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1. An Interview with Elli Woollard, creator of Woozy the Wizard

woozyWoozy the Wizard: A Spell to Get Well written by Elli Woollard and Al Murphy is the first in a new and very funny series of readers for children just gaining confidence in reading alone.

Woozy is a terribly well-meaning wizard who’s keen to help his friends, but more often than not he gets somewhat mixed up and his spells don’t quite do what they’re meant to. With the help of his pet pig Woozy flies around trying to sort things out, and in the process it becomes clear that whilst it may not be magic, it is certainly something quite magical that helps put the world to rights.

Lots of humour, great rhythm and rhyme (enormous aids when practising reading because they help with scanning a line, and predicting how words should be pronounced), and clear, bright and colourful illustrations all add up to a lovely book perfect to give to your emerging reader.

To celebrate the publication of I interviewed the author of Woozy the Wizard: A Spell to Get Well, Elli Woollard, about her work. Given Elli is a poet, I challenged her to answer me in rhyme….

Zoe: Rhyming seems to be in your blood. Where did this passion come from?

Elli Woollard: The thing about me is I sing quite a lot
(I rather enjoy it; the neighbours might not),
And I guess if you’re singing for much of the time
Your mind sort of slips into thinking in rhyme.

Zoe: How does your blog, where you regularly publish poems/works in progress, help you with your writing?

Elli Woollard: My blog’s like a sketchbook for scribbles and scrawls
And all of my mind’s muddly mess.
I write them all down, and sometimes I frown,
But some make me want to go ‘YES!’

Elli on the Dr Seuss book bench that was recently on view in London.

Elli on the Dr Seuss book bench that was recently on view in London.

Zoe: What would your ideal writing location/environment be like and why?

Elli Woollard: A hot cup of coffee, a warm purring cat;
There’s not much more that I need than that.
Working at home is really quite nice
(Except when the cat thinks my fingers are mice).

Zoe: What was the most magical part for you in the process of seeing Woozy the Wizard come to life as a printed book?

Elli Woollard: Writing, writing, is ever so exciting,
Especially when you’ve finished and say ‘Look!
All of my creations now come with illustrations!
Bloomin’ heck, I think I wrote a book!’

Zoe: What tips do you have for kids who love to write poetry?

Elli Woollard: Use your ears, use your eyes, use your heads, use your feet,
Stand up proud, read aloud, and just listen to that beat.
Feel the rhythm, feel the vibes of the poetry you’ve heard,
And think about the magic that’s in every single word.

Zoe: Which poets for children do you like to read?

Elli Woollard: Donaldson (Julia), Rosen (Mike),
Lear (Edward) and Milligan (Spike),
I could go on, and write a long list,
But so many good ones I know would get missed.

Zoe: Thanks Elli! I’m already looking forward to the next outing for Woozy, in spring 2015!

2 Comments on An Interview with Elli Woollard, creator of Woozy the Wizard, last added: 10/20/2014
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2. Doodles and Drafts – A bewitching encounter with Angela Sunde

Hold on to your broomsticks because today we have someone special visiting. She’s a bit of a drafter and doodler, a fellow resident of the magical Gold Coast and a wickedly wonderful conjurer of stories. Snap Magic is her latest light-hearted, fairy tale inspired fantasy novel about friendship and young girls approaching the precipitous edge […]

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3. A Look at the 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award Winner and Honor Books

A Look at the 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award Winner and Honor Books | Storytime Standouts

Storytime Standouts Shares Wonderful Choices for Beginning Readers












The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli 2014  Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award WinnerThe Watermelon Seed written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
Picture book for beginning readers published by Disney Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group





When a charming and exuberant crocodile explains that he loves watermelon, we are utterly convinced,

Ever since I was a teeny, tiny baby cocodile, it’s been my favorite.
CHOMP! SLURP! CHOMP!

While enthusiastically devouring his favorite fruit, the crocodile accidentally ingests a seed, his imagination runs wild and he assumes a variety of terrible outcomes.

Repetitive text, limited use of long vowel words and very good supporting illustrations make this a great choice for beginning readers.

The Watermelon Seed at Amazon.com

The Watermelon Seed at Amazon.ca



Ball by Mary Sullivan a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookBall written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan
Picture book for beginning readers published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children





There is little doubt that this dog loves his small, red ball. From the moment he wakes up, he is focused on only one thing: playing with the ball. He especially loves when the ball is thrown by a young girl but when she leaves for school there is no one available to throw it.

This is a terrific picture book that relies heavily on the illustrations for the narrative. Apart from one repeated word (ball) it could be classified as a wordless picture book.

It will be thoroughly enjoyed by dog lovers and young children – especially those who are eager for an opportunity to read independently.

Ball at Amazon.com

Ball at Amazon.ca



A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookA Big Guy Took My Ball written and illustrated by Mo Willems
Series for beginning readers published by Hyperion Books for Children





This charming story will remind readers that appearances can be deceiving and perspective is everything! Gerald and Piggie’s friendship is solid and Gerald is more than willing to stand up for Piggie when her ball is taken by a big guy.

Delightful illustrations will appeal to young readers as they effectively portray a range of emotions. The text is perfect for children who are beginning to read – lots of repetition and very few long vowel words.

A Big Guy Took My Ball! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) at Amazon.com

A Big Guy Took My Ball! at Amazon.ca



Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookPenny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes
Generously illustrated chapter book series for beginning readers published by Greenwillow Books An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers





It truly is a treat to read such a beautifully-written chapter book for beginning readers. Kevin Henkes has created a new character: Penny. She is a young mouse with a sense of right and wrong. In this book, she is out with her sister when she “finds” a beautiful blue marble. She excitedly puts it into her pocket and later wonders if she did the right thing.

Lovely, full color illustrations and a thought-provoking dilemma make this a great choice for newly independent readers.

Penny and Her Marble at Amazon.com

Penny And Her Marble at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts - Raising Children Who Love to Read

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4. Puddle Pug, by Kim Norman | Book Review

Puddle Pug, by Kim Norman, is a beautifully illustrated hardcover book that tells the story of a pug in the search for a perfect pond.

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5. The Colour Thief x 2

Can you imagine a world without colour, where all you see is black, white or the shades of grey in between? As a self-confessed colour junkie such a world would sap my energies and leave my life (perhaps ironically), somewhat blue.

Thus when two new books came to my attention both titled ‘The Colour Thief’ I was very intrigued; not only did they look like their subject matter would appeal to me, it was funny and surprising to see two books, from different authors/illustrators/publishers with the same title.

thecolourthief_frontcovers

In The Colour Thief by Gabriel Alborozo an alien looks longingly across space to planet earth, full of colours and brightness. He believes such a beautiful place must be full of joy, and so sets off to bring some of that happiness back to his home planet.

With just a few magic words the alien is able to suck up first all the reds, then the blues and the greens and before long planet earth is looking very grey and sad. But what of the alien? Can he really be happy when he sees the glumness he has caused?

Alborozo’s story about kindness, desire and what makes us joyous and content is full of appeal. There are lots of themes which can be explored; from the beauty around us which we might take for granted (requiring an outsider to alert us to us), to whether or not we can be happy if we’ve caused others distress, this book could be used to open up lots of discussion.

Click to see larger image

Click to see larger image

Although the alien’s actions could be frightening, this is mitigated by his cute appearance, just one of the book’s charms. I also think kids will love the apparent omnipotence of the alien: He wants something, and at his command he gets it, just like that, and this identification with the alien makes the story more interesting and unusual. The artwork is fun and energetic, seemingly filled with rainbow coloured confetti. I can easily imagine a wonderful animation of this story.

The Colour Thief by Andrew Fusek Peters and Polly Peters, illustrated by Karin Littlewood is a very different sort of story. It draws on the authors’ own experience of parental depression, exploring from a child’s perspective what it can feel like to watch a parent withdraw as they suffer from this illness.

Father and son lead a comforting life “full of colour”, but when depression clouds the father’s mind he withdraws, and all the colours around the family seem to disappear. The child worries that he might somehow be the cause of this loss, but he is repeatedly reassured it is not his fault and gradually, with patience and love, colours start to seep back into the father’s life and he returns to his family.

Mental health is difficult to talk about when you’re 40, let alone when you are four, but this lyrical and moving book provides a thoughtful, gentle, and unsentimental way into introducing (and if desired, discussing) depression. If you were looking for “when a book might help” to reassure a child in a specific situation, I would wholeheartedly recommend this; it is honest, compassionate and soothing.

However, I definitely wouldn’t keep this book ONLY for those times when you find a child in a similar circumstances to those described in the book. It is far too lovely to be kept out of more general circulation. For a start, the language is very special; it’s perhaps no surprise when you discover that one of the author’s has more than 70 poetry books to his name. If you were looking for meaningful, tender use of figurative language, for example in a literacy lesson, this book provides some fabulous, examples.

Click to see larger image.

Click to see larger image.

And then there are the illustrations. Karin Littlewood has long been one of my favourite illustrators for her use of colour, her graceful compositions, her quiet kindness in her images. And in The Colour Thief there are many examples of all these qualities. I particularly like her use of perspective first to embody the claustrophobia and fear one can feel with depression, with bare tree branches leaning in onto the page, or street lamps lowering overhead, and then finally the open, sky-facing view as parent and child reunite as they walk together again when colour returns.

*******************

Particularly inspired by the imagery in Alborozo’s The Colour Thief we made a trip to a DIY store to pick up a load of paint chips.

paintchips2

Wow. My kids went crazy in the paint section: Who knew paint chips could be just so much fun? They spent over an hour collecting to their hearts’ desire. A surprising, free and fun afternoon!

Once home we snipped up the paint chips to separate each colour. The colour names caused lots of merriment, and sparked lots of equally outlandish ideas for new colour names, such as Beetlejuice red, Patio grey, Spiderweb silver and Prawn Cocktail Pink.

paintchips1

We talked about shades and intensity of colours, and sorted our chips into three piles: Strong, bright colours, off-white colours, and middling colours. I then put a long strip of contact paper on the kitchen table, sticky side up, and the kids started making a mosaic with the chips, starting with the brightest colours in the middle, fading to the palest around the edge.

colourthief

Apart for the soothing puzzle-like quality of this activity, the kids have loved using the end result as a computer keyboard, pressing the colours they want things to change to. I also think it makes for a rather lovely bit of art, now up in their bedroom.

colourthiefartwork

Whilst making our colour mosaic we listened to:

  • My favourite ever, ever song about colours…. Kristin Andreassen – Crayola Doesn’t Make A Color For Your Eyes
  • Colors by Kira Willey. This song would go really well with ‘My Many Colored Days’ by Dr. Seuss.
  • Roy G Biv by They Might Be Giants

  • Other activities which might go well with either version of ‘The Colour Thief’ include:

  • Taking some online colour quizzes to learn more about just how you see colour (and how that might be different to someone else)
  • Making your own colour swatches or favourite colours book, using this amazing 322 year old Dutch book as inspiration. It will be much cheaper and a lot more fun than buying a Pantone Colour Guide.
  • If you know someone suffering from depression these charities may be of help:

  • Depression Alliance
  • Mind
  • Sane
  • Pandas Foundation – Pre and Post Natal depression support
  • Acacia – Pre and Post Natal depression support
  • Disclosure: I received free review copies of both books reviewed today from their respective publishers.

    Some other books I have since found with the same title but by different authors/illustrators/publishers include:

    thesnowyday

    ‘The Snowy Day’ by Ezra Jack Keats, and ‘The Snowy Day’ by Anna Milbourne and Elena Temporin

    bubbleandsqueakpair

    ‘Bubble and Squeak’ by Louise Bonnett-Rampersaud and Susan Banta, and ‘Bubble and Squeak’ by James Mayhew and Clara Vulliamy

    mydadtrio

    ‘My Dad’ by Anthony Browne, ‘My Dad’ by Steve Smallman and Sean Julian, and ‘My Dad’ by Chae Strathie and Jacqueline East

    My thanks to @josiecreates, @FBreslinDavda and @illustratedword for alerting me to some of these titles.

    3 Comments on The Colour Thief x 2, last added: 10/15/2014
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    6. Mending our hearts: how do we teach kids to be kind to one another, guest post by Julie Sternberg

    My heart is feeling very full right now, and I hope you'll join me reading this special guest post. Julie Sternberg recently asked me to help celebrate her new book, Friendship Over: The Top-Secret Diary of Celie Valentine. I said yes right away, since my students love love love Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie. But I decided on a spin -- I wanted to hear a little more from Julie about her thoughts on friendship and how we can help kids be good friends.
    Friendship Over
    The Top-Secret Diary of Celie Valentine
    by Julie Sternberg
    illustrated by Johanna Wright
    Boyds Mills, 2014
    Your local library
    Amazon
    ages 8-11
    Berkeley elementary schools have just adopted the Toolbox Project social-emotional learning curriculum. As our districts' announcement stated, Toolbox "teaches critical social competencies necessary for academic and life success such as: resiliency, self-management, and responsible decision-making skills." But really, it teaches us how to be good friends, how to create a community together.

    I shared the Toolbox Project with Julie and asked her which tools helped her character, Celie. You see, Celie has trouble with her friends -- troubles that I just know my students will relate to. I was very touched by Julie's reply:
    Mending our hearts, by Julie Sternberg

    I wish I could go back in time and give this toolbox to my fourth-grade teacher to use with our class. She struggled and struggled to help us resolve conflicts and manage our emotions. She didn’t have difficulty because she was inexperienced or untalented—far from it. Our class just somehow tended to bring out the worst in each other.

    Our teacher led several discussions on kindness and respect, but they made little difference. Then a boy grabbed a girl in an extremely sensitive, private area. We all found it horrifying. After that, our teacher took an unusual step. She cut the biggest heart I’ve ever seen out of butcher paper. Then she split that heart into two jagged pieces. She taped one on the far left side of one of our classroom walls, and the other on the far right. When she’d finished taping, she told us that the heart of our class had been broken. Only by being very kind to each other could we mend it.

    From that time on, at the end of every school day, she’d give an official assessment of our behavior. If we’d been kind to each other, she’d move the pieces of broken heart closer together. If not, she’d inch them farther apart. When the heart was finally whole again, we had a party with lots of candy.
    Julie Sternberg
    Part of me loves this broken-heart strategy. When my daughters have long and needless fights, I consider cutting an enormous heart in two and taping the pieces far from each other in our apartment. But I know the strategy is flawed. Because I don’t remember how my classmates and I managed to be kind enough to each other to mend our collective heart. I just remember succeeding, and getting candy.

    Instead I now see that I should tape up in my apartment the Twelve Tools for Learning, so we can all practice the skills that would help us manage our emotions and prevent conflicts from escalating. I particularly love the “Quiet/Safe Place” tool. I love the idea of saying, in the heat of a senseless battle, “Let’s all three go find a ‘place of rest and peace where we can gather ourselves.’” It seems so much nicer than shouting, “BOTH OF YOU GO TO YOUR ROOMS! NOW!” Which I might have done once or twice, or a hundred times, in the past.
    Celie Valentine

    It would have been interesting to use the Twelve Tools before I wrote FRIENDSHIP OVER, the first book in the series THE TOP-SECRET DIARY OF CELIE VALENTINE. Celie has all kinds of difficulty managing her emotions, and I would love to have her try the tools. The “Garbage Can Tool” might be my favorite for her: “I let the little things go—Put it in the garbage can and walk on by.” This would NOT be easy for Celie (though it would certainly be helpful). And it would be so much fun to write the scenes in which she tries, and fails at first, and ultimately succeeds.

    It’s something I’ll keep pondering. Because there are Celie sequels to come!
    I know my students are really going to enjoy reading Celie. She struggles with how to be a friend, how to be true to her own feelings but respectful of others. I wonder if Celie uses drawing and writing in her diary as a way to find a "quiet/safe place" -- somewhere she can go in her mind to sort through her feelings, calm down, and remove herself from conflict.

    Please enjoy sharing Friendship Over: The Top-Secret Diary of Celie Valentine with kids who like realistic fiction. As the starred review from Kirkus says, "This satisfying slice-of-life story about the permutations of friendship and family resonates."

    About the author:
    Julie Sternberg is the author of the best-selling Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and its sequels, Like Bug Juice on a Burger and Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake. Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie is a Gryphon Award winner and a Texas Bluebonnet Award finalist; Like Bug Juice on a Burger is a Gryphon Honor Book, a Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Awards Nominee, and an Illinois Monarch Award Finalist. Formerly a public interest lawyer, Julie is a graduate of the New School's MFA program in Creative Writing, with a concentration in writing for children. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. For more information about her life and work and to download free activity materials based on her books, visit her website: juliesternberg.com.

    Check out the other stops on Julie’s blog tour!
    Mon, Sept 29: Mother Daughter Book Club
    Tues, Sept 30: 5 Minutes for Mom
    Wed, Oct 1: Sharpread
    Thurs, Oct 2: KidLit Frenzy
    Fri, Oct 3: The Hiding Spot
    Sat, Oct 4: Booking Mama
    Mon, Oct 6: Ms. Yingling Reads
    Tues, Oct 7: GreenBeanTeenQueen
    Wed, Oct 8: Great Kid Books
    Thurs, Oct 9: Teach Mentor Texts
    Fri, Oct 10: Unleashing Readers
    Sat, Oct 11: Bermuda Onion
    Illustrations copyright © 2014 b Johanna Wright, used with permission of the publisher. The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Boyds Mills Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

    ©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

    0 Comments on Mending our hearts: how do we teach kids to be kind to one another, guest post by Julie Sternberg as of 10/8/2014 8:31:00 AM
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    7. Ghosts and libraries -- a perfect mix! Interview with Dori Hillestad Butler

    Today, I have the great pleasure of chatting with Dori Hillestad Butler, author of the new series The Haunted Library. Read on below, but also check out this great video on Open Road Media. It will give you a sense of the joy that Dori brings to writing for kids.

    Kids new to chapter books will have fun with The Haunted Library, with its blend of mystery, humor and kid-powered detective work.

    MAS: How did you come up with the idea of a haunted library?

    DHB: I just combined two of my favorite things...ghosts and libraries! The idea for the series came while I was writing book 6 in my Buddy Files series. My husband thought I was putting too much emphasis on the ghost in that story and not enough emphasis on the dog. He said, "If you want to write a ghost series, write a ghost series. This one is your dog series. It needs to be more about the dog." He was right. So I streamlined that story a little more and then started on the Haunted Library.

    The "Wohleter Mansion" is the house I see in my head when I picture the Haunted Library. This was also a house in my hometown. I LOVED that house as a kid. Not that I was ever inside it. But I used to ride my bike past it all the time just because I liked to look at it. Now it's probably good that I was never inside because I can imagine the inside however I want. I imagine the "library" on the entire first floor. Claire and her family live on the second floor. And the third floor is storage.
    The Wohleter Mansion
    MAS: That's such a great image -- no wonder it inspired you to write a terrific story! My student Maddy wants to know: “Have you ever been in a haunted library?”

    DHB: Not that I know of. But I'd sure like to visit one! Assuming the ghosts are friendly, that is.

    MAS: I really enjoy the way you make ghosts friendly. Our teachers want to know: Do you keep a writer's notebook? What do you put in it? They ask their 2nd graders to keep writer's notebooks.
    Dori Butler's writer's notebooks

    DHB: I do! Several of them, actually. One is really just a journal where I make to-do lists and keep track of progress made on various projects. I also record writing related events/phone calls as they happen. The others are notebooks for each of my projects. I brainstorm ideas in those notebooks.

    MAS: Are there any other images that inspired you as you wrote the series?

    DHB: Definitely! The "Fairmont School" is the school I saw in my head when I wrote about the "old schoolhouse" where Kaz lived with his ghost family. Except I remember the school looking a lot more rundown! That was the first elementary school in the town I grew up in. But it's clearly been restored, which I think is really cool!
    Fairmont School
    This is library in my hometown. I worked there all through high school. I loved that job! I loved it so much that I didn't want to go home after the library closed. I used to stay in the library after closing, by myself, and write stories. Until I got caught! You can read more about that here on my agent's blog: http://acrowesnest.blogspot.com/2014/09/why-haunted-library.html (MAS: It's a wonderful post!)
    Dori's hometown library -- her refuge as a young writer
    I've always loved libraries. And I've always loved writing in libraries. Much of the first three Haunted Library books were written in the Coralville Public Library (see the CPL picture) in Coralville, Iowa. I don't live in Iowa anymore...now I live in the Seattle area. But I went back to Coralville to launch this series...at the library! It was the best place to launch this particular series!

    MAS: What are some other mysteries you like to recommend for 2nd and 3rd graders?

    DHB: Well...my Buddy Files series is also aimed at 2nd and 3rd graders. It's about a school therapy dog who solves mysteries and the books are told from the dog's point of view. There's also David Adler's Cam Jansen series...Encyclopedia Brown...and the Boxcar Children.

    MAS: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, Dori. It really means a lot to my students to think of real authors work hard at writing stories, just like they do.

    DHB: Thank you, Mary Ann! One of the most important things to me is inspiring kids to read.

    The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Penguin Books for Young Readers. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

    ©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

    0 Comments on Ghosts and libraries -- a perfect mix! Interview with Dori Hillestad Butler as of 10/7/2014 9:27:00 AM
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    8. The Haunted Library, by Dori Hillestad Butler -- new series for beginning readers (ages 6-9)

    New readers love finding series that make them laugh and bring them back for more adventures. These chapter books fill an important step in children's reading development. I was excited to hear that author of one of my favorite series, The Buddy Files, has just written a new series: The Haunted Library. I think our 1st and 2nd graders are going love this silly mix of humor, ghosts and mystery.
    The Haunted Library
    by Dori Hillestad Butler
    illustrated by Aurore Damant
    Grosset & Dunlap/ Penguin, 2014
    Your local library
    Amazon
    ages 6-9
    When the Outside wind blows Kaz away from his home and separates him from his ghost family, it's a scary thing. Kaz finds a new home and discovers a human girl who can see him. It's unsettling at first, but Claire is friendly and reassures Kaz that she can see lots of ghosts. In fact, she has a ghost notebook where she keeps track of all her ghostly sightings!

    Kids will have fun learning the ins and outs of Butler's ghost world, but they definitely won't be scared. Damant's cartoonish illustrations emphasize the humor involved, and the friendliness of each character.
    Kaz and Claire, from The Haunted Library
    Kaz and Claire set out to solve the mystery of the library ghost -- trying to figure out who's turning off the lights and scaring the library patrons. Kaz wonders if it's his lost brother, and Claire wonders if her grandmother knows more than she's letting on.

    I especially love the interplay between the simple sentences and the illustrations in this chapter book. As you can see below when Kaz and Claire are chasing another ghost through the library, the illustrations show the action to guide readers in a crucial moment. The words add enough description for readers to add more to their "mental movies", especially helping them understand the characters' emotions.
    Enjoy sharing this new series, either as a read aloud with 1st graders who are eager to read more chapter books with you, or with 2nd graders ready to try chapter books on their own.

    For more fun, check out the rest of The Haunted Library Blog Tour. Tomorrow, I'll be interviewing Dori Hillestad Butler with some questions my students wanted to know. Come back to see her notebooks, her own haunts and more pictures!

    If you're looking for other series I love sharing with 2nd graders, check out these other suggestions:
    The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Books for Young Readers. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

    ©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

    0 Comments on The Haunted Library, by Dori Hillestad Butler -- new series for beginning readers (ages 6-9) as of 10/6/2014 7:41:00 AM
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    9. The Map Trap - a review

    Move over, Frindle. A new classic has arrived!

    Below is my review of The Map Trap by Andrew Clements, as it appeared in the October, 2014, edition of School Library Journal.

    CLEMENTS, Andrew. The Map Trap. 2 CDs. 2:29 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781442357013. digital download.

    Gr 3-6 -- Alton Ziegler is crazy about maps. He particularly loves the way they can visually display any manner of information in a variety of ways. Surreptitiously, he collects data and creates humorous maps detailing such trivia as the popularity of lunchroom tables (depicted as a topographical map of the cafeteria) or a weather map of a teacher's clothes. Striped tie today? Look out -- the probability of a pop quiz is high. He never meant for anyone to see his collection, but when it's "mapnapped," there's no telling where the road might lead. Keith Nobbs is perfectly cast as the narrator. He creates a pensive Alton that fits the mood of the story. Clements's (In Harm's Way) use of subjective third-person narration is interesting in that the listener is privy to the inner concerns not only of Alton but of his teacher Miss Wheeling as well. Rarely is a teacher's perspective presented with such honesty and clarity in a middle grade novel. Though Nobbs's voice sometimes cracks when portraying female characters, his delivery, nonetheless, is still pleasing and believable. The Map Trap is a thoughtful, holistic look at the middle school environment that will have wide appeal. 

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


    The publisher's website contains an audio and a printed excerpt from The Map Trap, as well as a video with author, Andrew Clements.

    0 Comments on The Map Trap - a review as of 1/1/1900
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    10. The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum

    Original 1962 Edition, which is what I read
    Books about the Netherlands during World War II are generally about the Dutch Resistance, but Hilda van Stockum has focused more on the daily experiences of one very close knit, religious family living, but without ignoring Resistance activities.  

    At ten years old, Joris Verhagen can barely remember what life was like before the Nazis invaded Holland in 1940 when he was 4.  Life is hard for the Verhagen family - father, a 4th generation millwright, mother, Dirk-Jan, 14, Joris and Trixie, 4, but because they lived in a working windmill, things were not quite as hard as for others in their small village.   Now, after four years of Nazi occupation, everyone is hopeful that the Allies will soon arrive.

    The novel is told as a series of connecting vignettes that show how the family quietly worked hard to resist the Nazis.  And so there are some wonderful moments in which their occupiers are outsmarted, like the downed RAF pilot who Joris discovers hiding in an old abandoned windmill and the amusing way that he was he was hidden in plain sight by Joris's Uncle Cor before escaping back to England.

    Or the two little girls who come to stay with the Verhagens after their parents are forced into hiding and their absolute faith that St. Nickolas will show up at the Verhagen door with Christmas surprises.

    Even little Trixie has a very surprising story.

    There are some scary, tense moments as when Leendert, an adolescent, becomes a landwatcher for the Nazis, even though his own parents are against them and threatening to turn his own father in.  Always trying to win favor with the Nazis, Leendert like to throw his weight around, like pushing a young girl off a broken-down bike with wooden wheels, causing her to loose consciousness, but not before she manages to toss her satchel into the bushes.  Joris later discovers, when he retrieves the bag for her, that it is full of Resistance newspapers.

    There is so much more that happens to the Verhagen family, and their friends and neighbors, all related with such compassion.  But at the heart of everything, is the Winged Watchman.  It is the Winged Watchman that ultimately saves the day for so many of them.

    The two main characters, besides the windmill, are Joris and brother Dirk-Jan, who are portrayed as quite heroic, but not without a certain amount of fear.  And who can blame them, living in an atmosphere of betrayal and danger.  The most striking descriptions are of the hunger and homelessness that so many Dutch experienced by the winter of 1944 (known as the Hunger Winter) because the Nazis confiscated more and more of the food grown in Holland for themselves and because so many homes were bombed.

    The Winged Watchman was written in 1962 and may feel a little dated and the writing may seem a little stiff to today's young readers, but it is still a compelling story of resistance and courage.  The family is deeply religious and van Stockum shows how that also helped the Verhagens preserver throughout.

    I also learned two intersting facts about windmills in this novel.  The Winged Watchman is not a mill used for grinding, but was used for draining the water out of areas below sea level in order the reclaim the land below the water.  The reclaimed land is called a polder.  The water is diverted to a canal and is kept out of the reclaimed land by a dyke.  This kind of windmill, of course, plays an important role in The Winged Watchman, so it helps to understand what it is all about.

    The other interesting fact I learned is that windmills were used to send coded messages from member of the Dutch Resistance to other members right under the nose of the otherwise ever vigilant Nazis.  The messages were read according to the location of the windmills sails, or the different color stripes of cloth tied onto them and sent windmill to windmill.  Most Dutch citizens were ferociously patriotic, with only a few traitors like Leendert.

    Hilda van Stockum was born in Rotterdam, Holland, and she clearly loved her country very much,
    though by the time World War II began, she was living in the US, having married an American.  She based many of the occurrences in The Winged Watchman on letters and stories of relatives who remained in Holland.  Van Stockum was a prolific writer and in 1935, her short novel A Day on Skates: the Story of a Dutch Picnic was a Newbery Honor book.

    The Winged Watchman is still in print and can be found in most bookshops and libraries and is still a worthwhile book to read.

    This book is recommended for readers age 9+
    This book was a hand-me-down from my sister


     

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    11. Aaron Blabey’s Lessons With a Twist

    Aaron Blabey is an actor-turned children’s author and illustrator, having great success with award-winning books including Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley, The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon, and Pig the Pug, which is becoming one of Australia’s best selling picture books. Fortunate to have Sunday Chutney as the chosen book to be read in schools […]

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    12. Grief

    Death. Grief. Sorrow. Those aren’t words that any of us like, especially when they involve those closest to us. I don’t pretend to understand sorrow, though I have experienced it many times. I experienced it when my grandparents died. I experienced it when my own father was in a car accident, and again when my…

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    13. Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, by Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen (ages 5-9)

    Our first and second graders are crazy about Mercy Watson, the adorable, butter-loving pig from Kate DiCamillo's series of early chapter books. And they're going to love, love, love Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, the first in DiCamillo's companion series Tales from Deckawoo Drive. Sequels and spinoffs are no sure thing; but DiCamillo had me smiling and laughing all the way through this new adventure.
    Leroy Ninker Saddles Up
    by Kate DiCamillo
    illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
    Candlewick, 2014
    Google Books preview
    Your local library
    Amazonages 5-9
    *best new book*
    Leroy may be a small man, but he has big dreams of being a cowboy--a real cowboy like he sees in the movies. But--as his coworker at the drive-in movie theater tells him--every cowboy needs a horse. He's got to "take fate in (his) hands and wrestle it to the ground." And with this inspiration, Leroy sets out to find himself a horse and a loyal friend.
    When Leroy finds Maybelline, we wonder if she's the right horse for him. We can certainly see in Van Dusen's drawings that she doesn't look like an ideal horse. And yet, Leroy understands exactly what she wants: plenty of compliments, lots of food and loyal companionship. That isn't too much for anyone to ask, is it?

    Leroy and Maybelline's mishaps, from a tiny apartment balcony to a rain-sodden chase scene, will bring lots of laughter from listeners and readers alike. But it's Leroy's devotion and Maybelline's happiness that will stick with readers. Just look at him bounding over this fence as he races to find her:
    Leroy Ninker Saddles Up is a longer chapter book than the Mercy Watson series. It will make a great read-aloud to first graders who are reading Mercy Watson on their own. Second and third graders who loved Mercy last year will get a hoot reading Leroy Ninker now. There's definitely more text, fewer illustrations and more challenging words.

    If you want to explore, read some of Leroy Ninker Saddles Up in the Google Books preview:


    The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Candlewick Books, but I've already purchased three more copies to share with teachers and families. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

    ©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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    14. The Magician of Auschwitz by Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland

    Werner Reich is just a young boy when he arrives alone at Auschwitz.  His father had died a few years before, he was separated from his mother when the Nazis took her and his older sister was supposedly hiding in plain sight with a Christian family.

    Werner may be young but he quickly assesses that the best chance to survive Auschwitz is to appear not to be weak.  So, climbing up to the third rung of  the triple decker bunks in his barracks, scared and lonely, Werner meets his bunk mate, Herr Herbert Levin.

    By day, Werner and the other men and boys stand hours for roll call, then move heavy rocks from one place to another, eat the watery soup and stale bread, then try to sleep so they can do this all over again the next day.

    One night, however, the guards come in and wake Herr Levin up, demanding magic.  Giving him a deck of cards, Herr Levin performs all kinds of magic tricks for the guards entertainment.  His magic also delights Werner, who thinks Herr Levin might be favored with an extra piece of bread, but his thinking is quickly straightened out by his bunk mate.  "This is not a game and it is not a show…if I displease the guards, if I fail in my magic, if I run out of tricks, if they tire of me…my life will be over."  Werner quickly grasps the capriciousness of life in a concentration camp.

    Then one night, Herr Levin teaches Werner how to do a card trick, one just for Werner only.  Magic helped keep Herr Levin alive in Auschwitz so far, maybe it will help Werner, too, he tells the boy.

    Eventually the two are separated, and towards the end of the war, Werner is forced to walk on a Death March from Auschwitz to Germany, a walk he survives.  Herr Levin also survives, but the two have no idea what happened to the other.

    Werner remained interested in magic throughout his adult life, performing tricks for his family and friends after marrying and migrating to the United States.  But he never found out what happened to Herr Levin until one day he was reading a trade magazine about magic…

    and discovered that his Auschwitz bunk mate Herr Levin was none other that the renowned Nivelli the Magician, eminent pre-war magician known all over Europe and who, after the war ended, had been performing in the United States.

    It must be so difficult to write books for young readers about the Holocaust that aren't too scary, too grime, too graphic, but istis doable and many parents and teachers find that they are a sensitive way to introduce the heinous circumstances of the Holocaust to their kids.  Canadian author Kathy Kacer, who has written many books for young readers about the Holocaust, seems to instinctively know how to make a Holocaust book accessible and informative without frightening young readers.  And she has done just that in The Magician of Auschwitz, a picture book for older readers.

    What makes The Magician of Auschwitz such a fascinating story it that it shows so clearly how one small act of kindness can make such a difference in a person's life - in this case, maybe even helping to save it.   The themes of hope and friendship forbidden in a place where often it really was (understandably) every man for himself are reflected in the muted, subdued illustrations, almost as though they are being hidden from the Nazi captors.

    The watercolor illustrations by Gillian Newland are indeed dark and foreboding grays, blacks, browns and gray-green, reflecting life in a concentration camp, with only small touches of red on the playing cards and the swastika on the guards armbands.

    Though based on the experiences of the real Werner Reich and Herbert Levin or Nivelli the Magician, however, this is a fictional retelling of their story, told from Werner's point of view.  As a biographical picture book for older readers, there should have been more souces in the back matter than just the author's one extensive "How it Happened" explanation.  However, readers will still enjoy reading this and seeing the accompanying photographs of Werner as a youth and as an older man.  Sadly there is only one photographs of Herr Levin and his wife.

    You might find the trailer for The Magician of Auschwitz by the author of interest:


    This book is recommended for readers age 7+
    This book was obtained from the publisher

    0 Comments on The Magician of Auschwitz by Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland as of 9/28/2014 1:30:00 PM
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    15. Jimi & Isaac 2a: Keystone Species, by Phil Rink | Dedicated Review

    Good friends Jimi and Isaac set off on an oceanic coming-of-age adventure of a lifetime.

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    16. Cover Reveal: Rose Eagle

    Last fall, Tu Books released Killer of Enemies, a post-apocalyptic steampunk adventure by Joseph Bruchac. Readers were introduced to seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen, a kick-butt warrior who kills monsters to ensure the safety of her family.

    Set to be released next month, Joseph Bruchac has written an e-novella that’s a prequel to Killer of Enemies, titled Rose Eagle.

    Rose Eagle is set in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where readers are introduced to seventeen-year-old Rose Eagle of the Lakota tribe who is trying to find her place in a post-apocalyptic world.

    Before the Silver Cloud, the Lakota were forced to work in the Deeps, mining for ore so that the Ones, the overlords, could continue their wars. But when the Cloud came and enveloped Earth, all electronics were shut off. Some miners were trapped in the deepest Deeps and suffocated, but the Lakota were warned to escape, and the upper Deeps became a place of refuge for them in a post-Cloud world.

    In the midst of this chaos, Rose Eagle’s aunt has a dream: Rose will become a medicine woman, a healer. She sends Rose into the Black Hills on a quest to find healing for their people.

    Gangly and soft-spoken, Rose is no warrior. She seeks medicine, not danger. Nevertheless, danger finds her, but love and healing soon follow. When Rose Eagle completes her quest, she may return with more than she ever thought she was looking for.

    rose eagle coverThanks to the following blogs for participating in the Rose Eagle cover reveal:

    Beyond Victoriana

    Finding Wonderland

    Rich in Color

    We can’t wait to hear what you think of the cover!


    Filed under: Book News, Cover Design, New Releases, Tu Books Tagged: black hills, cover reveal, dystopia, family, first love, friendship, genetic engineering, healer, healing, Joseph Bruchac, Killer of Enemies, lakota, medicine woman, mining, native americans, novella, rose eagle, science fiction, south dakota, steampunk

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    17. Bubble Trouble by Tom Percival (and how to breathe bubbles instead of fire)

    9781408838761Even before I had finished reading Bubble Trouble by Tom Percival to the kids I knew this was a book we were going to have LOTS of fun with.

    Have you ever had great fun playing with a friend but discovered things have got out of control when you try to out-do each other? That what was a shared and enjoyable activity became something competitive and a little threatening?

    Bubble Trouble explores exactly this scenario, with two best friends who like nothing more than blowing bubbles together. In their desire to blow the biggest bubble, they become very inventive but some skulduggery also sneaks in. Will their friendship survive their determination to outplay each other?

    bubbletroublereading

    Percival’s lovely book thoughtfully and playfully explores the up- and downsides of competition and the value of teamwork. It also acknowledges that we don’t always learn from our mistakes straight away, something I haven’t seen often acknowledged in picture books. The “big issues” are hidden carefully in lots of delightfulness; the illustrations are soft and sweet, and there are lots and lots of flaps to play with. Percival has worked wonders with capturing that magic sheen of bubbles without resorting to foil or silver but rather just clever use of pastels and white.

    A good-natured and honest exploration of some of the trials and tribulations of friendship, Bubble Trouble offers lots of room for discussion and a great excuse to play.

    So yes, having shared Bubble Trouble lots of playing with bubbles was called for. We thought we’d try something different and so I taught the girls how to breath out bubbles, big and beautiful bubbles. Who wants to breath fire when you can breathe out bubbles?

    bubbles4.jpg

    We used this recipe to make our bubble mixture:

  • 1.5 litres of tap water
  • 250ml of Fairy washing up detergent
  • 250ml of cornflour (yes, corn flour isn’t a liquid, but we used our measuring jug and filled it to the 250ml mark with the corn flour)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp glycerine (easily found in Boots/a chemist’s, probably in the sore throat section)
  • Once the bubble mixture was all stirred together, we left it for 24 hours. Everything I’ve read says that this stage is really important (though we haven’t checked what difference it makes ourselves).

    To breathe out bubbles here’s what you need to do:

    bubbles5

    1. Dip your hands into a bowl of tap water.
    2. Dip your hands into your bowl of bubble mixture. (The corn flour will probably have settled at the bottom of your mixture. This didn’t seem to be a problem)
    3. Rub your palms together smoothly and slowly a couple of times.
    4. Open out your hands to form a rough circle: Your fingertips and wrists/bottom of thumbs will remain touching each other, and you should see a film of bubble mixture form between your two hands.
    5. Gently blow through the opening between your two hands…..
    6. Gasp at your bubble blowing abilities!

    bubbles6

    You can also use this mixture to blow bubbles through a circle made using just your first finger and thumb (first make a fist, then slowly open out your finger/thumb before blowing), and also to make ENORMOUS bubbles using a home made bubble wand.

    bubbles2

    wandFor the homemade bubble wand you’ll need two lengths of dowelling. Screw an eye screw into each end and then put a large loop of string between the two eyes. It’s helpful to add a small weight such as a threaded button or a washer onto on side of your string loop.

    Dip your string into your bubble mixture (all the way, up to the start of the wooden rods), lift gently out and move the rods apart. You’ll see a film appear between the strings and then if you wave them from one side to the other you’ll create amazing bubble tunnels.

    bubbles1

    There’s nothing like a good bubble!

    bubbles7

    Whilst mixing up our bubble juice we listened to:

  • Bubble Factory by Recess Monkey
  • You and Me and a Bottle of Bubbles by Lunch Money
  • I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles by John Kellette but here sung by Vera Lynn
  • Other activities which you could pair with Bubble Trouble include:

  • Exploring the free activity pack to go with Bubble Trouble, downloadable from here. The pack includes colouring in, spot the difference and a different bubble recipe to try.
  • Painting with bubbles. Artful kids has 3 different techniques you could try.
  • Building and sculpting with bubbles. Did you ever sculpt with bubbles when you had a bubble bath?
  • Making bubble snakes, with this tutorial from Housing a Forest
  • Reading the marvellous Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Polly Dunbar. We reviewed it here (with a different bubble juice recipe, but we think our new recipe is better).
  • What are your favourite books which feature bubbles?

    Disclosure: We received a free review copy of Bubble Trouble from the publisher.

    4 Comments on Bubble Trouble by Tom Percival (and how to breathe bubbles instead of fire), last added: 9/22/2014
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    18. Talk Like A Pirate Day!

    It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

     
    AARRRGHH! The day snuck up on me! Captain Buzzard Jack LaBuse, herrre, mateys!

    And, just in case you're not sure how to Talk Like a Pirate, here are some key words ye be 'wantin' ta r'memberrr.

    Ahoy! - "Yo!"
    Avast! - "Check it out!"
    Aye! - "Yes."
    Arrr! - "That's right!" (often confused with arrrgh...)
    Arrrgh! - "I'm VERY miffed."


    So, weigh anchor. Hoist the mizzen. It's a terrrrrific day!

    And, in case yer hankerin' ta read about me mis-adventures, ye be a'clickin on this link to Cynthia's Attic: Curse of the Bayou
    (Don't make me come after ya!)


    Heeeerrr's one of me treacherous scenes from Curse of the Bayou!
     
    Gasp! I was soaked and struggling for air, but there wasn't any! Coughing…that's a good sign. At least my lungs were trying to work. Had a huge wave come over the side during the night? I nudged Cynthia with my elbow.
    "Ahhhh! Where did that water come from?" she cried.
    "So, you're finally awake, eh?" Buzzard Jack's voice chilled the air even more. "Nice job, Snags." The shadow of the captain fell over us, blocking out the morning sun. His helper, Snags was grinning idiotically, holding a wooden bucket. An empty wooden bucket, I might add.
    I spit out the remaining drops of water I'd ingested, and glared.
    "Don't blame me," Snags laughed. If yer mouth hadn't been hanging open like a newborn guppy, you wouldn't a choked."
    I felt a confirming nudge in my back, but Cynthia didn't laugh. Nothing was funny.
    Captain Jack didn't think so, either. He leaned down until the brim of his black hat was inches from making contact with Cynthia's forehead. "You will tell me where to find the watch. It may be now. It may be later. But, I can assure you, the longer it takes, the more uncomfortable you will become." He stood up. "So, what's it going to be? I promise to untie you and your little friend, give you a good meal, some water, and send you back to land, unharmed."
    Oh, sure. That'll happen. I may only be twelve, but I wasn't born yesterday.
    Neither his threats nor his "promises" had any effect on Cynthia. "I told you last night. I don't have it."
    I knew when Cynthia was telling the truth and…she was telling the truth. Thinking back to finding the watch in the Conners' barn, I remembered watching Cynthia put it in her pocket. What happened to it after that was a mystery. But, we'd better find out, and soon, because the captain was now standing over me.

    And, in case this doesn't interest you, I hear there's a free doughnut to be had at Krispy Kreme Facebook! Free Doughnut!



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    19. Absolutely Almost (2014)

    Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff. 2014. Penguin. 304 pages [Source: Library]

    I loved Absolutely Almost. I think I loved it at least as much as Umbrella Summer. Maybe even a little bit more. I don't know. Time will tell. I don't actually have to choose between the two, right?! I can LOVE two GREAT books by one very talented middle grade author, can't I?!

    Albie is the protagonist of Absolutely Almost. His narration gives the book a just right feel. It's a satisfying read about a boy who struggles with meeting expectations: his parents, his grandparents, his teachers, his own. He's never good or great, he's always only almost. Almost good at this or that. Almost ready for this or that. And this oppressive almost gets him down now and then. Not always, mind you. I don't want to give the impression that Albie is sad and depressed and unable to cope with life. Albie is more than capable of having a good time, of enjoying life, of appreciating the world around him.

    I really appreciated Graff's characterization. Not only do readers come to love (in some cases I imagine love, love, love) Albie, but, all the characters are well written or well developed. Albie's parents at times seem to be disconnected, out of touch with who their son is, what life is like for him, what he wants, what he needs. But just when I get ready to dismiss them as neglectful or clueless, something would happen that would make me pause and reconsider. Readers also get to know several other characters: his nanny, Calista, his math teacher, Mr. Clifton, and his friend, Betsy. For the record, he does have more than one friend. But Betsy is his new friend, his first friend that he makes at his new school. It is their friendship that is put to the test in the novel. It is his relationship with Betsy that allows for him to progress a bit emotionally. If that makes sense. (So yes, I know that his best-best friend is Erlan. But Erlan has been his friend for as long as he can remember, probably since they were toddlers. He's completely comfortable in that friendship. Their friendship does come into the novel here and there. But for me, it wasn't the most interesting aspect of the novel.)

    I loved the setting of Absolutely Almost. I loved how we get to spend time with Albie in school and out of school. I loved how we get to see him in and out of his comfort zone. I loved that we got to see his home life. We got to see for ourselves how he interacts with parents. I love how Albie is able to love his parents even if they don't really make him top priority. Especially his Dad. Albie's need for his Dad's attention, the right kind of attention, can be FELT. Albie held onto hope that one day his Dad would find time to spend with him, that one day his Dad would see him--really see him. There were moments that hope lessened a bit as Albie gave into his emotions-of-the-moment. But Albie's love for his dad always won out at the end. His hope would return.

    The writing. I loved it. I did. I think the quality of the writing was amazing. There were chapters that just got to me. Their were paragraphs that just resonated with me. The writing just felt TRUE.

    Absolutely, Almost is set in New York City.

    © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    20. The 2014 Summer Picture Book Party

    completedbunting450

    My girls were away for a couple of days last week staying on their own at their grandparents and whilst I LOVED having a bit more time to myself, I couldn’t resist a special welcome home picture book party; a day spent reading, playing, eating and dancing.

    zebraOn the evening they arrived home I gave them invites inspired by the artwork in The Zebra who Ran Too Fast by Jenni Desmond. Set on the African plains, this book explores rings of friendship, how they can break and make up again – a simple, kind and non-threatening exploration of a situation many children find themselves in at one time or another. Desmond’s use of muted stone and moss colours is stylish, and the illustrations feel loose and free with lots of “scribbles” and splashes.

    zebrainside

    I used Desmond’s sun motif to form the basis of the party invites; a round piece of watercolour paper with flamecolour centre, surrounded by drops of ink, blown outwards using a straw.

    picturebookparty1

    Whilst I made these invites, the process is definitely easy enough for kids to enjoy too (if you’re worried about kids drinking up the paint/ink accidentally you could use food colouring instead).

    vanillaThe following morning we started as we meant to go on. We made vanilla ice cream (without a freezer) and tested different vanilla flavoured icecreams to discover our favourite. This was inspired by Vanilla Ice Cream by Bob Graham. Graham is THE master of global perspective. He knows how to zoom in and out of scenes and stories like no other teller of tales I know, and once again he works wonders with this understated story, following a sparrow who hitches a lift on a cargo ship. Masterful picture books often include a clever “reveal” in their final pages, so I should have known something was coming. Still, I was taken by great (and joyous) surprise with the twist Graham pulls off in this colourful, delightful story endorsed by Amnesty International.

    icecreaminside
    To make icecream without a freezer you need cream, sugar, icecubes and salt. The cream and sugar go in one bag – here’s the cream, sugar (and vanilla in our case):

    picturebookparty2

    And below you can see it having frozen; the cream-containing bag is put inside a larger bag full of ice and salt. Because salt lowers the freezing temperature of water, the icecubes melt, extracting heat from the cream as they do so. After about 5 minutes shaking the icecubes were mostly melted and the cream mixture was like soft icecream.

    picturebookparty3

    And here’s the final result – definitely the most luxurious vanilla icecream I’ve ever eaten!

    picturebookparty4

    For full details on how to make your own icecream without a freezer and in under 10 minutes, do take a look at these instructions from the National STEM centre.

    helpI love a good book about books and storytelling and Herve Tullet has created a mischievous and inventive interactive piece of theatre exploring story characters, plot and the need for a title in his Help! We Need a Title!. A motley collection of characters are in need of a good storyline and a punchy title. They appeal directly to you the reader/listener for help. With plenty of surprises this book is lively and highly amusing.

    If you like the sound of Tullet’s book do look for Do not open this book by Michaela Muntean, illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre, one of the funniest books in our home – an absolute must-have for families who like a bit of interaction with their books and harbour dreams of writing stories.

    Taking our lead from characters who walked in and out of the pages of Help! We Need a Title! I set up a book “stage” with the help of the patio doors, a basket of dressing up costumes and a selection of liquid chalk markers (you could also use whiteboard markers).
    picturebookparty5

    My girls love drawing on photos in newspapers and magazines so it was a natural extension that we then drew “on” the characters who walked into our patio-door picture-book.

    picturebookparty6

    And finally the contents of our picture book were included too.
    picturebookparty8

    finalpatiodoorsbook

    brunoAfter lunch, for some chill-out time, we got out good old staples: lego and the wooden railway, this time brought to life by Bruno and Titch: A Tale of a boy and His Guinea Pig by Sheena Dempsey. Bruno has always wanted a guinea pig. Titch, a guinea pig, has always wanted to be taken home from the pet shop by a Big Person. One day their paths cross – but does it work out how they’ve each always imagined it would? Deadpan guinea pig humour (yes, really!) and fabulous illustrations full of new details upon each reading add something special to this tale about friendship, imagination and looking after pets. We especially loved Bruno’s passion for invention, right down to the poster of Einstein by his bed.

    brunoinside

    Our interpretation of Bruno and Titch’s lego/railway play:

    picturebookparty9

    picturebookparty10

    francesNo party is complete without dancing, so following a reading of Frances Dean who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif we cleared the kitchen to create space for a good old boogie, aided by a prop or two.

    Put your cynical adult brain to one side and remember a time when the phrase “dance like no-one’s watching” felt like something utterly joyous and liberating. Sif’s book is all about holding on to that freedom and not being afraid of a little bit of exuberance mixed in with a good shot of rhythm. It’s an encouraging story about holding on to what you care about, even when others seem to doubt you, a message I think every child deserves to hear time and time again.

    francesdeaninterior

    For a book bursting with so much heart and happiness, the colour scheme is particularly interesting; there are lots of natural greens and browns rather than the bright sparkly jewel tones often used by illustrators to convey intense happiness. For me this speaks of the impact being connected to the outdoors can have on feeling content and happy; indeed all of the scenes showing Frances Dean dancing take place in parks and forests surrounded by space, trees and wildlife.

    We reused embroidery hoops and ribbons to create waves of colour we could dance with.

    picturebookparty11

    picturebookparty12

    picturebookparty13

    Jumping for joy? Yes, that pretty much sums up our 2014 Picture Book Party :-) An all day festival of playing and reading – just what summer holidays are made for.

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    Disclosure: All the books featured in this picture book party were sent to me a free review copies by the Walker Books, as part of the Picture Book Party blog tour. See how how more families have been partying at the following stops on the tour: 26 August: www.mummymishaps.co.uk, 27 August: www.culture-baby.net, 28 August: www.theboyandme.co.uk and 29 August: www.beingamummy.co.uk

    3 Comments on The 2014 Summer Picture Book Party, last added: 8/25/2014
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    21. Feathers, Scales, Fur or Skin: Tales of Friendship and Being Yourself

    The Lucky Country. That’s Australia. We embrace difference. Celebrate diversity. Stand up for what we believe in. Be ourselves. Show compassion for those in need.   The following picture books, as chosen for the 2014 Speech Pathology Australia Books of the Year shortlist, all share common themes; diversity, friendship and uniqueness.   The Short Giraffe […]

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    22. #644 – The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #5: Lobo Goes to the Galapagos by C.L. Murphy

    Lobo cover

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    The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #5: Lobo Goes to the Galapagos

    Written and illustrated by C.L. Murphy
    Published by C.L. Murphy         8/22/2014
    978-0-9883187-5-5
    Age 4 to 8        32 pages
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    “Lobo returns in this adventure, sweeter and a bit salty this time. This lil’ wolf pup finds that there’s nothing like a little sea air to bring out the best in him and his unlikely tag-alongs. Take a trip to the Galapagos with Lobo and his right-hand raven, Roxy, as they help an injured, new feathered friend return home. Lobo faces some fears and witnesses the joy that comes from helping others in this “birds of a different feather DO flock together” tale.”

    Opening

     “Ohh …….Rooooxxxyyyy . . . Roxy…..Roxy?”

    The Story

    After a stormy night, Lobo finds a bird lying upside down in the grass. It has blue feet, which worries Lobo, but it turns out the bird, named Bobby is a blue-footed booby. The storm blew Bobby all the way to Lobo’s home, hurting his wing in the process. Lobo’s friend Roxy the raven splints Bobby’s wing and then the two take Bobby home. He lives by the ocean, but none of the beaches Lobo arrives at is the correct beach. Bobby lives on Wolf Island—wolf population zero—an island of the Galapagos Islands. The islands are across the ocean rom Lobo’s forest. Lobo does not swim well and is afraid a sea creature might attack the group—or him. What does he do know? How will he get the injured Booby back home?

    Review 

    I have loved The Adventures of Lovable Lobo ever since Lobo ventured into a barnyard full of animals trying to make friends. He was a cool wolf pup when he refused to hunt and kill in his first adventure. Lobo was wonderful with a young Bigfoot. In Lobo Goes to Galapagos, Lobo must be maturing. He takes the lead, transporting an injured boobly bird, a depressed seagull, and a lonely crab by himself. Roxy helps by flying most of the time instead of landing on Lobo’s back for a free ride. Lobo never complains. These are his friends (even the sad seagull and the blue-footed boobly both of which he just met) so he steps out.

    I loved the unexpected bits of humor, such as when Sandra popping onto the beach with the perfect timing of a great comedian One f the best lines is this one,

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    “The water was so clear that if Lobo looked down he could see many things swimming around,   so he tried not to look down.”

    Poor Lobo, he endures one fear to take a new friend, injured in the storm, home. The nice thing about Lobo’s stories is the lack of a message. Lobo is a good wolf, a wolf to aspire to be, and a friend to every animal without prejudice. This is Lobo’s makeup, not his message. Still, I take friendship, honesty, loyalty, and courteousness away from Lobo’s adventures.

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    I was disappointed that Lobo Goes to the Galapagos was only to drop off a new friend. I thought he would go there to explore and show me creatures I did not know existed. True, I had never heard of a blue-footed boobly—and yes, it is real—but I wanted more.

    The illustrations are once more fantastic. My favorite and one that Ms. Murphy will find hard to top, is her gorgeous sunset, sunrise beaches. I have been to the Caribbean many times and have seen many outstanding sunsets and rises, but none were as magnificent as the ones in Lobo Goes to the Galapagos. Ms. Murphy the magic touch. All of her illustrations are bold, bright, beautiful renditions of her stories. If the images are not hopping off the page at you, they bathe you in phenomenal patterns of color. She is a fantastic artist.

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    Lobo’s latest adventure, Lobo Goes to the Galapagos, will not disappoint his loyal fans. Young children new to the lovable wolf pup will enjoy the story’s soft humor and awesome tale of friendship. As of this tale, Kindle readers can finally enjoy Lovable Lobo. Once again, Lobo and his friends captivated me. I hope one day, Lobo will make a longer trip to the Galapagos Islands. He would make the perfect ambassador.

    THE ADVENTURES OF LOVABLE LOBO #5: LOBO GOES TO THE GALAPAGOS. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by C.L. Murphy. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, C.L. Murphy.

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    Purchase Lobo Goes to the Galapagos at AmazoniTunes—Ms. Murphy’s Website.

    Learn more about Lobo Goes to the Galapagos HERE

    Meet the author/illustrator, C.L. Murphy, at her website:     http://lovablelobo.com/

    Pop in on the author at her Twitter, Facebook, or Blog.

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    Also by C.L. Murphy

    The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #1:  Lobo & Popo Fool the Pack

    The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #1: Lobo & Popo Fool the Pack

    The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #2:  Lobo Visits the Barnyard

    The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #2: Lobo Visits the Barnyard


    The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #3:  Lobo Finds BigfootBarnyard

    The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #3: Lobo Finds BigfootBarnyard

    The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #4:  Lobo's Howliday

    The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #4: Lobo’s Howliday

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    Review of Lobo #1

    Review of Lobo #2

    Review of Lobo #3

    Review of Lobo #4

     

     

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    Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


    Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series Tagged: Blue-Footed Boobly, C.L. Murphy, children's book series, childrens book review, friendship, Galapagos Islands, helping friends, Lovable Lobo, loyalty, picture book, wild creatures

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    23. Blog Blast! Review – Tottie and Dot

    Hold on to your marshmallows because new girls on the block, Tottie and Dot, have invited us all to their megatabulous Blog Blast party. Today with the help of co-hosts, Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling, we celebrate the explosive launch of picture book, Tottie and Dot. And what a feast for the senses it is. […]

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    24. The Popularity Papers: The Less-Than-Hidden Secrets and Final Revelations of Lydia Goldberg and Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow, 208 pp, RL 4

    Tomorrow marks the end of a really, supremely, special era that began back in 2011. Book 7 of The Popularity Papers, The Less-than-Hidden Secrets and Final Revelations of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang, will be published. Amy Ignatow may have been capitalizing on the popularity of the Dork Diaries and Diary of a Wimpy Kid when she created the diaries of Lydia and Julie, 5th graders

    0 Comments on The Popularity Papers: The Less-Than-Hidden Secrets and Final Revelations of Lydia Goldberg and Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow, 208 pp, RL 4 as of 9/8/2014 6:08:00 AM
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    25. Uni the Unicorn, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal | Book Giveaway

    Enter to win a copy of UNI THE UNICORN by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Brigette Barrager. Giveaway begins September 12, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 11, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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