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Viewing: Blog Posts from the Reviews category, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 157,587
26. My Q&A with Faith Ringgold

“I do love the creativity and energy of children. My foundation, the Anyone Can Fly Foundation, is devoted to teaching children about the African American artists that have been left out of the historical canon.” * * * Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Faith Ringgold, pictured here. Tar Beach, her first picture […]

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27. Writing with All the Feelings by Liz Garton Scanlon

Author Liz Garton Scanlon implores us to let "you be you" in today's Author Spotlight post.

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28. THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER by Harriet Reuter Hapgood \\ I Miscalculated How Much I'd Like This

Review by Jackie The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter HapgoodAge Range: 12 - 18 yearsGrade Level: 8 - 12Hardcover: 304 pagesPublisher: Roaring Brook Press (May 3, 2016)Goodreads | Amazon This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It's a little bit like a black hole. It's a little bit like infinity. Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally.

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29. When When You Were Small Was Small

Is it possible that When You Were Small was published a decade ago? Sometimes it feels like it was just last week. Sometimes it feels like it was a century ago.


In the time since the book was published some very lovely things have happened. It has won a few prizes and gone a few places. It still makes me happy to think of the time the Mexican Ministry of Education printed 60,000 copies to give away to primary students. There have been two more Henry books since that first one and I've got a site that rounds up reviews and such if anyone's interested.

Part of the success of this book (and its fellows) is due to the brilliant book designer, Robin Mitchell Cranfield. Along with Dimiter Savoff, publisher of Simply Read Books, she came up with such a beautiful, stripped-down, timeless aesthetic for the book. I couldn't love it any more than I do.

photo: Summer Hall/Appyreading

My great hope is to go on making books with Julie Morstad. There are many, many reasons for this but the best one, for me, is that we find the same things funny. And in that vein, is this wonderful photo I came across on Instagram a little while ago. It was posted by Summer Hall of Appyreading and she's given me permission to share it here.

When You Were Small is being released in paperback this month (I'll have more on that soon) and is available for pre-order now.

Here are a few places you can find the book. I'll be adding in more and if you have suggestions please feel free to comment. I'm always happy to learn about independent booksellers that are new to me.

Indigo  Indiebound  Amazon.com   Amazon.ca  Amazon.uk   WH Smith  Powell's Barnes & Noble



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30. Honoring Memorial Day

Holidays, Festivals and Celebrations: Memorial Day

By Trudi Strain Trueit; illustrated by Ronnie Rooney

 

In searching out picture books for Memorial Day, I try to find those that both give a historical background of the day, how it morphed from Decoration Day, following the Civil War to around 1890, when it became known as Memorial Day.

I try to find picture books that spotlight all the components and elements of time honored traditions, celebrations, speeches, places, symbols, and even poetry and songs, that are an integral part of the Memorial Day tribute to those that sacrificed  their lives for our freedoms.

Trudi Strain Trueit has put together a picture book that, I think, collects all these elements for picture book readers’ understanding of Memorial Day. And Ronnie Rooney’s art perfectly complements the narrative, portraying the historical progression of this traditional American holiday.

Though there were some things that I knew of concerning its origins and observations, there were others that were both informative and humbling, when looked at thought the prism of time, which is the true leveler and test of what is enduring in a culture.

There is a quiet question that lingers as you shut the pages of this book. And it is this. What is it that we want our children and future generations to glean from the marking of Memorial Day?

Is it the start of the summer season? Is it barbecues and family gatherings? Is it the word Memorial Day Sale, writ large at malls across America? Or is it something more than all of these put together, though they indeed each have their place in the celebration?

I suppose in some sense, I want to say they are not, and shouldn’t be, the defining reason for the marking of Memorial Day.

In this small, simple, eight chapter book, parents will find a delightful and densely packed picture book with information that will help their child understand the meaning and morphing of Memorial Day, both as it stands today…and how it evolved. A memorial, as the book states is “a lasting tribute.”

 

                It helps us to remember

                an important person, group

                or event.

 

They will learn that the day was created, and initially called Decoration Day, where, during the Civil War between the North and South, families found themselves on opposite sides in the war. Father fought against son, and even brother against brother. “In these sad times women in the South began decorating the graves of southern Confederate soldiers with flowers. They decorated the graves of northern Union soldiers, too.”

By 1865 the Civil War ends, with some 600,000 soldiers killed in a war fought on both economic and slavery issues.

1868 finds Union General John Alexander Logan declaring that each May 30th will be a day to remember those who died in the Civil War.

And the first national day of celebration is, as I said, initially termed Decoration Day, and was held at Arlington National Cemetery; a military cemetery in Virginia.

Young readers will hear of Moina Michaels and her desire, following WWl, after hearing the John McCrae poem, “In Flanders Fields,” a determination to make and wear a silk poppy as a symbol for fallen soldiers. It was later expanded to honor all soldiers in the armed forces who died in wartime, and this small idea and enterprise of poppy making and sales has generated over $200 million for veterans groups in the United States and England.

In 1948 she was honored with a stamp by the United States Postal Service.

From the explanation of the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington, to the year 2000’s Congressional creation of a National Moment of Remembrance at 3P.M. on Memorial Day, when all Americans are asked to pause and remember the “nation’s fallen soldiers,” this remembrance continues through both time, and generations of Americans, young and not so young.

Young readers will learn the meaning of the color concept surrounding the American flag, figured so prominently in parades and on porches that day.

Did you know that it is a tradition to lower the American flag to half staff until noon on Memorial Day, as a sign of respect? Here are what the flag’s colors symbolize:

 

 

    White stands for purity and innocence

 

     Red stands for valor and hardiness.

 

     Blue stands for vigilance, perseverance

     and justice.

 

 

Sidebars on each page of this picture book are filled with quotes from presidents including Lincoln, Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as historical figures quoted from General Robert E. Lee, General John A. Logan, and Nathan Hale.

Young readers can read about “Joining in the Spirit of Memorial Day” at the close of the book, suggesting some seven ways to participate in the day, and honor those, including their own relatives, who may have died in the line of duty.

I guess my favorite part is the last chapter; the poems and songs that evoke the essence of Memorial Day. Some I knew,  some I had forgotten or never knew in their completeness.

But “Taps,” with words in their entirety, is featured in the “Song” portion. Played by a single trumpet as the traditional music played at funerals of fallen soldiers, it’s  pureness and poignancy in sound and symbol is what Memorial Day is about.

And here are the words:

 

Taps

 

Fading light dims the sight,

And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.

From afar drawing nigh comes the night.

Day is done, gone the sun.

From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky.

All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

 

words and music by Major

General Daniel Butterfield (1831-1901)

 

 

 

*Here is “Taps,” played at Arlington National Cemetery, both in summer, and in a driving snow storm.

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31. thewinterotter: petermorwood: dduane: “Little lynx kitty!...



thewinterotter:

petermorwood:

dduane:

“Little lynx kitty! https://t.co/poKj7DBucy”

Not a lynx, a caracal. Here’s a comparison…

The caracal’s moustache, eyebrows and ear-tips are a giveaway even from birth…

…and it looks like the ears grow before the legs…

…which soon follow…

If Elves had cats, they’d look like caracals.

I’m sorry to interrupt but that comparison picture of the caracal and lynx is clearly a wedding photo and I’d like to take a moment to wish the joyous couple every happiness.



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32. Book Review: Shade Me by Jennifer Brown

Title: Shade Me
Author: Jennifer Brown
Published: 2016
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: When the popular girl is murdered, Nikki feels strangely drawn toward the case, even getting entangled with the girl's sexy older brother.

First Impressions: Meh. I know she's supposed to be Tough and Independent but she was awfully cagey with the cop for no reason. And the book treated synaesthesia like a superpower or something. Just weird and unsatisfying.

Later On: Generally I really like Jennifer Brown's stories. She focuses tightly on characters and character development, and how relationships grow and change, especially under the pressure of horrible situations.

This shift to a more plot-heavy mystery didn't work at all for me, especially since the things that were so strong in her other stories suffered for Plot Reasons. We never meet the murdered girl, but somehow Nikki felt a connection, even though her assessment of the murdered girl before she was murdered was decidedly negative. There was a romantic subplot and I know I was supposed to feel a connection to it and to the romantic lead (whose name I can't even remember), but I really didn't.

I know it's fashionable, especially in noir stories, to mistrust the police, but I couldn't figure out any earthly reason for her not to bring the cop in on her suspicions, even partially. He wasn't actively undermining her, gaslighting her, or at any time seemed to be one of the bad guys. In fact, he kept coming around to say, "Look, can I help? I'm doing this; this is my actual job and I'm really trying to do it here. I have information, do you have information?" And she would say no because . . . suspense?! It was unsatisfying.

Finally, my issue with the use of Nikki's synesthesia. Brown did acknowledge it as something that has given Nikki learning difficulties, but it also functioned as a magical signpost to Things That Were Important to the mystery, and a connection to the murdered girl, who (minor spoiler) had synesthesia herself.   But my understanding, which because I'm not a neuroscientist is not exactly thorough, is that synesthesia works differently for different people. How could the dead girl possibly have known what would jump out at Nikki and what wouldn't? Just a little too convenient.

I'll read Brown's next book, but only if it's not a noir mystery.

More: Kirkus Reviews
Disability in Kidlit on repackaging disabilities as superpowers, which is not always a bad thing, but annoyed me in this book

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33. First Chapter Reveal: The Hunt by Megan Shephard

Read the first chapter of the The Hunt by Megan Shephard below!     Meet Megan Shepherd! Megan Shepherd grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. She is the author of the acclaimed young adult series The Madman’s Daughter and the forthcoming middle grade novel The Secret Horses of...

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34. Summer Reading from A to Z

I wrote about my slump yesterday and I'm still struggling with reviews, but I've decided to make an effort to keep blogging, even if I post less reviews and more just stuff.  Bookish stuff, of course, but more thoughts and ideas and less reviews.  We'll see how it goes.  

Anyway, I figured a book list is a good way to start and I was inspired by Hoopla's collection of A-Z Summer Reads.  I love me a good book list, so I thought I'd share with you what I think are the essential summer reads for each letter of the alphabet.  There are a billion ways to define a summer read, but I'd say that these books are united in my mind in that they both captured my attention completely and left me feeling at least somewhat intellectually stimulated.

A: About a Boy by Nick Hornby

B: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

C: Christy by Catherine Marshall

D: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

E: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

F: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

G: Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

H: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

I: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

J: Jackaby by William Ritter

K: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (I'm cheating a bit here - this is the third in the series and you really need to read the whole series in order, but I'm short on K books I love and find summer-appropriate)

L: The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

M: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

N: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

O: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

P: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Q: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a Wold That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

R: Rex Libris by James Turner

S: The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

T: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

U: Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

V: Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

W: Watership Down by Richard Adams

X:  The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver (cut me some slack, X is hard)

Y:  Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Z: The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman


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35. Author Chat with Beth Vrabel, Camp Dork (Pack of Dorks #2), plus Giveaway!

Today on the YABC blog we are happy to sit down with author Beth Vrabel and talk with her about her upcoming release, Camp Dork, which released on shelves on May 3rd, 2016.   YABC: What surprised you most while writing your latest book? I was surprised how much fun I had going back to...

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36. Deep Point of View

What is deep of point of view and how do you write it?

https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2016/03/09/introducing-deep-pov-wth-is-it-can-we-buy-some-on-amazon/
https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/getting-in-character-deep-pov-part-two/
https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/want-a-page-turner-you-need-deep-pov/

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37. Becoming a Close Writer by Paula Bourque

Teacher-author Paula Bourque steps into our Author Spotlight today to share her experiences about becoming a published author.

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38. BLOCKS by Irene Dickson



I absolutely adore BLOCKS by Irene Dickson! I often consult Kirkus Reviews to see what they think of a book and occasionally their reviewer will sum up a book so perfectly I have to quote, and that is the case with BLOCKS. Of Dickson's book, Kirkus succinctly writes, "A cleverly simple book builds skills as well as towers."





Ruby builds with red blocks on the verso, Benji builds with blue blocks on the recto. They parallel play until Benji borrows a red block and a tussle follows. And the structures they have built come crashing down. Ruby even loses a shoe. Both children look stricken and the tension is palpable. Dickson does so much with few words and bold illustrations in BLOCKS. Even if you can see it coming, it is exciting to see the conflict and the resolution in this wonderful picture book. And, while Dickson could have ended BLOCKS with Ruby and Benji happily building together, a final page turn reveals Guy with his green blocks.

As a parent, I find so many teachable moments in BLOCKS. As a librarian who just won a grant that has brought three different sets of blocks (Kapla, Magnatiles and TEDCO Blocks & Marbles) into the library, I especially am grateful to have this book to pull off the shelf when the battles begin...

Source: Review Copy


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39. A Comic Ode to Booktalking

We’re in the throes of booktalking here at Darien Library, and I thought this time-honored tradition deserved a comic.

anodetobooktalking-sm

All illustrations copyright Lisa Nowlain, 2016.

Lisa Nowlain is the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Fellow and Children’s Librarian at Darien Library in Darien, CT. She is also an artist-type (see more at lisanowlain.com).

The post A Comic Ode to Booktalking appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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40. Every Other Day Blog Challenge (1)

When I was in 7th grade, I was determined to be a writer. I loved English class. I loved to read. More than anything, I loved to write, even if I didn't really have anything to write about. I would journal about my days and try to make them sound exciting, for some future self who might someday be reading my diary. I would scribble story ideas on napkins and used envelopes, and stick them in a notebook for future writing inspiration. I probably still have one or two or ten of those notebooks lying around, gathering dust. 

So what happened? Well, lots of things. My perspective on the world changed a lot when I went home to Manila instead of applying for an Ivy League school like I'd always planned on doing. Depression happened. Working in retail and being really tired all the time happened. Community college happened. Not all things that happened were necessarily good or bad, it was just life. I honed some skills (baking, knitting, art) and got worse at some things (exercising, staying organized, swimming).

Now and then when I think about writing, I realize I have lots and lots of things to talk about. Want to know about that time I got kicked off the school paper? Or that time I really embarrassed myself in front of a guy I liked? (Those times, I should say, there were a few.) How about that time I got left back a grade even though I had the most freaking perfect grades a student could ever want? Oh man, I have some stories.

I read a lot, too. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but reading is so, SO important for anyone who wants to be a writer. You have to learn how words work, how they string along together to do something, like teach a lesson or evoke a feeling or make you cringe. You have to know the rules before you break them. You have to learn what bores people to tears so you can, you know, NOT write like that.

I almost think reading, too much reading, is the thing that has eaten away at my writing life the most in the last 20 years. Every year I try to read more than I did the year before. Every year I write less, and less, and less. I can tweet, no problem. I usually strive for funny/informative in 140 characters or less. I just want to share things that I think people I know will find interesting. I love hashtags, too. They're the best on Instagram--I probably spend more time picking hashtags there than writing the caption. I kind of hate writing reviews now. I still form opinions on things, but I'd rather comment about them on Facebook than really go into a full analysis of something. I want to have short text conversations with others more than I want to carefully compose a critical essay (because that feels like homework). I just want to react and use as many emojis as possible to get my feelings across. Tumblr is my absolute favorite. I don't even have to comment: just reblog. Always reblog.

When I'm not chasing deadlines for school work, I read. I have read some pretty amazing books, and that's kind of the problem. Have you read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss? How about every book ever written by Leigh Bardugo, or Mary Pearson, or Maggie Stiefvater, or Maria V. Snyder, or Margaret Atwood? How about Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind (no relation to the other previously named book with "wind" in the title)? I love those books. I think some part of me thinks too far ahead, that I'll never be as good as they are, and why waste time working on something that will never pan out, that won't pay the rent, when I can sit here and unwind from my day job by watching 6 episodes of Gilmore Girls every night?

Part of me knows it's not supposed to be easy if it's worth doing. But another part of me insists I need to do something else first. Cleaning the fridge, or scrubbing the toilet, or putting away the laundry: once the most pressing to-do-list items have been checked off, by the time I'm done, all I'm good for is putting my feet up and watching, you guessed it, just one more episode of Gilmore Girls. Some perverse part of me thinks getting on a treadmill for an hour should come first. Barring that, I should play paper ball catch with the cats so they get some much-needed exercise. These are things worth doing. Maintaining good hygiene, cooking a meal from scratch, getting my teeth cleaned. All worthwhile and responsible uses of time and effort. When I'm done with all of these other things, I'll read. When I'm done, I'll paint/knit/sew something. When I'm done, I'll write. It's always in the plans.

Today, however, and every other day for at least a week, I am writing first, and everything else later. (Actually, I thought up this challenge for myself while procrastinating on the final paper I have to turn in to my teacher on Friday.) Every other day, the moment I'm free, the books will stay closed. The knitting bag stays unopened. Netflix remains frozen on the Gilmore Girls episode I stopped watching last night because I had to be up at 4:30 for work.

What do I think will happen? Well, I don't think I'll have a bestselling novel anytime soon. I won't even have a finished first draft of something in the next year (oh school, I love you, I hate you!). I think I will write about writing, about not writing, about things that are not writing. But maybe, just maybe, I will write.


Is there something you'd like me to write about? Let me know in the comments. Here are some things I brainstormed while procrastinating some more because I am really, really not ready to work on this paper for class:

  • learning to drive
  • favorite restaurants
  • collections
  • forgiveness
  • how much I hate shopping for clothes
  • celebrity crushes
  • disorganization
  • being a bad god-parent
  • being a bully
  • my cats (of course)
  • unrealistic musical aspirations (probably)
  • how much I love eating out alone
  • used bookstores
  • pain
  • optimism
  • sugar
  • talking on the phone and how much I hate it now
  • knitting
  • sewing
  • looking for work
  • working in groups
  • board games
  • video games
  • why I procrastinate

Ok, I think that's enough procrastination for now. 

I'm going to go cook some spaghetti while watching Gilmore Girls, then work on my paper... after I watch an episode of Gilmore Girls...

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41. Poetry Friday: To Stay Alive


I mentioned in Wednesday's post (about my next-in-the-graphic-novel-series TBR pile) that I love Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales, and this one in particular. From my Goodreads review: "The Donner Party story is filled with idiots who make stupid decisions for all the reasons stupid decisions get made: pride, greed, stubbornness...Here's some history we FOR SURE don't want to repeat!!"


by Nathan Hale
Harry N. Abrams, 2014




by Skila Brown
Candlewick, October 2016

Even though I knew the train-wreck of a story line, I was excited to read this novel in verse about the Donners, and excited for another book from Skila Brown, author of Caminar. The story is told from the point of view of 19 year-old survivor Mary Ann Graves. Each poem has its own unique structure, which gives the book a satisfying breadth and depth, and which contributes to the pacing of the story. Because of the first person point of view and the emotional quality of the poems, this is a most human telling of this story -- yes, they were stupid; yes, mistakes were made. But in the end, they were humans who did what they needed to do to survive.


Julie has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at The Drift Record.



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42. Sharing wordless books with children: tips & favorite books (all ages)

Do you enjoy reading wordless books with your child? Do you like the freedom to make up your words and stories, or does it leave you a little lost? Wordless picture books tell the stories only through the illustrations, and they put much more of the storytelling role onto the reader.

Wordless books can be a delight and a challenge to read with children -- here are a few of my tips:

1. Encourage children to make up the story. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to read these books.

2. Spend time looking at the cover and talking about the book's title. What do you think this story is going to be about? What do you notice?

3. Take a "picture walk" through the pages, looking at the pictures and talking together about what you see.

4. Slow down and notice the details together. Talk about the characters' expressions, the setting, the use of color. What does the illustrator want us to notice?

5. Encourage your child to use different voices, add sound effects and use interesting words as they tell the story. Have fun!

These conversations will enrich your child's storytelling, bringing joy and meaning to the experience.
Here is a collection of my favorite wordless books, new and old, with a brief description (based on the publisher's description).
  • 10 Minutes till Bedtime, by Peggy Rathmann -- A boy's hamster leads an increasingly large group of hamsters on a tour of the boy's house, while his father counts down the minutes to bedtime.
  • A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka -- A dog has fun with her ball, until it is lost. This story is about what it is like to lose something special, and find a friend.
  • Draw!, by Raúl Colón -- A boy who is confined to his room fills his sketch pad with lions and elephants, then imagines himself on a safari.
  • The Farmer and the Clown, by Marla Frazee -- A farmer rescues a baby clown who has bounced off the circus train, and takes very good care of him until he can reunite the tot with his clown family.
  • Flora and the Flamingo, by Molly Idle -- In this wordless book with interactive flaps, a friendship develops between a girl named Flora and a graceful flamingo, as they learn to dance together.
  • Float, by Daniel Miyares -- A boy loses his paper boat in the rain, and goes on an adventure to retrieve it.
  • Good Night, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann -- An unobservant zookeeper is followed home by all the animals he thinks he has left behind in the zoo.
  • Journey, by Aaron Becker -- A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey.
  • The Lion and the Mouse, by Jerry Pinkney -- In this wordless retelling of an Aesop fable set in the African Serengeti, an adventuresome mouse proves that even small creatures are capable of great deeds when she rescues the King of the Jungle.
  • Mr. Wuffles!, by David Wiesner -- Mr. Wuffles ignores all his cat toys but one, which turns out to be a spaceship piloted by small green aliens. 
  • Pool, by JiHyeon Lee -- Two shy children meet at a noisy pool and dive beneath the crowd into a magical undersea land, where they explore a fantastical landscape and meet various creatures.
  • Spot the Cat, by Henry Cole -- A cat named Spot ventures out an open window and through a city on a journey, while his owner (and the reader!) try to find him.
  • Tall, by Jez Alborough -- All the jungle animals help a very little monkey to feel that he is tall.
  • The Typewriter, by Bill Thomson -- Three children find a typewriter on a carousel, and begin an adventure that helps them discover the wonder of words.
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.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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43. The Picture Book Process

There are many steps from thinking about writing a picture book to showing the published book to children,

http://www.buzzfeed.com/macbarnett/how-to-write-a-picture-book-i066#.etWKVbzND

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44. Under Earth, Under Water

Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizieliński (@hipopotam) started a revolution here in the UK, with the publication by Big Picture Press back in 2013 of their now famous Maps. With that beautifully produced book we started to see something of new departure for children’s non-fiction, with publishers realising that there was an appetite for gorgeously illustrated and finely produced information books which didn’t look or feel like school textbooks.

Since then we’ve seen several new non-fiction imprints established, dedicated to bringing us eye-catching, unusual and sumptuous non-fiction for children and young people, such as Wide Eyed Editions and 360 Degrees. This is great news, especially for younger children who report choosing to read non-fiction (42% of 7-11 year olds) almost as much as they do fiction (48.2% of 7-11 year olds, source), though you’d never guess this from the imbalance in titles published and reviewed.

underearthunderwatercoverIt’s wonderful to see the return of the founders of the non-fiction revolution with a new title, Under Earth, Under Water, a substantial and wide-ranging exploration of what lies beneath the surface of the globe.

Split into two halves, allowing you to start from either end of the book by turning it around to explore either what lies beneath the earth, or under the oceans, this compendium of startling facts and quirky, fresh illustrations makes the most of its large format (a double page spread almost extends to A2), with great visual and verbal detail to pour over and a real sense of going down, down, down across the expanse of the pages.

The Earth pages cover everything from burrowing creatures to plant life in the soil, via extracting natural resources to industrial underground infrastructure. Tunnels, caves, digging up fossils and plate tectonics are all included in this rich and varied buffet brought together though a simple concept – simply exploring what is underneath our feet.

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The Water pages explore aquatic life right from the surface down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, ocean geography, human exploration with the aid of diving equipment, the history of submarines and even shipwrecks.

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Lavishly produced, with gorgeously thick paper it is a delight to hold this book in your hands. Wonderful design, featuring lots of natural reds and browns in the Earth section and soothing shades of blues and green in the Water section, ensures exploring the diverse content is a visual treat as much as it is a spark for thinking about the world around us in new ways.

My only question mark over Under Earth, Under Water is the lack of an index. Maybe this makes it more like a box of treasures to rummage in and linger over, the sort of space where you can’t be sure what gems you’ll dig up. Although perhaps not a resource from which to clinically extract information, Under Earth, Under Water offers a great deal to explore and a very enjoyable journey to the centre of the earth.

burrow

There’s so much we could have “played” in Under Earth, Under Water. We toyed with making submarines, visiting caves, planting seeds to watch roots grow, but in the end the animal burrows won out, and we decided it was time to make our own. This began with papier mache and balloons…

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…which when dry were set into a cardboard box frame, and surrounded by layers of “soil” i.e. different coloured felt, to recreate the layering of different soil and rock types.

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Then the burrows needed filling! Sylvanian families came to the rescue, along with nature treasures gathered from the garden.

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And soon we had a dollshouse with a difference! (Can you spot the bones and other archaeological finds waiting to be dug up from the soil??)

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Whilst making our underground burrow we listened to:

  • Underwater Land by Shel Silverstein and Pat Dailey
  • Underground Overground Wombling Free….
  • Going Underground by The Jam

  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading Under Earth, Under Water include:

  • Watching live video footage from NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer in the Mariana Trench!
  • Reading Above and Below by Patricia Hegarty and Hanako Clulow. This books explores similar territory to Under Earth, Under Water – but for slightly younger children – and makes great use of split pages.
  • Digging to see what’s under the earth in your garden. We did exactly this, as a mini archaeological excavation inspired by Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
  • Creating your own underwater volcano
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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher, Big Picture Press. The book was translated by Antonia Lloyd Jones although she is not credited in the book.

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    45. More-igami by Dori Kleber, illustrated by G. Brian Karas



    More-igami is the debut picture book from Dori Kleber, illustrated by longtime favorite G. Brian Karas. More-igami is a fantastic picture book for so many reasons. The main character shows perseverance or, grit, to use the hot new word in the world of education, as he struggles to master a skill. More-igami is a marvel of diversity in a picture book, featuring African American, Asian and Hispanic characters. But, best of all, More-igami is just a really great story with marvelous illustrations that is a joy to read our loud.


    Joey loves all things folded, from maps to accordions to tacos to, of course, foldaway beds. When Joey's classmate, Sarah, brings her mother to school to teach the class how to make origami cranes, Joey's mind is blown. Mrs. Takimoto tells Joey that she can teach him the folds, but if he wants to be an origami master, he'll "need patience and practice." No problem! Joey practices everywhere with everything, including folding the $38.00 he found in his mother's purse. Frustrated and out things to fold, Joey heads to the restaurant next door because "fajitas always made him feel better." There, he finds a place to practice folding and help out Mr. Lopez. Even better, he finds a new friend to share his talent with - as long as she has patience and is willing to practice!

    Karas's illustrations are perfectly matched to Kleber's text, which wonderfully, simply shows the frustration and determination that Joey possesses. The hand drawn texture of Karas's illustrations add to the creative feel of More-igami, which will undoubtedly inspire readers to do some folding of their own, especially since there is a two page spread at the end of the book that shows you how to fold an origami ladybug!

    Source: Review Copy

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    46. Review of the Day: Next to You by Lori Haskins Houran

    NextToYouNext to You: A Book of Adorableness
    By Lori Haskins Houran
    Illustrated by Sydney Hanson
    Albert Whitman & Co.
    $16.99
    ISBN: 9780807556009
    Ages 4-7
    On shelves now

    Years ago I saw a very interesting sketch produced during the early years of Disney animated filmmaking. The drawing was an explanation to animators on the precise proportions it takes to make a drawn character “cute”. The size of the eyes, the proportions between a large head and small hands, the slant of the gaze, all this contributes to the final cute form. At its worst, the word “cute” conjures up creations like those Precious Moments figurines and their insipid equals. At its best, it touches on our maternal and paternal instincts, even if we’re the kinds of folks who prefer furry animals to actual human babies. If you are a children’s librarian working with picture books, you get a nice and steady influx of cute into your location. Some of it is good, but most of it is fairly intolerable. An Anne Geddes / Nancy Tillman-like excess. I can be forgiven then for putting aside Next to You: A Book of Adorableness when first it came to my desk. I read every picture book I’m sent, but some I read a little faster than others, and this didn’t strike me as something to rush over and devour. It took a fellow co-worker to break the news to me that author Lori Haskins Houran’s title has a very sharp tongue lodged firmly in its cheek. With a canniness uncommon in cutesy picture book fair, Next to You manages to reach a dual readership: People who will take it seriously and people who will get the joke. Sweet.

    next-dogA narrator addressing a child sets the tone at the start. That tiny border collie puppy with the bow around its next and a little lamb toy (nice touch)? It’s only “kind of cute”. The yawning tiger cub or round-tailed bunny? “Whatever”. Honestly, the person being addressed wipes the floor with the competition. Those animals used to be really cute. “Until you came along. Now? Sorta so-so”. The narrator’s casual attitude is swiftly called into question, however, when they see a newborn giraffe for the first time. Seeing the giraffe chasing a butterfly, they’re almost persuaded that the giraffe is cuter but, “No! NO WAY! They are NOT as adorable as you. Not NEARLY.” Whew! A final shot of some of the animals in a cuddly pile ends with the narrator saying that none of them are as cute as you, “And you know what? I’m happy to be . . . next to you.” Aw.

    Okay. So let’s talk audience here. When a picture book is talking about how cute someone is, that’s usually a tip-off that kids aren’t actually the focus. Instead, this is probably a book written with the hopes of becoming a baby shower staple. Picture books for expectant mothers are big business (how else to explain the inexplicable yet continual sales of Love You Forever?) so each season we see a couple titles make a play for the hearts and minds of incipient parents everywhere. Few succeed in the long run. What distinguishes Next to You from the pack is that it manages to not merely be a new baby book. Houran has somehow or other managed to write something that has appeal to a certain brand of snarky new parent (a common animal too often ignored by the picture book market) AND to actual children as well. This book is self-aware. A saving grace.

    next-squirrelThe text gets you pretty much from the first sentence onward. “Next to you, the softest puppy in the world is only kind of cute.” As a librarian I was intrigued but I wasn’t sold. Not until we got to the squirrel. That was the moment when I felt like Houran was making a distinct comment about those of us that waste countless hours watching cute animal videos on YouTube. “A squirrel eating a doughnut with his tiny hands? Adorable, sure. But next to you? Meh. Just OK.” The mix of “tiny hands” and “meh” is noteworthy. I know this sounds a little odd, but that two-page spread is the first true indication that you’re dealing with a picture book is a slick sense of humor. After all, that opening line might just be a fluke. But there is no denying how funny squirrels with itty-bitty widdle hands are, particularly when combined with the all-encompassing and supremely uninterested, “meh”. When the book stops for a moment to goggle at the shockingly cute giraffe, that pause is fascinating. I mean, how do you get a plot out of a book where all the narrator is saying is how cute various animals are? Houran must have also had a blast trying to conjure up all the different forms of cuteness out there? At the same time, take some care to notice that these animals are never in compromising positions. A pig may occasionally wear a sweater but nothing here is considered cute because it’s having its dignity taken away.

    It’s a lucky editor that gets a manuscript like this one. Imagine knowing that the artist you acquired would have to excel in the art of “cute”. This editor undoubtedly had to consider a wide swath of artists adept at big eyes and tiny bodies. In the end, the selection fell to first time picture book illustrator Sydney Hanson. Trained in animation and character design, Hanson’s Tumblr page is awash in a sea of sweetness. More details and intricate than the characters found in this book, Hanson is adept at not simply rendering cute the horrible (the big-eyed tarantula is my favorite) but making it clear that these characters have personalities too. The book doesn’t give away Hanson’s medium, so this might all be done on a computer for all I know. That said, it looks like colored pencils. For the art to be effective there has to be a certain level of fuzziness to it. Colored pencils provide that virtual fuzz. My two-year-old son has taken to hugging cute characters in books when he sees them. Next to You, thanks to Hanson’s techniques, is now infinitely huggable.

    I never thought I’d say this, but I think this book would actually make a good readaloud to a large group. It would take some practice. You’d really have to get your cadences down. But with the right inflection this could actually work for a bunch of kids. It might even work particularly well for those of the jaded variety. The same kinds of kids that get hornswaggled by Guess Again! by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex would find themselves flummoxed by this book. Few can turn pages without thinking, “Where is this going?” An oddity of a book, but a good one to know about. Don’t let the big blue kitten eyes on the cover fool you. There’s a lot to love between these pages. It’s a book that upsets expectations for adults but still manages to be fun for kids. And if you happen to want to give it to a new parent, I’m not gonna stop you. Not one little bit.

    On shelves now.

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    0 Comments on Review of the Day: Next to You by Lori Haskins Houran as of 5/26/2016 2:43:00 AM
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    47. PubCrawl Podcast: Genres – Romance

    This week JJ and Kelly conclude their series on genres in publishing with ROMANCES. Also, we reveal the depth of our Harry Potter nerdery and our deep fandom past. TRIGGER WARNING: We discuss rape and consent in Old School romances.

    Subscribe to us on iTunesStitcherSoundcloud, or use this feed to subscribe through your podcast service of choice! If you like us, please, please, please leave a rating or review, as it helps other listeners find the podcast. We cherish each and every one of you who have taken the time to leave us feedback; you’re the stars in our sky!

    Show Notes

    • Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (and their podcast!)
    • Romance is the largest market of publishing in terms of sheer number of books being published, units being sold, as well as cash flow.
    • We discussed the hallmarks of other genres, but romance really only has the one: your main couple must end up in a relationship by the end of the book (the so-called HEA, or Happily Ever After, or the HFN, or Happily For Now).
    • Romance is a staple of publishing, and is a large part of what we now consider the literary “canon” but the modern romance novel as we knew it first came into existence in the 1970s. According to the Smart Bitches, the “first” modern romance novel is The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.
    • Romance novels are divided into Old School and New School romance: Old School are the books published pre-1990s.
    • Old School romances may be partially responsible for the “trashy” reputation around romance novels because there were forceful, rapist male romantic leads, but for other reasons, not the least because the stories were centered around female leads and female pleasure.
    • Old School romances were also about awakening the female lead, sexually, emotionally, etc. so some hangups about “virginity” (actual or metaphorical) linger.
    • Romance publishing is divided into two segments: category and single-title.
    • Category romances are specific lines from a publisher focusing on specific tropes and storylines. As a romance writer, it may be easier to break into publishing by starting to write for categories.
    • Single-title romances are focused more on the author’s name than the tropes, e.g. Nora Roberts. The stories and tropes are created wholesale by the author and is more similar to other trade publishing genres.
    • In terms of content, romances can literally contain anything. Anything! That’s the greatest thing about romance; it’s like Mad Libs: put in what you want and you’ll pretty much guaranteed to find a romance novel that fits that criteria. Romances span every genre: mystery, thriller, science-fiction, fantasy, contemporary, et al. What constitutes a ROMANCE as opposed to another genre is the centrality of the love story.
    • Romances can have series, either where friends or different family members get their own romances in separate books, or else it’s one central couple throughout multiple books.

    Books Discussed/What We’re Reading

    What We’re Working On

    • Kelly is continuing to work on her WIP, not by writing words, but by journaling and thinking and creating.
    • The project JJ couldn’t talk about last week was a companion novel to Wintersong! Cue the panic.

    Off Menu Recommendations

    That’s all for this week! We will be on hiatus for the next two weeks as both JJ and Kelly will be on vacation (not together, alas!). When we return, we will be starting a new series, wherein we break down stories to see what makes them successful or not. As always, sound off in the comments if you have any questions and we’ll see you in two weeks!

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    48. X-Men: Apocalypse

    I promise, at some point I'll go back to writing about things that aren't superheroes.  Though that would require Hollywood to stop blasting superhero stories at us in such close succession (I haven't even written anything about the second season of Daredevil, though you can get a sense of the existential despair it plunged me into from the thread starting at this tweet).  Coming at the end of

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    49. Featured Review: The Hunt (The Cage #2) by Megan Shepherd

    About this book:The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in the second novel in this gripping and romantic YA series about teens abducted from Earth by an otherworldly race—from Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of the Madman’s Daughter series. They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet. After their failed escape attempt,...

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    50. Nurtured and Nuzzled - a bookwrap






    Celebrating the bond between parent and child!

    In two languages!


    Unwrapping...





    Nurtured and Nuzzled
    Criados y Acariciados

    By Mike Speiser
    Ages 0-5


    Unwrapping some illustrations for you...














    Editorial Reviews...



    "My 2 young boys and I love this charming little book! They think the animal family pictures are "SO cute" and I really appreciate how it normalizes the nurturing relationship between parents and their children. It makes cuddling during storytime that much sweeter." (Sarah Reece-Stremtan, MD, Pediatric Pain Medicine Doctor and Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Board Member in Washington, DC)


    “The beautiful illustrations in this book can be used to teach all four areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) to young children. I can't wait to use this with my little ones!" (Sue Cahalane, Science for Kids, Science Teacher (grades PK-4), Holmdel, NJ)



    “What a wonderful read for families―beautifully illustrated and with an important message about the meaning of parenting.” (Thelma Lager, Advocate for Families, Great-Grandmother (of three), Los Angeles, CA)



    About the book...


    Every parent knows that a baby truly is a gift.  A gift to be nurtured and cherished.  This book is a celebration of the bond that is created between a child and  his beloved parent.  

    This educational, bilingual, (English and Spanish), early childhood science book highlights the importance of good parenting in an infant's life.  It illustrates how a baby needs feeding, grooming and specific care to have his needs taken care of.  The simple vocabulary, in two languages, will provide a lovely learning experience for your young child.

    The illustrations are realistic and beautifully executed with bold colours and loving expressions.  



    0 Comments on Nurtured and Nuzzled - a bookwrap as of 5/26/2016 9:29:00 AM
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