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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Picture Books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1,326 - 1,350 of 7,719
1326. Review of I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel

yacowitz_i know an old lady who swallowed a dreidelI Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel
by Caryn Yacowitz; 
illus. by David Slonim
Primary   Levine/Scholastic   32 pp.
9/14   978-0-439-91530-4   $17.99

The American Gothic parody on the 
first wordless spread — showing Ma 
and Pa, a boy, a cat…and a menorah — previews this freewheeling volume, part warm family holiday story, part art appreciation book, and part cumulative rhyme. Yacowitz’s clever Hanukkah-themed text lists the items swallowed by the bubbie: latkes, gelt, candles, dreidel (“Perhaps it’s fatal” is the refrain). Slonim’s humorous cartoony illustrations — a well-designed mix of spreads and panels — tell their own story, courtesy of the old masters. Bubbie stands in for the Mona Lisa, the figure in The Scream, and Rodin’s Thinker; homages to Warhol, Rockwell, van Gogh, Wyeth, Hopper (“Mel’s All-Night Latkes” diner), and others make cameo appearances. An artist’s note is appended.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


The post Review of I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel appeared first on The Horn Book.

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1327. Catch That Cookie! by Hallie Durand, illustrated by David Small

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About the Book: Marshall is a skeptic when it comes to gingerbread men. He doesn't believe that they will run away. So when the cookies the class decorated disappear, Marshall uses his detective skills to solve the clues and find where the gingerbread men have run off to-and possibly believe in some magic along the way.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I am always looking for fun holiday books and Catch That Cookie! is one that can easily be added into that category. Marshall is hilarious as he tries to reason why the cookies couldn't have possibly run away with the clues that are left around the school. The clues rhyme and invite kids to shout out the answers as they join Marshall in his gingerbread hunt.

David Small's illustrations capture Marshall's curiosity and excitement perfectly. My favorite illustration is the tiny gingerbread men footprints that were left all over the gym. Marshall is determined to solve this mystery!

Catch That Cookie! could kick off your own gingerbread man hunt and become a holiday classic.

Where would my gingerbread man go? 

Baby GreenBean has a special gingerbread man this year (since he can't eat cookies, but he can catch them!) Our gingerbread man is made from felt covered with sock monkeys and he's pretty sneaky as he runs all over the tree!

Review Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by publisher

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1328. Saturn Could Sail and Other Fun Facts by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Pete Oswald and Aaron Spurgeon

Saturn Could Sail and Other Fun Facts by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Pete Oswald and Aaron Spurgeon, is part of a fantastic, fact filled series of non-fiction picture books published by Simon & Schuster called "Did You Know?" Oswald and Spurgeon, who worked on the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, are the perfect illustrators for this kind of non-fiction

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1329. If You Were Me and Lived in … Peru, by Carole P. Roman | Dedicated Review

Due to the well condensed and simplistic format, If You Were Me and Lived in … Peru: A Child’s Introduction to Cultures Around the World and the entire series can easily be the basis for further discussions of Peru, the Spanish language, cultures, traditions, historical sites and home life.

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1330. Eight More Christmas Books

And Then Comes Christmas. Tom Brenner. Illustrated by Jana Christy. 2014. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

With some picture books, you almost have to read them a few times before you decide if you like them or not. Such is the case with Tom Brenner's And Then Comes Christmas.

And Then Comes Christmas is all about establishing atmosphere and celebrating traditions. Atmosphere is established by description and detail. Phrases like "bare branches rake across the sky" and "romp in snow as smooth as bedcovers." Traditions are celebrated: choosing a tree, decorating a tree, making cookies, wrapping presents, reading stories, attending programs, making crafts, seeing Santa at the mall, etc. Some traditions will likely be familiar. Some may not be. Not every child gets to play in the snow before Christmas--or after Christmas, for that matter! But all children could choose to make paper snowflakes to decorate their windows.

It is a book that slowly and gently counts down to Christmas. (Though not with actual numbers.) There is a certain pattern to it...multiple when/then passages.

I think my favorite when/then passage is:
When elves and reindeer appear in stores, and small trains race through toy villages, and piles of presents nestle in cotton drifts...Then hop from foot to foot, waiting to sit on Santa's knee."
I like this one well enough. But I would hate to have to diagram any of these sentences!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Dr. Seuss. 1957. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I love it. Of course I love it. How could I not? Now, I will admit that I didn't read the actual book until I was an adult. It wasn't one of the Seuss books that I owned growing up. But the christmas special--the cartoon--is one I've seen dozens and dozens of times. The book itself is lovely. If you love one, you'll love the other.

So in case you're unfamiliar with the book or special, The Grinch hates Christmas. His neighbors, the Whos in Who-ville, love Christmas. He is super-cranky this year, and, he decides to steal it. He thinks Christmas is all about the stuff. Take the stuff, do away with it altogether, right? Wrong. The Whos in Who-ville teach the Grinch a lesson about joy.

One of my favorite things about it is it's just SO quotable. Here are a few of my favorite lines:
Every who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot...But the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!
And THEN they'd do something he liked least of all! Every who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing. They'd stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing. They'd sing! And they'd sing! AND they'd SING! SING! SING!
Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch. But, if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.
Then the last thing he took was the log for their fire! Then he went up the chimney, himself, the old liar.
It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!"

'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Clement C. Moore. Illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith. 1823/1912. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I've read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas plenty of times before. But this is the first time I've read the edition of the poem published as a picture book in 1912 with illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith.

The poem itself is as delightful as it ever is. I think this is a poem that feels familiar no matter what. You don't have to seek it out year after year. It just finds you and sticks. It's just part of the Christmas culture. (I love the Sesame Street play starring Bert and Ernie as featured in Muppet Family Christmas.)

It was interesting to see the illustrations from this time period. (You may see the illustrations at project gutenberg.) Did I love the illustrations? Not particularly.

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. E.T.A. Hoffmann. Adapted by Wren Maysen. Illustrated by Gail de Marcken. 2009. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I am not as familiar with the original story (1816) as I am the story of the ballet. (The two are different.) It's an odd book. I'll be honest. It is just as strange as Alice in Wonderland. (Though, of course, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King came decades before Alice.)

Marie Stahlbaum is the heroine of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The book opens with Marie and her brother, Fritz, playing together and waiting, waiting, waiting for all the delights of Christmas. They are waiting to enter the large drawing room where the tree is, and where the presents are. Their mother and father are there as well. As is Godfather Drosselmeier. There is a new doll, Clara, for Marie. There are new toy soldiers for Fritz. And there is a lovely toy castle, Marzipan Castle, for them both. The Nutcracker is a gift for the whole family. Marie does take special interest in it, this interest remains despite the fact that Fritz breaks the Nutcracker when he's showing off.

Marie stays up past her bedtime in the drawing room. This is when things get strange: seeing Godfather Drosselmeier on top of the clock, seeing all the mice attack, seeing the Mouse King, etc. She witnesses a battle. Towards the close of that battle, she throws a slipper at the wicked Mouse King.

Marie awakens in bed the next day. Her mother had found her bleeding on the floor near the tree and toy cupboard. She spends the next few days at least in bed. Spending so much time in bed might seem horrible, and, perhaps Marie found it to be so part of the time at least. But her Godfather tells her strange stories which she believes of course.

Plenty of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King is the Godfather's strange, strange story. This story is about "a king, a queen, some mice, and a young princess named Pirlipat." The story is rich in detail:
Princess Pirlipat was very lovely. She had flawless white skin, with bright blue eyes and flowing locks of golden hair. The generals, noblemen, and ministers of the state all told the king and queen that they had never seen a baby like the princess. Not only was the princess beautiful, but she was also born with two perfect rows of teeth!
The queen insisted that Princess Pirlipat's cradle always be guarded. The royal guards were placed at Pirlipat's door, and directly beside her cradle sat six nurses...and with these six nurses sat six big cats. The nurses had strict orders from the queen to keep one cat in each of their laps and pet them all day and all night so that they would never stop purring. This was indeed strange. No one knew why the queen went to such lengths to protect her princess, but still, every night, the sound of purring cats echoed throughout the castle. But the queen had a very good reason to be on guard, for a curse had been placed on her family.
Readers learn of the family curse, of course. And it's something. The story becomes more and more bizarre as it unfolds. But to Marie, it is completely captivating.

Meanwhile, we have not seen the last of the mice or their dreadful King. Marie knows that sooner or later the final battle will come....

There does come a time when the Nutcracker takes Marie to his magical, fantastic home in Toyland.

So readers see Marie awaken again from yet another dream. Will Marie's ultimate dream come true?

This story is so strange and bizarre and rich in detail--pure fantasy.

The Velveteen Rabbit. Margery Williams. Illustrated by William Nicholson. 1922/2014. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Do you know what it is to be real? One little Christmas bunny will learn this and plenty of other life lessons in Margery Williams' classic tale The Velveteen Rabbit.

The Velveteen Rabbit opens with a young boy receiving a rabbit for a Christmas present. All is lovely for the rabbit that first day. But the toy is quickly forgotten. He becomes one toy of many, many, many toys. He's not exactly special to the boy or the other toys. In fact, I'd say the other toys bully him a bit. All except for the Skin Horse, the oldest toy in the nursery. It is this horse that tells the Rabbit all about being real, what it takes to be real, what it feels like, how it changes you, etc.
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real." "Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit. "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt." "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?" "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." "I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled. "The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always." (5-8)
The Velveteen Rabbit is one of my favorite Christmas books. I love the nursery magic. I love the ending. It was originally published in 1922. The story and illustrations in this edition are original. This is a beautiful edition of the book. One of the best I've seen.

The Velveteen Rabbit was published several years before A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh and House at Pooh Corner. Chances are if you enjoy one, you'll enjoy the other.

Do you have a favorite toy-come-to-life fantasy?

Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas. Jane O'Connor. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. 2009. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed reading Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas. This is actually the first Fancy Nancy book I've read, so it served as a good introduction to the series as well. I liked it very much. I love the illustrations. They were a bit busy, perhaps, but that is part of their charm, I think. I love the amount of detail. Every time I read it, I notice something I hadn't noticed before. There is something almost precious about this book--perhaps because of the illustrations, or even the text. But I don't mind that in a picture book now and then.

In this one, Fancy Nancy and her family are decorating the house for Christmas. They are doing plenty of christmas-y things all together as a family. One of things they are doing is waiting. Waiting is a big part of the holiday, in my opinion. They are waiting for the Grandpa to arrive. When he arrives, they can begin to decorate the tree. They always wait for him. And I imagine every year, she gets a bit impatient because she is oh-so-excited. This year, however, her parents allow her to put on the brand-new tree-topper, something that she picked out and bought with her own money--in the summer...I won't spoil this one. But I ended up liking it very much!
What Cats Want for Christmas. Kandy Radzinski. 2007. Sleeping Bear Press. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

For cat-lovers, this is a charming-enough book to read at Christmas time. The premise is simple: if cats could write letters to Santa, what would they ask for. Each spread shows a cat and his/her letter to Santa. The letters are all written in rhyme. The letters are predictable enough, but, the idea I think is original. I do wish there was more variety in what the letters requested, however. And some letters seem a bit dark and twisted.

I really liked the illustrations. I think I liked looking at the various cats better than reading the letters.

 It's Not About You Mr. Santa Claus. Soraya Diase Coffelt. 2014. Morgan James Publishing. 34 pages. [Source: Review copy]

There are plenty of children who write letters to Santa each year. But how many letters to Santa include the gospel message? In this picture book a young boy does just that.
Dear Mr. Santa Claus,
It's me again--a kid. I know I've written lots of letters to you before with long lists of gifts I wanted for Christmas. Well, not this year. This letter is different. I discovered the real meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with you at all. It is about a very special gift. I want to tell you about this gift. By the way, how are you and Mrs. Santa Claus doing? Have you lost any weight? Did your helpers, the elves, grow any taller? Do you still like cookies and milk? Are you still wearing that red, furry outfit? I've always wondered, what do you wear in the summer time?
It's a simple book with a timeless message. Which timeless message? Well, I suppose I could pick one or two that stand out. First, that Christmas is not about Santa and presents and shopping. It is actually about celebrating Jesus. Second, that the gospel is too good to keep to yourself. The gospel is for sharing.
The real Christmas story began a long time ago, when a Roman emperor named Caesar Augustus ordered that a census be taken. A census is when all the people had to be counted. At that time, A man named Joseph and his wife, Mary had to take a long journey to the city of David, known as Bethlehem, for the census. It wasn't an easy journey as Mary was going to have a baby soon.
The focus of this book is on retelling the Christmas story and communicating the gospel message. Probably leanings toward more retelling.

I was pleasantly surprised by the illustrations. I thought they were very nicely done.

Will this book please every single reader? Probably not. It may not be a perfect fit for every family this holiday season. But I think for some it will be a great find.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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1331. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #411: Featuring Christine Brailler

“The children were nestled all snug in their beds …”
(Click to enlarge)


I’m handing the site over this morning to artist Christine Brailler, pictured right, for something totally different — stained glass mosaics. (Have I ever posted about stained glass mosaics? I actually don’t think I have.) Last year, Christine released her first picture book (Brownian Bee Press), The Night Before Christmas. I read it last year, but did I post about it? Nope. I had intended to, but I got busy. When I contacted her about it this year, we decided better late than never. So, she visits today to talk about how she makes her mosaics and to share process images, as well as some photos of the stained glass pieces from the book.

Let’s get right to it. For those who are interested in even more information, Christine blogged here about her process from start to finish.

Christine: Before I discovered mosaics, I had always wanted to illustrate a children’s book but never felt very confident about my painting abilities. Once I found mosaics in 2005, I thought, what a unique idea it would be to illustrate a book with my mosaics. About six years ago on Christmas Eve, my family and I were reading “The Night Before Christmas,” as we always do, when suddenly I thought, “I would love to illustrate this book, personalize it with my family in it, and read it every year!” So, I began the process of designing and creating fifteen stained glass mosaics over the next four years.

The first thing I did was draw quick 2×3” thumbnail sketches, not thinking too much about it — really just getting the idea of it down, the side story of the cat, etc. Here’s one I did of the reindeer, which—don’t laugh—look much more like donkeys!

Some of my ideas changed dramatically, once I started the mosaic process, like eliminating the reindeer altogether when Santa is flying over the house. I simply couldn’t fit eight reindeer in the design, let alone one, since I wouldn’t be able to cut the glass tiny enough for all the detail that would require. I found such limitations to be a fun challenge — that is, for me to come up with something different, which often led to more creative choices and end results.

From there, I did hours and hours of research on pretty much every element in the book. For example, I didn’t know how to draw reindeer (as you can see), so I spent a lot of time looking at photos to find the qualities I wanted to express. In my notes, I wrote “joyful, playful, not dainty, sturdy and strong.” I found what I was looking for in images of reindeer races. What got me was that they run with their tongues hanging out, like dogs riding in a car with the top down – they look so happy! I knew I had to include that detail in my design.

I planned for an 8×10” book in the end, so I drew my final designs at 5×8”. (I draw more accurately when I draw small; don’t ask me why!) I do only a line drawing for the design and then work out all of the details, once I get to the glass cutting stage.

The preparation for the mosaic work goes like this: enlarge the design to the final mosaic size of 15×24”, tape down on cardboard (so I can move it if necessary), tape plastic wrap down over the design, and then tape fiberglass mesh down over the plastic wrap. I can see the design through the plastic wrap and will then glue the glass onto the mesh. The plastic wrap keeps the glass from being glued to the design underneath. This process allows me to make changes to the mosaic with ease, as opposed to trying to remove glass that has been glued to a board. And I made some major changes throughout, as you will see. In this image, you can see how it all works:

(Click to enlarge)

I don’t generally color my designs in advance, as I like to work with the glass to see what looks best together. Once I have the design taped down, I play with glass colors like this. The colors on the top are too harsh. The ones on the bottom are softer and much more appealing to me, so I went with those.

(Click each to enlarge)


Deciding on colors for the quilt:

(Click to enlarge)

A big part of my process is printing out the design small and using it to play with a few different things: color, value, and andamento (the visual flow of the mosaic that is produced by how the glass is cut and how it is placed in the design). In this one, I worked on color and value:

On this one, I worked out how I wanted the reindeers’ blankets to be designed. I sometimes tweak a design at this stage, too; for instance, here I decided the tongue needed to be shorter.

In this example, I’m working out the andamento in the cat, the guitar, their clothing, and their faces. You can see the direction lines of how the glass will be laid, as well as shapes of the cuts.


In progress, working with my guides:

(Click each to enlarge)

The biggest part of making this book was to be able to include my family in it. I worked from photos of my husband, myself, our son, and our cat. My husband posed for all of the pages he was featured in and even posed for some of Santa’s body positions, so I could get them just right.


The process of creating our cat, Raymi:

Sometimes I wouldn’t have a photo of Raymi that matched what I wanted her to be doing, so I’d do a very extensive search online for a cat in the pose I wanted. Then I’d adapt it to her colors and markings.

When I finished all 15 of the mosaics, there were changes to be made. Some were minor, but others were huge. The interesting thing is that by the time I got to the final mosaic, it had been four years since I started and my technique had changed and improved. I needed the earlier mosaics to match the quality and style of the later ones. In this mosaic, I changed the wall from dark random pieces of glass to lighter, straight cut pieces and added a darker frame around the mosaic on the wall. Much better!


This one went through a lot of revisions:

(Click each to enlarge)

Other changes were a matter of aesthetics. I originally did the house grey, because I wanted it to be personal to us and our house is grey. It just looked so dull against the snow, so I changed it to brick. It was an additional 17 hours to change — but worth it.

(Click each to enlarge)

This change was a necessity – I had made Santa’s bag green in the fifth mosaic, but when I got to the ninth mosaic, I realized it wasn’t going to work, because the green bag was sitting right in front of the Christmas tree and was disappearing. This is downside to not planning out all of the designs in advance. So, I had to re-do the bag in both mosaics.

(Click each to enlarge)

Sometimes I’d get partway through an area, only to realize the colors weren’t working. Fortunately, I didn’t get too far before I decided this one didn’t work for me.

(Click each to enlarge)

Finally, I’m satisfied with the mosaics but there is still a lot to do. I have to cut the boards, attach hanging hardware, transfer the mosaics to the boards, grout them, finish the edges, and paint the backs. When I went to attach the mosaics to the boards, I found that they were too floppy and unmanageable, so I had to first apply glue to the backs of the mosaics and let them dry so that hey’d be rigid enough for me to hold onto without all the pieces of glass falling off.

(Click to enlarge)

Once they were glued to the boards, my favorite part was next, filling in all those gaps with grout. I spread the grout all over the mosaic and then wipe off the surface so that only the grout in between the glass remains.

(Click to enlarge)

I love grouting and seeing how the mosaic changes, how it becomes cohesive and complete — and even softens the mosaic. Here is a detail from one of the mosaics, before and after grouting.

(Click each to enlarge)

One of the last steps is finishing the edges of the mosaics with thinset to match the grout. [Ed. Note: This is pictured above in the photo of Christine that opens this post.]

I did it! Thanks so much for reading about my process.

Finished mosaics
(Click each to enlarge)


All images are copyright © 2013 by Christine Brailler and used by her permission.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) The girls are off from school for the holidays, and this always means more time to read together. We’re reading a handful of good novels right now.

2) I’ve graduated to Level Two in my piano lessons, meaning book two in the course I’m using. My teacher would veer from book one an awful lot in order to let me do what I wanted, so it’s been a while with book one, but now I’m moving on. It feels good to “graduate.”

3) I so super bad wish I could see this show.

4) Last Tango in Halifax.

5) A kicker shared his writing with me, and it was a pleasure to read it.

6) Last weekend we saw a stage production of A Christmas Carol, and it fake-snowed on us inside the theater at the end. (Well, it only snowed on some rows, so we had extra-great seats.)

7) My husband was in Portland this past week and snapped this picture of our book in Powell’s. That was fun to see.


What are YOUR kicks this week?

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1332. Celebrating Christmas: three favorite new books (ages 3-10)

We are heading off to celebrate Christmas. Our packages our wrapped, suitcases are next. Before I leave, I'd like to share three favorite new Christmas books my students and I have loved this holiday season. I will be taking a break from my blog 'till New Years, celebrating with my family and finding plenty of time to read. Until 2015, enjoy these new holiday favorites!
12 Days of Christmas
by LeUyen Pham
Doubleday / Random House, 2014
Your local library
ages 3-8
Bay Area children’s illustrator LeUyen Pham (pronounced “Le Win”) infuses this classic Christmas carol with a delightful international flavor. A young boy and girl dressed in old-fashioned European costumes discover each of the traditional items, from a partridge in a pear tree to ten lords a-leaping.
"my true love gave to me/ 8 maids a-milking"
My students especially loved examining maids, dancers, lords and drummers in traditional dress from all regions of the world. Just look at these delightful interior spreads that Uyen shared with me.
"my true love gave to me/ 11 pipers piping"
These illustrations remind me of a special holiday tradition my mother passed on to me, displaying dolls in traditional dresses all around our Christmas tree. Pham's new illustrations for the classic song are a splendid treat.

'Twas Nochebuena
A Christmas Story in English and Spanish
by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
illustrated by Sara Palacios
Viking / Penguin, 2014
Your local library
ages 4-8
Using the familiar rhythm of “The Night Before Christmas,” this little girl describes her special family traditions--from hanging decorations to breaking a piñata. The rhythm and rhyming makes this great fun to read, especially with so many Spanish words woven in throughout. The meanings are clear from the context and illustrations, but there's also a glossary at the end.
"'Twas Nochebuena and all through our casa
every creature was kneading tamale masa."
I love the warm, joyful illustrations that celebrate family, friendship and traditions. My students loved recognizing some familiar traditions, but also learning about some new ones such as Las Posadas, where neighbors and families parade from house to house, and reenacting Joseph and Mary's journey on Christmas Eve.
Poems selected by Lee Bennet Hopkins
Illustrations by Helen Cann
Eerdmans, 2014
Google Books preview
Your local library
ages 5-10
As legend has it, all creatures are granted the power of speech for one hour at midnight on Christmas Eve. What might they say? How would they react to the story of Jesus's birth?

This beautiful book gathers together 15 poems reflecting the animals that might have been present at the birth of Jesus. These masterful poets convey a sense of wonder, awe, and humility that is echoed in Cann’s rich illustrations.

Learn more about Manger and Lee Bennett Hopkin's poetry at Sylvia Vardell's blog Poetry for Children.

The review copies were kindly sent by the publishers: Random House, Penguin and Eerdman's. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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1333. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Meilo So

“Blown by the wind, / water sails high. / Tumbling cloud plumes curl through the air. /
Soplada por el viento, / el agua se remonta. / Volutas nebulosas ruedan por el aire.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


This morning over at Kirkus, I write about some holiday picture books titles, what I think are some of the best of the season. It’s a Christmas miracle: LeUyen Pham has made me like “The Twelve Days of Christmas” again. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Pat Mora’s Water Rolls, Water Rises (Lee & Low, October 2014), illustrated by Meilo So. Today, I share some spreads from it.


“Water rolls / onto the shore / under the sun, under the moon. /
El agua rueda / hacia la orilla / bajo el sol, bajo la luna.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“In the murmur of marsh wind, / water slumbers on moss, / whispers soft songs far under frog feet. / En el viento susurrante de los pantanos, / el agua duerme sobre el musgo, / murmura suaves canciones bajo patitas de ranas.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“Water burbles in springs, / gurgles and turns / down streams and rivers seeking the sea. / El agua burbujea en los manantiales, / borbotea y desciende /
por los arroyos y ríos buscando el mar.”

(Click to enlarge spread)



* * * * * * *

WATER ROLLS, WATER RISES. Copyright © 2014 by Pat Mora. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Meilo So. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, New York.

3 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Meilo So, last added: 12/21/2014
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1334. red sled – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: red sled Written and illustrated by: Lita Judge Published by: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011 Themes/Topics: sledding, animals, onomatopoeia Suitable for ages: 3-5 Fiction, 32 pages Opening: Scrinch, scrunch, scrinch, scrunch, scrinch, scrunch Synopsis: Almost wordless book of the nighttime animal … Continue reading

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1335. PiBoIdMo Announcement and 2015 Sneak Peeks

Thank you for your patience with the PiBoIdMo winner announcements. I intend to get to them prior to year’s end, so I hope you’ll stick around just a while longer. Here, have a cookie. If you can catch him, that is.


All grand prize winners plus Pre-PiBo and Post-PiBo winners have been notified via email. If you were a winner and did not receive an email, please contact me.

In the meantime, let me leave you with a gentle reminder (which you don’t really need, do you?) to give a book as a gift this holiday! Garrison Keillor said it best…


And since it’s almost 2015, here are sneak peeks from my upcoming titles to be released in August, September and October (talk about bada-bing, bada-boom-boom-BOOM!). Funny how these books were each signed within one year of each other, but they’re being released within one month of each other!

I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK (Aladdin/S&S, August 2015)
illustrated by Benji Davies


NORMAL NORMAN (Sterling, September 2015)
illustrated by S.Britt


LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD (Random House, October 2015)
illustrated by Troy Cummings

wolf (1)

Once again, thanks for your patience with the PiBoIdMo winner announcements.

And may you and your family have a joyful holiday season!

(I hope you receive some really cool writerly gift!)

10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Announcement and 2015 Sneak Peeks, last added: 12/18/2014
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1336. It Wouldn’t Be Christmas Without a New Jan Brett Picture Book!

The Animals’ Santa

By Jan Brett


It’s nearing Christmas in a winter white forest and the animals, like their human counterparts, are awaiting the arrival of St. Nick. In conversation, Big Snowshoe, the white hare, imparts to his brother, Little Snow, the tradition that all animals of the wintry wood know – the animals’ Santa comes on Christmas Eve!

But just Whooo IS this Santa? Just dropped a big clue, readers.

No one has EVER seen the jolly old elf, if elf he be, but one thing is surely known, the animals find plenty of evidence that he exists in the presents found on Christmas Day.

Each of the forest friends tell Little Snow the proof of the Animals’ Santa’s appearance in descriptions of the gifts found in years past. From the prickly porcupine’s hearing of a ding-dong, ding-dong accompanying the delivery of HIS Christmas bell, to the raven twins seeing a puzzle toy for this duo suspended from their tree branch, to the arctic fox’s gift of a brush to “fluff my beautiful tail, to the squirrels finding a sack of tasty nuts, evidence of the animals’ Santa presence via presents fills the forest!

Jan Brett has a tremendous talent to draw young readers into her picture books through delightful narratives year after year, but most especially in her artistry lovingly detailing each character in this winter wonderland of animals awaiting the arrival of this most famous giver of gifts.

Jan Brett’s bordered book artistic renderings are iconic. Here, they span the sides of each page with backgrounds formed of almost pale birch-like wood, festooned with small drawings of woodland family members. Amazing! Each of her books has a sense of its own identity and freshness that is distinctly Brett and NEVER boring.

Guesses abound as to exactly WHO in the forest may be the secret Santa! My favorite guess, though wrong, is the bedecked badger in snow shoes and trimmed Scandinavian coat, covering his fur.

Jan, how did you know that I’ve been looking for exactly this coat for years!

Other guesses include a Norwegian sweater clad polar bear, a gaily Christmas harnessed moose and an arctic fox complete with a cap and stitched leather and woven cloth saddle bags.

Little Snow is quite an ingenious hare and decides on a plan to discover the identity of the animals‘ Santa. Tying delicate sheets of ice with strands of hedge grass, he attaches them to tree branches. Why? In the stillness of a quiet winter night, they do not move, but when stirred by the wind of someone’s arrival, the ice chimes ring out and will herald the arrival of you know who!

It’s finally Christmas Eve.They ring and Little Snow dashes to find a neatly tied bundle of clover left for him and piles of other gifts have fallen from the sky from…. No, I can’t spoil the ending of this Christmas picture book’s bright, white and shiny ending by unmasking Santa. To find out his identity, do read Jan Brett’s “The Animals’ Santa” with your little ones. I can promise the revelation is amazing and this Santa DOES fly too!!


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1337. Little kids take on the world: Nino Wrestles the World & Lucha Libre toys (ages 4-8)

The little kids I know have BIG imaginations. Playing with action figures and dolls is still one of kids' favorite activities. One of my favorite books from last year taps into this imagination perfectly: Niño Wrestles the World. Pair this with a set of Lucha Libre wrestling figures, and you'll create lots of playtime fun.
Dressed up in his lucha libre mask, little Niño uses his active imagination to battle some mighty foes. Whether he’s defeating the Guanajuato mummy or exploding the giant Olmec Head, this is one confident little kid.

Lucha libre, the popular masked Mexican wrestling sport, will appeal to kids familiar with it or just learning about it for the first time. Morales brings humor, dynamic energy and vivid artwork to this terrific picture book. She mixes in Spanish words seamlessly, providing great access for Spanish speaking families. But all of my students have loved this.

I love this video with Morales reading the story with flair. It gives you a great sense of how fun and dramatic it is.

Pair this with a set of plush lucha libre action figures and I can see little kids having a great time channeling their dreams of world-domination. To be honest, I have not ordered these but they look like so much fun. Let me know what you think!
CMLL Lucha Libre Plush Doll 7 inches
Yuyi Morales has put together a great Pinterest page for Niño Wrestles the World, full of other fun things to share. Over at her site, Morales has printable coloring sheets for kids to make their own luchador mask.

The review copies came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

0 Comments on Little kids take on the world: Nino Wrestles the World & Lucha Libre toys (ages 4-8) as of 12/22/2014 4:30:00 AM
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1338. Galápagos George by Jean Craighead George, paintings by Wendell Minor

Happily for us, Jean Craighead George, who died in 2012 at the age of 92, worked right up to the end of her long, well travelled life. George, a naturalist who was known for imbuing her books with science and nature and illustrated many of her own books, worked often with artist Wendell Minor, who wrote this wonderful tribute to her. Galápagos George is their final collaboration. 

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1339. Mama, Talk About Our New Baby, by Toni Olson | Dedicated Review

Mama, Talk About Our New Baby is a great parental tool that supports breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, and raising emotionally intelligent older siblings.

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1340. Three Picture Books for the Christmas Tree

Go Home Flash by Ruth Paul, Scholastic NZ

I loved Bad Dog Flash, and this sequel is just as much fun. Ruth Paul uses minimal text to convey the feelings of the little dog, cleverly including rhyme and repetition. Here’s an example: “Sniff smell, find smell, strong smell, p-o-n-g smell! Wrong smell?” The story is simple – Flash wants to go out and run and play, but every time he does someone says, “Go home, Flash!” The pencil and watercolour illustrations are light and bright with plenty of white space, and Flash is particularly appealing with his black button eyes, cheeky grin, and puppy-fuzz fur. The simplicity of the words and the uncluttered illustrations make this book suitable for both one-to-one sharing and reading aloud to a group in a pre-school centre. Recommended.

ISBN 978 1 77543 245 6 RRP $19 Pb
Kakapo Dance by Helen Taylor, Penguin NZ

Helen Taylor’s distinctive artwork is the first thing to catch the eye, with the brilliant green kakapo staring beadily from the front cover. The inside illustrations offer excellent renditions of New Zealand native birds in all their colourful splendour – bellbird, kereru, whio, pukeko, and so on. The story uses accumulated verse and onomatopoeia to compare the birds’ movements and songs with kakapo’s thudding and booming. This book has uses over and above the standard reading aloud situation, especially for parents and teachers of pre-schoolers. Children can be encouraged to join in with the chorus and make noises to match the birds’ songs; adventurous adults can encourage children to imitate the movements of the birds – hopping, gliding, waddling, etc. The book will also be useful as a school resource to support the study of New Zealand native birds.

ISBN 978 0 143 50601 0 RRP $19.99 Pb

 My Aunt Mary Went Shopping by Roger Hall, illus. Daron Parton, Scholastic NZ

This is another entertaining text using accumulated verse and rhyme to encourage preschool children to join in and have fun with words – and it’s an old favourite. It was originally published in 1991. Here’s an example of the text format: “My Aunt Mary went shopping and she bought a giraffe, a scarf for the giraffe, a goat, and a coat for the goat.”  And so on. The unlikely pairings of animals and gifts allows the illustrator to come up with some hilarious pictures. Try to imagine pigs in wigs… The style is quirky, the colours are smooth and bright, and children should enjoy the way-out cartoon animals.

ISBN 978 1 77543 215 9 RRP $19.50 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman 

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1341. Combining History and Holiday

Hanukkah At Valley Forge

By Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Greg Harlin

With the arrival of the celebration of Hanukkah, I wanted to revisit a special book I have spoken about before; Hanukkah at Valley Forge. In 2007 this book received The Sydney Taylor Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries given in recognition of picture books and also those for teens that authentically reflect the Jewish experience. Here, the book’s vivid watercolor illustrations coupled with Mr. Krensky’s fictionalized retelling of a historically researched anecdote come together for what I think is a powerful picture book.

Stephen Krensky’s book, Hanukkah at Valley Forge, combines history and holiday in an interesting way. The parallels of American and Jewish history intertwine on a bitterly cold winter evening at Valley Forge. Faced with increasing uncertainty and mounting odds, General George Washington meets a Polish immigrant observing the first night of Hanukkah with the lighting of the candles there amidst the fading hope of Washington’s ragtag colonial army.

Common themes of man’s need to hope in the face of increasing despair and the price of liberty’s cause, echo in the meeting of these two men at a pivotal point in our nation’s early history. Some historical accuracy was apparently discovered in the research of the book, and it is left to the reader to wonder if chance meetings sometimes turn the tides of men and war.

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1342. Traditional Tales with Bernadette Watts

I’ve got my work cut out for me this week and so my time today is limited, but here’s a quick post to share a few spreads from The Bernadette Watts Collections: Stories and Fairy Tales, coming to shelves in an English edition early next year (NorthSouth). If you’re up for some colorful, pastoral art—with some no-holds-barred drama to boot—you’re in the right place today.

Watts, whose fairy tale art is well-known in Europe, was born in England in 1942 and still lives in the UK (and is still creating new stories). This collection of nearly forty previously-published stories, released this year in Switzerland, includes tales from Aesop, Leo Tolstoy, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and more. The book includes an introduction from Eric Carle, where in part he writes:

Although we have never met, I have been an admirer of Bernadette Watts’s art for a long time. Dominant in her work are the settings. She is a very English illustrator/artist, and her pedigree is unmistakable. That said, in “Varenka” [a story based on a Russian legend] she boldly and with a modern brush employs the vernacular of Russian religious art. …

Her books generally display warm and pleasing colors that bathe each image in an almost theater-like setting: the lights have been dimmed, the curtain has been drawn, and the viewer has settled back, invited into the magic unfolding in Bernadette’s art and stories. …

Watts strikes just about every mood in this collection. She goes from eerie (“Little Red Riding Hood,” originally published in 2009) to sweet (“The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”) and hits just about every note in between.

Here’s a bit more art.

Until Thursday …


“‘Hmmmm,’ thought the wolf. ‘This little girl will make a tasty treat indeed, much more tender than the old woman. I will have the old woman for dinner and this little morsel for dessert.’ The wolf walked a little way with Red Riding Hood. Then he said, ‘Look at all the lovely flowers! I am sure your grandmother would love to have some.’
Red Riding Hood looked at all the bright flowers dancing in the woods. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“Then a voice called from the window: ‘Nibble, nibble, mousekin, / Who’s nibbling at my housekin?’ The children answered: ‘The breeze, the breeze / That blows through the trees,’ and ate on without letting it worry them.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“She seized Hansel in her scrawny hands and put him in a little cage, and locked him in behind a wire door. He could scream as much as he liked and it would do him no good. Then she went to Gretel, shook her awake, and said, ‘Get up, lazybones, and cook your brother something nice to fatten him up. Then I can eat him.’”
(Click to enlarge spread)


* * * * * * *

THE BERNADETTE WATTS COLLECTION. Copyright © 2014 by NordSüd Verlag AG, CH-8005 Zürich, Switzerland. First published in the United States in 2015 by NorthSouth Books, Inc. Illustrations here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

6 Comments on Traditional Tales with Bernadette Watts, last added: 12/18/2014
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1343. Stanley the Builder by William Bee

Stanley the BuilderWhen you read Stanley the Builder with its simple story, likeable characters, and bright illustrations, it brings to mind another favorite character named Maisy. And I LOVE Maisy! I think little boys and girls will also love reading Stanley the Builder and the other stories about Stanley as well – Stanley’s Diner, Stanley the Farmer, and Stanley’s Garage. This book is just the right length for those little ones who typically have a very short attention span, but will be able to sit for Stanley. I like the boyish themes in the series; and just as with Maisy, I think boys and girls (and parents) will enjoy reading these very much! Yeah!

Posted by: Mary

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1344. Post-PiBoIdMo Prize Winners!

Oh, this doggie is persistent! He is so eager to know if he won!


Well, let me tell you if YOU won…

Timothy Young’s Prize Winners: One picture book each

JENNY SEIGER (The Angry Little Puffin)
ELIZABETH BROWN (I Hate Picture Books)

Carol Gordon Ekster’s Prize Winner: One signed copy of Before I Sleep


Laura Zarrin’s Prize Winner: “Winter Dancing” print


I will be  contacting you via email in the next few days to arrange delivery of your prizes.


More prizes to come…

10 Comments on Post-PiBoIdMo Prize Winners!, last added: 12/13/2014
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1345. Pre-PiBoIdMo Prize Winners!

I know you’ve been waiting patiently…


So here are the Pre-PiBoIdMo Winners!

Matthew Winner’s Prize Winners (say that 10 times fast!): One picture book each


Margie Myers-Culver’s Prize Winners: One picture book each


Lauri Meyers’ Prize Winner: PiBoIdMo Mug


Darshana Khiani’s Prize Winner: One picture book critique


I will be  contacting you via email in the next few days to arrange delivery of your prizes.


More prizes to come…

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1346. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #410: Featuring Chris Raschka

“And that is the very best sort of thing to be.”


I’ve got some illustrations today from Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka, and I think taking a look at his artwork is pretty much always a good way to start one’s day.

If You Were a Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 2014) was written by Jamie A. Swenson and is an engaging title for very young children. Swenson introduces a series of animals, using the conditional if-you-were question — from dogs to dinosaurs and lots of other animals in between (including a human at the book’s close). The text has an infectious energy, its fair share of entertaining onomatopoeia, and a very playful rhythm that begs to be shared in group story times. You can see some of that below in the spreads shared here today. It’s a book that invites young children to use their imagination and play along; I kinda wish I could snap my fingers right now and have a group of children to share it with.

Kirkus calls this one a “cheery picker-upper.” It’s true. See for yourself below. And please enjoy Raschka’s menagerie of swooping, swimming, stomping, swooshing, fluttering, buzzing creatures. His color palette here is spot-on, and I love the way he captures the movement and energy of all these creatures.


“Would you howl at the moon? …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


“If you were a dinosaur, would you be a stomping-roarer, earth-quaker, tree-shaker, sharp-pointed toothy-grinner, colossal-chomper, super-duper,
longest-neck-o-saur sort of dinosaur?”

(Click to enlarge)



P.S. Raschka has another 2014 title out, this one from Atheneum Books and released in August. But I haven’t seen this one yet. (Well, I’ve seen it on bookstore shelves, but I haven’t yet spent a lot of time with it.) Have any of you? Oh, and you all saw the Sun Ra biography from earlier this year, yes?



IF YOU WERE A DOG. Copyright © 2014 by Jamie A. Swenson. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Chris Raschka. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

Last week, I was super busy with a writing assignment (which I’m still working on), so I didn’t leave seven separate kicks. And this week I’m, once again, not leaving seven separate kicks, because I’m actually out of town for a very short trip. So, I apologize, but I’m SURE to have listy kicks next week.

I’ll be back today, and as always, I’m eager to hear that you all had a good week. At least I hope you did. So, please do kick here — if you’re so inclined.

(Also, Seven Separate Kicks. Band name. I call it!)

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #410: Featuring Chris Raschka, last added: 12/14/2014
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1347. Eight Christmas Books

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. Robert E. Barry. 1963. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Mr. Willowby's Christmas tree came by special delivery. Full and fresh and glistening green--the biggest tree he had ever seen. He dashed downstairs to open the door--This was the moment he'd waited for.

I loved, loved, loved Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. It celebrates giving in a fun and playful way. Mr. Willowby starts off a long chain of giving when he chops off the top of his too-tall Christmas tree. A tree that is splendid in every other way. He gives the tree-top to the upstairs maid. She's delighted. Very delighted. How thoughtful! How cheery! But the tree is too-tall for her small room. The top must go! Chances are you can predict at this point how the story will go. But that doesn't mean it is in any way less delightful. This little tree-top gets passed down and re-trimmed again and again and again and again and again. And it's just WONDERFUL to see how much happiness and cheer it brings to others.

I loved the premise. I loved the writing. The rhyming was delightful. It worked very well for me! I think this one would make a great read-aloud. I also loved how uplifting it is. (After reading Baboushka and the Three Kings, I needed a cheery story!)

Why didn't someone tell me about this wonderful and charming picture book?! Why?! Well, I am glad to have discovered it now!

Which Christmas books would you consider classic? Which would you recommend?

Uncle Vova's Tree. Patricia Polacco. 1989. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Uncle Vova's Tree is rich in detail and tradition. The author, Patricia Polacco, is drawing from her past and recalling some of her childhood Christmases. She writes, "As a child I celebrated Christmas as most American children did, but at Epiphany in January, my brother, my two cousins, my grandparents and I would go to the farm of my Great Uncle Vladimir and Aunt Svetlana to celebrate in the Russian tradition." The book recalls two family gatherings specifically. The first is Uncle Vova's last Christmas. Though of course, most everyone did not *know* it would be his last Christmas. The second is that first Christmas without him. The book definitely has tones of sadness, but, it is ultimately hopeful. Memories, good, strong happy memories, remain.

The book is rich in detail and tradition. It is informative in many ways. Did you know about the tradition of putting hay underneath the tablecloth to remember and honor the stable in Bethlehem where Jesus was born? But in addition to honoring tradition--in this case, Russian tradition--it also celebrates families. Readers meet a family that is close and loving and supportive. Little details make this one work well.

Too Many Tamales. Gary Soto. Illustrated by Ed Martinez. 1993. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Snow drifted through the streets and now that it was dusk, Christmas trees glittered in the windows.

Too Many Tamales is a great family-oriented Christmas story. Maria, our heroine, is helping her mom make tamales. She loves helping her mom, loves being grown-up in the kitchen. But things don't go smoothly with this first batch of tamales. And it is her fault. Mostly. Maria really, really, really wanted to try on her mom's ring. Unfortunately, this-too-big ring falls right into the masa mixture. Hours later, she realizes that she never took the ring off. She doesn't know for sure where the ring is. But she has a strong suspicion that it may very well be in one of the twenty-four tamales. With a little help from her cousins, Maria is in a race to find the ring before her mom--and all the other relatives--realize what has happened. Will she find the ring? Will her mom find out? Will her cousins ever want to eat another tamale?!

I liked this one very much.

Angelina's Christmas. Katharine Holabird. Illustrated by Helen Craig. 1986. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Christmas was coming, and everyone at Angelina's school was working hard to prepare for the Christmas show.

I enjoyed reading Angelina's Christmas. I enjoyed meeting Angelina and her family. I loved how thoughtful and empathetic Angelina was. She realizes that there is one house in the village that is not decorated. She notices that there is one "old man huddled by a tiny fire." She learns from her parents that this old man is Mr. Bell, a retired postman. She decides that she will do something special for him so he won't be all alone at Christmas time. (And Angelina isn't the only one joining in to help make this Christmas memorable for Mr. Bell.) She makes him cookies, her mom sends along mince pies and fruit, her dad cuts him a Christmas tree. They visit him, Henry, Angelina's brother comes along too. But perhaps even more importantly than showing him kindness through things, they take the time to listen to him, to include him. This one is a lovely book.

The Trees of the Dancing Goats. Patricia Polacco. 2000. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

At our farm just outside Union City, Michigan, we didn't celebrate the same holidays as most of our neighbors...but we shared their delight and anticipation of them just the same.

I enjoyed reading The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco. She is sharing yet another holiday memory with young readers in this picture book.

The story focuses on one holiday season when the town is hit by an epidemic, scarlet fever, I believe. The heroine's family is not sick, but, most of their neighbors are. As they are preparing to celebrate Hanukkah, they realize that most of their neighbors are too sick to prepare for and celebrate Christmas. They love their neighbors. They want to do something for them. Working together as a family, they decide to bring Christmas to their neighbors: food, a tree, decorations. Since they don't own any Christmas ornaments, they use animals carved out of wood. One of the animals, as you might have guessed, is a goat. When hung on the tree, it appears to be a dancing goat. Can one family bring Christmas cheer to a community?

I liked this one. I liked the family scenes very much. It is a thoughtful book. I'm glad I finally discovered it!

Morris' Disappearing Bag. Rosemary Wells. 1975. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

It was Christmas morning. "Wow!" said Morris.

Morris' Disappearing Bag probably isn't my favorite Rosemary Wells, but, this one is enjoyable enough that it's worth reading at least once or twice. Morris stars in this one. He has three older siblings: one big brother, Victor, and two older sisters, Rose and Betty. It is a Christmas book, of course. After all the presents are opened, the three older siblings play with their presents and play with each others presents. Victor got hockey stuff. Betty got a chemistry set. Rose got a beauty kit. They take turns sharing. Much fun is had. But not by all. For Morris has only his present (a teddy bear) to play with. He doesn't get a turn with his siblings' presents. But that changes when Morris discovers a fantastic present under the tree. A bag. A disappearing bag. Whatever is in the bag disappears. His siblings all want a turn, and, he lets them in the bag. While his siblings have disappeared for the day, Morris plays with their stuff before settling into bed with his bear.

Max's Christmas. Rosemary Wells. 1986. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

I love watching Max and Ruby. I've seen the adaptation of Max's Christmas plenty of times before I read the book. If you like the show, chances are you'll enjoy reading this book. It is very similar. For those new to these lovable siblings, Ruby is the older sibling. She seems to be raising Max all on her own. (Ruby and Max don't have parents. They have a Grandma, but, she does not live with Max and Ruby.) Max is the younger sibling. He is many things: cute, clever, curious. Yes, he can be mischievous, but, he is also super-observant. I love, love, love them both. I might like Max a tiny bit better than Ruby. But still. I love them both.

In this book, readers join Ruby and Max on Christmas Eve night. Ruby is trying her best to get Max to get ready for bed, to go to sleep. Max is excited, of course. Once he knows that Santa is coming to his house tonight, he wants to see it for himself. So he goes downstairs to wait for Santa....

I liked this one very much.

Wombat Divine. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Kerry Argent. 1995/1999. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

I found Mem Fox's Wombat Divine to be charming. I loved Wombat. He loves, loves, loves Christmas. More than anything, he wants a part in the nativity play. At the auditions, he tries his best. But there are so many parts that he's just not right for. I love the refrain, "Don't lose heart. Why not try for a different part?" which is used throughout the whole auditioning process. He auditions for Archangel Gabriel, Mary, a wise king, Joseph, an innkeeper, and a shepherd. But there's one role that he'd be just perfect playing. Can you guess it?

I liked this one. I thought it was cute and sweet. I liked the writing. I found it unique and oh-so-right.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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1348. The Hula-Hoopin' Queen: terrific picture book + gift idea (ages 5-10)

Each holiday I love pairing books with toys that kids will enjoy. Kids love toys (duh!) and these pairings extend the experience of both book and toy by capturing their imagination. This week, I'll share posts each day with fun ideas.

The Hula-Hoopin' Queen would be a perfect grandma gift for a young reader -- especially from a grandma that's still young at heart. Pair it with a sparkly hula hoop and you're all set!
The Hula-Hoopin' Queen
by Thelma Lynne Godin
illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Lee & Low
, 2014
Your local library
ages 5-10
Kameeka loves hula hooping and is sure she can become the Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street--but Mama reminds her that she has to help get ready for Miz Adeline’s birthday. After all, Miz Adeline took care of Mama and Kameeka when they each were babies. How will Kameeka ever get all these things done and get outside to beat her rival Jamara?
"Girl, don't you even think about it. You know today is Miz Adeline's birthday."
When Kameeka heads out to run an errand, she sees Jamara and just can't avoid stepping up to save her reputation. By the time she gets home, it's too late to make the birthday cake! I especially love the ending, as Miz Adeline lets Kameeka see how much she loved hula hooping when she was a kid.
"Neighborhood kids crowd around as Jamara and I hoop."
Godin's text has snap and is great fun to read aloud. Brantley-Newton's illustrations really appeal to my students, capturing the feel of our multicultural urban community.

Pair this fun book with a hula hoop set and maybe you'll inspire some intergenerational or neighborly contests of your own.

Illustrations copyright ©Vanessa Brantley-Newton, 2014, shared via Lee and Low site and Thelma Lynne Godin's site. The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Lee and Low Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

0 Comments on The Hula-Hoopin' Queen: terrific picture book + gift idea (ages 5-10) as of 12/14/2014 11:58:00 PM
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1349. Scarletta Press Submissions

ScarlettaLogo380SCARLETTA PRESS accept submissions ONLY during their reading period (September 1 to June 1).


They use Submittable.

While they seek to publish new voices missing from the literary world, they also want to make sure your manuscript will fit their genre community. The books they choose to publish are intellectually stimulating, adding relevant knowledge to readers’ minds. Their Junior Readers and Kids imprints focus on literature and picture books with educational twists, exciting illustrations, and engaging plots.

Genres they focus on include:

  • Children’s Fiction
  • Middle-grade Fiction
  • Educational Fiction/Nonfiction
  • Picture Books

They do not publish plays, screenplays, short story collections, or poetry.

With your cover letter, please submit a synopsis of your book and one or two chapters, no more than 30 pages. They accept both agented and unagented manuscripts.

Illustrators: Don’t forget that picture book publishers need you, too.

You may submit electronic submissions through Submittable. If you are including images–no more than one total file–please make sure to save and upload them in a .pdf format.

You may send your hard copy submission to:
1201 Currie Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) with any hard copy submissions to receive our response.

Special Instructions from Scarletta Publishers
*Please do not send submissions directly to any of our staff members.
**Note that due to the number of submissions we receive, we do not have the ability to notify authors of having received their submissions. While we understand that you may be anxiously awaiting a response to your submission, we ask that you do not send your manuscript more than once or send multiple inquiries about your submission’s status.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Artist opportunity, authors and illustrators, chapter books, Middle Grade Novels, need to know, opportunity, picture books, Places to Submit, publishers, submissions Tagged: Scarletta Press

3 Comments on Scarletta Press Submissions, last added: 12/15/2014
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1350. Malala: A Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan, by Jeanette Winter

Becoming an elementary school librarian has changed the way that I read and think about children's books. Instead of reading to or imagining my own children reading the books I review, I now also think about my students and how they will receive and understand a book. Also, as a librarian, I can encourage (or insist) students read a book that they probably would never pick up on their own.

0 Comments on Malala: A Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan, by Jeanette Winter as of 12/15/2014 6:18:00 AM
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