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1. This Is Not My Hat - an audiobook review

Below is my review of This Is Not My Hat, as it appears in the July 2014, edition of School Library Journal.

This book offers a wonderful opportunity for cross-curricular instruction - adding music knowledge and appreciation to language arts.  Think of it as "Peter and the Wolf lite" for young listeners!

Listen to an excerpt from This is Not My Hat on Audible's website.

KLASSEN, JON. This Is Not My Hat. 1 CD w/tr book. 34 min.
Scholastic Audio. 2014. $29.95. ISBN
9780545675512.
PreS-Gr 3— Opening with "This hat is not mine. I just stole it," a small fish takes the listener into his confidence as he makes his getaway toward a place where he thinks that no one will ever find him. This unapologetic thief, his annoyed (and very large) victim, and a stool pigeon crab tell this wryly humorous and cautionary fish story. The outcome contains enough ambiguity that sensitive listeners can believe that the robber has more options than becoming a fish dinner. Irish narrator John Keating does a great job with a title that relies heavily on sight gags. Appropriately, his impudent robber is not particularly likable. Nevertheless, the listener empathizes with the brash little chap. A string ensemble, in a manner similar to Peter and the Wolf, accompanies the narration. A cello represents the larger fish, who never speaks, while a violin characterizes the smaller fish. The music ebbs and flows to match the story. Two versions are included on the CD. A gentle marimba riff signals page turns on the first version. The accompanying hardcover book is a "must" to truly enjoy this Caldecott Medal winner. Humor fans will love it.

Copyright © 2014Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

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2. The Streak - a review


Rosenstock, Barb. 2014. The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio became America's Hero. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek. Ill. by Terry Widener
(Advance Reader Copy)

If you know only one baseball statistic, you likely know its one "unbreakable" record - Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.  According to the Author's Note, its probability for occurrence is once every 746 to 18,519 years.  It was the most talked about news story of 1941, even edging out  news of the war raging in Europe.

Oil-painted illustrations evoke the bygone era; references to new immigrants and mention of the war in Europe place the story in the context of history. However, The Streak is essentially a story of baseball, one man, and his favorite bat, Betsy Ann.

When DiMaggio was up, he strolled to home plate.  He didn't pull at his cap, scuff his feet, or make Betsy Ann dance behind his head.  He rubbed dirt on his hands, tapped the plate just once, and set his wide-legged stance.  For a minute, Joe stood perfectly still, then he and Betsy Ann went to work.
The book includes: Author's Note, Statistics, Source Notes, Bibliography, Acknowledgments

Baseball, it's my favorite season of the year.  Enjoy The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio became America's Hero, and be sure to take in a baseball game this summer.  You may witness history in the making.  You never know.


Other reviews at

If you're looking for another great picture book about Joe DiMaggio, the 1941 baseball season, or "the streak," be sure to check out The Unforgettable Season: The Story of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and the Record-Setting Summer of '41.

This YouTube link will let you see Joe DiMaggio's famous swing and hear Les Brown's popular song of the day, "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio."

Today is Nonfiction Monday.  Check it out.

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3. Baseball Animals - a review


Whether or not you buy MLB's position that Opening Day is March 22, 2014 in Australia (Sorry Australia, baseball "down under" just doesn't feel right), baseball season, will soon be here. Opening Day for the US and Canada is March 31.

If you are a baseball fan, are raising a young baseball fan, or are trying to connect with a young baseball fan, here's the book for you - a marriage of baseball and animals!


Jordan, Christopher. 2014. Baseball Animals. Plattsburgh, NY: Fenn/Tundra.

Which MLB team shares its name with a songbird that loves acorns?
This blue, black and white bird is thought to be responsible for spreading the oak tree across North America.

If the beautiful photograph of my favorite bird on a stark white background doesn't give you the answer, just turn the page to reveal a full-page action shot of a Toronto Blue Jays batter. (Sorry that I don't know which one. Since they beat the Phillies in the 1993 World Series, I refuse to pay attention to the Blue Jays. We fans have long memories.)

Each baseball page features the team's logo, a full-page action photo taken at the ballpark, and some team uniform trivia.  Did you know that the Cardinals (often called the Redbirds) were not named for the beautiful bird, but rather for the color of their original uniforms? Their uniforms were cardinal red. So, presumably they are named after the traditional color of a Catholic cardinal's cassock.  Now that's a great baseball trivia question!

Fun and informative, this is a must-have for little baseball fans. I don't know why someone didn't think of it earlier!  An Appendix of MLB Teams and Logos rounds out the book - featuring all of the teams - even those sans animals on their logos.


Advance Reader Copy supplied by LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.



In addition to being St. Patrick's Day, today is Nonfiction Monday.  Be sure to stop by the Nonfiction Monday blog for all of today's featured books.




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4. Picture Book Roundup - Wordless edition

It's been ages since I've done a picture book roundup!  Here are two wordless masterpieces.

  • Becker, Aaron. 2013. Journey. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Harold and the Purple Crayon for a new generation.  Beautiful!




  • Kim, Patti. 2014. Here I Am. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press. 
An insightful story of a young boy's experience in emigrating from Asia to the United States.



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5. The Cat with Seven Names - an audiobook review


(My review of The Cat with Seven Names, as it appeared in the April, 2014, edition of School Library Journal.)



Johnson, Tony. The Cat with Seven Names. 1 CD. 15 min. Recorded
Books. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490602479. digital
download.

PreS-Gr 2— A plump, seemingly stray cat wanders occasionally into the home of an older librarian. She names her visitor Stuart Little. At an elderly neighbor's home, he receives the moniker Kitty-boy, while a lonely Mexican man names him Placido for his "singing" voice. A homeless vet calls him Dove, for the peace he brings. Only the cat is lacking his own voice in this heartwarming story of a busy neighborhood, full of unconnected adults. Each character has his or her own first-person narrator, each distinctly different. The Hispanic man peppers his speech with Spanish words, as he first meets "Placido" on a day when it rains gatos y perros. Humorous wordplay abounds throughout, in which the cat is the common fixture in the lives of seven adults and a young girl. When the cat has a near accident, the full cast calls out seven different names, as each rushes to save the feline that has befriended them all; and through the cat, they befriend each other. The Cat with Seven Names will be sold with and without its corresponding picture book. Consider purchasing the set. Absent illustrations, the steady stream of elderly and adult voices may not be enough to hold a child's attention.


Copyright © 2014 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
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6. Picture Book Roundup: Historical fiction edition

Here are two fiction picture books that feature days gone by.  Both books should tickle your fancy and make fun read-alouds for school-aged children, K-2.


  • Kulling, Monica. 2014. The Tweedles Go Electric. Ontario, Canada: Groundwood. Ill. by Marie Lafrance.


The year is 1903, and the Tweedles are "a bunch of fuddy-duddies," according to their neighbors.  Even when they finally decide to purchase a car, neighbors still tease them,
"People don't want that.  They want noise.  They want smoke." ... "They want a car to sound and smell like a car." 
But rather than the latest in gas-powered autos, the Tweedles purchase a smart, green, electric car.

With a wink and a nod to the future of "green" transportation and women's empowerment, it is the youngest of the Tweedles, Frances, and the "green" car that save the day when an emergency arises.  Marie Lafrance's illustrations accurately evoke the era and are reminiscent of the style of Hergés Tin Tin.




With an illuminated capital I and leafy, gold flourishes, Brother Hugo and the Bear begins firmly planted in the monastical world of the Middle Ages,
It befell that on the first day of Lent, Brother Hugo could not return his library book.
As the reader soon discovers, a bear has eaten the monastery's beautifully illuminated copy of St. Augustine's letters.  It becomes Brother Hugo's job to painstakingly recreate the massive, illustrated tome —a job that "would have been full easy to endure if it had not been for the snuffling."  The source of the snuffling, we soon discover, is the bear, who has not yet had his fill of letters.  Written and illustrated with great reverence for the early art of book-making, Brother Hugo is humorous as well.  Both the monk and the bear are earnest and joyful.

Based loosely upon a true story, Brother Hugo, in combination with its included Historical Note, Glossary, Author's Note, and Illustrator's Note is illuminating for both children and adults.

  A Discussion Guide for Brother Hugo and the Bear.

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7. Picture Book Roundup - August edition

It's been a while since I've done a picture book roundup. Here are three - one funny, one fun, one sweet.  Enjoy!

  • The funny one
See a preview at the publisher's site
Vere, Ed. 2012. Bedtime for Monsters. New York: Henry Holt.

Do you ever WONDER if somewhere, not too far away, there might be ... MONSTERS?
This book may be reminiscent of  "Going on a Bear Hunt," but you won't be going anywhere; a monster may be coming to hunt you!

And as he crosses the gloopy, schloopy swamp
GLOOP GLOOP SCHLOOP
do you think he's imagining just HOW GOOD
you'll taste all covered in ketchup?
Bright and fresh and silly!  I love it.

  • The fun one
Baker, Keith. 2012. 1-2-3 Peas. New York: Beach Lane.

A follow-up to the popular LMNO Peas, I like this one even better. The digitally rendered and definitely adorable peas count their way to 100 in rhyming fashion.

Eleven to nineteen - skip, skip, skip!
Twenty peas cutting - snip, snip, snip!
While it can be read quickly for fun, it's worth savoring to find and enjoy each delightfully quirky pea (can you find the one singing in the shower?) and note the great details.  How do peas travel when in a rush?  In a Spea-dy Bus, of course.

More peas, please!

  • The sweet one
Kraegel, Kenneth. 2012. King Arthur's Very Great Grandson. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

I want swordplay! A struggle! A battle to the uttermost, and if you will not have ado with me, tell me who will!

So says brave and diminutive Henry, who sets off for adventure astride his trusty donkey, Knuckles. He encounters a Dragon, a Cyclops, a Griffin, and a Leviathan. They are no match for him at swordplay, but at chess? Perhaps.  Simple pen and watercolor illustrations are a bright and cheery mix of naive and cartoon styles of painting; pairing perfectly with this story of five utterly guileless characters destined to become friends. Enchanting!





I just noticed that each of these was illustrated by the author, or authored by the illustrator.  Whichever way you slice it, great talent.

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8. Who's Looking at You? a review


Frattini, Stéphane. 2012. Who's Looking at You? New York: Sterling.

Eighteen 8"x8" pages feature eighteen different eyes peering out at the reader.  Each eye is on a flap nearly as big as the page with a narrow, brightly colored frame surrounding it.  Open the flap to see "who's looking at you," and learn a few facts, focused, not surprisingly, on the eye.
Snail
How did this hungry snail find the leaf? Snails can't see very well - they mostly depend on touch and smell to find their way.  But most snails do have eyes, right at the ends of two bendable tentacles called eyestalks.
The snail is actually one of the easier eyeballs to recognize.  Very young children won't find many easy guesses as it's surprisingly difficult to determine some animals from a single eye, but slightly older kids will have fun with Who's Looking at You?  Even the adults at the library were enjoying this one!  Some of the featured eyeballs are those of the gorilla, wolf, cuttlefish, chameleon, and blue-spotted grouper.  The butterfly is a bit of stretch - the photo features the "fake" eye that some butterflies sport on their wings to fool predators.  The inside back cover contains eight additional eyes for guessing, with small flaps hiding nothing more than the animal's name.

The photography is beautiful and the guessing is fun!


2 Comments on Who's Looking at You? a review, last added: 9/8/2012
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9. Picture Book Roundup - old favorites

Today's Picture Book Roundup features older winners of the Caldecott Medal. 

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
I recently completed a class, "The Caldecott Medal: Understanding Distinguished Art in Picture Books," offered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), and taught by K.T. Horning.

In addition to learning much that I didn't know about art, I had the opportunity to encounter or revisit some Caldecott Medal winners that predate my career as a librarian. I have been working in a library since 2005, and received my masters degree and first professional librarian position in 2007. The Caldecott Medal has been awarded since 1938. Clearly, I had a lot of catching up to do.

Though I did not read them all, I did read many older winners. Here are some of my favorites from the years prior to 1990:

(In order by publication date - award dates are the January following the publication year)

  • Langstaff, John. 1955. Frog Went A-Courtin'. New York: Harcourt Brace. Illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky.

Richly detailed and expressive animals illustrate this favorite old folk song.  (If you don't know the song, Frog Went A-Courtin', Burl Ives' rendition was a classic)  This is my favorite of all the older Caldecotts.

  • Mosel, Arlene. 1972. The Funny Little Woman. New York: Dutton. Illustrated by Blair Lent.

Humorous, with inventive illustrations, the funny little woman travels to a world beneath her simple home in Japan.


  • Yorinks, Arthur. 1986. Hey. Al. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux. Illustrated by Richard Egielski.

Generally disliked by most of my classmates, this quirky, surreal story about a man and his dog really grows on you.


  • Yolen, Jane. 1987. Owl Moon. New York: Philomel. Illustrated by John Schoenherr.

I have been fortunate enough to hear owls in the night many times, though the only ones I have been able to spot are the low-flying burrowing owls.  In Owl Moon, the thrill of a night-time owling expedition is captured brilliantly in both illustration and prose.

  • Young, Ed. 1989. Lon Po Po:A Red-Riding Hood Story from China.  New York: Philomel.

 
A masterpiece of danger, suspense and courage - a classic folktale. The only one of my picks written and illustrated by the same person, it's no surprise that it's a pitch-perfect pairing of text and art.

A complete list of Caldecott Medal winners 1938-present, may be found here.


I've left off many other wonderful old medal winners, I know.  Feel free to chime in with your favorite Caldecott winners from the 1930s-1980s.


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10. A Day with Librarians - a review


It's been a while since I've seen a new book about my profession.  When I learned that Scholastic was putting out a new book, I asked to see a copy, and they obliged.

Shepherd. Jodie. 2013. A Day with Librarians. New York: Scholastic.

Part of the Rookie Read-About Community series, this small (roughly 7"x7") "easy reader" contains basic facts about librarians, their varied duties, and their workplaces. Information is conveyed in simple black font on a white background with a photograph on the facing page.

The "front desk librarian," the one described as using a scanner to check out books and noting when they need to be returned, isn't too common in the public library system in which I work, but I imagine she may be more common in school media centers or smaller libraries.

Statistically, the photos depict a greater diversity in our profession than actually exists, but reflect the change that librarians (and other forward-thinking professions) are striving to create - a more diverse membership. Hopefully, young readers will see themselves in these pages and think about librarianship as a career (no, we're not becoming obsolete).

In addition to five small "chapters," A Day with Librarians includes tips on being a community helper, an index, additional facts, and an "about the author" section.

From the "Meet a Librarian" chapter,

 
Librarians have important jobs.  They can help you find a good book to read or some information about almost anything.

That about sums it up.  I'm good with that.

Other professions featured in the series are doctors, firefighters, mail carriers, paramedics and police officers.
 
Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Wendie's Wanderings.

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11. Infinity and Me - a review

If you're looking for a way to inspire very young people to wonder about math and science, look no further than Infinity and Me!

Hosford, Kate. 2012. Infinity and Me. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda. (Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska)

Infinity and Me will open up (dare I say it?) infinite possibilities and questions!

A small girl, Uma, ponders infinity while gazing at stars,

How many stars were in the sky? A million? A billion? Maybe the number was as big as infinity.  I started to feel very, very small.  How could I even think about something as big as infinity?
Uma proceeds to ask others how they conceive of infinity, and hears it defined in quantities of numbers, time, music, ancestors - even spaghetti!  Finally, she settles on her own measure of infinity, quantified in something that is both personal and boundless.  Full-bleed painted illustrations by Gabi Swiatkowska capture the magical sense of  the endless immensity of infinity that at first perplexes Uma, and finally envelops her in understanding.

In the end, it doesn't matter how one envisions infinity; what does matter is kindling an interest in something broader, wider, more infinite than oneself.

This is an intriguing introduction to a mathematical concept.


For Teachers:

A curriculum guide for Infinity and Me is available on the author's website.
Book details from the publisher's website:
Pages: 32Trim Size: 9 1/4 x 11Dewey: [E]Reading Level: 3Interest Level: K-4Ages: 5-10ATOS Quiz #: 0.5ATOS AR Points: 3.40ATOS: 151611.00Lexile Level: 670

It's STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

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12. Flood - a review

Villa, Alvaro F. 2013. Flood. North Mankato, MN: Capstone. 

(Advance Reader Copy provided by NetGalley)

If you read my blog regularly or read my monthly posts on the ALSC Blog, you'll know that my family was one of the tens of thousands affected by Hurricane Sandy.  It is for that reason, that I requested a copy of Flood for review.  I now have first-hand knowledge of the devastation caused by a hurricane, but more importantly in my area of the Jersey Shore, by flooding; I feel that I have a certain sad connection with the topic.  While I say that, I am also mindful of the fact that though thousands may be affected by the same natural disaster, no two personal disasters are the same.  There is a commonality, but yet, each town, each neighborhood, each family, each individual, must deal with a different set of difficulties.  Because of this, I approached Flood with trepidation and apprehension.  It was obviously not written in response to Superstorm Sandy, but nevertheless, it arrives at a time when people are particularly vulnerable.  To date, more than half a million disaster assistance claims have been filed with FEMA, with much of the damage caused by flooding.

Forgive me if I reveal the entire story, but this one I must follow through to the end.

Alvaro F. Villa's Flood appears to be the story of a flood more typical to the Midwest than along the nation's coastlines. In this wordless picture book, a family's modest home stands alone in the middle of a beautiful, grassy, rolling countryside, a river flowing behind. Two children and a dog play alongside a weathered picket fence.  Only the lone dark bird flying overhead hints at danger to come.  In the evening, the family spends a relaxing evening indoors.  Dawn brings the first hint of trouble as bad weather moves in.  The next days are spent in anxious discussion, preparation, and finally, evacuation. A violent and raging storm arrives, the river rises, wreaking destruction on the idyllic landscape.  In an eerie depiction of the storm's aftermath, the lone bird now sits upon the stump of a broken tree - looming large and black against the reddish hues of the dawning sky and the browns of the sandbags and silt left in the yard.  The family's muddied SUV returns.  From a distance the house can be seen, damaged but still standing.  The hopelessness of the family, the agonized tears of the young daughter are palpable as they survey the wreckage.  But of course, that is not the end.  It can never be.  No matter one's sense of hopelessness, helplessness - a start must be made. There is no other choice.  And so the rebuilding begins.  As the family paints and replants, the palette brightens and smiles return. The house, in its new coat of paint looks better than ever. It's not the same.  It will never be.  But the family is together and they have survived.

I passed this book along to my husband and children.  Of course, they are not librarians or book reviewers or educators. I asked them only because the experience is fresh in their minds.  My daughter had a keen observation.  There is a scene in which the family is spending the night in another location, having evacuated their home; the children are shown sleeping on the floor (as so many children, including mine, have recently done for days, weeks and months on end) while the parents and dog huddle in bed watching the television, presumably for news about the flood.  In a powerful use of symbolism, Villa shows their calm refuge surrounded by dark and raging flood waters - a powerful reminder of what is occurring elsewhere; but as my daughter pointed out, also easily misinterpreted by young readers who may be frightened by the water that appears to be menacingly approaching their makeshift beds.  Although beautiful and moving, and ultimately uplifting, this is not a picture book for preschoolers.  Appropriately, the publisher suggests Flood for Grades 1-3.

Is Flood  hopeful? Cautionary? Bibliotherapeutic? Empathetic? Preparatory?  I suspect Alviro F. Villa intended to offer hope.  I also suspect that much depends upon who reads it and when. 

Due on shelves February 1, 2013. 

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13. Play Ball! Baseball books for the very young

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
Jay Schyler Raadt CC-BY-SA-3.0
Baseball Hall of Fame baseball player, Rogers Hornsby
Source: Baseball Almanac

Yes, it's January and the temperatures have been in the teens, but soon catchers and pitchers will report to spring training, and on February 21, Spring Training games will begin.

Here are two new books for the littlest of fans:
  • Kawa, Katie. 2013. My First Trip to a Baseball Game. New York: Gareth Stevens.  (part of the My First Adventures series)
In three very simple chapters, this little book introduces children to a baseball game, offering information on the park, the food and the game.  From the chapter, "At the Baseball Park,"
My dad holds our tickets.  They tell us where to sit. We get food to eat. My mom and dad get hot dogs.
The illustrations are simple cartoon-style depictions of a family's trip to the game with a heavy focus on the family's activities.  If just a little bit of baseball is what you're seeking, this will do fine.
A Table of Contents, Index, and Words to Know make this one perfect for school use, however, it's also suitable for adding a little nonfiction to storytime.

Reading Level: Grade K 
Fountas & Pinell: C 
Dewey: 796.357 
Specifications: 7 5/8" x 7 1/8", 24 pages 
Lexile Level: 130

Less perfunctory and more enjoyable is Goodnight Baseball.

  • Dahl, Michael. 2013. Goodnight Baseball. N. Mankato, MN: Capstone. (Illustrated by Christina Forshay)
(Advance copy provided by NetGalley)

Beginning with a sing-song rhythm,
The great big stadium is outside of town.
Fans and friends come from miles around.
and ending with a nod to Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon,
Goodnight, popcorn boxes under the stands
Goodnight, mascot and goodnight, fans!
Goodnight, friends. Goodnight, cars.
Goodnight, stadium, under the stars ...
Goodnight Baseball takes the reader on a baseball outing with a small boy and his father. Snacks, caps, and even a foul ball are part of a winning day. Brightly colored full-bleed illustrations offer a broad view of the game, the fans, and the park with a focus not on the boy and his dad, but rather, on their place in the larger context of the day.  Expressive faces show the myriad expressions seen during a day at the park - excitement, determination, surprise (no sadness here - the home town wins). Creative endpapers evoke the Green Monster, the boy's favorite team, and tickets stuffed in the pocket of denim jeans.  Goodnight Baseball is a hit.
(Due on shelves March 1, 2013)



Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at author Laura Purdie Salas' blog, laurasalas.

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14. Peace - a review

Peace.

Despite what John Lennon urged, as adults, it's hard for us to imagine peace.  As a global community, we've never had it; we've never seen it.  It's more the stuff of imagination than possibility.  Heck, even the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) for Wendy Anderson Halperin's new book, Peace, is 172.42, translation - "political ethics." Pragmatic, yes - but lacking in idealism to be sure.

But to talk to children (even teenagers) and many can envision peace - and they have ideas on how to achieve it.  That's one of the many things that make children so wonderful.  They haven't lost the ability to hope and dream and imagine the to-date unachievable.

Wendy Anderson Halperin's new book, Peace (Atheneum, 2013), seizes on that idealism, reflects it, and feeds it with new possibility.

Groupings of Halperin's delicate and peaceful, pencil and watercolor illustrations decorate each page in this circular story of peace which begins,
For there to be peace in the world ...
there must be peace in nations.
Accompanying each line is a collection of quotes from the likes of Walt Whitman, Dalai Lama, Kofi  A. Annon, and other lesser-known individuals.  The quotes serve as borders between the many illustrations on each page, each one, a story in itself.

The circular narrative leads inward, with the continuing theme of
For there to be ...
there must be ...
until the "heart" of the book is reached,
For there to be peace in homes,
there must be peace in our hearts.
Here the double-spread layout features the art of schoolchildren from Michigan, Ohio, and New York, and moving then outward, the refrain changes to
When there is ...
there will be ... .
Culminating in the elusive,
There will be peace in our nations.
And we will have peace in our world.

Peace is a beautiful and inspiring piece of work, or perhaps more aptly, a work of peace.

Much thought went into the design and concept for the book, as evidenced by its companion website, "Drawing Children Into PEACE."  The page with suggested Peace Projects has some great ideas.  As a matter of fact, I have an old chair that would make a fine "peace chair."  It may not turn out as well as the one below, but I'm inspired to give it a try.

See several pages of Peace at the author's website.


It's Nonfiction Monday.  This week's host is Wrapped in Foil.

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15. Picture book roundup - Twitter style

My calendar's packed. I just returned from a trip. I'm in the midst of a class. I'm presenting at a forum this week. But wait, four great new picture books are sitting on my table waiting to be reviewed!

What to do? Do it Twitter-style! Here they are in 140 characters or less:

  • Willy. De Kockere. 2011. Erdman. Celebrating the peculiarities that make Willy the elephant special. Monty Python-esque art, a perfect foil to a quirky tale. Love it!

  • Train Trip. Caswell. 2011.Hyperion. Cheerful and rhyming, a boy and a train bond during a trip. “Special treat. “Come on in!” “Sound the whistle?” Eager grin."

  • Little Owl’s Night. Srinivasan. 2011. Viking. An owl observes the night’s activities. Dark colors, cheery wide-eyed creatures. Simple and serene.

  • Shaggy Dogs, Waggy Dogs. Patricia Hubbell. 2011. Marshall Cavendish. Happy, rhyming, romping dogs. Dogs, dogs and more dogs! A storytime gem.

And one more of Willy, in case you didn't get enough!
©Copyright Carll Cneut
(Yikes! I forgot that MSWord doesn’t count spaces. Now I’ll have to be more clever!)

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16. Just a Second: A different way to look at time - a review

Jenkins, Steve. 2011. Just a Second: A different way to look at time. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

What can happen in a second?
Earth advances 18 1/2 miles (30 kilometers) in its orbit around the sun.
What can happen in a day?
People use the equivalent of 200 billion sheets of letter-size paper.
In a year?
A termite queen will lay almost 3,000,000 eggs.
With his trademark illustrative style, customary accuracy, and imaginative perspective, Steve Jenkins shows us the concept of time through a variety of aspects.  From the briefest second in which a cheetah can sprint 100 feet, to the unfathomable span of 2,000,000,000 years that it would take a spacecraft to traverse our galaxy, Jenkins offers illustrated facts, charts and graphs that are sure to interest kids of all ages. Facts are presented in white text on colorful pages, accompanied by cut paper illustrations.For teachers, it is a cross-curricular treasure trove. Highly recommended.

Included are books for additional reading and a note about the use of credible estimations for certain facts (e.g., the number of babies born each day).

Other reviews @:

This week's STEM Friday roundup is at Dig This Well.

1 Comments on Just a Second: A different way to look at time - a review, last added: 11/18/2011
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17. Picture Book Roundup - Best of 2011

Here they are - my favorite fiction picture books of 2011!
(an eclectic mix, to be sure)

If I have reviewed the book, the title is linked to the review.  
My top three choices
(I couldn't pick just one!)


  • Ray, Mary Lyn and Marla Frazee. 2011. Stars. New York: Beach Lane.

  • Henkes, Kevin. 2011. Little White Rabbit. New York: Greenwillow.   

  • Lyon, George Ella. 2011. All the Water in the World. New York: Atheneum.
















  • Also making my list of favorites (in no particular order) are:

  • DeKockere, Geert. 2011. Willy. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 


  • Milgrim, David. 2011. Eddie Gets Ready for School. New York: Cartwheel (Scholastic). 


  • Gibbs, Edward. 2011. I Spy with my Little Eye. Somerville, MA: Templar. (Candlewick)


  • Crum, Shutta. 2011. Mine! Ill. by Patrice Barton. New York: Knopf.  


  • Shea, Susan A. 2011. Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? Maplewood, NJ: Blue Apple.  


  • Becker, Bonny. 2011. The Sniffles for Bear. Ill. by Kady MacDonald Denton. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.


  •  Are any of these your favorites?
    1 Comments on Picture Book Roundup - Best of 2011, last added: 12/2/2011
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    18. Mary and Her Little Lamb: The True Story of the Famous Nursery Rhyme - a review

    Moses, Will. 2011. Mary and Her Little Lamb: The True Story of the Famous Nursery Rhyme. New York: Philomel.

    Most children in America will grow up learning the rhyme or the song about Mary and her little lamb, but few will give it any serious thought. We may similarly prattle about Old King Cole, Wee Willie Winkie, or Jack Sprat, but we don't expect to know anything more about them than their propensities for pipe smoking and music, late night excursions in inappropriate clothing and a distaste for high-fat diets.

     Luckily for children, however, we can know a little more about Mary and her little lamb.  Will Moses' detailed folkart paintings (many double-spreads), are a perfect accompaniment to the true story of Mary Sawyer of Sterling, Massachusetts, circa 1810.  The pastoral images of 19th century Sterling and the simple features of the one-room schoolhouse are beautifully rendered in colorful oils. The story is somewhat lengthy, but Moses employs artistic license to add story enriching details that create a fast-paced, enjoyable read-aloud story.  Delightful in words and pictures!


    Note:
    Earlier this year on the KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month blog, I highlighted Laurie Halse Anderson's book, Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving. Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879) was a fascinating woman.  Not only did she almost single-handedly create the national Thanksgiving Holiday, she was also a writer, editor and a poet.  I noted that she penned the ditty, "Mary Had a Little Lamb," which I learned from the back matter in Thank You, Sarah. However, there is apparently more to the story.  According to the afterword in Mary and Her Little Lamb, John Roulstone wrote the first stanza of the now-famous poem in the 1810s.  Sarah Hale published the poem in 1930, apparently adding three more stanzas.   Later, musician Lowell Mason, set the rhyme to music, adding the repetitive lines that we all sing today. Regardless of its evolutionary process, it's amazing that a  4-line ditty about a girl and her lamb could  so enchant the schoolhouse visitor John Roulstone, the accomplished writer Sarah Hale, and the famous musician, Lowell Mason. How much more simple life must have been in the early 1800s!  There is no end to the things one can learn from picture books.

    Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Geo Librarian.

    Note: If you're a regular Nonfiction Monday contributor, you'll want to make note of the roundup schedule's new location.

    1 Comments on Mary and Her Little Lamb: The True Story of the Famous Nursery Rhyme - a review, last added: 12/12/2011
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    19. Monday Morning Miscellany

    First up,
    • It's Nonfiction Monday again.  Please be sure to visit host, Wendie's Wanderings to read today's posts. I've got no reviews to offer today, however, I did read this book yesterday and loved it for its beautiful photos, sweet story, and simple sentence structure (perfect for sharing with little ones at storytime):
      (Be assured that the quality of the book's photos exceeds the quality of the book trailer video.)  A curiosity about this decidedly nonfiction book - the copyright page lists the classifying subject headings as the following:

      1. Orangutan – Juvenile fiction. 2. Dogs – Juvenile fiction. [1. Orangutan – Fiction. 2. Dogs – Fiction. 3. Wildlife refuges – Fiction. 4. South Carolina – Fiction.]
      I sent a note to the publisher to inquire if this is an error or a choice, but haven't had a response yet.  This is not the first time that I've seen erroneous cataloging information in print.  Can someone who is familiar with publishing enlighten me as to the source of the classifications?  I'm a curious sort. 

      Next,
      • After many, many tries, I was finally successful in logging in to my White House account and signing the petition to  
      Ensure that every child in America has access to an effective school library program.
      If you haven't signed the petition, please do.  (You must create a White House account before signing.)  The log in process seems to be temperamental.  Please keep trying!  As I'm writing, 4411 signatures are still needed by February 4, to ensure a response from the President. Do yourself, your children, your students, your school, and your community a favor and support strong school library programs.

      Finally,

      Ms. Vaughan's visit here is part of the larger Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour 2012.  The tour kicks off on February 5 with the following: 

      Susan Campbell Bartoletti, author of Naamah and the Ark at NightSydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
      at Ima On & Off the Bima

      Holly Meade, illustrator of Naamah and the Ark at NightSydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
      at
      Into the Wardrobe

      Shelley Sommer, author of Hammerin' Hank Greenberg, Baseball PioneerSydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
      at
      1 Comments on Monday Morning Miscellany, last added: 1/30/2012
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      20. Picture Book Roundup: spring, truck and mummy edition

      As the co-organizer of the KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month blog, I've been very busy formatting, posting, and reading all of the great guest posts this month.  (If you haven't checked it out, you're missing some great essays and reviews.)  As a consequence, I've been neglecting to post often this month, but today I have a quick rundown of three titles that grabbed my attention this past week:

      • Fogliano, Julie. 2012. And then it's spring.  Illustrated by Erin E. Stead. New York: Roaring Brook.

      I loved this book from the minute I saw the cover staring at me from my book delivery bag.  It's simply perfect.  Betsy Bird, of Fuse #8, named it to her early Caldecott predictions list yesterday.  Get yourself a copy if you can.



      • Sutton, Sally. 2012. Demolition. Illustrated by Brian Lovelock. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

      Bright colors, realistic trucks, repeated refrains, rhymes with perfect rhythm - a storytime book doesn't get much better than this.  If you know any small children at all, you know one who will like Demolition.











      And finally, a curious addition to my bag 'o books,

      • Bunting, Eve. 2011. Ballywhinney Girl. Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
      The hauntingly beautiful cover art caught my eye, and with St. Patrick's Day approaching, I was on the lookout for anything Irish to add to a display of Irish-themed books.  Ballywhinney Girl, however, was not what I was expecting.  It's the story of Maeve, a young Irish girl, and her grandfather, who accidentally uncover a body while digging in the peat bogs near their home.  After they report the find to the local authorities, it draws the attention of news reporters, archaeologists, and scientists, who determine that the body is that of a thousand-year-old mummified girl - a girl much like Maeve, herself.  Maeve naturally find the whole process unsettling.  Elegantly told in verse, this is a fictional story that, according to the Author's Note, happens more often than one might think.  It clearly, and rightfully, is unsettling to author, Eve Bunting, as well.  Whether your young listener will find it unsettling as well, 

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      21. Seeing Symmetry - a review

      I'm on vacation this week, but wanted to point out Loreen Leedy's latest.

      Leedy, Loreen. 2012. Seeing Symmetry. New York: Holiday House.

      A teacher's dream, Seeing Symmetry is so much more than a book about symmetry.  It is the intersection of math, art and nature in a clearly illustrated book that is entertaining, participatory, and educational.  It's also correlated to 4th grade core curriculum standards for geometry (see Loreen Leedy's website). Notes, activities, math concepts and vocabulary are included as well.

      More kids would like math if it were always presented like this.  Worth checking out!

      Watch the video below, narrated by author/illustrator, Loreen Leedy, and read a detailed review @ Kirkus Reviews.


      Free download of Spring Mirror Word Puzzles for teachers.

      Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Ana's Nonfiction Blog.

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      22. Letter E

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      23. Picture Book Roundup - May edition

      So many great picture books have passed my desk lately.  Here are a few:

      • Joose, Barbara. 2012. Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats. Ill. by Jan Jutte. New York: Philomel.

      Each night, Old Robert counts "his regular things in their regular place"

      Clean socks
      a clock
      my ship in the slip at the dock.
      One dish
      one spoon
      a slice of the silver moon.
      Things are always the same until the night a cat asks to come in.  There was no room for a cat on Old Robert's boat,

      And yet ...
              and yet ...
                     Old Robert said yes ...
      ... and the cat came in.

      This is a delightfully, quirky story about Old Robert, his boat, and how one small decision can change a life (or two, or three, or ...).  Illustrations by the Netherlands' Jan Jutte, give Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats a salty and silly air reminiscent of old comics (think Popeye or original Tin Tin) touched with whimsy.  Comforting, repetitive refrains make this a great read aloud. 

      There is just something irresistible about Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats.

      And there's apparently a song available, too,  "Old Roberts Jig" by the Happy Racers.

      • Elya, Susan Middleton. 2012. Fire! ¡Fuego! Brave Bomberos. Ill. by Dan Santat. New York: Bloomsbury.

      My husband has had a long and wonderful career in the fire department, so I'll admit some partiality to firefighter books, even ones that feature firefighters rescuing cats from trees.  For the record, professional firefighters don't rescue cats from trees. They will, however, rescue animals from fires, and in Fire! ¡Fuego! Brave Bomberos, a house fire traps a poor kitty on an upper floor,

      Climbing up la escalera,
      KITTY, KITTY,
      COME AFUERA.
      Coaxed by food in small pedazos,
      kitten jumps to outstretched brazos.
      See how easy that was?  You're speaking Spanish. Even without the brightly colored double spread illustration of a firefighter on a ladder, hand extended with cat treats, you knew what it meant, and kids will too!  The story rhymes, the meter's fine, and if you need help with pronunciation, it's all in the Glossary.  All bias aside, I like it!

      • Kohuth, Jane. 2012. Duck Sock Hop. Ill. by Jane Porter. New York: Pen

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      24. Eight Days Gone - a review

      McReynolds, Linda. 2012. Eight Days Gone. Illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

      In simple, four-line rhymes, Linda McReynolds has captured for a new generation the eight breathtaking, breath-holding days of the Apollo 11 mission.  Eight Days Gone recounts the July 1969, launch, orbit, landing and return of the spaceship Columbia and the lunar module Eagle.

      It begins on a cheerful, sunny, colorful day in Florida,

      Hundreds gather.
      Hot July.
      Spaceship ready -
      set to fly.
      McReynolds skillfully distills this immense project, this watershed accomplishment into its most basic elements, yet she disregards no aspect of the mission, giving recognition to Aldrin and Armstrong,  the nation, the command center, Collins (who stayed aboard the Columbia), even the Navy - remember the days of "splashdowns?"



      The words are not always simple, but O'Rourke's stunning oil paintings fill in the necessary details. The font is either black or white and appears in a corner, never obscuring the double-spread, full-bleed illustrations.  Because of the subject matter, much of the artwork is in the creamy colors of the lunar surface, the spacecraft, and the astronauts' clothing.  Against the black of the universe, the colors of the American flag, the striped parachutes, the faces of the astronauts, and the dazzling blue and green of the earth, demand the reader's attention. 


      Most striking is the painting of the "earthrise" on the black lunar horizon, a small astronaut placed in the lower left corner,

      Desolation.
      Silent. Dark.
      Tranquil sea.
      Barren. Stark.
      Our tiny place within the cosmos is illustrated, but is boldly followed by the illustration on the following page where the astronaut fills a third of the page, confidently setting forth across the lunar landscape,

      Haul equipment.
      Careful test.
      Exploration.
      Lunar quest.
      May we always be reminded of both our infinetesimal status and our immense capacity to overcome it.  A stunning book. Highly recommended.




      A photo, bilbiography, author's note and websites are included.

      This is Linda McReynolds' first children's book.

      Other Eight Days Gone reviews @

      NASA offers a K-4 student website as well as a 4 Comments on Eight Days Gone - a review, last added: 7/23/2012
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      25. At the Boardwalk - a review

      I could not let the summer get away without featuring this one!


      A preview available at the publisher's site
      Fineman, Kelly Ramsdell. 2012. At the Boardwalk. Illustrated by Mónica Armiño. Wilton, CT: Tiger Tales.

      With a rhyming, smooth-flowing pattern in which the 2nd and 6th lines repeat, Fineman catches the very essence of summer boardwalk activity along the Eastern seaboard.

      At the boardwalk
      day or night
      Treats for every appetite
      Popcorn - taffy - fudge, delight
      At the boardwalk
      day or night
      Food, rides, arcades, and fireworks; in rain and fog and sun - she captures it all - right down to the oompah music of the carousel and the stands selling hermit crabs.  Each 6-line verse appears on a two-page spread in which Spanish illustrator, Mónica Armiño, uses pencils and mixed media on textured paper to create a light-hearted, multicultural tableau of the best the boardwalk has to offer.   The final image is that of a lone worker sweeping the sand from an empty boardwalk that stretches away into the distance toward a darkened Ferris wheel.  To the East, the ocean is calm.  The sky is darkening and a full moon is high in the sky.

      Oh, would that summer would never end!

      I love this one!


      In checking, I find that, of course, Kelly Ramsdell Fineman is from New Jersey. I'd be willing to bet that she's been to my stretch of paradise.  (I'd love to know how an artist from Madrid got it so right.)

      We'd like to keep it a secret, but this is the real Jersey Shore.

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