this picture book we see how animals on a farm find themselves following this all too familiar human pattern until good sense prevails and they discover that there is always another way to solve a problem. A compromise offers them a solution that is clever, and for us readers, deliciously funny.

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of The Sheep go on Strike as of 12/8/2014 7:43:00 AM
Add a Comment
4. Poetry Friday with a review of Dear Wandering Wildebeest and other poems from the water hole


The first time I visited Africa I was bowled over by the beauty of the place and loved watching the wild animals. I saw a giraffe as my plane touched down in Nairobi, and there were bush babies in the backyard of the house that I was staying in. For a zoologist, which I was, this was sheer heaven. Today's poetry title will take readers to Africa, and they will get to spend a little time hanging out at a water hole where they will meet all kinds of wonderful creatures.

Dear Wandering Wildebeest and other poems from the water hole 
Dear Wandering Wildebeest and other poems from the water holeIrene Latham
Illustrated by Anna Wadham
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Lerner, 2014, 978-1-4677-1232-3
If you visit an African savanna and want to see some of the grassland animals, the best place to go is to a water hole. All the animals need water at some point, and they often travel long distances to get to a water hole, where they gather during the day or night. Bush willow trees are often found growing near or around the water hole and they provide animals with shade, a place to rest, and even a source of food.
   The voice of the bush willow is heard in one of the poems in this book. It tells us how its “buffet never closes” for animals like giraffes, which feed on its leaves. We hear about how rhinos doze in its shade, and baboons “scramble up and down my trunk.” On its branches and truck animals such as owls, skinks, and ants make their homes and go about their business.
   We also read poems about some of the creatures that come to the water hole. There are several deadly snake species that may pay a visit, including the deadly and fast moving black mamba, the tree-living boomslang, the cape cobra, the saw-scaled viper, and the puff adder, which “rarely misses.”
   Here we see the fast and elegant impala, a deer that can leap great distances and whose “flawless flight” is a “dancer’s delight.” Elegance is not the way of the elephants who come to the water hole. They bathe and drink and then they have a wonderful “red-grit shower” rolling in the dust. The dust coats their skin and it protects them from the sun and biting insects. The rhino, another large animal, also comes to the water hole, though it only comes when the stars are high in the sky and when “moonshine” touches the land. The rhino, a solitary creature, “charges like a bull / at the rodeo” if it hears or smells danger.
   On the pages of this memorable poetry book readers will find poems that beautifully capture the sounds, sights, and smells of Africa. Readers will meet some of the animal characters who live in this captivating place. Accompanying every poem there is a section of text that gives readers further information about the animals (or plants) mentioned in the poem. The poems come in many forms and use different ‘voices’ so that readers are kept guessing. Who will come next? Will we get to read about a meerkat or a giraffe? What about lions? Will we get to meet them too?

0 Comments on Poetry Friday with a review of Dear Wandering Wildebeest and other poems from the water hole as of 12/5/2014 8:25:00 AM
Add a Comment
5. Picture Book Monday with a review of Off We Go! A Bear and Mole Story

When I was little I was terrified of learning how to swim. I would not let go of the side of the pool, even if I was wearing my water wings, and even though I knew my water wings would allow me to float. Then a friend took the time to encourage me to swim freely. She made me feel that I would be fine and safe, and so I took that terrifying step and let go. I have loved swimming ever since. Today's picture book is about a little mole who take a similar step when he decides that he no longer needs training wheels on his bicycle.

Off We Go!: A Bear and Mole StoryOff We Go! A Bear and Mole Story
Will Hillenbrand
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Holiday House, 2013, 978-0-8234-2520-4
One day Mole decides that he no longer needs the training wheels on his bicycle. He asks his friend Bear to help him remove the wheels. Bear helps Mole take the wheels off, they make sure there is enough pressure in the tires, Mole pulls on his boots, and they attach a flag to the bike. Then Mole puts his library books in his bike pack and puts on his helmet. Finally Mole is ready.
   Mole kicks off and Bear pushes him and after a series of wobbles poor Mole crashes. Miserable Mole, tears streaming down his velvety face, announces that he is going to “quit,” but Bear tells him that he thinks Mole can do it. Encouraged by Bear, Mole decides to give it another go, never expecting that his bike ride is going to be quite sensational.
   In this delightfully sweet and funny book we see how a little encouragement and a dash of courage can go a long way when one is confronted with a daunting task. Little children who are facing their own challenges will find Mole and Bear’s story inspirational and supportive.

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of Off We Go! A Bear and Mole Story as of 12/1/2014 8:30:00 AM
Add a Comment
6. Poetry Friday with a review of What the Heart Knows

Using words to connect with our world is something we humans do all the time. Sometimes these words are directed at people or animals, and sometimes they are sent out into the universe with the hope that someone or something can hear what we are saying. In today's poetry title you will encounter some poems that will resonate with anyone who has, among other things, asked for courage, who has lost something, who has lost someone, and who has felt regretful.

What the heart knows: Chants, Charms and BlessingsWhat the heart knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings
Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Poetry
For ages 12 and up
Houghton Mifflin, 2013, 978-0-544-10616-1
We humans have been using words “to try to influence the world around us” for centuries. We have offered up prayers and chants to ask for kinder weather, to secure safe passage on journeys, and to be victorious in battle. We have sung songs to get the attention of our one true love, and to bless our sleepy children before they slumber.
   We now know that songs and chants cannot save us from tornadoes, make our crops grow and protect us from the newest wave of the flu, and yet we still write down words that are essentially chants, charms or blessings, some of which are offered up in prayer or song. The creation of these offerings helps us to celebrate, to grieve and to process our anger. They allow us to communicate our feelings to the universe, and to even gain an understanding about ourselves in the process.
   In this remarkable book Joyce Sidman offers us poems that will give readers much to think about. She begins with Chants and Charms: to bolster courage and guard against evil. Here readers will find a chant to help repair a friendship, one in which the writer asks the reader to “forgive the past” and to give love, which “is vast,” a chance. The form of the chant is beautifully lyrical.
   For those days when courage is in small supply or when doubt fills the heart there is Song of Bravery, a poem that will help anyone facing a day that is full of grey clouds and possible pitfalls. Here readers will find the words of one who is unsure and perhaps even afraid, and yet who is going to step “into the glare of the arena / to face the lions.”
   Occasionally we wish we could, with our words, “cause something to happen.” This is when the Spells and Invocations section in this book will come in handy, and Joyce Sidman gives us several poems that will surely be useful. The first in particular will come in handy almost every day as it is an Invitation to Lost Things. Here at last are the words we need to call out to those objects that are always going missing; those cell phones that seem to grow feet and walk away, and those pairs of things – such as earring and socks – that are constantly losing their mate. In her poem Joyce Sidman’s words are gentle and placating as she asks these wayward things to come back because without them “we are lost / in this big world of ours.”
   Following the spells we come to the Laments and Remembrances. Here we find poems that remember things, that regret those things that are no more, and that grieve for those who have left us. These poems are followed, very aptly, by Praise, Songs and Blessings, which are poems that “celebrate, thank, or express love.”
   This is a remarkable book full of poems that are rich with beauty and wisdom, and readers will want to read than again and again.
  

   

0 Comments on Poetry Friday with a review of What the Heart Knows as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. Picture Book Monday with a review of Any Questions?


Many children's book authors and illustrators visit schools, and when they do the eager students often ask a lot of questions. One of the most commonly asked questions is some version of "Where do your stories come from?" In today's picture book this question is answered in a clever and often amusing way.

Any Questions?
Any Questions?Marie-Louise Gay
Picture Book
For ages 7 and up
Groundwood, 2014, 978-1554983827
Marie-Louise Gay is a much loved author whose books have delighted children (and adults) for many years. When Marie-Louise goes to talk to children in schools and libraries, they do what all children do. They ask questions. A lot of questions. Often the children want to know about Marie-Louise and her life, and then there are the questions that pertain to her stories and how she creates them. One of those questions that is often asked is, “Where does a story start?”
   A story always starts with a blank page. If you stare at the page long enough, “anything can happen.” You might think that a blank piece of white paper cannot possibly inspire anything, but this is not true. For example, it can give birth to a scene that is full of a snowstorm. If you start with a piece of paper that is old looking and has a yellow tinge to it then you might end up telling a story about a time when dinosaurs walked the earth. Blue paper can lead to an underwater adventure and green paper can be the backdrop for a story about a jungle.
   Sometimes stories don’t start with a color at all. Instead, “words or ideas” come “floating out of nowhere.” Bit by bit pieces of paper with words and thoughts written on them are collected and sorted, and then they are joined by “little scribbles and doodles,” which is when the kernel of a story starts to grow. Of course, sometimes an idea pops up on the page that simply does not work at all. When this happens an author has to search around for something that does work, which can take a little (or even a lot) of time to happen. These things cannot be rushed though, and eventually the right piece of story comes along and the author is off and running.
   In this wonderful picture book, Marie-Louise Gay explores the writing process, answering questions that children have asked her over the years. She shows us how a story is built, how it unfolds, and we see, right there on the pages, how she creates a magical story out of doddles, scraps of ideas, and tidbits of inspiration. The little children and animals characters who appear on the pages interact with the story, questioning, advising, and offering up ideas.
   This is a book that writers of all ages will love. It is funny, cleverly presented, and it gives writers encouragement and support.

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of Any Questions? as of 11/24/2014 7:22:00 AM
Add a Comment
8. Poetry Friday with a review of Hand in Hand: An American History Through Poetry


Telling stories using poetry is something that poets have been doing for a long time. Often the stories are made up, but sometimes that are based on real events that took place in the past. In today's poetry title readers will find a collection of poems that are used to tell the story of the United States.

Hand in Hand: An American History Through Poetry
Hand in Hand: An American History Through PoetryCollected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrated by Peter M. Fiore
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 1994, 978-0671733155
Poems come in many forms. They can describe a moment in time or describe a place. They can capture an emotion, and they can also tell a story. Sometimes the stories they tell are made up, but at other times these stories are based on real events that happened in the past. Many poets really enjoy telling the stories of important historical events. For this book Lee Bennett Hopkins has put together a collection of poems that will give readers a picture of the history of the United States.
   The poems are presented in chronological order, beginning with those that tell the story of the early European settlers who came to America; the pilgrims who traveled to New England to build new lives for themselves. We read of their landing, which was witnessed by the ocean-eagle which “soared / from his nest the white wave’s foam,” where the “rocking pines of the forest roared.”
   Then we move on to poems that tell the story of the American Revolution.  Here readers will find Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s Ride, and they can also read about Molly Pitcher, a woman who manned a cannon in a battle during the war and who, “since she had played a man’s full part,” had earned “A man’s reward for her loyal heart.”
   The section that follows offers us poems that tell the story of America during the years when countless people began the journey west to settle the frontier lands. For the brave people who made the journey, the west offered new opportunities. For the native people who already lived in these lands, the arrival of the pioneers was a time of loss and bloodshed. The story of one young Native American is told in the poem Battle Won is Lost. The thoughts and feelings of the young man come through with painful clarity as he goes to war only to discover that those who said “To die is glorious,” had lied.
   The story of the United States continues until we come to the section that is about “1900 and Beyond.” Here we read about the way in which Americans continued to voyage long after they had reached the Pacific Ocean. They went up into space to travel “from planet to planet and from moon to moon.”
   On the pages of this remarkable collection readers will find the poems of Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, Charlotte Zolotow and many other remarkable poets.


0 Comments on Poetry Friday with a review of Hand in Hand: An American History Through Poetry as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
9. Picture Book Monday with a review of Where's Mommy?

Children love to have secrets and in the book Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary  we meet a little girl and a little mouse who have a secret. They become friends and knowing full well that their families would not approve of their friendship, they keep their times together a secret. In today's book you will meet Mouse Mouse and Mary again, and this time you will see that they are not the only ones in their house who have secrets.

Where's Mommy?Where’s Mommy?
Beverly Donofrio
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Random House, 2014, 9780-375-84423-2
Mary is a little girl who lives in a lovely house, and Mouse Mouse is little mouse girl who lives beneath the floorboards of this house. Mary knows all about Mouse Mouse because she and the little mouse are friends. The girls know better than to tell their families about their friendship. The human parents would get a cat, and the mouse parents would “flee to a hole in the ground.” The two girls therefore keep their relationship a secret.
   One night Mary gets ready for bed by putting on her jammies, brushing her teeth and hair, and getting into bed. In her home under the boards Mouse Mouse is doing the same thing. Both girls call out for their mothers. Nothing happens. The mothers don’t make an appearance, so the two girls go looking for them, calling out “Mom” and “Mommy” as they go.
   Mary searches the house and asks her father and brother if they know where Mom is. Mouse Mouse searches her home and asks her father and little sister if they know where Mommy is. The girls are starting to get worried.
   In this delightful story, which began in the book Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary, we get to go on a simple and yet very surprising adventure with Mary and her friend, Mouse Mouse. Barbara McClintock’s lovely illustrations capture the worlds that the friends live in in great detail, and children will particularly enjoy seeing the illustrations where the human house and the hidden mouse house are shown on the same spread. 

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of Where's Mommy? as of 11/17/2014 8:35:00 AM
Add a Comment
10. Poetry Friday with a review of The Arrow Finds its Mark

I am a big believer in recycling, but I have never thought about recycling words, reusing words that someone else has written and re-purposing them so that they become something new and different. This is exactly what the poems in today's book are; they are poems that were created using words that the poets found. It is fascinating to see the ways in which they created poetry out of slogans, advertisements, crossword clues and other pieces of found text.

The Arrow Finds its Mark: A book of Found Poems
The Arrow Finds its Mark: A book of Found PoemsEdited by Georgia Heard
Illustrated by Antoine Guiloppe
Poetry
For ages 8 to 11
Roaring Brook Press, 2012, 978-1-59643-665-7
For centuries poets have been inspired by nature’s beauty. They have been inspired by animals and plants. They have told stories and described people. The inspiration for the poems in this book came from an unusual source; they were found. The poets were invited to find their poems within a piece of writing or spoken piece. They saw what they were looking for written on a subway wall, in a book, on a receipt, on websites, advertisements and other sources. They then “refashioned” the words they found (without changing, adding, or rearranging them) to create something completely new.
   Lee Bennett Hopkins, Kai Dotlich, Jane Yolen and many others took on this challenge and created poems that are quite fascinating. In a poem called Pep Talk, Janet Wong seems to be encouraging us to keep going, to keep trying, telling us to “Keep Cool” and “See a brighter solution.” Readers will be surprised to learn that the poet found these words on the box of a detergent cleaner. Similarly, in his poem First, Lee Bennett Hopkins turned a Sprint newspaper advertisement into a poem about winning. In the poem we are told what it means to be first. The one who is first, “leads” and he or she “First takes us places / we have never / been before.”
   Jane Yolen found the words for her poem, Cross Words, within the clues for a newspaper crossword puzzle. What is interesting is that she has actually found phrases that sound angry or cross, phrases like “Do something!” “Shame!” and “Don’t ask me!”
   Joyce Sidman found the words for her poem in a Greenpeace calendar. She took the text in the calendar, changed the layout of the sentences and created Song of the Earth, a beautiful poem about our precious natural world.
   Readers will be surprised when they see what the sources for these poems were. Who knew that catalogs, photo captions, book titles and other everyday pieces of writing could create such splendid poems. Readers might even be tempted to try writing their own found poems.

0 Comments on Poetry Friday with a review of The Arrow Finds its Mark as of 11/14/2014 5:47:00 PM
Add a Comment
11. Picture Book Monday with a review of I wish I had a pet

Many of us wish we could have a pet. We image how wonderful it would be to have a cat or a dog who would always be happy to see us and who would eagerly greet us when we came home from school or work. We forget that having a pet is a lot of work. In today's picture book you will meet a delightful little mouse who shows us what it means to be a pet owner.

I Wish I Had a PetI wish I had a pet
Maggie Rudy
Picture Book
For ages 6 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2014, 978-1-4424-5332-6
Many people, children and adults alike, sometimes wish that they had a pet. They see someone walking along the street with a sweet dog at their heels, and think how nice it would be to have a dog to walk.  Perhaps they see someone sitting on their front porch with a happily purring cat in their lap. How soothing it would be to have a cat like that, a furry purry presence who makes you feel special.
   In this book a charming little mouse person asks you if you “wish sometimes…that you had a pet?” She then goes on to talk about how important it is that you think about what it means to have a pet. For one thing you have to choose the right one, a pet that won’t be too big to handle, or one that won’t make you have an allergic reaction.
   Once you have found the right pet, the pet that suits your lifestyle and personality, you have to make sure that you take care of it properly. A pet, even a fish or a roly-poly, takes a lot of work. You need to keep it clean, fed, exercised, and happy. You also have to clean up after your pet’s messes (no matter how nasty they are), and be willing to accept that sometimes pets are “very naughty,” especially if they are bored.
   In this delightfully sweet and often funny picture book, Maggie Rudy shows people the joys and woes of pet ownership using her cunning little felt mice characters. On every spread we see a mouse character or two with bees, fish, beetles, lizards, frogs, and other mouse-sized pets. Backdrops that are mouse perfect present readers with so much to look at, and one almost wishes one could hop into the page and visit the characters in their world.

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of I wish I had a pet as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
12. Poetry Friday with a review of In the Sea by David Elliott

When I was young I spent hours face down (wearing a mask and snorkel) in the Mediterranean  Sea watching fish and other creatures go about their business. I also snorkeled in the Indian Ocean, and more recently off the shores of Kauai. There is something magical about watching these beautiful and fascinating animals from the surface, a part of their world and yet apart at the same time. Today's poetry picture book will take readers into that world.

In the SeaIn the Sea
David Elliott
Illustrated by Holly Meade
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Candlewick Press, 2012, 978-0-7636-4498-7
The world’s oceans and seas are full of wonderful, beautiful, and sometimes downright bizarre creatures. Some can dive to the deep dark depths, going places that we humans cannot get to unless we are protected by the thick shell of a submarine. Others make their homes in the shallow, warmers waters where the sun dapples the sand and reef.
   In this gorgeous picture book Holly Meade’s visually arresting woodcuts are paired with David Elliot’s poems to give young readers a colorful and every changing picture of some of the creatures that live in marine environments. We begin with a small and delicate seahorse, “dainty as a wish,” that does indeed look a little like a horse and yet it is “a fish.”
   On the next spread we encounter a very different animal. With its strong tail propelling it through the water it seems to swim straight at us, its mouth agape showing off its many sharp teeth. This is the shark, the creature that inhabits some people’s nightmares “The terror… / of the dark within.”
   We then turn the page to encounter the long arms of an octopus. Though it is rather funny looking, this animal should not be underestimated. It may seem like the clown of the sea, the oddity, but in fact it is the magician that can, without any warning, “vanish in a cloud of ink.”
   Our next creature is a gentle, slow-moving beast, a starfish that crawls along making the world it lives in all the more beautiful by its five-fingered presence.
   With beautiful word images and touches of humor, David Elliott shares his obvious love for the natural world with his readers, offering up a celebration of marine animals that is unique and beautiful. 

0 Comments on Poetry Friday with a review of In the Sea by David Elliott as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Picture Book Monday with a review of The Geese March in Step

When I was in elementary school on the island of Cyprus, we kids had to line up in the playground when break (recess) was over and then we had to quietly walk to our classrooms. The teachers walked at the head of the lines, and I remember thinking many times over that I felt as if I was a baby duck following its mother, or a soldier in formation. How I longed to just run or skip or hop instead of having to walk "quietly."

In today's picture book you will meet a goose who cannot seem to walk in step. She, unlike me, wants to be like everyone else, but for some reason she has a hard time fitting in.


The Geese March in StepThe Geese March in Step
Jean-Francois Dumont
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Eerdmans, 2014, 978-0-8028-5443-8
Igor is a goose who leads his flock to the pond every morning. He insists that all the geese should march in step so that their webbed feet hit the ground “perfectly in synch,” and their rumps waddle “together in time.” No one can remember why the geese do this. All Igor cares about is that their orderly march is “tradition” and tradition matters.
   Then one day, during the march to the pond, Igor notices that something is amiss. One of the geese is not properly in synch. It turns out that Zita, who recently joined the flock, is having trouble marching in step. Igor tells her that she cannot go to the pond with the flock. She will have to join them later.
   Sadly Zita goes back to the farm, and then after waiting for a while, she sets off down the road to the pond once more. She cannot understand why she can’t march in step. It isn’t hard to do, and yet Zita cannot seem to manage it. As she walks, crying and sniffing, Zita starts to create a rhythmic pattern tune with her feet, tears, and sniffs, a “Splash, sniff splash and splash again sniff splash” sound. The tune is so catchy that a woodpecker joins in without even realizing it, adding a knocking noise to her song.
   Raymond the rooster is similarly attracted to Zita’s tune, which he thinks “makes you want to shake your tail feathers!” He too, without making a conscious effort to do so, joins the little goose’s tune with pecks.
   All too often the world expects us to toe the line and march to a certain drumbeat. Some people are able to do this, but others do not find it easy to do what everyone else is doing. They have their own style and have to go their own way.
   This wonderful picture book celebrates those who have an independent spirit and who dare to embrace their individuality.  


0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of The Geese March in Step as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. Poetry Friday with a review of If it rains pancakes: Haiku and Lantern poems

What I like about today's book, which is one title in a series of books about poems, is that in addition to giving us a splendid collection of poems to read, the author also tells us how haiku and lantern poems are constructed. Children can use this book to learn how to write their own short and sweet Japanese-style poems.

If it rains pancakes: Haiku and Lantern poemsIf it rains pancakes: Haiku and Lantern poems
Brian P. Cleary
Illustrated by Andy Rowland
Poetry
For ages 6 to 8
Millbrook, 2014, 978-1-4677-4412-6
Haiku poems have been around for more than four hundred years. For many of those years westerners had no idea that these gem-like short poems existed. Haiku were not really appreciated and created by westerners until the early 1900’s. These days haiku are popular with children and adults alike. Every haiku has three lines, with the first line having five syllables. The second line has seven syllables, and the third line has five. Traditionally haiku poems focus on something that exists in nature, but in this book the author also give young readers poems about animals, food, school days and much more.
   After reading twenty haiku poems, readers get to learn about lantern poems, which is another short poetry form that originated in Japan. The first line in these poems has just one word, which is always a noun and must have one syllable. The next four lines describe that noun with 2 syllables on the second line, three on the third, four on the fourth, and one syllable on the last line. After reading a description of what a lantern poem is, children can go on to read fifteen of these spare poems which look at bees, a cat, a hug, stars, a bed, dawn, and much more. Some of the poems are lyrical in nature, while others are amusing.
   What is wonderful about this collection is that the author describes in detail what haiku and lantern poems are and then he gives us many examples of each poetry form. We are able to see how such poems are written, and some young readers may even be inspired to write some haiku and lantern poems of their own. As the author says, “Poetry’s not just a spectator sport.” Anyone can write poems that explore or describe things that they care about.


0 Comments on Poetry Friday with a review of If it rains pancakes: Haiku and Lantern poems as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
15. Picture Book Monday with a review of Scaredy Squirrel prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies

Where I grew up, on the island of Cyprus, Halloween wasn't something that people celebrated. I had to wait until I moved to the States before I was finally able to enjoy Halloween. Mind you, it wasn't until we moved to Oregon that I really got into the spirit of things and started dressing up. Unlike poor Scaredy Squirrel, I love Halloween, though some of the costumes people around here wear are definitely scary.

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for ScarediesScaredy Squirrel prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies
Melanie Watt
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 8
Kids Can Press, 2013, 978-1-894786-87-4
Scaredy Squirrel is the kind of creature who likes to be ready for every possible event. Really ready.  He loves “lists, plans and safety equipment,” and hates “danger and unpredictability.” Because of these loves and hates, Scaredy Squirrel has put together this guide to help people who are like him. As far as Scaredy is concerned Halloween decorations are “nerve-wracking” and Halloween itself makes him “pass out.” If you have a similar reaction to Halloween then this guide was written for you.  The guide is divided into eight chapters, and it is “designed to help you prepare for and survive Halloween, all in one piece!”
   In the first chapter Scaredy shows his readers how to get their living area ready for Halloween. Scaredy provides us with an illustration that shows us how to use garlic, a scarecrow, a blender, bug repellent, caution tape and a doghouse to make our home safe from werewolves, creepy crawlies, ghosts and goblins, black cats and witches, and vampires. Who knew that such everyday items could be so useful!
   Next, Scaredy tackles the subject of Halloween decorations. Scaredy appreciates that Halloween jitters might cause you to experience decorating problems, so he shows you how to carve a pumpkin safely, how to decorate your front door so that it is “inviting,” and how to make your living room “ghoulish” but “not too ghoulish.”
   Choosing a Halloween costume is not easy, but Scaredy’s ingenious ideas you are sure to help you to find something that suits your personality. He looks at costumes that are classics, some that are fun, and a few that will appeal to people of action. There are also hero and villain costumes, fairy tale and science fiction costumes. He considers the advantages of makeup versus masks, and he shows us how to make three do-it-yourself costumes.
   The next four chapters look at “Halloween trick-or-treating,” “Halloween candy,” “Halloween Notes,” and “Halloween Fun.” Then Scaredy wraps up with a chapter titled “If all else fails …” which does not need to be described as the title says it all.
   For readers who know Scaredy Squirrel already, this new title is sure to reinforce the connection that they have with this delightful little animal. For readers who have never met Scaredy before, this title will show them what they have been missing!

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of Scaredy Squirrel prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies as of 10/27/2014 9:09:00 AM
Add a Comment
16. Poetry Friday with review of Digger Dozer Dumper


Many years ago I visited a friend who was living in Nairobi with her husband and two little sons. One of the boys kept on calling out "Digga!" when we drove around town, pointing at the vehicles that were hard at work on road construction projects. As far as he was concerned the diggers, dumper trucks, and other machines he saw were the bees knees. He would have loved today's poetry title.

Digger Dozer Dumper
Digger Dozer DumperHope Vestergaard
Illustrated by David Slonim
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Candlewick Press, 2013, 978-0-7636-5078-0
There is something about trucks, diggers, cement mixers, and other big vehicles that young children find irresistible. They love the loud engine noises these machines make and will watch them at work for hours on end. In this book children will meet eighteen of these wonderful machines and they can figure out which of the machines is most like them. Are they “slow and steady” or “really strong?”
   The first machine that sweeps across the page is…you guessed it, the street sweeper. Though this machine is perhaps not very glamorous, it is vital to getting rid of all the things that make the streets in a busy town or city dirty or messy. The street sweeper’s “steely whiskers whisper / as they gather dust and dirt,” and the sweeper is “quiet and determined” not to “miss a spot.”
   After getting to know a garbage truck who “adores his work,” we meet a dump truck and a backhoe. These hard working machines are vital to the success of a project that requires the removal and placement of earth, rock and other materials. The dump truck is “precise” and does not dump his load “just anywhere.” The backhoe is amazing because it is two machines in one. Its “front end pushes dirt and rocks; / his back end digs out muck.”
   Unlike the dump truck and backhoe, the skid-steer loader does not have a steering wheel. Instead, it has two levers and being small it can zip and turn almost on the spot. It can drill, push, lift, and dump.
   As they read the delightful poems in this book, children are going to enjoy looking at the artwork. The vehicles described in the poems all have large eyes and very definite personalities, and the people and dog that we meet on the first introductory spread appear in all pictures thereafter. Children will enjoy seeing where the dog will turn up next. Will the girl with the black curly hair be driving the next vehicle or will the boy with the glasses? The clever ending perfectly wraps up the narrative, giving children something to think about.

0 Comments on Poetry Friday with review of Digger Dozer Dumper as of 10/24/2014 8:10:00 AM
Add a Comment
17. Picture Book Monday with a review of Any Questions?

Children are often eager to find out how writers go about creating their stories, so Marie-Louise Gay decided to create a picture book that would help children to appreciate how the writing process works. In the book she answers the kinds of questions she is asked when she visits schools, and she also gives readers some insights that will amuse and entertain them.

Any Questions?Any Questions?
Marie-Louise Gay
Picture Book
For ages 7 and up
Groundwood, 2014, 978-1-55498-382-7
Marie-Louise Gay is a much loved author whose books have delighted children (and adults) for many years. When Marie-Louise goes to talk to children in schools and libraries, they do what all children do. They ask questions. A lot of questions. Often the children want to know about Marie-Louise and her life, and then there are the questions that pertain to her stories and how she creates them. One of those questions that is often asked is, “Where does a story start?”
   A story always starts with a blank page. If you stare at the page long enough, “anything can happen.” You might think that a blank piece of white paper cannot possibly inspire anything, but this is not true. For example, it can give birth to a scene that is full of a snowstorm. If you start with a piece of paper that is old looking and has a yellow tinge to it then you might end up telling a story about a time when dinosaurs walked the earth. Blue paper can lead to an underwater adventure and green paper can be the backdrop for a story about a jungle.
   Sometimes stories don’t start with a color at all. Instead, “words or ideas” come “floating out of nowhere.” Bit by bit pieces of paper with words and thoughts written on them are collected and sorted, and then they are joined by “little scribbles and doodles,” which is when the kernel of a story starts to grow. Of course, sometimes an idea pops up on the page that simply does not work at all. When this happens an author has to search around for something that does work, which can take a little (or even a lot) of time to happen. These things cannot be rushed though, and eventually the right piece of story comes along and the author is off and running.
   In this wonderful picture book, Marie-Louise Gay explores the writing process, answering questions that children have asked her over the years. She shows us how a story is built, how it unfolds, and we see, right there on the pages, how she creates a magical story out of doddles, scraps of ideas, and tidbits of inspiration. The little children and animals characters who appear on the pages interact with the story, questioning, advising, and offering up ideas.
   This is a book that writers of all ages will love. It is funny, cleverly presented, and it gives writers encouragement and support.

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of Any Questions? as of 10/20/2014 8:04:00 AM
Add a Comment
18. Poetry Friday with a review of A Little Bitty Man and other poems for the very young

Not that many poetry titles for young readers are published every year and so I went to the library looking for some older titles to review when I came across today's book. The artwork and the poems have a nostalgic feel that is charming.

A Little Bitty Man and other poems for the very youngA Little Bitty Man and other poems for the very young
Halfdan Rasmussen
Translated by Marilyn Nelson and Pamela Espeland
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Candlewick Press, 2011, 978-0-7636-2379-1
Children live in a world where simple things can be magical, and magical things can be commonplace. It is a rather wonderful place where the imagination can make anything possible, and where the little things that adults don’t appreciate anymore still seem wondrous.
   In this beautifully presented poetry picture book the innocence, silliness and curiosity that children have comes alive in thirteen poems. Some tell a little story, while others explore everyday things that happen in children’s lives.
   In A Little Bitty Man we meet a very small man who rides around on a snail and who finds himself in a place, “Littlebittyland,” where he builds a life for himself. There is also a poem about a little cloud which goes out for a walk. As if drifts across the sky it looks down on the world below and all is well, until it realizes that it needs ‘to go’ and it doesn’t have “a potty.” Just like a little child, the cloud has an accident and when it gets home it gets “a scolding from its mom.”
   Some of the poems contain the kind of common sense wisdom that children come up with, much to the embarrassment of their grownups. For example in Those Fierce Grown-up Soldiers a child tells adult soldiers “who shoot guns and fight” that they should do what children do. They should battle with toys and then “if your war won’t end,” they should tickle their enemy until he or she becomes a friend.
   Poems like these are little gems, gifts that should be shared with children who will appreciate the tone and flavor that infuses every line. To accompany the poems Kevin Hawkes has created wonderful illustrations that are rich with detail and full of expressive characters.

0 Comments on Poetry Friday with a review of A Little Bitty Man and other poems for the very young as of 10/17/2014 7:48:00 AM
Add a Comment
19. Picture Book Monday with a review of Calvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie

For as long as there have been books, there have been bookworms, people who love books and who are happy to spend hours reading them. Sometimes bookworms get so wrapped up in the books that they read that they have trouble connecting with the real world. In today's picture book you are going to meet a big who is just such a bookworm.

Calvin Can't Fly: The Story of a Bookworm BirdieCalvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie
Jennifer Berne
Illustrated by Keith Bendis
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Sterling, 2010, 978-1-4027-7323-5
Calvin is a young starling and he lives under the eaves of an old barn with his siblings and all his cousins. When the young starlings explore the ground for the first time, Calvin’s siblings discover worms, grass, dirt, and water. Calvin discovers a book, and from that moment he is hooked on the written word. While Calvin’s brothers and sisters are chasing insects, Calvin is learning to read, and when they are taking flying lessons, Calvin is at the library reading books. Though Calvin does not know how to fly, “his mind soared” when he reads books. Books can take “him to places wings never could.”
   Though Calvin’s cousins tease him and called him names, Calvin does not give up his love of books. Instead he sadly goes to the library, the one place where he feels happy. He spends his summer reading and learning, soaking up information about everything and anything.
   Then summer turns into fall and the starlings prepare to fly south. There is just one problem. Calvin cannot fly, which means that he will have to stay in the barn for the fall and winter. All alone.

   In this wonderful picture book we see how important it is to follow your heart, even if it means that you don’t always fit in with your peers. Readers will be delighted to see that in the end, Calvin’s love of books turns out to be an asset for him and his extremely large family. Being a bookworm might not, in some people’s opinion, be ‘cool,’ but the rest of know better.

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of Calvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie as of 9/22/2014 7:54:00 AM
Add a Comment
20. Poetry Friday with a review of Poems I wrote when no one was looking


Just like writers of prose, poets like to find ways to keep their readers interested and engaged. Sometimes they do this by using unusual formats, and sometimes they play with language in creative ways. Sometimes the poems in a collection are so varied and clever that the reader never knows what is going to come next, which is what you will find if you read today's poetry title.

Poems I wrote when no one was looking 
Poems I wrote when no one was lookingAlan Katz
Illustrated by Edward Koren
Poetry
For ages 6 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2011, 978-1-4169-3518-6
Things that make us laugh fit into two general categories. There are things that are created like jokes, funny stories, and funny shows. And then there are those everyday kind of funny situations that just seem to happen. If you just pay attention to what is going on around you, you will see that there are lots of people who do amusing things or say amusing things without even meaning to. Sometimes these kinds of amusing things are very simple, commonplace things that tickle our funny bones and make the world a brighter, happier place. Poems can be like this too. They can tell us about something goofy or silly, or they can tell us about something that is very ordinary, but which is, for some reason, funny.
   For example, the first poem in this book, Brushing Up,presents us with an everyday situation that is comical. We are told that a little baby and her grandpa “are the best of chums.” They also have something in common. When they smile, they present the world with toothless gums. The difference between them is that the baby will grow some teeth soon enough, but Grandpa’s teeth are “upstairs in a glass.”
   Anyone who has gone to a coffee shop will appreciate the second poem. In the poem we meet a mother who orders a very specialized coffee. Somewhere in the name of her order are the words “mocha,” “decaf,” and “skim.” The order goes on and on and by the time the mother has finished adding her toppings and her other coffee personalizations, the barista says “Sorry, closed.” Is the coffee shop closed because her order took too long and the coffee place really is closing, or it is closed because the poor man cannot remember what she said?
   Later on in the book we encounter another familiar scenario. A mother is telling her child to turn off the T.V. He replies that he will watch “Just till commercial.” This sounds reasonable so Mom agrees. The thing is that the child has pulled a fast one on his mother. He is watching a program on a commercial-free public T.V. station, which means that he can watch for as long as he likes. Sneaky fellow.
   Mixed in with these funny everyday kind of happenings poems, there are nonsense poems and story poems. Together the different kinds of poems keep our funny bones giggling away, and keep our interest going because we never know what is going to pop up next.

   

0 Comments on Poetry Friday with a review of Poems I wrote when no one was looking as of 9/26/2014 8:14:00 AM
Add a Comment
21. Picture Book Monday with a review of This Orq (he cave boy)


I have read hundreds of picture books, many of which feature unusual characters, The main characters in today's picture really captured my attention. I don't believe I have ever read a picture book whose main character is a cave boy, and I am sure that I have not reviewed one that features a cave boy AND a mammoth.

This Orq (he cave boy)
David Elliot
Illustrated by Lori Nichols
This Orq (he cave boy)Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Boyds Mills Press, 2014, 978-1-62091-521-9
Orq is a cave boy and like all cave boys he carries a club and lives in...well... a cave. Of course. Orq has a pet baby woolly mammoth called Woma and he loves him dearly. Just like all baby pets, which grow into grownup pets, Woma gets bigger and bigger. Unfortunately, the fact that Orq loves Woma does not mean that Orq's morther loves the mammoth. She thinks Woma sheds and smells and the fact that Woma is not house-broken only makes the situation worse. Orq's mother insists that Woma ahs to leave the family cave.
   Orq does not want to have to give up his pet, so he decides that the best thing to do is to convince his mother that Woma is “smart” and “cute.” Maybe if Woma learns some tricks Mother will see how special and loveable Woma is. Or maybe not.
   Written in cave person pidgin, this delightful story will appeal to anyone who has (or has had at some point) a much-loved pet. Even when they are having accidents in the house they are still loved and wanted by their people. Young readers and their grownups are going to thoroughly enjoy seeing how Orq and Woma save their friendship despite fierce opposition from Orq's determined mother. It turns out that shedding and smelly mammoths that are not house-broken can be rather useful at times.

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of This Orq (he cave boy) as of 9/29/2014 8:45:00 AM
Add a Comment
22. Poetry Friday with a review of Pug and other Animal Poems

Poets have been writing poems about animals for centuries and though they have written about cats. dogs, tigers, dinosaurs and countless other animals in hundreds of different ways, poets still find ways to write poems about creatures (wild and domestic) that are fresh, amusing, insightful, and memorable. In today's poetry collection you will meet an interesting variety of animals in a series of poems that are presented alongside Steve Jenkins' extraordinary artwork.

Pug and other animal poemsPug and other animal poems
Valerie Worth
Illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013, 978-0-374-35024-6
The world is full of beautiful and amazing animals, all of which perceive and interact with their environments in distinct and fascinating ways. When they encounter humans many of them run away, preferring not to get too close to us. Others are more curious, and they observe us from a safe place to see what we are going to do next. Then there are the animals that like to connect with us, like our pet dogs and cats.
   In this special poetry picture book Valerie Worth takes us into the lives of eighteen animals, most of which are wild creatures, and some of which share our homes with us. Some of the wild animals that we meet on the pages are creatures that we see in our yards and parks, or we catch a glimpse of them flying above our heads.
   The first animal we meet is a fox, a creature that we see only brief glimpses of, if we are lucky. It is such a reclusive animal that it is “Nearly a / Myth.” We may see its “Fiery tail” streaking by and perhaps hear the rustle of its “flickering / Feet.”
  Rabbits, though cautious, are less retiring and if we are quiet and still we can see them in the evening in the garden feeding on tasty nibbles of weeds and grass. They are pensive animals and seem to spend their time “in / Peaceful thought.”
   Quite different to these wild animals are pugs and dachshunds, dogs whose very appearance makes us smile whether we want to or not. Pugs have “googling / Eyes,” and “wrinkled / Brows” that give them a somewhat worried expression. They are solid, tough looking little dogs. Dachshunds are quite different, being long with little legs “Front and Back,” but “nothing / Propping up / The middle.”
   Throughout this book Valerie Worth’s expressive and image-rich poems are paired with Steve Jenkins’ extraordinary cut paper artwork.  The striking language and gorgeous images give readers a picture of animals that they will remember long after the book has been read and put away on a shelf.

0 Comments on Poetry Friday with a review of Pug and other Animal Poems as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
23. Picture Book Monday with a review of Winter is Coming

Though fall is only just starting to make itself here in southern Oregon, the wild animals in the woods and fields are already getting ready for the winter months. In this gorgeous picture book we see, through the eyes of a young girl, scenes that capture animals in their natural habitats as they prepare for the cold months of the year.

Winter is ComingWinter is Coming
Tony Johnston
Illustrated by Jim LaMarche
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Simon and Schuster, 2014, 978-1-4424-9900-3
It is a cold fall day and a young girl senses that winter is coming because she can feel that “ice is in the air.” The girl climbs up to her tree platform with a pad of paper, some pencils and a pair of binoculars. From there she sees a red fox and becasue she manages to stay very quiet, the fox goes about its business below her
   Next a mother bear and her cub arrive on the scene, walking through the trees on the fallen red and gold leaves. The two animals snuffle around looking for food. Winter is coming and they need to eat as much as they can now.
   In October the girl is lying on her platform when a family of skunks waddles around the base of her tree. Lying on her stomach she watches as the mother skunk and her three babies look for food.
   One morning the girl gets up at dawn and she is lucky enough to see a pair of woodpeckers drilling holes in a tree. Diligently the two birds fill the holes they made with acorns that they have collected. They know full well that winter is coming and they are going to need those acorns in the months to come.

   In this remarkable book a lyrical, image-rich text is paired with beautiful illustrations to give us a wonderful journey through the months of fall. From her perch in the tree the girl sees all kinds of animals preparing for winter, and she shares with us the wisdom she has learned from her family members about animals and their ways. She knows that there is a lot that she can learn from animals “About patience. About Truth. About quiet. About taking only what you need from the land because we are its keepers.” 

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of Winter is Coming as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
24. Poetry Friday with a review of Shiver me Timbers by Douglas Florian

Many young readers go through phases when they read every book that they can find that explores a topic that interests them. Dinosaurs are one of the topics that kids get passionate about, and pirates are another. Not long ago I was working with a little boy in a reading program and we read nothing but pirate books for three months! He eventually moved on to books about dogs, but he would have loved today's poetry title.

Shiver me Timbers!Shiver me Timbers!
Douglas Florian
Illustrated by Robert Neubecker
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2012, 978-1-4424-1321-4
In real life pirates were (and still are) rather dangerous and certainly frightening people, but we don’t tend to think about that much. No, we think about the ‘cool’ pirate stuff, like eye patches, pet parrots, pirate slang, treasure hunts, sword fights, and robbing ships at sea.
   In this splendidly piratical poetry picture book, we get the opportunity to celebrate the things that attract children and adults alike to pirates and pirate stories. We begin with a poem called Pirates wear Patches, which is about pirate accessories and pirate attitudes, and what a great place to start it is. After all, anyone who dresses up as a pirate makes sure he or she has an eye patch. It is one of those piratish things that we all know about. As we read the poem we find out that there other items of clothing and accessories that pirates would not be seen dead without; things such as white shirts with “big puffy sleeves,” tricorn hats, “scraggly” beards, and hooks. Once you have these things all you have to do to be the perfect pirate is to give “dirty looks,” “wear smirks” and “evil grins,” and be ready to “shoot first / And ask questions later.”
   Of course, you also have to make sure that you know your “Pirate Patter.” Thankfully the second poem in this book covers this topic so that you know how to talk like a pirate. You will learn that you have to greet people by saying “Ahoy, matey,” and that “grog” is what pirates drink. If you want to insult someone you can call him a “scurvy dog.” It is also important that you know pirate terms so that you can stay out of trouble when you are around pirates. For example, if a pirate threatens to send you to “Davy Jones’s locker,” you should get out of town.
   You may not know this but pirates lived by the code of conduct when they were at sea, a code which were surprisingly fair and democratic. The code of conduct that you will find in this book is quite different. It is delightfully silly and children may even try to force their parents to adopt it. The code includes things like “Don’t take a bath,” “Tell lots of lies,” “Act rash and rude,” and “Yell, “Thar she blows!””
   Other things that you will learn about as you read these poems are (among other things) pirate names, how pirates were hired, what they ate, and pirate flags.
   In this poetry book Douglas Florian’s delightfully funny poems are paired with often amusing illustrations to give readers a light-hearted piratical experience that will no doubt cause young readers to decide that the pirate life is, for certainly, for them.



0 Comments on Poetry Friday with a review of Shiver me Timbers by Douglas Florian as of 10/10/2014 2:01:00 PM
Add a Comment
25. Picture Book Monday with a review of Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

When I was a child for some reason illustrators did not create wordless picture books. These days I encounter books of this type several times each year and some of them are truly amazing. Today's picture book is a wordless title and it was created by the illustrator who brought us Flora and the Flamingo, which was a Caldecott Honor title this year. Just like Flora and the Flamingo this story features a little girl and a very personable bird, and the way in which the story is told is quite magical.

Flora and the PenguinFlora and the Penguin
Molly Idle
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Chronicle, 2014, 978-1-4521-2891-7
The ice is frozen and Flora is going skating. Bundled up in warm clothing, she sits on the ice to tie the laces of her skates. Not far away there is a hole in the ice and the tip of something orange is poking through the hole. When Flora goes to investigate she sees that a penguin is coming through the hole in the ice, and in no time she and the very elegant bird are greeting one another.
Soon the new friends are skating across the ice. Perfectly synchronized they glide and twirl, jump and spin. Their beautifully coordinated performance is joyous until something beneath the ice captures the penguin's attention and with a dive and small splash the bird is gone. Flora is left all alone until the penguin pops up through the hole in the ice again. It has a fish in its beak, which it offers to Flora as a gift. Not surprisingly the girl does not appreciate her present. In fact she throws it back into the hole in the ice, shocking the penguin who then makes it very clear that Flora is in the penguin equivalent of the dog house.
   Sometimes we do things that hurt our friend's feelings and have to make amends as best we can to show them that we are sorry and that we appreciate them. In this wordless picture book Molly Idle tell a story that captures the ebb and flow of a new friendship. As the story unfolds we see how hurt feelings can be repaired if one is little creative. Readers will be delighted to explore the compelling art work and, on some pages, they will find flaps to lift. The story ends with a grand fold out page that carries us forward to a perfect ending.


0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts