Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Periwinkle's Journey by Judy Peterson-Fleming

Periwinkle's Journey 
by Judy Peterson-Fleming
Illustrated by Suzy Spaffard
Published August 2016
Blue Sneaker Press
48 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
It's spring in Australia when Periwinkle, a little blue penguin, begins her journey to Antarctica where she'll meet all of her penguin cousins. Along the way she learns a lot about her world and herself. The smallest penguin of all, Periwinkle is not only shorter than her cousins, but she is also blue and -most importantly- different from the rest. Hesitant at first, Periwinkle learns during her journey to be brave and realizes that it's not how you look on the outside, but it's what's inside that matters.

My Thoughts
I grew up seeing the adorable animals of Suzy's Zoo so I was thrilled to see a picture book illustrated by Suzy Spafford! 
This book chronicles Periwinkle the Blue Penguin's journey from Australia to Antarctica to meet all of her cousins. Although she is self-conscious because she is the only penguin that is not black and white, she starts out on her long journey. 

Readers will not only enjoy the story of Periwinkle's journey and how she realizes that being different is special, they will learn about penguins along the way. All seventeen penguin species are meeting at the party. Illustrations and diagrams show the different species. Maps in the book show where in the world penguins live including Africa and Australia. The author weaves facts easily within the text. The end pages also contain maps, facts and illustrations of penguin species. 

As expected, Suzy Spafford's illustrations are endearing. Every character is adorable and kids will love them. I would recommend Periwinkle's Journey for grades K-4. 

          Internal art provided by publisher. Perwinkle's Journey 2016

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Monday, August 29, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? August 29, 2016

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.

Click on the covers to learn more about each book.

This story made me want to get some pen pals for my 4th graders!
Grades K-4.

Animals try to create equal teams. Grades K-3.

The little rabbit is afraid of his own shadow until it helps him out. 
Grades K-2.

Having a T-rex at your birthday party might not be as fun as you think. 
See full review here .

What a cute way to show kids how to use the homophones to, too and two. Grades 1-3.

A really neat way to weave scientific info into a graphic novel. 
Grades 3-5.

Review coming soon. 
Grades 3-6.

An amazing full-color, entertaining graphic novel that presents the body systems  

Currently Reading

What are you reading friends?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

If A T.Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party by Jill Esbaum

If A T.Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party 
by Jill Esbaum
Published August 2016
Sterling Children's Books
40 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher.

Goodreads Summary
You never know what will happen when a T. Rex crashes your birthday party. Sure, you'll be super excited when he turns up at your door. But then he’ll stomp. He’ll ROAR. He’ll look at you as if he’s wondering how you taste with a little mustard. In the end, though, you just may find yourself asking him to come back next year! This delightfully whimsical picture book has a fun twist kids will love.

My Thoughts
Oh what could happen if a T.Rex came to your party? Well a lot of mess and a lot of fun! This moody T.Rex stomps his way into your heart as he tries to have fun a a birthday party. With a fun, slightly sarcastic tone, Jill Esbaum makes the reader root for the T. Rex. Unfortunately, his size, his nails and his pesky, little arms add up to equal disaster as he makes a big mess while trying to play with the kids. 

I can see discussions around what animal kids would want at their parties or a debate to decide if the T.Rex should come next year happening in classrooms after reading this book. 
The illustrations are colorful, mostly primary colors against a bright white background. 
I would highly recommend this book for kids preschool-grade 2.

Possible Companions

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hey, Coach by Linda Ashman

Hey, Coach 
by Linda Ashman
Illustrated by Kim Smith
Published August 2016 
Sterling Children's Books
32 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
GOAL! This sprightly rhyming picture book captures all the fun and energy of very young children having a blast on the soccer field. Over the course of their first season, the players progress from unsure newcomers to enthusiastic good sports who love the game—and even score! The humor and the real-kid voices will have readers rooting for this spirited and determined team.

My Thoughts
Youth soccer is VERY big in my town. Children starting at age 4 to middle school can play. There is a huge bank of fields dedicated to soccer where flocks of parents and relatives gather to watch their little ones play. This book brought that whole experience back for me. My daughter played soccer for many years. This book depicts coaching youth soccer so perfectly. The kids run every which way, they all want the ball and they all have ailments and boo boos. The coach is encouraging and patient and the parents watch the chaos from the sidelines in any kind of weather. 
Then, something miraculous happens near the end of the season-the children start to play as a team (sort of). They all improve in some way and look forward to the next year. 
The story is told with simple rhyming text scattered about the pages in a variety of colors and sizes. The culturally diverse characters are adorable, each with a unique look. I like how common worries are presented such as uniform issues, falling down or not knowing how to play, creating an opportunity for discussion. 
I can also see this book used in the classroom as a metaphor for teamwork and personal goals. 

I would recommend Hey, Coach! for Preschool-grade 2. 
It would also make a fabulous gift for any youth coach!

See what others have to say about this book:

Monday, August 22, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading-August 21, 2016

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.

I know that last week was probably the last week for a long time that I will be able to read so much. School is starting soon and, although I am excited, I will miss my reading time. 
 Click on the book covers to learn more about them. 

Not your average counting book. Gorgeous illustrations that look like black and white photographs. Grades K-4.

Cure story about imaginary friends. Grades K-2.

Sort of about Shabbat, but really about togetherness and friendship! Grades 2-4

Based on a true story. Grades 1-4

A longer picture book folktale by the author of Grandfather Gandhi. Grades 2-5.

 A new book in the Mercy Watson Series.

Nonfiction Picture Books
Interesting biography of Harriet Powers who told stories through quilting. One of her quilts hangs in the Smithsonian. Grades 2-5.

You have seen this woman's photographs for sure, but you never knew who she was. Grades 2-5.

I was inspired and angered by this story of Vivien Thomas. He created a method for the first successful open heart surgery for children, but was not given credit for his discovery until much later because of his skin color. 
Grades 3-6. 

A story about the little known first subway in New York. I liked the story, but I am not a fan of this kind of illustration. 
Grades 3-6.

Really loved this story. 
For upper high school and adults.

Enjoyed the second in this series. 
Upper middle grades.

 This book will make anyone a better writing teacher! 

An excellent resource on helping teachers make 
the reading/writing relationship connection.

Currently Reading

What are you reading friends?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Little One by Jo Weaver

Little One 
by Jo Weaver
Published March, 2016
Peachtree Publishers
32 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Spring is here and new life is stirring. There is so much for Big Bear to teach her new cub as they step out into the forest. Together they eat, swim, fish, and play as one season becomes the next. With Big Bears help, Little One grows more and more confident, until winter comes once more and its time to head home. With gentle text and stunning black and white illustrations, Jo Weaver reveals the wonder of nature, the first steps of independence, and the strength of parental love.

My Thoughts
As I first looked at Little One, I was struck by the cover illustration. The simplicity of the black and white illustration with the little bear looking up at mother bear is just too sweet. I was left with a feeling of calm and peace as I watched Big Bear teach Little bear how to fish, find berries, and explore. The story ends when it is time to rest for the winter in the den where the story began. 
The large, soft illustrations work very well with the simplistic text to convey this story of devotion and love. 
         Image from Peachtree Publishers.

I would read this story with children in preschool-grade 2. It would also make a nice text to share to discuss animal behaviors such as hibernation. 

Pair with: 

See what others have to say about this book:
Publishers Weekly-Starred review
Kirkus-Starred review

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Peekaboo Pals by Becky Davies

Toddlers and preschoolers are a unique group of readers. They love books and listening to stories. They are also quite hard on paper books as they have not figured out how to gently turn the pages. I remember when my children were toddlers. Many of our beloved picture books at home have rips that are taped together. 

I'd like to share three concept books in a new series for toddlers that has books that have thick covers like board books and sturdy pages that are thinner than board book pages, but can better withstand a toddler's repeated handling. They also help teach concepts that toddlers and preschoolers are ready for in a fun and interactive way.

Peekaboo Pals A to ZPeekaboo Pals 123 and Peekaboo Pals Opposites

Goodreads Summary
In Peekaboo Pals: A to Z, children will lift the flaps and be amused by the silly antics of the animals while learning their ABC’s. From an alligator admiring some art to a zebra catching some z’s, each letter of the alphabet is presented in an accessible way so that kids ages 3 and up will not only learn but also laugh as they turn the pages.
Goodreads Summary
It’s time for the Animal Antics Race! Who will be the first to the finish line? In Peekaboo Pals: 123, children will lift the flaps and be amused by the hilarious antics of the animals as they make their way to the checkered flag. Will the winner be three gorillas in a gondola, twelve bears on a bus, twenty turtles on a train, or another team vying for victory? Young learners will delight in the silly animals on these pages and learn how to count from 1 to 100.

Goodreads Summary

Who is flying high one moment, only to come down low the next? Who is quiet with anticipation of a loud celebration? InPeekaboo Pals: Opposites, children will lift the flaps and be delighted by the amusing antics of the illustrated animals while learning about opposites. Colorful illustrations and flaps with hidden surprises underneath will keep youngsters engaged as they learn.

My Thoughts
I wish I'd had these books when my kids were younger. Kids LOVE lift-the-flap books! Each book in this series offers big, colorful illustrations and at least one sturdy flap on each page. They are bigger than board books (8.5 x 9 inches), but not quite as big as most picture books. Little ones will enjoy learning the alphabet, counting to 20 (and the by 10's to 100) and opposites as they interact with these fun books. 

See what others have to say about these books:
Publishers Weekly
Cracking the Cover

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-14 Cows For America by Carmen Agra Deedy

 My Friend Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts weekly link up to share Nonfiction Picture Books. Please visit her amazing website.

There have been several new middle grade and YA books coming out recently so I thought I would share a not quite new picture book that shows another side of the 9-11 tragedy. 

by Carmen Agra Deedy
Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
Published 2009
Peachtree Publishers
32 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher.

Goodreads Summary
In June of 2002, a ceremony begins in a village in western Kenya. Hundreds of Maasai surround an American diplomat to bestow a gift on the American people. The gift is as unsought and unexpected as it is extraordinary. A mere nine months have passed since the September 11 attacks, and hearts are raw. Tears flow freely as these legendary warriors offer their gift to a grieving people half a world away. Word of the gift will travel news wires around the globe. Many will be profoundly touched, but for Americans, this selfless gesture will have deeper meaning still. For a heartsick nation, the gift of fourteen cows emerges from the choking dust and darkness as a soft light of hopeand friendship. Master storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy hits all the right notes in this story of generosity that crosses boundaries, nations, and cultures. An afterword by Wilson Kimeli Naiyomahthe Maasai warrior at the center of the storyprovides additional information about his tribe and their generousity. Thomas Gonzalezs stunning paintings are saturated with rich hues of oranges and browns and blues and greens, which capture the nobility of the Maasai people and the distinctive landscape of the African plain.

My Thoughts
I think I need a moment. This book is so moving, beautiful and powerful. I don't know how I missed it when it came out. The author shows how important and sacred cows are to the Maasai tribe early in the story. 
"They sing to them. They give them names. They shelter the young ones in their homes. Without the herd, the tribe might starve. To the Maasai, the cow is life."

The illustrations are so big and colorful, you feel as though you are there listening to the story and talking to the elders. They decide to give 14 cows to America "Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded." 
This is not a story of tragedy, but one of profound kindness and compassion. I would read it with children in grades 3+. 

Watch the book trailer:

Here is a list of YA and middle grade books about 9-11.
Here are a few for younger children. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Trainbots by Miranda Paul

by Miranda Paul
Illustrated by Shane McG
Published June 2016
Little Bee Books
32 Pages
F&G Provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
The Trainbots are drawing, sawing, and building to get Toybots ready for kids to play with. But it looks as if the Badbots are sneaking and scheming to sabotage the delivery! Luckily, the Trainbots use their engineering skills to outsmart the Badbots in this rhyming battle of good versus evil.

My Thoughts
Robots and trains together? I can't think of anything kids would like more! This story is very cute and kids are going to love it. The trainbots are adorable, colorful and friendly-looking. The badbots are the villians, but even they are not too scary for little ones. 

With simple, rhyming text and lots of "ing" verbs, Miranda Paul creates the story where the trainbots use their engineering skills to solve the problem of the badbots trying to take over the train. She does not shy away from using terms that might be new for kids. 

Here are a few vocabulary words they will have the opportunity to learn:
clamor, guilding, tender, unassuming, teeming, prevailing, platform, hitch, hopper, flats, engineering

The ending is interesting and shows young readers how they might use their imaginations when they play. 
I would recommend Trainbots for grades Pre-K-2.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? August 15, 2016

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.

Click on the book covers to learn more about them. 

Picture Books
Sweet picture book about a mother and cub learning together.
Grades K-2.

A gorgeous book with parallel close 
up and panoramic illustrations. 
Grades K-3. 

Interesting story of exploring and coming home again. 
Grades K-3. 

Cute story of a father and son looking at the stars, sky and lots along the way. 
Grades K-3. 

A story about anticipation and magic. 
Grades K-4. 

See my review and enter to win a copy of this book here. Giveaway through August 16.

This community has made musical instruments 
from recycled trash and changed the lives of its children. 
Grades 2-5

 Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this one as much as A Tangle of Knots

Currently Reading

And still working on...

What are you reading friends?