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1. Living in my Illustrations

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Being an illustrator is great fun.  Why?  Because you can use your imagination to go places you’ve never been and do things you’ve never done. For instance, I have always wanted a log cabin up in the mountains.  As a teen, I used to imagine having a studio up a flight of wooden steps to a big room. It would have rafter ceilings and a window seat for me to look out of.  It would be warm and cozy and I could sit and do my art all day long near a roaring fire in the wood stove.

When I began thinking of places for my character Burl the bear to live in, I made it just like “I” wanted it!  Warm and inviting!  When you walk through the doorway of my story, you will find a home that lives in my imagination. It will be a place that I love and I will revisit it many times as the story progresses. I must be passionate about what I draw or it becomes listless and boring. This process is what makes a story believable.

My experience tells me that children notice the tiniest of details.  I did a school visit after Peepsqueak was published by Harper Collins Publisher.  I read the book to the children and then we talked.  Through out the story there was another story going on in the book. It was a little tiny mouse who appeared on many of the pages.  The children did not miss it. They even commented on the mouse as I read to them.  I let them in on a little secret.  I named the mouse Elliot.  When I told them his name they all squealed with delight and pointed to the cutest little boy in their classroom who was named Elliot!   He was beaming.  Suddenly he became part of the story. He was so happy!

These are the things that make a story magical in the eyes of children and adults alike.  Its also why I continue creating images.  I love seeing characters develop.   I love finding their voices. .. what they are like… what they like to do.  It does not stop when I leave the studio.  I think about them all the time, until I finally know how they would react in any given situation. That way they become very believable creations and loved by all.

Stay posted,  Burl and Briley are growing on my heart daily.  I can hardly wait to illustrate the books that are in my mind!


Filed under: how to write, My Characters

6 Comments on Living in my Illustrations, last added: 11/21/2014
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2. Poetry and Imagination



Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems
by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian
illustrated by Jeremy Holmes
Schwartz & Wade, 2014

As I noted last Wednesday, J. Patrick Lewis' anthology title says it all: "Everything is a Poem." Last Thursday, we looked at science in poetry, Monday we looked at nature in poetry. Tuesday, the focus was on history in poetry, yesterday we took a look at biography in poetry. Today, let's have fun with imagination in poetry.

The subtitle of this book says it all: "Crazy Car Poems."

If that didn't get your attention, check out the co-authors -- J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. Now you KNOW you're in for some fun, right?

If you're still not sure, here's a bit from the introduction poem, "Introduction:"

"...But someday our fantastic cars
Might look like cool dark chocolate bars,

Banana splits, hot dogs or fish --
Or any kind of ride you wish..."

This book is all kinds of imaginative fun. The plays on words are groan-worthy, and the illustrations are a blast.

Poem-Mobiles was reviewed by Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup (check out the picture of the Teddy-Go-Cars -- doesn't that make you want to use up some of the leftover Halloween candy making Snickermobiles?)


0 Comments on Poetry and Imagination as of 11/20/2014 5:46:00 AM
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3. Dinovember

Dinosaurs have invaded my library. We’ve turned this November into Dinovember. Dinovember is the month when the dinosaurs come out to play. It was started by two parents who decided to have some fun with their children’s dinosaur toys and a month of dinosaur antics was born. You can follow the dino adventures on the Dinovember Tumblr. The creators also recently released a book, What The Dinosaurs Did Last Night.

Inspired by these silly dinosaurs, my staff and I decided to have some fun. We transformed one of our giant workroom windows in a calendar. Each day we post a new picture of what the dinosaurs have been up to at the library. The kids (and the parents) are having lots of fun checking out the photos and have even been looking around the department to see if they can catch the dinosaurs in action. All the staff have pulled together to make Dinovember happen with taking pictures, sharing dinosaur toys, helping us come up with ideas, and letting us invade their departments with dinosaurs. It’s a very simple thing to put together and the response has been great. I love inspiring imagination in the kids and they are getting a kick out of all the silly things the dinosaurs come up with to do each day.

Here’s a peek of what our dinosaurs have been up to:

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

We’ve been having so much fun, I think we should make Dinovember a yearly treat. And I hope other libraries join us in the fun!

 

0 Comments on Dinovember as of 11/13/2014 2:23:00 AM
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4. Review – Imagine a City

The sumptuous cloth cover and unfurling clouds swirling across the end pages indicate something special about Elise Hurst’s latest picture book, Imagine a City. You’ll recognise Hurst’s illustrations from her other picture books such as The Night Garden, Flood and The Midnight Club to name a few. Imagine a City is a glorious collection of […]

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5. The Collective Experiences That Become a Drama

What would I do if I did not tell my stories? I might be “asleep” in life.  But even in sleep my stories dance in my mind. They wait. They hear my “voice.” That “voice” is a part of them. Where soul and chance meet, in their midst are cinematic images. They must be given an account in […]

0 Comments on The Collective Experiences That Become a Drama as of 10/9/2014 5:17:00 PM
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6. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole: diamonds, a dog and deadpan humour

samanddaveSam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen is full of near misses but ends up being one big hit. Forget the treasure that may or may not be buried under your feet, pick this book up and you’ll have a real gem in your hands.

It starts like this:

Apropos of seemingly nothing, Sam and Dave decide to dig a hole.

They’re only going to stop when they find “something spectacular”.

They don’t have much luck, but… in a brilliantly crafted piece of drama they come oh so painfully, excruciatingly close.

Many picture book creators have talked about how they see their books as mini pieces of theatre, and this book delivers a very special theatrical experience; like in a pantomime when you might call out “He’s behind you!”, only for the innocent character on stage to turn and see nothing, the reader/listener has special knowledge that poor Sam and Dave do not. With beautifully textured, muted illustrations revealing something quite different to what is known from the text, children treated to this story get a special thrill from “being in the know”, from seeing the truly spectacular buried treasure that the poor protagonists keep missing.

This empowering experience is doubled up through association with Sam and Dave’s little dog. Despite being small and just a side kick (like many children sometimes feel), the dog seems to have all the brains. He is the one who keeps sensing just how close the diamonds are. He is the one who makes the breakthrough, resulting in Sam and Dave appearing to have dug all the way through to …

…well, to what? To where? Although this book was authored by Barnett, the ending feels like classic Klassen: It’s full of ambiguity and multiple possible readings. Have Sam and Dave dug all the way through from one side of the earth to the other? Have they managed through some Möbius-strip-like convolution to dig all the way through to end up back where they started? Or have they discovered something genuinely spectacular – some new dimension where slightly different rules are at play?

Finely honed, pared-back text and seemingly quiet illustrations which actually pack a very funny punch combine to make this a winner. Do look out for Sam & Dave Dig a Hole!

Inspired by Sam and Dave’s digging we decided to do a little bit of digging ourselves. Using these guidelines from Suffolk County Council, we dug what is known by archaeologists as a “test pit” in the middle of the lawn in our back garden.

We marked out a square and I took off the top layer of turf before the girls started digging down, retrieving any “treasure” they found on the way.

digging3

They used a large garden sieve to go through the soil they removed, and a toothbrush to wash what they found.

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As you can see we found quite a lot of “treasure” including something metal but unidentifiable (top left of the photo below), a section of Victorian clay pipe stem, several pieces of pottery and a surprising number of large bones! (oh, and a hippo…..)

diggging1

At some point when my back was turned the game developed into something a little different – M made a “time capsule” in an old icecream tub and insisted that it got buried when the time came to fill in our hole.

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So I guess this means we’ll be digging another hole at some point in the future. Given how much fun we had with this one, I won’t be complaining.

We weren’t listening to music whilst we dug our hole, but were we to choose some music to match Sam & Dave Dig a Hole we might include these in our playlist:

  • The Hole in the Ground sung by Bernard Cribbins – I have to admit, a favourite from my own childhood
  • Diggin’ a Hole to China by The Baby Grands (you can listen for free here on Vimeo!)
  • Diggin’ in the Dirt by Peter Gabriel

  • Other activities you could enjoy along side reading this hilarious book include:

  • Watching Mac Barnett give a Ted Talk about “writing that escapes the page, art as a doorway to wonder”

  • Helping Sam and Dave find their way through a maze using this activity sheet from the publishers.
  • Indoor hole digging. One of my kids’ favourite activities when they were younger, and one which saved my life several times by providing me with a good few minutes to get on with making supper or tidying up, was digging in an indoor sand tray. I had an old roasting tray filled with sand and a few spoons and yoghurt pots which I kept in the cupboard and would bring out for the girls to play with at the table. Yes sand would get spilt as they dug the sand, but all it took was a quick hoover to tidy up.
  • Taking a look at these VERY big holes around the world….
  • Reading The Something by Rebecca Cobb, another very lovely, very different book all about the possibilities a hole offers.
  • What’s your favourite hole? A hole you made? A hole you visited? A hole which allows you to sneak through into some secret space?

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book from the publisher but was under no obligation to review it and received no payment for doing so.

    2 Comments on Sam & Dave Dig a Hole: diamonds, a dog and deadpan humour, last added: 10/6/2014
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    7. Emotional imagination

    Sometimes, I can't seem to write fiction. I blame the fact that I've been writing almost only non-fiction for a couple of years - and have just agreed to do some more. When I try to get back into writing fiction, something feels dead inside. My brain feels like an imagination-free zone. And that is a desolate thing, like a moonscape without the moonbeams.

    In October, I am going to write fiction. I am. For a long time now I have had that month set firmly aside, event-free, non-fiction-free. I've put in place all sorts of mechanisms to make this happen. I've told lots of people that I'm doing it. I've told my agent that I'm doing it. I've turned down paid work and told people that they cannot give me a deadline which involves me doing anything for them in October. At all.

    And yet (or perhaps therefore) I'm very afraid that my imagination won't wake up, won't do its job, won't show me moonbeams.

    Or I was until this morning.

    A daughter phoned. My daughters may be in their twenties but a daughter (or son, presumably) is never too old to cause instant fear in a parent's heart when her number comes up on your phone. Especially at one of those times of day when daughters aren't prone to phone for a general chat.

    Instantly, even before I heard her voice, my imagination was running riot. In that split second, this imagination had no words - it was all a rush of adrenaline and cortisol and raw, nameless dread. Emotion. Then her voice, "Don't worry, I'm fine." OMG, she's not fine. You don't randomly say you're fine unless you are about to say something not fine. And in the few seconds it took her to explain what the thing was, my imagination had, quite literally, taken me through visions of death, illness, job loss, burglary, injury (including actual details involving a bone), and a complicated combination of emergency services.

    And after all this had calmed down (because she was, in actual fact, fine) I realised the key to imagination: emotion.

    So, my October - and any time I or you want to write fiction - has to allow and encourage and nurture and conjure emotion. Maybe I'll read a poem each morning before I write; maybe I'll read the news - there's enough emotion in the human stories there; maybe I'll read a chapter of the best fiction I can find. Maybe I'll brainstorm sad words or angry words or whatever words I need to make it happen. Maybe I'll play anthemic, emotional music to waken my heart.

    But I'll draw the line at asking a daughter to phone in the morning. Mind you, it's her birthday today, so I may just phone her...

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    Nicola Morgan writes novels. Oh yes, she does. She also writes non-fiction about the teenage brain and stress. BUT NOT IN OCTOBER. www.nicolamorgan.com

    0 Comments on Emotional imagination as of 9/22/2014 12:14:00 AM
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    8. Tinkering with reading: books to inspire creativity in all the family

    One of the best days of our school summer holiday this year was spent taking things apart and weaving other things together.

    playlabimage

    Two friends of mine are the driving force behind setting up an alternative, creative play space in my home town, and I was honoured to be a part of the team involved in testing a prototype of their PLAYLAB. The longer term project is all about taking play seriously, providing a wide range of fun opportunities to grow and develop, through engineering, digital, drama, art, and tinkering-based activities, and for one day during the summer we took over an empty shop in the local mall and turned it into a hive full of transformers and loom bandits.

    Photo: Stuart Parker

    Photo: Stuart Parker

    We had a range of old machines to take apart with hand tools, to explore, rebuild and repurpose and a sweetie shop array of loom bands for weaving and creating.

    Image: Joyjit Sarker

    Image: Joyjit Sarker

    Image: Stuart Parker

    Image: Stuart Parker

    There were also books! Books on the theory of play and practical books to inspire kids and families. One of my roles was setting up this mini tinkering/play-themed library and today I thought I’d share some of them with you. Whilst these aren’t kids’ books per se, they are definitely family books – books to share and inspire kids and their grown ups to be creative.

    cooltools1Cool Tools: A Catalog of possibilities by Kevin Kelly is a bizarre but ultimately enticing and fascinating curation of reviews of stuff that enable you to do, create, and explore your world.

    At first I baulked at a book that essentially seemed to be a collection of themed adverts covering everything from shoes to spirituality, Velcro to vagabonding, joinery to geology; each reviews has a product photo, details of where to buy the product and the typical price of the item, followed by a review of the “tool” at hand.

    But as I browsed this book (although its size and format – larger than A4 and printed on thin glossy paper – make it slightly unwieldy, this is a great book for dipping in and out of) I got sucked in and ideas for all sorts of play and creativity started flowing.

    And that’s what this book sis really all about: Showing you some interesting, practical tools (both physical and digital) to enable you to see possibilities where perhaps you saw none before. It’s sparked lots of “what if?” conversations in our family, and amazed us with the range of innovative ideas out there.

    On the back cover of Cool Tools it states “This book was made with the young in mind. Give a copy to a kid you know.” M (at 9) has loved this books though some families may wish to know in advance that there is a small section on ‘Psychedelics’ including marijuana, and e-cigarettes. Given the format of this book, the page concerned can easily be removed and its presence should certainly not be a barrier to you opening this book up and exploring all the possibilities it offers you.

    art-of-tinkering-9781616286095_lgThe Art of Tinkering by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich has one of the best front covers I’ve ever seen. It embodies what the book is about int he most perfect way possible: It is printed with conductive ink, allowing you to play/tinker/hack the book before you’ve even opened it.

    Where Cool Tools was about products to foster doing/playing/tinkering, The Art of Tinkering is about showcasing a wide range of artists mixing technology and art, taking apart and repurposing one thing to make something exciting and new. After each artist is introduced there’s a section on “how you can tinker” in a way similar to the artist in question. Some of the suggestions need rather more equipment than just a screwdriver, glue or paint, but the ideas are innovative and inspirational, ranging from time lapse art to playdoh circuits, animating stuffed toys to sculpting in cardboard, building your own stroboscope to making clothes out of unusual materials. Whilst the book doesn’t include step by step tutorials, it is packed with practical information, presented beautifully. Nearly every page turn has resulted in “Mum, can we try that?!”

    tinkerlabTinkerlab by Rachelle Doorley is a compendium of “55 playful experiments that encourage tinkering, curiosity and creative thinking”, born out of the US blog with the same name, Tinkerlab. Written specifically with the 0-6 year old crowd in mind, the projects in this book are simpler and easier to set up than in some of the other books mentioned here today, and many fall into the messy play category; you might not think of them as tinkering (for example collage painting and drawing games), and yet they do all involve experimenting, exploring, testing and playing, and in that sense they could be described as ‘tinkering’. “Design”, “Build”, “Concoct” and “Discover” form the main themes of each chapter packed with clear, recipe-like guidance for the themed activities. The book is beautifully produced with a coffee table book feel and the activities are contextualised with brief essays by various play and education professionals. It’s written very much with parents in mind; Doorley is keen to encourage us all at home to make space for mess and exploration, and this book helps make it feel possible, manageable and enjoyable.

    vol-40-cover-150x195Make: is a quarterly magazine made up of a mixture of opinion pieces, detailed tutorials and artist/project biographies and write-ups. I’d gift this mind-boggling magazine to teens (or adults) who love the idea of playing and creating with technology. The projects are aimed at those who embrace electronics and gadgets and range from the practical (eg a DIY blood pressure monitor or sleep timer) to the purely whimsical, (eg moving, fire breathing sculptures or coffee shop construction toys).

    Even though most of the projects in Make: are too complex for the stage me and my girls are at, we’ve oohed and ahhed our way through several issues of Make: and will be looking out for new issues.

    320x180_2_1_00140b413fb3If tinkering/hacking is something that interests you, do look out for this year’s series of Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution. “Sparks will fly: How to hack your home” is the title for this year’s series of lectures aimed at curious kids and their families and in them Professor Danielle George will be exploring how the spark of your imagination and some twenty first century tinkering can change the world. They will be shown on BBC4 over the Christmas period, and in January 2015 on the Ri’s (free) science video channel: www.richannel.org.

    3 Comments on Tinkering with reading: books to inspire creativity in all the family, last added: 9/15/2014
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    9. #650 – The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey by Gregory E. Bray & Holly J. Bray-Cook

    cover 2 mzzox

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    The “Tail” of a Boy Named Harvey

    Written by Gregory E. Bray
    Illustrated by Holly J. Bray-Cook
    Published by Gregory E. Bray         6/01/2013
    978-1-488271465-4
    Age 4 to 8              32 pages
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    “Harvey is always playing with his pets, but his pets don’t like the way he plays with them. When the tables have turned, will he enjoy the way he’s played with?”

    Opening

    “Harvey was an energetic boy. He loved playing sports.”

    The Story

    Harvey is a typical five-year-old. He is rambunctious, energetic, imaginative, and self-centered. Harvey loves playing with his pets: a dog and a cat (names not given). Being a young boy, he does not think of either pet’s feelings or consider how they might like to play. The pets are like large dolls that breathe. Harvey puts clothes on them, uses the cat as a basketball, and dresses both up in military garb when he wants to play army—sending the cat up into the air so it may return in a parachute. To say Harvey plays rough with his companions is a mild way of describing his actions. Harvey plays like a little boy plays, with energy and enthusiasm.

    The poor dog and cat are not happy and try to avoid Harvey at all costs. His parents cannot figure out why the pets react so adversely to their son, until the day mom catches Harvey ready to catch his parachuting kitty.

    “She sent him to his room after dinner and he was only allowed to come out for school and meals.”

    Harvey’s response to his punishment further shows he has no idea what he did to get into so much trouble.

    “Stupid pets!”  [Harvey said, while lying in bed.]

    Review

    spread1

    I really like The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey. Subconsciously, Harvey understood what he did was wrong. In his dream, he is the “pet” and the pets “own” him. The pets play with Harvey exactly as he played with them—thrown up in the air, dressed up, and abruptly awakened. Harvey hates this “playing.” The army games the pets play with Harvey terrify him enough to jolt him awake. Mom tells him it is only a dream, but Harvey has other thoughts on his mind,

    “I’m sorry guys. I didn’t know how bad I treated you. I promise to play nice with you for now on!”

    I like The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey because animal abuse starts with that first inappropriate action. While most kids do not continue on abusing animals—and later extend the abuse to humans—the sooner they learn to respect their pets, the faster they will learn to respect other people and themselves. Harvey’s self-centeredness, typical for his age, opened up a notch with his revelation. I love that Harvey came to this realization mainly by himself, though he would have gotten there much slower had mom not punished him. This is a perfect example of how kids learn. The author’s inspiration for the book came in part from his son Liam and their cat Harvey. The author got it right.

    spread2

    Now, what I do not like about The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey. I am not a fan of the 8 x 8 format mainly because little hands need the stronger pages of a traditional picture book format. A couple of pages came loose from the binding in my copy. The main problem with the story is the lack of action. The narrator tells us 90 percent or more of what is happening instead of letting the characters do this. The story would be more engaging had this happened. The reader would also be able to add to the story by adopting character voices and further charm their child. Please remember the key maxim: Show not Tell.

    The illustrations are good, not traditional looking picture book illustrations, but nicely done. The pets are great at showing their dislike through facial expressions, though my cat would have simply hissed or bit, then run away. When the pets do run away, their fast retreat is nicely illustrated. The illustrator made sure we understood Harvey’s point of view drastically changes when he becomes the pet. The dog and cat (wish they had names) are adorable. Nice job with the little details I love so much.

    spread3

    I think kids will like The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey. Young kids will appreciate the story and laugh at Harvey’s predicament. Those with pets will quickly learn from Harvey and that is a great thing to happen. Classrooms with a pet would do well to read this story, as would any child soon to get their first pet. The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey is the author’s, and the illustrator’s, first children’s book. They both did a nice job bringing the story of Harvey (the cat or the boy, I am no longer sure which) to life.

    THE TAIL OF A BOY NAMED HARVEY. Text copyright © 2013 by Gregory E. Bray. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Holly J. Bray-Cook. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Gregory E. Bray, Sacramento, CA.

    For a young lad’s critique, click HERE

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    Purchase The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey at Amazon—B&N—CreateSpace—Gregory Bray—your favorite bookstore.

    Learn more about The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey HERE

    Meet the author, Gregory E. Bray, at his blog:   http://gregoryebrayauthor.blogspot.com/

    Meet the illustrator, Holly J. Bray-Cook, at her website:

    Gregory E. Bray published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

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    tail of a boy named harvey

    Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

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    A Little about Gregory E. Bray

    gregory e bray authorx

    “Gregory E Bray (1967-present) was born and raised in Sacramento, CA where he still resides He was a film major in college who now works in the IT industry. He has written scripts for corporate videos and shorts and uses humor in everything he writes. He uses his humor in this, his first children’s book, to help get the books message out to children. His inspiration for writing this children’s book comes from his wife Lita, their son Liam and their cat Harvey.”

    How to Find Gregory E. Bray

    Website:

    Blog:   http://gregoryebrayauthor.blogspot.com/

    Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/gregoryebray

    Goodreads Author Page:   https://www.goodreads.com/geb1967

    Amazon Author’s Page:    amazon.com/author/gregorybray


    Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: be kind to pets, cats, children's book reviews, dogs, Gregory E. Bray, Holly J. Bray-Cook, imagination, pets, picture books, relationships, respect

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    10. #649 – Bonjour Camille by Felipe Cano & Laia Aguilar

    coverx

    Bonjour Camille

    Written by Felipe Cano
    Illustrated by Laia Aguilar
    Chronicle Books              8/01/2014
    978-1-4521-2407-0
    Age 3+           32 pages
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    “It’s a Sunday morning, and Camille—adorned in a tutu and a top hat—has so many things to do! There is jumping on the bed (of course), choosing a new favorite color, drawing thousands of faces on thousands of balloons, hiding all of the umbrellas, seeking out the unexpected on a map, and more in delightful surprises, all experienced through the eyes of an inspired child.”

    Opening

    “On Sunday mornings, as soon as the sun comes up, Camille opens her eyes and . . . “

    Review

    Camille wakes and puts on a tutu and a top hat. This is her battledress. She has many things to do on this Sunday, beginning with jumping on the bed until . . .

    “THAT’S ENOUGH!”

    That was Camille’s mother. Camille has many things planned for her day. She plans on,

    Bonjour Camille_Int_2

    “Giving names to all the waves.”

    Bonjour Camille_Int_3

    “Asking the wind in a whisper voice to tell her a story.”

    There are so many things Camille has to do on a Sunday. She most definitely must get an ice cream cone and then let it melt away in her hand. Depending upon the height of your viewpoint, Camille’s plans are either delightful ideas or odd and impossible. As Camille continues making her plans, giving balloons’ faces and yelling at winter until . . . a voice penetrates her thoughts,

    “STOP that jumping!”

    Camille is a typical young girl, bored on a winter Sunday, trying to find fun things to do inside the house. While she conjures up her plans, Camille continues jumping despite her mother sternly saying it was enough (but she did not say exactly enough of what). Camille, deep in her thoughts, may not have heard.

    I love Camille’s spirit and I adore her whimsical imagination. Though many little girls have had ice cream melt on their hand and drawn faces on a balloon, Camille plans these activities and then allows the ice cream to melt, and draws faces on thousands of balloons. Camille has an indomitable spirit.

    The illustrations look drawn with Camille’s own hand. The images are simple, yet fun. Originally released in Spain, Bonjour Camille is different from most picture books from Chronicle. Other than its small 6 x 8 size, the colors are not as bright and bold as most picture books. None of this takes away from book’s charm. Bonjour Camille is the perfect gift for a spunky little girl or the parents of an adorable baby girl.

    BONJOUR CAMILLE. Text copyright © 2011by Felipe Cano. Illustrations copyright © 2011 by Laia Aguilar. Reproduced by permission of Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

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    Purchase Bonjour Camille at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Booksyour favorite bookstore.

    Learn more about Bonjour Camille HERE

    Meet the author, Felipe Cano, at his website:

    Meet the illustrator, Laia Aguilar, at her LinkedIn:    https://www.linkedin.com/pub/laia-aguilar/1a/493/bb0

    Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:    http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

    First published in 2011 by BOBO CHOSES.

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    bonjour camille

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    Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


    Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Bonjour Camille, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, Felipe Cano, imagination, indomitable, Laia Aguilar, little girl dreams, picture books, translated from Spanish, whimsical

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    11. Other people's lives - Lily Hyde


    Other people’s lives are our business, as writers.

    Tamsyn Murray wrote a lovely and important post a few days ago, about how vital empathy is for writers, readers, and the world. I agree with her entirely. When we stop imagining, and stop trying to understand the way other people (and cats!) think and feel and live, we start wars.

    Here are some photographs I’ve come across in the last few months, from other people’s lives. A doorway to imagination, to empathy. What are the stories behind these pictures? Who and what did these people love, hate, fear, desire?

    I know some of the stories. Others, I’ll never know. But if all of us can imagine, and do our best to empathise, maybe some of these stories will never be repeated.

    Crimean Tatar girls in national costume, Crimea, 1930s
    Ukrainian village women in national costume, central Ukraine, 1950s 
    Crimean Tatars in exile. Those who managed to take a sewing machine with them when they were deported from Crimea could make a living. Uzbekistan, 1950s 
    Photos retrieved by rescue workers from a bombed residential building in Nikolayevka, East Ukraine. Nearly two months later, no one has collected them from the grass outside

    Dream Land, a novel about the Crimean Tatars

      

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    12. #622 – Eddie and Dog by Alison Brown

    9781623701147.

    Eddie and Dog

    written and illustrated by Alison Brown

    Capstone Young Readers      2/01/2014

    978-1-62370-114-7

    Age 4 ro 8      32 pages

    .

    “Eddie is looking for a friend—a friend who likes adventure. Then Eddie meets Dog. And the fun begins. This wonderful story, with stunning artwork celebrates the excitement of a beautiful relationship.”

    Opening

    “Eddie dreamed of adventure.

    “He imagined flying off to far-off places and doing amazing things. Then one day . . . “

    Review

    Eddie found Dog. No, wait, Dog found Eddie.

    Eddie is at the airport, dreaming of adventures, when he sees Dog in a pet carrier, which Dog opens with his paw. (Dogs can get out of anything.) Dog wants a life of adventure and must see the same in Eddie. Dog asks Eddie if he would like to play. This is the beginning of a unique friendship and a lovely picture book. Eddie and Dog is one of my favorite picture books this year.

    What fun the two enjoy together. Their adventures are loaded with suspense, intrigue, and some silliness for good measure. The two hunt crocodiles, sail the seven seas—I’m thinking in alphabetical order—build a grand fort, and traipse through lush jungles. That was day one.

    1

    When Eddie introduced his new best friend to his mother, she said Dog could not stay—the yard is too small.  Poor Dog. Poor Eddie. Eddie keeps thinking about Dog and it is a good bet that Dog thinks a lot about Eddie. The next day, Dog returns to Eddie. Mom stands her ground. Dog needs a bigger yard and a better home. Mom’s imagination and creativity has taken back seat t her larger practical side. She can’t see the blossoming relationship between Eddie and Dog or how important it is to the new friends. Instead of working with the yard, she instantly says it is too small.

    Dog is trying as hard as he can to keep his friendship with Eddie alive. Good friendships should never die—they are too hard to cultivate. But Eddie’s mom is consistently saying no to a dog. Do dogs make her nose sneeze and her eyes cry? Maybe mom really is concerned with Dog’s happiness. Hm, I wonder what will happen next.

    2

    I love Eddie and Dog. They must belong together else, Dog would not make such grand gestures, would he? Dogs do love unconditionally. And Dog is a dog. You cannot beat logic. Eddie and Dog belong together. I bet Dog keeps trying until Eddie’s mom runs out of excuses and places for Dog to go.

    The story is well-paced and the illustrations hit the mark on each and every page.The final spread is my favorite illustration. Eddie sits behind Dog as Dog flies his shiny red propeller plane to their next awesome adventure.. Dog is a cute, cuddly canine. He is the perfect size for Eddie. Dog loves adventures, just as Eddie wanted! The ending has an unexpected twist that I love. Dog can accomplish many fantabulous things in a short amount of time.

    sea

    Children will love Eddie and Dog. They will be sad when Eddie is sent away, but after the first return—a wonderful twist—kids will keep smiling even when mom sends Eddie off several more times. Sometimes knowing the punch line can be fun. Kids will love Eddie and Dog, even to the point of wanting their own Dog (sorry Eddie). Parents can take heart. Eddie and Dog is an easy and fun read with moments needing sound effects only a parent can provide. Will Eddie and Dog become your child’s favorite book? Quit possibly so, at least until the next edition of an Eddie and Dog adventure hit bookstores. Enjoy!

    EDDIE AND DOG. Text and illustrations copyright © 2013 by Alison Brown. Reproduced by permission of the US publisher, Capstone Young Readers, North Mankato, MN.

    Purchase Eddie and Dog at AmazonB&NCapstone Young Readersyour favorite bookstore.

    .

    Learn more about Eddie and Dog HERE.

    Meet the author/illustrator, Alison Brown, at her website:    http://www.littletiger.co.uk/authors/alison-brown

    Find more good books at the Capstone Young Readers website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

    Capstone Young Reader is an imprint of Capstone:   http://www.capstonepub.com/

    Eddie and Dog was originally published in Great Britain by Little Tiger Press in 12/18/2013.

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    Also by Alison Brown

    I Love You Night and Day

    I Love You Night and Day

    Mighty Mo

    Mighty Mo

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    eddie and dog

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    copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


    Filed under: 5stars, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Alison Brown, Capstone, Capstone Young Readers, chidren's book reviews, creativity, determination, Eddie and Dog, friendhip, imagination, Little Tiger Press, persistance, pets, relationships

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    13. The Way to the Zoo: John Burningham

    Book: The Way to the Zoo
    Author: John Burningham
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 4-8

    The Way to the Zoo by John Burningham is a picture book about a little girl named Sylvie who discovers a secret doorway in her bedroom that leads to a zoo. The animals are friendly, and sometimes Sylvie brings some of them back into her house. The small bear is cozy to sleep with, but the penguins make a splashy mess in the bathroom. And when Sylvie forgets to close the door to the zoo one day, chaos ensues. 

    The Way to the Zoo reminded me a bit of Barbara Lehman's Rainstorm, and a bit of Philip and Erin Stead's A Sick Day for Amos McGee. All three books feature implausible events related in a completely matter-of-fact manner. My four year old daughter thought that The Way to the Zoo was hilarious, and asked immediately that I read it again. 

    Burningham takes his time with the story. Instead of jumping in to where the girl finds and opens the door, she first glimpses the door from her bed, decides to wait to check it out in the morning, and then forgets, and doesn't look inside until after school the next day. He uses a relatively basic vocabulary, and explains what's happening in detail. I think that The Way to the Zoo could function as an early reader for some kids. Here's an example (all on one page spread):

    "It was getting late. Sylvie had to get back 
    to her room and go to sleep because she
    had school again in the morning.

    Sylvie asked a little bear to come back
    with her. He did and slept in her bed

    She made sure the bear was back in the
    zoo and the door in the wall was closed
    before she left for school."

    This passage is, of course, also good for teaching young readers about foreshadowing. 

    Burningham's illustrations are in pen, pencil pastel, and watercolor. The are minimalist, with only the faintest suggestion of backgrounds, lots of white space, and the details left to the reader's imagination. This isn't my personal favorite style of illustration - I couldn't always tell what kind of animal was being represented, for instance. But the pictures made my daughter laugh, particularly one involving birds in the living room, and another in which a rhino lies on the floor covered up in towels for the night. 

    The Way to the Zoo has a timeless feel, support in particular by the apparent freedom that Sylvie has from parental oversight. It would make a nice school or library read-aloud for K-2nd graders. Recommended for home or library use! 

    Publisher: Candlewick (@Candlewick) 
    Publication Date: August 26, 2014
    Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

    FTC Required Disclosure:

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

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

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    14. A book outside the box

    notabox 260x260 A book outside the box“That sounds just like my dad!” one of my students exclaimed. “That must be a grown-up saying that!” offered another. We were in the midst of reading Antoinette Portis’s Not a Box and my second graders were bursting with excited insights about just who the off-page narrator might be.

    On its surface, Not a Box seems simple — a young rabbit repeatedly advocates for imagination by reiterating that no, his box is not a box, but whatever he wants or dreams it to be. The seeming simplicity of Not a Box, however, is extremely deceptive.

    As a teacher interested in cultivating curiosity and creativity in my students, I am always on the lookout for books that deviate from the standard idea of “book” that my students hold. Due to its intriguing off-page narrator and its clever illustrations, Not a Box certainly differs from the usual elementary school fare.

    The off-page narrator, whom we never see, drives the book with constant interrogation about what the rabbit is doing with the box. My students knew right away that the questions were not coming from the character they saw on the page, but from a source outside the book. They also knew that the rebuttals were coming from the rabbit and cheered its increasingly adamant responses to the off-page narrator.

    My students’ insights and understanding of the book spilled over into the illustrations, which are also outside-the-box and pull a lot of weight for this word-sparse text.

    On each page where an inquiry is made about what the main character intends to do with the box, the illustrations show what a narrator (presumably an adult) sees: a boring, old box.

    With each increasingly incensed rebuttal, the illustrations mutate slightly to show what that box can become with just a little bit of imagination. Due to the relative simplicity of the illustrations, my second graders had no trouble catching on to how they worked and what they were trying to convey.

    The spontaneous and sophisticated understandings that my students demonstrated surprised me; I had actually selected the book not to analyze its structure, but rather to discuss its message — that childhood curiosity is both valid and exhilarating, even if adults don’t understand it. And, that the book resonated so strongly with many of my students highlights that they do, perhaps, feel like adults don’t understand their imaginings.

    notaboxdisplay A book outside the box

    Nicole’s students are inspired by Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

    Following the reading of the book, my students channeled their creativity to make their own “not-a-box”-es. Their ideas ranged from body armor to a laptop to a castle. Clearly, Not a Box inspired my students to think outside the box. I can only hope that it will also inspire them to keep thinking innovatively, even as a culture of standardization and testing in schools threatens to undermine creativity. Now more than ever, it is essential that teachers seek out books that showcase the wonder and joy of thinking outside of the box.

    Readers, if you know of a creativity-sparking book, please mention it in a comment!

    share save 171 16 A book outside the box

    The post A book outside the box appeared first on The Horn Book.

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    15. Writing and Place: How Santa Barbara Sunshine Led To a Tale of Wolves and Snowy Woods – by Emma Barnes


    I’ve just come back from a visit to Santa Barbara.  It was wonderful to revisit old haunts – the Daily Grind coffee shop, Chaucer Books – and to spend time watching the dolphins and pelicans from Arroyo Burro beach, smell the roses near the Mission, and most of all, bask in California sunshine after a long, cold, Yorkshire winter. 

    It also made me think about the relationship between writing and place.

    It was while I was in Santa Barbara I got a message saying that my book Wolfie had won a Fantastic Book Award (voted for by children across Lancashire).  This seemed fitting, as it was actually while I was staying in Santa Barbara, five years ago, that I wrote Wolfie.  And that made me think how odd it was that a book about wolves and deep winter woods (so atmospherically brought to life in Emma Chichester Clark’s illustrations) should have been created in such a completely different environment.

    cover: Emma Chichester Clark
    I remember the process well.  I’d walk my daughter to preschool – passing rows of jacaranda trees, an open air swimming pool and banks of creeping rosemary.  Then I’d go home and open my laptop and plunge into a world where a wolf appears in an ordinary British neighbourhood, and takes the heroine into a snow-filled world of adventure.  Maybe it was the contrast itself that got my imagination going?  I was certainly driven: tapping away intently, working against the clock until pick-up time.  

    illustration: Emma Chichester Clark
     Of course many writers are inspired by their particular environment and its familiarity.  But I wonder how often writers are inspired to write about a setting precisely because it isn’t there?  Quite often, I suspect.  In some cases, this might be tinged with homesickness, or nostalgia for a place and time lost.

    Certainly, one of the most evocative children’s books that I know, in terms of creating a setting, is Susan Cooper’s Dark Is Rising – part of the famous fantasy series of the same title.  This book is set in rural Berkshire near Windsor, and Will’s house, the village, the manor and the surrounding landscape are brilliantly portrayed: so real, so immediate, but also echoing with the years of history that lie behind.  When Will sets out into the woods he may meet a Smith from centuries past, or a tramp who has travelled through time, or the mythical Herne the Hunter: somehow the place can contain them all.  This capturing of landscape is also a feature of Cooper’s other books – the mountains of Wales in The Grey King, and a Cornish village in Greenwitch.

    These books capture perfectly a British place and time (and I say time because I suspect the “present day” Berkshire that Cooper portrays has probably now been lost as totally as her Medieval or Dark Age versions, under the pressures of modern development).  Yet they were written when Cooper was far from her original home, living on the East Coast of the US.  In interviews, she has described how she was cross country skiing (a thoroughly un-British activity) when the idea of The Dark Is Rising came to her.

    I’m certainly grateful for my time in California.  Towards the end of my stay I also went to the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference, which was stimulating in a different way.  And I enjoyed happy hours running on the beach.  But mainly those months were a warm, calm, interlude: a bubble in which I managed to write a book.

    Maybe one cold, winteryYorkshire morning I will sit down and find myself writing a tale of sunshine, sand and dolphins…
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Emma's new book, Wild Thing,  about the naughtiest little sister ever (and her bottom-biting ways), is out now from Scholastic. It is the first of a series for readers 8+.
    "Hilarious and heart-warming" The Scotsman
    "Charming modern version of My Naughty Little Sister" Armadillo Mag

     Wolfie is published by Strident.   Sometimes a Girl’s Best Friend is…a Wolf. 
    Winner of 2014 Fantastic Book Award
    "A real cracker of a book" Armadillo 
    "Funny, clever and satisfying...thoroughly recommended" Books for Keeps
    "This delightful story is an ideal mix of love and loyalty, stirred together with a little magic and fantasy" Carousel 

    Emma's Website
    Emma’s Facebook Fanpage
    Emma on Twitter - @EmmaBarnesWrite

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    16. Here Comes Destructosaurus! by Aaron Reynolds | Book Review

    This book is a good reminder that sometimes toddler tantrums are just because of their inability to communicate, and it’s our job as parents to help them through the rough times. You'll share some chuckles along the way!

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    17. 8 Steps to Invoke Intuitive Healing

    St. Michael, 13th Century

    St. Michael, a Healing Angel in the Christian Tradition (13th Century Icon in St. Catherine’s Monastery)

    Whether one chooses to use prayers, dreams or intuitive methods as a practice to invoke the power of intuitive healing, there are eight steps the person seeking healing may do to shape his or her attitude and ability in a way that encourages receptivity to healing. The first five steps prepare and bring the practitioner to the necessary trusting, child-like intuitive heart space which is the healing center, no matter if the healing is done for oneself or for another person. The last three steps help accomplish and follow through with the mission. This means relaxing, getting out of the head and seeing with the “eyes” of the heart. Only then is one open to receive the intuitive healing information that may come in many forms such images, sounds, voices, sensations, smells, or memories.

    1. Acknowledging the need for healing. Before all else, this awareness is pre-requisite. It often implies a humble acceptance that one cannot alter the condition without help, usually after many attempts have been made to heal on one’s own or through commonly accepted medical practices. This is a challenge for those of us who are used to being “in control,” and may require a relinquishing or putting aside that mindset.
    2. Believing I can be healed. This step is perhaps the most difficult for those of us who haven’t developed a strong faith in things that cannot be measured or predicted. It is, however, the most important step. If I cannot believe in my healing, then I should pray or intend that I may grow in my capacity to believe it.
    3. Tuning into my Ideal. This step may be done in a variety of ways. After quieting the mind and relaxing, I can imagine or “summon’ my ideal to make its presence fully felt in my mind and heart. I may see the face of a divine healer or imagine the power of healing energy. I can take this imagery work further by imagining this divine being holding me in a comforting or healing embrace or see a warm wave of energy enveloping me. The quality of my ideal will play a big part in determining the type of healing I draw to myself.
    4. Initiating and intending a healing. This may be a prayer or simple intention, imagining the results as already happened. Be as specific as possible in the prayer or intention.
    5. Confidently expecting a response. Know that healing in some way, shape or form, has already begun.
    6. Tuning myself into the communication coming to me. Healing may take many forms, along with a message to you what is happening. I can expect anything like imagery, sounds, sensations, thoughts, smells or a memory to convey something. The trick is to be very “tuned in” as these immediate responses which are often very illusory. Sometimes it might be just a subtle feeling of peace.
    7. Reflecting on and learning from the communication. I may need to ask myself what is the meaning of the information I have received. For example, if the image of an Oriental doctor doing acupuncture came, I might ask myself if I need to try acupuncture. Usually, the first association holds the clue. You can then amplify on this by asking more questions to clarify and get more information.
    8. Acting on it. If you get a specific insight to take action, such as cutting down on your salt, do so.

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    18. #553 – Magical Animals by Ian White & Gastón Hauviller

    ma.

    Magical Animals

    by Ian White & Gastón Hauviller, illustrator

    Laredo Publishing     2014

    Magical Animals

    by Ian White & Gastón Hauviller

    Age 4 to 8       32 pages

    .

    “Leo is bored, wishing there was more magic in life. He gets big surprise when a mysterious wizard appears and sweeps him away on an incredible whirlwind tour of the animal kingdom!”

    Opening

    “Leo was sitting so bored and so blue.

    He couldn’t play Wizards as he loved to do.

    His mother had told him ‘Magic’s not real!’

    Imagine how miserable that made him feel.

    Now he was grumbling, downcast, and glum, /

    “A world without magic is simply no fun!’”

    The Story

    Leo could not play the game he loved, one filled with magic, so he sat feeling grumpy instead of doing something else. Soon a wizard arrives and takes Leo on a tour of magic in his own backyard. They start by watching a humming bird hover by a flower as it drinks a flower’s nectar. The Wizard tells Leo the hummingbird’s ability to hover is magical. Next they go to the beach were baby turtles are hatching and immediately walking toward the ocean. No one tells these turtles what to do, they move on an innate instinct the Wizard calls magical. The two continue on to different animals and the “magical” abilities each possess, with the Wizard proclaiming, (or a variation thereof),

    “It’s magic, true magic, hard to explain!”

    After watching a chameleon change its color, a squirrel find nuts it squirreled away now under snow, and a mother penguin find her family among thousands of penguins, the Wizard returns Leo to his bedroom. He tells Leo magic does not always require wands or spells, but in life all around him, if only he will look.

    1

    Review

    Many things in the animal kingdom are amazing and sometimes unexplainable. The Wizard calls these things magic, or magical, when showing ten these creatures to Leo. It is hard not to agree that a newly hatched turtle immediately taking off in the direction of the sea, no matter the direction they face when hatched, is not magical. Or that the Monarch Butterfly makes it from Canada to Mexico each year without maps or GPS. There are many amazing abilities animals possess that we never consider magic, but maybe we should. How else to explain that an octopus can squeeze into astronomically small spaces or that a  mountain goat can prance about a steep rock and  not fall, thanks to “magical hooves” that stick so well.

    The illustrations, softened by subtle dots that run through the paper, have muted color in Leo’s room, where he is glum about not playing his Wizard game. An actual Wizard brings more color with him and each setting, whether the ocean or the glaciers, the illustrations depict very realistic worlds.

    2

    The Wizard spins a great tale for young Leo, who comes away feeling much less glum for not being able to play a game of “magic.” The author’s plausible message, that there is magic all around us, is a good message for kids and adults. The story is simple; a Wizard takes a boy on a magical trip around the world to watch select animals. It is hard to resist believing the Wizard’s message too young Leo. We all know some intriguing animals are on this earth and they can do some pretty amazing things, some without a bit of direction or advice. That is possibly magical.

    Kids will love this story and after will have a new understanding of their world. I’m sure they will look at their surroundings with a new perspective and see magic where it had not been just minutes before. If we look closely at the world around us on our daily commutes, we may be surprised at what we see. Magical Animals is Ian White’s debut children’s book, and  very good beginning to a new career.

    3

    MAGICAL ANIMALS. Text copyright © 2014 by Ian White. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Gastón Hauviller. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Laredo Publishing,

    .

    Learn more about Magical Animals HERE.

    Buy Magical Animals at AmazonLaredo Publishingyour local bookstore.

    .

    Meet that the author, Ian White, at this website:  http://magicalanimalschildrensbook.com/index.html

    Meet the illustrator, Gastón Hauviller, at his website:  http://www.hauviller.com/

    Find more books at the Laredo Publishing website:  http://laredopublishing.com/

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    Also by Gastón Hauviller

    I Do Not Want This On My Plate

    I Do Not Want This On My Plate

    an honest boy

    An Honest Boy, Un hombre sincero

    .

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    reviewed HERE

    .

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    magical animals


    Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: animals, children's book reviews, Gastón Hauviller, Ian White, imagination, Laredo Publishing, magic, world view

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    19. Diversity in picture books and the astonishing case of the stolen stories

    “Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?”


    Last weekend Walter Dean Myers, a previous National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (the US equivalent of the UK’s children’s laureate) wrote a thought-provoking article in the New York Times about the need for books for children’ and young people to truly reflect the world around them. In his piece he was focussing on the lack of black children and young adults in books written for them. But I think much of what he writes is more widely applicable, as was explored and demonstrated at last month’s Inclusive Minds ‘What About Me?’ day at Imagine Children’s Festival. Among many other activities that day there was a discussion of the “concept of normal” in books for children and young adults, and the importance of diversity, of showing all sorts of children, from all sorts of backgrounds, so that all children could read books and see themselves somehow reflected, included and valued.

    In a beautiful case of serendipity, with Myers’ words in my head, I picked up stolenstoriesThe Astonishing Case of the Stolen Stories by Anca Sandu (@anca_sandu).

    Across a fairy tale kingdom, all stories have been stolen. The palace bookshelves are empty, the bookshop has no stock, and even cookery books and spell books are missing. A trio of detectives are called upon to crack the case and track down the culprit, but when they do so the explanation given for the thievery is heartbreaking:

    “Well, I don’t know who I am,”
    replied the thing. “I’ve found everyone
    else in a book, but never me –
    I thought if I kept looking
    I might find a book with
    my story in it.”

    Children may not always be able to articulate it, but it is tremendously powerful when they find a story in which they recognise something of themselves, or something of what they could be. It’s the same for us grown ups, isn’t it?

    Sandu’s gorgeous story ends positively with the detectives not only solving the case, but going further and taking steps to solve the source of the problem. Upbeat, witty, inventive, with compassion and creativity – there’s lots to love here.

    The Astonishing Case of the Stolen Stories is tantalisingly ripe for use in literacy lessons, begging for teachers and children to work together to write their own stories. There are even jokes about enriched vocabulary, which will revitalise the drive for kids to use “wow” words or “power” words.

    sandu

    Sandu’s illustrations are shot with spring-like pastel hues and achieve a quite magical balance of clutter free, smooth spreads (enhanced by slightly glossy printing) sprinkled with humorous detail: See how many fairytale characters such as the Gingerbread man and Rapunzel you can find hidden in the illustrations.

    Although I love The Astonishing Case of the Stolen Stories and would urge you to read it yourself, I also feel Sandu perhaps missed an opportunity in illustrating her story about the importance of readers seeing themselves somehow reflected in the books they read.

    There are few female characters in this book; the humans that feature are all white, and the only inclusion of someone with any sort of disability is a pirate with an eye patch. Now I’m not saying that every book has to feature equal numbers of males and females, and different skin colours and people who use wheelchairs (for example), but I am observing that even in a book where your attention is drawn to the fact that readers like to find themselves in books (and thereby explicitly acknowledges the importance of reflecting society in its beautiful diversity – even in a fairy tale kingdom – in the stories we write and read) perhaps more could have been done to reach out to those kids who find it hard to find themselves in stories.

    Inspired by the hunt for stories in Sandu’s book we set up our very own storybook treasure hunt. M and J were designated storybook detectives for the afternoon, after I had hidden books and clues around the house and garden.

    detectives4

    The clues were very simple and just asked the girls to work out a location based on a book I knew they knew. So, for example, I asked “Where was Pushka trapped until Lulu rescued him?” (The oven, see Pushka), “What gave Ulysses the squirrel his name?” (A vacuum cleaner, see Flora & Ulysses) and “What are you sorting out when you go DING DONG BANG or BING BONG CLANG?” (the kitchen pans, see All Join In).

    detectives5

    They then rushed around finding the books I’d hidden…

    detectives3

    detectives6

    detectives1

    And when they had solved the final clue we sat and read a selection of the books they’d found whilst munching on a treat:

    detectives8

    These are entirely edible storybooks made from no-cook fudge, coloured to match the pastels in The Astonishing Case of the Stolen Stories

    detectives7

    The recipe is super easy and brilliant for kids – just 3 ingredients (not including colouring or sprinkles), and all you need to do is mix everything together. The resulting “fudge” is lovely to play with, a little like edible playdoh. If you put it in the fridge for a little it firms up nicely and makes perfect books!

    Whilst making the no-bake-fudge story books we listened to:

  • Every Great Detective by Sharon, Lois & Bram
  • Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler. Yep. Terrible. Brilliant. Will make (some) sense when you’ve read Sandu’s book!
  • The ultimate detective music – the Pink Panther theme!

  • Alongside reading The Astonishing Case of the Stolen Stories you could enjoy:

  • The Lost Happy Endings by Carol Ann Duffy, illustrated by Jane Ray (you can read my review here)
  • This post by Pippa Goodhard about the gender disparity in anthropomorphic characters in children’s picture books (Thanks to @letterboxlib for helping me find this article)
  • Writing your own story! If you want to give your kids some prompts to help them create their own story, why not try these mini books Clara Vulliamy and I created for you to download.
  • What sort of stories are you currently hunting for?

    Disclosure:I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.

    3 Comments on Diversity in picture books and the astonishing case of the stolen stories, last added: 3/20/2014
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    20. #520 – Elephants at the Airport: Once Upon a Time in Zimbabwe by Steve Wolfson & Heleen Brulot

    EA Frnt Cover-1sm.

    Elephants At The Airport: Once Upon a Time in Zimbabwe

    by Steve Wolfson & Heleen Brulot

    Argami Productions     11/25/2013

    978-0-9798324-5-1

    Age 4 to 8   32 pages

    .

    “Nicki is not so happy about having to move to Zimbabwe, Africa. She is not sure what to expect and is truly surprised when one of the first things she sees is an elephant at the airport.”

    Opening

    “Nikki thought she was waking up, but maybe it was a dream. Why else were her parents sleeping in her bedroom and why she was sleeping sitting up in a chair.”

    The Story

    Nikki’s mother gets a job that takes the family to Zimbabwe, Africa. Like most young kids, Nikki does not want to leave her home and her friends. She wonders how she will hang her posters on a mud wall. She is also fearful of all the wild animals that she believes will be everywhere. Nikki might be right. At the airport an elephant—a green elephant with red and yellow spots—takes her suitcase off the belt and walks away with it. Dad insists there are no elephants in the city.

    In her new home, Nikki sees a menagerie of animals come through the bushes defining her backyard. Rhinos, lions, zebras, baboons, and an ostrich run and play in front of Nikki’s bedroom window. Dad sternly insists there are no wild animals in the city. Nikki spends all her time playing with the elephant from the airport, much to her parent’s dismay. They never see any of the animals that hide in the bushes until Nikki is alone.

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    Review

    The first reading of Elephants at the Airport was confusing. Why could only Nikki see the animals that were real enough to play with her? The title on the cover states, Elephants at the Airport and nothing more, not even the author and illustrator’s name (that is perfectly okay). A closer look at the credit and title pages shows a subtitle: Once Upon a Time in Zimbabwe. Now I get it. The story is a fable. Nikki has no desire to move to Africa and is terrified of the unknown. To make things worse, a green elephant—with red and yellow dots—grabs her suitcase. Dad refuses to believe his child.

    Zimbabwe is not a place to fear, but a magical place for kids where the animals entertain Nikki in front of her bedroom window. The story lacks development. Mainly Nikki and her father are in a stalemate over wild animals in the city in which they live. Dad even takes Nikki to a game park—actually a mechanism to end the story. Nikki declares the elephants were great, but her favorite is still the airport elephant, which causes her dad to yell,

    “There are NO elephants at the airport!”

    Nikki replies that he is right; the elephant is now at their home. She then runs out to play with Airport. Nikki happily skips out of the house and her parents look out to see their daughter with something green and wonder . . . could it be? An acceptable ending I suppose. Kids will laugh and so might their parents.

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    To me, the ending just tells me the inevitable. An easy ending that does not develop the protagonist. Nikki should change by story’s end, but she changes on the first morning. It seems the character that might change is dad, a secondary character. Does he now believe wild animals are in the city? Does he now believe a green elephant with red and yellow spots plays with his daughter? Nikki folded her fears and her lack of enthusiasm for living in a new country too soon in the story.

    Young children will like the imaginary playmate aspect of the story. They will like Airport, maybe even more so because of his coloring. They will most likely not care that the story is poorly constructed and in need of a good edit. Though they might want to know where the other elephants are at the airport.
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    I love the cover and really like the elephant. The artist draws a nice, realistic elephant. The illustrations are good. A few have what looks like paint smeared across the paper, making the image difficult to see. I think this is supposed to indicate speed—of the animals as they play. A few other images are mostly shades of brown with a bit of color, making it difficult to see what the image represents. That very well could be a printing problem, but in the end, whatever the problem, these spreads are not good. It really is a shame because the illustrations are extremely good.

    [After watching the trailer, it is clear that the problem is with printing. The illustrations, every one of them, are gorgeous and detailed clearly in the trailer, but muddled on the page.]

    Elephants at the Airport: Once Upon a Time in Zimbabwe takes a young girl out of her familiar surroundings and places her into a strange land of wild animals. Nikki quickly recovers from her fears and plays with the elephant from the airport. Dad is not happy, thinking his girl is isolating herself. She has a great time playing with what might or might not be an imaginary friendly elephant. I like the premise of the story. Elephants at the Airport has wonderful story potential but it needs work before I would purchase this adorable green elephant.

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    Learn more about Elephants at the Airport: Once Upon a Time in Zimbabwe HERE.

    Get a copy of Elephants at the Airport at AmazonB&Nbook’s websiteask for it at your neighborhood bookstore.

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    Meet the author, Steve Wolfson at his website: http://www.wolfsonsworld.com/ 

    Meet the illustrator, Heleen Brulot at her website:  http://www.brulot.net/

    Check out other books by Argami Productions at its website:  http://www.argamiproductions.com/

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    ELEPHANTS AT THE AIRPORT: ONCE UPON A TIME IN ZIMBABWE, Text copyright © 2013 by Steve Wolfson. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Heleen Brulot. Reproduced by permission of Argami Productions, Weston, FL.

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    elephant at airport


    Filed under: Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Africa, Argami Productions, children's book reviews, creativity, elephants, family, Heleen Brulot, imagination, relationships, Steve Wolfson, wild animals, Zimbabwe

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    21. Try an Intuitive Heart™ Soul Reflection Experience

    Heart Art

    “If you wish to know someone’s heart, look into your own.” Heart Art by Henry Reed, Ph.D.

    There are many exercises available to awaken intuitive abilities but this one is a favorite because it is so simple and so effective. Also, it surfaces an issue that really matters—one the participant may not even realize as a conscious issue before doing the exercise. Lastly, it facilitates a resolution or process for working with the issue that is line with the soul’s need. The exercise was developed by Henry Reed, Ph.D., Director of the Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies  and can be found at: http://intuitiveheart.com/SoulReflection/. The instructions are at http://intuitiveheart.com/SoulReflection/memory-divination-instructions.html which involve:

    1. Doing the 7 minute Inspired Heart Meditation followed by the Memory Divination Exercise. Both can be downloaded as one meditation in a free mp3 file at http://intuitiveheart.com/SoulReflection/ihmemdiv.mp3
    2. Processing the memory received according to the instructions. Basically, what does this memory remind you of in relation to something important in your life right now? How do you feel about this current concern? What are the challenges?
    3. Going to http://intuitiveheart.com/SoulReflection/selected-important-question.html to find a random question generated. Reflect on this question in light of your memory and the processing of it. What comes to light?

    For a description of my experience doing this exercise, please see the sequel post at http://wp.me/p45aiq-4N.


    0 Comments on Try an Intuitive Heart™ Soul Reflection Experience as of 4/8/2014 3:59:00 PM
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    22. 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.



    0 Comments on Picture Book Roundup - Wordless edition as of 4/10/2014 9:19:00 AM
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    23. Zoe's Jungle: Bethanie Deeney Murguia

    Book: Zoe's Jungle
    Author: Bethanie Deeney Murguia
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 3-5

    My daughter and I both enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) Bethanie Murguia's two previous picture books about Zoe (Zoe Gets Ready and Zoe's Room: No Sister's Allowed). In this third installment, the irrepressible Zoe and her younger sister Addie pretend that a playground is a jungle. Some tension is added to the story by the fact that Mama has decreed that they'll be leaving the park in five minutes. But as it turns out, five minutes is enough time for a jungle adventure, if you have sufficient imagination.

    Alternating page spreads show the jungle that Zoe is picturing, vs. the playground as it actually looks. This may be a bit confusing for the youngest readers (my four-year-old wasn't sure what was going on, the first time we read this). But once they understand the device that Murguia is using, I think that kids will enjoy it. For instance, Zoe crosses over an alligator-filled river on a fallen log. The "log" is revealed on the next page to be a wooden bench, passing near some kids playing in a puddle. Not until the final endpages do we see the full view of the park. (And I must say, it's a very nice park!)

    Although this is still clearly Zoe's story, it's nice to see her sister growing a bit bigger, and more able to actively take part in things (this is clear from just looking at the cover). The "Addiebeast" runs away and hides, and the brave explorer Zoe must track her down. Addie's polka-dotted dress is echoed in the Addiebeast's spotted tail. 

    I also, as a parent, enjoyed the by-play between Zoe and her Mama over when they would leave the park. Zoe goes on a huge rant over how five more minutes is "NOT" enough time. At the end of the rant, Mama just says: "Four minutes!". Zoe slumps over, saying: "Is there no respect for the explorer and her quest?" But then Addie distracts her, and the game is on. 

    I love the green jungle palette of Zoe's Jungle, and the images of kids climbing trees and riding wild beasts, as well as the images of kids just playing in a playground. Mostly I love that Zoe's Jungle is a celebration of imaginative play, as well as a celebration of sibling bonds. Recommended, and sure to become a Baby Bookworm favorite!

    Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (@Scholastic
    Publication Date: May 27, 2014
    Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

    FTC Required Disclosure:

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

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

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    24. Class: Working With Healing Dreams and Intuition in the Tradition of Edgar Cayce

    Father of Holistic Medicine

    Edgar Cayce circa 1910

    Edgar Cayce is considered by many to be the father of holistic medicine. This course will explore how Edgar Cayce intuitively diagnosed and healed, viewed dreams and intuition and show how his tradition continues today in the methods developed by the Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies.

    Sponsored by the Osher Life Lifelong Learning Institute, Univ. of Hawaii
    Instructor:  Fran Kramer, Intuitive Heart™ Trainer, certified by the Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies. (2011)

    Dates: June 12, 19 and 26, 2014
    Time: 10:30 AM to Noon
    Place: Honolulu, Hawaii.  For specifics, inquire on registration.

    To register call:

    Rebecca Goodman, Director
    Phone: (808) 956-8224
    Email: rgoodman@Hawaii.edu


    0 Comments on Class: Working With Healing Dreams and Intuition in the Tradition of Edgar Cayce as of 4/24/2014 5:23:00 PM
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    25. #549 – What’s in Your Purse? by Abigail Samoun & Nathalie Dion

    whats in your purse 4 cover.

    What’s in Your Purse?

    by Abigail Samoun & Nathalie Dion

    Chronicle Books     3/25/2014

    978-1-4521-1701-0

    Age   3+       12 pages

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    “From compacts to wallets, passports to planners, cell phones to sunglasses—mommy, grandma, auntie, and sister’s pocketbooks have to carry it all. Lift-the-flaps and peek inside to find the tote-ally terrific treasures each fashionable purses holds! Featuring a snap closure and a take-it-anywhere handle, this interactive book collects five purses in one and allows young readers to lift more than 15 flaps—it’s the perfect accessory for budding fashionistas!”

    Review

    The first thing I want to say about today’s selection is this: please get your “Aw’s” out now. This adorable book will make your young child fall in love with books. Inside this carry-able book are five purses with the accessories one might find in mom or grandma’s purse. A snap holds the pages tightly in the shape of a purse that your child can carry. The pages are thick, the plastic snap is snug, and the pages will help your child’s imagination take off.

    What’s in Your Purse? opens to that very question. Turn the page and the next question is, “Mommy, what’s in your purse?” Mommy’s yellowish-orange purse has a green zipper and a snap just like the one holding the book closed. Flip up the flap and you will see everything mommy carries in her purse, along with three questions for your child to read and answer. Don’t forget to look inside her Mylar compact—at yourself.

    “Where does Mommy work?”

    Mommy’s employee I. D. says she works at Fashionable Purse.

    “What colors are Mommy’s eyes?

    Mommy’s drivers license says her eyes are brown.

    “What does Mommy have to do on Wednesday?”

     Mommy’s datebook says she is buying pink laces.

    Next, let’s ask Grandma what’s in her yellow billowy purse. This purse is closed with a clasp. Turn it and look inside. She has a picture album, a wallet, and a glasses case, all of which flip up for further investigations. Just three of the fifteen total flaps. Again, there are questions to answer that require a good search through Grandma’s purse. Check out the diary in your sister’s purse—hurry, don’t let her catch you!

    There is one last purse and it belongs to your child. Will the contents of her purse surprise your child? Does she have a real purse to compare to this book purse?

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    When I first saw this, I know my eyes got very wide with excitement. How cool is this book/purse? Little girls will love carrying this around and showing others what is in each purse. The purse is a large eight inches long and tall. A convenient handle is smooth and inviting. Girls will want this book. Buy this and try, as hard as you can, to keep it hidden until Christmas or some other important day. What’s in Your Purse will definitely put a smile on the girl who opens up its purses and flaps.

    I think I could blubber on about this all day. The sturdily made purse-shaped book has a well-constructed plastic snap and the flaps that won’t tear without force. Even with these fine qualities, What’s in Your Purse is still a book, not a toy, and should be treated as such. When done reading or carrying, the book sits on a shelf like any other book. Girls will love this; parents will love giving this to their daughter. I only hope that the author designs a toolbox for boys and a lunch box for boys and girls. Until then, enjoy What’s in Your Purse? This is one more surprise from the wonderful line of books from Chronicle Books and its imprints.

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    WHAT’S IN YOUR PURSE? Text and design copyright © 2014 by Abigail Samoun. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Nathalie Dion. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

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    Want to learn more about What’s in Your Purse? Check out: THE MAKING OF WHAT’S IN YOUR PURSE?

    Buy a young girl in your life What’s in Your Purse? at AmazonB&NBookDepositoryChronicle Booksyour local bookstore.

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    Meet the author, Abigail Samoun, at her agency website:   http://redfoxliterary.com/aboutus.html

    Meet the illustrator, Nathalie Dion, at Behance: http://www.behance.net/madamedion4723

    Find books at the publisher, Chronicle Books, website:    http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

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    Also by Abigail Samoun

    How Hippo Says Hello! (Little Traveler Series)

    How Hippo Says Hello! (Little Traveler Series)

    How Gator Says Good-bye! (Little Traveler Series)

    How Gator Says Good-bye! (Little Traveler Series.

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    Also by Nathalie Dion

    Urban Babies Wear Black

    Urban Babies Wear Black

     

    Artsy Babies Wear Paint (

    Artsy Babies Wear Paint (

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    Chronicle Books Imprints

    A Good Home for Max

    A Good Home for Max

     

    Telephone

    Telephone

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    what in your purse


    Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book Tagged: Abigail Samoun, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, imagination, Nathalie Dion, novelty book, purses, yougn girls books

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