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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: imagination, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 128
1. 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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2. 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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3. #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

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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.

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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.

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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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4. #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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5. 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

  

0 Comments on Other people's lives - Lily Hyde as of 8/27/2014 8:35:00 AM
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6. #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

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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7. 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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8. 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!

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9. 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…
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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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10. 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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11. 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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12. #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

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Learn more about Magical Animals HERE.

Buy Magical Animals at AmazonLaredo Publishingyour local bookstore.

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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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13. #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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14. 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


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15. 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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16. Picture Book Roundup - Wordless edition

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

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




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



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17. 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.


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18. #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

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“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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19. Summers Bounty

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What a wonderful summer day! I spent the afternoon napping and reading a book. The clouds darkened the skies and a gentle rain ensued for the good part of about 6 minutes! I do love summer days and WEEKENDS!

Deadlines for art submissions have passed and there has come this summer season of looking for new ideas. Crunch time gives way to the relaxed season in which i can play with the wonders of my imagination.

How do I get ideas? I plow through magazines, books, stores, websites, looking for something to inspire. Color combinations, trends, shapes, textures charge me up! I am always careful NOT to steal ideas. But one idea may spawn a new one in my mind.

As far as writing ideas? They most often come to me on my walks. I have to be sure to bring paper and pen.

And so I thank you summer months! For your green leaves, spectacular flowers, fruits and veggies in the garden and warm moon lite nights. Summer bounty spills into my studio! I love it!


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20. BLOOM

http://kellyraeroberts.com/flying-lessons

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Artists live a life of wonder. At times, it’s wondering what to do next. I will not lie, I have been wondering this for the last few months. I am looking for the sweet spot! It’s my favorite place to be in Art. It’s the place where you are working and you don’t want to stop. I think it’s a divine place where God kisses your life with ideas that flow out in a steady stream.

A lot of things can bar you from this place. Looking in the wrong direction, self doubt, self pity, self self self. Ha! Get the point? You have to get rid of the”self” part. If the sweet spot is divine, then you have to seek out the divine.

A few nights ago I had a dream. My dad was in the dream. Someone had driven him to my house. He slowly came up the steps to my house and said to me, ” Bloom“. In a small whisper he said, “bloom where you are planted”.
Then he was gone.
I woke up knowing the “divine” had spoken to me.
No grinding out ideas, just let the divine IN me out… to make the art I was born to make.

A flower does not worry about the bloom. All the coding for that bloom is IN the seed. It simply drinks up moisture from above and the roots go down and the bloom comes.

So… BLOOM today! You were meant to be like none other.


Filed under: dream, God STuff, Inspiring, Kicking Around Thoughts, Reflections

6 Comments on BLOOM, last added: 7/17/2013
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21. I’ve gone dotty……

Freedman-Dot-2013

September 15 is International Dot Day, when over 1 million teachers and students, inspired by Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot, plan to celebrate “teaching and learning with creativity”. This is my mark — see others by some of your favorite authors and illustrators here, at “Celebri-dots“.

Suggested Reading, Picture Books About Art and Imagination: Flyaway Katie by Polly Dunbar, The Paper Princess by Elisa Kleven, I Want to Paint My Bathroom Blue by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak, Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty, How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird by Jacques Prevert and Mordicai Gerstein.

And More Picturebooks about Art and Imagination.


Filed under: Random, Reading Suggestions Tagged: children's books, creativity, imagination

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22. Three cheers for Rosie Revere!

The last couple of weeks on the blog have really reminded me how books can take you everywhere and anywhere. From “pink” books, to the Holocaust, to environmental campaigning, I do love the journey my blog takes me on.

rosiefrontcoverToday’s roving brings us to contemplate engineering and what constitutes failure, with Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts, a follow up to this same team’s ingenious Iggy Peck, Architect.

Rosie dreams of being an engineer. She loves collecting rubbish and creating contraptions. But people laugh at her creations and her emerging confidence is soon crushed. When Great Great Aunt Rose tells young Rosie how she built aeroplanes during the war, Rosie is once again inspired. But will Rosie’s engineering work this time? What if her plans fail?

An upbeat rhyming tale about the value of trying and trying again, Rosie Revere, Engineer encourages readers to hold on to their passions, and to never give up, even if things don’t work out the first time. Great for encouraging a can-do approach to whatever life throws at you, Rosie’s tale also leads naturally into discussions about women’s roles during the Second World War, and women who have broken the mould in various fields, notably that of flight.

463px-We_Can_Do_It!Rosie is creative, thoughtful, passionate, full of a sense of fun, and with more than a nod to Rosie the Riveter, not least with her matching headscarf, and the slogan “We Can Do It” on her flying machine.

Roberts’ illustrations are a scrapheap challenge (junkyard ward) junkie’s dream come true. Littered with curious details to pore over (can you spot a Wild Thing, or follow the unwritten story of the baby bird?) the colours are bright and pen drawings clear. Often on expanses of white, Roberts’ work is vibrant, crisp and fresh, perfectly matching the confident and purposeful message at the heart of the book.

readingrosie

There is a decidedly American flavour to the text (some rhymes, I assume, work better with certain US accents than my UK one, and cheese spray may seem rather mind boggling to many on this side of the pond) so a little contextualisation might be handy, but my young engineers didn’t bat an eyelid at this. They were simply delighted by this Rosie and her take on life. Spunky, funky and full of fun and inspiration, three cheers for Rosie Revere!

To go alongside reading Rosie Revere, Engineer I set up a little after-school structural engineering project involving essential tools of the trade: tooth picks and sweets.

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The aim of the game was to see what we could build and how we could build it using just these two materials, plus some imagination, and a little bit of concentration…

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Space rockets and climbing frames soon rose from the kitchen table.

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A spider’s web of construction emerged, with lots of experimental investigation as to what made our feats of engineering stand strong.

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We also got to explore the roles of different materials, as we quickly discovered that most dolly mixtures aren’t very good for this type of project, whilst mini wine gums and gum drops are excellent. (If you want to go for just one, the wine gums are a better bet as they are less messy; the gum drops litter the kitchen table with sugar sprinkles, and also make fingers stickier).

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We all thoroughly enjoyed this engineering project, and M is very keen to try it again soon to model chemical compound structure (her idea!); different sweets for different elements? Definitely sounds fun to me.

Whilst designing, engineering and building we listened to some brilliant music:

  • I’m Gonna be an Engineer, written by Peggy Seeger, performed in this video by her half brother, Pete Seeger. Full lyrics (which are just fabulous) here.
  • Rosie The Riveter by The Four Vagabonds
  • Dave Rawlings Machine’s The Monkey and The Engineer

  • Other activities which would be great fun to get up to alongside reading Rosie Revere, Engineer include:

  • Junk Modelling! Indeed, Rosie Revere, Engineer cries out for you to rifle the recycling bin and get sticking and gluing and making. Here’s how we like to junk model!
  • Watching this classic car advert showing the domino effect, and invite the kids to try to set up something similar.
  • Tipping the lego all over the floor and seeing what you can build together. This lego website has lots of ideas, but we prefer to have this book open nearby.

  • Don’t miss the teacher’s guide to Rosie Revere either.

    What are you going to engineer today?

    Disclosure: I recieved a free reivew copy of Rosie Revere, Engineer from the publishers.

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    3 Comments on Three cheers for Rosie Revere!, last added: 9/18/2013
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    23. Luke 11: The Lord’s Prayer as a Chakra Visualization Meditation

    Jesus Teaches Prayer

    The Sermon on the Mount –
    Carl Heinrich Bloch

    Luke 11 begins with the Lord’s Prayer.  Edgar Cayce, Dana Williams and Philip St. Romain, among others, have commented on the correlation of the seven chakras of Hinduism to phrases in the Lord’s Prayer.  Here is my version of an extended Lord’s Prayer which makes a reasonable correlation to the seven chakras, perhaps in a different way suggested by others.  The words in bold are either the original words to the Lord’s Prayer as it is often said in Christian communities or a close proximity with more added to show a correlation to a chakra.  The words in italics suggest the chakra indicated with the suggested correlation in bold following.

    Our Father Who Art In Heaven, help us to see that the greatest service we can give to others is to continually transform ourselves into clearer images made in your likeness.  When we feel the emptiness inside, it is so tempting to seek without for the wealth, power, and recognition needed to help us feel more assured in our service to others.  Instead, help us to see ourselves as we truly are: beings of light and energy already complete with our own God-given power, creativity and blessings which only need to be lit up brightly by Your love—and appreciated by ourselves.

    (7th Chakra: Center for Spiritual Purpose)
    In hallowing and making holy Your name we allow the fullness of Your grace to flood into us from Your home above into the top of our heads, making space for

    (6th Chakra: Center for Spiritual Vision)
    Thy kingdom to come inside our minds, and then…

    (5th Chakra: Center for Decision Making and Communication)
    Delightfully invade our throats so that we can commit to and make the most courageous proclamation possible: Thy Will Be Done, which is only to make us ever more like the impossibly loving, powerful and wise You.

    (4th Chakra: Center for Joining the Energies Above and Below to Heal and Relate)
    At this point You have gone further into us, invading our hearts like an insistent lover, truly commingling the divine with the human so we can truly say, “On earth as it is in heaven!

    (3rd Chakra: Center for Managing Power and Structure)
    But because we need earthly bread and other good things as well as heavenly bread, we can now ask freely and confidently of you, “Give us our daily bread” to fill the aching stomach and other earthly wants and needs.  As a lover, it is Your joy to grant our wishes.

    (2nd Chakra: Center for Creativity within Boundaries)
    Still your loving does not stop.   It reaches further into our most creative places where we give life and make love prosper in our relationships.  Here, the loving comes easy, but the temptation to trespass on others’ boundaries is great and the experience of being trespassed and betrayed is all too frequent, making us need to ask for the grace of forgiveness for ourselves and others.

    (1st Chakra: Center for Security and Survival)
    By now, You have thoroughly penetrated our innermost recesses even to the very bottom of our spines where Your loving presence seeks to cast out any remnant of temptation so that you may deliver us from all evil, and let us know the most blessed peace and well-being.

    Now that You are so thoroughly within us, we are ablaze with light.  Let us shine our light on each other and the world in our work and in our relationships with others.   Let us send light and loving energy to all who are sick, lonely, and hurt by war.  For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever amen.


    0 Comments on Luke 11: The Lord’s Prayer as a Chakra Visualization Meditation as of 3/5/2014 2:54:00 PM
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    24. The Treasure of Snake Island: A Captain No Beard Story | Dedicated Review

    In Carole P. Roman’s fifth installment of her award-winning Captain No Beard series, The Treasure of Snake Island, the crew of the Flying Dragon discovers the power of reading.

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    25. 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.

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    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.

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    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).

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

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    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:

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

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    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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