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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Picture Books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1326. The Little Engine That Could

At the beginning of November's Picture Book Month, I posted several picture books that resonate with me. Now that the month is almost over, I'd like to write about one that leaves me, well, let's just say  underwhelmed. No, it's not The Giving Tree, a book that many parents either love or hate. While I don't care for that book's premise--a tree gives and gives of herself until nothing is left--it was never a book I read. No, my least favorite picture book is the much beloved The Little Engine That Could.

I know, I know. It's a classic and the illustrations, I agree, are charming. But I've never been a fan of its message. Oh, I guess I enjoyed the book as a kid--or was it the pictures of all that luscious candy?--but as an adult I find it way too didactic and its moral questionable. Yes, I realize that it's important to always try and that a positive mindset can get you over humps. But guess what? Sometimes you can give your all and still fail. As a child I practiced dance steps over and over, but no amount of positive thinking will ever make me a ballerina. So I resent being told that if you try really, really hard, you're bound to succeed.

Naturally, I never purchased the book for my daughter. When her aunts found out, they fretted that their niece would grow up  deprived and one of them gave her the book as a present. Once in her hands, I had no choice but to read it to her--again and again. Another thing--is that book long or what! Now--full confession--she did grow up to perservere in her chosen field, undertaking three grueling years in grad school and she's currently working at a very demanding job with an extremely long commute. Does she get through her day thinking, "I think I can. I think I can."? If so, then all those endless hours reading a book I didn't much like paid off.

Well, I'm glad I got that off my chest. Now it's your turn. What picture book sticks in your craw?

3 Comments on The Little Engine That Could, last added: 12/6/2012
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1327. Playing in the rain! Rain Stomper, by Addie Boswell (ages 4-8)

Rain, rain, go away! Come again another day! Did you used to chant that as a kid? But if you want to know the real truth, kids LOVE playing in the rain. Stomping, splashing, jumping in puddles. I adore sharing Rain Stomper, a fun, high-energy picture book, and it would make a great gift along with a new pair of spiffy rain boots.

Rain Stomper
by Addie K. Boswell
illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008
ages 4 - 8
available on Amazon and at your local library
Jazmin was so excited - she was all set to twirl her baton in the big neighborhood parade. Everyone would dance and celebrate together. But then, the clouds started rolling in. Would her special day be ruined?

This book combines wonderful poetry and pictures. The text is vibrant, coming alive with images and descriptions - it works wonderfully as a read aloud. And the pictures make you feel Jazmin's full range of emotions. It's fun to read, but it is also rich and full of possibilities for engaging in interesting conversations about what makes it work so well. Take a look at Boswell's descriptive writing:
Jazmin threw open her front door.
Wind whistled through her hair.
Thunder rumbled the ground.
The sun scuttled behind the clouds.
The sky twisted into a thick, black coil.

SLAP
Clatter, clatter
SLAP!
The rain poured down in buckets.
BOOM
walla BOOM
BOOM!
Thunder rattled the bricks in the walls.
(c) Addie Kay Boswell
Velasquez's illustrations are dynamic as they show Jazmin's energy and all the kids as they all splashed, banged, bashed, and clattered on the sidewalk. To see more of the pictures, visit Eric Velasquez's website.

I'd pair this book with a bright red pair of rain boots, so kids could stomp and splash in puddles to their hearts delight.

The review copy 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 (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

3 Comments on Playing in the rain! Rain Stomper, by Addie Boswell (ages 4-8), last added: 12/6/2012
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1328. What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Birgitta Sif


“Oliver felt a bit different.”
(Click to enlarge)


“The next day, as he was playing tennis on his own . . .”
(Click to enlarge)

Today over at Kirkus, I write about Eileen Spinelli’s Cold Snap, illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor-recipient Marjorie Priceman. That link is here this morning.

Last week’s column was devoted to Birgitta Sif’s Oliver. (Misfits unite! Oh, and introverts, too!) Here is that link, and today I’ve got two spreads (above) from the book.

* * * * * * *

OLIVER. Copyright © 2012 by Birgitta Sif. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

0 Comments on What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Birgitta Sif as of 11/30/2012 7:37:00 PM
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1329. My First Day by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Steve Jenkins is remarkably prolific, both as an illustrator and an author. In fact, The Beetle Book is on the The New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books list this year and he and his wife and frequent collaborator Robin Page won a Caldecott Honor for their book What Do you Do with a Tail Like This? Remarkably, sadly, I have never reviewed any of his books - until now!

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1330. What Happens Next? and Who Lives Here? by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Marc Boutavant

Nicola Davies is a zoologist and, fortunately for kids and parents, a fantastic kid's book author. From poetry (Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature) to very funny non-fiction books about animals (Talk, Talk Squawk and four others in the series) to the wonderful Flip the Flap and Find Out series, to which she has just added two new books. Earlier this year the series,

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1331. Unusual Creatures by Michael Hearst — Book Trailer

Reading level: Ages 8-12

Add this book to your collection: Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals by Michael Hearst

Video courtesy of With humor and flair, Michael Hearst introduces the reader to a wealth of extraordinary life-forms. Which animal poops cubes? Which animal can disguise itself as a giant crab? These fascinating facts and hundreds more await curious minds, amateur zoologists, and anyone who has ever laughed at a funny-looking animal.

To learn more, visit: http://unusualcreatures.com

Original article: Unusual Creatures by Michael Hearst — Book Trailer

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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1332. Milly and the Macy’s Parade by Shana Corey

Milly and the Macy’s ParadeI love Thanksgiving. It’s a relatively stress free holiday—no gifts to fret over, no required ornaments or decorations, the weather’s usually pretty okay and, if I’m really lucky, and not hosting the feast, there’s The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Macy’s is a magical place and it’s image—at least in my mind—is fortified by the parade.

It’s on my bucket list. At some point in my life, I will view the entire spectacle from the window of a hotel on the parade route. Afterwards, we, my husband and I, will stroll the streets of the Big Apple, ogling Christmas windows on Fifth Avenue, smiling and chatting about the floats and balloons along with the millions of others who have come to town for the very same reason. Ah, bliss! It may be cheesy but, it’s my idea of a great time.

Apparently, I’m not alone. I have a feeling that there’s a secret army of Macy’s Parade aficionados with Shana Corey being among them. How else could she have written such a charming story about the parade? As she readily admits in her note at the end of the book, she’s taken some license with the actual facts. However, the emotion is right. The story features little Milly, a new immigrant, feeling the plight of so many other immigrants who were missing the people and traditions they had left in their homelands.

Her father and his friends, workers at Macy’s, are blue. America is not yet home. Things here are different. The holidays will not be the same. Enter Milly with a big heart and a quick, inquisitive mind. Why mope about what is in the past? Why not bring the old customs to New York? Stroll and sing, wear costumes and be festive but in a new way, an American way. Why not have a parade? Milly thought it was a good idea. Mr. Macy thought it was inspired. A parade would capture the attention of all New Yorkers from the Rockefellers to Broadway chorus girls. And so, according to Ms. Corey, a new tradition was born. Even if it’s not exactly historically accurate, it’s a great story, an American story of a child’s imagination and American know-how.

Brett Helquist’s bright, bold illustrations capture Milly’s whirlwind adventures in the store and the excitement of the parade coming to fruition. His ability to capture emotion is the slant of an eye or a smirk adds humor as well as visual interest. Ms. Corey’s tale and Mr. Helquist’s drawings come together like Milly and Mr. Macy to make a production as big and grand—and American—as the dazzling Thanksgiving Day Parade itself.

Posted by: Eileen


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1333. Cinderella : A Three-Dimensional Fairy-Tale Theater by Jane Ray

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - CINDERELLA A 3 DIMENSIONAL FAIRY TALE THEATER -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> I adore the illustrations of Jane Ray. She has had a long and prolific career and I have reviewed her books The

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1334. Old MacDonald Had a Farm and other favorite children's songs: Hannah Wood

Book: Old MacDonald Had a Farm and other favorite children's songs
Author: Hannah Wood
Pages: 22
Age Range: 2-5

Old MacDonald Had a Farm (and other favorite children's songs) is a medium sized, lightly padded board book illustrated by Hannah Wood. Each page or page spread has the text of a classic children's song, for a total of 12 songs. Selections include: Old MacDonald Had a Farm (of course); Good Morning to You; Mr. Sun; Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush; Skip to My Lou; I'm A Little Teapot; Do Your Ears Hang Low?; The Farmer in the Dell; Pop! Goes the Weasel; A-Tisket, A-Tasket; The Bear Went Over the Mountain; and Bingo.

No musical notes are included -- you have to know the tunes to sing them aloud with your child. But they are all pretty well-known titles, so I don't think that this is a problem (I don't personally know how to read music anyway, so the scores wouldn't have helped me.) They are all upbeat, kid-friendly choices. And for those parents who are wandering around, half-remembering some of these songs from childhood, seeing the words written down could be quite useful. 

Tiger Tales Press has published a number of other titles in this same, toddler-friendly format, many of them illustrated by Wood. Children familiar with the other titles will easily recognize Wood's kid-friendly style, as well as characters from books like One Sunny Day (a Baby Bookworm favorite). The illustrations are not realistic - they are rendered more as if a (skilled) child had made them, with the huge sun surrounded by yellow lines, and everyone (people and animals) sporting dots for eyes, and wide smiles. But throughout, Wood displays a sense of fun. I'm a Little Teapot is accompanied by a picture of a girl (with smiling teapot) having a tea party with her doll and several apparently animated stuffed animals. Do Your Ears Hang Low? features a sad basset hound (pretty much the only frowning face in the book). Old MacDonald Had a Farm has regular animals, and the farm dog appears to be dancing.

Old MacDonald Had a Farm is not ground-breaking literature. But it is a fun collection of toe-tap-worthy children's songs, with toddler-friendly illustrations, in a sturdy format. Recommended for fans of Wood's illustrations, or anyone who knows the tune but can't quite remember all of the words to The Farmer in the Dell. A nice addition to any toddler's bookshelf. 

Publisher: Tiger Tales (@TigerTalesBooks)
Publication Date: September 1, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

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1335. Huck-and-Rillabooks

I’ve fallen behind with the reading logs again—it’s inevitable that I will, from time to time—but I can report that my Rilla-read-aloud time has taken a leap forward into snuggling in with long, text-heavy books of the sort she wasn’t terribly interested in a month or two ago. Brambly Hedge, crammed with all those detailed, pore-overable drawings, hooked her on tales of small, industrious, quaintly dressed animals with British accents (she was already a Potter fan); we’re now well into Tumtum and Nutmeg, and she hasn’t seemed to notice or mind that there are far fewer illustrations, and only black-and-white, at that. There are bustling, clever mice and I get to unleash my best Monty Python impressions on the dialogue. (Tumtum is Michael Palin, of course, and who else is Baron Toymouse but Cleese’s Black Night? My Nutmeg, on the other hand, seems to want to be the cook from the current Upstairs, Downstairs series.)

As for picture books, recent hits with my younger three include:

Rachel Fister’s Blister by Amy MacDonald, art by Marjorie Priceman.

Rachel Fister has a blister, and everyone around her has a cure. Silly, satisfying rhyming text; Rilla in particular enjoys this kind of linguistic fun.

Good New, Bad News by Jeff Mack.

This one’s a great pick for the 3-6-year-old set, all ye aunties and uncles and godparents out there. A rabbit and a mouse and a picnic gone bad. No, good! No, bad! No, good…The kind of bright, bold, funny drawings my littles are especially drawn to, and unpredictable twists within a highly predictable (ergo comfortable and appealing to preschoolers) structure.


It’s a Tiger! by David LaRochelle, illustrated by the wonderful Jeremy Tankard.

You know how much we love Tankard’s work. Gorgeous coloring in this book and so much humor and excitement in the drawings. I love that heavy outline on the tiger; Jeremy was an inspired choice to illustrate this particular book. It’s a rollicking jungle adventure of the best kind, with a suitably ferocious tiger lurking in all sorts of unexpected places, and a kind of “We’re going on a bear hunt” vibe to the text. Huck loves it, and not just because you get to shout “IT’S A TIGER! RUN!” every few pages.

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1336. Three 2012 Picture Books


The Goldilocks Variations. Allan Ahlberg. Illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg. 2012. Candlewick. 40 pages.

For anyone who enjoys The Three Little Bears will enjoy this oh-so-creative book of variations by Allan Ahlberg. (This may just be my favorite Ahlberg title!) Some of the offerings include: "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," "Goldilocks and the 33 Bears," "Goldilocks and the Bliim," "Goldilocks and the Furniture," "Goldilocks The Play," "Goldilocks and...Everybody," and "Goldilocks...Alone?" The language is fun and playful and just right.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears begins,
"There was once a cheeky girl. Her name, or nickname rather, on account of her corn-colored hair, was Goldilocks. One morning, Goldilocks went for a walk in the woods, found a little cottage, climbed in through a window, and messed around for a bit. This cottage was the home of...The Three Bears." 
and it ends,
"Meanwhile, the great big father bear and the middle-size mother bear cuddled up their sad little small wee baby bear and gave him some of their porridge. And, later on, a boiled egg in his own little eggcup. Some bread and butter soldiers to dip in it. And a cup of tea. And later on still, a lovely little BUN. Bears love buns."
I really enjoyed the playfulness of Goldilocks and the 33 Bears. In part, it reads,
Well, Goldilocks sat on a great many chairs and broke most of them. She came upon a great many bowls of porridge and ate too many of them. She climbed the stairs, with her terribly bulgy tummy, flopped down onto the nearest bed--there were dozens of them--and fell asleep in it. Then...homeward came the bears! The great big father bear saw the open window. The middle-size mother bear saw the broken chairs. The tall and skinny teenage bears saw very little. They were still dawdling in the woods. The younger bears saw nothing at all. They were having a sleepover at their friend's house. The very baby bear also saw nothing. She was having a sleepover on her daddy's back. But the little small wee bears--there were two of them--saw EVERYTHING. 
That story also happily ends with buns because BEARS LOVE BUNS.

I thought Goldilocks the Play was BRILLIANT. I just LOVED it!!! The other variations were nice too. I would definitely recommend this one!!!

Read The Goldilocks Variations
  • If you enjoy playful, fun variations or "fractured" fairy tales
  • If you enjoy fairy tales
  • If you love detailed, creative books

Cinderella: A Three-Dimensional Fairy Tale Theater. Jane Ray. 2012. Candlewick. 12 pages. 

For those that love Cinderella, this may be a must. It may also be a must for those that love intricate, delicate, detailed pop-up illustrations. Some may be fascinated by the illustrations alone. And you could definitely spend time looking at them! The text of this one is revealed by opening the curtains on each side of the stage. This probably wouldn't be a great choice for young(er) children because the pop-ups are so delicate. But for older children who still enjoy Cinderella, it would be great.

Read Cinderella
  • If you love Cinderella, if you love reading different versions of the story
  • If you love pop-up books, if you love detailed three-dimensional art





Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? And Other Notorious Nursery Tale Mysteries. David Levinthal. Illustrations by John Nickle. 2012. Random House.  40 pages.


A mystery-detective themed picture book that fractures fairy tales! Tales (cases) include: Goldilocks, Hansel and Gretel, Humpty Dumpty, Snow White, and Jack and the Beanstalk. The narrator (a frog) is a cop named Binky. These are his cases, all of them solved. The book was silly, and for those looking to introduce little ones to the genre of detective stories (finding clues, solving cases, questioning witnesses, etc.) it would be a good fit.

Read Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?
  • If you enjoy fractured fairy tales
  • If you love mystery and detective stories
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 Comments on Three 2012 Picture Books, last added: 11/11/2012
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1337. Can You Growl Like a Bear?: John Butler

Book: Can You Growl Like a Bear?
Author: John Butler
Pages: 20
Age Range: 2-5 

I enjoyed John Butler's Bedtime in the Jungle (reviewed last year), particularly his illustrations of animals. So when a new board book edition of his 2007 picture book Can You Growl Like a Bear? was released, I was happy to give it a look. 

Can You Growl Like a Bear? is a short book in which each page spread highlights a different animal, and each pair of page spreads rhymes. Like this:

"Can you click like
a dolphin, swimming
through the seas?

Can you buzz
like a honeybee,
floating on a breeze?"

In the above, "click" and "buzz" are both shown in larger, bold text, highlighting the sound that each creature makes. Having the rhymes on separate pages makes the book a little bit difficult to read aloud, but having each page spread focus on only one animal is clearly the right way to go for this young audience. 

I like that even though the book is for young readers, and there's not a lot of text, Butler still uses descriptive words like "basking" and "slinking". The noises shared gradually quiet as the book progresses, making it a nice bedtime read. Butler closes with:

"Everyone is quiet now.
You can't hear a peep.
It's time to gently close your eyes
and fall fast asleep."

As in Bedtime in the Jungle, Butler's animals are largely realistic, but with an extra hint of friendliness. The elephant, for example, is wrinkled but smiling. The pandas, mother and child snuggling for the night, are fuzzy enough to make any reader want to curl right up beside them.  

I do think that the viewing quality of the illustrations may have been harmed a bit by the board book format. They look just a tiny bit flat. I think that paper (particularly paper with a hint of gloss) would make them more vivid. Of course this is a bedtime book - the illustrations don't need to be vivid. But I found myself wondering if the hardcover version would have been more visually satisfying.

Still, that's a minor quibble. Can You Growl Like a Bear? is satisfying toddler bedtime fare, filled with gentle rhymes, and with the chance to hear and repeat a different animal sound on every page. A good addition to any toddler board book gift pack. 

Publisher: Peachtree (@PeachtreePub)
Publication Date: August 1, 2012 (this edition)
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

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1338. Cookiebot! A Harry and Horsie Adventure by Katie Van Camp

Cookiebot!In the second installment of the Harry and Horsie books, the adventure-seeking duo is on a mission…a mission for cookies. Harry’s mother has perplexingly placed the cookie jar on top of the refrigerator where it is out of the reach of little Harry. How will Harry and Horsie ever satisfy their grumbling tummies? By building a robot to help them reach the cookie jar, of course! Disaster strikes, however, when their robot develops a sweet tooth of its own, and suddenly all of the cookies in the entire city are in jeopardy.

Cookiebot! is an entertaining glimpse inside the mind of a child. Katie Van Camp does a great job of capturing the spirit of a little boy with a big imagination and his devotion to his favorite stuffed toy. Lincoln Agnew’s bold, retro-inspired illustrations convey an innocence and exuberance perfectly suited for the energetic story. The reader is easily transported into young Harry’s world where a refrigerator becomes a skyscraper, boxes and utensils become a giant robot, and a stuffed horse becomes a hero. Readers who fell in love with Harry and Horsie in their first adventure will surely enjoy this next installment as well.

Posted by: Staci


0 Comments on Cookiebot! A Harry and Horsie Adventure by Katie Van Camp as of 11/8/2012 10:44:00 AM
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1339. Best Books Season Begins! Book Lists Galore

Let it snow! For those of us who love a good list, the last two months of the year bring a flurry of online "best of the year" roundups of books. Starting in 2008, I've been collecting the lists for children's books, including links to various newspapers, magazines, journals, and blogs, as well as different literature prizes and awards given out. I update the big list often.

Here is a link to this year's page:

The Best Children's Books of 2012: A List of Lists and Awards

Also, David Gutowski collects all the "best of" lists for books (for grown-ups and kids alike) at his blog, Largehearted Boy.

Meanwhile, speaking of snow, don't miss Kids' Science Books for Stormy Weather, at Scientific American's Budding Scientist blog.

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1340. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs: Mo Willems

Book: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
Author: Mo Willems (@The_Pigeon)
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4 and up 

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, by Mo Willems, is a fractured version of the traditional Goldilocks story. The three dinosaurs ("Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur, and some other Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway") set out three big bowls of delicous chocolate pudding and then leave the house, "definitely not hiding in the woods waiting for an unsuspecting kid to come by" and become a "delicious chocolate-filled-little-girl-bonbon". A "poorly supervised little girl named Goldilocks" falls right into their trap. Will she escape, or be eaten by dinosaurs? Given the level of black humor here, it seems that the story could go either way.

The illustrations in Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs are more detailed than the Elephant & Piggie or Pigeon books, but still rendered with a deceptively childlike simplicity. Willems throws in little details for the alert reader, though, like a calendar page showing "NORWAY "Gateway to Sweden"", and a glimpse of the Pigeon trapped in a cookie jar. The images of Trixie, I mean Goldilocks, delving into the bowls of chocolate pudding are priceless.

I think that Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs is hilarious overall. It is vintage Mo Willems, featuring joke after joke, and a little girl who looks remarkably like Trixie from Knuffle Bunny. One wonders, almost, if this is a book for children at all. Because this is a book that any adult would find entertaining. I laughed aloud on page after page.

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs is completely over the head of 2 1/2 year old Baby Bookworm. She (though a huge fan of the Kuffle Bunny and Pigeon books) dismissed it completely. But I would love to try it on a five year old with a well-developed sense of humor. I mean, the laughs are everywhere. Like this:

"Either way, Goldilocks was not the type of little girl who listened to anyone or anything. 

For example, Goldilocks never listened to warnings about the dangers of barging into strange, enormous homes."

The welcome mat of the "strange, enormous home" says "WELCOME (Tee-Hee!)".

I could go on. But really, you should read Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs yourself. It is the funniest thing I've read in ages, and receives my highest recommendation. We are certainly keeping our copy on reserve for when Baby Bookworm is old enough to appreciate it. And yes, this book has been nominated for the 2012 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books. 

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you). 

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1341. Celebrate PaperTigers’ 10th Anniversary with a Top10 of Tiger Themed Books!

Aline Pereira is an independent writer, editor and editorial consultant specializing in multicultural children’s books and was Managing Editor of PaperTigers from 2004 until January 2011. In honor of PaperTigers’ 10th anniversary Aline wrote an article entitled Celebrating  PaperTigers 10th Anniversary: What a Smilestone! which you can read here, and now offers up her Top 10 Tiger Themed Books.

One tiger, two tigers… ten tigers!  More tigers! by Aline Pereira

Children love to ask each other about their favorite animals, and their answers usually reveal much about themselves: what they fear, what they love, and what they need and want from the world.

In celebration of PaperTigers’ 10th anniversary, I put together a list of ten (plus one to grow on) multicultural books featuring tigers, a graceful, alluring and majestic animal– often mentioned as a “favorite” of children–which is a symbol of all that is splendid and powerful in nature. I thought PaperTigers’ 10th’ anniversary would be a good occasion to celebrate tigers and remind children and adults that, without the proper protective measures, tigers in the wild may disappear by 2022–within a decade!–the next Year of the Tiger.

Tigers are an important part of the reality and mythology of many countries, including Bangladesh, China, India, Korea and Thailand. Throughout history, tigers have been regarded as auspicious animals, as guardians and protectors. Indian mythology, for instance, has several stories where the tiger is believed to have powers to do everything from fighting dragons to creating rain to keeping children safe from nightmares. According to a 2010 statement by the Global Tiger Initiative, “The loss of tigers and degradation of their ecosystems would inevitably result in a historic, cultural, spiritual, and environmental catastrophe for the tiger-range countries [Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam and Russia].”

It’s my hope that this book list will help children learn more about tigers and the ways in which they feature, literally and metaphorically, in stories from far and near.

The tigers are ROARING!… Can you hear them?

Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
Crouching Tiger
Candlewick, 2011
Age: 6+

In Crouching Tiger, an American boy learns to appreciate his Chinese heritage with the help of his grandfather, who is visiting from China.

Little Vinson is intrigued by grandpa’s Tai Chi routine: “He crouched like a tiger; he drew an invisible bow; he lifted a foot like a rooster and stood still,” but when grandpa tries to teach him how to do it, he thinks tai chi isn’t as interesting as kung fu, which he already knows. When grandpa calls him by his Chinese name, which happens all the time, Vinson finds it annoying, but little by little, he begins to understand and feel pride in his heritage.

Nascimbene’s gorgeous illustrations capture the excitement of the parade and convey the boy’s emotional shift from annoyance to curiosity to pride very well. An author’s note at the end adds depth to the story by explaining Chinese martial arts and Chinese New Year traditions.

James Rumford,
Tiger and Turtle
Roaring Brook Press/ A Neal Porter Book, 2010
Age: 4 – 8

A 2011 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, Tiger and Turtle is the retelling of an Afghani folktale.

Tiger and Turtle are not friends but have learned to live peacefully (“A tiger’s claws could not harm a turtle’s shell any more than a turtle’s feet could outrun a tiger’s.”). However, when a beautiful flower floats down from the sky and lands by their feet, the two animals start arguing about who should have it, who saw it first, and so on, and end up getting into a terrible fight… And it’s not until they accidently fall into a flower-covered field that they realize their foolishness and learn to be friends.

An author’s note explains how he discovered the folktale and talks about the cultural inspirations for the beautiful background patterns used throughout the book. Tiger and Turtle conveys an important message and makes for a perfect read-aloud for the younger crowd.

Eve Bunting, illustrated by David Frampton
Riding the Tiger
Clarion Books, 2001
Age: 9+

Set in the streets of a big city and illustrated with gorgeous woodcuts by David Frampton, Riding the Tiger is Eve Bunting’s powerful story about a ten year-old boy new to town who can’t resist the invitation of an alluring tiger to go for a ride. Cruising the city on the tiger’s back gives Danny a sense power, of being respected by children and adults alike—he no longer feels powerless and out of place. Soon, however, he realizes that what he thought was respect is actually fear, and that getting off the tiger’s back isn’t easy.

A wonderful metaphor for the power of gangs, drugs (or whatever harmful attraction children may find hard to resist at one point or another in their lives), this beautifully told story offers much food for thought. It should be a must-read in schools everywhere, where children may be feeling tempted to give up their freedom and inner strength in the name of acceptance and (pseudo) respect.

Lynne Reid Banks,
Tiger, Tiger
Laurel Leaf, 2007
Age: 12+

Two tiger brothers are taken from the jungle to Rome. One, Brute, is raised to kill slaves, criminals and Christians at the Colosseum; Boots, the other, becomes a pet to Emperor Julius Ceasar’s 12 year-old daughter, Aurelia.

While Boots is treated like royalty, Brute spends most of his time locked in a dark cage. When after a game gone wrong Julius, the slave who cares for Boots and harbor feelings for Aurelia, is sent to the arena to face the killer Brute, accused of letting Boots escape, things get very intense, and Aurelia must make difficult decisions whose consequences are beyond her years to fully grasp. The great mixture of adventure, romance and historical fiction in Tiger, Tiger will appeal to older kids and have them on the edge of their seats, rooting for a happy ending for Julius, Aurelia and Boots.

Helen Bannerman, illustrated by Valeria Petroni
The Boy and the Tigers
Golden Books, 2004
Age: 4+

In this retelling of Helen Bannerman’s controversial Little Black Sambo, little Rajani ventures into the jungle and runs into several tigers who, one by one, convince him to give them his belongings: a new red coat, a pair of blue trousers, purple shoes, and even his green umbrella! But resourceful Rajani devises a way to outsmart the tigers and get his things back. The lovely new illustrations by Valeria Petroni combined with non-offensive names and non-stereotypical character depictions make this story a treasure again.

Elizabeth Stanley
Tyger! Tyger!
Enchanted Lion Books, 2007
Age: 8+

Elizabeth Stanley’s Tyger! Tyger! is based on the true story of a sanctuary for endangered Indo-Chinese tigers in northwest Thailand.

For centuries Buddhist monks in their jungle monastery lived in harmony with neighboring animals, so when poachers begin killing the tigers, the monks protect these beautiful animals, beginning with two tiny cubs found hiding near the temple gate. Over time, more tigers are brought to or show up at the monastery. But poaching continues… One young monk’s vision offers a solution: a moat can be dug around the temple, creating a large island hermitage for the tigers. It is a formidable mission. “The moat must be deep, impassable. The monks’ tools were primitive and many of the men were old and weak. Only a miracle could create such a sanctuary.”

The monks in the story accomplish their goal, and see the moat filled during the next monsoon…[This is an excerpt from Charlotte’s review.]

Laura Manivong,
Escaping the Tiger
HarperCollins, 2010
Age: 12+

Twelve year-old Vonlai must try to escape communist Laos with his sister and desperate parents by crossing the Mekong River, “where soldiers shoot at anything that moves.” Their only hope is Na Pho, a refugee camp in Thailand, on the other side of the river.

When they finally get there, after a dangerous journey, life in Na Pho feels far from safe–their living quarters is cramped, dirty, and the guards who keep watch on them are all unfriendly. Vonlai tries to carry on as best as he can, eating his meager portion of rationed food, attending a makeshift school, and playing with other kids to pass the time. But things take a turn for the worse when someone inside the camp threatens his family and Vonlai must call on a forbidden skill to protect them until they can be resettled, hopefully in a safer place.

This powerful novel about escaping communist Laos in 1982 is based on the author’s husband’s experience as a child. Focusing on a chapter of history not often seen in children’s literature, Escaping the Tiger offers a realistic portrayal of the plight of Laotians who fled the country to escape the communist regime. It shows the plight of refugees living in limbo, as well as the resilience of the human spirit in the face of difficult situations.

Anushka Ravishankar,
Tiger on a Tree
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004  (originally published in India by Tara Books, in 1997)
Age: 4-8

The tiger in Anushka Ravishankar’s whimsical picture book means no harm. But his wanderings lead to a run-in with an angry goat, so he takes refuge in a tree. There, he is cornered by a group of excitable men who are quickly confounded by what to do. (“Send him to the zoo? Stick him up with glue? Paint him electric blue?”) Their solution brings this comical story rich with word and sound-play full circle, and will leave many young listeners requesting repeated readings.

The superb design of this singular book features dynamic text layout integrated into the striking two-color prints in black and orange created by Pulak Biswas. Even with stylized printmaking techniques, the illustrator has managed to create a cast of visually distinctive characters whose expressions (the tiger’s included) are a wonderful complement to the text. [This is an excerpt from the CCBC review.]

Sy Montgomery, photographs by Eleanor Briggs
The Man-eating Tigers of Sundarbans
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2001
Age: 8+

The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve, situated in the Indian state of West Bengal, is home to more tigers than anywhere else on earth. There are said to be some five hundred tigers there—more than anywhere else in the world. Nowhere else do tigers live in a mangrove swamp. And nowhere else do healthy tigers routinely hunt people. No one knows why. The Man-Eating Tigers of Sundarbans is a mystery story, but it is also a story about science and myth, about people and tigers, and about different ways of seeing the natural world.

Sy Montgomery traveled to Sundarbans searching for answers to the mysteries surrounding these tigers. She listened to what scientists had to say about the unusual tiger behavior and to the stories of the villagers who revere the very animals who hunt them because they believe the tigers protect the forest they all depend on. Tradition has it that Daskin Ray, the tiger god, and Bonobibi, the forest goddess, rule Sundarbans. Every February there is a festival to celebrate their protection of the forest, and the reserve holds many rustic tiger shrines.  As Montgomery argues, “Sometimes what is true is hidden, as in a riddle. Even dangerous man-eating tigers may do us more good than harm.”

This fascinating book includes beautiful photographs by Eleanor Briggs, fast facts, a glossary of Bengali phrases, and a list of organizations doing work to protect tigers.

Alison Lloyd,
The Year of the Tiger
Holiday House, 2010
Age: 10+

In ancient China, the Great Wall is crumbling on the edge of the Han Empire. In the wall’s shadow, twelve-year-old Hu is starving. On the other side of the wall, China’s enemies are gathering strength. When an imperial battalion comes to town, Hu meets Ren, the son of the commander, and the two boys combine forces to train secretly for an archery tournament. For Hu, the contest offers escape from poverty and for Ren, the respect of his father. But the capture of a barbarian spy changes everything. With their trust at its lowest point, Ren and Hu must work together to evade the barbarians and save the empire. This exciting adventure story came out in 2010, the Year of the Tiger.

Antonia Michaelis,
Tiger Moon
Amulet Books, 2008 (originally published in Germany, in 2006)
Age: 14+

A princess in trouble, a thief with a heart of gold, and a sacred talking tiger with an unnatural fear of water are at the heart of this “story within a story” set in India in the early 1900s. 

In order to better endure her condition, Raka, the young bride of a violent merchant, tells a servant boy the story of Farhad, a thief and unlikely hero who is sent by Krishna on a mission to retrieve a famous jewel in order to save a kidnapped princess from a demon king. Farhad is accompanied on his journey by his friend Nitish, a white tiger who helps and advises him along the way.

The story gives an excellent overview of Hindu religious beliefs and of the conflicts India faced at the time of British occupation. Due to some implied sexual content, this novel is more suitable for young adults.

Anton Poitier,
Once I Was a Comic… But Now I’m A Book about Tigers!
Hammond, 2010
Age: 4+

With this fantastic earth-friendly book, kids get two unforgettable stories at the same time—one about tigers and one about recycling! Fun facts, quirky illustrations, and cute photographs give kids a close-up look at the tiger, one of the world’s most beloved endangered species. Kids will learn everything from how tigers hunt and how long their tails are to where they live and what they eat in this exciting, informative, and earth-friendly book.

A side panel on each page tells the story of how this book was made from the recycled paper of a comic book, teaching kids the process of recycling and showing them what they can do to help save the planet—and the tigers!

0 Comments on Celebrate PaperTigers’ 10th Anniversary with a Top10 of Tiger Themed Books! as of 11/3/2012 12:48:00 PM
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1342. Mario Makes a Move by Jill McElmurry

Mario Makes a MoveSometimes you just have to show off your new move, because it is sooo… cool, not to mention unique and AMAZING and ARTISTIC and ASTONISHING. This move is what separates Mario from all the other forest animals, or so he thinks. Mario has lots of moves, including the Super Looper, and the Crazy Wave, and the Rocket to Mars to name a few. And, he has always received much adulation and oohs and ahhs from his family, and so one day he decides to share his amazing move entitled the “Amazing Amazer” with his friend Isabelle.

Isabelle stops what she is doing to watch Mario’s move and then simply replies that his move is “nice”. Just NICE??? Mario can’t believe his ears! And not only that, Isabelle can actually do Mario’s amazing move!! Isabelle then informs him that all the forest animals have their signature “amazing moves”. Needless to say, Mario feels somewhat deflated and decides to stop doing his moves and to find something else only he can do that is just as amazing . . . so he chooses sticks. Isabelle cannot see what’s so special about sticks, especially in comparison to Mario’s amazing move. With a little encouragement, Mario decides to keep working on his moves, because that really is what he is good at … and when Mario and Isabelle join forces and invent the “Even More Amazingly Amazing Amazer”, everyone is in fact amazed. This book is very fun and a little different from most picture books. Not only is it fun to read, but there are some good messages here too!

Posted by: Mary


0 Comments on Mario Makes a Move by Jill McElmurry as of 11/1/2012 11:20:00 AM
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1343. I'm bored


ImBoredFrontCover-300

I'm bored.

 Written by Michael Ian Black and Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Marirosa Mia: Yay, picture book time! I love it when Julie and I find a picture book we both enjoy. This time around we have I'M BORED, written by comedian Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Our story starts with a little girl - a very bored little girl.  There's simply nothing for her to do except lament how boring everything is. I dread the day my niece enters this age. Soon the little girl meets a talking potato who is equally bored. (I really want to make some sort of potato pun here but I can't think of any yet! It will come to me.) One would think the two would become fast friends, bonded by their lack of entertainment. But NO, not so at all. Not only is the potato still bored, but he also thinks children are soooo boring, unlike flamingos, who are super-exciting. (FACT: Flamingos are actually awesome.) Unwilling to stand for this, the little girl sets off to prove that children aren't boring at all by showing the potato all the amazing, imagination-filled things they can do! But is it enough to entertain one very bored potato?  I'm not going to say, but - spoiler alert - a flamingo does make an appearance. 

J:  This book cries out, "Read me to a bunch of kids!  I'm perfect for it, you'll see!"  It's fun and funny and fast and clever.  I'm terrible at creating different voices when I read aloud, but even I feel inspired to give a very dramatic reading.  How often does one get to give voice to a potato?  I love the art, too.  It's bold but also spare, and colorful, and full of life and movement.  What do you think about the art, Mia?  And do you have any quibbles with the book?   

M: I want a Part Two! With the flamingo and the potato. Does that count as a quibble? I thought the art worked perfectly with the text of the book. It was simple yet kinetic - if that makes sense. There was always a sense of movement to the art, even from the beginning. I can't wait to read it to my niece, who's already in love with CREEPY CARROTS. 

J:  Um, that's not exactly what I had in mind as a quibble.  But it's a great idea!  As for a quibble of my own, I think a few variations on the potato's "boring" refrain might have been fun.  A "yawn" or a "snooze," perhaps; a "been there, done that."  Having a zillion "boring"s became a little (can you guess?) (you got it!) boring.  But it's such a trivial complaint.  I still love the book.  I'm tempted to gather my far-too-old children around me now and try a little story time.  Because we've all been cooped up in this apartment for the past 48 hours.  We could certainly use a potato and a flamingo. 

 

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1344. Decatur Book Festival: The Importance of the Picture Book

In August, I attended the Decatur Book Festival. My favorite session by far celebrated the picture book and included author and children's book historian Leonard Marcus, author Laurel Snyder, author Mac Barnett, and author/illustrator Chris Raschka.

Here are some notes I took while listening in:

Last year, a front-page New York Times article talked about the picture book being on the way out, due to the digital revolution and ambitious parents interested in bypassing them all together.

Yet picture books still have an important place. They are a "gateway to a life-long appreciation of art and literature" and are "an authentic meeting place for parent and child." Author Laurel Snyder believes picture books are the "most innovative form of writing [she's] ever encountered." Mac Barnett spoke of the "sweet spot" blend of literary and commercial literature that isn't available in any other genre.

The simplicity of the picture book is deceiving. There is a tension between the text and image that is something bigger than the work the author and illustrator create. It is as if the two together equal more than the whole. Both adults and children make up the audience for these books, and the most effective satisfy both. There's the "rhythm of the page turn" to consider, as illustrator Chris Raschka says.

"Your language becomes clear and true when you take words away." - Laurel Snyder

"If I've written a picture book that works without pictures, I've failed." - Mac Barnett


5 Comments on Decatur Book Festival: The Importance of the Picture Book, last added: 10/26/2012
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1345. Ready for Pumpkins: Kate Duke

Book: Ready for Pumpkins
Author: Kate Duke
Pages: 40
Age Range: 5 and up 

As October 31st approaches, Kate Duke's Ready for Pumpkins is a fun celebration of that quintessentially Halloween treat, pumpkins. Hercules, or Herky, is a guinea pig who lives in a first grade classroom. A class project undertaken by the students inspires Herky to want a garden of his own. When he is taken to live with the teacher's father on a farm for the summer vacation, Herky puts his dream into action. With the help of a rabbit named Daisy, and some leftover pumpkin seeds from October, Herky creates a pumpkin patch.

Ready for Pumpkins is definitely more a picture book for early elementary school kids than for toddlers. It's somewhat text-dense, and a bit busy (with a mix of narrative text and dialog bullets). But it's also a matter of the theme. The classroom scenes are filled with first-grade projects, like growing plants and carving pumpkins. The garden scenes are fairly detailed, showing exactly what it takes (including patience) to make a garden. But for readers old enough to follow the storyline, Ready for Pumpkins is quite entertaining. Like this:

"But the seeds weren't ready.
Seeds can take a long time.

They don't grow faster if you yell at them.
They don't grow faster if you jump up and down and stamp your feet.

They won't grow at all if you dig them up to see what they are doing.
I tried all these things. Finally Daisy said, "Cool it!" 

The above is accompanied by small illustrations of Herky waving his arms, tapping his feet, and finally having a temper tantrum. I challenge anyone not to smile. Later Herky learns that "A garden is not a place to be angry in."

There are other funny moments, like when Herky is back in his classroom, singing pumpkin songs to himself, while the one of the kids notes: "He's making that noise again!"

Despite Herky's non-traditional actions (for a guinea pig), Duke's illustrations stay on the realistic side (vs. more cartoon-like books). Her affection for guinea pigs, kids, and nature all come through. 

Ready for Pumpkins is in many ways more of a summer book than a fall book, a celebration of gardening and all things green and growing. But it begins and ends in a classroom, and begins and ends with pumpkins, making it a good choice to read now, and then read again when gardening time comes around. Personally, I would like to see further adventures of Herky. He's a delight. Recommended for kids K-3. 

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

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1346. Donna Earnhardt’s post on PiBoIdMo!

PiBoIdMo= Picture Book Idea Month

Thirty ideas in thirty days wrapped in unlimited potential!

http://taralazar.com/2012/10/26/pre-pibo-day-2-donna-w-earnhardt/


0 Comments on Donna Earnhardt’s post on PiBoIdMo! as of 10/28/2012 1:06:00 PM
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1347. Week-end Book Review: Ships in the Field by Susanne Gervay and Anna Pignataro

Susanne Gervay, illustrated by Anna Pignataro,
Ships in the Field
Ford Street Publishing, 2012.

Ages: 8+

“Every night Brownie and I wait for Papa to come home.” – and when he arrives, “Round and round we whirl.”  This joyous ritual provides the opening sequence of Ships in the Field, a story whose essence is perhaps distilled into the notion of the transcendental power of love.  Acclaimed Australian author Susanne Gervay (I Am Jack, That’s Why I Wrote This Song) has based the story on her own childhood as the daughter of Hungarian refugees.  Told through the eyes, perception and narrative voice of a likeable, effervescent little girl, we learn that her beloved, funny Papa works in a car factory but used to be a farmer “in the old country, before it was broken”; and quiet, withdrawn Ma, who seems to have forgotten how to smile, was a teacher and now “sews dresses all day long”.  The girl’s confidante is her soft toy dog Brownie but she also longs for a real dog.

Every Sunday the family goes into the countryside and Papa says, “Look at the ships in the field.”  This makes the little girl giggle, for it conjures up a funny image, but it makes her sad too, because other people laugh at the way her father speaks – and so she staunchly joins him in his pronunciation of the word “sheep”.  One Sunday, near the “woolly ships”, she finds something very precious that signals a new chapter for all the family.

The undercurrents in the story are felt in the girl’s awareness of aspects of her family’s past.  It is never mentioned in her presence but it weighs on her nevertheless, and she confides in Brownie, “I don’t like war.”  Anna Pignataro’s beautiful watercolour illustrations perfectly capture the emotions – love, pain, joy – that emanate from the story.  As well as the ever-faithful Brownie, vignettes of a real dog appear throughout the story; and two notable sequences merge events from the past, depicting war and flight through the second-hand filter of the little girl’s knowledge and imagination.  The rough pencil outlines underlying the watercolours imbue the illustrations with energy and a sense of movement that is further emphasised in the variety of page layouts: the use of continuous narrative is particularly effective.

Ships in the Field is itself a multi-layered term, from straightforward mispronunciation to providing scope for metaphorical and poetic interpretation – or simply delight in its nonsense.  While offering a warm reading experience for young children, the book also poses questions for older readers and adults about how much young children can or should know about painful elements in a family’s past; and about the damage that can be caused by not bringing the past into the open, when children have already absorbed more than adults give them credit for.  Each rereading of this perfect synthesis between spoken and visual narrative offers something new, through the nuance of the writing or a dawning awareness of a visual motif.  Above all, Ships in the Field is a very special picture book of extraordinary depth, that carries a message of hope and reassurance that time does and will heal.

Marjorie Coughlan
October 2012

0 Comments on Week-end Book Review: Ships in the Field by Susanne Gervay and Anna Pignataro as of 10/28/2012 2:22:00 PM
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1348. Picture Book Idea Month


This year I'm joining author Tara Lazar for PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month. It's an alternative to National Novel Writing Month that also takes place in November (something I tried once and failed at miserably). 

Tara started PiBoIdMo in 2008, after realizing there was nothing for kidlit authors and illustrators who don't write novels. Since then, she's had hundreds of others join her. Here's what she has to say:
***Registration is open NOW through November 4th. Click here.*** 
Tired of novelists having all the fun in November with NaNoWriMo, I created PiBoIdMo as a 30-day challenge for picture book writers. 
The concept is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes). You don’t need potential best-seller ideas. You might think of a clever title. Or a name for a character. Or just a silly thing like “purple polka-dot pony.” The object is to heighten your picture-book-idea-generating senses. Ideas may build upon other ideas and your list of potential stories will grow stronger as the days pass. 
Daily blog posts by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other kidlit professionals will help inspire you. By the end of the month, you’ll have a fat file of ideas to spark new stories. 
PiBoIdMo was first held in 2008 by a party of one—me! Then I hosted it on my blog for the first time in 2009. Each year the number of participants has doubled. In 2011 we had over 600 writers following PiBoIdMo. And now 2012 promises to be bigger and better! 
Registration begins on October 24th and ends on November 4th. Then in early December you will be asked to take the PiBoIdMo Pledge stating you have completed the challenge with at least 30 ideas. 
Writers who register and pledge will be eligible for prizes:
  • Feedback from literary agents
  • Original sketches by picture book illustrators
  • Picture book critiques from published authors
  • Signed picture books
  • Jewelry
  • Other Cool Stuff
I'm the sort of writer who has to fight for new ideas, and while a month seeking them out will be a challenge, it will also be a wonderful opportunity to stretch and learn with the support of other writers doing the same. Please let me know below if you too are participating!

Thanks to Ward Jenkins for the fun PiBoIdMo banner.

8 Comments on Picture Book Idea Month, last added: 11/1/2012
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1349. Population, Protests and Pumpkins

 
Exactly one year ago today little Ruaridh FIndlay Thompson's birth was heralded on the front page of the Scotsman as 'Edinburgh's one in 7 billion'
 It had been calculated that it was the day the 7 billionth child was born on planet Earth. 

Today, on his first birthday, Ruaridh will be getting lots of lovely presents and among the toys will be books.  He already has a good library,(shared with his 3yr old sister) of board books and flap books, audio books and beautifully illustrated picture books.

Ruaridh likes to make Brrrumh! noises to the cars in his books, he loves the tactile 'This is not my...'  series of books where each page has shiny, soft or bumpy aspects to each page, soft ears on a monkey or bumpy ridges on a tractor's engine. In fact he likes these so much that he touches the images on other picture books to see if they will feel different to the smooth surface of the printed book.

One of the great things about writing for children is that we have a new audience being born every day.   That means favourite books have another chance to delight a new audience, and  for the children there are also so many wonderful  books to discover.   If you are interested in Picture Books have a look at Picturebook Den another collaborative blog by members of the SAS (Scattered Authors Society).

Another place Ruaridh likes to go with his little sister is their local library, to listen to stories and borrow books.  When he goes to school it would be great to think that this encouragement to read a wide variety of books, that he is getting from home, will be reinforced in school by the school having a good and well stocked library and a librarian. 
Particularly when he gets to senior school, when a lot of children are no longer going to the library with their parents and reading can sometimes be thought of as something you HAVE to do at school, rather than a pleasure.
This is where school librarians come into their own.

Lobby for School Libraries - Scotland
Last weekend I attended the Lobby for School Libraries- Scotland,  at the Scottish Parliament.
I blogged about this a few weeks ago on ABBA .
Scottish authors Julie Bertagna, Jonathan Meres, Keith Gray, Debi Gliori, Anne Marie Allan and Sally J Collins  were there to support the lobby, many others  including Theresa Breslin (who sent a message from Russia) sent messages of support for libraries and librarians. In England there was great support from authors and librarians for the lobby in London on Monday.

In discussions about schools and librarians someone said they felt that English teachers in high schools do not read much or any young adult or teenage books, themselves. Obviously some teachers do and are great champions of books, but in my experience it is usually the school librarian, the person with all that enthusiasm, knowledge and willingness and time to engage with the children outside the classroom and exam pressures, who will manage to find the right book for the right child. 
Linda Strachan, Iain Gray MSP and Duncan Wright -School Librarian of the Year 2010
But that is not possible if they have no budget to buy new books or organise author visits or pupil participation in book related events.  If school budgets are cut or the money for books, libraries and librarians is not ring-fenced - in some schools libraries and librarians will not be considered a priority-
 which eems strange in a time when literacy problems seem to abound and engagement with books for sheer enjoyment is a sure way to encourage reluctant readers. 


 

Hopefully by the time little Ruaridh gets to senior school this will not be a problem!  For today he is blissfully unaware of all this and will no doubt have a lovely time with his little sister, enjoying his 1st birthday and his pumpkin birthday cake!











4 Comments on Population, Protests and Pumpkins, last added: 10/31/2012
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1350. The Monster's Monster: Patrick McDonnell

Book: The Monster's Monster
Author: Patrick McDonnell
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3 and up 

For Halloween today, I bring you a book about monsters, The Monster's Monster by Patrick McDonnell. It's not a scary book, but it is a fun celebration of (and then completely shifting the viewpoint of) monsters. 

Here's the opening:

"Grouch, Grump, and little Gloom 'n' Doom thought they were monsters."

The next few pages demonstrate how very monster-like these small, charmingly ugly creatures are. They throw rocks, they have temper tantrums, they fight. And one day, to settle an ongoing argument about who is "the biggest, baddest monster," they decide to make an enormous monster (shades of Frankenstein's monster). But the creature that they create doesn't act at all the way they expect. In fact, he doesn't act like a monster at all. He acts like someone who is grateful to be alive. And he changes Grouch, Grump, and little Gloom 'n' Doom's perspective. 

Ironically, for a book about monsters, the end of this book was a little too sweet / message-y for me. The little monsters learn to say thank you, and smile, and appreciate the sunrise. Which is nice, but ... more heavy-handed than I personally prefer in picture books.

But I was won over by McDonnell's illustrations. The little monsters are hilarious. The big monster is surprisingly huggable. The page in which Monster throws out his hands, "thankful to be ALIVE", against a color-splashed background, is uplifting. The pink-tinged beach scenes at the end of the book are enough to make anyone feel calm, and grateful that there are beaches. 

I also do think that this would be a fun read-aloud, though I haven't tried it yet. There's lots of "SMASH, CRASH, and BASH" and "ROAR" type text. The monster has a delightfully nasal pronunciation ("Dank you!").  And there are phrases like "gunk, gauze, and gobs of goo." 

Bottom line: if you are looking for a monster-themed book for Halloween that is actually rather sweet, The Monster's Monster is well worth a look. Patrick McDonnell is a Caldecott Honor and Cybils winner for last year's Me...Jane, and his talent as an illustrator shows here, too. 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids)
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

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