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1. A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, by Amy Lee-Tai and Felicia Hoshino (ages 5-10)

It is crucial we find age-appropriate ways to share about the terrible persecution of Japanese Americans during World War II in the United States. And yet, how do you introduce this topic to children, especially kids in elementary school? A Place Where Sunflowers Grow is a wonderful picture book by Amy Lee Tai, whose grandmother was sent to the Topaz internment camp during the war.


A Place Where Sunflowers Grow
by Amy Lee-Tai
illustrated by Felicia Hoshino
Japanese translation by Marc Akio Lee
Children’s Book Press, 2006
Your local library
Amazon
ages 5-10
Drawing upon her grandmother's story of internment at Topaz during World War II, Amy Lei-Tai finds a small piece of sunshine in young Mari’s story. Like thousands of other innocent American citizens, Mari and her family have been forced to leave their home simply because of their Japanese heritage. Mari loves art, but it's so difficult to find anything to draw in a place so hot and desolate.

“Flowers don’t grow easily in the desert,” laments young Mari during her first week at Topaz.
“It will take time, patience, and care,” her mother replies.
Eventually, with the encouragement of her family and her teacher Mrs. Hanamoto, Mari finds comfort in her weekly art class as she paints pictures that remind her of home.

I was really struck by how Lee-Tai’s delicate story brings this difficult time to a young audience. The story is written in both English and Japanese, and the lovely audiobook is also produced with both languages narrated a page at a time.

Pair this picture book with novels for middle grade students, giving them a way into the story. Picture books can introduce the setting and historical time, providing a visual grounding for students. Here are a few other books on the experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II that I recommend for elementary students:
The review came from our local public library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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2. A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham

A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham reminds me of a cheerier, more colorful version of Candace Fleming's wonderful Clever Jack Takes the Cake, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. In both Fleming and Pham's books a friend bakes a birthday cake for another friend and, in the process of delivering the cake things go awry. With a flock of crows, an ogre and a princess, Fleming's book has a definitely has

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3. Can Non-Artists Write Picture Books?

Picture Book Writing Tip

Wanting to write picture books, but you  can't even draw a straight line? Don't despair. This video writing tip tells why.


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4. Read about female pilots on National Aviation Day

Today, August 19th, the U.S. is celebrating National Aviation Day. This day was first established by a presidential proclamation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939 to celebrate advances in aviation. The date was chosen to coincide with Orville Wright’s birthday to recognize his contribution, together with his brother Wilbur, to the field of aviation — but it is a holiday meant to recognize all aviators who have advanced the field through their efforts. While the Wright brothers, Charles Lindbergh, and Amelia Earhart come to mind as the premier pioneering pilots, there are many unsung aviators. The books below highlight the stories of some of the most famous early female aviators and are the perfect way to celebrate National Aviation Day!

Burleigh NightFlight 300x300 Read about female pilots on National Aviation DayNight Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh with illustrations by Wendell Minor (K-3)
This book tells the story of Amelia Earhart’s historic crossing of the Atlantic on May 20, 1932, which made her the first woman to complete a solo flight across that ocean. The flight was a dramatic one, including both mechanical difficulties and fierce weather and both the prose and the paintings of this book capture the tension of the flight and the elation when Earhart touches down in Ireland. The book also includes a brief biography of Earhart, a list of additional sources on the subject and a fascinating collection of quotations from Earhart’s speeches and publications.

Moss SkyHigh 300x272 Read about female pilots on National Aviation DaySky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee by Marissa Moss with illustrations by Carl Angel (K-3)
Maggie Gee knew from a young age that she wanted to fly planes. It was a dream that stayed with her throughout her childhood and when World War II started, she leapt at the chance to serve her country by flying for the Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASPs. Despite stiff competition for a limited number of spots amongst the WASPs, Maggie succeeded, becoming one of only two Chinese American pilots in the organization. This book traces her path from her childhood dreams to her work as a WASP. An author’s note at the end fills in more details about her life after World War II and includes pictures of Maggie and her family throughout the time covered in the book.

Cummins FlyingSolo300x294 Read about female pilots on National Aviation DayFlying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared Into America’s Heart by Julie Cummins with illustrations by Malene R. Laugesen (K-3)
While many know the story of Amelia Earhart’s flight across the Atlantic, fewer people know that Ruth Elder attempted to become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic years earlier in 1927. Though her attempt was cut short by a malfunction over the ocean, she nevertheless became famous, not only for her attempt but also for her later aviation exploits. This book tells her life story, focusing primarily on her attempt to fly across the Atlantic and her participation in a cross-country air race in 1929. Ruth’s story will excite fans of planes and flying and the illustrations will transport readers back to the 1920’s through their vivid details. The book also includes further sources of information about Ruth’s life as well as a final illustration that highlights a number of other important female aviators.

Borden FlyHigh 238x300 Read about female pilots on National Aviation DayFly High! The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroeger with illustrations by Teresa Flavin (4-6)
This book tells the story of Bessie Coleman, an African American woman who grew up in the south in the late 1800’s with a dream to get an education. When she moved to Chicago in 1915 for a chance at a better life, she discovered aviation and decided to head to France to pursue an opportunity to learn to fly. Once she had her license, Bessie returned to the U.S. where she flew in air shows and gave speeches encouraging others to follow her path. Though the book ends with the tragic tale of her death in a flying accident, the story is sure to inspire those interested in learning to fly.

Tanaka AmeliaEarhart 300x298 Read about female pilots on National Aviation DayAmelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator by Shelley Tanaka with illustrations by David Craig (4-6)
Illustrated with a combination of paintings and photographs from Amelia Earhart’s life, this book is an impressive biography of a woman who is arguably the most famous female aviator in American history. Starting in her childhood and continuing until her disappearance in 1937, it offers a look into Amelia’s entire life, including aspects that are often glossed over in other books, such as her time as a nurse’s aide in Toronto and her work with two early commercial airlines. Both the pictures and the illustrations bring Amelia to life for readers and a list of source notes and other resources at the end of the book provide lots of options for further reading.

share save 171 16 Read about female pilots on National Aviation Day

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5. Back to school: easing your kindergarten worries (ages 4-7)

Are you getting nervous about the beginning of the school year? Will your child be able to make the transition to a new school, new teacher, new friends? There's nothing like the nervous excitement of the first day of school. Some kids are raring to go, while others are tentatively clinging to their parents. Whatever the case, try out these two new favorites to add some humor as you read about the first day of school.

Planet Kindergarten
by Sue Ganz-Schmitt
illustrated by Shane Prigmore
Chronicle, 2014
Your local library
Amazon
ages 4-7
“The countdown started. Dad and I checked the plans for my next big mission… I am ready to explore: Planet Kindergarten!”
Planet Kindergarten, click to enlarge
Starting school is certainly exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking. One imaginative little kid knows it might be just like blasting off into outer space. There are strange routines, new crewmembers, and you might even get a bit homesick.

Bold colors and a retro-style amp up the humor in this fun twist on getting used to a new school. You can definitely tell that Shane Prigmore has an animator's background -- check out his blog to see some of the fun inspiration he used in developing the artwork for this.
Planet Kindergarten, click to enlarge
I just love the way Ganz-Schmitt captures the joyful chaos of kindergarten. Share this with any kindergarten teacher, and she/he will love the line, "Gravity works differently here. We have to try hard to stay in our seats. And our hands go up a lot."
Mom, It's My First Day of Kindergarten!
by Hyewon Yum
Farrar Straus Giroux / Macmillan, 2012
Your local library
Amazon
ages 4-7
In a delightful turning of the tables, a five-year old boy can’t wait to start kindergarten and his mom is anxious about his going to a new school.
“Will you be okay in the big kids’ school? You’re still so little,” she frets.
“Mom, don’t worry. I’ll be fine, I am already five!” he declares as he dashes off to school. 
The boy is full of confidence -- I just love the way that Hyewon Yum shows this visually, with the kindergartner big and bold, and his mom small and blue. Until he peeks inside the classroom door ... and the roles reverse again.

Enjoy this video to get a sense of this delightful story and artwork:


I hope your little ones come home declaring, "Kindergarten is awesome!!!" The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Chronicle Books and Macmillan. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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6. Review of My Teacher Is a Monster! 
(No, I Am Not.)

brown my teacher is a monster Review of My Teacher Is a Monster! 
(No, I Am Not.)My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.)
by Peter Brown; illus. by the author
Primary    Little, Brown    40 pp.
7/14    978-0-316-07029-4    $18.00

From the cover, it is clear that Bobby and his teacher do not agree: “My Teacher Is a MONSTER!” says Bobby in a giant word balloon; Ms. Kirby replies, “No, I Am Not.” It’s true that she is much taller than tiny Bobby, her skin is monstrously green, and she has claws and sharp teeth and giant nostrils. They clash in class when Bobby sends a paper airplane flying, but when later they meet unexpectedly at the park, they begin to see each other differently. In a multi-page sequence of panels, the pair sits awkwardly together on a park bench, and they converse in word bubbles: “Ms. Kirby, it’s REALLY strange seeing you outside of school.” “I agree.” After Bobby catches her blown-off hat for her, they find more things to do together, and gradually in each picture, Ms. Kirby looks decreasingly monstrous as her face becomes less green and animal-like. Bobby isn’t perfect at the end, and Ms. Kirby reverts to a little of her scariness when Bobby disobeys, but child readers will understand the subtle shift in their relationship. Using thick paper and watercolor/gouache/India ink illustrations, Brown uses a cartoon-type format with panels and speech bubbles, varying the pace with full-page art, in a story that students and teachers will enjoy equally.

From the July/August 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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(No, I Am Not.)

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(No, I Am Not.) appeared first on The Horn Book.

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(No, I Am Not.) as of 1/1/1900
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7. My Bus by Byron Barton

My BusOne of my toddler’s favorite books right now is My Bus by Byron Barton. My son has taken quite a liking to Joe, the bus driver, and his dogs. In this story, the reader meets Joe and learns about his job picking up dogs and cats and driving them to their destinations. Joe has a busy day making lots of stops and dropping animals off at the boat, train, and plane. Besides for the bus, little vehicle lovers can see the animals sail, ride and fly away. The simple illustrations and minimal text appeal to the youngest readers. For slightly older readers, it is a nice introduction to addition and subtraction.

Posted by: Liz


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8. Liz’s Picks Video: Summer Reading

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9. Picture Book Monday with a review of Maple

In my family we like to plant trees on special occasions. Sometimes the trees serve as a memorial to someone we love. These trees almost become members of the family, but not quite. In today's picture book you will meet a little girl who has a tree for a friend who really is a member of her family.

MapleMaple
Lori Nichols
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Penguin, 2014, 978-0-399-16085-1
Before she was born, when Maple was “still a whisper,” her parents planted a little maple tree in their garden for her and when she came into the world they named her Maple. As she grew, the little maple tree grew, and when she needed to be noisy, or sing, or pretend to be a tree, Maple went to be with her tree.
   One fall Maple saw that her tree was losing its leaves, so she gave it her jacket so that it would “stay warm.” No matter what else was happening, Maple always knew that she had her tree, and the tree had her.
   Then one spring something changed. A new little tree appeared in the garden and Maple’s mother had another little whisper growing inside her. Not long after, Maple became a big sister and she learned that life rarely stays the same. Change is inevitable and Maple had to figure out how to be a good big sister, which isn’t easy.
   In this heartwarming picture book we meet a little girl who develops a special connection with a tree. This may seem strange, but the tree and the little girl grew up together and shared many grand times. Young readers are sure to enjoy seeing how Maple deals with a very big change in her life. Thankfully, she has a friend who helps her sort out her problems.

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10. It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Head over to Teach Mentor Texts for the It's Monday! What Are You Reading? round up.


Scholastic has a boatload of great new picture books coming out later this month and in September! (ARCs provided by the publisher)


by Lucille Colondro
illustrated by Jared Lee
Scholastic, August 2014

I have a whole collection of "Lady Who Swallowed a..." books, beginning with my very first one from a Scholastic book fair when I was in elementary school. Lucille Colandro has written almost a dozen different versions. This one is okay, but if we're going to go with swallowing a fly, I like the traditional ending!




by Caryn Yacowitz
illustrated by David Slonim
Scholastic, August 2014

This version is hysterical! Not only does the old lady swallow everything you need to celebrate Chanukah, each item gets larger and impossibly larger, dreidel rhymes with fatal, AND...AND the illustrations are parodies of famous/sculptures in art history (details in the back matter)! So. Much. Fun.




by Diane and Christyan Fox
Scholastic, August 2014

Shelve this book with INTERRUPTING CHICKEN. Cat can't get very far with her reading of Little Red Riding Hood before Dog interrupts with some assumptions and questions. First of all, he hears "cape" and goes immediately to super powers. Then, he wonders (reasonably) why the wolf doesn't just eat Little Red right there in the woods. And so on.

Fun stuff from the beginning endpapers to the end endpapers.





Hope for Winter: The True Story of A Remarkable Dolphin Friendship
told by David Yates, Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, and Isabella Hatkoff
Scholastic, August 2014

Another great addition to this series (Owen & Mzee, Knut, Looking for Miza, Leo the Snow Leopard, Winter's Tail) about a rescued orphan dolphin who becomes a friend for Winter, the dolphin with a prosthetic tail.




And due out in late September, one I REALLY can't wait to add to my class library:


by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm
illustrated by Molly Bang,
Scholastic, September 2014

Next up in the Sunlight Series, we learn how fossil fuels were made and exactly how the burning of fossil fuels is releasing carbon chains that have been stored for millions of year into our atmosphere and changing the climate of our planet. Narrated by the sun, this book (the whole series, actually) is a must-read for any student (or adult) who needs to understand energy and the role of our Sun in...well, everything!


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11. The Bambino and Me, by Zachary Hyman | Book Review

The inspiration, passion, and illustrations make The Bambino and Me a wonderful, well rounded, addition to any reader’s roster.

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12. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #393: Featuring Christopher Weyant



 

Over at BookPage, I’ve written a review of Anna Kang’s You Are (Not) Small (Two Lions, August 2014), illustrated by her husband, Christopher Weyant. So, I’m sending you over there today to read about it, but I’ve got a bit art here at 7-Imp today to go with it.

The review is here.

Enjoy the art …





 



 

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL. Text copyright © 2014 by Anna Kang. Illustrations © 2014 by Christopher Weyant. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Two Lions, New York.

 

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I got to Skype in yesterday to The Book Beat’s special book launch (in Oak Park, Michigan) for the late Peter D. Sieruta, one of my co-authors on Wild Things. Here’s a photo, courtesy of Rhonda Gowler Greene on Twitter, of Betsy (who was there) talking to Video Me at the launch:

 



 

2) Snowpiercer! WHOA. It is very good.

3) The Giver wasn’t half-bad either. It was interesting to see so soon after having read it to my girls.

4) Speaking of, my girls and I are reading some good novels again. (We had a dry spell for a while there.)

5) I love this idea, this book, and this smart, smart teacher.

6) Educating my girls in the way of The Beatles.

7) Wild Things got a starred Booklist review (though it’s not published yet). That was so lovely to see.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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13. Two delightful new picture books from Scholastic


I Am Not A Worm! By Scott Tulloch, Scholastic NZ

Children will love this very funny story - having first been attracted by the in-your-face title and the bright, eye-catching cover. “Hello, little worm,” says the sleazy, seemingly casual gecko. “I am not a worm,” replies the caterpillar indignantly. “Are you sure?” asks the gecko. And so the conversation goes, with use of brief speech bubbles in the illustrations. Eventually the harassed caterpillar knits himself a cocoon (this is a fabulous illustration) and hangs on the tree. He emerges as a beautiful butterfly. “Hello, little caterpillar,” says the gecko. “I am not a caterpillar,” retorts the ex-caterpillar. And then ... well, I won’t spoil the story! Young readers will love the ping-pong dialogue - they will possibly guess the end, but that doesn’t matter.

Scott Tulloch’s pencil and watercolour cartoon illustrations are delightful; the variety of picture shapes and perspectives provides interest as well as increasing the tension of the story. It’s perfect to read to a group of pre-schoolers or young primary-aged children, and will also work on a one-to-one basis. Children following the words will want to join in the conversation. Primary teachers should also find the book useful to support classroom work related to the caterpillar/butterfly life cycle. Recommended.

ISBN 978 1 77543 251 7 $19.50 Pb
Punctuation Mark by Belinda Ellis, Scholastic NZ

This is the second book in a series about the joys and quirks of the English language. The first was Back-To-Front Bob. This latest book focuses on punctuation, which Is an altogether more difficult topic that the fun-with- words theme in the first book. I believe this book is more suitable for upper-primary level pupils who can read and write competently and are ready to learn how to write well.

The text whisks us through Mark’s lively adventures with punctuation, accompanied by friendly illustrations of outsize punctuation marks. The first double spread introduces us to an asterisk, an “at”, an “and” (ie. an ampersand), an exclamation mark and a question mark, followed by brackets (also labelled parentheses), a dollar sign, and an ellipsis (ie. dot, dot, dot). Things don’t get any simpler as we move on. The next double spread introduces commas, full stops, semicolons and colons, followed by quotation marks, apostrophes, hyphens and dashes. There are some humorous offerings, such as what’s the difference between, “Let’s eat Grandma!” and “Let’s eat, Grandma!” but a subsequent focus on apostrophes requires four whole pages of explanation from Mark’s teacher. The book will be a useful resource for teachers focusing on improving punctuation - but I see it as more suitable for older primary levels (not age 5 to 10, as Scholastic’s blurb suggests).

A personal comment - as an awards judge I often read adult manuscripts that have bad spelling and punctuation, especially the use of the apostrophe. If only the writers had learned how to handle punctuation correctly when they were 8 or 9. I hope this book gets lots of use in classes. (N.B. Teachers’Notes are available on the Scholastic website).

ISBN 978 1 77543 184 8 $19.50 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman   

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14. Nursery Rhyme Redux

Three years ago, before Fairy Tale Comics, there appeared in the folklore-themed-comicsphere… What I love about this collection is that the illustrators treat the rhymes like little stories, following the original words but interpreting them in different ways.  It’s “not a parody or deconstruction,” says editor Chris Duffy, but they do imagine context and backstory — who’s […]

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15. Back to School Picks: Follow the Line to School

Follow the Line to School by Laura Ljungkvist

In the tradition of series books like “I Spy” and “Where’s Waldo” comes Laura Ljkungkvist’s books, “Follow the Line”.

Born in Sweden, she honed her talents as a freelance illustrator. “The New Yorker”, “Harper’s Bazaar and “House and Garden” were in the mix of her varied clients.

She then segued to author and illustrator of seven children’s books, including four  “Follow the Line” series. Creativity and rule following don’t necessarily go hand in hand, so I had to laugh out loud when I read her dedication:

“To all the teachers who, over the years

tried to make me put down my pencil, stop drawing

and pay attention in class.”

Thank heavens this was not the case, as delving into Ms. Ljunkgvist’s book, “Follow the Line to School” produces a linear, exciting chalk line which, for a child returning or even beginning school, is reassuring, informational and gets them to “put their thinking cap on” using a creative and interesting formula. Following the line is easy, fun and fact-filled.

From the outset, school is described as “exciting” with its introduction to music, reading, math and writing. The typical school day is mapped out with time for lunch, recess and art.

Knowing what something looks like and what will greet you when you get there can definitely be the shot in the arm of confidence a young child facing the big unknown of “SCHOOL” needs. Additionally, it may also have a calming effect on first time parents seeing their children off to school on the big day.

A charming front of a classroom is presented on one page with the class pet, Fred clearly visible at ear level. What kind of animal can he be, the child is asked? Hint: Fred has something in common with an animal referred to as a hare.

Similarly, an alphabet chart is prominent, as it is in most elementary classrooms, and one is asked what letter YOUR name starts with?

Counting elephants amid animals depicted in the science room is fun. I even noticed a penguin proudly displayed on the shelf. I admit it: I missed an elephant in the tusk count. You child will probably breeze through this one – please don’t give me up – math was my last favorite subject!

Children’s perception skills are intertwined with a collection of queries regarding a library scene, art room, mazes and games, cafeteria food, a playground, music room  and finally, before departure for home, the favorite, “Show and Tell”

Her book is inventive, fresh, comfortable and learning oriented with an ability to hold a child’s interest and imagination.

Ms. Ljunkgvist has learned her lessons well as a children’s book author, meaning she hasn’t forgotten what it feels like to BE a child or what appeals to them.

It’s a great read for the child starting, returning or apprehensive about the school experience. Its final pages announce, “It’s so much fun to learn new things tomorrow brings”, with the ever present chalk line leading off into the future in much the same way as the day began. “Follow the Line to School” gives a positive spin of possibilities to a child’s school experiences.  Kids will take to it and fall in love with the class pet, Fred. He’s cute. Hint: He has wiggly ears!

 

 

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16. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Leo & Diane Dillon and Liniers



 

Today over at Kirkus, I write about a new collaboration from J. Patrick Lewis and Gary Kelley, Harlem Hellfighters.

That will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I chatted (here) with Diane Dillon, and I also wrote (here) about Liniers’ What There Is Before There Is Anything There (Groundwood, September 2014).

Today I have art from that book (pictured right), as well as the last book Diane and Leo Dillon did together (pictured above), If Kids Ran the World (Blue Sky Press/Scholastic, August 2014).

Enjoy …


 

Art from What There Is
Before There Is Anything There


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



 

Art from If Kids Ran the World
(without text)


 


“Maybe we’d run the world in a big tree house,
and everybody would be welcome.
We’d take care of the most important things.”

(Click to enlarge)



 


“We know people are hungry, so all over the world, everyone would have enough to eat. The food would taste delicious, and it would make people healthy and strong.
Kids who had extra food would help bring it to people who needed it.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“And that’s why, if kids ran the world,
we’d make it a wonderful place for everyone to live.”

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

WHAT THERE IS BEFORE THERE IS ANYTHING THERE. Text and illustrations copyright © 2006 by Liniers. First published in English in 2014 by Groundwood Books. English translation copyright © 2014 by Elisa Amado. Illustration reproduced by permission of the publisher.

Illustrations from IF KIDS RAN THE WORLD © 2014 by Leo & Diane Dillon. Used with permission from The Blue Sky Press/Scholastic.

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17. Back to School Fun: Silly and Sweet (ages 3-6)

Summer is ending and soon kids will head back to school. Some are excited for new adventures, but many will be sad to see summer over. Help your kids talk about the changes that are coming with two new books that take a silly and sweet look at the new school year. These are both perfect for little kids starting preschool or kindergarten.

Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2014
ages 4-6
Lola is one cute little kitty, ready to pounce, play and explore. When she finds pink glasses, a stylish outfit and a backpack, she decides to join the rest of the kids on the school bus. "Hooray! Lola is going to school!" Lola has fun doing all sorts of activities at school -- writing, reading, painting, singing, and more. "Lola loved it all!" The story might be slight (dare I say fluffy like a kitty?), but it will help bring smiles to any little kid who's anxious about what happens at school. Lola's positive attitude is sure to rub off on them.
Monsters Love School
by Mike Austin
HarperCollins, 2014
Your local library
Amazon
ages 3-6
Mike Austin's monsters bring even more silliness to the scene, while still helping kids who are feeling nervous about starting a new school year. Summer fun is ending and all the little monster head to school. Most are excited to see their friends-- “Oh Yeah! Monster School!!” But one little blue monster is worried: “School?! Gulp.”
Blue is sure that he already knows his “ABGs and 413s and XYDs,” so why does he need to go to school? Sure enough, once Blue gets to school he starts having fun. Just look at how great art class can be:
Austin’s playful monsters are sure to bring laughs, with their bright colors and googly eyes. Check out what Kirkus Reviews had to say about Monsters Love School:
"Austin has masterfully folded some valuable information about the first day of school into his funny tale, but the monsters are the big draw. Not the least bit scary, their simple shapes and accessories and scrawled style will likely have kids reaching for their own 'monster pencils, monster crayons, monster ink and brushes.'"
Looking for more Back to School book ideas? Check out this article in School Library Journal: Backpacks, Lunch Boxes, and Giggles Galore: Back-to-School Adventures, by Joy Fleishhacker.

The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, HarperCollins. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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18. Throwback Thursday: Bea and Mr. Jones

Amy Schwartz's first picture book was published in 1982, way before Take Your Daughter to Work Day was conceived. In this hilarious variation of stories about trading places, Bea, fed up with kindergarten, and her father, worn out from being an advertising executive, swap roles.

With her deadpan humor, Schwartz deftly creates a believable story that depicts each character succeeding in his or her new career. Bea shows herself to be remarkably adept at advertising. Not only does she laugh hardest at the boss's corny jokes, she also saves the Crumbly Crackers account with her jingle. And Mr. Jones equally excels at kindergarten. He's a whiz at the colored lollipop game, rescues the class genius from a magnolia tree at recess, and aces his job as milk and cookie monitor. The detailed black-and-white illustrations add to the book's charm and anchor the fantasy, as when we see Mr. Jones on the floor spelling out "antidisestablishmentarianism" with alphabet blocks.

The ending, though, is what really sets Bea and Mr. Jones apart. In most stories about trading places, the protagonists see why they are ill-suited to their new positions and gratefully return to the status quo. Not Schwartz's duo. Bea lands a promotion and eventually becomes president of toy sales, while Mr. Jones continues to go to kindergarten. As Schwartz succinctly states, "Mr. Jones and Bea had each found their proper niche in the world." May we all be so lucky.

Bea & Mr. Jone
By Amy Schwartz
Bradbury Press, 32 pages
Published: 1982

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19. Backseat A-B-See by Maria van Lieshout

Backseat A-B-See is now available in BOARD BOOK and an absolute MUST for all little travelers! All my kids learned to read their first words from the backseat of a car, which is exactly why I am so excited and pleased with Maria van Lieshout's new book, Backseat A-B-See. van Lieshout does a wonderful job from A to Z, from the images to the layout to the signs she discovered to go with

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20. Nervous Children and Magic Pencils Before Breakfast


“‘No!’ said Joe.”
Spread from Anthony Browne’s What If …?
(Click to enlarge)


 

Over at BookPage, I’ve got a review of Anthony Browne’s What If …?, published by Candlewick this month. This was evidently first published last year but sees its U.S. release this year. That is here, and I’m following up with a bit of art from the book today at 7-Imp.

I’ve also got a spread from Browne’s The Little Bear Book, which was originally published in 1988 but re-released by Candlewick this year.

Enjoy …


 

Art from What If …?



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety and in more detail)


 



 

Art from The Little Bear Book


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



 

* * * * * * *

THE LITTLE BEAR BOOK. Copyright © 1988 by Brun Ltd. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

WHAT IF…?. Copyright © 2013 by AET Browne. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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21. Review of Brave Chicken Little

byrd brave chicken little Review of Brave Chicken LittleBrave Chicken Little
retold by Robert Byrd; 
illus. by the reteller
Preschool, Primary    Viking    40 pp.
8/14    978-0-670-78616-9    $17.99    g

The chick is not just a witless wonder in this expansion of the familiar folktale. Bopped on the head by an acorn, this Chicken Little does rush off to tell the king that “the sky is falling,” joined as usual by other barnyard fowl. However, the numbers are doubled here by the likes of Natty Ratty, Froggy Woggy, and Roly and Poly Moley. Once Foxy Loxy has locked the whole crowd in his cellar, our chick turns clever hero, rallying the other animals to help him escape so he can then free them. Then, realizing his initial misapprehension, he turns the tables: he drops apples on the fox, who runs off with his own foolish warning for the king. Thus Byrd upends both the classic tale’s conventions and its cautionary message; still, his revision works as an underdog-makes-good story, much abetted by his elegantly detailed illustrations. The lively action is undertaken by comical yet delicately limned creatures in fabulous ancien regime attire and a bucolic setting alive with animated trees and multitudes of insects and flora. With Chicken Little learning his lesson, this is an entertaining variant; it’s also one further from the earthy nature of the tale’s animal prototypes, a difference highlighted at the end when Mrs. Chicken Licken (like Peter Rabbit’s mother) tucks her weary and wiser son into his cozy, well-appointed bed.

From the July/August 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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The post Review of Brave Chicken Little appeared first on The Horn Book.

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22. So hard to narrow …



 

I’m guest-blogging over at BookPage today, who asked me about my favorite new illustrators. Needless to say, I loved this challenge.

It’s here.

Thanks to BookPage for having me!

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23. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Birgitta Sif

Yesterday I did a guest blog post at BookPage, talking about my favorite new illustrators. That is, those illustrators who have come to prominence in the past couple of years. I snuck author-illustrator Birgitta Sif onto my list, and today she visits for breakfast.

Here’s what I wrote at BookPage:

“Hailing from Iceland (but currently living in Sweden) is author-illustrator Birgitta Sif. Her debut, Oliver

(2012), is the picture book I’d point to that most accurately gets what it is to be an introvert. And Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance, coming at the end of August, pretty much nails shyness. And Sif executes it all with style and warmth.”

Yep. That. I think she’s one to watch, and below she talks about what else she’s done, beyond Oliver and Frances Dean, as well as what’s next for her. Best of all, she shares some art and sketches.

As for what we’re going to pretend-eat while we pretend to sit across an actual table from one another (though I really super-bad wish I were in Sweden right now), Birgitta says, “I would say a scone with apricot marmalade and a perfectly hot cup of coffee. Or on fancy days, Nutella-filled aebleskiver with strawberries. Mmm. Those are yum. But truth be told, on most mornings I’m lucky to grab a quick piece of toast and and lukewarm coffee. A 2.5-year-old and 6-month-old keep me on my toes from very early in the morning to night.”

Let’s dream big and go for the Nutella-filled aebleskiver with strawberries.

I thank Birgitta for visiting!

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Birgitta: Both. But perhaps illustrator/author, English not being my first language. I’m from Iceland. But I’d say perhaps pictures are my first language.



– From Sue Monroe’s The Magnificent Moon Hare (Egmont Books, 2013)

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Birgitta: Oliver (illustrator/author), Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance (illustrator/author), [Sue Monroe's] The Magnificent Moon Hare (illustrator, chapter book series), Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats (illustrator — forthcoming), Where Our Feet Go (illustrator/author — forthcoming).

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Birgitta: Pencil. It’s my favourite tool. Then digital colouring.

Jules: If you have illustrated for various age ranges (such as, both picture books and early reader books OR, say, picture books and chapter books), can you briefly discuss the differences, if any, in illustrating for one age group to another?

Birgitta: I worked also on a series called The Magnificent Moon Hare, which were chapter books for children. I think in that particular case, when having so much more text and perhaps story, the illustrations play a different role. They are aiding or punctuating the story. Picture books are creating worlds with pictures and text, hand in hand. But there are exceptions to this, of course.


Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Birgitta: Currently, we live just outside of Gothenburg, Sweden. But I am originally from Iceland. We are a bit of a traveling family. We love to adventure and show our little girls the world.



Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Birgitta: I started as a designer for a newspaper in the mountains of a small town named Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Then I interned for Candlewick Press and moved on to work in the children’s book art department in NYC (HarperCollins and Henry Holt and Co.). Finally, I jumped oceans to England to try my heart at a masters degree in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. At our final degree show in London, I was offered an amazing chance to work with Walker Books, UK, and they have been lovely!


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Birgitta: www.birgittasif.com; Instagram: www.instagram.com/birgittasif; Facebook: www.facebook.com/birgittasif.illustration.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


“Oliver felt a bit different.”
(Click to enlarge)


“The next day, as he was playing tennis on his own . . .”
(Click to enlarge)


Sketches and illustrations from Oliver

(Candlewick, 2012)

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Birgitta: I recently did an illustration for a new book Amnesty International is publishing called, What is Freedom? I’m really so honored to be part of such an incredible project. My book Oliver is also endorsed by Amnesty International, which makes working with them again even more amazing.

And currently, I’m also working on a new book with Knopf, Random House, called Where Our Feet Go. It’s really exciting, and I’m thrilled to be working with the great people at Knopf.


From Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats (forthcoming)
(Click to enlarge)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, I’ve got more coffee (a perfectly hot cup), and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with six questions over breakfast. I thank Birgitta again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

Birgitta

: I’m still learning as I go and developing new ways to do things. But I usually start with doodling, and a main idea evolves from that. And when I feel the doodles start to make some sort of sense together, I start adding text. And then I add more doodles to make it all come together — and more text, like layers upon layer, oftentimes erasing or taking out just as often as adding. It’s like one of those sliding puzzles, each piece moving opens up new possibilities, but you hope that after sliding it around and around, a beautiful story will emerge.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


“When no one was around, she would feel the wind and dance …
and hear the singing of the birds and dance and dance and dance.”

(Click to enlarge)



Sketches and final art from
Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance


(Candlewick, August 2014)

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.

Birgitta

: I work in the living room. I have a little corner there where my desk faces out to our yard, filled with trees and birds. Being a mamma to two little girls means that I need to grab moments whenever I can. I often work when they are playing, but I do most of my work at night when they’ve both gone to bed and the quiet fills the house.



3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Birgitta

: Growing up in the U.S. and in Scandinavia, I had a variety of different kinds of books. But I did love reading Roald Dahl — a little bit of mischief in his books. And many of Astrid Lindgren’s books.

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Birgitta: Halldór Laxness, an Icelandic author (I named my second daughter after one of his books, a beautiful story with a strong female character, Salka); Astrid Lindgren; and Bill Peet.


5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Birgitta: Ásgeir Trausti, or anything swing or folk or even a bit of ’50s, although I often have the Icelandic radio on. I love having Icelandic on in the background. It makes me feel less far away from home.

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Birgitta: I taught wood carving to residents at a nursing home in Reykjavík.


(Click to enlarge)

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Birgitta: “Bergmál.” It means “echo” in English, but in Icelandic it translates to “the talking of the mountains.” Icelandic has a lot of beautiful words.

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Birgitta: “No.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Birgitta: Sleep.

Jules: What turns you off?

Birgitta: No sleep.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Birgitta: “Andskotinn.” I don’t curse in English, only occasionally in Icelandic.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Birgitta: My girls’ laughter or the soft sound of their sleep.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Birgitta: Honking of horns.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Birgitta: Toy-maker.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Birgitta: Being a suit.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Birgitta: “You’ve been loved.” Or: “Oh, hi Birgitta! I’m a big fan!”

* * * * * * *

All other artwork and images are used with permission of Birgitta Sif.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

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24. In This Book by Fani Marceau and Joëlle Jolivet

In This Book by Fani Marceau and Joëlle Jolivet, originally published in France (thus the French text in the illustrations, the only I could find) is a boldly illustrated meditation that is short on narrative but strong on images and connections, making this more of a concept book than a story. And, at 64 pages, it is also twice as long as most picture books. "I am in the hair, said the

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25. A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna

A Lion in ParisIn the Children’s area we have a special section of picture books called K-3rd. This section contains books that would be great read alouds for children in Kindergarten through grade 3; especially in a large group like a classroom. Occasionally, we also have picture books that are more suitable for older children due to themes, complex language, or that do not work well as read alouds for a large group. Because there are not many books like this in the picture book collection, we do not have a designated area for them and they are shelved alphabetically with all of the other picture books. These books are often high quality literary works that deserve attention, but do not always find an audience because most people only look for picture books for young children. We recently acquired a book like this called A Lion in Paris that I hope does not get overlooked. This oversized picture book that reads vertically like a calendar rather than horizontally tells the story of a lion who is bored with life in the grasslands so he sets off to find “a job, love, and a future” in Paris. Through short sentences and expressive mixed media illustrations, Alemagna manages to paint a picture of a very despondent lion, a beautiful, yet aloof city and how to find your place in the world wherever you may be. The lion visits several famous Parisian landmarks including the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa smile at him, Monmontre where he helps an older woman down the many steps and the River Seine to look at his reflection. The lion goes from being stranger in Paris to loving the city so much that he decides to stay there permanently and becomes the famous lion statue at the Place Denfer-Rochereau. This book would be perfect to share with a child interested in Paris or planning a trip there, a child struggling to fit in, or anyone looking for something a little different in terms of format or storyline.

Posted by: Kelly


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