Friday, June 30, 2017

Two New Picture Books by Linda Ragsdale

How I Did It!
by Linda Ragsdale
Illustrated by Anoosha Syed
Published April 2017
Flower Pot Press
32 pages
Picture Book
Review Copy Provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
This encouraging tale about a daring letter in the alphabet who wants to stand out uses clever play on words to deliver a message about creativity, individuality, and following your dreams!

My Thoughts
Cute, cute CUTE! The letter "I" wants to have the freedom to have curves and change his shape. He wriggles around until he finally breaks free of the page. When he falls off the book, he has to take a hard look at himself and problem solve. 
The book is chocked full of fun alphabet and punctuation puns.
The illustrations are lively and simple, done in bold colors that kids will love. The illustrator has managed to create emotions of the faces of the alphabet characters, even the grumpy ones are cute.

I would recommend it to grades 1-4.

Visit Linda Ragsdale's website
Visit Anoosha Syed's website

by Linda Ragsdale
Illustrated by Martina Hogan
Published 2017
Flower Pot Press
Picture Book
Review Copy Provided by publisher

This book is the second in the Peace Dragon series (I have not read the first). This book invites the reader to have fun with putting words together. The author describes the book as "...a playful take on empowering our vocabulary with hilarious words that encompass the best qualities, thoughts and emotions we can imagine, in order to create a dictionary like no other." 

My Thoughts
This book will have children manipulating words into their own fun language. Maybe they could even make their own dictionary. 
The illustrations are bold and fun with interesting fonts and colors. The animal characters are just adorable and add to the book's appeal. 

Fan of Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Exclamation Mark will enjoy How I Did It! I would recommend it for grades K-4.  

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Publishers Weekly

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our World in Poetry and Pictures by Kwame Alexander and Joel Sartore

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our World in Poetry and Pictures 
Words by Kwame Alexander 
Photographs by Joel Sartore
Published Feb. 2017
National Geographic
48 Pages
Review copy was provided by the publisher.

Goodreads Summary
A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird - pairing the stunning photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the delicate poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this lush picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and fragility of the animal world.

Featuring more than 40 unique animal portraits, the pages invite kids to explore each creature's markings, textures, and attributes in stunning detail, while calling on all of us to help protect each and every one. Three picture-packed gatefolds inside showcase even more familiar and exotic species. These images are part of Sartore's lifelong project to photograph every animal in the world, with special attention given to disappearing and endangered species.

My Thoughts
This book is breathtaking in its simplicity. Who needs frills when you have gorgeous photographs of animals on stark backgrounds with the poetry magic of Kwame Alexander? I swear, ONLY Kwame Alexander can write a short poem about centipedes, bats, beetles and sea urchins and make them sound like the most exquisite creatures in the world. What a wonderful way to introduce little ones to the beauty of poetry. 

National Geographic photographer, Joel Sartore's photographs are so clear and close, you can see every little leg, whisker, scale and feather. Somehow he even manages to make an alligator and a chameleon look majestic. I think my favorite photo is the baby pandas with one resting its head on the other, but really each photo is better than the next. 

Animal Ark is a must-have for any library. I love it so much and can't wait to share it with kids. I can see them hunched over as they examine the photos of these fascinating animals more closely. 

This video of Kwame talking about animals will give you goosebumps. I could listen to him all day long. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Big Little Hippo by Valeri Gorbachev

Big Little Hippo 
by Valeri Gorbachev
Published April. 2017
Sterling Children's Books
Picture book
40 pages

Goodreads Summary
Little Hippo is the youngest in his family . . . and the smallest. Smaller than his parents and siblings. Smaller than his friends, too, from old Crocodile to giant Elephant. And even though everyone promises he’ll grow, Little Hippo doesn’t want to wait. He wants to be big RIGHT NOW! But when he helps a creature even tinier than himself, Little Hippo learns that it’s the size of his heart that counts most of all. 

My Thoughts
All young children seem to want to grow up and be big or, at least, bigger than someone else. This is what happens with Little Hippo. When he helps a small beetle, he feels big for the first time. You can't help but want to cheer for him as he runs through the forest shouting "I'm big!".  There are elements of repetition and opportunities for children to actively engage with the story.

The ink and watercolor illustrations are done in soft earth tones. The animal characters are very sweet with expressive faces.
Little Big Hippo would make a fun read aloud for ages 2-5. 

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Georgia Rules by Nanci Turner Stevenson

Georgia Rules 
by Nanci Turner Stevenson
Published May 2017
Harper Collins
272 pages
Middle Grade
Review copy from public library

Goodreads Summary
Perfect for fans of One for the Murphys and The Penderwicks, this poignant and moving middle grade novel tells the story of a girl who moves to a new town and meets an unforgettable family—one that will change her and her mother’s lives forever.

Magnolia Grace never wanted to leave Georgia. She never wanted to move with her mama to the farm her daddy owned before he died. But now here she is, in a tiny Vermont town where everybody sings the praises of the father Maggie never knew.

Then Maggie meets the Parker family—two moms, six kids, plus a pony. The Parkers are loud and wild, ask lots of questions, and don't follow any of the rules Maggie grew up with in Georgia. Suddenly Maggie has questions too—questions about her father, and why Mama kept him away for so long. In her search for answers, Maggie will learn that families are like patchwork quilts, sewn together by love, and all the more beautiful for their different colors.

My Thoughts
This unique story unfolds slowly and reveals its secrets bit by bit. The author masterfully creates tension and makes the reader feel all of the feelings that Maggie feels-anger, jealousy, love, longing. Maggie is a relatable, imperfect character with an equally imperfect mother. The reader watches as Maggie pushes her mother to share more about her father who most of the town seems to know better than she ever did. You can't help, but hope for Maggie to find the closure she desperately needs. The ending events are satisfying and not exactly what I expected. 

Fans of books like One for the Murphys with challenging family dynamics will want to try Georgia RulesI would highly recommend it for middle grade readers (4-6). 

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code 
by Laurie Wallmark
Illustrated by Katy Wu
Published May, 2017
Sterling Children's Books
48 Pages
Nonfiction Picture Book
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary

Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English,” and throughout her life succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly is “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys.

My Thoughts
Do you know where the phrase "computer bug" came from? You will after reading this book. Every time I read a nonfiction picture book, I learn that there is so much to learn. I did not know about Grace Hopper, I am so glad that I do now. This book takes her from a curious girl, who took apart household appliances to find out how they work, to computer code queen. Grace's story teaches us that STEM talent knows no gender or age. She was an invaluable resource, writing code for the navy until she was 80 years old! She is a great role model for perseverance and growth mindset. I really loved how the author captures her spirit and insatiable curiosity. One cannot help but be inspired by her tenacity. 

The author tells the story with just enough text to keep it interesting for young readers and up through middle school. Actual quotes from Grace are sprinkled throughout the book in creative ways. One of my favorites is, "If you've got a good idea, and you know it's going to work, go ahead and do it." 

The back matter consists of a timeline of Grace Hopper's life, a selected bibliography, additional reading about women in STEM and a summary of Grace's many honors. 

Not only is the book entertaining and informative, it is visually enticing as well. With a variety of interesting formats, backgrounds, fonts and bold colors, there is much to keep readers engaged. 

Grace Hopper: Queen of Code is an essential addition to every classroom, school and public library. 

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Check out this quick video.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

First Stories Princess Series

Do you have a little one that loves princesses or books you can manipulate, push, pull and slide? 
Then you will want to check out the first 3 books in the First Stories Collection from Silver Dolphin Books.

by Dan Taylor
Board Books
10 Pages

Each book presents the classic tales simply in rhyming text with colorful, sturdy pages children can manipulate.
See the books "in action" below.

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Here is another great book for Beauty and the Beast fans from Silver Dolphin Books!

This coloring book is gorgeous!! It is filled with intricate drawings of scenes and quotes from the original story.