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1326. How I’m logging our readalouds this year

Gonna try, at least.

pbljan

Failed utterly last year at keeping up my Rillabooks log. Of course, it’s really a Rilla-and-Huck-and-sometimes-Wonderboy log, which makes the keeping-up all the harder.

pbljan2

My strategy this year is to snap a picture each day after we’ve finished reading.

pbljan3

One thing I like about this method is that I can track frequently requested rereads alongside newer books. It’s been fun to see a book appearing two or three days in a row as it moves into the Favorites position and then is eventually superceded by a new charmer.

pblogwedjan15

I’m posting the pics on Instagram, when I remember, tagged “today’s #readalouds.”

pblthursjan16

A few remarks:

Cookie the Walker. They love this book. If I’d thought of the photo idea sooner, it would have appeared in about ten in a row. I’ll be honest: I wouldn’t have expected it to spark such an obsession—but it’s on its way to Scoopy the Steam Shovel territory, if you know what I mean. Twice now I’ve taken it back to the library, but the librarians keep shelving all my returns on the display rack, so every other time we go, Huck grabs it again.

But oh you guys, if you haven’t checked out Sophie’s Squash yet, do. It was one of our Cybils finalists—the whole darn judging panel was crazy about it. It’s delightful. Sophie adopts a butternut squash as her baby and best friend, and, well, to say people in my house can relate to that notion is an understatement.

Into the Thicklebit (Sophie’s a more devoted parent than my guy was.) ;)

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1327. Yeti, Turn Out the Light! By Greg Long & Chris Edmundson

MooYeti can’t sleep! He’s so tired, and he’s done all the things a yeti should do before bed, but he just can’t fall asleep. There are too many shadows in his room, so he has to keep turning on the lights. Each new click of the lamp illuminates different harmless woodland creatures like bunnies and birds who also can’t sleep and have come to snuggle with Yeti. Soon it becomes too crowded in the little bed with all his visitors, and the critters head home to their own beds where, finally, they can all fall asleep…even Yeti.

Greg Long and Chris Edmundson’s well-paced, fun, and energetic rhyming text is an ideal match for Wednesday Kirwan’s bright illustrations. Yeti is not depicted as a cute and cuddly creature. He is peculiar and even borders on scary looking himself, but that only makes the book more successful by showing that even supposedly scary creatures like Yeti struggle with fears. When the sweet woodland creatures come to see Yeti he welcomes the animals into his bed, thus further illustrating the idea that first impressions are often incorrect. Like the shadows, Yeti is not the scary monster that he appears to be on the outside; he is actually quite gentle and vulnerable. This silly book would be good to read to toddlers and preschoolers struggling with a fear of the dark, but is a fun read even for kids who have no issues going to bed.

Posted by: Staci


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1328. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: January 15

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currently send out the newsletter once every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have three middle grade and young adult book reviews. I also have a list of the books my family received for Christmas, another little literacy milestone from my daughter, and a post about the upcoming International Book Giving Day. I have two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently. Not included in the newsletter this time around I published:

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read seven early reader to middle grade titles and two young adult titles. (I'm including early readers here that I read by myself for potential review, but not every early reader that I read to my daughter.) I was on a bit of a middle grade graphic novel binge. I read:

  • Cynthia Lord: Half A Chance. Scholastic. Middle Grade. Completed January 4, 2013. Review to come. 
  • Charise Mericle Harper: Bean Dog and Nugget: The Ball and Bean Dog and Nugget: The Cookie. Early Reader Graphic Novels. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Completed January 10, 2014. I found these vaguely reminiscent of the Elephant and Piggie books (two friends interacting, sparse backgrounds, aimed at new readers), but I just didn't warm to the characters in the same way. My daughter seems rather luke-warm on these, too. 
  • Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm: Babymouse #1: Queen of the World. Middle Grade Graphic Novel. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Completed January 10, 2014. This was a re-read of the first title in the Babymouse series. Though I enjoyed it (I love Babymouse), it also struck me how much the series has improved over 17 books. The newer titles are just ... sharper. More witty. But I will still look forward to sharing this title with my daughter in a few years. 
  • Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm: Squish #5: Game On! Middle Grade Graphic Novel. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Completed January 10, 2014. This installment of the very fun Squish! series deals with video game addiction. I liked the Squish! figured out his problem on his own, and faced consequences. And I loved that he and his dad went to a comics show at the end, where they were able to meet the Babymouse creators. I love inside jokes like that. 
  • Jarrett J. Krosoczka: Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle (#10). Middle Grade Graphic Novel. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Completed January 12, 2014. It makes me so sad that this is the final installment of the Lunch Lady series. But I thought that Krosoczka did a great job of wrapping things up, bringing back in several former foes of the Breakfast Bunch, giving the kids a chance to emerge as leaders, and even giving Lunch Lady a potential love interest (with one of my favorite series characters). This one will be released on January 28th. 
  • Kurtis Scaletta: Winter of the Robots. Middle Grade Fiction. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Completed January 13, 2014. Review to come.
  • A. S. King: Reality Boy. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Young Adult. Completed January 7, 2014. My review.
  • Rainbow Rowell: Eleanor and Park. St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan). Young Adult Fiction. Completed January 8, 2014. Not reviewed, because this book has already received so very much positive attention. But I did enjoy it, and highly recommend it to fans of YA romance, especially those who were in high school in the 80s. 

I'm currently reading Champion, the final book in Marie Lu's Legend series, and Spell Robbers, the first book in Matthew J. Kirby's Quantum League series. I'm listening to The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly.

Baby Bookworm was in a bit of a reading slump until I took her to the library last Saturday. We brought home 33 books (all for her, most picked out by her), and read nearly all of them that day. This seems to have rekindled her general interest in reading, too, because we read quite a number of non-library books the next day. You can check out the complete list of books we've read to her so far this year on my blog.

Babt Bookworm's favorite standalone title right now is Arlene Mosel's Tikki Tikki Tembo. I'm proud to report that she can recite Tikki Tikki Tembo's full name, and delights in shouting it out. She still loves series books about Mercer Mayer's Little Critter, Marc Brown's Arthur, and Rosemary Wells' Max and Ruby. I'm also introducing her to Frog and Toad and Little Bear. I will report back. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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1329. Moo! By David LaRochelle

MooSometimes a picture is worth a thousand words; and in some cases, a word is worth a thousand pictures. In this book, that word is MOO! This is the story of a curious cow who decides to take the farmer’s car for a joy ride one day. The cow soon discovers that the world can be a true adventure (Moooooooooooooooooooooooo!), and the world can also be full of hazards (moOO!). The crazy ride ends in a crash right on top of the policeman’s car – well you can imagine the explanation necessary to get the cow out of this mess (Moo moo! Moo moo-moo, moo! Moo moo, moo, moooooo! Mooooooooooooo moo. Moo moo? Moo. Moo-moo-moo-moo-moo! Moo moo, moo moo. Moo, moo, moo, MOOO!) Udderly clever and fun!

Posted by: Mary


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1330. Books My Family Received for Christmas

My daughter received quite a number of books for Christmas. I must confess to having purchased quite a few of them myself. Here is the full stack:

ChristmasBooks

And here they are listed, with comments (and links):

Jules Feiffer: Bark, George. A friend on Facebook recommended this one back in October, when I was looking for books to read aloud to a mixed age group of preschoolers. I didn't end up using it for that, but I ordered it, and saved it to be a Christmas present. Baby Bookworm think it is hilarious. 

Mo Willems: That Is Not a Good Idea! OK, the truth of the matter is that I coveted this book for months, and used Christmas as an excuse to buy it for my daughter. I'm happy to report that she enjoys it, though I don't think she 100% understands the trick that the author pulls on the reader. But she will!

Beverly Cleary: The Complete Ramona Collection. This was a gift from Baby Bookworm's godparents. It was on our Amazon wish list because I look forward to reading it to my daughter when she's just a little bit older. And I wanted to have the books here, ready, when we are. Thanks, G&G!

Charles M. Schulz: Peanuts: A Charlie Brown Christmas. My husband picked this one up. The television special is one of his favorites. He also got the Record a Story: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, but that book is just annoying (it makes noise every time you touch it, and we couldn't figure out how to actually record). 

Eileen Rosenthal & Marc Rosenthal: Bobo the Sailor Man! We loved the first two Bobo books (my reviews of I MUST Have Bobo! and I'll Save You Bobo!). I happened to learn right before Christmas that there was a third book out, and couldn't resist. 

Deborah Hautzig & Diane GoodeThe Story of the Nutcracker Ballet. My husband and I spent some time in a bookstore between a Nutcracker show and dinner reservations. I decided to bring this back for our daughter (who isn't quite old enough to sit through the show - maybe next year). 

On the same bookstore visit, I picked up Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts (reviewed here), and Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins & Paul Zelinsky. This is what happens to me when I go to bookstores. I had a copy of Toys Come Home, and it seemed like we would eventually want to start reading this series from the beginning. I gave Toys Go Out a try with my daughter the other night, but the lack of pictures on the first two pages put her off. "Maybe later."

Cynthia Rylant: Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake. My dear friend's daughter loved this series when she was younger, so they picked out this one for Baby Bookworm. I suspect it will be the start of an appreciation of this series in our house, too. They also sent Caroline Repchuk's My Little Supermarket, which is very fun, and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers, which was on our wish list. Thanks, my friends! 

I also gave my daughter several books that I had ordered from Scholastic Reading Club. In truth, I probably would have given them to her anyway, so they were a bit of a cheat as Christmas presents. But that's how I roll this time of year. And actually, one of them, a set of three Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems in paperback editions, was the (book) hit of Christmas day. We had to stop opening presents and read all three immediately (I Love My New Toy, There Is A Bird on Your Head, and My Friend Is Sad). The other, Dav Pilkey's A Friend for Dragon, we haven't read yet, for some reason.

I think that's it for her pile, not including sticker books and workbooks and the like. I also received Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park (from the same friend who I sent a copy to, in a delightful coincidence) and The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That by Richard Betts. A copy of Cynthia Lord's Half a Chance arrived on my doorstop from Scholastic on Christmas Eve, and that felt like a Christmas present, too. My husband received a Boston Red Sox Stocking Stumpers book.

We naturally gave away quite a few books as gifts, too. But I'll have to share those another day. Did the holiday season bring new books to your house, too? Wishing you plenty of time for reading in the New Year. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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1331. The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell

Gift of NothingOh my! How did I miss this little treasure when it first was published?

Mooch, the cat, wants to give his best friend, Earl, a special gift. The problem is that Earl has everything! What do you get someone who has everything? Mooch thinks and thinks and finally decides he will give Earl the gift of NOTHING. The next problem is where does one find NOTHING? It’s not to be watched on tv, it’s not to be found outside, it’s not for sale at the store.

Mooch sits on his pillow and thinks and thinks until he has an inspiring idea about how to give the gift of NOTHING to his friend. He ends up showing Earl exactly how special his friendship is.

This sweet and simple story about NOTHING gave me a lot of something – a big smile all day long!

Posted by: Wendy


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1332. Review of the Day: Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light

HaveSeenDragon1 300x267 Review of the Day: Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve LightHave You Seen My Dragon?
By Steve Light
Candlewick Press
$16.99
ISBN: 978-0-7636-6648-4
Ages 2-6
On shelves April 8th

When I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan I would get this little thrill every time my city appeared in a children’s book. Which is to say, every time it was mentioned in Horton Hatches the Egg. Honestly, for all that it had a cool name it really didn’t come up anywhere else. New York kids must be rather jaded in this regard. Anytime a city book is set somewhere other than Manhattan or Brooklyn, they probably scratch their little heads in confusion (I can attest to this personally as my two-year-old calls any and all cities she sees in books “New York City” and will not be corrected). As a NYC transplant I’d probably mind this more if it weren’t for the fact that so many of these books are so doggone splendid. Take Steve Light’s latest, Have You Seen My Dragon? A riot of miniscule details, numbers, colors, familiar city elements, and a magnificent, fantastic creature always hidden in plain sight, Light gives us a city dragon worth remembering long after the pages are turned.

You would think it would be difficult to mislay a dragon. You would be wrong. When our story begins a young boy is asking a doorman whether or not he’s seen his dragon. “No? I will look for him.” Never you mind that if the boy merely turned his head 90 degrees to the left he’d see his ginormous pet sniffing an understandably wary pup. From here it’s a race across the city. Everywhere the boy goes the numbers go up. The dragon perches atop a hot dog stand where they are selling “2 Hot dogs”. It peers down from a roof at the “3 Buses” below. It gets a quick drink from one of the “5 Water towers.” On the endpapers you can see the circuitous path the dragon takes through a slightly compacted lower Manhattan until, at last, the boy spots him in Chinatown, smiling widely from between the “20 Lanterns”.

HaveSeenDragon2 300x134 Review of the Day: Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve LightThere is a perception out there that it is near impossible to publish a black and white picture book in today’s market. This may be so, but Light comes pretty darn close to doing so. Though there is a different color for every number in the book, most of what you’re seeing is just good old-fashioned pen and inks. More to the point, the man has gone rather wild in his details. I haven’t seen intricate work at this level since I read Mark Alan Stamaty’s picture book cult classic Who Needs Donuts? Whether he’s detailing the myriad wires that curl around the sewer pipes below the street or paying homage to the detailing on St. Patrick’s Cathedral, there’s a method to the man’s madness. Now add in the fact that Light isn’t afraid to go vertical with his two-page spreads and that he occasionally gets incredibly creative with his perspective (the “8 Fire hydrants” two-page spread is an exercise in internal logic) and you have a rather beautiful affair. Little wonder that he chose to only dot the pages with color. It’s lovely to watch how the artist uses these colors to direct your eye across the page.

If the name “Steve Light” has been triggering some kind of latent amnesia in your cranium, it probably has to do with his board books with Chronicle Books. Let me tell you right now that if you have not read Trucks Go, Trains Go or Diggers Go aloud to a small child then your life, nice as it is, is little more than a pale hollow shell of what it might someday be. In those three books Light used bright, thick paints to convey an array of vehicles. He then gave each and every one of them original, amazing sounds, ideal of reading aloud either one-on-one or to a large group. Have You Seen My Dragon differs widely from that series in terms of look and feel. But what it does have in common is the age of the audience (toddler heaven is what we have going on here) and the read aloud potential. Good readalouds are rarities. For every 100 picture books published in a given season, maybe four of them are titles you’d like to test on a group of squirmy squirmers. And this, ladies and gentlemen, should be one of those four. It’s simple and interactive and I can already hear a room of small fry screaming at you as to where the dragon is “hiding”.

There may be the occasional New York child that complains that the buses in the book are purple when, in fact, our buses are no such of a thing. Meh. I say purple buses would be a heckuva lot more fun, so if Mr. Light wants to bestow that particular hue to them, let him. And that goes for the blue subway cars as well. Slightly more problematic are the “monkeys”. You will find that for the number 6 one is supposed to find “6 Monkeys”. The zoo picture is, if you follow the map, sort of supposed to be the Central Park Zoo, but it doesn’t really resemble it. That’s okay too. Artistic liberties I am a-okay with. Far more of a problem is the fact that the monkeys in question have no tails. Yup, what we’re dealing with here is a page of six apes. It’s a classic Curious George problem and not one that sinks the book or anything. Still, wouldn’t mind a tail or two on those primates. It would be just the thing.

All told, I see a lot of New York City picture books in a given year. This one goes beyond our city’s borders. It’s the kind of book that’s going to appeal to any kid that’s drawn to the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan area. The words “New York City” never even appear in the text, allowing a lot of young readers to simply think of the location as an everycity. Lithe and lovely, overflowing with good will and copious details, expect the sentence, “Have you seen Have You Seen My Dragon?” to appear on the lips of parents and children everywhere. Because if you haven’t seen it, now’s the time.

On shelves April 8th.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

share save 171 16 Review of the Day: Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light

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1333. Soup Day by Melissa Iwai

Soup DayNow that the cold weather is here, it’s a good time to warm up with a tasty bowl of soup and snuggle up with a book. This title allows the reader to accomplish both of those things. It is soup day, and the little girl in this story and her mother go shopping for the vegetables. Back at home, they go through the steps of preparing the soup including washing and chopping the vegetables and cooking it all together. While it cooks, they have plenty of time to play and clean up. Then it is time for a yummy dinner. The author incorporates counting, shapes, colors, and an introduction to different types of pasta into the story. A recipe for snowy day vegetable soup is included. While I didn’t expect this title to be a favorite with my children, it is one that we have enjoyed over and over again. The story even inspired us to cook some soup together at home.

Posted by: Liz


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1334. “Scary ghost stories and tales of the glories…”: New Year’s folk and fairy tales

I just wrote my first post over at IB.  My very first IB post! Here’s a preview: _____________________ … Note:  there will be SPOILERS. *  *  *  *  * “The Fire New Year” – A poor man and woman are celebrating the New Year, making do with what very little they have, when a weary traveler knocks on […]

2 Comments on “Scary ghost stories and tales of the glories…”: New Year’s folk and fairy tales, last added: 1/1/2014
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1335. 13 Blast it Out of the Park Posts of 2013


Yes, Darcy! I want to share the story
of the Oldest Wild Bird in the World
with a special child(ren).

"On Dec. 10, 1956, early in my first visit to Midway, I banded 99 incubating Laysan Albatrosses in the downtown area of Sand Island, Midway. Wisdom (band number 587-51945) is still alive, healthy, and incubating again in December 2011 (and in 2012 and in 2013). While I have grown old and gray and get around only with the use of a cane, Wisdom still looks and acts just the same as on the day I banded her. . .remarkable true story. . . beautifully illustrated in color." -- Chandler S. Robbins, Sc.D., Senior Scientist (Retired), USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD.
CLICK BELOW to view
the story of the 63-year-old bird
in your favorite store.


It’s a time to look backward. What are the 13 most popular posts on Fiction Notes in 2013? Here’s the countdown!

Posts Written in 2013

13. 63 Character Emotions to Explore When your character gets stuck at sad, even sadder and truly sad, explore these options for more variety.

12. 5 Quotes to Plot Your Novel By. We always like to know what other authors think about writing and how they work. These quotes are a tiny insight into the writing process.

11. 5 More Ways to Add Humor. Ever popular, but hard to get right, I always need help being funny.

10. Nonfiction Picture Books: 7 Choices. What types of nonfiction picture books are popular now, especially with the Common Core State Standards.

9. Why Authors Should Believe in Their Websites. This was a response to a posting on Jane Friedman‘s website that challenged why authors need a website at all.

8. Help Me Write a Book. A list of suggested resources that will help you write a book.

7. 7 Reasons Your Manuscript Might Be Rejected. A discussion of the rejection cycle and how to defeat it.

c.2013 Dwight Pattison. All rights reserved. My favorite picture that my husband took this year. Pelicans along the Arkansas River

c. Dwight Pattison. My favorite picture that my husband took this year. Pelicans along the Arkansas River


Classic Posts


6. 9 Traits of Sympathetic Characters. How to make that protagonists a nice-guy or nice-girl.

5. 29 Plot Templates. Lost on where to start plotting? Consider one of these options.

4. 30 Days to a Stronger Novel. This series continues to be popular. It’s 30 days of tips for making your novel into the story of your dreams.

3. 30 Days to a Stronger Picture Book. Likewise, 30 days of tips for writing a picture book is hugely popular.

2. Picture Book Standards: 32 Pages. The most frequent question people ask about picture books is how long should they be. Here’s the standard answer, with explanations for why 32 pages is the standard.

1. 12 Ways to Start a Novel. 100 classic opening lines are categorized into twelve ways of opening a novel.

This list reflects the range of topics that consume me and that I want to write about. But it’s not just about me. Please leave a comment with one topic you’d like to see discussed this year.

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1336. Picture book log: 29 Dec

Well, since all previous methods of logging our picture book reads have proven unsuccessful over the long haul, I’m going to give this quick-and-easy method a try: I’ll try to snap a pic of each day’s pile and toss it up on Instagram. Then, if time permits, I can annotate the photo here. Here’s yesterday, a very good haul—mostly library books of the kids’ choosing.

a pile of picture books

Love Monster was sent to me for review and has a lot of charm. I think we’ve all had days where we’ve felt like the only monster in Cutesville.

Sing is the familiar Sesame Street/Karen Carpenter song, but illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, which is always a good thing. I would pretty much like my whole life to be illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.

Tap the Magic Tree was a Rilla pick, I believe, and delighted all three of my youngest, but Huck most of all. At least, until he dissolved in tears over the page that Rilla tapped first. Each tap, rub, wiggle, or air-kiss brings changes to the tree as we follow it through the seasons.

This Plus That is delightful, and of this bunch is the one I’d be most likely to buy. Little equations from daily life. Chalk + sitting = school. Chalk + jumping = hopscotch. Gave us loads to talk about. Amy Krouse Rosenthal always does.

This Is Our House is a sweet and simple story of three generations of family making a life in one beloved city house. The kids seemed to find it really satisfying, in a kind of calm and peaceful way. It has been requested several more times since that first read. They enjoy the comforting full-circle of the pattern: the little girl learning to walk on the same street her mother had toddled on years before; the same cherry tree blooming in the spring. Wonderful art in this one.

The Silver Moon is a poetry collection and we’ve only read a few pieces—lovely so far.

My Father’s Arms Are a Boat is a book I would hesitate to give as a gift but would recommend to certain friends, certain kids…it’s a very sad story; the mother has died, the father and son are mourning, but this is shown through poignant words and actions, not spelled out in a narrative manner. It’s one quiet night, one starry sky, one touching conversation. A hard book to describe. We were into it before I knew what I was reading, and the children were captivated, there was no turning back…and I wouldn’t want to, I’m glad we shared it together. But it’s a sad, haunting poem of a book, and I can see that it might be emotionally wrenching for some children. So don’t do what I did. Preview it first. It’s a good read for adults in its own right.

Okay, I can guarantee I won’t be annotating every one of these photos. But I can snap the pic, at least, and have the record.

(No photo for today because—gasp!—we didn’t read any books together!)

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1337. Rosie Revere, Engineer: Andrea Beaty & David Roberts

Book: Rosie Revere, Engineer
Author: Andrea Beaty
Illustrator: David Roberts
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4 and up

How on earth did I miss the publication of Rosie Revere, Engineer, a companion picture book to Andrea Beaty and David Roberts' Iggy Peck, Architect? I received Iggy Peck around the time my daughter was born, and I regret that I never reviewed it. But it is one of our favorites. We also adore Doctor Ted (reviewed here), and aspire to own the two sequels. So when I spotted Rosie Revere, Engineer in Books, Inc. last night, I snatched it down from the shelf, and purchased it, unread. I didn't need to read it to know that THIS was a book that I wanted for my daughter. 

Rosie Revere is a classmate to young Iggy Peck (an architecture-obsessed boy who eventually uses his architecture skills to save his class, and win over his building-phobic teacher). Unlike Iggy, Rosie likes inventing objects; gadgets, gizmos, and machines. Rosie does all of her tinkering in secret, hiding her projects away under her bed, emotionally scarred by an uncle who laughed at one of her inventions years earlier. But when her great-great aunt Rose (an homage to the fictional Rosie the Riveter of WW II) comes for a visit, Rosie is inspired to try something bold.

The lesson of trying again if you don't succeed is overt:

"She handed a notebook to Rosie Revere,
who smiled at her aunt as it all became clear.
Life might have its failures, but this was not it.
The only true failure can come if you quit."

But I like how with only a bit of encouragement from a caring adult, Rosie figures out this lesson on her own, and then spreads it to her classroom. And I LOVE the more subtle message, that girls can be engineers, may even find engineering a calling. 

I also like Andrea Beaty's bouncy, rhyming, non-singsongy text. Like this:

"But questions are tricky, and some hold on tight,
and this one kept Rosie awake through the night.
So when dawn approached and red streaks lit the sky,
young Rosie knew just how to make her aunt fly."

David Roberts' watercolor, pen and ink, and graph paper illustrations are perfect for this story. The second page spread shows Rosie, working away in her jammies, surrounded by hundreds or brightly colored gears and objects. A tinkerer could spend ages on this page alone. And adult readers will not miss the tiny image of Rosie the Riveter mixed in with all of the paraphernalia. The graph paper and some sections that include drawings of airplanes also remind me of the illustrations in Mini Grey's Egg Drop (reviewed here). There's a lovely spread that includes pencil drawings and hand-written notes about various achievements by women in aerospace. I also love the joy that jumps from the final page spread, in which Rosie and Iggy's classmates (a diverse collection overall) each celebrate their own inventions. 

Rosie Revere, Engineer is a must-purchase for parents who would like their daughters to dream big dreams, and persevere in the face of adversity (and what parent doesn't?). I would expect this book to appeal to boys, too, of course, many of whom will relate to a love of gizmos and gadgets. I can't believe that I nearly missed this book. Score one for the face-out display at an independent bookstore. In addition to purchasing this for my daughter, I'm also sending a copy to an adult friend (a woman engineer) who I know will appreciate it. Highly recommended!

Publisher:  Harry N. Abrams (@abramskids)
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Source of Book: Bought it for my daughter for Christmas

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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1338. New Year’s Day by Lynn Peppas

New Year's DayAll too soon we will be celebrating 2014. Many of us will stay up to midnight on December 31st to be among the first to welcome in the New Year. There are a variety of traditions or customs that people enjoy which include eating lucky foods, making resolutions, watching parades or fireworks and spending time with loved ones.

New Year’s Day offers simple text and colorful pictures to highlight some of the common traditions as well as a brief history of New Year’s Day. Interesting little “Did You Know” facts accompany each chapter – such as, did you know the largest New Year’s Day fireworks display had more than 60,000 fireworks?

This book is fun for a younger reader or for an adult to read to a young child.

10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 Happy New Year one and all!

Posted by: Wendy


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1339. Is It Christmas Yet? by Jane Chapman

Is It Christmas Yet? by Jane ChapmanAs the holidays approach, this is a question that parents will start hearing quite often. In this new title, Teddy, a young bear, is extremely excited about Christmas and can hardly wait for it to arrive. He asks over and over again if Christmas is here yet. Big Bear begins to lose his patience but finds ways to help pass the time. Wrapping presents, baking a cake, and finding the right tree, keeps Teddy busy and the big day finally arrives. The illustrations add to the story and show both Teddy’s excitement and Big Bear’s frustration. Chapman is one of my favorite illustrators, and I can never resist a story with one of her bears in it. This is a story that both parents and children can relate to at this busy time of year.

Posted by: Liz


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1340. Superworm: Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

Book: Superworm
Author: Julia Donaldson
Illustrator: Axel Scheffler
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-8

Superworm is an upcoming picture book from the UK-based team that created The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Superworm is a large worm who is much loved for his flexibility and his willingness to help other creatures. When Superworm is kidnapped by Wizard Lizard, his friends set out to save him. 

Superworm is relatively text heavy for a picture book. All of the text is in rhyming couplets, like this:

"Superworm is super-long,
Superworm is super-strong.
Watch him wiggle! See him squirm!
Hip, hip hooray for SUPERWORM!"

The above sequence is repeated a couple of times throughout the book, giving kids a chance to chime in. There's some less-common vocabulary, like "chant", "mope", and "lair" (each of which ends up working well with the appropriate rhyme). Personally, I found it a bit too much rhyming, across the whole of the book. But I suspect it's one of those books that grows on you through multiple read-alouds. Once I have the final printed version in hand, I will try it with my daughter. 

I do quite like the creativity modeled throughout the book. The other animals and insects find creative uses for Superworm, treating him as a swing, a slide, and even a hula hoop. And when the other creatures set out to rescue Superworm, they each take advantage of their own strengths (the spider weaving a web, etc.). The villain has a satisfying comeuppance. Here's a snippet:

"The web is strong. The web is tough.
The web is plenty big enough.
The wizard wakes. "This isn't funny!
I'm wrapped in leaves and stuck with honey!"

Pretty sure kids WILL find that funny. 

Scheffler's insect-scaled illustrations are colorful and eye-catching, with oversized flowers, and big-eyed, cartoon-like creatures. Superworm is pink and wrinkled, and usually has a smile on his face. While not quite realistic in their depiction, the garden creatures are impossible not to like. Young readers may never look at worms and other small creatures the same way again.

I recommend Superworm for home or library use. The U.S. edition is due out in late January, and is sure to be a hit. 

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (@Scholastic
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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1341. Merry Grinch-mas!

My husband and I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original Boris Karloff animated version) with our three year old daughter last week. She was utterly enchanted. Of course I made sure to tell her that the story was originally from a book by Dr. Seuss. But for some reason, we didn't have a copy of the book. I made a mental note to rectify the situation, but then it slipped through the cracks.

Imagine my pleasure, then, when a copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the book, showed up on my doorstep yesterday, sent by the folks at Random House. As soon as my daughter saw it, she insisted that I put aside my work to read it to her (despite a babysitter also being present). I was, naturally, unable to resist.

This was my first read-aloud of the book ... perhaps ever. But the lines trip off the tongue, familiar after more years than I care to admit of watching the TV/video/DVD version. And in truth, they would trip off the tongue anyway, because How the Grinch Stole Christmas is Dr. Seuss at his best. The movie isn't 100% true to book, but close enough. Sitting, reading this book to my daughter for the first time is destined to be one of my favorite memories from the 2013 holiday season. 

I can't imagine that Random House is looking for reviews of a 56 year old classic. But they are trying to spread the word about a new campaign to "extend the Grinch's heartwarming message into an annual tradition of good-deed-doing and giving back to the community with 25 Days of Grinch-mas." Here's a bit from the website:

"Grinch-mas is a new holiday tradition inspired by Dr. Seuss’s classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! that encourages readers to “grow your heart three sizes” through the celebration of family reading, giving from the heart and community spirit. National Grinch Day, on December 1, will kick start the 25 Days of Grinch-mas. During this time, bookstores and local retailers all over the country will be hosting Grinch-mas events that will incorporate holiday story times for families and opportunities for kids to win special prizes for giving back to their communities by doing good deeds throughout the month of December."

The website features kid-accessible Daily Good Deed suggestions, like: "Make someone laugh." There are also printables and activities and the like, If you have kids who are fans of the book or the movie, it certainly couldn't hurt to use 25 Days of Grinch-mas as a springboard for fun and the spreading of good cheer. 

I think it's safe to say that I'll be reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas quite a lot in the coming days. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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1342. The Secret Staircase by Jill Barklem

The Secret StaircaseAll the mice in Brambly Hedge are getting ready for their Midwinter celebration–decorating the Old Oak Palace, bringing in the (enormous) log to burn in the fireplace, and preparing the evening’s entertainment. Almost everyone is contributing something, and Wilfred and Primrose are meant to be performing a dramatic recitation. They need someplace quiet to practice, but the bustling palace is too busy and loud. When Primrose’s mother suggests that they try to find a place in the attic, the two young mice stumble across a hidden door to a forgotten part of the palace–a part that hasn’t been touched since the time of Primrose’s long-ago medieval mouse ancestors!

This book, which I have loved since childhood, is immensely appealing. Secret doors? Hidden rooms full of old toys and beautiful clothes? The delicious preparations for winter holidays? All calculated to captivate. The most captivating of all, however, are the illustrations. I know I’ve waxed rhapsodic in other blog posts, comparing more recent artists to Jill Barklem, but there is nothing like her delicate, detailed paintings. Each illustration is practically a look-and-find game: what’s on the shelves in the attic? What’s hanging from the ceiling in the kitchen? Can you see all the little rooms in the cut-away tree?

The Secret Staircase, interior illustration

The Secret Staircase will provide unending hours of delight, both in the sweet yet satisfying story, and the illustrations that any reader, child or adult, will pore over for hours.

Posted by: Sarah


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1343. 2013 Hall o’ Faves

I feel like this was a less prolific year for me, in terms of reading, so there are fewer titles for this year’s list.  Hopefully I’ll pull out of this slump soon (and finally finish that darn challenge — there are new books I really want to read, but my path is blocked by the […]

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1344.

Teacher/author/blogger Monica Edinger's book, Africa Is My Home, was recently included in a a New York Times Book Review column, 
a very positive response for a first book. But as Monica said in a comment to yesterday's post, Africa Is My Home is another picture book that took thirteen years to write, sell, and publish.

My observance of Picture Book Month is ending on an unexpected note. These stories of the realities facing picture book authors coming one after another like this are inspiring/reassuring for people well into a writing life. But I'm left wondering if people outside writing realize this is the way publishing can work. I think there's an understanding that it's a hard field to break into, but I'm not sure how many people know that just breaking in isn't necessarily getting you "in" to anything. At any stage in their careers, writers can find themselves with a decade or more of work and hurry up and wait on one project or another.

So my Picture Book Month is ending with a detour away from picture books themselves to a little coverage of the picture book writing life.

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1345. Review of the Day: Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon

HermanRosie1 263x300 Review of the Day: Herman and Rosie by Gus GordonHerman and Rosie
By Gus Gordan
Roaring Brook (an imprint of Macmillan)
$17.99
ISBN: 978-1596438569
Ages 3-7
On shelves now

New Yorkers are singularly single minded. It’s not enough that our city be rich, popular, and famous. We apparently are so neurotic that we need to see it EVERYWHERE. In movies, on television, and, of course, in books. Children’s books, however, get a bit of a pass in this regard. It doesn’t matter where you grow up, most kids get a bit of a thrill when they see their home city mentioned in a work of literature. Here in NYC, teachers go out of their way to find books about the city to read and study with their students. As a result of this, in my capacity as a children’s librarian I make a habit of keeping an eye peeled for any and all New York City related books for the kiddos. And as luck would have it, in the year 2013 I saw a plethora of Manhattan-based titles. Some were great. Some were jaw-droppingly awful. But one stood apart from the pack. Written by an Aussie, Herman and Rosie, author Gus Gordon has created the first picture book I’ve ever seen to successfully put its finger on the simultaneous beauty and soul-gutting loneliness of big city life. The fact that it just happens to be a fun story about an oboe-tooting croc and deer chanteuse is just icing on the cake.

Herman and Rosie are city creatures through and through. Herman is a croc with a penchant for hotdogs and yogurt and playing his oboe out the window of his 7th story home. In a nearby building, Rosie the deer likes pancakes and jazz records and singing in nightclubs, even if no one’s there to hear her. Neither one knows the other, so they continue their lonely little lives unaware of the potential soulmate nearby. One day Rosie catches a bit of Herman’s music and not long thereafter Herman manages to hear a snatch of a song sung by Rosie. They like what they hear but through a series of unfortunate events they never quite meet up. Then Herman gets fired from his job in sales and Rosie’s favorite jazz club goes belly up. Things look bad for our heroes, until a certain cheery day where it all turns around for them.

HermanRosie3 238x300 Review of the Day: Herman and Rosie by Gus GordonYou can know a city from afar but never quite replicate it in art. I do not know how many times Gus Gordon has visited NYC. I don’t know his background here or how often he’s visited over the course of his lifetime. All I know is he got Manhattan DOWN, man! Everything from the water towers and the rooftop landscapes to the very color of the subway lines is replicated in his pitch perfect illustrations. Maybe the medium has a lot to answer for. I love the map endpapers that identify not just where Herman and Rosie live, but also where you can find a great hot dog place. I like how the art is a mix of real postcards showcasing everything from Central Park (look at the Essex House!!) to the Rose Reading Room in the main branch of New York Public Library.

But the art is far more than simply a clever encapsulation of a location. It took several readings before I could see a lot of what Gordon was up to. Here’s an example: Take a look at the two-page spread where Herman is leaving his office for the last time with all his goods in a box, while on the opposite page Rosie trudges home from the closing club, her high heeled red shoes sitting forlornly in the basket of her bike. The two images take place at different times of the day, but if you look closely you’ll see that they’re the same street corner. Yet where Herman’s New York is filled with loud angry voices and sounds, Rosie’s is near silent, a black wash representing the oncoming night. Note too that while Herman’s mailbox was a mixed media photo, Rosie’s is painted in a black wash with some crayon scribbles. It’s a subtle difference, but I love how it sort of represents how objects become less real when the lights begin to dim. And the book is just FILLED with tiny, clever details. From the pictures and instructions that grace Herman’s cubicle at work to the fact that Rosie clearly washes her clothes at home (the clothesline the runs from her bike to the old-fashioned vacuum tube television was my first clue) to Herman’s bed in the living room, Gordon is constantly peppering his book with elements that give little insights into who these two characters really are.

And that right there is the the crux of the book. Time and time again Gordon returns to this idea of how lonely it can be to live in a busy place. The idea that you can be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people and feel as alone as if you were on a desert island is a tricky concept to convey to small fry. Herman’s whole personality, in a way, hinges on the fact that he’s terrible at his job as a telecaller because all he wants to do is talk to people on the phone, not sell them things. He longs for connection. Rosie, meanwhile, finds a certain level of connection through her singing gig. Once that gig leaves, her feelings of extreme loneliness echo Herman’s with the loss of his job. Their sole lifelines to the outside world have been severed against their wills. If this were a book for adults we’d undoubtedly also get a couple scenes of the various failed dates they fine themselves on (well, Rosie certainly… I’m not so sure that Herman’s the serial dater type). Kids understand loneliness. They get that. They’ll get this.

HermanRosie2 Review of the Day: Herman and Rosie by Gus GordonThe book also plays on the natural inclination for a happy resolution, and the near misses when Herman almost meets Rosie and Rosie just barely misses Herman can be excruciating. You are fairly certain the two are made for one another (the natural tendencies of crocs to eat deer notwithstanding) so it can be particularly painful to see so many almost wases. This feeling is, admittedly, partly diluted by the fact that you’re not quite sure what will happen when the two DO meet. Are they going to fall in love? Well, not exactly. There may be a kind of child reader that hopes for that ending, but instead we’re given a conclusion where the two just learn to make beautiful music together, and in the course of that music happen to find financial success as well. This is New York, after all. Love’s great but a steady paycheck’s even better.

The truth of the matter is that Herman and Rosie could be set in L.A. or Minneapolis or Atlanta or even Sydney and I’d still love it as much as I do with its New York flavor, tone, and beat. It wouldn’t be exactly the same, but it’s the bones of the book that are strong. The setting is just a bonus, really. With original mixed media, a text that’s subtle and succinct, and a story that rings both true and original (for a picture book medium anyway), this is a city book, a true city book, to its core. Author Markus Zusak said the book was “Quirky, soulful and alive”. Can’t put it any better than that. What he said.

On shelves now.

Source: Final copy sent from publisher for review.

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1346. Rabbit’s Gift by George Shannon

Rabbit’s GiftIt’s a cold winter’s night, and Rabbit smells snow coming. That means it’s time to find food, and Rabbit is lucky to find not one, but two turnips! It occurs to Rabbit that maybe Donkey hasn’t found enough food, so he decides to leave his extra turnip by Donkey’s door. Donkey, in turn, decides to leave the turnip for Goat. Goat has the same idea, and so does Deer when a mysterious turnip appears at his door. Rabbit’s gift is passed from friend to friend, and ultimately ends up bringing all four friends together to share a cozy turnip meal.

The author’s note tells us that the story is based on a folktale traced back to China, but that similar folktales have been told around the world. Laura Dronzek’s paintings are soft and clear, and perfectly evoke a snowy winter’s night. Chinese characters for each of the four animals are included in the illustrations, with a glossary accompanying the author’s note.

This is a lovely picture book that would make a wonderful read-aloud for the holiday season (and a great pick if you are looking for a book that is not actually about a holiday). Rabbit’s Gift quietly celebrates generosity, thankfulness, and soft snowy nights with friends.

Posted by: Parry


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1347. Zoomer's Out-of-This-World Christmas: Ned Young

Book: Zoomer's Out-of-This-World Christmas
Author: Ned Young 
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

Zoomer's Out-of-This-World Christmas appears to be Ned Young's third book about Zoomer, but it's the first one that I've run across. Zoomer is a young dog, preparing for Christmas with his two brothers. While on the lookout for Santa, the brothers are surprised to discover that a spaceship has landed in their backyard. The alien family that comes from the ship is friendly (and surprisingly humanoid). Adventures ensue, followed by a sacrifice made by Zoomer on behalf of his new friends. 

I'm not sure that I am completely on board with the end of this book, in which Zoomer is rewarded by Santa for his sacrifice. Does this suggest that we should do good things only in the hope of someone noticing and quietly rewarding us later? Perhaps there is truth in that, but it's not my first choice for a Christmas message. Still, it does make for a festive ending to the book. 

Ending aside, it is a fun book. Young includes a few nonsense words, like this:

"... And out stepped a family from outer space, their robot, and their pet--a yarple-headed gigantaziller."

"They feasted on kookaloon sandwiches, zablookee salad, and blopwapple pie and washed it all down with some zoinkinfizz soda. Everything was out-of-this-world delicious."

And yet, despite the innate ridiculousness of the whole thing (from the pups living with their parents in a gabled house, as though they were regular children to the aliens somehow managing to eat pie through their space suits), Young presents everything in straight up fashion. Apart from the aforementioned nonsense words, the text is relatively staightforward.

The real playfulness comes via the illustrations. The aliens and their gadgets are brightly colored and detailed, with a vaguely Seussian flair. The gigantaziller is a friendly blending of giant caterpillar and butterfly, with several shoe-clad feet. There is a force-field swimming pool that makes for interesting visuals, too. The pictures are highly dynamic, and certainly kid-friendly. There are plenty of details to reward repeated viewings.

All in all, Zoomer's Out-of-This-World Christmas is an unconventional holiday-themed book, merging sled-riding dogs, humanoid aliens, and Santa Claus into one colorful, snow-covered mashup. For those looking for something to mix things up a bit, and especially for kids who are fascinated by aliens, this one is worth a look. 

Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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1348. Christmas Wish by Lori Evert and Per Breiehagen

Christmas WishIt started as a family Christmas card photo by photographer Per Breiehagen and his wife Lori Evert. In 2007, the Minnesota resident’s family dressed their adorable three year-old daughter Anja in traditional Norwegian clothing such as Stakk dress from Ål, where Breiehagen was raised, reindeer shoes from the Sami people in Northern Norway, and an elf hat and took a series of photos that would change their lives forever. Based on overwhelming positive feedback from friends and family who received the Christmas card, Breiehagen expanded the project. His vision was to stage scenes the evoked the traditional folklore of Norway that he had grown up listening to. In addition to Anja’s captivating costume, Breiehagen attempted to make the photos as authentic as possible. He took Anja to beautiful outdoor winter landscapes in both Minnesota and Norway. Anja posed with actual reindeer in Norway and held traditional Telemark skis from 1840 the Breiehagen had sought out to use as photo props. As the scope of the photos became more fantastic, Breiehagen incorporated digital compositing to create scenes of the “little elf” meeting a polar bear in Antarctica and other fanciful imagery that could not be created without digital enhancements. The photos continued to gain popularity and were featured in several holiday advertisement campaigns, including one for Chicco, a popular baby product brand.

The photos took on a new life this year when Breiehagen and Evert created the picture book, The Christmas Wish. The book tells the story of a little girl who lives “in a place so far north that the mothers never pack away the wool hats or mittens.” The girl longs to be one of Santa’s elves. One day, she sets out on a journey through the great Northern wild to find Santa. Along the way she is helped by several animals including a cardinal, reindeer, polar bear, horse and musk ox. She also has a chance to see the Northern Lights. Eventually, she does find the man in the red suit and he flies her home on his sleigh. The true charm and magic of this book are the stunning photographs. Some of my favorites include one of Anja placing a note on the door of the Norwegian Sauna announcing her departure to find Santa, the three year old girl curled up next to a polar bear napping, and Santa’s sleigh flying over snow covered hills taking Anja home. With careful staging and digital enhancement, the winter scenes are stunning, the animals are beautiful and the young girl in the traditional Norwegian garb is irresistibly cute. This story is one that is sure to captivate the imagination of children this holiday season and leave parents a bit awe struck as well.

Posted by: Kelly


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1349. Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve by Janet Morgan Stoeke

Minerva Louise on Christmas EveMinerva Louise is an oldie but certainly a goodie, so I am writing to keep her going a little longer. For those familiar with Minerva, you know that as a very naïve chicken, she is often confused by the world around her, making assumptions that are often wrong, and humorous as well. In this story, Minerva Louise mistakes Christmas lights for fireflies and Santa for a farmer in a red hat. And what is the farmer doing on top of the roof? She warns him that it is slippery, but he falls down the chimney anyway! She tries to tell the farmer in the red hat to take the stuff out of her farmer’s socks and wonders about the tree that must have come inside to get out of the cold – and someone has been laying the most beautiful “eggs” on its branches! Young children will love to correct the reader (and Minerva Louise), because they know what Minerva does not about Christmas. This is still a wonderful read-aloud, and shouldn’t be forgotten.

Posted by: Mary


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1350. Dot.: Randi Zuckerberg & Joe Berger

Book: Dot.
Author: Randi Zuckerberg (@randizuckerberg)
Illustrator: Joe Berger
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

Full disclosure. Yes, Dot. is one of those picture books written by a celebrity (business maven Randi Zuckerberg) to convey a particular lesson. I am not generally a fan of such books. This one is even kind of a spin-off of an adult title by the same author (Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives), with the same release date. And yet, Dot. worked for me. 

Dot. is a simple story. We learn that a little girl named Dot is quite skilled in the use of digital devices. "She knows how to tap ... to touch ... to tweet ... and to tag." And she talks and talks on phones and devices and webcams. But when Dot's brain becomes a bit fried from too much device-time, her mother sends the zombie-like child outside to "reboot." Outside, among friends, Dot learns different meanings of tap (tap dancing), touch (touching a sunflower), tweet (like a bird), and tag (you can guess that one). And at the end, she and her friends embrace both the outdoors and real togetherness AND devices. 

I think that ending is a big part of what made the book work for me. If the story had ended with Dot realizing the error of her device-prone ways, and spending all of her time playing outside, well, it just wouldn't have been realistic. But it IS realistic to think that a child could get caught up sitting around inside, tapping away on the computer, only to be reminded that playing outside is fun also. Only to be reminded that it's more fun to do whatever you're doing with other kids than to do it alone. 

By keeping the focus entirely on Dot, and finding a solution to her specific problem of tech burnout, Zuckerberg avoids making Dot. feel didactic. It helps, I think that Mom is only shown as a pair of hands shooing Dot outside. Otherwise, there are only kids, dogs, and butterflies.

I also quite liked the parallelism that Zuckerberg uses, between actions we do on devices, like "surfing", and actions that can be done in real life, like "surfing." Some of the examples work better than others ("swiping" paint seems a bit of a reach), but the idea of focusing on these dual meanings works. 

Joe Berger's illustrations help, too. When Dot, in dotted dress, is "surfing" on the computer, she lies across the back of the couch with one leg up, reaching down to the computer. This is a nice visual clue to what is to follow later. The indoor illustrations are fun, but all set against plain backgrounds, white walls, etc. This provides a nice contrast when Dot goes outside, and is surrounded by birds, flowers, trees, and so on. I'm not quite sure why Dot has gray hair, but she also has an impish smile, a swirly skirt, and a cute dog.

I think that kids will like her. And if they like Dot, hopefully they won't feel dictated to by the point that this book is making. And let's face it. There are an awful lot of kids out there who could benefit from spending a few hours outside, where the only screen is the screen door. Mary Lee from A Year of Reading liked it, too, calling Dot."the perfect antidote to BYOD" (bring your own device). 

I suspect this one will work better with five to seven year olds, kids who spend a bit of time using keyboards, and talking on the phone to friends or family members. My three year old was unimpressed. I think you'll find that Dot. is worth a look, particularly for libraries and classrooms. Perhaps one could pair it under the Christmas tree with a jumprope and some sneakers. 

Publisher:  HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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