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1. Character-Driven: Extraordinary Warren by the Extraordinary Sarah Dillard (plus a giveaway!)

I know what you’re thinking—where has Tara been all July? (Well, maybe you’re not thinking that. Maybe you’re daydreaming about a fro-yo fix. And who could blame you?)

Well, it’s August and I’m back with an extraordinary interview. The talented author-illustrator Sarah Dillard turned what she thought was a picture book into an adorable early-reader chapter book. What did it take to get EXTRAORDINARY WARREN published? Let’s find out while we devour our fro-yo…

warrencoverSarah, what exactly made you realize that WARREN was destined for more than a picture book?

When I started working on Warren, I intended it to be a picture book but I felt that the story and ideas that I wanted to tell with him were a little more complex than the picture book format would comfortably allow. This is not to say that there are not complex picture books because there certainly are. But with Warren, it just seemed like he needed a little room to spread his wings. I didn’t worry about chapters though until a few drafts in. At that point it felt like there were natural breaks in the story for chapters. I have to say, when I am working on something I don’t automatically think “I am writing a picture book or this is going to be a chapter book.” I focus on the character and the story and let it unfold and then see what fits it best.

That’s great advice, to focus on character.

Thanks, Tara. I also wanted to add, that as picture books seem to be skewering younger, there is a great opportunity for illustrated early readers and chapter books to fill the gap for the beginning reader.

So what inspired Warren’s creation? How did he hatch?

Warren began as a doodle of a chicken looking at an egg. He looked curious to me and felt like a character who was looking for life’s answers. Did I draw the egg first or the chicken? I’ll never tell!

ExtraordinaryWarren Oeuf

My favorite spread in WARREN is the one with the hill in separate panels. How did you come up with that unique visual concept?

ExtraordinaryWarren bonk

That is one of my favorite spreads too! When I started thinking about how I would do the art for this book, my art director suggested a limited palette—with three colors plus black and white. I was hesitant at first but when I realized that I could use black as more than just an outline, the art took a fun graphic turn. I felt the use of black for the hill added just the right drama for this spread. I also liked the idea of having basically one hill but several panels that show Warren’s progression up and over that hill. I think it works both literally and figuratively for this part of the story.

warrenmoon

How different is it to write/illustrate your own book as opposed to just being an illustrator on a project?

I think it is quite different to illustrate my own book than illustrating someone else’s work. Illustrating someone else’s story is a huge responsibility. It is kind of like having someone say here is my beautiful child, please raise it. I am very conscious of wanting to do justice to the story as the author might have envisioned it while also bringing my own sensibility to the story.

When I am illustrating my own work having the art serve the story becomes the primary focus. I thinking of the images and what part they will have in telling the story as I write, so the art and the words feel inseparable to me. I think when I am working on my own books I have a stronger intuitive sense of what the story will need and am more willing to take risks to give it that. For instance, WARREN is done digitally and in a style quite different than I any I have worked in, but I think it was the best approach for the book.

We’re hearing a lot about how editors want character-driven stories. What about Warren’s character makes him especially appealing?

That is a great question, and I’m glad that you find WARREN appealing! In creating WARREN, I tried to think about things that I thought about as a child, and probably still think about; the big questions—Who am I? What is my place in this world? I think we all want be special in some way but worry that maybe we are not. WARREN taps into that and hopefully it makes him someone that the reader can relate to and cheer on.

specialchicken

EW Savest the dayAnd…are there more WARREN books planned for the future?

I’m happy to say YES! EXTRAORDINARY WARREN SAVES THE DAY will be published in October. I don’t want to give too much away, but I can say that this book will deal with another of life’s big questions. Finally, we will learn, once and for all, why the chicken crossed the road.

Thanks, Sarah!

I’ll let my blog readers know that you’re giving away a signed copy of EXTRAORDINARY WARREN: A SUPER CHICKEN—they just have to leave a comment by August 8th. Hey, that’s even better than fro-yo!

Sarah Dillard studied art at Wheaton College and illustration at Rhode Island School of Design. She lives with her husband in Waitsfield, Vermont. For more about Sarah and her books, visit SarahDillard.com.

 


10 Comments on Character-Driven: Extraordinary Warren by the Extraordinary Sarah Dillard (plus a giveaway!), last added: 8/1/2014
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2. I Didn't Do My Homework Because... Davide Cali

Book: I Didn't Do My Homework Because ...
Authors: Davide Cali & Benjamin Chaud 
Pages: 44
Age Range: 6-9

I Didn't Do My Homework Because ... is a celebration of the ingenuity of childhood. On the first page, a teacher asks a child: "So why didn't you do your homework?" On subsequent pages, he shares a host of creative excuses, like:

"An airplane full of monkeys landed in our yard"; and

"Some escaped convicts from the local jail hid in my bedroom and wouldn't come out." 

Each excuse is accompanied by a humorous illustration. In the prior example, we see the boy surrounded by much larger prisoners in yellow-striped outfits. The boy is brining them pink lemonade, and they are looking at his books. Because why not? 

This is a small format book, about the size of an early reader. It's more like a picture book in format otherwise, though the target age range is probably solidly in elementary school. Preschoolers don't generally have much homework, after all. Nor are they likely to know what "carnivorous plants" are. There's a humorous ending in which the teacher doesn't believe the boy, because she has the same book. For me, this was just enough to make it feel a bit like a story, rather than solely a collection of excuses. The illustrations are full of detail, and include boy-friendly tidbits like giant lizards. 

Instructions on the back of the book read:

"WHEN TO USE THIS BOOK:
Whenever you haven't finished your homework.

CAUTION:
Each excuse may only be used once."

Like the excuses, I'm not sure how well this book will hold up to multiple reads. But it's definitely fun, and sure to make elementary school kids laugh. Recommended for classroom libraries, or any seven-year-old with an overactive imagination.  

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

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

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

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3. #522 – Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome by Bill Harley

charlie bumpers nice gnome.

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome

by Bill Harley & Adam Gustavson, illustrator

Peachtree Publishers     3/01/2014

978-1-56145-740-3

Age 7 to 10   167 pages

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“Charlie Bumpers has his heart set on playing the role of the evil Sorcerer in the fourth grade play. He’s even got the laugh down pat: Mwa-ha-ha-ha! But his dreams of villainous stardom go up in smoke when he finds out that Mrs. Burke has cast him as the Nice Gnome! Determined to rectify this terrible injustice, Charlie concocts one plan after another, but nothing seems to work.

“To make matters worse, his dad has assigned chores to all the kids in the family and Charlie’s job is walking Ginger – the diggiest, sniffiest, and poopiest dog in the universe. Can Charlie deal with these challenges without causing havoc all around him?”

Opening

“Are you ready, thespians?” Mrs. Burke asked. “Are your desks cleared?”

The Story

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome is the second book in this early reader series. The first was Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year, who happened to be Mrs. Burke. This time around Mrs. Burke’s Empire—her term—will be acting out a play for parents and others . . . at night! Since Mrs. aaa use2Burke read The Sorcerer’s Castle t the class, Charlie has been set on playing Kragon, the evil sorcerer. Kragon has the best line in the whole play.

“You horrible people! My plans are ruined! My dreams are ruined! I am ruined!”

Mrs. Burke handed out the scripts. At the top was your role. Charlie couldn’t believe his eyes. Mrs. Burke gave him the role of The Nice Gnome. Charlie would rather be on the stage crew and move sets around than be The Nice Gnome. The problem, as Charlie saw it, The Nice Gnome was ridiculously nice and Charlie does not want to be a nice guy. He did not want anyone laughing at him. He had to get out of this role.

Review

Charlie has a dilemma. Playing The Nice Gnome in Mrs. Burke’s fourth grade class play would be horrible. He tries to ask for a new part. Charlie even tries rewriting his role. Just as in book one, Charlie must somehow make it through Mrs. Burke. Last time he was afraid she would remember the shoe that almost hit her. Now, he must face her about a terrible part. Mrs. Burke is the perfect character to deal with Charlie’s angst. She is stern, maybe a little too s21tern, but tempers this with kindness that the kids rarely see. Mrs. Burke is a good teacher and a good role model. She also reminds me of most every elementary teacher I ever had. Except for maybe her exploding fingers that get everyone’s immediate attention.

Charlie also has some aggravation at home. Charlie thinks it is unfair that his job means walking Ginger first thing after school, while older brother Matt can read a video game magazine. Little sister Mabel—AKA Squid—wants to walk Ginger but is too young and unable to control the dog. Matt refuses to help or switch jobs with Charlie, but he does make a point of reminding him to walk the dog. The three siblings are realistic in their attitudes toward one another. They pick on and at each other, but run to the rescue if someone else picks on them.

The actual play is the best part of the story, as it should be. At times silly and then hilarious, Charlie comaaa use doges to an understanding about The Nice Gnome and Mrs. Burke. Charlie’s part has him on stage as Samantha Grunsky’s helper. Samantha is bossy and a know-it-all, and she sits in the chair behind Charlie. Charlie’s best friend, Tommy, has the other fourth grade teacher.

I enjoyed Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome. The story is a fast read, due mainly to my refusing to stop turning pages. Getting to the play was worth the wait. Kids will enjoy Charlie and will be able to identify with him. Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome has several scenes kids will find hilarious such as Charlie dealing with a neighbor woman whose lawn Ginger prefers to use for “his business.” The illustrations wonderfully capture Charlie’s fourth grade frustrations. Included are the first six pages to the next book in the series: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull.

.Learn more about Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome HERE.

Buy Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome orCharlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year at AmazonB&NPeachtreeyour local bookstore.

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Meet the author, Bill Harley at his website:  http://www.billharley.com/

Meet the illustrator, Adam Gustavson at his website:   http://www.adamgustavson.com/

Find other early readers at the Peachtree Publisher website:   http://peachtree-online.com/

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE REALLY NICE GNOME. Text copyright © 2014 by Bill Harley. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Adam Gustavson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA.

COMING FALL 2014
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charlie bumpers nice gnome

 Peachtree Publisher’s Book Blog Tour

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome

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Monday, 3/24 

Sally’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, 3/25

 The World of Peachtree Publishers
Wednesday, 3/26 

Shelf Media Group
Thursday, 3/27

 Kid Lit Reviews     YOU ARE HERE!
Friday, 3/28 

Geo Librarian


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Early Reader, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Series Tagged: Adam Gustavson, Bill Harley, children's book reviews, family, Fourth grade, gnomes, Peachtree Publishers, relationships, school plays

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4. Ten Eggs in a Nest: Marilyn Sadler

Book: Ten Eggs in a Nest (Bright and Early Books for Beginning Readers)
Author: Marily Sadler
Illustrator: Michael Fleming
Pages: 48
Age Range: 3-7

Ten Eggs in a Nest is an early reader from the Bright and Early Books collection. In my house, we've found it to be quite educational (and fun) for a pre-reader, too. The premise of the story is that Gwen the chicken and Red Rooster are going to be parents. Out of supersition ("It's bad luck to count your eggs before they hatch.") Gwen won't tell Red how many eggs there are. As the eggs hatch, in increasing size batches (starting with one), Red rushes off to the worm store. Each time, before he gets back, there are more chicks, with a total of ten. 

This book works as an early reader. The words and sentence structure are simple (though not boring), and there is plenty of repetition. It also works as a counting and simple addition book. Like this:

"ONE plus TWO makes THREE baby chicks!" said Gwen.
ONE! TWO! THREE!"

And, laterL

"ONE plus TWO plus THREE plus FOUR makes TEN baby chicks!" clucked Gwen.

As a read-aloud, it's enjoyable, though I did find myself skimming by the fourth or fifth read. I think for new readers the repetition will provide scaffolding, and work well. The capitalizing of the text of the numbers helps to highlight those, too. 

I think what made my daughter ask to read it again (and again) was a combination of the fun of doing the counting, and the charm of Red Rooster. He's so proud when his babies are born - it's really adorable. Like this:

"Red strutted into Worm World.
He held his head high.
He puffed his chest out.
Pinky Pig was behind the counter."

There's also repeated humor when Red is surprised and says that you could have knocked him over with a feather. That, together with the "don't count your chicks before they are hatched" gives parents a chance to introduce the idea of sayings.

Michael Fleming's illustrations are boldly colored and inviting, with thick outlines and a spare use of texture. The birds are not representational, but they are all cute, especially the strutting red. My daughter noticed that the sign in Worm World is written with worm shapes, and she was quite charmed by this detail. 

all in all, Ten Eggs in a Nest is an early reader done well. It's definitely worth a look, and worth adding to school and public libraries.I look forward to trying it again when my daughter is actually ready to read. 

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

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

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

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5. Moldylocks and the Three Beards: Noah Z. Jones

Book: Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe: Book 1: Moldylocks and the Three Beards
Author: Noah Z. Jones
Pages: 80 (illustrated early reader)
Age Range: 5-7

Moldylocks and the Three Beards (yes, Beards) is the first book in a new heavily illustrated early chapter book series by Noah Z. Jones called Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe. Princess Pink has seven older brothers, and her parents were so happy to have a girl that they named her "Princess." Their last name is "Pink." She is the exact opposite of her name:

"Princess Pink does not like fairies. She does not like princesses. And she REALLY does not like the color pink.

Princess Pink does like dirty sneakers, giant bugs, mud puddles, monster trucks, and cheesy pizza." 

When her refrigerator turns into a portal to another world one late night, Princess finds herself in the Land of Fake-Believe. Her hair turns pink, but her new friend Moldylocks thinks that it looks cool. Hungry, she sets out with Moldylocks to visit the home of three Beards she knows, in the hope of sneaking some chili. A mix of expected and unexpected events follow, culminating in a daring rescue. And at the end, when Princess is back in her own bed, there's a suggestion that it just might have all been true. 

This series is designed to appeal to first and second grades, with a grade 2 reading level. But I have to say that my just-turned four-year-old adores Moldylocks and the Three Beards as a read-aloud. When she realized that it was a satire on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, she didn't quite get it, but she pealed with laughter anyway. She liked trying to predict what would happen next. 

But really, I do think this this is going to be a very nice series for new first and second grade readers. It's funny, and just a little gross. (Eating chili that a spider has been bathing in? Yuck! Green, moldy hair? Yuck!) It riffs on standard fairy tale tropes (there's a Mother Moose, for example, with a Tunacorn), and has entertaining illustrations. It's a nice introduction for kids to the concept of fractured fairy tales, and the way that they confound expectations. 

Princess is about as non-stereotypical as she she could be, with medium brown skin, ragged shorts, and multi-colored socks. And I have to say, she looks pretty cool with the pink hair. She runs away from the Beards at first, but goes back bravely when her new friend needs her. In short, she's a delightful heroine for the modern primary schooler. And really, despite being about a girl named Princess Pink, the story is certainly boy-friendly, too. 

Moldylocks and the Three Bears is something of an early reader/graphic novel hybrid. Much of the story is told through colorful, comic-like pictures and text call-outs. But there's traditional narrative on every page, too. Princess's words are shown in pink, while Moldylocks' are green. The girls are wide-eyed with expressive features. The Beards are a little odd, but funny. The spiders are surprisingly cute. And Moldylocks' green-tinged apron, well, that's a bit gross, but funny, too. The vocabulary is quite straightforward, and should be accessible to second graders. There are plenty of clues in the pictures as to what is going on anyway. 

In short, I think that The Land of Fake-Believe series is going to be a nice addition to the ranks of early chapter books. I've even checked online already to see when the next book will be out (not until August, alas). School and public libraries will definitely want to give Moldylocks and the Three Beards a look. Recommended!

Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

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

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

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6. #545 – The Frankenstein Journals: Feet First & I for an Eye by Scott Sonneborn

frankestein coveeThe Frankenstein Journals: Feet First & I for an Eye

by Scott Sonneborn

Illustrated by Timothy Banks

Stone Arch Books         8/01/2014

978-1-4342-9130-1

Age 7 to 10         160 pages

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“In this combination of two separately published works, J.D. discovers that he is the son of Frankenstein’s monster, and armed with the Doctor’s journal he sets out to find his “relatives”—the descendants and relations of the people whose body parts Doctor Frankenstein used.”

Opening

“BORRRRING. That’s how I’d describe the first 13 years of my life.”

The Story

J.D. has lived at Mr. Shelley’s orphanage for Lost and Neglected Children since he was an infant and Mr. Shelley found him in a box. Now, at age 14, J.D.—short for John Doe—is on his own, the orphanage closed. J.D. is trying to find his family. His one lead is a book left in the box when he was an infant. It is a journal and in it is a picture of J.D. as an infant being held by his father—Frankenstein! J.D. had always dreamt he was part of a large family. Using the journal entries J.D. is trying to track down his family, but so his someone else.

Feet First begins J.D.’s journey from orphan to family-finder. J.D. meets Fran, daughter of Dr. Frankenstein. Deranged like her father, Fran thinks of nothing else but making her own improved monster, but nothing has worked. She now wants to use the same DNA dad used which has her on the trail of the same people J. D. is looking for, but J.D. is trying to connect as family. The first is explorer Robert Percy, currently at the end of the world.

I for an Eye: Fran Kenstein is still trying to find the relatives of those people her father used to make Frankenstein, J.D.’s father. J.D. is trying to get to his cousins first, to warn them of the danger called Fran. Now is Los Angeles, J.D. is looking for the grandson of Samuel “Clew” Hammer, a private detective in 1940. Hammer’s green eye became Frankenstein’s left eye. Before J.D. could get very far Fran shows up, gets J.D. thrown into jail, and leaves to go after all his cousins in L.A.

1

Review

J.D.’s journey will take a few books so it’s a good thing The Frankenstein Journals is a new series. If you liked Hotdogger, you’ll like The Frankenstein Journals. J.D. tells the story as it happens and scenes rush by. Even this two-story edition was a breeze. Reluctant readers will like this. The action is fast, the story has only what is needed. There are no slow sections that might bog a reader.

Frankenstein’s son looks a lot like his father, with odd shaped hands and feet, and two colors for his eyes, but he is a determined kid, fighting against time and Fran who is anxious to find the same people and lure them back for her experiment. There are illustrations throughout the book, some a full page, some in color. The hand-printed font, in various sizes, shapes, and colors, usually express an unexpected emotion caused by new information about J. D’s family. The book is visually appealing.

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The only thing I do not like are the spaces between paragraphs, as if written on the Internet. This series is a chapter book series for young readers. This is not the time to forget about proper writing, especially when there is no benefit to having these paragraphs spaced incorrectly. At least the paragraphs are indented.

I think boys will like The Frankenstein Journals because of the fast action, a male slant on the stories, thus far, and the crazy illustrations and graphics. The female presence in the story is evil, just as boys this age probably see their female classmates. In a twist, Fran has no interest in J.D., but he instantly falls for Fran, misreading all of her words and actions, just like a lovesick girl would. J.D. no longer has a crush on Fran, having figured out her evil plan. Maybe girls age 7 to 12 age are evil, not just yucky.

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Girls might also like the story of J.D. reclaiming his family. The main character is a sweet young boy searching the ends of the earth, literally—trying to find an unknown number of relatives before evil Fran finds them and makes a new Frankenstein out of them. If you like stories with twists and turns, and the occasional body part, The Frankenstein Journals would be a great series to start reading. Pre-order today for the August release date.

THE FRANKENSTEIN JOURNALS: FIRST FEET and I FOR AN EYE. Text copyright © 2014 by Scott Sonneborn. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Timothy Bans. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Stone Arch Books, an imprint of Capstone, North Mankato, MN.

Learn more about The Frankenstein Journals HERE.

Pre-order a copy of The Frankenstein Journals at AmazonB&N—Capstone—your local bookstore.

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Meet author, Scott Sonneborn at his website:   http://scottsonneborn.com/

Meet illustrator, Timothy Banks at his website:  http://timothybanks.com/

Find more Stone Arch Books at the publisher’s website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/category/LIB_PUBLISHER_SAB

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Also by Scott Sonneborn

Supergirl vs. Brainiac

Supergirl vs. Brainiac

 

Danger on Deck! 

Danger on Deck!…

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Also by Timothy Banks

The Top Secret Files of Mother Goose!

The Top Secret Files of Mother Goose!

 

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frankenstein journals


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Early Reader, Library Donated Books, Series Tagged: Capstone, family, Frankenstein, mad scientists, relationships, relatives, Scott Sonneborn Timothy Banks, Stone Arch Books

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7. fiction favorites…Mokie and Bik � Orange Marmalade

fiction favorites…Mokie and Bik � Orange Marmalade


The Orange Marmalade blog has done a  lovely review of Mokie and Bik - I'm smiling at what she says about the story and words, and agree whole-heartedly with her thoughts on Jonathan Bean's art. I was going to say she's chosen two of my favourite illustrations - but then, I think of some of the others, and am not sure I can choose.

 Featuring children as unflappable as Pippi Longstocking, bursting with nonsensical words and invented verbs that waltz and yabber and sing, this book is exuberant and warm-hearted and highly original.  I found it by searching for work by one of my favorite illustrators, Jonathan Bean, who has adorned these pages with enchanting, turn-of-the-century, Edward-Ardizzone-esque pen and ink drawings.  Sigh.  He gets it exactly right.
If you’re looking for something out-of-the-box and full of spice for your young-but-stalwart reader, check this out!
To see the blog and read the whole post: fiction favorites…Mokie and Bik � Orange Marmalade

Mokie & Bik available from amazon.com
or direct from the publisher:Henry Holt

0 Comments on fiction favorites…Mokie and Bik � Orange Marmalade as of 10/9/2012 6:36:00 AM
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8. The Dunderheads Behind Bars: Review Haiku

Genre-bending sequel

shows, then solves gross miscarriages
of justice.

The Dunderheads Behind Bars by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by David Roberts. Candlewick, 2012, 48 pages.

0 Comments on The Dunderheads Behind Bars: Review Haiku as of 5/3/2013 6:27:00 AM
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9. review#399 – The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, Book 1: A Bad Idea By Erik Weibel

. . The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, Book 1: A Bad Idea By Erik Weibel CreateSpace 4 Stars .. Back Cover:  For years the evil villain Wintergreen has tried to destroy super crime-stopper, Tomato, and his sidekick, Pea, and take over planet Oarg.  In a plan gone wrong, Wintergreen traps himself along with his …

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10. review#406 – Ariel Bradley, Spy for General Washington By Lynda Durrant

. Ariel Bradley, Spy for General Washington By Lynda Durrant Joe Rossi, illustrator Vanita Books 5 Stars . Press Release:   Based on a true event. The real life adventures of nine-year-old Ariel Bradley, reveals the anxieties of the Americans who needed desperately to win the battle in the first months of the Revolutionary War. It …

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11. review#409 – The Middle Sheep By Frances Watt

. The Middle Sheep (Ernie and Maud) By Frances Watt Judy Watson, illustrator Eerdmans Books for Young Readers 4 Star . Back Cover:  The Adventures of Extraordinary Ernie and Marvelous Maud continue . . . but what—or who—is making the usually cheerful and dependable Maud so grumpy? And why are she and Ernie arguing all …

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12. Entering the Dark Forest

 

  Raasepori-MoonLohja-summer2013 032

 The forest  has played a major role in children's literature from the earliest time.

The forest was mysterious, a place of unknowns and often darkness and fear.

From legends to fairy tales, the forest was a place of wonder and often a place of danger...from Winnie the Poo to Little Red Riding Hood

Eastern Finland-PunkaharjuThe forests are central to the Planet Of The Dogs and Castle In The Mist.

For readers, the forests, like the books whose stories embrace them, open the doors to the imagination.

This blog is dedicated to children's literature that opens the doors to the imagination. And to the amazing role of dogs in enhancing our lives. - 

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 the NewYorker NewYorkerPageTurner_banner_n (1)


SLEEPING BEAUTIES VS. GONZO GIRLS By Maria Tatar  

In this fascinating article that moves through children's literature and cultural myths ranging from Gretel and Red Riding Hood to Katniss Everdeen and Lady Gaga, Maria Tatar explores the evolution of the female archetype today. Here are excerpts.

"We’ve come a long way from what Simone de Beauvoir once found in Anglo-European entertainments: 'In song and story the young man is seen departing adventurously in search of a woman; he slays the dragons and giants; she is locked in a tower, a palace, a garden, a cave, she is chained to a rock, a captive, sound asleep: she waits.' Have we kissed Sleeping
Beauty goodbye at last, as feminists advised us to do not so long ago...
Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” series have given us HungerGamesJenniferLawrencefemale tricksters, women who are quick-witted, fleet-footed, and resolutely brave...  they are not just cleverly resourceful and determined to survive. They’re also committed to social causes and political change...

The female trickster has a long and distinguished lineage...Many of our female tricksters—often new inflections of the ones we know from legends and fairy tales—have complemented their DoreRedRidingHoodarsenals of verbal weapons with guns and steel.Little Red Riding Hood has been revisited again and again in recent years. The girl in red, often positioned as a seductive innocent who courts the predator as much as she fears him, is no longer a willing victim. When Buffy, from the popular nineties TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” dresses up as Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween...

These days, the trickiest of them all may be Lady Gaga... Lady Gaga draws us out of our LadyGagaKidscomfort zones, crosses boundaries, gets snared in her own devices. Shamelessly exploitative and exploratory, she reminds us that every culture requires a space for the disruptive energy of antisocial characters. She may have the creativity of a trickster, but she is also Sleeping Beauty and menacing monster, all rolled into one."

Maria Tatar chairs the program for folklore and mythology at Harvard University. She is the editor of the excellent Enchanted Hunters, the Power of Stories in Childhood.

The Illustration Of Red Riding Hood in bed with the wolf is by Dore...

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                   RedRidingHood2011Movie

In recent times, many versions of the fairy tales of old have been made for film and TV. Producers of these retold versions of Little Red Riding Hood have been inspired by the early versions of the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault with the ominous forest, the dangerous wolf, and the innocent young maiden. These retellings have often been heavily influenced by the quest for commercial success, and the reults have been decidely mixed. Often banal or cliched, they are examples of how commerce as well cultural change affects the retelling of fairy tales.

Here is a link to the trailer of the  2011 Movie film, Red Riding Hood

And here is an excerpt and a link to Roger Ebert's laugh out loud review.

"Of the classics of world literature crying out to be filmed as a sexual fantasy for teenage RedRidingHood2011moviesgirls, surely "Red Riding Hood" is far down on the list. Here's a movie that cross-pollinates the "Twilight" formula with a werewolf and adds a girl who always wears a red hooded cape...

What this inspiration fails to account for is that while a young woman might toy with the notion of a vampire boyfriend, she might not want to mate with a wolf. Although she might think it was, like, cool to live in the woods in Oregon, she might not want to live in the Black Forest hundreds of years ago because, like, can you text from there?

"Red Riding Hood" has the added inconvenience of being dreadfully serious about a plot so preposterous, it demands to be filmed by Monty Python..."

Like Mr Ebert, most critics gave the film a negative review. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the audience rating was 39%.

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RedRidingHood1997A sensual intepretation of Little Red Ridin Hood  from 1997 is found in this short film by David Kaplan adopted from Conte De LA Mere Grande...music by Debussy...the wolf moves like a seductive spirit of the forest...soft black and white images and a clever Red Riding Hood... 

Here is the Link: Red Riding Hood

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Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

Roald Dahl wrote his own version of Little Red Riding Hood in the form of a RoalDahlhumorous,tongue in cheek poem. This is how it begins...

"As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma's door.
When Grandma opened it, she saw
The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin,
And Wolfie said, "May I come in?"
Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
"He's going to eat me up!" she cried.
And she was absolutely right.
RedRidinghoodDahlHe ate her up in one big bite.
But Grandmamma was small and tough,
And Wolfie wailed, "That's not enough!
I haven't yet begun to feel
That I have had a decent meal!"
He ran around the kitchen yelping,
"I've got to have a second helping!"...

The image above is from a fun film made of Dahl's Red Riding Hood poem using stop-motion puppets. The imaginative creators, Hannah Legere and Andrew Wilson, certainly caught the spirit of the Dahl poem. Link here to this delightful film version of Roald Dahl's  poem...

The dog lover in the photograph is Roald Dahl.

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Artists and Illustrators...

LittleRedRidingHoodBookCover Wisnewski 14 different artist's versions of Red Riding Hood are posted on the  Art of Children's Books  blog site..here is an excerpt from their introduction...

"Folk tales and fairy tales are at the top of the list when it comes to vintage children's books. The Brothers Grimm* folk tale, Little Red Riding Hood, has been a beloved and enduring story. Originally titled Little Red Cap, the story has a strong lesson. Since it's publication, Little Red Riding Hood has been illustrated by many artists over the years. Here is just a sampling of the different artistic interpretations of Little Red Riding Hood."

 Book cover by Andrea Wisnewski...*The original version was published by Charles Perault.

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RedRidingHoodForestThe Forest and Imagination...
The influence of the forest on the imagination will 
always be with us, especially in legend, folk tales and children's stories.
Innumerable film and TV versions, including 
many annimated cartoons, of Little Red Riding Hood will continue to be made. And wonderful writers like Roald Dahl in the past, and Philip Pullman in the present, will continue to find the forests of fairy tales a timeless setting for timeless stories. 

 The illustration is by Arthur Rackham...if you look closely, on the path beneath the huge tree, you will see red Riding Hood and the wolf.

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Reading for Pleasure...opening the imagination, opening the mind...

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Reading for pleasure puts children ahead in the classroom, according to a UK study of the reading behavior of appoximately 6000 young people. Here are excerpts from a report that reaffirms the value early reading and bedtime stories.

"Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers, according to new research from the Institute of Education (IOE).

Jordyn castleThe IOE study, which is believed to be the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time, found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of10 and 16 than those who rarely read...

...Children who were read to regularly by their parents at age 5 performed better in all three tests at age 16 than those who were not helped in this way." 

The research was conducted by Dr Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown; To read the article, visit Pleasure Reading

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The Doors that Rose opens... 

“I consider myself a facilitator…if my dog could drive, she would not need me. Rose seems to enjoy seeing people multiple times and developing a relationship with the people… She is SusanPurseTDRose_01a working dog by nature and she just loves these jobs.  I am constantly amazed at the doors that Rose opens…she goes to places I could never get without her…reaches beyond my reach, touches a person deeper than my touch.  The restless or agitated patient who is calmed by Rose’s touch...the child in the classroom who won’t settle down and get to work but when Rose sits by them, they quiet right down and the hyperactivity seems to dissipate.  The child getting excited about reading to Rose every week; they wouldn’t do that for me, but they do it for Rose.  Lying with a dying patient who will smile, close their eyes and stroke her with a peacefulness that is so precious…I know I could not enter that person’s space without Rose…it really is all about occupying part of someone else’s space for just a short time be it in a school, home or hospital...” 

A former teacher, Susan Purser, and her Australian Cattle Dog, Rose, have been very active as a therapy dog team for several years in Sarasota, Florida. 

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Paws Giving Independence

 Paws Giving Independence is a recpient of a 2013 Planet Dog Foundation Grant. GIPGivingIndependeceBoyandDogPlanet Dog has this year donated $71,500 in new grants to 16 non-profit dog organizations..."The PDF grants will help fund assistance dog, therapy dog and search and rescue programs across the country and support a wide variety of non-profit programs that are helping children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities; injured service members; natural disaster survivors and many more people in need..."

"Paws Giving Independence is an all-volunteer organization that saves dogs from area shelters, trains them to be service/companion dogs, and places the dogs, free of charge, with those in need. GIPGivingIndependenceGirlDogKaraLogan Their Saving a Life to Change a Life project identifies suitable dogs in shelters and trains them to meet the specific needs of people with disabilities. They train dogs to open doors, pick up dropped objects, turn lights on and off, and other ways to assist in independence. In addition, they train dogs to alert for epileptic and diabetic seizures, and psychological assistance for military veterans with PTSD. PDF funds support veterinary care, special prosthetics and balance equipment and training."

 Paws Giving Independence was founded in 2008 by 3 Bradley University students who recognized the marvelous healing capabilities of dogs.

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for Dog Lovers and decent people...

Here's a Goodreads review that strikes home and makes sense for dog lovers and decent people...Passionate dog rescuer, animal rights advocate and author.C.A. Wulff wrote How to Change The World in 30 Seconds...

"At first i started reading this book as an animal rescuer myself. But as i started to go Arielchange world3edthrough all of the information in the book i realized that this book is a GREAT informative guide for people who have just dipped their toes into the realm of rescue. It is laid out in a way that focuses on an audience that may, or may not have already heard of some of the ideas. This way a novice rescuer can understand it, but the veteran rescuer isnt just wading through either. I saw several options that were detailed out even for someone in rescue many years. So really what im saying is.. it doesnt matter if you are new or old to it, this can give you great ideas, starting points and explanations for why so many rescuers are able to save lives on click at a time."

 Here is a link to the full review by Sylence of How to Change the World in 30 Seconds, in Goodreads... 

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 Much has been written of the importance of childhood experiences with books...books that meant a lot to an individual as a child and where the memory of the book remains important in their adult life. Here, thanks to Monica Edinger's Educating Alice blog, are excerpts from a rather fascinating converstion by two of the most prominent, respected, and imaginative writers of children's and YA literature...

FineBooksCollectionsLogo-top

 

 

 

Guest Blog: Gaiman & Pullman Talk Children's Books in Literary Oxford

BY REBECCA REGO BARRY ON AUGUST 26, 2013 8:40 AM Guest Blog by Catherine Batac Walder 

 "Gaiman talked about reading the Mary Poppins books when he was six or seven and how they helped form whatever worldview he had as a kid. 'The idea that the world is incredibly unlikely and strange secret things are always happening, that adults don't really explain to you, or in fact, that adults may be oblivious to'...


''His (Gaiman's) wonder was infectious as he recalled discovering the library when he was very GaimenCoverCoralineyoung and having that incredible feeling of power; discovering the card catalogue in which you could actually look up subjects like witches or robots or ghosts; or you could just take down books and read the interesting ones. Both authors talked about discovering American comic books and marveled at the speed in the stories, the size of them, with Gaiman adding, "Everything was alien, everything was equally as strange and unlikely, so skyscrapers, and pizza and fire hydrants were just as alien to my world as people in capes flying around..."

 

 

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   Aliceheader

Monica Edinger, a fourth grade teacher, and a passionate advocate of the wonders and benefits of children's literature, has a very lively and informative blog:  Educating Alice . Her new book, Africa Is My Home, is receiving excellent reviews.

Here are excerpts from her blog ;

                                The Unjournal of Children's Literature 

EdingerAfricaIsMyHomecoverThe “un” movement is an intriguing one. Until recently I had only heard about it in terms of unconferences, participant-driven events such as this one. But now there is another sort of un-thing, an unjournal. Created by children’s literature graduate students at San Diego State University, the inaugural issue of The Unjournal of Children’s Literature is up and ready for viewing, reading, and responding. Gorgeous to look at, clearly designed in terms of navigation, fascinating in terms of content, this is one elegant web publication.

And from an article on kids, books and reading: "Reading to me is many things and so I think we teachers need to provide many different experiences with reading and books.  My fourth grade students read all sorts of material on their own, for themselves, for all sorts of reasons..."  

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PALbanner

What do Therapy Dogs Do All Day?

Here are videos from Peple Animals Love (PAL), based in Washington DC, that document the wonderful work that their volunteers and their dogs perform. Click this link: PAL

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Fairy Tales as the Last Echoes of Pagan Myths...

Seth Lerner, in writing about the orgins and history of fairy tales and folklore, points out that Wilhelm Grimm, at the time the Grimm brothers books were being published in 1812 and 1815, wrote that fairy tales were the "'last echoes of pagan myths'. He GrimmRackhamHanselGretel(Grimm) went on:"A world of magic is opened up before us, one which still exists among us in secret forests, in underground caves, and in the deepest sea, and it is still visible to children.(Fairy tales) belong to our national poetic heritage..."

Lerner sees even more significance in Fairy tales. He goes on to point out that "what we find inside these secret forests, caves, and seas is not just a poetic heritage, but a personal one as well. For fairy tales are full of families, full of parents who bequeth a sense of self to children, full of ancestors and heirs whose lives play out, in little, the life of a nation from childhood to maturity..."

 Seth Lerer is Dean of Arts and Humanities and Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego. The quotes and ideas above are from his informative and insightful book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter

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NYPLlogoNYPL's Children's Literary Salon is pleased to announce our event on Saturday, October 12th at 2:00 p.m.

The ABC of It: Curator Leonard S. Marcus in Conversation
Join Bank Street’s Center for Children’s Literature, Interim Director Jenny Brown as she interviews historian and critic Leonard S. Marcus about his current NYPL exhibit and the importance of children’s literature as a whole.
This event will be held in the South Court Auditorium in the main branch of New York Public Library.
For any questions or concerns, please contact Betsy Bird at elizabethbird@bookops.org.

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GalleyCat_header 

Harry Potter's Textbook...

"J.K. Rowling will write her first movie script for Warner Bros., writing Fantastic Beasts and Where to
JKRowlingBookFind Them–a film based on Harry Potter’s textbook from his school for wizards.

The film is part of a planned series featuring the author of the magical book, Newt Scamander. Rowling published a book by the same name in 2001. She had this comment on her Facebook page:

"Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world..." Here is the link: JKRowling

 

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Dogs in the Forest...

The forest plays a very important role in the Planet Of The Dogs Series. Here is an excerpt from Castle In The Mist...

CITM-blog size-382KB"The dogs continued to lead the soldiers deeper into the woods.  Soon, it began to snow, slowly at first, and then, the wind increased and the snow was everywhere.  It became very difficult to see very far.  The leader of the soldiers told his men that they were to follow him.  They were returning to the castle. 

They started walking through the snow when one of the men, who was an experienced forest guide, said to the leader, “With respect sir, but I don’t think we are going in the right direction.” The leader was about to answer him when howling started.  It seemed to come from all directions.  Then the leader spoke, “You will follow me, I am certain that this is the way.”  They continued on through the swirling snow, unable to see, and surrounded by howling dogs..."

Here is an excert from a review:"Do you think it is possible for dogs to stop war? Author Robert J. McCarty has created a charming fantasy-allegory that can be read and understood on at least two different levels…a story about dogs who come from another planet to help people on earth.  But under the surface are the important messages of friendship, love, loyalty, and how to overcome evil with good…Castle In The Mist will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. 

Wayne Walker reviewing Castle in the Mist for Stories for Children Magazine, the Home School Book Review and the Home School Buzz wrote:


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Canadian Service Dog Foundation logoCANADIAN SERVICE DOG FOUNDATION

           CanadianCSDFdog_walker

The Canadian Service Dog Foundation trains and provides service dogs for a wide variety of human needs and services. They provide a wide range of vital services,,,ten major humanitarian objectives are listed on their website. Here are the first two:

  • "To improve quality of life for Canadians through the use of service dogs, assistance dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support animals. Provide opportunities, resources, and support through the use of trained service dogs for Canadians living with psychiatric disabilities so as to allow for greater functional independence, sufficient to make healthy choices and lead active lifestyles."
  • To support past or present military personnel, emergency service workers, and related professionals dealing with operational stress injuries through the use of specially trained service dogs.
  • Here is a link to learn more about their wide reaching canine services for people: CSDF Services 
  • ............................................

Read sample chapters of all the books in the Planet Of The Dogs series by Pod bookmark back_flat

clicking here:Books

Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore or via Barnes  Noble, Amazon, Powell's...

Librarians, teachers, bookstores...Order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.

Therapy reading dog owners, librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs -- you can write us at barkingplanet@aol.com and we will send you free reader copies from the Planet of the Dogs Series...Read Dog Books to Dogs....Ask any therapy reading dog: "Do you like it when the kids read dog books to you?"

And Now -- for the First Time -- E Books of the Planet Of The Dogs Series are coming on KDP Select...

Planet Of The Dogs will be available October 1...Castle In The Mist will be available on October 15 and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, on November 15...in time for the Holiday Gift Season... 


Any one of these books would make for a delightful—and one would assume cherished—gift for any child.  All three would be an amazing reading adventure. Darlene Arden, educator, dog expert, and author of Small Dogs Big Hearts wrote:  

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Finding Fido

"We are excited to announce that Barking Planet Productions is publishing a new book by C.A.Wulff.

"Finding Fido" will be available for purchase at amazon.com on September 30. "Finding Fido" is a handbook every pet owner will want to have in their library.

Between 3 and 4 million pets are put to death in shelters across the U.S. every year. Some of Fidofrontcover72them are owner surrenders, some are impounds, but the vast majority of them are missing or stolen pets.
 
C.A. Wulff and A.A.Weddle, the administrators of the service Lost & Found Ohio Pets, have compiled a guide to address this sad reality.  ‘Finding Fido’ offers tips for preventing the loss of a pet; advice for what to do with a stray pet you’ve found; and a step-by-step plan in case the unthinkable happens, and you lose a pet.  
 
This is an instructive and important tool every family with a dog or cat should have on hand… just in case.
 
100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book benefits The Beagle Freedom Project!"

 

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 WCDogsLogo

A Dog Health Update: here are excerpts from an article on Giardiasis – Parasitic Diarrhea in Dogs, Cats and Humans...The microscopic parasites known as Giardiasis are the most common intestinal parasites to be found in humans, dogs and cats. A protozoan parasite infection, it is the cause of a very serious diarrheal illness in the intestinal areas, known to be highly contagious but not lethal. However,  it is a parasite that can be transferred across species — from person-to-person or animal-to-person... The most popular locations for this parasite are on surfaces or within soil and food.However, drinking water and recreational water that has been contaminated with feces (poop) from infected humans or animals are the most common methods of transmission. This includes untreated or improperly treated water from lakes, streams, or wells...

Here's the link to read this comprehensive, informative article: Way Cool Dogs

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       New England Conferences-Book Shows in October for           IPNE Small-logo-blue-white       Independent Bookstores and Libraries

 As members of the Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE), we will be exhibiting Circling the Waggins and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale at the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA),October 6-8, in Providence, RI and the New England Library Association(NELA), on October 20-27, in Portland, Maine.

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Nyt-global-edition-masthead-logo

Green Eggs and E-Books? Thank You, Sam-I-Am By Julie Bosman

Here are excerpts from Julie Bosman's article...

"Dr. Seuss books, those whimsical, mischievous, irresistibly rhymey stories that have been passed down in print to generations of readers, are finally catching up with digital publishing...

DrSeussCatInHatThe Dr. Seuss canon will be released in e-book format for the first time, beginning later this month, his publisher said on Wednesday, an announcement that could nudge more parents and educators to download picture books for children...picture books have lagged far behind(adult fiction) . Several publishers said e-books represent only 2 to 5 percent of their total picture book sales, a number that has scarcely moved in the last several years.

But the release of the Dr. Seuss books, still hugely popular after decades in print, could move that number higher. The e-books will be available on color tablets, including the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook HD. The first titles to be released, on Sept. 24, include “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket!” and “The Lorax” (featuring an environmentally conscious character who might be happy about the announcement)."

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           LearEdmundBookofNonsensecover

''The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea 
In a beautiful pea-green boat, 
They took some honey, and plenty of money, 
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.''
Click here for information and videos of COROMANDEL , byTrevor Bachman's... Here is an excerpt from their site...A" vibrant musical odyssey for children and adults, Coromandel is a journey through the mind of poet Edward Lear"...playing in New York City in early October..." a fusion of rock, jazz, bluegrass, tango, musical theatre, and classical sounds makes for a diverse, delicious, and sonically satisfying evening. Told with a whimsical simplicity that appeals to children of all ages..."

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SunbearSqBigLogo

"We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace." 

—Albert Schweitzer, "The Philosophy of Civilization" -

I found this quote on

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13. Spark: Kallie George & Genevieve Cote

Book: Spark
Author: Kallie George
Illustrator: Geneviève Côté 
Pages: 44
Age Range: 5-8

Spark is a delightful easy reader by Kallie George and Geneviève Côté, the first of a new series from Simply Read Books. It consists of five short chapters, with extensive color illustrations. Spark is about a young dragon who struggles to control his flames. His parents attempt three lessons (the middle chapters) to teach him flame-breath management, but nothing works. Spark is simply not ready. But sometimes time is all you need. And when Spark's birthday rolls around, he's ready to give it another try. 

What I like about Spark is that although it's meant for new readers, it's plenty interesting enough to hold a child's attention. Spark is a sympathetic character. Five year old readers will probably be savvy enough to understand the parallels with potty training or learning to ride a bike, but the message of waiting until you are ready remains secondary to Spark's personality. There's humor in Spark aimed at parents, too, which is always appreciated in a book that's likely to be read over and over again. For example:

"Spark tried to be careful.
It was hard.

ACHOO!
He set his hankie on fire.

COUGH! COUGH!
He set some leaves on fire.

Mama got a book:
How to Tame Flames

Mama and Papa both read it."

Yes, what parent hasn't turned to a book for help with something?

Spark is relatively advanced in terms of vocabulary for an early reader. There are words like "crackle", "marshmallow", and "phoenix". But many of the more challenging words are repeated multiple times through the book, and are made clear by Côté's illustrations. 

These illustrations are beautiful. The dragons are drawn with a thick pencil outline, and then filled in with watercolor. This gives the pictures the appearance of something a child could have done. Except that your average child won't be able to use facial expressions to convey mood, and add humor. Spark's birthday party is a particularly joyous celebration, populated by whimsical creatures (including a "troll" who looks a lot like a regular boy). I challenge any five year old not to relate to and enjoy Spark. 

Highly recommended for home or library use. I look forward to future books in this planned series. I also look forward to reading Spark with my daughter tonight before bed. Simply lovely. 

Publisher: Simply Read Books (@simplyreadbooks)
Publication Date: November 30, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

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

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

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14. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: March 25

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

Newsletter Update: In this relatively brief issue I have four book reviews (board book through young adult) and two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently. I had a particularly hectic couple of weeks at work, and wasn't able to post as much as I might have liked. But I have some Baby Bookworm tidbits at the end of this post. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read one early reader, one middle grade book, and two adult titles:

  • Noah Z. Jones: Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe #1: Moldylocks and the Three Beards. Scholastic. Early Reader. Completed March 17, 2014 (and read it many more times to my daughter, who adores this book). Review to come. 
  • Megan Frazer Blakemore: The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill. Bloomsbury. Middle Grade. Completed March 18, 2014 (ARC). Review to come. 
  • Maeve Binchy: A Week in Winter. Knopf. Adult Fiction. Completed March 19, 2014, on MP3. Simply delightful. 
  • Brigid Schulte: Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. Sarah Crichton Books. Adult Nonfiction. Completed March 23, 2014, on Kindle. I enjoyed parts of this book, and found a few useful take-aways. But I also found parts of it repetitive. There was a bit more about what the author thinks that the government and corporate America should be doing about the issue of overwhlemed parents than I was personally interested in. I was more looking for strategies for myself. But it was worth the time overall. 

I must admit that I stopped reading Insignia by S. J. Kincaid about halfway through. I had been enjoying it, but then I couldn't get on board with a major plot development, and found that I didn't want to finish. Fortunately it was a library book, rather than one that I had purchased. Right now I'm reading Dangerous by Shannon Hale on my Kindle and Eddie Red Undercover by Marcia Wells by in print. Not having quite gotten over my Maeve Binchy phase yet, I'm listening to her Whitethorn Woods

I've been reading on my Kindle while I ride my exercise boke, and listening to audiobooks while I go for walks, which means that most of the books I'm reading now are either digital or audiobooks. I'm so tired by the time I get to my bedtime reading that I haven't been making very good process with my print books, and they are stacking up a bit. I need a 48-hour book challenge, I guess. 

Baby Bookworm has started talking about how much she LOVES books, because we read her so many of them, and that's what she is used to. Not sure if she is trying to butter me up ahead of her upcoming fourth birthday, but it's nice to hear in any case. You can check out the complete list of books we've read to her this year. She is currently obsessed with the first book in a new series by Noah Z. Jones about Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe: Moldylocks and the Three Beards. She also loves A Gift for Mama by Linda Ravin Lodding and Alison Jay, a much more traditional tale.

At the library, she's still picking out TV tie-in books like Olivia, Arthur, and Charlie and Lola, though she doesn't actually watch the associated television shows. She can spot a Max and Ruby book by Rosemary Wells from across the room, and always brings home at least one of those, too. Any Fancy Nancy book that she hasn't already read is a surefire pick, too. We sat for over an hour in the library on Saturday, just reading whatever she picked up off of the shelves. Then we brought those books all home (and more). 

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

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

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15. Inside Scoop: The Evolution of the PICKLE JUICE Cover

Picklejuice_cov_final 

The Creative Director of Abrams Books, Chad Beckerman, has a terrific blog where he sometimes discusses the evolution of book covers that he's worked on.  I've always loved those posts--and now there's one for LIKE PICKLE JUICE ON A COOKIE!  Please check it out:  http://cwdesigner.blogspot.com/2010/11/evolution-of-like-pickle-juice-on.html.  Pay special attention to the list of titles that were considered; some of them really made me laugh.

 

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16. Where is Strawberry Moshi?

  • Where is Strawberry Moshi?
    Candlewick Press, 2011 1st U.S. Edition
    activity picture book
  • Strawberry Moshi is a Japanese Kawaii (“cuteness”). She’s a cute pill-shaped bunny who is searching for Super Moshi and her friends on each bright page filled with other Moshis.My kids loved finding the Moshi in this search book, similar to Where’s Waldobut girly and easier.In Carrot Castle Strawberry Moshi searches for Princess Moshi, Clover Moshi, Sari Moshi, Baby Prince Moshi, and Waitress Moshi. Bet you didn’t think there could be so many Moshi, right?Moshi books are new to the United States for spring having been previously available in other countries. I predict we’ll see matching Moshi plush dolls, Moshi games, Moshi apps and plenty more books for Moshi fans.

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17. 'Strangers in the Stable' ... my latest book illustration projet completed.

I don't post here often, because my schedule is filled with more than children's book illustration, however, my latest project was for a Christmas early reader, and now that the publisher has sent the files to the printer, now I can share.

This was my first kid's book illustrated purely digitally, so it was quite an experience. I normally only paint digitally for novels and some older kid's genres, like MG or YA (which are only sometimes illustrated).

Strangers in the Stable, by Jim Laughter and 4RV Publishing, is a charming twist to the traditional Christmas tale, which makes me doubly honored to have been the illustrator. Now, for a peek at the illos:

The stores and shops teemed with life,
and people lined up at tables in the marketsquare,
signed books, and paid money to
men in flowing red robes and shiny hats.
Finally, three more men entered from out
of the night. Kings, the people called them.
They carried gifts and laid them before the
child and his parents.
The kids got to know the young family,
and even Young Billy became friends with
Mary.
If you're interested in seeing the original cover I created for this book, and read why

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18. Happy Belated Blogiversary to Me!

Oh, Holy Undies, how could I have missed my own 5th Anniversary?  So a quick scan of the records showed that five years and nine days ago I embarked on this journey to read, write, and review books for children and young adults. What began as an exploration to better educate myself eventually led to an MFA at Vermont College and what is clearly becoming my great second act in life. I would

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19. WHY?

Why-best-ever-question-answer-book-about-nature-catherine-ripley-hardcover-cover-art
WHY? The Best… By Catherine Ripley

Julie:  Why do our fingers get so wrinkled in the tub?  Why does popcorn pop?  Why do onions make us cry?  Why do dandelions turn white and fluffy?  For clear, interesting, and simply worded answers, inquiring minds need look no farther than Catherine Ripley's WHY?  THE BEST EVER QUESTION AND ANSWER BOOK ABOUT NATURE, SCIENCE AND THE WORLD AROUND YOU. It's certainly designed for kids, with full-page, color illustrations and child-friendly language and content.  But I confess:  I feel smarter having read this book.  I always knew the bathroom floor was colder than the bathmat, for example.  But I never thought about why.  Now I know.  I feel quite proud.  Maybe I need to read more non-fiction!  Mia, what do you think?   

Marirosa Mia: I enjoyed it as well. It was quite fun testing my knowledge on questions like: Why do we yawn? and Why do my fingers stick to frozen juice cans? I'm not saying I would win a million on Jeopardy!, but I knew quite a few things; and that made me happy. The book's categories are divided by the location where the question will likely be asked:  Bathtime Questions, Outdoor Questions, Supermarket Questions, and the like. It's an appealing and easy-to-reference structure. This will be an excellent book to have once my niece starts asking "Why?" questions!

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20. Re-Seussify Seuss Challenge

Image

In case you missed it, this week’s results for School Library Journal’s Fuse #8 Re-Seussify Seuss challenge were in, and they were pretty spectacular! The mission, as set forth by children’s lit guru Betsy Bird, was to draw a spread from a Dr. Seuss book, but in the style of ANOTHER famous picture book artist. I was inspired by the fun mash-up idea, and pulled off the image of Yertle The Turtle in the style of Arnold Lobel, above.

The idea for the image itself came to me pretty easily. It’s no surprise that I love drawing turtles, and Yertle The Turtle is a family favorite. The reptile vs. amphibian factor – Yertle crossed with Frog and Toadwas amusing to me as well. In particular, I wanted to try my hand at Arnold Lobel’s style. I thought the limited palette with textured graphite would be fun, and his characters and watercolors lend themselves easily to my own style. Plus, he’s a fellow Pratt alum!

I learned a lot about Arnold Lobel’s creative process from this video with his daughter, Anita Lobel.  She sought to replicate her father’s paintings when she colored Arnold Lobel’s unfinished The Frogs and Toads All Sang:

I am very interested in Lobel’s use of color separations to make the Frog and Toad illustrations, and I wish I could find more on the subject. While Anita went with full-color in her recent interpretation, I wanted to imitate the 2-color (and black) separations by sticking to a green layer, a brown layer, and dark graphite.  I’m pleased with the result and think it was rather successful, if I do say so myself.

Now go check out Betsy’s post for the other mind-blowing creative Re-Seussification mash-ups!


Filed under: illustration sensations, paintings, videos Tagged: anita lobel, Arnold Lobel, betsy bird, dr seuss, early reader, frog and toad, fuse #8, re-seussify seuss, school library journal, watercolor,
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21. Book of the day: April

BOOK OF THE DAY-April

The full April list is here. Get a sneak peak at the 2nd half of the month and stock up for summer vacation too!

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22. Review: Ballpark Mysteries 4: The Astro Outlaw

I'm a huge baseball fan, so I was excited that I got the opportunity to read this book. I haven't read the first three books in the series but I didn't feel like I missed anything. There are a lot of great baseball facts in this book. There is information about the game, including the hidden ball trick, and then at the end there is a special section called Dugout Notes that features information about the Astros' ballpark.


Click here for the rest of my review!

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23. BOOK OF THE DAY: The June 2012 List!

BOOK OF THE DAY-June

Plan in advance for father’s day! The month of June is dedicated to books for dads and boys…don’t worry, a few dads & daughter books thrown in too! Good list for reluctant readers as well as summer vacation. Enjoy!

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24. BOOK OF THE DAY: The May 2012 List

BOOK OF THE DAY-May

In celebration of Mother’s day, moms, women and daughters, recommendations span ages and areas of interest. Great for summer vacation reading too!

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25. Bink and Gollie, Two for One: Review Haiku

Our fave hyperliterate
duo calls shenanigans
on carnies.

Bink and Gollie: Two for One by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile. Candlewick, 2012, 96 pages.

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